I have a love-hate relationship with tires.
Maybe it’s codependence.
I’m out of touch with most psychological terms, but I know I need tires.
They don’t seem to need me.
A month or so ago, a tire on my horsetrailer blew out as I hauled cattle to Great Falls. As I chiseled off the last lug nut that had been overtightened with an impact wrench, I might have mumbled.
I don’t know what a psychiatrist would call them, but a linguist would call what came out of my mouth “potty words.”
A couple of weeks ago, I took a load of ewes to Billings. I threw two spares in the back of the truck, just in case.
Self-help gurus advise setting the bar low so you can leap over it. I made it over. I used only one spare.
I’m concentrating on hay in the field now.
I cranked up my 1964 Chevy that carries a fuel tank and a sundry of tools, spare parts and cool stuff I found.
I love this truck. It starts every time.
But the tires have a few cracks and worn spots.
More than a year ago, a tire blew out. That’s when I found out that the spare was on a similar, but not quite right, rim.
That bar was too low, even for self-help gurus.
My neighbor gave me a ride to the tire shop where good tires and bad wheels were switched while the tire shop owner and I discussed obsolete rims.
I promised to look through my inventory of used tires and wheels and he did, too.
Then a September snowstorm, blizzards, a collapsing cattle market and a pandemic distracted both of us.
About a week ago, I wandered through my collection, but didn’t find a wheel close to the right size for the ’64 Chevy.
I eased my way into town, hoping I could add a few more miles to these tires while I carried fuel to the tractor in the hay field.
I parked in front of the tire shop on my way to the fuel station.
As I discussed options for a new tire, a stranger poked his head in, looked me in the eye and asked “Do you collect junk? I have a lot at my place and I don’t want to pay to haul it off.”
Then he glanced out at my service truck, as if confirming to himself that his question was redundant. Obviously, I collected junk.
Only, I don’t.
Let’s just say I prefer to call myself frugal.
A few days later, I was stacking bales when hydraulic oil spewed from a cracked fitting.
Fortunately, I had the tools I needed on my service truck to remove the fitting. All I needed was a new one.
I hopped in the Chevy and eased my way to town. I pulled in to the auto parts store and realized I didn’t have any money or a mask with me.
I have an account at a different store. I hoped I could stand far enough away or beg forgiveness so I could get my hydraulic fitting.
As I backed into the street, a boom echoed between buildings.
The Chevy leaned starboard.
Fortunately, my new tire had arrived so the tire shop guy and I switched good tires and bad wheels again.
About five miles out of town, another explosion reverberated.
Either the Feds found Conrad or I had yet another blown tire.
I called my brother, Roger.
We found a decent tire at the ranch.
I was back behind the wheel two hours later.
The new tires on my service truck double its value – not including the contents on the back. They are incognito, only disguised as junk.
After all, the line between a hoarder and a rancher is very thin.
Lisa Schmidt raises grass-fed beef and lamb at the Graham Ranch near Conrad. Lisa can be reached at [email protected]
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