Sunday, May 27, 2012

Old Yeller Comes Out of Retirement

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Old Yeller - 1962 International 1-ton Pickup

After 20 years of sitting idle in his parents' garage, Papa Bear's 1962 International 1-ton Pickup officially came out of retirement today, to move our lambs to the farm that we'll be closing on in just a few more days.

When I asked PB what the truck's name was, he didn't know.  But he didn't think it was a "she."  I told him how silly that was, since all vehicles are "shes." And the earth, too. Everybody knows.

I asked "How about Big Red?"

Nah, too obvious, he said.  Then he chuckled to himself and said, "Old Yeller."

Old Yeller has all of 36,000 original miles on her.  She was used on PB's grandparent's farm, where she was outfitted with a propane tank and actually delivered propane for awhile.  She was also outfitted with a plow, and she was plenty beat up when PB acquired her when his grandparents passed on.

He spent many hours working on her, and working for trade at a paint shop so that he could earn enough to get her painted. 

She's a beauty.

It think she had figured it was "easy-peasy" from here on out.  Until we put new tires and rims and a redneck bumper on her and gave her a test run or two before loading her up on our flatbed trailer and hauling her over 1000 miles from her one and only home in Sheridan, WY, out to podunk-little-Kendall, WI.

Papa Bear works on the tailgate

Once in WI, she was adjusting to life sitting idle at the Big Farm.  And then PB built a tailgate/stock rack for her so we could move the lambs.

Old Yeller comes out of retirement - moving corral panels

Her first "official" farm errand was hauling panels and electric net fencing over to our farm.  She did great, bumping along the hay field two-track to the back pasture where we set up the lamb corrals and surrounded them with electric netting.

Moving the lambs in Old Yeller

If the lambs got out of the panels, we didn't want them wandering off and getting eaten by coyotes, the likes of which we hear howling along the ridge tops on a fairly regular occasion in these parts.

Ready to go?

The next day it was moving time.  We loaded our lambs from the neighbor's place, picking up each lamb and sliding it under the bottom section of the make-shift tailgate then quickly shutting it before the rest decided to jump out.

One of our ewes about to unload

It took two trips but before long they were settled into their new mobile corrals.  Because of the limited grazing space these corrals offered, we needed to move them three times/day.

The lambs settle in; Old Yeller sits by

Apparently, coming out of retirement at such a rapid pace did not sit well with Old Yeller.  She had other plans than bumping along a field road three times/day.

Like sitting in the shade taking a nap.

On the way home at dusk one evening after checking on the lambs, Old Yeller had a bit of a stroke.  Or heart attack, I'm not sure which.

Old Yeller has a stroke

She sputtered every time we tried to climb a hill.  We thought she was out of gas (after only 80 miles on the latest gas tank fill, I was flabbergasted we could be out already).

She backfired and died several times.  We had to call our friends and the Big Farm to come and follow us to the gas station.  And then follow us the 7 painful miles home, during which at best we could only go about 20mph in between sputtering and dying several times.

Finally, we were back at the Big Farm, where we dropped her off at the auto repair shop just 2 miles down the road.

Turns out it was the fuel filter which was very dirty due to rust in the gas tank clogging up the fuel line.  Apparently if you sit fairly empty for nearly 30 years this kind of thing can happen.

I think I might have some rust in my fuel filter, come to think of it.

Anyway.  After that we listened a bit closer when Old Yeller started to complain.  And we took it easier on her, swapping her services for that of the 2002 ATV, a mere teenager in comparison to Old Yeller.

PB feeding treats to the lambs

She still gets to bump out along the field road every now and then when we have visitors.

But most days she can be found napping in the shade near the garage. 

Happy Semi-Retirement Old Yeller -

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