SUBSCRIBE TODAY Smiley face  Get updates via email! 

We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label trucks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trucks. Show all posts

April 18, 2015

Stagger-By Update Ramble -- At Least It Has Photos!

Even the jump panels are perfect...
Horses offer many gifts; chief among them -- you will NEVER be bored.  In fact, you may come to beg for boredom...

As some of you know, I have a serious problem with overcommittment been working for the past year as the Sponsorship Coordinator for the 2015 Southern Eighths Farm Heart of the Carolinas (HOTC) 3DE.  Oh, and I'm making an amazing program.  And updating promotional materials (view epic new brochure here).  Because, you know, just showing up & doing 10 volunteer jobs over the event weekend was too easy.  Heh.

Combine the fact that OMG THE EVENT IS TWO WEEKS AWAY with the mad rush of Teh Inconvenient Real Job to prepare for field season, which starts in one week...and there you have my posting lapse.  I am open to applicants for Personal Assistants.  Position includes free entertainment, watching me run around like a blind, rabid squirrel, unable to complete sentences!

CD Tremaine Cooper offers steeplechase tips
The event itself is shaping up to be another spectacular experience.  Carla Lake, a fantastic new acquaintance & correspondent for adult ammy central, aka Horse Junkies United, was brave enough to chat with me.  And talented enough to turn my ramblings into a great article introducing HOTC to the interwebz!

Even more special:  our suite of awesome sponsors & supporters this year includes some of our very own from HorseBlog world!  I thought, what better partners for an event by & for the adult amateur than some of the incredibly talented entrepreneurs who are part of the same community??  More brags on them to come, I bet you'll recognize some names, but you can see the current list here.

I suppose not EVERYone in pinned to their seats for my desperate attempts, after very long worksdays, to share the beauty of "So8ths" and the unique & vital long format events I have dedicated myself to.  However, I will give you a sneak peak at my draft "clearinghouse" page:  your go-to lauchpad for event information, updates, & coverage.  It shall continue to grow!

The Orange Monsters

Yeah, that lack of boredom?  Well, Solo is in great need of revamped shoeing, his front feet have changed & he's developed a sore shoulder...except when throwing pasture galloping fits.

Encore, despite my immediate initiation of Operation Hydroxyzine as the spring tree sperm explosion commenced, alongside the return of the myriad of Carolina Bitey Things, has proceeded to rub the skin off his throatlatch.  No sooner did I calm that with the Majykal Butacort Creme, did he come in this morning having rubbed the hair off two large swollen bites on the side of his neck, surrounded by hives.

That could be a start; orderable from
He was obviously depressed, as allergic reactions are no fun.  I was a bit concerned, as his face was quite sad & he stood for some time in a corner after breakfast (at least he did eat). 

Majykal Creme seemed to do the trick though.  The cortisone relieved the burning itch & his hives & swelling went down.  He took a big drink about an hour ago & resumed grazing.

So in a moment, I'll be shopping for some form of insect body armour that is cool, yet somehow indestructible in the face of Solo teeth, along with ground flax seed to add to his already-six-ingredient dinners.  Oh, he has fly boots & a fly sheet already.  But the latter is held together by two jury-rigged broken snaps & is too heavy for our humidity. 

Did I mention he's getting shoe additions too?  Outside hind trailers to help with his stifle rehab.  I'm trying to see if I can buy everything on my farrier's truck at once.

The Farm

Because buying food is tedious, and really, who wants to spend money to things, I need to make sure there are no hints of positive financial balances anywhere near me!

Worth. It. And it matches runin!
Due to expiration of temporary hayshed (it was only meant to stand in for a year, two winters was a valiant term of duty), emergency order of permanent hayshed was finally completed (roofs are sort of non-optional).  Happy, because we all know hay is THE most valuable equine asset & must be guarded at all costs.  Sad, because I lied, I really would like to go somewhere fun someday, sigh.

And because the universe has impeccable timing, My Precious pony puller was due for its tranny fluid service (not cheap, but waaaay cheaper than a new tranny & the stress toll of ending up on the side of the highway!).  I adore my diesel guy & certainly want him to stay in business.  But was it really neccessary for the water pump to die at the same time?  Yes, it's a wear part, no big deal, but I appear to be missing the door that leads to NOT ALL THE THINGZ IN LIFE AT ONCE.

7.3L Precious gets everything she needs!
Tip learned from several previous vehicles (which thankfully saved my engine; had I not known immediately what the problem was, Very Bad Things would have resulted):  when your heater stops blowing heat, it means you have no coolant.  Bad.

Most often means radiator failure (I bought two of those, learning the expensive lesson that an appropriate pony puller is about WAY more than tow ratings), such as crack through which coolant escapes.  A rattle in a belt pulley led me to my water pump & the observation that it was covered in coolant residue.  That's not supposed to be on the outside...


I think I'll just start eating the horses' grain in milk.  In smells good, can't be that different from granola, right?  Hmmm, do you think I'd have any luck with a tip jar taped to the mailbox?

Gonna need more pennies than that!

January 16, 2014

So, There's Water Polo, How About Water Eventing?

I should probably just keep a snorkel in my truck at this point.  Even the reservoirs can't hold any more and soil that "never gets muddy" is oh so muddy.  My neighbour tells me he has never seen it this saturated, so at least now I know what to plan for.  He may be regretting selling me his high spots now...

A few of you have noticed, but out of random curiosity, I have placed a poll for you in the sidebar directly above the social media buttons.  Tell me how you get your "fresh reading material" updates and how you follow along with your favourite bloggers!

Since no story ever gets to just wrap up smoothly, despite the fact that they've started power line work and I should have electricity in two weeks (yay!), complications abound.  An insulation subcontractor who for some bizarre reason uses a single-axle dump truck (suspected to be made of lead) with a tarp over it instead of a box truck, wandered up my (completely soaked) farm driveway with half the truck off the edge, resulting a lovely mud slop.  Duly added to list for builder of "things contractors messed up" -- it is a short list, and I think an unavoidable one, but no less annoying for all of that.

The lump mid-cannon on the outside front
With perfectly synchronized timing as my financial assets hit rock bottom until my old house sells (soooo....close....), my truck decides that it might like a couple of new injectors or a driver module.  While it occasionally misfires on a couple of cylinders, I hope against hope it's a $10 wiring harness instead (yeah right), but as long as it is sporadic, after consultation with diesel mechanic, it's fine to keep driving.  It still runs so I waved goodbye and pleaded with My Precious to just be patient, as mom doesn't have $900 to feed you right now.

Feeling left out of the fun, Encore popped a lateral splint, which I discovered on Sunday.  Probably being silly in the pasture.  On the plus side, it's cold, hard, not painful and he shows no lameness while walking and uh, leaping on a packed dirt road.  I consult with Dr. Bob and monitor closely, pleading some more that it's just one of those cosmetic ones.  Just don't start limping!  At least we won't be doing much in the next couple weeks (of mud).

The reason all this is so well-timed is that the state gives this lovely little holiday gift to its employees.  We normally are paid on the last working day of the month.  However, in December, the paycheck comes in two weeks early, before the Xmas holidays.  Which means you get six whole weeks to freak out relax and practice your planning skills until January's check appears.  Two more weeks, two more weeks...


February 21, 2012

My Precious Is Wounded

It burnsss ussssss....

No, it's not the horse.  But I still love her.

It was a stupid stoplight thing.  We were sitting in line, the light turned green and the guy in front of me went go - NOSTOP and slammed on his brakes.  You just can't stop 7,000 lbs of truck in 1 second so we went bump.  Fortunately, the universe had a little pity and it was another 3/4 ton truck (damn Dodge didn't dodge!!).  I hate to think how long I would have been stuck there had we eaten the back end of a dang Civic, even at all of the 3 mph or so I was moving.

His truck sat a little higher than mine and had a 4-way hitch on it, so it was not damaged at all (whew!).  He looked a bit worried when he got out and saw I was a girl -- perhaps he feared histrionics?  But I was wearing my wildlife agency uniform jacket and I saw him look at that and appear relieved that I may not dissolve into tears and scream.  We ascertained that both parties were fine, we looked at my bumper, I said, "Meh, I don't care about dents, that's what BUMPers are for," we shook hands, we went about our business.

Actually, the only thought I had getting out of my truck was, OMG, PLEASE DON'T HAVE BENT MY SPECIAL SOLO PLATE!!!  But it was unscathed and I could breathe again.

The dents truly don't bother me, it's just the gaps on the side where the whole bumper is twisted down.  On the plus side, the Precious now does fit in as a true NC truck.  Eventually, I suppose I will go junkyard diving, we have a good one nearby, but it's hardly an essential part.  I crawled under when I got to work and nothing on the front end is bent, tranny cooler is fine, and all is well.

But next time you see the Flying Solo rig, it will just have a bit more...character.

July 18, 2011

The Nail In The Coffin

At least, in the tire.  Or I guess I could title this post "Why You Should Always Check The Air In Your Trailer Tires Before You Haul."

Why does my trailer look like this right now?  Well, the good part is that it's at home, parked in front of the barn.  I had been wondering why I had one tire that would drop from a healthy 60 psi to a downright anemic 40 psi and hover there.  I could fill it back up and it'd be good for a trip but by the next haul, it'd be back down to 40 again.  Since I am taking My Precious (ok, I admit it, I have a thing for my truck) in to have the rotors turned tomorrow, I figured, why not throw the tire in the back and have my guy check it out.

Well.  He won't have to investigate very hard.

You can't tell from photos, but this thing has a good 1/4" or more diameter to the spiky bit.  Wherever I picked it up, they were obviously nailing together....sequoias?  I just bought the tires like a year ago -- of course.   

Apparently, it's not just horses that are suicide machines, it is anything that has the word "horse" in its name.  It's a good thing we don't fly in horseplanes or get operations from horse surgeons.

March 29, 2011

I'll Take A Day That's Halfway Good

The rumbly truck is home!  With a new tie rod end and freshly packed wheel bearings, it is ready to resume Solo-hauling duty with renewed vigor.

I'll take that!

Solo is done with his Panacur PowerPac and we both say "Hurrah!" to no more smelly, gooey, white slime.

I'll take that!

In the bright afternoon sun, we had a pretty decent dressage school. Solo is getting a more powerful push back into his transitions into trot. I once again used the transitions within the trot I tried a few days ago to prep for canter, and it worked again! Softer, rounder canter transitions that resulted in a slow, strong, rhythmic stride.

I'll take that!

Ok, so I have to shove an icepack down my pants every few hours to try to bring down the inflammation in my SI joint that is torturing me these days. But even that's not all bad -- with the help of chiro and PT, we are FINALLY narrowing in on the problems and making some headway. PT taped up the right side of my back and leg down to my knee yesterday with the magic of kinesiotape and it's working and hell,

I'll even take that!

March 28, 2011

Why I Keep Forking Out $130 Every Year

I ditched AAA the first time my old rig got stranded roadside.

How To Lose Business 101

I had a blown radiator & AAA was quite happy to tow away the truck...leaving the trailer & Solo behind in the dark on a bitter November night in Greensboro.  Obviously, they had no concept of what was important to me.  They could have set that POS truck on fire for all I cared, as what mattered to me was standing in the trailer behind it.  I hung up the phone in fury & tore up my membership card.

We Have A Winner!

Then I found US Rider, a roadside assistance plan designed for traveling horse owners.  This morning is a clear demonstration of why I love them.

Call #1 (8:20 am): They answer the phone:  "US Rider, are you and your horses safe?"

"Yes, ma'am." I love that these are the first words every time I call.  I then explain that I need a wrecker for my truck, which was sitting at the end of my driveway in the pellets.   Yeah.

The rep took my member number, pulled up my address & asked where I wanted it towed.   I didn't even have to give her the business address, as soon as I said the name of the shop, she had it at her fingertips.   She promised to call me back in five minutes with wrecker information.

Call #2 (8:30 am): Rep informs me that tow truck should be there in 30-45 minutes.  No worries by me, I am at home.  She will call back later to check on progress.

Call #3 (9:40 am): An hour has passed.  Rep:  "Has the wrecker has arrived?"  Me:  "Nope."  Rep:  "Oh no!  I'll go check on it."

Call #4 (9:50 am):  Rep:  "The wrecker will arrive in ten minutes," and she will check on me then.

Call #5 (10:10 am):  Me:  "It's here!!" and we loaded up my truck & headed to the shop.

Boiling It Down

That's FIVE PHONE CALLS, making sure I was safe & informed over the course of two hours.   Eat that, AAA.  The wreckers are contractors, so timing is beyond US Rider's control, but they made sure I was taken care of as soon as possible.  Had I needed a vet or a spot for a horse to sleep or an alternate truck/trailer, they would have provided it.  That is why I don't mind writing the check, because when I need it, that kind of service is priceless.


March 27, 2011

Momma Ain't Happy

Why? Oh, because the universe is unkind! Like I don't already have enough to juggle. 

This is why -->

What the hell is that?  That, my dear friends, in the right forelimb of my beloved pony hauler.  And it has suffered a fracture.

On the way home from work on Friday, it all of a sudden had an epileptic seizure and tried to buck me off.  Long story short, I was down the street about 0.2 miles from the house so I just limped it home slowly and friend and I had a look at it this afternoon.  After cranking the steering wheel around and hearing a loud POP, this is what we found.

In case you are still staring at the picture in puzzlement, trying to figure out what is so wrong -- see the bit on the left side that looks like a black toilet plunger?  That bit is supposed to be attached to the end of the horizontal rod across the middle of the picture.  Not be separated from said rod by a two inch gap.

This is a rather consequential bit as this rod is what connects your steering wheel to your front tire.  Yeah, so you can turn and stuff.  When it's not connected, you get the sorry sight I was faced with this afternoon, which is your truck sitting there with its front tires pointed in opposite directions, like some poor crosseyed kid.   And you definitely do not want to drive it in this condition -- at best, you end up with a bent axle, at worst, your wheel gets ripped off your vehicle.

What most likely happened is that as I turned onto my street, the connector on the tie rod cracked, resulting in the violent "death wobble" (oh yes, that's a real term, google it) I felt.  As we cranked the steering to its maximum extent this afternoon, it snapped completely off.

On the plus side, it's a pretty easy fix and it's under warranty. The truck is ten years old, so it's a normal wear and tear type of thing. This, of course, does not stop me from staring at it mournfully where it sits in front of my house, waiting for Monday morning and a wrecker to arrive.

Moral of the story: if you are driving along and all of a sudden it feels like a wheel fell off, don't keep driving. Even if the wheels are still attached for the moment, A WHEEL MAY BE ABOUT TO BE TORN OFF, so don't push it.

December 4, 2009

Bits And Rigs

My expectations seemed completely realistic...
Turns out the KK Ultra is not the uber-magical-fairy-miracle bit the dressage queens of the world would have you believe.

 It apparently does NOT impart instant dressage prowess upon your horsie.  In fact, it is quite possible your horsie may distinctly dislike it, lock his jaw, & pointedly refuse to acknowledge your half halts.

I'll just let you guess which one was us.

Happily, it's a borrowed bit.  So I removed it from bridle & returned to our Happy Mouth boucher last night & now, both of us are happy once more.   But I had to at least try the KK, given its legend, you know, curiosity & all that.

I also wanted to share our "new to us" rig that I realized I skipped over the story, given that it is a relatively recent acquisition.  Rig saga here.  Well, I still have the same trailer, obviously & I LOVE THAT TRAILER.

My Precious with...Other Precious?  Of course I have a blue trailer!
I loved the Tahoe too, but it soon made apparent to me that for regular hauling, a 1/2 ton just can't cut the mustard.   It could pull, & did it well.  Those old Chevy 5.7L engines were definitely made for power.  The problem is the smaller 1/2 ton transmissions are just not really up to the task & between that & the suspension & the brakes on the windy sides of mountains, it growlingly informed me that if I kept it up, I would be purchasing replacement trannies.  And radiators.  And liability policies.  0.0

Why didn't I think of that???!!
So, I decided that it was no longer worth putting $$$ on a vehicle that was only worth about $2000 on a good day, as I'd run it up to 170,000 miles, the A/C was out of freon, & you couldn't move the driver's seat (luckily my freaky long legs paid of for once).  I put on my savviest face & after much research & consulting & then more research (which I won't go into here for the sake of concise-ness, but I am happy to explain if you so desire), I sauntered into my local Ford dealer.

As luck would have it, they happened to have a trade-in that was EXACTLY what I wanted, in beautiful condition.  So I gave the faithful Tahoe a goodbye pat & rumbled home in my new love, a 2001 7.3L Super Duty turbo diesel F250.  And you will have to pry my cold, dead hands off to take it away from me.  It's good to be back in diesel-land (my first car was a 1985 3/4-ton 6.0L diesel GMC Suburban)!

September 12, 2009

I Found It!

That pic I was looking for of our first rig! Oh my, how tiny does that trailer look?!

August 31, 2009

A Tale Of Two Trailers

As I intimated in my clinic post, trailering had suddenly become an issue in the winter of 2006. At the time, I had my cherry red 1987 WW which stood at a whopping interior height of 6'6". As I mentioned, Solo technically fit in it. As long as he did not raise his head or want to move. At all. It had mangers and a solid divider too, so his feet had to STAY PUT. But he'd ridden in it quietly the three hours up when we moved and we had gone on a trail trip or two.

When I went to load him up for our PNH clinic, his reaction went something like this:

Walk walk walk walk, oh, the trailer, hmmmmmm, I don't really want to OHMYGODHELLNO I AM NOT GETTING IN THAT THING SCREWYOUI'MOUTTAHERE!!!!!!!

Yes, he stood up on his hind legs (I had put a butt rope on him for gentle encouragement), hopped over the rope and galloped off down a fenceline.

Leaving me standing with a longeline and ropeburn in one hand (note to self: gloves are a good invention) and a dumbfounded look on my face. Well, crap, now what?

I went and got my horse again and recruited two helpers from the barn and with a little coercion (which included me smacking my head on the escape door, gah!) we got him in and slammed the door. It would get us there.

At the end of the clinic, dear, wonderful Carol spent two hours with me and Solo showing how to properly load a horse onto a trailer. I use that method to this day: keep their feet moving forward. Life outside the trailer SUCKS REALLY BAD and life inside the trailer is awesome and full of pets and treats.

My conclusion: 6'6" trailers are for cows and small ponies. Not for 16 h beefcake horses. It had to go. AND since my Expedition had broken down on the way home from the clinic and was quickly revealing itself to be a problem ridden BEAST, it HAD to go, I was tired of fixing it.

New rig requirements:

-7' tall!!!!!!!!!!
-stock sides (Horses need ventilation! If they are sweaty when you pull them off the trailer, "ur doin' it rong!"
-straight load (My horse just didn't fit in any slants I tried, he was too long)
-bumper pull (I still wanted an SUV)
-steel steel steel (I like my horse haulers heavy and strong)
-dressing room (I am a charter member of the club I Have Too Much Crap Even Though I Only Have One Horse )

It had 150,000 miles but it purred like a kitten and had a brand new transmission. I <3'ed the Tahoe!

2007 Adam Special 15' -- brand new on the lot!

Open, airy, inviting, just the way I wanted it!

August 24, 2009

Moving On

I LOVED our farm.  We were the only boarders there aside from one retirement boardee.  N, the owner, took impeccable & customized care of Solo for me, adjusting his food as needed, giving him daily showers in hot weather, picking inappropriate weeds out of his paddock, & scratching his itchy spots.   It was a very satisfied horse who would canter up to the gate to meet me every day.

And I was in heaven. I couldn't brush/clean up/polish tack/comb mane/buy accessories fast enough to work out 25 years of pent-up horse possession.

I had new goals: (1) Teach Solo to longe without near-death experiences. I'm not addicted to longeing but I find a very useful tool both for strength & balance building & exercise on days that I am too tired or too hot to ride. (2) Rehab his feet. They were a flakey, cracky, nasty mess. We were loading him up on Super Bio-Zin & leaving him barefoot & N's farrier was a gifted worker of magic. (3) Create muscle tone. See previous description of hill work.

The two great loves of my life.

But nothing lasts forever. My job changed & I had to move three hours away. Much as it broke my heart to leave N's place behind, I was working for an agency I had spent years trying to get into & the new job was exactly what I wanted to do.

And it was the perfect opportunity to buy a truck & trailer! My current vehicle (2-door Explorer) was obviously not suitable for pulling a horse, so the search began.

Things I know now that I wish I had known then:
  • You can get a clean title for ANYTHING in Georgia, no matter what has happened to it.
  • When a truck is lifted, the wiring often gets majorly screwed up.
  • People often lift trucks to hide front-end problems.
  • You should always check to make sure the cloth pattern on all the seats matches, indicating original seats.
  • Always check trailer hitch wiring BEFORE purchase.
  • The overflow container for coolant should ALWAYS have some coolant in it.
  • CARFAX is a joke. There's a LOT that doesn't show up on there.

Oh well.  It pulled great!  And I found an '88 WW 2-horse trailer that had just been reconditioned for a steal.  It had a full dressing room & was just what I needed.  It also happened to be 6'6" tall, but technically, Solo fit.  As long as he didn't want to raise his head very high.  I added some mats, did some patching on the inside lining with some plywood, fixed the window leaks with duct tape for that final redneck flourish...

And we were mobile!

And here is where I was going to post a picture of our first rig -- 98 Expedition in shockingly boring white with bright red little trailer behind.  But dammit if I can't find the picture, I swore I kept one. *sigh*  Well, if I can't find that, then you get the next best thing: Solo in his cute little outfit for riding IN said trailer: