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AMY KIRK: Long trail of trailers

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AMY KIRK: Long trail of trailers
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

The menagerie of trailers sitting in our yard is comparable to some women's closets full of shoes.

There's a trailer for every occasion, job and season. Trailers are an extension of my spouse's work the way shoes are an extension of a woman's personality.

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On average, women own 20 pairs of shoes. I'm not sure how many trailers men are said to have on average, but there are 12 on our place. To be a farmer or rancher means having a fleet of trailers.

A starter trailer is typically a gooseneck stock trailer, because it's most needed and versatile. We have one for hauling cows, horses and four-wheelers, and a newer aluminum gooseneck trailer for more cows, horses and four-wheelers -- but with the added feature of separate tack/sleeping quarters.

I should point out that not all trailers are manufactured equally. We also have shop project trailers and trailers that other innovative men built, which we bought outright or won the bid at auction. We have one of the shop-manufactured trailers that are popular among men: a repurposed pickup box to haul a poly water tank, or when outfitted with a topper, store leftover feed. Our newest fleet addition is a heavy-duty dump truck box trailer the Hubs (husband) built for hauling an 1,100-gallon poly tank.

The type of trailer typically acquired next is a gooseneck flatbed. This purchase is justified as a necessity for hauling round and square bales in the fall, stock tanks in the spring and scrap metal in the summer. After upgrading to a 30-foot flatbed trailer, our starter flatbed was kept to store empty poly tanks and stock tanks when not in use, or to haul large debris to the burn pile. An ordinary man would haul the shabby-looking trailer itself to the burn pile. Some other creative guy converted a trailer house axle frame into the custom-built flatbed trailer that we've had a long time. We've acquired other people's trailers like this on the cheap, much like women who can't resist a bargain on used shoes at a yard sale or second-hand store.

We also have job-specific trailers. These include our metal feed-bunk-on-wheels trailer which gets hauled from one location to another depending on the season. The open V-shaped hay wagon is another feeder on wheels for holding/feeding loose hay that didn't get baled. Our windrower/swather also has its own special trailer for getting transported from one field to another quicker. The welding trailer and haying season trailer are utility trailers equipped with lots of storage compartments and stocked accordingly with haying supplies or tools and equipment for making mechanical repairs, welding on machinery or hammer-mechanicing (mechanic work involving frustration, a temper, and blunt metal object) when the need arises.

Then we have the old bumper-hitch stock trailer; the roughest looking in our fleet. It's not suitable for hauling cows anymore, but works handy for storing lick tubs wherever we set out tubs for our cows. If a trailer goes out of style, we still use it no matter who sees us pulling it.

Anytime my husband even looks at another trailer to buy, I tease him about having a trailer fetish. I consider my ribbing safe from backfiring on me since my less-than-10 pairs of shoes doesn't qualify as a shoe fetish, and so far nobody's said anything about a cowgirl's boot collection being a fetish.

-- Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices.com.

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