AMY KIRK: Roads? Who needs roads?
What's great about ranch work is that every season the routine and duties change, yet doing the same chores every morning can get mundane. Checking cows and stock tanks out on summer range can get boring unless there's a way to make the task fun and enjoyable. Checking in a Jeep is the cure.
Be-bopping around on summer range in a Jeep is the best way to spice up some of the summertime daily chores. These handy vehicles make the job of checking salt, stock tanks and cows something to look forward to by adding interest, variety and entertainment. Checking our summer range takes up a chunk of the morning, by the time all the stock tank floats are checked, ensuring water isn't stuck on or off, messing with them to get them to work if necessary, checking salt and making sure cows are where they're supposed to be.
Driving a Jeep feels different than driving a pickup. You just don't get to experience the connection with nature in a pickup the way you do in a Jeep. Jeeps can provide opportunities for you to slow down and savor nature with a long walk home should they break down.
Jeep drivers feel a strong connection with the earth, too. Plowing through muddy roads and big mud holes with the top off brings the earth into your lap. Dogs also love Jeeps and look forward to riding along, since Jeeps are organically air-conditioned and provide plenty of fresh air to sniff when the top is off.
Jeeps are an ideal ranch rig for range and fence checking. They can be driven as fast as a pickup on highways and gravel roads, but their compactness and tight-turning capabilities can maneuver mud holes, rough roads, no roads and rocky terrain like a four-wheeler. I recently re-confirmed that a Jeep works exceptionally well on bulls. My Jeep turned a bull around that got itself "lost," and I was able to drive him back to the herd without feeling vulnerable the way I do on an ATV when a bull thinks about trying to turn around and take me. Jeeps outsize a four-wheeler, and aren't nearly as intimidating to steer or drive Baja-style either.
If you're the type that enjoys diversity, adventure, fun or now and then a new challenge in your workday, you need a Jeep. If just checking cows in a Jeep isn't exciting enough for you, these handy terrain crawlers can up the excitement-and-adventure ante by creating adventures amidst your daily routine.
Checking in a Jeep with the top off and returning home before it rains is always an exciting challenge. Jeeps also provide opportunities to take the scenic or long way home by breaking down occasionally, miles from home, which has happened to me before. Such experiences stimulate one's improvisational and thinking skills to get back home. It should be noted that such experiences are a part of Jeep ownership initiation, especially for owners of older Jeeps.
If you're lacking in or yearning for a challenge in your daily ranch work, you need a Jeep. It affords a sense of adventure amid routine, and you get more than just the wind in your hair and sunshine on your shoulders -- mud and rain on occasion. Where a Jeep goes, you don't need roads, just an adventurous attitude. And maybe some good footwear.
-- Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices.com.