I’ve developed a personal motto over the years: “don’t plan on anything but be prepared for everything.” I’m not sure if I’ve adopted this slogan because of my experience with raising human and bovine critters, or because I live with my Other Half, or because we carve out a way of life that is at the whim of Mother Nature, but whatever the reason, this motto has served me well. I’m not saying I’m always prepared. On average, I figure I’m halfway prepared 50% of the time, but I try to learn from my past experiences of being ill-prepared and hopefully do better next time.
Nowhere is it more important to be prepared than in your vehicle. Whether you drive a two-door sports car, a van or a beat-up pick-up, the mantra ‘be prepared’ applies. For us, there aren’t too many days when we aren’t on the road heading somewhere, or just tending to the regular chores of hauling cows, trailing cows, or checking cows. I’ve discovered, through experience, that it pays to have certain items stowed away in your vehicle. While everyone should have the obvious safety materials on hand (ie. Water, booster cables, tire iron…) I’ve prepared a list of additional items that have enabled me to maintain my sanity whilst out and about.
1. Fencing pliers. And staples. If you have one, you should probably have the other. Cattle like to stay put 99% of the time, but when they do get out, they wait for the perfect moment when you’re in a hurry, wearing highly inappropriate footwear and have a cab full of groceries and hungry kids. Coming across an errant bovine at just the right time and with the right tools can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Fencing pliers can be useful in a lot of other situations too, so useful that sometimes my personally labelled set wanders off to help someone else in need and fails to return to my truck.
2. Reading material. For those unexpected minutes (hours) that you end up sitting at the corrals, almost anything can be used for entertaining storybook material. Old dog-eared bull sale catalogs, auction sale flyers, and machinery brochures can be used in a pinch, but there’s nothing like cuddling on a blanket by the bumper of the stock trailer reading a favorite book while you’re waiting.
3. Small piece of rope. Gate too tight to shut? Need a string for your puppy? Want a makeshift halter? Decided it’s finally time to follow through on your threat to strap the kids to the roof? (I’m kidding on that last point). A short chunk of soft rope can get you out of a tight spot, it’s a handy thing to stow away.
4. Diapers & baby wipes. Ever wander the streets of your small town after supper in search of a baby diaper? Uh, me neither. But if I did, and say the little girl who handed me with the muchneeded diaper gave me advice to take an extra one for the truck, I would take that advice. And the diaper. As for baby wipes, they are just handy to have in general, whether you’re a kid or a grown-up. You’ll use them, trust me.
5. Snacks. A very wise mom once told me that you can do anything and go anywhere as long as you have snacks. I find it best to pack what you think you’ll need, then quadruple it. Snacks will buy you a lot of time and ward off unpleasant whining and hunger pangs, however as the snack supply dwindles, be prepared to come up with an alternate plan, fast.
These are just a few things that I have used (or wished I had!) to help make long, short or unexpected journeys a bit more pleasant. As I read through the list, I realize I have to stock up on some items myself. Time to round up that missing pair of pliers.