This winter at the 4UR, we had to say goodbye to our old faithful feed truck, Big Red. Although he will be missed, his replacement, Big Red II has proven the “new guy” is ready to face any given task with ease and muscle.
Winter is vehicle maintenance time at the 4UR Ranch. Our whole fleet gets a full tune up and is readied for the busy summer season. We realized Ol’ Big Red wasn’t going to make it through the upcoming Guest season, being that you had to hold your breath to get him started (due to a stripped fly wheel), and he started to burn oil. It was time for retirement. Damon had a bitter hard time letting go, as Big Red has been a part of his whole ranch history.
The Ranch bought Big Red, a 1985 GMC pickup, in the late 1990’s, and outfitted him with a flatbed. In the early years, the truck was the only vehicle to haul trailers, hay, and functioned mostly as the ranch hands’ work truck. It was the only standard transmission on the ranch, and taught many young employees how to drive a “stick shift” on the way to fish fry.
Usually by November, the truck’s flatbed was loaded with twenty bales of hay to feed all the ranch horses – everyday – snow or mud or holiday – through the entire winter/early spring. In the summer, side racks are mounted to the flatbed, and Big Red was loaded to cater all cook-outs, from Poolside Fiesta to Fish Fry. This truck picked up every food order for Chef Wray, needed to feed guests and staff throughout the summer. Its faithful operation was critical to feeding 4UR horses and humans alike!
A suitable replacement truck was found after an arduous search followed by a lengthy customization period. It’s standard transmission allows the truck to “ghost drive” (meaning . . . no one is behind the wheel) on the days when feeding the horses is a one-man job. Ol’ Big Red is enjoying retirement as the “new guy”, a 2007 Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab drives past, loaded with the day’s feed for the herd.
I usually drive Big Red once or twice a week in the winter, and sighed along with Damon as we climbed into the new rig. Then I noticed I had a cup holder for my coffee, and that our two girls were contained in the back seat – instead of crawling all over us. Hmmm, not so bad. The drive to and from the pasture was so quiet. I have been known to wear earplugs in Ol’ Big Red, especially when the snow required us to use chains on the tires. When we were done loading hay again and returned home, we didn’t smell like exhaust, which in the past perfumed clothes and hair. As we finished the job in the new truck, we sighed again, but this time with relief!
Welcome, welcome Big Red II, may you serve us for many years and become a great behind-the-scenes guy like your predecessor, and a part of the 4UR legacy.