Tailgates #1, #2, and #3

For the introduction to this series of posts about the life of an old farm truck and its extensive need for replacement parts, see “One Piece At a Time“. This follow up post offers details on the fate of the first 3 tailgates of the 1977 Ford 3/4 ton pickup truck (“Old Brown”) that was the workhorse on the farm where I grew up.

My main chore was to feed the replacement heifers. We didn’t have a feed wagon or fence line cement bunks. Dad didn’t need those anyway, he didn’t have that many critters and he had three daughters. So, the general feeding procedure was as follows:
1.       fill five-gallon pails with ground feed,
2.       carry two, one in each hand, from the feed shed across the yard,
3.        climb over the fence and
4.       dump them into the wooden feed bunks

Then I would return to the shed and repeat until the heifers had been given the amount of feed I was instructed. When I was 9 or 10, I figured out how to fit buckets into a little red wagon and transport three at a time. Within a year or so, I was really impressed when I could carry four buckets, two in each hand, across the yard even faster than using the wagon. Soon, I asked if I could use Old Brown. Somewhere around age 12 or 13, I was granted access to this pickup for cross-yard use only and given basic instruction in driving a manual transmission.

The new “luxury” feeding procedure involved backing up Old Brown to the feed shed, filling the pails, lifting them into the bed of the pickup, driving across the yard to the heifer pen, backing up to the fence, getting out of the pickup, and unloading the pails and dumping them in the bunk. Of course, this process was much more efficient if I could back up as close as possible to the shed so that I could lift the pails right into the bed of the truck.  Most of the time I had the tailgate up when I backed up to the shed, but on one particular day, the tailgate was down and I was sure that I could get right up to the shed.

In my defense, mirrors on a 1977 Ford ¾ ton pickup truck do NOT warn you that “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”. Tailgate #1 ended up with a large U-shaped dent in the middle and was replaced for cosmetic reasons. Tailgates #2 and #3, the same shed, and my two sisters were all involved in similar incidents.

If any males out there are smugly commenting about “women drivers!”, you spoke waaaaay too soon. In all fairness, my father drove that pickup far more than anyone else, so statistical probability dictated that he was responsible for most of the replaced parts. Of course, if he is reading this, he will probably ask for a recount.

If you want to follow more of the adventures of “Old Brown”, I will add more to Farm Trucks. While many of Old Brown’s parts wore out due to natural causes, others had a much more interesting and dramatic end.

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