From the Kitchen Table: Be Aware, Take Care
Ahhh… fall – finally. I love living with four seasons, but if I could choose, I’d have five months of fall, two months of winter snow for snowpack and the rest divided up between spring rains and short summer heat.
Sadly, we’ve had a slate of unfortunate four-wheeler accidents this year. I’m sure everyone reading this knows of someone who has passed away or was seriously injured in an ATV accident.
When everyone was horseback, there were plenty of accidents as well – head injuries and broken bones from a horse stepping in a hole or bucking down a draw, the rope under a tail, spooked and running off and even while getting on or off.
There still are plenty of horse wrecks, but a lot more folks use four-wheelers for ranch work now.
Four-wheelers are so easy – you can just step on and take off – no wrangling, no frozen picket chains and no feeding. Everyone rides a four-wheeler on this ranch.
In the days of bag phones, Bob always needed to find cell service. Once, while we were coming up out of the creek on the mountain, he almost made it but the four-wheeler came back down, over and over, all the way to the bottom.
Luckily, Bob was thrown off and just got a bloody head. The guys at the four-wheeler shop just shook their heads when we brought it in with the handlebars all kinky.
Years ago, Bob and I were gathering some escaped cows on the mountain. I was horseback, and Bob and his trusty dog Kaycee were on a four-wheeler. Bob had a braided leash out of hay strings with a loop on one end to keep his dog on the back of the four-wheeler. Kaycee had a tendency to jump off and help at inopportune times.
Bob had the cows, and I was atop the ridge to turn them. They were coming down a draw, and Bob was in pursuit. I didn’t see the wreck, but Bob says it was straight out of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Kaycee had jumped off of the four-wheeler and was running in front. The loop in Bob’s hand slipped over onto the throttle, and things really sped up!
Kaycee was running in front, tightening the hold on the throttle, and the four-wheeler was going faster and faster, while Bob was stomping on the brakes trying to wreck since it was the only way to stop.
The four-wheeler was on it’s side, wheels still spinning fast and the motor at high revs. Every time Bob tried to reach for the key, the spinning wheels would grab his clothes. Luckily, the automatic kill switch Honda installs worked, and the four-wheeler finally died.
I rode to the top of the hill and looked down – the cows were heading in the wrong direction and Bob, the dog and the four-wheeler were all resting at the bottom.
What the heck? Were they taking a break?
Another time, while putting salt out on the mountain, I tipped the four-wheeler over on it’s side. The wheels ended uphill. I was almost able to get it upright. I even found a pole to pry it with, but I finally I gave up and walked four miles back to camp in the dark.
The next morning, I caught my horse, rode down to the four-wheeler, got a rope on it and tipped it up. I unsaddled my horse, loaded up the saddle and we all headed back to camp. This is why my family keeps an eye on me now when I’m out on a four-wheeler.
Try to be safe out there folks! No texting on bare stretches of Interstate 25, warm your pony up before taking off and for heaven’s sake, be careful on those four-wheelers.