Sunday, March 16, 2014

Farm Hogs


My brother in law belongs to a motorcycle gang. Harleys, black leather, the works. Except his gang is made up exclusively of middle-aged South Dakota farmers, so I don't think you need to alert law enforcement when you see them rolling into town. If this bunch of renegades had a logo, it would be an ear of corn.

Instead of choppers, these guys have touring bikes, the motorcycle equivalent of a 1972 Buick four door. Wide body, sound system, GPS, cushy back rest on the rear seat for the wife. More trunk space than my grandmother's attic. Tip one of these puppies over, you've gotta call a tow truck to get it upright again.

When they all decided to haul their bikes to Florida for an extended vacation, their biker friend Tim figured no problem. He'd just toss it in the bed of the pickup. He backed up to a dirt embankment, plunked down a twelve inch plank to bridge the gap between there and the tailgate like he'd always done with his snowmobile, and eased the bike onto the ramp.

A little too easy.

Halfway across, it stalled. And that's when he discovered the critical difference between a snowmobile and a motorcycle. When stopped, a snowmobile doesn't tip over. Therefore, he'd never noticed that on a foot wide plank suspended in the air, there's no place to put your feet down to catch your balance.

A thousand pounds of motorcycle began to teeter, and Tim had no choice but to save himself. He dove one direction, the bike went the other. Crash! And that was just Tim. You should've seen the bike.  

Luckily, the damage was mostly cosmetic (to the bike, not Tim, who was both bruised and mortally embarrassed because of course his wife told everybody). He was able to get his pride and the Harley repaired in time for their big trip, but he still had to load it in the pickup. Definitely not trying the ramp again. Being a farmer with no livestock, he didn't have a big loader like the ones his rancher buddies used to feed hay to their cows, but he did have a nice utility tractor that should do the trick.

He built a sling for the bike, hooked it onto the tractor bucket, and lifted…the rear end of the tractor right off the ground. Whoops. Obviously, counterweights were needed. He chained a couple of old chunks of broken concrete to the three point hitch on the back of the tractor and gave it another go. This time the bike came off the ground, but as he started toward the pickup the motorcycle began to sway on its tether, and the concrete blocks weren't quite enough to offset its weight. Every time it rocked forward the tractor bobbed, the bucket dipping a little farther with each swing, sway-dip-sway-dip, until Tim was dribbling the motorcycle across the yard like a very expensive basketball while his wife debated whether to speed dial their insurance agent, an ambulance, or one of those funniest home video shows.

Somehow, he finessed tractor and bike into position. When we saw him, he was en route to Florida with the Harley securely strapped in his pickup bed and a vague sort of plan for how he was going to get it out again once he arrived at his destination. My husband suggested he might consider buying a motorcycle trailer. A nice low one, with a built in loading ramp.

Tim snorted in derision. "Tow a trailer all way to Florida, through those cities? That would be a pain in the butt."

As opposed to the obvious efficiency of his current method. Then again, if he liked to do things the easy way he would've quit farming years ago. 



Fiona Lowe said...

I love this! In Australia there is the Ulysses Club for bikers over age 50 and it's slogan is 'ageing disgracefully" :-) I refereed to it in Runaway Groom, where Hogs feature a lot due to it being set in Wisconsin ;-)

Keep writing these vignettes! I love them.

Anonymous said...

He just needs a wider plank. And the same kind of setup newbies use when getting on a horse.

You gotta love men and their logic.

Good for his wife for 'sharing.'


KayC said...

This made me laugh. Reminded me of a similar incident with my husband when he was loading our 1951 Harley onto the back of a Holden ute. Lucky he had three sons (and me) to share the load when the old girl teetered. Thankfully she made it up unscathed and there were lots of burly men to help get her off and on again at the other end.

We have a nice low motorcycle trailer with a ramp now ...