I make the trip to town as seldom as possible. The ranch is on a rough gravel road that literally beats a pickup to pieces. Every trip to town takes up an hour and a half of my time, and consumes expensive tires and fuel. But yesterday I went to town not just once – but twice.
In the early days of this ranch, Grandpa went to town only a few times a year. Once in June to haul in the wool sheared from his sheep, and once in September to trail in his lambs to sell.
In my early years as a cowboy, we went to town every month to cash my paycheck to buy clothing and groceries.
Yesterday I was finishing up the last of the hay-stacking when a chain on my stackwagon came apart. I had no repair parts on hand.
A call to the parts store in Big Timber assured me they had the master link and half-link that I needed.
Big Timber is a smaller town than Livingston, but the road is much better: only six miles of gravel and sixteen miles of paved highway – a half hour driving time. They had the parts laid out for me, but I still had to stop for fuel.
But when I started to repair the chain, I found that they had sent a #60 half-link rather than the #2060 I had requested. The links were in plastic packages with printing on both sides, and I hadn’t examined them carefully.
I made another call to be sure they had the 2060 half-link, and it was 5:30 when I arrived back at the parts store. Someone had put the #60 link in the wrong bin, they told me apologetically.
I was able to make the repair and finish stacking all the hay before dark.
What with meetings, town business, and parts runs, I end up in town a couple of times every week these days – even though I hate to make the trip. But I had reason to do some work with the road department in Gallatin County a few years back.
Bozeman is the epitome of urban sprawl. People move there to enjoy the “rural” lifestyle. But these people apparently don’t enjoy the rural environment enough to stay in the country. With mom and dad driving to work, and the kids in sports and dance class - the road engineers in Gallatin County figure the average “rural” family makes four trips per day to town.
I would be happier if I never had to leave the ranch. Why do people bother to live in the country if they are going to spend all their time in town?