Flatbeds & Fences


“Ready to go?” said Brian.

“Yup.” I replied.

Stepping onto the truck’s foot rail, I grabbed the “Oh SH**” handle and swung myself into the passenger seat.

This old flatbed truck, a gift to Dogwood, the first real miracle for the ranch.

blue flatbed farm truck

Never mind that when I used it to feed the horses I had to reverse UP the hill to make it back to the gate. It was quite the sight. If you can, imaging me (native Californian suburb gal) driving a faded blue, Ford truck as fast as possible in reverse to climb a hill. Hay spraying everywhere from the speed.  Horses bolting from the chaos that felt as odd as it looked. 

Sometimes I had to slingshot it. 

Pushing the motor as hard as the gas would let me, getting a running start to make it as far as it could go. When Old Blue would go no further, I would flip the truck in to reverse and start off downhill… backwards…to build momentum. Then at the last moment I would turn so the back of the truck was headed towards the crest of the hill.

Trial and error but we made it work. 

That’s what you do on a ranch. In life too.

You make the best with what you have.

Especially true in the early years of ministry at Dogwood Ranch.

Keeping your heart focused on the needs and meeting them however you could. Staying thankful for the gifts when they came and using what tools were available to us to care for the horses and youth entrusted in our care. 

Tools like the sweet flatbed truck. The truck still driven now. A memento of God’s goodness and people’s kindness meeting a practical need. Gifted to the ranch by someone who heard about Dogwood and wanted to aid the mission.

This gift, all gifts really, as vital to the work as the hands that daily labor in it.

“I’m so glad we’re getting this done. It will be so nice having the studs on their own.” said Brian.

Red stallion face on

LD and Peps and, our two stallions. 

LD a grumpy old chestnut with a white blaze drawn crooked down his face to end at his nose. He was the most standoffish of the two, but dependable enough to be kept around. And he produced some beautiful babies.

Pep, as we called him, was a butt. A beautiful butth***. He is a dark bay with tree trunk for a neck. Powerful in stature, snotty in attitude, and he ruled the herd. I don’t think LD cared, he was too old to bother with the shenanigans of the young stallion, and was content to graze his days away.

Both the “boys” were in desperate need of their own pasture. Space away from the enticing call of the ladies. (*wink wink* if you catch my drift.)

Brown horse eating in a field

The south field was perfect. Situated across the street and up the road from the other pastures. It was just big enough to feed both boys and since it hadn’t been grazed in a while it was prime pasture.

The fence was in desperate need of repair. So on this day, Brian and I headed out to tackle the job.

It should be noted that both Brian and I are California born and raised. Italian blood flows through both our veins and while Brian grew up the oldest of two brothers therefore not lacking in the sibling department, I was. 

Brian filled that gap.

Two friends hugging in the city

The older, 6-ft tall brother I always wanted. One who would make you laugh, but maintain always his presence as a safe place. He’s the type of guy who is there when you need and one you want around even when you don’t.

He is a jack of all trades, able to fix, mend, or figure it out well enough to get by. So, a fence, no problem. 

I had never raised a fence, but between the two of us, how hard could it be?

Two huge rolls of wire fencing had been thrown into the back of our truck. A metal post driver and ten metal fence posts stacked next to them. We fed the horses for the day, doctored a few wounds, filled a couple troughs and then drove to the south pasture.

“That fence is going to be hard to keep straight. Why don’t we unroll it so it’ll flatten out. Then we can just lift it and attach it to the posts” someone mentioned.

“Ok, sure. Why not?” the other replied. 

I’m not entirely sure whose idea this was. Could have been mine or B’s but either way the other agreed so we lay the spool at the beginning of the fence line that needed replacement. Just at the the beginning of the field that was around a football field long.

We anchored the end of the fence with some bricks and a bag of feed, stood on the fence itself and began to slowly unravel it. The weight of our bodies flattening the bent fence as we pushed it to unroll.

Brian and I, adopted brother and sis, slowly unwinding the giant spool of fence.

Two friends hugging

Feeling very proud of our strategic solution, we both paused to make sure our plan was working.

It was. 

So we continued.

Two Italian city folk, living their country dream.

Down the entire field we walked, slowly making sure the fence was flat and ready to be attached to the posts.

We were about to unroll the last of the fence so we both stepped off to opposite sides.

I do not recall how it happened. Who let go first, or if we both slipped and lost our grip. But when out weight was lifted off the fence, the stubborn fence raced to return to its wound form.

As in, roll back the way we came.

As in, Brian and I tried to grab it but it rolled so fast we couldn’t catch it so we gave up the chase and opted to stand with our mouths open in dumfounded shock as we watched the whole fence re-reel itself.

The last twenty minutes useless.

All that work pointless.

“SERIOUSLY?!?” Brian exclaimed.

Brian and I locked eyes and I folded into with laughter.

“You have got to be kidding me.”

I laughed harder and crossed my legs so I wouldn’t pee my pants.

I would have paid money to be a nosy neighbor watching the scene. Our California city roots shining through our failed attempt to “strategize” an easier fencing process.

After the laughter slowed we began our walk back to the beginning. This time unrolling just what we needed and securing it to the posts one section at a time.

It was much easier this way. 

Still the rolling out idea made sense to me but I will never forget watching that fence run away from Brian and I as we gawked at it from opposite side of the field.

Most days were like these. The ranch tasks a constant evolving list. Work that never ended but left you feeling accomplished in the process. 

And to do the work with friends, with chosen family, always accented these days with joy.  Joy-filled moments of silliness. Laughter at the plight of normal people figuring out country life. Doing it together and knowing that people around you believe in you enough to give a helping hand…or a faithful flatbed truck.

To learn more about Dogwood Ranch and how you can get involved head here: https://www.dogwoodranch.org

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