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Taking the weekends off

Jaclyn Wilson

Jaclyn Wilson

Jaclyn Wilson raises Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. Send comments to her at

Happy Thanksgiving! I bought a turkey today and am hopeful that I will figure out how to cook it by Wednesday night. The last turkey I cooked may have been around 20 years ago. I remember reaching into the bird not realizing that they sometimes put the neck inside. I may have grabbed it, screamed bloody murder and started crying.

Needless to say, the last 20 years have hardened me some. If I had the same experience today, that bird would not have a fighting chance.

I don’t know why I bring this on myself, but I did volunteer to do the cooking, with the stipulation that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on Wednesday night. Thursday morning I’m heading to San Diego for 48 hours to meet with Sandra (our Switzerland intern) before she leaves the United States.

It was going to be a mad rush before I left to get two groups of cattle to cornstalks, but the cattle pot had a different plan.

A week ago Sunday I had been up at Alliance for the day and the Holy Terror and I had fenced the first pivot the farmers had finished harvesting. The next day, the Boss Man and Right Hand headed up to get the water system set up. and finish some odds and ends. The weather turned ugly cold, so I decided to wait until Saturday to haul cows when it was supposed to get up to the 40s.

That morning the Boss Man and I headed out. I miraculously got 80 head sorted off and through a gate, and we trailed them through another pasture to the corrals.

Jenny the semi started right up. I got out of our sandy yard without getting stuck, and the first group of cows almost loaded themselves. It had the makings of a great morning.

I went to lift the floor cover that flips down over the ramp going into the bottom of the pot, and the hinge busted. “No biggie,” I thought. “I’ll just load the cows that should go onto the back compartment on the stock trailer the next round, issue diverted.”

Cows unloaded great. I got the second group loaded fine, loaded the stock trailer for the Boss Man and headed back up. Everything unloaded great. I pulled onto the gravel and parked, and everything seemed fine. I waited for water tanks to fill up and headed out to the highway. I was going to leave Jenny in town so my hinges could get fixed Monday. It was still daylight, all was OK.

I pulled onto the highway, and once I had gone about a quarter of a mile I saw smoke billowing from the back end of my passenger side. I pulled over as fast as I could and realized my back brake must have frozen. With the gravel dust, I could see the front back tire on that side but not the back tire. Of course both duals were flat, and it was a Saturday.

Now, I do a lot of stupid things on Sunday when the majority of ag businesses are closed, then I’ll moan and cuss until Monday rolls around. But for some reason, Saturday has become the new Sunday and no one is open.

Thanks to one of my great farmers, I had an air compressor I could use, but even better he gave me the number for the after hours tire co-op. The white knight showed up in his trusty tire mobile, went to start the air compressor on his backup truck, and it broke. No air compressor, no tires getting fixed.

Right at that time another farmer called, he left his kid’s birthday party to come over and we found out very quickly the tires were fine to look at, until you realize there’s a big gaping hole underneath that you can’t see.

So I babied Jenny on the back gravel roads north of Alliance to drive her over to the mechanic without touching my brakes the entire way. Whenever I would, the tire would lock. Somehow we made it and got her parked safely. I may have thought about kicking a pot tire while walking by to jump in with the Boss Man. I informed him we were going to Taco John’s to rub my war wounds with sour cream and nacho cheese, especially since I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours.

I’m going to get this trucking thing figured out yet. I still love the convenience of going whenever I need. Fortunately on Saturday I could still find humor in everything come the end of the day, but I have vehemently expressed that I will not be hauling cattle on the weekends any more.

With all of that, this Thanksgiving I’m thanking a farmer, a couple of them to be exact. Or else I might still be up there by Carhenge parked on the side of the road. Who am I kidding? At that point I may have just donated the entire rig to Carhenge.

Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at This column represents the views of one person and are not necessarily the opinion of the Midwest Messenger.   

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Jaclyn Wilson raises Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. Send comments to her at

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