Sunday, May 8, 2011

The cost of riding


You know, I went to the gas station to get a 5 gallon can full, and it was a little shocking. But gas I must have to ride my mighty fine Cushman. I really can't do without it. It's the work horse of my small farm. The John Deere doesn't get that much use everyday, The Troy Built and Gravely help, but the old Truckster does the running around, hauling stuff, and generally getting my hands to where they need to be with the tools to do it.

I got thinking about this riding thing, and it came to mind that horse and buggy wasn't exactly cheap. Back years ago, the girl's mama and  I used to go to horse auctions to buy horses. We wanted plugs that would fit into a trail ride string...nothing high strung. They usually cost about $150.00 to $300.00 for that kind of plug. Then the expense really began.

You got to have hay for the hay burner...ain't no grass in WV in the winter from about mid November to mid April. Hay was about $1.25 a bale back then,  if you picked it up in the field...took about 1/3 a bale twice a day. Horses don't get much heat out of hay, so in cold weather, we bought whole corn at 3.00 a bushel, got to keep that body temperature up. We would use about two and a half long bed pickups of corn a year. Then you had tack...saddles, bridles, blankets etc. I did learn enough about shoeing to spare us that expense, but vet bills of the major kind were outrageous... and horses can get into all kinds of trouble, not being the sharpest critters on the planet.

I suppose every farm had a wagon and horses or mules of some sort. Bigger farms had more horse for plowing, harvest, and logging...BIG horses...HUNGRY horses. A farm had to have horse power. My mama said they had a big carriage, a sleigh, a big wagon and a smaller buggy. Grandpa worked in Floyd, and I suppose he had to ride a horse or take a buggy the 7 miles to town. A good part of the farm output went into feeding draft animals, and that meant land to grow the hay, oats and corn necessary for their upkeep. Not cheap, I think.

Looking at it from that perspective, $4.00 a gallon gas ain't bad, considering you can turn it off when you ain't using it. You can wear it out, but your ride ain't likely gonna' just up and die on you one day. I've messed with enough horses in my life that I'll take my pickup, the Cushman, and the John Deere over horses any day. Hell, I'll take a bicycle over a horse. Oh, horses and mules are fun to watch pulling logs and plowing, and they came in handy chasing cows and roping on the ranch. I'll just pay my $4.00 for gas and diesel, I've done had a bait of  horses in my lifetime!

I once had to drive 30 miles to work when gas was 39 cents a gallon. I was making $4900.00 a year teaching school. The expense caused me to trade a perfectly good Suburban for a Datsun pickup...back when they were made out of tincans and shell casing...I had the first one anybody had ever seen.  Paying for truck was cheaper than playing for the gas every month. The kids at school thought it hilarious to see me unfold out of a 1969 Datsun pickup.

Thank the Lord I don't have to drive from Athens to Atlanta to work like some people I know. The bottom line is with child care costing what it do, and gas driving back and forth to work, they gonna' be some sad talking and slow walking until we figure out how to rejuvenate our local economies. Driving to Wal Mark and the other big box stores 30 miles away ain't gonna' get it. We need local markets at reasonable prices. Good Luck?

The new world economy ain't gonna be pretty either unless we get some smarter decision makers working on it. The ones we got now don't seem to get it. Gas ain't gonna get any cheaper till there ain't no more, and then we'll do something about it.

Horses? Again? Riding do get expensive, don't it?

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