Just Me and My Pickup … and My Dog … and Some Mud

One night around dinner time Michelle and I were heading out of Kingston. I saw a guy coming out of a convenience store and getting into his pickup truck. He was carrying a big bottle of Pepsi and a big bag of potato chips. So I said to Michelle, “You know, that’s kind of a fantasy of mine, to work in a factory, leave work to grab chips and pop for my dinner and then sit and watch TV all night. There would probably be a dog in my pickup truck too.”( I hadn’t worked out the details of what the dog would be doing all day while I was working.)

So Michelle said, “You know that you can eat chips and drink pop for dinner any time you want, I’m not stopping you.” “Oh, and have you forgotten that you tried working for our neighbour in his mill working shop?” I keep telling people that it was for a couple of weeks, but then Michelle reminds me that it was only 7 days. I guess I’m not cut out for the factory life. Well it seemed like 3 months. So that kind of shut down that whole fantasy. Don’t you hate it when people burst your bubble?

My single guy-pop and chip-pickup truck and dog fantasy has been partially realized now that I’ve discovered that Jasper the Border Collie loves to ride in the truck. I can just walk in the general direction of the truck and he will sprint from out of nowhere and tumble head over heels as he tries to stop at the door, ready to jump in. His momentum often causes him to overshoot targets, and compared to the blasé cats that I live with, I love his enthusiasm!


Late this winter I was heading in to the woods once a day to grab a load of logs that I had cut. I would bring the logs back to the house and ‘buck’ them into fire-length logs with my solar-powered electric chainsaw. (And before you ask me for the brand name of my solar-powered electric chainsaw, please remember that ALL of my electric appliances are solar-powered!) But back to Jasper. He loves rides in the truck. Especially if we’re heading for the woods where he can run and sprint and jump and put his nose to the ground and pursue scents all day.

I’ve decided that Jasper must have been a driver in a previous life, because as we reach the end of our driveway to pull on to the road he always looks very intently in both directions. Seriously, when we get to the road … he looks left … he looks right … then he looks left again. It’s like the insurance industry wrote the guidelines using Jasper as their guide. He just loves to ride in the truck! Although as soon as I open the driver’s side door at the end of a ride he just about knocks me over in his determination to be the first one out. Border collies can zip under the lowest fences in their quest to herd sheep, and he does this behind my back as soon as the truck door is open.


A couple of weeks ago we enjoyed a longer ride than usual when I went to our neighbors’ to get a load of horse manure. (Thanks Alyce!) When we got back I gave some thought as to where to put it. It was early April and so the nights were below 0°C (32°F) and so the ground was still “pretty” frozen. At least it was frozen first thing in the morning. By the time I got back with the manure it was 4 pm and the sun had been out all day. The soil in the garden still seemed pretty firm so I drove part way in and it was fine. I scoped out the next section and it seemed okay, so off I went. I had to drive through a low spot where the water tends to sit. But as I walked in the area my boots weren’t sinking into the mud so I decided to go for it.

Have you ever done something and then realized you’ve made a horrible mistake? Well, this was one of those moments. Once I got through the lowest part and started to head up the incline the trailer loaded with manure hit the low spot, which was a bit of a quagmire.  I was trying to drag the loaded trailer up a hill while it began to get bogged down in the mud. And as it started to drag the truck tires started to churn away and the truck just got slower and slower. At one time I would have tried to gun it, ignore the blue smoke from the tires and try and bolt my way out the mess, but once the truck lost its momentum, the tires were just grinding deeper into the mud. So I stopped.

I have come to enjoy these challenges. When I first moved here they used to freak me out. After a decade and half of living in the country, much of the time being coached by my unflappable neighbor Ken, I’m getting more mellow about these sorts of messes. They are in fact an “opportunity” to use physics and common sense to deal with the situation.


Step one was to unload the manure. This was basically the problem; the weight was causing the trailer to get bogged down in the mud. Step two was to grab some poplar logs that I had cut to put in the back of the truck to give it some weight. And yes, I had the truck in 4-wheel drive, but going uphill while sinking into mud dragging a weight was too much for it this time. And I couldn’t help but think of something my neighbour Ken has often said, “Four-wheel drive is great to keep you from getting stuck, but when you get stuck in a 4-wheel drive vehicle, you’re really stuck!” Thanks Ken.

But sure enough, once the trailer was empty and I had weight in the back of the truck, I was fine and drove out without too much difficulty. And now the truck is a big muddy mess and it’s pretty awesome! I even have some straw sticking out from the mud flaps and it’s staying! Next time I head to the Feed Mill in town I’m going to have a muddy truck to park next to all the other muddy trucks! Hey Mom look at me, I’ve got a muddy pickup truck!

Yup, life here at Sunflower Farm can be pretty awesome sometimes!

Note: Jasper was not involved with the manure trailer episode. Like most dogs who like to roll in smelly & dead things, Jasper loves nothing better than to find a big pile of fresh manure and roll and roll and roll in it until it is completely embedded in his fur and he stinks to high heaven. He did this two days in a row the last time I got a load of manure and so he had a bath two nights in a row! Just to be safe I keep him well away from fresh manure until I can rototill it into the soil.

5 Responses to “Just Me and My Pickup … and My Dog … and Some Mud”

  • rita:

    My border collie too liked to get out first like yours. Luckily border collies are smart so I was able to teach him a little manners in this regard. I could easily see that this would end poorly. How about him dashing out into traffic if you get a flat? Or you’re carrying something and he either trips you or makes you drop it? It’s impossible to be completely mindful forever and for sure. In my case, he dashed out at the grocery store, ran over to the house next door where a pregnant mare was tied to a tree. He decided this horse needed barked at big time. The owner came out, started yelling at me that the horse was pregnant, like I couldn’t see this, adding to the massive confusion. I’m yelling at the dog to “come”, but by now, you probably know how it is once a border collie’s plan of action has kicked into gear. No one could hear themselves think, except the horse. It was crazy.

  • Glee:

    To me, Jasper seems like the perfect farm dog. After my pal, Billy, died, I vowed “no more dogs!That lasted about a week. The minute you get them you know the odds are that you will see the end of their life, and it hurts. You think life will be so much better without all the dog hair and the messes they bring into the house. You forget how much joy they bring until it’s gone. A dog along makes a routine trip an adventure. When you need to mutter something that you know your partner wouldn’t like, you can direct it at the dog and diffuse the irritation. Our new dog, Chico, is nick-named Attila the Hound. He will probably grow out of it.

  • Mike the Carpenter:

    Did you ever notice that a dog’s favorite thing in the world is to ride with their head out the window of a truck; yet wonder why they find it so annoying when you blow in their face? After my Buddy of 14 years passed last year, I ended up selling my truck. It was just too hard to look over and see that passenger seat empty.

  • Great post! Yes, you do get more “used” to the unusual situations life in the country and especially on a farm can throw at you. Love the pictures of Jasper! And I agree with Ron, nothing cheers me up like the look of pure delight on a dog’s face!

  • One of may favorite things to see is a dog riding in a car esp with his head out the window.
    They are so filled with pure joy. No matter what kind of a day I am having that always cheers me up.
    I enjoy the Jasper photos, he is a really good looking dog.

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About Cam
Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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