The year began with our search for a new-to-us truck to supplement our aging Ford F350. For us, picking the right vehicle is like hiring an employee; it has to be up to the job. We needed a work truck with the power to pull a trailer loaded with 20,000 pounds of hay; space for three 4-H kids in the back seat; the right kind of hitch for our stock trailer; and a flatbed to hold six barrels of food scraps or brewer's grain. Our current vehicle, a 2004 Ford 350, is feeling its 300,000 miles. It still runs, but not reliably. Imagine if it broke down when hauling cows? Not many of our friends have the gooseneck hitch we'd need to rescue a stranded load of cattle.
Local buying is always our first choice. We couldn't afford $60,000 for a new truck, nor could we find the right used vehicle around here. One candidate had everything except an extended cab. Another had an extended cab but lacked the power. Two were perfect, but without emissions-control systems they would not pass New Hampshire inspection. While shopping, we learned that many used trucks sold in New England are purchased in the South. So, we started looking in that direction.
It worked! Bruce found what seemed like the perfect match. Not only did this Ford 450 diesel truck have the power we needed, but the right kind of hitch, a metal flatbed, only 100,000 miles, and was in our price range. It was perfect, except it lived in Texas.
While we continued our in-state search, I called Texas to ask if the truck was still available. David Gloff, the owner of Gloff Ford, said with Southern courtesy, “Yes, ma'am.” With only photos on the internet to look at, we couldn't see its faults. But without being asked, David sent photos of worn leather seats and bits of rust in the attached tool boxes – pictures not included online.
While David equipped the truck with a spare tire and new radio, we arranged financing, got the title registered in New Hampshire and secured an inspection waiver for the extra time it would take to drive it back here. Finally, the Texas truck, inevitably named “Tex,” was ours.
Wayne and Beverly, David's parents, met us at the Dallas airport and drove us two hours to the dealership in Clifton.
That Southern voice on the phone had inspired trust, and we'd been reassured by the testimonials posted on the Gloff website. Even so, we were apprehensive. Meeting Tex was like going on a first date, where the potential partner had seemed so perfect on Tinder.
But Tex turned out to be even better than advertised. The worn seats weren't so bad, and the stout grill guard was a plus. Wild boars are rampant in the Lone Star State. Hogs that escape captivity become feral in just one generation. They rip up wheat and barley fields with their snouts and crush crops where they lie down. Texans hunt them, kind of in self-defense. (We were introduced to a character called Danny Dawg, who hunts boars with just a knife. It's hard to believe unless you've met Danny.) Anyhow, most Texas trucks have grill guards like ours to protect the engine if a pig is hit.
Glad of a break from the daily demands of livestock management, we took seven days of sightseeing and visiting as we dawdled home. (A thousand thanks to our cattle-sitters Melissa, Olivia, David, and Jason.) In New Hampshire, Tex was awarded extra points for his rust-free body at Glen's Truck Service in Belmont. In Glen's opinion, this 2006 Ford is like-new.
Tex might find our New Hampshire winters and road salt corrosive to his complexion, but at least he's equipped for any sudden encounters with our deer and moose.
Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm, where she raises and sells pastured pork, lamb, eggs and grassfed beef. She can be reached at email@example.com.