March 8, 2015
A while back I brought a steer onto the place who could not or would not settle down. Before I sent him down the road, he successfully bent the hell out of one of the corral gates. With longer days settling in (though it is going to take some time for me to settle into daylight savings time) and a mild end to winter (at least for the moment), it is a good time to replace bent gates.
Like too many other things around here, our bent gates are the result of trying to save money. Our lighter gage gates are fine for lightweight animals like our sheep and goats, but they are quite up to the job with a 600-pound steer runs into them. But we all know about that don’t we? You live with what you can afford at the time!
A few years back Belinda and I attended an auction at an out-of-business feedlot. We bid and picked up a number of heavy weight gates. Gates much more suited to a 600-pound steer slamming into them. I figured they would make great replacements for the light gates in the heavy use corrals. Me being me though, well-meaning doesn’t always get the job done. I’m willing to use the excuse there was always something more important to take care of, but of course all that got me was a few bent gates.
An ornery steer and a bent to hell corral gate took away choice—being in in the main corral I now had a gate that was not capable of holding an upset rabbit let alone the next cantankerous steer. So, good weather means a couple days of changing gates became part of my life. Well, better late than never, I guess.
Replacing gates by yourself isn’t a fast chore. With plenty of time to think, I got me to thinking that maybe the gates we like tell a bit of the story of who we are. We do not need to own a gate to know what ones empress us. I’m mostly a wooden gate guy. Steel gates last longer and don’t need replacing or much repair, but they don’t have the character and feel of worn wood. I like natural, unpainted wood gates, but sometimes, in the right setting, there is nothing like a painted wooden gate. Yet, I have to say, I have seen some steel gates with welded patterns that are no less than art. The gates I like the least are steel gates with pointed or spear like styles. I find them a little too authoritarian. A wood picket gate on the other hand is always nice, simple, and to the point. Some of my favorites are freeform gates made from sticks or branches—no less art themselves. I always enjoy, whether new or falling down, are handmade gates with a modified Celtic or Order of Christ cross—they don’t always do well keeping animals in, but they look cool. I’m not sure what gates might say about who we are, but when I visit folk I often get a quick feel to how welcomed I am.
The new-old corral gates are up now. The bent gates are straightened, best as anyone can straighten a tubular gate, and hanging in the runs. Little doubt an ornery steer can come along and bend the new-old coral gates, but I figure a good sledge and a strong arm can straighten them out. Of course we know where my figuring got me last time.