Ever since the bovine intrusion last year, which wreaked havoc on our well-coifed lawns, Bruce & I have had opposing views about our front gate. I like to keep the gate open when we’re on the property – it’s welcoming, it’s easy for vehicles to go in/out, it makes me feel good. Bruce, while not disputing these virtues, wants to keep the gate closed at all times for fear of further four-legged visitors.
The solution: a cattle stop or cattle guard.
The logistics of actually getting a cattle stop were a bit daunting.
Step 1: Procure cattle stop. It took us a while to find out where one gets such a thing but we finally found a Christchurch company who makes them. The quote we got for a 3 metre x 2 metre cattle stop was $4500. Insane! The alternative was to start looking on Trade Me (New Zealand’s Ebay equivalent). Now, there’s not actually an abundance of farmers looking to rid themselves of these 2000 lb beasts. We started our ‘search’ back in April after having been thinking about this problem since last July and every once in a while we’d see one come up for auction.
Step 2: Transport cattle stop to its new destination. We’d been wanting to buy a trailer for a while now knowing that life in the country is not complete without a 4×4 (check) and a trailer with which to lug heavy and large items. And any reader should have figured by now that we NEVER buy anything new. So, onto Trade Me again to start a search for a double axle trailer. Bruce was confident that our Sexy Beast (a.k.a.: 4×4) could tow our as of yet purchased trailer with our as of yet used cattle stop to the property in Wainui.
Step 3: Get 2000 lb cattle stop off of trailer. Voila. Enter our new neighbors, former dairy farmers, Barbara and John, who just moved to Wainui from Queenstown way. Barbara & John are our nearest real live neighbors (most of our adjoining properties have absentee owners) and I was introduced to them one early Saturday morn’ back in April when Barb and her daughter Tuesday came walking around the property, promptly knocking at our front door at 9:30 am. Still clad in my p.j.’s, I did a quick change and ran out to greet them. “Hi, I’m your new neighbor!” she cheerfully said. They were semi-retiring from farming and were moving to Wainui full-time. YAY! We’ve subsequently had them over for dinner and found out that they’d shipped up many of John’s farming machinery including a tractor which they said could pull/lift just about anything. Great to know!
Step 4: Get cattle stop into ground. We figured we’d deal with that once the first three steps were done. No use worrying about the finer details without the actual item!
So this is how it all went down:
The perfect cattle stop came up for auction in May. The starting price was $800, which seemed okay, but it was located in Invergargill, 550 kms from Christchurch. We watched the auction for several weeks, watching the reserve price lower at each passing week. The seller said he could arrange shipping. Many weeks later, after receiving the sticker shock of buying a new one, we bought this cattle stop for $589! Woot! And after another few weeks, the farmer finally hauled it to the shipping depot for transport to the Christchurch Mainfreight depot. Shipping cost: $270.
Meanwhile, we were watching several trailer auctions and went to see a few. I’m not entirely sure, but new double axle trailers sell anywhere between $2500 – $4500 and used ones can fetch up to $3000 depending on their condition. One came up for auction in Christchurch by Turners Auctions, a reputable trading company in town with which we were familiar. It was an ex-stolen Briford (reputable) trailer in moderate condition, rusting and with a few dents in it. But it had its virtues as it also came with a long nose and the chassis was in solid condition. We won the auction for $1550 and had a few laughs trying to maneuver it into the Clyde street house driveway. It took us a few weeks to get it WoF’d and registered (no problems) and then to take it in to Briford for a sandblasting, new paint job and the addition of a few bells and whistles like a jog wheel ($950!). See how purty it is!
Three days ago we were ready for our transporting adventure. It was a gorgeous sunny day with clear skies. We picked up our shiny new trailer and got a lesson on how to use the jog wheel. We inquired with the Briford folks as to whether the trailer could carry such a large item (it has a theoretical weight capacity of 4500 lbs). “Oh sure, yeah, it’ll do it.”
We drove over to Mainfreight and the forklift man was just about ecstatic to see us as he wanted that cattle stop out of there! We lay down heavy duty cardboard over the sides of the trailer and he deftly maneuvered the cattle stop on top. We spent close to an hour tying it down.
Needless-to-say, both Bruce & I were quite anxious about driving this thing 85 kms to Wainui, up and over the pass on windy country roads. We were both a bit tense.
But off we went, with me driving the first and straighter part of the trip. Not so bad but I had to keep making sure that the trailer wasn’t breaching into the on-coming lane as it was much wider than the 4×4. Bruce did the harder driving, over the narrower roads. The universe was very kind to us and there was very little traffic.
We made it up to the front gate with relief. With now just a short turn around the bend and down the drive to the front of the house, we were seconds from completing our journey. As I was closing the gate, Bruce went on and within a few seconds I heard a kind of crunching sound and the 4×4 coming to a halt. SHIT! I ran over to see the trailer and cattle stop stuck round the bend with the cattle stop side prongs firmly entrenched in a tree. No backing or forwarding was going to dislodge it. OMG, I nearly blew a gasket. There was nothing to do but leave it right where it was, completely blocking the driveway. It took me hours to calm down.
Okay, time for a miracle. I called Barb & John and they said they’d come up in the morning to suss it out.
“Ooh, that’s a good one” Barbara exclaimed with a laugh. Off they went to get the tractor and up comes what I perceive to be a GIANT vehicle with two very big fork-like prongs protruding from it. Barb and John, worked great as a team while Bruce & I stood by counting our blessings. One, two, three. The tractor lifts the cattle stop ever so gently off the trailer so we could dislodge it from the tree. The trailer was easily moveable now so we towed it to the front of the house. And with John driving, and us three guiding, we slowly schlepped the cattle stop to the front lawn where it will rest in peace until we figure out how to implement Step 4 – installation. Minor details. Total cost for Step 3: $0 and a few good laughs over a warm cuppa.
I just love country living!