In a Sow’s Ear 10-11-10
Walking down memory lane, I recalled the aggravation I suffered when I came upon a husband-built wire gate (that would be a barbed gate so tight even King Kong, Oscar the Orangutan or Jesse the Ventura couldn’t open it).
And I was horseback. To backtrack would have meant an hour’s ride to retrace my route. And I was tired. And so was my horse. And I could see the home place in the distance – on the other side of the dad-blamed tight gate. And I hurt myself in embarrassing personal places when I hugged the gate post and gate stick together in a vain attempt to close the gap so I could slip off the top wire.
I considered the possibility of coaxing my mare to crawl between the barbed wire strands. Maybe I could gnaw the post or whittle it down with my pocket knife? Naaa, my teeth were store-bought (still are) and my knife had trouble cutting butter. The only items I carried in my saddlebags were a stale peanut butter sandwich and a partial roll of toilet paper. Neither would have served as a tool for prying.
In despair, I glanced around and there – nestled between two clumps of bunch grass – a rock! I hammered the top wire off the gatepost, drug the gate open, and led my mare through. Without a qualm I rode off, leaving the gate flat on the ground. My mare and I made it home in record time. Unsaddling, I hastened straight to the shop where I manufactured a portable Cheater Stick, a tool that thereafter traveled with me whenever I was horseback.
State-of-the-Art Ranch Woman Cheater Stick for Opening Husband-Tight Gates.
Obtain one stout, hard-wood stick approximately 2-feet long, about an inch and a half thick. (A suitable stick can be acquired by accidentally sawing the handle off hubby’s splitting maul or sledge hammer). Drill a quarter inch hole in each end. In one, tie a leather string, making a loop long enough to slip over your wrist. (A leather shoelace off hubby’s work boots makes an excellent cord).
Find one 4- to 5-foot length of smooth wire, strong enough to restrain either an elephant or a 2-year-old child. Poke a few inches of wire through the loop-end hole, wrap it around and twist securely to itself.
Coil the remaining wire down the length of the Cheater Stick till you reach the other hole. Slip the end of the wire through and twist it back on itself.
Application For Use of Cheater Stick At The Next Too-Tight Gate: Unwind the wire from Cheater Stick’s lower end (that’s the one without the leather cord), fasten it onto the gatepost, then draw the Cheater Stick wire around the opposite gatestick. Using the Cheater Stick as a lever, shorten the distance between the gatestick and post till the restraining wire circle can be slipped off easily.
Henceforth: Carry Cheater Stick lashed to back of saddle or hang the leather loop off the saddlehorn. A properly made Cheater Stick guarantees that for the rest of your riding life, you are master of any gate you come across.
* Hint: Paint the Cheater Stick pink. This will make hubby think you’ve been making something creative in craft class and he will refrain from throwing it onto the woodpile or into the stove.