Jody White: At Home on the Range Nebraska gate latches |

Jody White: At Home on the Range Nebraska gate latches

by Jody White

Elsmere, Neb.

Since moving to the Sandhills I have discovered that out here there are more breeds of gate latches then there are breeds of cattle! There’s the kind of gate latch that pinches your fingers every time you try to open it and close it. It’s called the %#@! gate latch.

Then there is the %#@!! gate latch that pops off with the ferocity of a pit bull and has the gall to hit you in the head, or the stomach, depending on how tall or how close to the ground you’re built! But my all time most unfavorite, the most despicable, underhanded, dirty dealing gate latch of all is the %#@!!! This latch has been crossbred with all of the others and is as nasty to look at as it is to work. With it you not only have the possibility of getting fingers pinched, drawing blood, or getting whacked up along the side of the head, but also of having the gate practically blow up in your face. Of course, that could have a little to do with the gate being stretched so darn tight the wires hum.

None of the above gate latches have been bought.

They are all home-made, and the by-product of some fiendish mind on a cold wintry afternoon! I see their counterparts on other people’s pasture gates, too, each with one more evil twist than the next in their make up. But whatever they look like, they become, for those not paying attention, lethal weapons, with the potential to maim or wound!

Now Butch says it’s just me, and for me to be sure to underline and put in bold print the part about “for those not paying attention.” I do pay attention!! I’m too scared of them not to! Matter of fact, I start twitching and flinching while approaching any gate on this ranch ” it’s a conditioned response.

It wasn’t this way in Wyoming. I might have cussed a gate for being too tight, but rarely for attacking me! I just made sure that I always had a piece of baling twine in my pocket for those gates that I couldn’t get the top wire over the post. I never saw a “real” gate latch until we moved to Nebraska. The closest we ever came to a gate latch in Wyoming was a cheater stick. At least with a cheater stick I knew what to expect.

And if I’m not in a tussle with the gate latches, then I’m fighting those gates scattered around the place that were made for tall people … of which I am not one of.

Try opening a gate where the top wire is just a scant inch below your eyebrow, stretched tighter then rubber bands on a kid’s retainer. For some reason it seems I’m always the designated passenger when we’re driving through the fields and pastures, so I automatically become the designated gate opener. You try wrestling with a gate taller than you are sometime. It ain’t easy! Even if I do somehow get the gate opened without getting “schmaked” I’m still faced with trying to get it closed. And that’s even harder, and more humiliating, especially when it means the driver has to get out and close it for you, with apparent ease and obvious disgust. Of course, he’s 8 inches taller then me, and outweighs me by at least 60 pounds! Do I sound like I’m complaining? Well I sure hope so, because I am! And I’m hoping one person, who will go nameless, will read this!

I still say that my neighbor has the best remedy for tight gates and flat-out mean gate latches (although my husband won’t agree with me … or her). She says one good smack with the truck loosens everything right up.

Yeah Pam, but I’d have to be driving to do the smacking!


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