Of Duct Tape, baling wire and WD-40

by Julie Carter
Carrizozo, N.M.

There are some constants for survival that every country girl learns to utilize beyond feminine charm and tough grit.

In the years of hauling down the road (that’s rodeo talk for paying entry fees, driving hundreds of miles to perform in the rodeo arena for a few seconds and then driving home) I often found a need for basics in emergency management.

Three items consistently required for crisis control were Duct Tape, baling wire and WD-40. With those items you could fix anything short of an amputated limb.

The Duct Tape covered an assortment of ills ranging from the horse’s splint boot that wouldn’t stay fastened to the pickup tail light lens that refused to stay in place.

Duct Tape could cover a split in a radiator hose, mark the rented stall as “taken” or pad a spot that was poking somewhere or something it shouldn’t. I was decades ahead of not-yet-invented Homeland Security in my use of Duct Tape to seal the ills of the world (road dust) out of the camper.

If the rodeo went badly, it also was an adequate “For Sale” sign placed prominently across the rear end of the horse you shouldn’t have bought in the first place.

Baling wire is a generic term for any kind of wire of usable size to fix all those things you didn’t get around to replacing, welding or repairing in a proper manner.

Sometimes called the “poor man’s welding rod,” no self-respecting horse trailer or pickup truck should be without it for emergency repairs of the wiring kind.

It works well for vehicle mechanical repair (tying up the muffler that just fell off), horse equipment repair (the headstall that broke as your name is being called to compete) and tying the dog to the trailer hitch because she slipped her collar and bit the rodeo clown.

WD-40 literally stands for Water Displacement, 40th attempt. That is the name straight out of the lab book used by the chemist who developed WD-40 in 1953 when he was trying to concoct a formula to prevent corrosion. The result was a multi-purpose problem solver that has thousands of uses and even comes with a medical warning for those who spray it on their body joints to treat arthritis.

Life is easier with WD-40 around and in those times when the handyman jack wouldn’t jack and the trailer hitch jack was immovable, nothing was more valuable than that yellow and blue can of magic.

Unless you were Barbara.

Barbara, my friend and hauling partner, didn’t need emergency backup for anything. Barbara was beautiful, very feminine with a smile and figure that stopped traffic. Perfectly coiffed at all times, she had long nails, little need for makeup, and a natural charm that emanated like sonar.

While I was cussing and beating the lug nuts off a flat horse trailer tire with all the brute strength I could muster, Barbara would step to the front of the rig and wring her lovely hands in distress. In a nano-second four linebacker-sized cowboys would appear and with a cowboy drawl say, “Can we help you out there little lady?”

Shoving me out of the way like a pesky weed, they would bodily lift the trailer, fix the tire and leave for the rodeo dance with Barbara on their arm like a prize trophy.

I’d simply watch in amazement and put the jack, WD-40 and Duct Tape back in the tack compartment.

A thousand times since I have wondered when I missed the “Hand Wringing 101” class.