Petersen: Gates |

Petersen: Gates

If you live in the country on a working ranch or if you’re a newcomer playing at ranching on a “hobby” stretch of ground, you are obliged to cope with gates, particularly the wire kind.

To cope with wire gates there are three tips to keep in mind. Tip One — Expertise (acquired through practice). Tip Two — Patience (acquired by keeping silent despite others stupidity). And Tip Three — Be impervious to pain. (That’s a hard-won plus).

Usually, the post forming a gate framework is outfitted with a smooth wire loop which sorta lassos the top stick supporting the ongoing portion of the fence. To open the gate, one is obliged to slip the loop off the fence stick. This is achieved by hugging gate stick and fence stick so tightly, you bruise your shoulder.

Once the loop is off, walk forward while keeping a taut stretch on the horizontal wires of the actual gate. Or you can draw the gate held in your hands (gloves are useful here) forward. But that direction puts you in the position of bumping up against the pickup, which you’ve halted a little too close to the fence.

“Leaving it open while you check something will automatically make every critter in the county want to pour through that opening.”

Whichever direction you choose, you must always close the gate behind you. Leaving it open while you check something will automatically make every critter in the county want to pour through the opening. If that happens you’re obliged to herd the escapees back, which is when you discover that every animal has gone blind and cannot find that same open gate.

If a newcomer to rural life happens to ride with you on a journey to check the heifers in the south 40 pastures, too often said newcomer fails to realize that his or her responsibility as shotgun rider is to open the gates to allow the pickup to pass through. Remember Tip Two — Patience. As you approach a gate accompanied by a guest sadly deficient in country protocol, you can hint: “Looks like a gate.” Or: “This one is an easy-opening gate.”

If your visitor continues to remain unmoving, bear up. Set the handbrake, debark, wrestle the gate open and stand looking back at pickup. If he or she does not slide over to pilot the pickup through, fling the gate to the ground, return to pickup, climb in, release brake, drive through, set brake, get out, drag gate up, re-close it, sometimes rupturing a muscle and always tearing new rip in your sleeve.

Climbing back into your vehicle, do your best to refrain from caustic comments. Once again, remember Tip Two — Patience is a virtue. Continue to whatever chore brought you to the south 40 in the first place.

By the time you’ve gone through three successive gates, ripped your sleeve in so many places your shirt looks like a lace tablecloth and you’ve acquired several puncture wounds from barbs, there’s a chance treating your guest to a slight bit of homicide is twitching the corner of your mind. Recall Tip Three ­— Be impervious to pain. Also repeat Tip Two — Patience.

As for Tip One. Expertise — that’s what you’ve acquired by dint of many, many practices. Your guest has provided you with yet another chance to improve your gate-opening technique.

You are now trained to enter the Olympic Games in the sport of Fencing.❖