Saturday, August 9, 2014

Twas the Night Before the Fair

Today is one of the most dreaded days of the year at our house. It is the day before the fair. Each year we swear we are going to be more organized and have more done much earlier in the summer and make this day less stressful. Well, we all know what road is paved with good intentions that would be the road leading to the fair. I am not sure what road you thought I was talking about.
In any case, each year we wake up on the day before the fair with one goal. Survive and move on to the fair. We plan this day out in advance and it should all work but I am convinced that the hours are only 50 minutes long on this particular day because we seem to run out of time before we run out of things to do. However, a shortage of time is not the biggest problem of the day.
The day before the fair is the day that we have major breakdowns and calamities. No matter how smooth things have been all summer, something and often several somethings will happen on this fateful day. For instance, one year, the day before the fair, our normally very strong, very reliable well went dry on fair eve. That caused wide-spread fear, panic and hysteria on top of normal fair stress.
This year was no different. Earlier in the week, I had made the shocking discovery that we did not have enough sheep feed to make it through the fair. This was partially due to my miscalculation and partially due to the ewes getting into the barn and making a horrible mess. The week before the fair was in full swing complete with Murphy’s law.
However, this trip to Clay Center seemed very fortuitous. The afternoon before we had ruined a big tire on one of our tractors. A new set of rear tires was not in the budget and a search for used tires revealed a couple in Clay Center. Maybe our day before the fair luck was changing, or maybe it was just setting us up for bigger calamities.
It was a good plan, run a couple of errands in Manhattan, drive up to Clay Center, deliver the tire and make it back to Manhattan for a doctor’s appointment. The day started off smoothly, in fact, we were ahead of schedule. Then it all started coming unraveled. At a stop on the way to Clay Center a spot of oil was noticed under the pick-up. Cause for concern but not necessarily alarm. Not until the next stop and I noticed a bigger spot of oil and a nice coating of oil under the entire truck.
A quick check of the dipstick revealed that the oil leak was cause for concern. A quick conference call determined that our chosen course of action was for me to add oil and drive to my house watching the oil pressure gauge all the way.  If the gauge wavered at all, I would pull off to the side of the road and call for help. A tense drive home ensued but the gauge held steady and we made it, although by now we were around a half an hour behind schedule.
The drippy truck was parked. I sent Isaac and the tire to the field with the afflicted tractor and I started back to Manhattan and the appointment with the doctor just a little behind schedule. After the visit with the doctor it was time to shear lambs and make them pretty for the show. What else could happen?
The kids were taking six lambs and we had already sheared them once so this was just touch up work. No problem, it shouldn’t take very long. However, shortly after we started on the first lamb, the clippers and blower went dead. Probably a tripped breaker, maybe blown fuse, but it should be an easy fix. Maybe most days but not the day before the fair. No blown fuses or tripped breakers could be found. We located an extension cord long enough to snake from the house to the sheep clipping area and the problem was fixed.
I am sure that someday we will look upon all of the day before the fair wrecks with fondness and even laugh. That is probably many years in the future, maybe while we are watching our kids and grandkids scrambling to get ready for the fair.  Right now this not amusing, however, we will learn from our mistakes and be more organized next year. We will be easy to spot at the fair; we will be the ones with flying pigs.

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