Jeff and Bubba work on a big spread in Southern Arkansas, along the Oklahoma border. They are your typical ranch hands who have worked together and under the same brand for several years. They have become "semi-famous" in that area as a couple of guys that can get themselves into some predicaments and – somehow – find a way to get out of them.
Not too long ago, they found themselves in a rather remote part of the ranch, checking on the spring-calving herd. They were driving the old one-ton dually they had inherited from the fence-building crew, who had inherited it from the boss, who wound up with the truck after the owner of the operation had gotten all the good out of it. After they had just crossed a gravel-bottom creek and spun their way up the muddy bank locked in four-wheel drive, Jeff (the driver) suspected he had a flat on the right, front tire. He suggested that Bubba get out and confirm his suspicions. Sure enough, Bubba said it was flatter than a pancake, but – just on one side.
At least ten miles from the closest humanity and neither of them owners of anything close to the technology of a cellphone, they knew they would be the ones to fix things up. "Do we even have a spare tire?" Jeff asked thoughtfully.
"Yep," Bubba replied. "It's on the left front. Remember, we put it on last fall when we had the blow-out on the gravel road down in the bottoms." Jeff seemed to get a little agitated.
"So, we don't have an 'extra' spare?"
Jeff, who was beginning to look more like the "brains" of the duo, calculated that they could take one of the outside duals off the rear and put it on the right, front until they could drive to services. "Get the jack," he commanded his partner.
"I'd be more than happy to if'n we had a jack," was the unwelcome response.
Undeterred, Jeff surmised that if he could lay a big rock down so that the inside dual could pull up on it and thereby expose the outside dual above the ground surface for removal. Bubba retrieved a large stone and that job was done. "Please tell me we DO have a lug wrench, Bubba."
"Way ahead of you, brother," Bubba proudly exclaimed, holding a rusty, slightly-bent, one-lug wrench.
Jeff began to remove the nuts from the rear wheel when he realized that the one and only wrench in their possession was one size to big. "Are you ready to start walking?" he asked dejectedly.
"Nope," answered Bubba, who has never been known to walk more than the hundred yards from the bunkhouse to the cook shack. "We'll just shim the wrench."
Bubba took out his pocket-knife and began to cut strips of aluminum from one of the several dozen cans that were strewn around the bed of the pickup.  As he wrapped a strip of aluminum around each lug nut, it allowed just enough of a bind to break each nut from the lug bolt. Eventually, the wheel was removed and the nuts reattached, but considering it took at least one new strip of aluminum for each nut, it took most of two hours for the process.
Jeff started the truck and rolled off the rock-jack and began to ponder how to jack up the right front.  
He retrieved an old hedge post from an adjacent fence and put one end of the post on top of the rock they had used for the rear jack and drove the truck axle lengthways up on the post.  As sure as Christmas comes before New Years, the flat, right front tire dangled loosely off the end of the cowboy-improvised jack.  Bubba was still sitting in the shade carving more aluminum shims for the next wrench work.  
They got back to ranch headquarters well after dark to find the boss more than a little upset that they hadn't even laid eyes on any of the cows they were sent to check. He then sternly insisted that they put a spare tire, jack, and correct sized lug wrench in the truck right then before it "slipped" their minds again.
"Naw," muttered Bubba, "We'll do it first thing tomorrow. We're gonna miss chow if we don't get down to the cook shack right now."
This true story happened three months ago and, somewhere in Southern Arkansas, there is still a one-ton dually running around a ranch with five good tires on the ground, a flat in the back, strips of aluminum cans blowing in the bed, no jack, and the same lug wrench that fits something, somewhere.
Jerry Crownover is a farmer and former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University. He is a native of Baxter County, Arkansas, and an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry about his books, or to arrange speaking engagements, you may contact him by calling 1-866-532-1960 or visiting and clicking on 'Contact Us.'


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