At the Farm Gate: College Move-in by Trailer Successful, Minus the Pigs

At the Farm Gate - Joanie Stiers.2

By Joanie Stiers

The gal in the neighboring dorm room rented a U-Haul to transport her belongings to college. Other families had minivans with the back seats removed for their students. We had a pickup truck pulling a livestock trailer that stated the name and location of our farm.

I avoided eye contact with the upper-classmen helpers as my dad removed the pin, lifted the bar lock assembly and swung open the rear gate. With ease, the trailer held my bookshelf, mini-fridge, microwave and television with built-in VCR. I grabbed a lamp and headed to my second-floor room. Perhaps the volunteers didn’t realize this rig hauled pigs most other days of the year.

For six consecutive years, livestock trailers hauled my brother or me to college. Later, they moved us to new homes. The trailers were “special-event spotless,” or as clean as possible with a pressure washer and relentless focus on the toughest layers of manure. We cleaned the trailers with the same precision for a shining appearance at the county 4-H fair livestock shows.

My college move-in experience merely represented the norm for a farm kid: Farmers maximizing the potential of their farm equipment. As a child, Mom swam in a large, round livestock water tank, which served the cattle when she and her brothers were done with it. Old tractor tires became sandboxes. The hayrack doubled as a float in the homecoming parade. We used the farm shop for our wedding reception.

By my senior year, I appreciated the practicality of our pig-turned-furniture hauler. Now, our kids witness my tolerance of embarrassment. The minivan (my farm car) has mudflaps and rugged, all-terrain tires. I take an insulated delivery bag into the local pizza places. Mistaken for DoorDash, I explain the bag keeps both pizza and field meals warm in transit to rural locations.

So if you see a livestock trailer backing with ease to the neighboring sidewalk, admire the skill. Then, just realize it’s likely not a cow moving in next door, but rather someone with some unique resources potentially sharable with friends.


About the author: Joanie Stiers farms with her family in West-Central Illinois, where they grow corn, soybeans, hay and cover crops and raise beef cattle, backyard chickens and farmkids.



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