Saturday, November 14, 2009

My new garden tool an adorable little 4x6 trailer from Tractor Supply:

I can't think why it took me so long to do this. For years I've paid ridiculous delivery fees for rocks and gravel, or borrowed other people's trucks or trailers to haul around big stuff, or struggled to fit eight board feet of lumber in six feet of space in a car, and each time I'd think, "I really need a small truck."

But I had no interest in owning a truck as an extra vehicle; I'd only use it a couple of dozen trips a year, and then the rest of the time it would sit around taking up space.

Nor did it make sense to sell my car and replace it with a truck, which isn't as fuel efficient, just because I need the hauling capacity a few times a year.

So I dilly-dallied and dragged my feet, all the while resenting those hefty fees and inconvenient delivery schedules. And it was especially annoying this fall, when I was working on the front garden. Installing an homage to an arroyo apparently takes a lot of rock.

And then, a stroke of brilliance: A trailer would solve my problems. It is cheap, easy to store, and doesn't require extra fuel except when in use.

I did a little research and found out that a 2002 Subaru Outback is rated to haul 2000 pounds with trailer brakes and 1000 without.* Since I probably wouldn't load the trailer with any more than I could move in a single day, my heaviest cargo would probably only be around 600 pounds or so.

There were some things I needed to make happen to in order to enter this amazing new world of hauling-ness. First I had to get a hitch and wiring for the wagon. Then I had to march down to the state office and pick up a "Texas Trailer" license plate (boy howdy, does that ever make me feel like using a drawl). And then finally, today I painted a piece of exterior grade plywood to use as a floor for the trailer (otherwise, all that gravel will just wiggle on through the bottom):

The paint color is suspiciously like that of our house trim. Not sure how that happened.

Having a trailer around makes me feel all moxie and can-do, and that is just fine with me, since I can't abide a helpless woman, even when she is me. This strikes me as both a self-sufficient and sustainable approach to a problem.

I figure that ten trips hauling stuff and the trailer will have paid for itself. So if you need me to haul that antique bureau you found in a dumpster, or a load of fencing supplies, or a bushel or eight of fresh corn, just give me a call. I aim to amortize this thing toute suite.

Oh, and by the way, I am already working toward that amortization, since I used it to carry home the plywood I am using for the floor. I can count that, can't I?

Nine more trips to go.

*It's my understanding that a 2009 Outback is rated to haul even more--up to 3000 pounds. I'm passing along this info not to tout the virtues of Subarus, but to illustrate that our cars may be more utilitarian than we give them credit for being. In fact, what really convinced me to take the plunge and get a small trailer, is seeing a huge one behind a Saturn Vue, driven by someone replacing part of my driveway. That trailer was in turn loaded with 10-12 bags of concrete. That's behind a hybrid, people! Once I saw that, the tiny can-do wheels in my brain started churning...

So if, like me, you've been agitating over the "I need a small truck question," do a little research and find out what your car is capable of doing. I found my info in the service manual that came with mine.


  1. Sure it starts with a few scoops of gravel and a few pieces of lumber. Next thing you know you are towing an ATV to some wildlife refuge loudly tearing up the trails.

    I am sure that won't be you, have fun with you new tool.

  2. Ha! Les, you're right. That won't be me.

  3. Oh I want one!!!!! I just had 2 yards of mulch delivered: $55 delivery from 2 miles away, and a total of $100. Very beyond my budget.

  4. Congrats on the purchase! Consider getting trailer brakes- they really do help a lot. Plus, I have never heard anyone ever getting trailer brakes on a Subaru- that would be really cool!

  5. Benjamin--$55? Holy cow. I am only paying around $45 and feel like I was getting ripped off. The trailer was only $400 new (couldn't find a used one), so I figure it won't take all that long to have it pay for itself.

    David--Thanks for the tip. I'll look into it. I could wind up becoming a tricked out hauling maven! LOL!

  6. Susan, Please don't tell my husband, who has recently been eyeing trailers for camping purposes. To be able to store a trailer, we would need to buy a bigger house... and that would mean a whole new garden. Wait a minute, what am I saying! Can I give you his email address?

  7. Trailers, my friend, are very, very nice. Glad you got one.~~Dee

  8. Had to come out of "lurker" mode to declare proudly: There is NOTHING more empowering than being a woman who can back up a vehicle with a trailer attached!!!

    Love your blog!

  9. We've had a 93 Dodge Dakota since 1999 (second vehicle, not driven much) and every time I contemplate getting rid of its gas-hogging, steel-plated carcass, I think of all the times I've used it to run out to haul mulch or rocks, or load the unending leaf cleanup into it without having to bag them... You've inspired me to think again about getting rid of it and replacing it with a trailer. Thanks!

  10. Helen--That's too funny! Good luck on the new house/garden.

    Dee--Yes, I think it will turn out to be a wise move.

    rbohemian--welcome in from the lurking world, and what a cool name! And re empowered women backing up trailers: uh, yeah it does! Now I just need to, um, learn how to do that.

    DaughterN3: Trucks can certainly be handy, but they are awfully big to leave just lying around the house, too. Good luck on figuring out the best path for your situation.


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