Cow Dung Dust

Hi, folks. I'm a Colorado playwright looking to talk with a bull hauler. I'm turning my play "Cow Dung Dust" into a novel, and need to clarify a couple things. The story takes place in a bull rack traveling west on Route 66 in the early 70s. Based on a true story, the truck is hauling empty except for a handful of hitchhikers. Any help with some basic cattle hauling facts would be appreciated.
Well, for one, when I got my ride (yes in a cattle pot), the guy was hauling empty, but picking up hitchhikers. I'm trying to piece together how a driver might be hauling empty going west on I-40 through Oklahoma. In my story, I have him returning to California. Is it a stretch for a bull hauler to be returning all the way to California empty? Would he have delivered calves maybe from California to say, Joplin, Missouri? Or maybe Springfield? I need to make it logical for a driver to have already delivered critters along Route 66, and then be going back for more.
Also, if I recall, my driver gave me earplugs for the ride, so it's a bit of a stretch to have people in my story back there in a bullrack talking to each other. But most folks have no concept of how loud it might be back there. I'm thinking, once up to speed, it might be possible for dialogue, maybe towards the front of the trailer.
Actually, it may be hard to find anyone who's ever ridden in the rack at 80mph besides me, including (especially) bull haulers.
Of course I don't remember the actual truck, but I'm using an early 60s, Pete Needlenose 359 day-cab 10-speed in my story, which takes place around 1972.


curmudgeon extraordinare
Yes, it's possible they would be bouncing back empty. I've known a couple guys that claim they'll bounce from Ohio back to Wyoming or some setup like that. As to Joplin or Springfield,. I'd have to look at where the stockyards or butcher facilities we're back then. But it's possible. I know a couple of locations used to have facilities, but have long since closed the doors and been dismantled. As much a memory as any type of industry.

In current industry, one of the arguments the livestock industry used to be exempt from the eld requirements is the fact that their hauls from California to points east don't work with the HOS requirements and the eld prevents them from proper animal husbandry. The facilities are not there for drivers to take a required 10 hour break for unloading trucks, but they are there at an 18-22 hour day. Figure the miles out at 75-80 miles per hour.

Read that as they will drive like hell for 24-36 hours to deliver a load of livestock, then crash on delivery for a longer period of time to recover.

If you are close to the stacks, then yes, you might need ear plugs. As well as from the wind buffeting through the siding on the trailer. As well as, it's no louder than riding in the back of a pick-up truck.

If they had washed the trailer, yeah, you might ride in the trailer. Otherwise, you'd be ankle deep in manure for the trip.
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Thanks for the reply mndriver! Yeah, I'll need to call both calve ranches in California and stockyard/auctions in Missouri to see which ones were around back in the 70s. The trailer I was in had been cleaned out, but not well. There were nooks and crannies that had long-since been filled in with manure, some of which had hardened and dried (hence the cow dung dust). I'll explain this driver's habits as I develop his character. I imagine now there are regulations regarding trailer-hygene, but things were probably looser in 1972.

One thing this research has done has made me aware of just how much the government has been regulating the industry. Like with any industry, it gets in the way, makes everything more expensive, and messes with a lot of lives.

Fortunately, in my story there are no electronic logs, and this driver will be driving all night. He's doing long hauls, with a day cab.

Hey, another question. How do you think this driver might have viewed hitchhikers back then? I had long hair then, and he'd have considered me a hippie. While I was happy to have a long, unusual ride, I can portray this driver as either doing me a favor, or laughing to himself for having thrown me into a **** wagon. I think I'll have him playing the good guy -- for the first time trying to slow himself down a bit. This character is pretty high-strung, and seldom relaxes. With the way he's been pushing himself, it's not likely that he'd stop and lose time just to screw with hitchhikers. No, I'm going to have him forcing himself to slow down, for once. I guess he can still laugh to himself about picking people up. He'll call males thumb-bums, and females thumb-bunnies.


curmudgeon extraordinare
I can remember as a kid in the 70's my parents picking up hitchhikers when we went to Yellowstone and glacier.

Don't see many hitchhikers now like you did then. Society has real changed in that aspect.
Ha! That's funny. He always has a toothpick, as did the guy who picked me up. In fact the other characters refer to him as Toothpickman.

Yep, back then hitchhiking was pretty common. I did the whole Route 66. I've exaggerated things to get this into story form, but I did get picked up, and then he stopped a couple more times. At one point, we stopped in some town and he pointed us to a liquor store. We had a party going on in the back of a bull crate, movin' full speed through Oklahoma.