Miss RedFeb 01, 2022 09:00AM ● By David Nowacoski
It was February, 2017, when my buddy Jay let me know where I could find her. He knew what I was looking for—and more important, what I wanted to avoid. Those high-maintenance situations never really worked out for me. Living on a farm, I’m all about dependability and hard work. I couldn’t care less about getting “oohs” and “ahs” going down the street.
So when Jay messaged me that brisk winter morning, I slipped out of my muck boots and headed for town. As soon as I laid eyes on her, I knew she was the one. Petite would not be the word I’d use to describe her. More like solid. But that’s not to say she was unattractive. Yeah, she’d been around the block a few times, but she looked well taken care of.
I bought her on the spot and came home with the slightly used minivan we’d call Miss Red. On a farm full of trucks and tractors, you’d wonder why I’d gone looking for a minivan. Versatility. Miss Red had three rows of seats, which meant my wife could haul a load of kids to soccer practice and still have room to pick up a few things at the hardware store. But Miss Red wasn’t just into the mom type stuff. With the seats folded down, she gave me a full four-by-eight-foot flat hauling area. And haul we did!
Rain was pouring down the day the guys at the feed mill laughed at me when I showed up with Miss Red. But as they struggled with tarps and ropes, I just slid that side door open and smugly started loading feed bags that I knew would stay nice and dry on the trip home. Six hundred pounds later I slid that door closed, tipped the rain water off my hat, and drove away. In the rearview mirror I could see them watching Miss Red, and I knew she had impressed them.
Tough as she was, she had limits. She loved kids—but only the human kind. One day, my wife and I came upon a farm advertising Boer goats for sale. We’d been looking for goats to help us clear out a new pasture, so we swung into the driveway. After chatting with the owners of the farm, we struck a deal for four baby goats. They asked when we were going to come back for them. I just smiled, put my hand on Miss Red, and said we could take them them right now.
I swear I felt her shudder. The door stuck a little when I tried to open it, and the seats didn’t fold down as easy as they usually did. But I managed to get her ready for her hoofed passengers. You’d swear these goats had never ridden in a vehicle before. They bounced from side to side and up and down. While we kept them from chewing on anything long enough to leave marks, it was their other end that we didn’t have an answer for. That evening I took out a bucket of soapy water and tried to clean up the mess they made. It must have been an optical illusion, but those headlights glared at me as I walked by.
Miss Red is still with us, mellowed out a bunch since our (human) kids are grown and gone. We hardly ever have her seats up anymore, but she seems happy picking up veggies and stuff from local farms. We don’t ask her to haul anything heavy now. Heck, with the miles she has on her, we’re just happy she still gets up and goes. If you see her going by, give Miss Red a wave. She likes that.