Alayne took this photo of me bringing out the very last item from the moving van that arrived on Friday. This was the snowplow, which was strapped onto a pallet that I'm lifting with the pallet forks on the tractor's front loader. I wish I had thought about taking a "before" photo, but when the driver opened the back door -- very slowly and carefully, because Alayne said she had crammed that van full all the way to the doors -- I looked up and the last thing I was thinking about was getting a photo. I was thinking, oh my Lord, how much is in there? Well, according to the weigh station's record, the driver said there was 30,000 pounds (13,608 kg) of stuff.
We had arranged with MTS Freight in Helena for the moving vans, and I would like to say they were fabulous to work with. We clearly did not have a typical household move, nor could we simply have a team of movers show up one day, pack everything, load it in a van and drive off. That's because most of it was not the kind of stuff that would fit neatly into moving boxes, and also because we had to stage the move to time it with the shipment of the animals. So some stuff we could pack ahead of time, other stuff had to wait until the animals left. MTS Freight was very flexible and accommodating, willing to work around our unique needs and schedule. They dropped the first moving van at the ranch back in early May, left it there for us to load over the space of a few weeks, then came back to pick it up when it was full and dropped off the second van. (Yes, we have one more van coming!) Then they were willing to hold on to both vans until Alayne could get out to New Hampshire to be here to help me unload.
MTS Freight contracted with an independent driver to bring the van out, and here again we were very fortunate -- and grateful. Dave H., who you see in the photo directing me as I guide the pallet forks in, offered to help us unload ... and he spent the rest of the day working side-by-side with us. This was not part of his job at all -- he was contracted by MTS only to deliver the van -- but he was kind enough to spend the day helping to schlep stuff from the van. We had an 8' x 4' platform for the pallet forks that we used to ferry the loose items from the van to the barn and house; the big things, like the snowplow, were already on pallets.
Now, I know many folks will wonder why we didn't hire a bunch of high school kids or round up some new volunteers to help unload. The reason is liability. If someone had fallen off the back of that van, for instance, we would have been liable. In Montana, we had a worker's comp policy that covered volunteers; we don't have that policy in place yet here (it's in process). And waivers aren't sufficient; you can't waive your health insurer's right to sue someone else to recover the cost of medical care, for instance. Unfortunately, in today's litigious society, it's not worth taking the risk if you don't have the insurance in place. (As an independent owner/operator who delivered the load, Dave was in a different position.)
Once we got underway, we also realized there was only really enough room for the three of us inside the van anyway; any more people and we would have been elbowing each other out of the way!
It was 7 p.m. when we finally finished, and this was a welcome sight indeed: