Rotting cow skulls and other moving horror stories

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Moving one’s earthly belongings from one place to another may be one of the worst tasks there is. It’s a slog no matter what, and sometimes it borders on unbearable.

My younger daughter, her husband, my 3-year-old granddaughter and their two 100-pound Akitas from Moscow, Idaho, have spent the past week at our home because they had to move out of a rental home that was sold out from under them and can’t get into their new rental until this weekend.

They were crunched to get their entire household moved in one day so they could race to Montana for my son-in-law’s brother’s wedding. It was a fiasco from the onset. With two universities winding up their school years, there was mayhem at the U-Haul place, where they waited close to two hours before finally getting the moving truck they had reserved. (Some weren’t so lucky and were diverted to Spokane for U-Hauls).

Because their new rental wasn’t yet vacated, they had to cram all of their stuff into their new garage. By the time they left it was late Friday night and they’d missed the rehearsal dinner. My granddaughter was one of the flower girls and my son-in-law officiated at the wedding.

They finally arrived — completely exhausted — with about four hours to spare before the ceremony, and I’m pleased to report my granddaughter nailed her flower-girl duties.

As bad as this moving experience was, it doesn’t hold a candle to what I refer to as our mother of all awful moving experiences.

The year was 1991 and my husband had started a job managing Whitefish Custom Meats in April of that year. I stayed behind in Sidney, clear across Montana, to sell our house, help with the sale of our meat processing business there, and wrap up my two part-time jobs. Our girls were 4 and 6.

Our house and 20-acre hobby farm unexpectedly sold within a few days, which meant I had to find a temporary apartment for me and the girls. At this point we had some stuff in Whitefish, some stuff in storage, some stuff still in our house and some stuff at our apartment. I couldn’t find anything.

We made several trips across the state to get our belongings from point A to point B. I don’t remember why we just didn’t rent a big U-Haul for everything. Anyway, during one trip, my younger daughter came down with the chicken pox — really, really bad chicken pox. During another trip the pickup I was driving broke down somewhere around Malta. I was supposed to meet my husband in Havre (we were going to switch vehicles so I could get the van back). As I sat there along U.S. 2 the biggest thunderstorm I’d ever seen rolled in while I was huddled with my two daughters in the broken-down vehicle.

A guardian angel in the form of a Hi-Line cowboy rescued us and got us to where we needed to go. All this was way before cellphones, keep that in mind.

But the worst was yet to come. My husband Tim, who ran a slaughterhouse with his meat business in Sidney, had an idea to make some extra money by sun-bleaching steer heads in our pasture over time and then intended to sell them as Western-themed wall hangings (it was a thing back then; maybe it still is).

The decaying cow heads were in the far corner of our land, but the people who bought our place wanted them removed before they’d close the deal. I get it, I wouldn’t want cow heads on my property, either.

But Tim couldn’t get home to do the dirty work, with just starting a new job and all, so my mom came out from Minnesota to help with the final throes of moving. We put on big rubber gloves and heaved those stinking things into a pickup and hauled them to the landfill. We’re farm folks and had seen our share of blood and guts, but this nearly sent us over the edge.

So whenever anyone starts to complain about moving, I’m usually able to one-up them with my tale of maggot-infested skulls. It’s a badge of honor I’d rather not have earned.

News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or

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