Working with live freight, particularly cattle, requires specialized skills. Trucker Jen Evans knows firsthand how challenging live freight can be; she hauled cattle for 10 years and once had her arm broken by a bull.
“You do have to have pretty tough skin to go out and do it. I’ve had a few guys stop and say, oh, you can do it so I probably can, too,” Evans said. “At the time I had a broken arm because I’d gotten tossed around by a bull. I was like, you go ahead and try that. It’s not for everybody.”
Working with cattle means sometimes you get covered in poop and have to work crazy hours, she says. In the summer, you have to work at night when it’s cooler. When it snows, you can’t stop; You throw chains and keep going.
Cattle can also pick up on and respond to your moods, according to Evans.
“They can sense your fear so you have to let that go and feel confident to go do the loading and if you have to get in with them and whatnot. You have to want it and you have to feel like you are Hercules, basically. If they know you’re scared to death, they’ll just take advantage of the situation,” Evans said.
It’s also an industry that’s slim on women truck drivers; Evans says she encountered only one company that had another woman cattle hauler during her 10 years in the industry.
“I think there’s a lot of intimidation from the men where they’ll make you feel like you can’t do it. I grew up on a dairy. There was a company that I went to apply for and they said we don’t hire women. I was like, I’m glad you just said that. I said now I’m going to prove to you I can do it,” Evans said.
When Evans moved to Utah, where she currently lives, she found a local job hauling milk at Tilden Transport LLC. The milk is in a tanker but she says it’s surprisingly similar to cattle hauling. She pulls two trailers and said one big difference is just having to be aware that she’s now longer than most other trucks and trailers.
“As far as milk and cattle go, it’s really interesting. The feel, the movement is really the same. You have the movement of the cattle and you have the movement of the milk. Your shifting is a little bit different when you’re loaded versus empty but they’re surprisingly the same,” Evans said.
Even in milk hauling, Evans says there aren’t a lot of women. She takes pride in what she does and in being one of the only women in the field.
“I still feel super proud of myself because I’m out there doing something that you don’t see a whole lot of women doing,” Evans said.
In her spare time, Evans remodels houses. She started with a house in Arizona in 2015, which she bought, fixed up and resold. She remodeled another house when she moved to Utah and is now in the middle of remodeling her own home.
“I’m working on one now. You walk into it and it has this distinct 1980s look. You replace the flooring and replace or paint the cabinets and give it a nice upcycle,” Evans said.
For Evans, it’s a way to unwind.
“It relaxes me. I come home after a week of work and the stress of the road and traffic, depending on road conditions, and I just come home and I paint,” Evans said.