COLUMN: Hat Tips

Well, we are officially in calving season.


Posted March 8, 2013


Well, we are officially in calving season. The snow is falling from west to east at about forty mph across the yard. Ice under the snow. Cold, wet cows. Our first heifer had a calf the day before yesterday. The rest are waiting until tonight when the barometer and temperature go down and the wind and snow come up. They do that you know. But, as they say, “Back in the day”!

Now, you know we haven’t had enough snow to make a difference the past ten years. Oh, a skiff now and again, but not much. And I know you know that a skiff is just a tad over a smidgen.

It didn’t look to me like we had more than a skiff the other day. Maybe a skiff and a half. But the wind was whistling about fifty miles per and you couldn’t see much past the hood of the pickup.

The weatherman was so excited he was about wetting his pants. This was the storm he was born for. Rain, sleet, snow, and wind. School closings and bus delays. Highways blocking and no travel advised. The weatherman was gleeful in his long awaited importance. Ten years on the job, with nothing to report, gets a bit boring. But he was making up for it. I could have choked him.

Well, you know how Shirley is. We had to feed the mares. I looked out the window. You couldn’t see beyond the porch railing. The wind gusts were rattling the windows. I was setting in my well-used easy chair with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. Suddenly, Shirley jumps from her chair and declares, “We have to go feed the mares!”

I made a casual comment, like, “They’re alright until tomorrow.”

After several decades of wedded bliss, I should have known better. After a brief, but enlightening discussion, I too decided we should feed the mares.

So, we tied ourselves together with ropes to avoid getting lost in the storm and made our way to the pickup. With a little help from the ether can, I got the tractor running and set a bale on the pickup.

Now, I know you recall that I was the Four-Wheel Drive Driving Champion ten years running. But over the past ten years, with no snow, I must have lost my edge. And besides that, if I take a good run at a drift, my co-pilot would scream.

With the blowing snow hampering my vision, I hit a drift. Big drift. That dually pickup stopped. One turn of the wheels and it was stuck. Stuck, stuck, stuck. I called Alfred. He came with his big Dodge pickup. He backed up, hooked up his towrope, and hit it. Hard. One spin and he was stuck. Stuck, stuck, stuck. I called Will. Thank goodness for cell phones. Will came with his pickup and hooked up. The wind was still whistling. He hit it. One turn of the wheels, and he was down to that slippery stuff where the snow meets the thawed ground. Stuck. Stuck, stuck, stuck.

There we were. Stranded. $100,000 worth of pickups hauling a thirty-dollar bale to nine mares that could have made it till tomorrow.

Our winter survival kit consisted of one Salted Nut Roll candy bar I bought for the grandkids. We were at least three hundred yards from help. Shirley and I quickly ate the candy bar before Will and Alfred could see it. We had been stuck for nearly an hour.

Tess came with a pickup and her and Shirley got the chains on it with very little advice. They saved the day. The mares made it until evening and when the wind abated, we found a way around the drift.

But that reminds me of another story. Thanksgiving. Bob, Butch, and I went to the river. I made a serious mistake in judgment and became stuck. Stuck. Stuck. Stuck. Eight miles home.

I’ll tell you one thing. I didn’t know our old hired hand, Jimmy, had a bottle of Gold Bell wine stuck under the seat.

But by the time I walked home eight miles, up hill, and returned with another pickup and chain, you never saw happier stuck men in your life.

Later, Dean

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