Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

My niece, Marian Lytle, drove as we return...

My niece, Marian Lytle, drove as we returned from Kansas recently. We were cruising at 70 mph after dark on dry pavement west of Boonville and we saw no snow till the Stadium Boulevard exit! The car phone message from our Nancy was, “Raymond Smith broke through the driveway drifts with his 4x4 truck and Therion Hinshaw cleared it, with his tractor and blade but it drifts in as fast as they clear it.” However, Nancy had a plan.

Her Sam broke the track in his dad’s truck, Nancy drove me in our “all wheel drive” van, but it was low and got stuck on a drift. The body was bound tight with one wheel completely off the ground. For an hour in the pitch dark, with that blizzard raging, that mother and son dug snow, pushed and pulled with the truck and finally dragged my van out of several drifts before we reached the carport. Sam scooped away another mound and drove the van into the ~~~shelter.

As I watched them work, I remembered another blizzard about 25 years ago. This is what I wrote about that day in the 1960s:

“Creeks and ponds are frozen and the cows can’t get water. Sometimes cows can lick through the ice, but not this day. It’s eight degrees below zero! Chub is at work and I’m to cut holes in the pond ice when the cows get thirsty near noon. I put on my five buckle overshoes and pulled wool slacks over them. Then I bundled up, face and all, and walked sideways, carrying a heavy ax on one shoulder.~

“Fuey, our Pekingese, loped through the deep snow and loved it. Thirty-five shorthorn cows filed out of the timber and followed us to the pond. Sharp splinters of ice struck my face when I began to chop. I had gone about four inches in one spot and no water yet oozed up. I loosened some of my clothing and rested.

“Thirty, thirsty animals crowded around, some of their noses nudging me, some with faces down where I was chopping. I turned and threatened them, to get them back so I could swing that double-bladed ax overhead. The tiny hole was at least six inches deep when the first water came up. The cows all wanted it at once. I wondered how they would take turns if I ever got a drinking hole cut. The ax got heavier with every blow because I was chopping in water, which froze on it instantly. The splatter froze on my boots, slacks and gloves.

“Finally I had a loose chunk of ice about a foot square and the cows knew it~! But I had to remove that thick square before any could drink. By turning the ax sideways I tilted the chunk enough to get one corner out of the hole and~ after several attempts, the entire chunk was out of the way. I was out of the way, too!

“The two most aggressive cows drank at the same time while others tried to push them aside. I was soon chopping a second hole, then a third. This was easier without the cows crowding in. Fuey and I went to the house with a warm, satisfied feeling, enjoying the music of thirsty cattle slurping water!”

That is a joy to remember. I’ve posted Sir Wilfred Grenfell’s wisdom on my refrigerator door and read it often: “Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of others, but from doing something worthwhile.”

Watering thirsty cows is worthwhile.

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