I saw this cartoon last week that went somewhere along the lines of “I’m already tired of this winter, because it doesn’t seem like last year’s has ended.”
Thanksgiving was a good one. I cooked. What was even more impressive was that the smoke alarm never went off once, everything was edible, and everyone is still alive. I can give a pretty halfhearted attempt at the domestic thing, though definitely not in my wheelhouse.
The Boss Man’s Wife was adamant about having dead bird, so in the spirit of Thanksgiving I cooked dead bird. This was my first unsupervised dead bird, but it was a lot better than the first one I attempted when I came home from college, when no one happened to mention that they put parts inside the turkey that really aren’t supposed to be there. I was already a little jumpy about the whole cooking thing, and then I reached into the bloody turkey, grabbed a neck, freaked out, screamed like a girl, and broke into tears. Definitely one of my finer moments.
There were no tears involved this holiday and everyone seemed miserable when they stepped away from the trough, so I count it as a success.
The weekend after was just miserable. Mother Nature decided to blow in a blizzard, and she must have had her hand in a turkey at some point because she was cranky. The moisture started Friday afternoon with rain on top of snow so that when we rolled out Saturday morning, there was ice built up on everything. It may have been fine as is, but then the wind rolled in and poles started breaking, visibility went to hardly anything, and even the 350-foot-tall PREMA tower that was a community landmark crumbled from the combination of ice and wind.
The Home Place lost electricity around 9:30 on Saturday morning. It came on for a little bit in the afternoon, and then was back off until the following day. We got calves fed at the feedlot pivot, and after talking with the Boss Man, I loaded up a couple of electric fence chargers in the Hydrabed and headed into Alliance.
All the coming four-year-olds and up are on cornstalk fields just west of Alliance. They are right next to Highway 385 and literally across the parking lot from Bomgaars and Maverick. Our cows go to stalks every year and have a lot of respect for electric fences, but with predicted gusts over 60 mph and blowing snow, I was already a little concerned. Then with the possibility of widespread power outages, and all the electric fences being hooked up to electricity along with all the wells being ran by electricity, the Boss Man and I were a lot more comfortable with me being in town right next to the cows instead of an hour away.
I stayed at a hotel literally walking distance from stalks and continued to keep an eye on both groups as section after section of Alliance went black from the galloping electrical lines. The cows were all hunkered down for the storm, and by the grace of God, the couple blocks around where I was staying had power surges but never lost electricity.
They closed all of the highways in the Panhandle that evening and the following morning I got up bright and early to see cows still exactly where they needed to be and not looking in my hotel window, which was a big relief.
I went ahead and checked out of the hotel and plowed through snowdrifts to get to the fall recips, as we were pulling CIDRS, giving PG shots and putting on backtags. It was single-digit wind chills, and I was extremely grateful for the Vaxmate cooler that I had put warm gelpacks in that kept my syringes at 68.8 degrees and the pickup defroster where the backtags stayed warm until applied to the cow. Even with SenseHub, we thought we better use backtags and ride heat until we were a little more familiar with the program and its accuracy.
After processing recips, I loaded a couple alfalfa bales and made it back to Alliance to feed the cows on stalks and was able to plow through the remaining drifts by that time.
I guess everyone complains about the weather at some point and believe me, I’ve been there a time or two. The last year has made me a lot more indifferent to it. I’ve learned you prepare the best you can, you adjust to everything as it arises, and if you keep a positive attitude, things seem to go a lot better. Sure, there’s times that I’d rather be living in the city, curled up on the couch watching Hallmark movies on days like this last weekend, but it’s pretty dang rewarding when one gets home Sunday evening and realizes how successful the weekend actually was.
Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Neb. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at email@example.com.