When I’m doing something away from home, people are used to hearing me say, “I have to go home now so I can fill the water tanks.”
In fact, if I’d saved a penny for each time I’d said it, I would have quite a lot of money set aside.
The “water tanks” are cow watering tanks, and I’m responsible for keeping two to three of them full of water.
That means using a hose, and over the years I’ve learned to resist the temptation to go off and do something else while a tank fills. Invariably, I forget about the water and return to find a lake.
So, there I sit on an overturned bucket or mineral tub, on a bale of hay, or even on a chair (if I’m filling the tank next to the house).
Waiting for a tank to fill is time-consuming, indeed, but there’s a positive side to the task as well.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about things that I might have not noticed if I hadn’t been waiting for a water tank to fill.
For example, I might not have noticed …
• The winter birds feasting on grain that the steer had pushed out of his pan.
• Fluffy snow coming straight down, turning the property into a winter wonderland.
• A mama cat taking her kittens from an opening between bales in the haystack from which they were escaping, and depositing them in the rhubarb patch.
• A bull and cow fighting over a mineral tub, the bull using his head to pull the tub toward him and the cow pulling it back — over and over.
• The angry face of a snow-covered barn cat as she made “leaping” movements to get through drifts of snow to the food pan.
• A flock of blackbirds settle in the elm tree next to the corral, spooking a young heifer with their sudden appearance.
• Icicles on the shed, frozen in a “sideways” pose.
• A cat’s clever way of wetting and licking his paw to get water from a tank that wasn’t filled enough for him to get water the usual way.
• The quiet of the early spring/summer mornings, quiet enough to hear the sandhill cranes fly over to summer nesting grounds.
• The “delicious” aroma of lilac and chokecherry blossoms.
• A killdeer walking around on bare ground, perhaps looking for a place to lay its eggs.
• The rainbow that seemed to settle over the calving shed where a newborn calf was nursing.
• The dark sky and distant lightning, signs that a summer thunderstorm was approaching.
• Two Easter eggs, partly hidden in dry grass under a honeysuckle bush, overlooked during an egg hunt.
• A bull as he drank and drank from a water tank, just how many gallons one could only wonder.
• Calves running back and forth across the feedlot.
• A mother cow gather up her calf and, using her nose, push him to another part of the feedlot.
• The breathtaking color of autumn leaves.
• The first dandelion of spring.
• A calf chase a cat across the feedlot.
• Curious calves that sneak up along the fence to check me out.
• That a bird nest, blown down from a tree, was partially constructed of discarded strings from grain sacks.
Taking time to fill water tanks is a pretty positive time, after all.
Copyright Diane Prather, 2011.
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