Pipi’s Pasture: Stranded on the ice
This week’s column was inspired by a small, wooden carving of a bull with horns, jointed hind legs and reddish-brown markings on his otherwise white body. My brother, Duane Osborn, brought him back for me when he was on a trip somewhere. The bull is sitting on our bookcase shelf, his back legs stretched out in front of him and his front legs up in the air. His mouth is open just a bit, as if he might be saying, “Oh, no!”
As I looked at him yesterday, I thought, “I’ll bet he fell on the ice.”
Ice — and trying not to fall on it — is what’s on my mind this week.
When it started to rain out here at Pipi’s Pasture a few days ago, we thought it would turn to snow, but it rained enough to top off the cat water pans and the small water tanks at the corral. Where there were bare places on the feedlot, water stood in puddles, and some of the cows (as is their lazy nature) drank there rather than walking to the stock tank.
Amazingly, the rain didn’t melt all the snow that covered the ground, but in our large driveway, it turned the snow to slush. At the entryway to the garden/hay/corral area, water stood under and around the two big gates. Next to the shop, where the sun hits the ground, it was even a little muddy. In other words, everything was a mess.
So, that night, it froze, and somewhere around then a little bit of snow covered the mess. Some people told me that the highway was “the worst ever” the next morning. The cows quickly learned they needed to tread lightly on the feedlot ice, and I had to figure out how to maneuver on the ice to get my chores done the next morning.
I have to cross our driveway twice a day — at chore time — to get to the carport where we store the grain. From there, it’s either go through the big double gates or another smaller gate next to the feedlot area to get to the corral. My dilemma that first morning after the freeze and snow was which way to go to avoid falling on the ice.
The driveway was one gigantic ice skating rink, but it was covered with snow, so I didn’t realize just how slick it really was. It’s the way I chose to go. About halfway between the house and carport, I could feel the slickness with my boots — the “danger-of-falling-down” type of slick.”
There I was, stranded on the ice, holding two empty buckets. I was afraid to walk forward; I was afraid to walk backward. Lyle was still in the house, and there was nobody else around. Stranded!
I had to do something. I knew if I fell, I might not only break bones, but also not be able to get up. Finally, I got the nerve to tiptoe (I know that’s not the right word to describe my steps, but it’s as close as I can come) forward. It’s a miracle I made it to the carport. When I touched the dirt floor, I had the urge to get down and kiss the ground.
Since then, I have been zigzagging all over the place to find the safest way to get my chores done. For years, I have wanted to learn how to ice skate. I guess I had my chance these past few days — if there had been a teacher around, and if I’d owned a pair of skates.
So much for the models that predicted a cool, wet summer for us here in western Colorado — at least I think it’s hot this July. Ranchers are probably relieved that it’s been a good haying season, and after the cool spring, it’s nice to have a “normal” summer, but it is indeed hot.