Post: Just Five Minutes

The last cold snap was something we have not witnessed in many years in the State of Texas.

There was great human suffering associated with the storm and its duration. The enduring and very bitter cold, had a terrible effect on livestock as well. Some animals, without a barn for refuge, were left to weather the elements.

As always, I watched my neighbors get up early and stay out late, to ensure their livestock had feed and water. If hay stockpiles were not sufficient, neighbors chipped in and helped one another. There were many phone calls to insure we were all right and visa-versa. Some of the worst damages to water piping systems became visible, in liquid form, after the storm had passed and temperatures slowly made their way above freezing.  During periods of lost power, electric heat lamps and heaters were off in well houses throughout the land. If it was off long enough, pipes froze quickly.

We were very fortunate to have a couple of chords of firewood up by the house. The fireplace kept most of the living room warm and comfortable until power was restored. Some folks were not as fortunate as we and endured several days without power in their homes.

 On the lighter side, events like this always drive home my wife Nanna’s favorite saying,  this little job will only take five minutes. That saying is repeated often when I ask for her help on a little five-minute job.

During the bad spell we just went through, I asked her to put on all of her cold weather clothing and her new mucking boots I got her for her birthday.

“ Where are we going?”

“ Oh, I need to haul the horses a little water. Their troughs are frozen. It will only take about five minutes. I need to fill the sheep’s troughs right here by the house as well. Not a big deal.”

“ I know about your five-minute jobs. They never last just five minutes. Let me get on my things” she said.

First, I had to uncover the water spigot that I buried before the storm hit. Of course, now it had about a foot of packed-snow on top of it and the ground was hard as a rock.

“ Nanna, just keep that hood pulled down and give me a few minutes.”

Finally, after fifteen minutes or so, the spigot was visible. I turned it on and instantly, we had water for the animals. At that very moment, the power went off.

“ Why don’t you go back in the house for about fifteen minutes while we are waiting for the power to come back on. The fireplace will feel really good.”

“No. I am out here and it is too much trouble to get all of this off and back on just for fifteen minutes.”

Finally, the heat lamps kicked back on in the well house in exactly fifteen minutes from the time the power shut off.

Maybe it was my imagination, but  220 head of sheep could not seem to get enough water as I began filling their emergency troughs. It took thirty minutes to slake their thirst and refill the troughs. The next task was covering the spigot back up to insure it was usable in the morning.

“I really needed to put that on my must-do list for spring” I thought.

When I got in the gator with Nanna, I asked her to write down: Install access box for buried spigot on my to-do list.  She stared straight ahead as we backed out to head to the barn.

The bitter wind was blowing out of the north-east as we drove down the fence line of the snow-covered north pasture to the horse pens. The wind intensified the cold exponentially, especially on the person sitting on the north side of the Gator. That person, was Nanna.  Even with a barn, both animals chose to stand out in the snow for such a time as to have a ¼-inch coating of icy snow on their backs. After emptying three, five-gallon water buckets into their troughs,

I went in the barn and grabbed a curry comb.

“Let me get this snow and ice off of their backs . It won’t take but a minute.”

Nearly two hours had passed since we left the house for my little five-minute chore. Finally, we began to make our way towards the house. We were both, quite literally, frozen to the bone.

“ Winter air is invigorating, is it not? I said as we turned towards the house.

Nanna just looked straight ahead. I think her lips were frozen.

We stripped off our jackets, boots and gloves in the mud room and warmed our hands by the little electric heater we keep out there.

“Nanna, it seems really funny now. Do you remember that time we were dressed for church and I went to check on that nanny that had a very large kid goat? I asked you to back up to the gate post and grab her horns so she would have something to push against. You certainly did a good job holding her by the horns when I pulled her other kid that was breach. It was especially impressive, with your good clothes on and all.  Now, I said it would take only about five minutes. It wound up being, what, maybe twelve to fifteen minutes at the most?  We were not that late for church as I recall.”

Practical advice for the day

“Never try and shoe a horse in a windstorm”

Until Next Time



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