Blinding whiteness, tissue-freezing air, clear visability and a slight north wind, is what I awoke to this morning. I lay in bed, covers up to my chin, wondering how the cattle made it through the night and if the new calf was still alive. The fire was out in the stove; although, the house was not too cold. As I usually do when I get up, I check to see if I can see any of the cows out...first I checked north and sure enough, there were about 8 that I could see. Huddled at the horse pens. Glancing out the east window, there were several more - pawing through the snow to get to the small strands of green wheat. I knew I better get out there and tend to things...I didn't even stop to put the coffee on. The frigid air stole my breath as I stepped outside. There were 4 strange dogs out by the barn. As soon as they saw me, three of them barked and took off. All except one that was all white and very thin. She had her head in a large silver pot out by the horse trailer. She wasn't stuck in it, but kept putting her head down in the pot. Of course, Penny and Jess went bounding over there, their hair standing in tall ridges down their spines. They ignored my call. By their agressive stances, curled lips and barred teeth, I knew I better get them in the barn before a fight broke out. It reminded me of the movie, Call of the Wild! My lungs and throat were strained and almost paralyzed, as I hollered at them through the arctic air. I had to cover my mouth with the flaps of my rabbit fur bomber-style hat, in between hollers. Finally, they listened and I was able to coax them in and shut the barn door.
The white dog was friendly and quickly realized that it was Chris' goat dog that lived with his goats to the south of us. She was uncontrollably shaking, thin and whining as I petted her. The snow had balled up inbetween her toes and was frozen.
The mystery of the silver pot attraction was solved when I looked in and saw the frozen remains of the last deer that was killed - supposed to have been hauled off by Zack a week or so ago...I couldn't budge the frozen meat, but she had been ripping it with her teeth and was somewhat successful.She followed me to the horse pen while I fed, but being so timid she didn't get out of the way when Biscuit tried to stomp her. She yelped as he pawed his front hooves at her, finally forcing her to squeeze under the pipe fence. Mules are known to be quite protective and will not allow a dog to get in their space. Some ranchers use them with their livestock, to keep the coyotes out.
I fed the horses, broke ice and threw some hay over the fence to the cows who gathered around and then headed to the barn. I had to get the 4-wheeler out of the barn to haul the cubes to the pasture for the rest of the cattle, so I put the white dog in the horse trailer, so that Penny and Jess wouldn't fight. Loading the 4 wheeler with the sacks of cubes, I headed over the frozen ground and snow mounds toward the lower pasture. I had to push the 4 wheeler out of the snow drift, realizing that I better choose a clear path if I wanted to get there quickly. The cows followed right behind me, trying to bite through the feedsacks that were stacked on the back of the 4 wheeler. I had to keep shooing them away with one hand while I drove with the other. Finally, I was able to make it to the troughs, unload the feed and get the gates shut. The cattle were hungry. It made me smile to see the new calf shuddering at her mama's side. At least she was alive and with the herd. One of the syrup lix that the cattle had chewed through the cardboard casing to get at
Checking the henhouse was next on the circuit...all was well - except their water that, of course, was rock solid. I hauled a bucket of warm water from the house and they were glad to get a drink.
As I crunched my way through the snow to the house, I looked at the sky and thanked God for our electricity, the strength to get my chores done and that the animals were ok through the night.