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COLD WEATHER COMPLICATIONS, by Steve Moreland, January 2, 2018

Things that come up in the daily operation of a ranch.
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COLD WEATHER COMPLICATIONS, by Steve Moreland, January 2, 2018

Postby Soapweed » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:05 pm

COLD WEATHER COMPLICATIONS
By Steve Moreland, January 2, 2018

For the past several years we have done all of our hay feeding using pickups with Hydra-Bed bale handlers. A caker is mounted on the front of the Hydra-Bed, allowing protein cubes (cake) to be hauled and fed with the same vehicle. This seems to be satisfactorily efficient, because one person driving one vehicle can make one pass through a bunch of cattle and deliver both cake and hay.

Several years ago I had bought hay from the Quible Ranch, and was feeding our cows on Quibles’ meadow. On a blustery cold windy day with snow accumulating rapidly, I had finished feeding one group of cows and had thrown open a gate while driving the pickup into a hay yard to get two more bales loaded. All went well, and I stepped out of the pickup to close the bale yard gate. In doing so, I slipped on a frozen cow chip while shutting the door of the pickup. After closing the gate, I went to open the pickup door to continue on my way. Imagine my chagrin to realize I had inadvertently locked myself out of the pickup. The automatic lock that I had accidentally bumped took care of both doors, and both doors were locked.

Fortunately a few things were in my favor. I was dressed warm, and was wearing heavy gloves. The highway was less than a quarter mile away. My cell phone was in my shirt pocket, and my son answered my call of distress on the first ring. I called my oldest son, Will Moreland, who has a welding shop in Merriman. He is usually quite ingenious and I had faith he could figure out a way to unlock the door. He was also located only six miles from where I was standing out in the frosty air.

While waiting to be rescued, I walked to a windbreak near the highway seeking shelter from the cold and blowing snow. By the time Will and a friend Wade Burress arrived, I was getting quite chilled. An area the size of a kitchen table was tromped down in the snow, from dancing around to keep my feet warm. I clambered into Will’s pickup, and we drove to mine. Will had a straightened out coat hanger along, and he got into that pickup just as quickly as if we’d had a spare key. Speaking of spare keys, I tied one onto the outside of the pickup at the earliest possible opportunity.

The northern Nebraska Sandhills experienced quite a week of snowstorms and blizzards in late March of 1975. I was helping my dad on his ranch in those days, and we were inundated with the hard work of calving, besides the additional problems caused by the weather. Palm Sunday was March 23rd of that year, and a snowstorm prevented us from getting to the Methodist Church in Merriman. Actually church was called off that day. My sister Sandra was attending Chadron State College, as was her friend Rhonda Radcliff. The two girls came to the ranch on the following Tuesday night, with plans to both go on to Valentine the next day to spend time with their friend Myki Beel during Easter vacation. These plans changed when a raging blizzard was in full progress the next morning. They decided to hunker down and stay put in the cozy comfort of our house, and spend their time visiting with our mother and my younger sisters, Sybil and Nancy.

Dad and I were calving, and were keeping quite busy feeding hay and taking care of the cattle. The storm hadn’t let up by the middle of the afternoon, so we decided we needed to check on a bunch of yearlings that were a mile north of the buildings. Dad and I saddled our horses, and he was riding his big paint J.R. It was whiteout conditions as we rode north over the hills, and we had a hard time navigating our route. There was no fence to follow, so we tried to keep the road in sight. Finally we arrived at the windmill, and Dad jumped off his horse to open the barbed wired gate into the meadow. The wind was howling and snow was blowing as he hurriedly led his horse by the H-brace fence corner. Alas, the gate lever had settled in just the right position to catch the stirrup of Dad’s saddle as J.R. went by. J.R. didn’t take kindly to being pulled to a stop on his right side, and the wreck was on! The horse pulled and the corner post held tight. The stirrup leather was the weakest link, and it popped as it broke.

We were in kind of a mess. I got out my fence pliers and cut off some of the top wire of the fence. The two strands were parted, so that the smooth strand was available to make the fix. Within a few minutes of jerry-rigging, the saddle was once again rideable. We rode east to a grove of trees where we thought the cattle would be bunched up. They were not there. We continued riding east to the fence corner, but had no luck in finding the yearlings. We then went north and west and south, making a full circumference of the meadow. No cattle. We rode east again being more observant, and discovered where the cattle had gone through a fence near the tree grove. We then tracked them to where they were all crammed together in an unprotected fence corner. By this time the white-out was turning into a black-out because darkness was setting in. We cut the fence and persuaded the yearlings to go through. They were drifting into the hills and we left them to be on their own, knowing we would be doing good just to try to find our own way home. This was becoming increasingly difficult because visibility was next to nil. Dad was in the lead. His paint horse fell over the edge into a gully that was filled with drifted snow as high as his saddle-horn. Dad floundered around and got back to the top. He walked along the edge with his feet higher than the head of the horse he was leading. He had to lead J.R. for about a hundred feet before the horse was once again able to scramble out of the gully. We rode carefully but steadily as we kept the wind to our backs. Eventually we got down off of the high hills and saw the phone line, which was above the meadow fence. We followed the fence on home, and were quite delighted to see the dusk-to-dawn light above the barn.

Dad started doing our evening chores. Knowing that Mom and the girls would be worried sick about us, I rode up to the house to report to Mom that we were back. She said, “Oh, where have you been?” She thought we’d just been around the barn and corrals since we had left the house a couple hours earlier. Oh well, it’s hard to be a hero.

The storm lasted for a couple more days. Church was called off again on Easter Sunday. Finally on Monday Dad and the girls were able to get a four-wheel-drive pickup through the drifts into town. His main mission on that trip was to get a barrel full of diesel for our feed tractor. Since the highways were still not cleared off, the girls came back home, and Dad had to get them to town again the next day.

We are thankful in these modern times that preliminary weather reports give more accurate warnings of impending bad weather. With earlier notification, better preparedness can be planned. Cold weather can sure cause complications.

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Re: COLD WEATHER COMPLICATIONS, by Steve Moreland, January 2, 2018

Postby Faster horses » Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:36 pm

I remember when we lived 5 miles from town, had company for Easter dinner and they had to stay the night.
Easter storms seemed to be the norm for awhile in Wyoming.

That was an exciting read where your dad's paint horse fell into the gully. Wow. Good he wasn't alone.
Thanks for the story!
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Re: COLD WEATHER COMPLICATIONS, by Steve Moreland, January 2, 2018

Postby Traveler » Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:54 am

Yep, thanks for the story.

Years ago, my rambunctious toddler hit the door lock button in the pickup while I was out of it, on a cold day and a good half hour drive from nowhere. It took a lot of coaxing to get him to finally hit the unlock button. I then realized why it's a good idea to strap them down in a car seat.

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Re: COLD WEATHER COMPLICATIONS, by Steve Moreland, January 2, 2018

Postby mrj » Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:15 pm

Sounds as if that could be a tough lesson! Keeping a spare key in a pocket is a good idea, tool. Sometimes it seems just a hard slam of a door can lock it all up when one is on the outside.....

mrj

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Re: COLD WEATHER COMPLICATIONS, by Steve Moreland, January 2, 2018

Postby Soapweed » Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:26 pm

One time my wife and small kids went to Gordon to pick up a free puppy. The puppy was left in a box while my family went into a store. When they returned, the puppy had pushed the lock with its paw. Carol called the Ford dealer in Cody, and got the key code number. Then she had a hardware store in Gordon make a new key. Within a very few minutes, she, the kids, and the puppy were headed for home.

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Re: COLD WEATHER COMPLICATIONS, by Steve Moreland, January 2, 2018

Postby Big Muddy rancher » Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:40 pm

Tam, Lane and a friend were out in the pasture and locked the truck door with keys inside. Tam walked home to get the spare key and wasn't real happy with me when I told her it was in the tool box in a magnetic key holder. Right behind the drivers door.
I did give her a ride back the 3 miles to the truck.
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Re: COLD WEATHER COMPLICATIONS, by Steve Moreland, January 2, 2018

Postby mrj » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:23 pm

I'd forgotten about those magnetic key holders. I think we had those, but don't recall having to use one.

I wonder, with the fancy stuff built into keys now, would the magnetism damage all that and make the key useless??

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Re: COLD WEATHER COMPLICATIONS, by Steve Moreland, January 2, 2018

Postby Big Muddy rancher » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:39 pm

mrj wrote:I'd forgotten about those magnetic key holders. I think we had those, but don't recall having to use one.

I wonder, with the fancy stuff built into keys now, would the magnetism damage all that and make the key useless??

mrj


Usually they make one key that just works the door but not ignition.I have that one behind my fuel that filler door. :D
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Re: COLD WEATHER COMPLICATIONS, by Steve Moreland, January 2, 2018

Postby RSL » Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:27 am

These fancy keys aren't all that great. Our Dodge Journey has push button start and a wireless key. You never have to take the thing out of your pocket. One day in Lloyd this fall, we went to get in and the doors wouldn't open with either set of keys. Next to us a Jeep was having the same problems. All over the parking lot Chrysler vehicles were disabled and not starting. Someone was jamming the wireless frequency range that makes the keys work and people were either unable to get into their vehicles, lock them or get them started. Finally I pushed the start button using the key fob (after a new set of batteries). The car started but the fancy computer said the key was not detected. I just put it in gear and stole my own car. I then drove it out of town to the cardlock and left it running while I filled it. After about 10 minutes everything straightened itself out. It was just after 5pm on a Saturday, so I can imagine how many vehicles were broken into overnight after owners had to leave them there because the dealers were closed.

On the flip side, I often leave my 2005 bale truck unlocked with the key in the cup holder, hoping someone will steal it, but to no avail. Apparently having the grill smashed up and a messy bale deck is the ultimate in theft prevention. Never had a problem with a car that starts with a screwdriver!
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