Well, pretty to look at. Not so pleasant to be in. We woke to fog and hoarfrost, the world was white. The temps hovered around zero with a wind chill much lower.
My ever working husband had to go in to his real job so I was feeding. The Goblin Child who is totally not into feeding this year got to go play at the cousins house but 8 was stuck with me. On his way to work and to drop the child off my chauffeur husband also dropped us off at the quanset to get the feed truck. I was excited to find it already running and warm for us.
As I pulled up to load the feed truck I realized that it had no brakes. Its breaks aren’t the best anyway so it can be a little hard to tell the difference but definitely no breaks. The pens we feed are on a hill. We have to come down the hill. It was looking like feeding might be exciting.
On the first load of feed we found water running down the road. The float had come off the tank at the very top of the hill and the water ran through every pen on its path down the hill. So the calves were wadding in water to reach the feed bunks, and slipping on ice when they weren’t fetlock deep in water. We have highs in the low twenties or lower predicted as far as we can see into the future. The ice isn’t going anywhere. The father in law went and got a bungee cord and we tied up the, the what? I should know what that’s called, the thingy to shut the water off.
We made it down the hill with out being run away with. The cows all came to drink right away so the water got down to where it could be fixed. Things were looking good. Except that I was looking to see where the water level was in the tank instead of watching where I was going and hit the corner of the end feed bunk with the tires of the feed truck. Not good. In the cold it broke maybe even worse than it would have other wise and knocked the whole corner off. Oops.
As it is called on our calendar. Strangely enough.
Christmas began, of course, on Christmas eve. Not in the evening either. The first present got opened early in the day. The day that was one mad rush getting ready and adding last minute touches to presents. Then it was time for church. With one more present to open we left early to look at lights on the way.
At the church, not our usual church but the little country church where we enjoyed last Christmas eve, we readied The Goblin Child for the play. She was scheduled to be an angel. Her little best friend was going to be a wise man. She decided that all she wanted to be was a shepherd. He friend wanted to be a princess with a crown. So they traded. A wise man was apparently close enough to a shepherd to keep her happy. And he got to wear the beautiful gown and carry a star. As if the night wasn’t great enough already her favorite cousin got to be in the play too as a fellow wise man.
The next morning she had us up bright and early. We opened her stocking, sorry 8 you didn’t know what was going on anyway, next year we’ll get something for you too, then waited till clear after breakfast and the feeding of the cattle to be done before opening their presents. Yes we got something for 8 too, in this at least. Then the rush continued to get ready to head over to the sister in laws house for lunch and the family Christmas. We ate until we thought we would explode, opened presents, made ice cream and the kids ran and played until they were exhausted.
We knew it was coming. The day before it was all anyone could talk about. Would it or wouldn’t it?
The snow came in around 8 in the morning. The school superintendent nearly gave himself ulcers trying to decide whether to cancel school or not. In the end he didn’t, the snow came after school started. It came just as we started to feed the cattle. I brought the feed truck up to the house and let it warm up as I bundled children. I was delighted to find a tiny pair of snow pants as I looked for more clothing for 8. The Goblin Child I sent out to roll around in the white stuff so I could finish dressing the rest of us.
Inside the truck it was toasty warm and we soon unbundled a little. The cows were huddled in such a tight ball I couldn’t find them until they were pointed out to me. Covered in snow they blended in, a black outline around a white blob in the snow. They came running to their feed fed behind the shelter of the windbreak.
Back inside we did the things one does on a snowy day. We made cookies, we made water color paints. Ok so maybe making paint isn’t so normal but I had the recipe bookmarked for years (here) and was thrilled to have a chance to try it. It called for typical household things, vinegar, baking soda, food coloring. The Goblin Child enjoyed the fizzing and had fun mixing it together. My first attempt gave resulted in a mix that was pretty dry so I added more vinegar.
We poured it into an ice cube tray and started adding food coloring. I had fun talking about primary colors and different shadings. The Goblin child had fun pouring colors in. I could barely keep up with her and keep her from dumping the whole bottle in. Our fingers did get dyed yellow but that was fine.
We were not able to wait for them to dry, they still aren’t dry probably the extra vinegar, but they made great paint wet too. I couldn’t believe the colors we got from plain old food colors and they painted on so bright and saturated. I may have to make a set just for me to play with. Ours got mixed and muddied a little from over enthusiastic painting.
School was let out at noon and after giving the cousins a ride home my hard working husband was home to spend the afternoon with us. The Goblin Child was adorable when she woke from her nap to find him there. With exclamations of joy she ran and threw herself into his arms for and long hard hug. She then stayed in his lap to tell him all about her day and ask about his.
Today the snow is done falling, the sky bright and painfully blue. But the wind is howling blowing the snow all around. It’s always hard to tell with the drifting but looks like near 10 inches of the white stuff.
Not that it’s just begun, we’ve been feeding calves since they and their mama’s came home. But it’s in full swing and the weather is typical. Cold and snowy and winter. Today my hard working husband headed out to his other job, fought to get his frozen door open, hacked at the ice caked onto his window and nearly froze himself working on it all. He declared it too cold for me to take the children with to feed.
Last night we ran to Alliance to eat, shop for Christmas gifts and look at lights. We stopped for gas and it was a toasty 22 degrees out. After looking at lights for awhile, during which The Goblin Child begged for ice cream loudly and continuously which cut that a little short, the temp had dropped to 6. It wavered between 6 and 8 the whole drive home but basically stayed cold. The highway warmed from the sun all day steamed and fog settled in making for a long drive home. But this morning dawned clear and crisp. And still cold.
Tomorrow it is supposed to snow again. People are getting all panicked about how much we’re going to get, some of the forecasts say almost a foot. Of course some say a couple of inches. I thought we should get outside while the weather was still decent and play a little. The horses were up here knocking at the gate so we went to give them cookies and The Goblin Child wanted to ride. Who am I to say no to that? So we got on which is when I realized I had forgotten her helmet. But her hat looked warmer and we had a very short window of opportunity so I crossed my fingers held my breath and we rode without. It was a very nice ride to the mailbox and back. We could see the fog to the east getting ever closer. She wanted to get home before it got here so it didn’t hurt her eyes. Or maybe to try to ride to the mountain again.
The weather has been beautiful this week in the fifties and sixties. We have been doing our best to take advantage of it. Yesterday The Goblin Child and I were able to sneak out for a little ride. I decided we would try the pasture, take a look at the cows and see how Princes Onna reacted to them.
The two hot horses were feeling good. They zipped and pranced and were happy to oblige The Goblin Child in her desire to go faster and bounce bounce. She was feeling good too. She kept helping steer. Did a little too good a job at it. I would be concentrating on steering and staying on and watching where we were going, the usual things you do when you ride, and suddenly our riding companions would veer off another direction. I hated to discourage her, she was doing an excellent job.
But when we got to the gate in the electric fence and I had to get off to get it, rather exciting with the latch in the corner, flapping twine and an electric fence, she kept whoaing and steering away from my mounting block. I finally had to ask her to stop steering for a bit.
Back on we chased cows! I remember being a couple of years older than her and having a cow in my horses pasture. I was determined to chase it. It was as big as my horse who may have been just a little smaller than Onna, or not perspective tends to change. We stared at each other in a fierce stare down that we lost, the cow stayed put my pony and I left. The Goblin Child and Onna had better luck. She was thrilled. We followed one cow after another Coyote in ferocious cow eating mode ears flat against his head. Onna in the lead determined to get that cow. And The Goblin Child giggling and steering away. I thought we were going to die. My halter and lead rope were little match for hot cow eating Coyote. We were zipping pretty fast, at a walk, but these two at a walk are only out done by Smoke and speedy gaited horses.
After they were way overly energetic on the way home so I though we would torture them so getting home wasn’t so fun. I devised the worst thing I could imagine. I turned The Goblin Child loose with her Grammy’s Christmas present. Grooming supplies! She sprayed Cowboy Magic like crazy and brushed and braided. It would have killed me.
We survived the last ride unscathed and so decided to do it again today. This time I would be prepared, I put a saddle and bridle and little Coyote, talk about over kill, and strapped 8 on front of me. It was exciting, for me and 8 at least, The Goblin Child wanted to go home once I told her we couldn’t go chase cows with 8 along. But I thought it was a nice ride anyway if not near as exciting.
It was less than a month ago that he laid there on the floor, a squirmy little ball of baby. Now things have changed. He was able to sit by himself, had been able to since August, but he couldn’t achieve that position by himself. Now I think there is little he is unable to accomplish.
He took his first steps shortly before we left for our Thanksgiving trip. Standing next to me, holding my hand as I put laundry away in his sisters room, he desperately wanted whatever it was that she had. So he let go of me and walked over to her. Across a hard wood floor. He didn’t crash.
He had been crawling, kind of, before that. He would lay on the floor and wiggle and scream for someone to come put him where he wanted to be. Those few steps seemed to be a major breakthrough for him and after that he was unstoppable.
He started crawling for reals. He figured out how to get up, down and around without help. And now he has the stairs mastered.
This is my Grandma’s story probably told to her by her mother, and told by her to my mother and by my mother to my daughter as I listened on our last visit. And I’m sure told to me at some unfortunately forgotten point:
There were two young children who loved to go visit their grandmother. Their Grandmother lived a ways away from them through the woods but their mother let them go alone as long as they got back before dark for it was a large and wild wood in which wolves lived.
One winter day they were having so much fun with their loving grandmother that they left for home later than they should have. (Or perhaps they played to much on the trip, I can hardly imagine a loving Grandmother letting them head off into the dark woods.) As they got into the woods the sun was setting. The woods were dark and scary. Soon they could hear the cries of the wolves and branches cracking along side the trail they followed. The were terrified. Huddling together in tears they fell to their knees in the middle of the trail and prayed for God to help them and see them safely home.
As they regained their feet, hands clutched, they could hear the wolves drawing closer and caught glimpses of the rough, grey coats through the low branches. Then out of the darkness appeared two huge white dogs. So tall they came up to the children’s eyes. Big and hairy they stood on each side of the children with hackles raised and kept the wolves at bay. Each time a wolf dared to step onto the path they snarled and barked and chased the wolf away. They held their posts, guarding the children all the way home.
When the little party reached the lights of home the two children ran up the walk into the anxious waiting arms of their parents. Stumbling over each other in their excitement to tell the story, they happily told their parents how the big white dogs brought them home safe. And turned to show them the heroes.
The dogs were gone.
It’s such a good story. Amazing that it’s told by my confirmed dog hater of a grandma. Let me know If I forgot parts. And a great way to start the Christmas season. Merry Christmas!