13 June 2017

Quite A Night

We could feel it coming already on Sunday. The air turned heavy and sticky, the wind blew out of the East. No rain came that night. By Monday the air was heavy with tension. The heavy heat had only intensified and the wind blew hot and cold as the day was at once sticky hot and chilly.

By afternoon weather warnings were everywhere. The clouds were building in the west, small still. Soon the first sever storms were popping up on the Wyoming border, in the open empty country along the Wyoming border up to South Dakota and around Harrison. Still nothing here.

We covered the garden as best we could, made sure the horses shelter was in good shape. They came and helped, looked around a little then followed us back out. We repaired their wind break and picked up any loose toys in the yard, basically battened down the hatches. Still no storm although the sky was cloud covered and the radar showed red getting towards Chadron.

We sat down to supper and finally the storm hit. Big heavy drops first, slow to come, slow to cover the sidewalk. The weather radio couldn’t keep up with the watches and warnings, often interrupting its self to start the new before the original was finished. we debated unplugging things and decided not to worry about it yet. We let Daisy in to cower under the table. I went to see if I could spot the horses, I couldn’t, I did see lightening striking the ground in staccato beat. Each bright flash violently hitting the ground barely beyond the tree row, nearly in the pasture on the hill. Rushing back down to the kitchen I said that I thought we should definitely unplug. That was the end of watching the building storm on radar.

The lights in the kitchen fluttered, blinking on and off. Never all the way off, just enough to be distracting. Then, lightning hit a line somewhere, they pulled down, humming and dim. Then with a crash of nearby thunder they flashed back to full brightness. We were glad to have the computers unplugged.

As we finished eating, interrupted by constant trips up to look out the windows, the weather radio was going insane. Tornadoes on the ground, we listened carefully to hear where they were. Severe storms all around us, yes we could see that. The last of our meal forgotten on the table we watched the pounding rain turn to hail. Few at first, pea sized scattering across the ground as the wind blew it sideways.Β  Then more and larger. Fortunately the larger were few and the wind stilled. Managing to get some signal on his phone my husband worried for his garden and crops checked out the radar. The worst of the hail was going by to the south.

After the blast of hail the rain let up and the lightning slowed. I wanted to go check the horses. In mud boots and a sweat shirt I ran out into the still falling rain and closed the door on the chicks then down to find the horses. Of course they weren’t in the barn, dry with plenty of room. Instead they were squeezed under a fallen down roof, wither high and no sides. I had hesitated at first to even let them into a pen with such junk and hazards but checking it carefully for sharp protrusions I had decided that the extra space was worth the limited danger involved and now it’s their favorite hang out.

Wading out to the windbreak through ankle deep water and mud I called and called for them. If they would just come I could lead them to the barn with safer shelter and more room. They stood, huddled and refused to come out for me. I debated walking out for them and watched as lighting struck, hot and bright, to the ground over the hill in front of me. Looking down at the water surrounding me and at more lightening striking past the trees I called once again and went back to the house. They could have that shelter if it was what they wanted.

All evening the radio gave bad news, as we waited for the second round. Trying to keep children calmed and entertained and finally into bed, we kept half of our attention on the news. A large tornado at Chimney Rock, we have a friend right there. Large hail and high wind at the intersection of our highway and the Niobrara River, a couple miles south. Tornadic storms going through Fort Robinson and Whitney. Still hail and tornadoes stayed away.

The storm finally passed out of our area. The weather radio actually shut off between warnings, until the sound of it became startling instead of background noise.

The next morning we took stock. Nearly three inches of rain. The garden damaged as much by too much rain to quickly as by hail. The corn in the fields is still standing. Amazingly none of our little herd of cattle were hit by lightening. It was so bad and so much I couldn’t believe nothing would be hit. Instead we found full ponds and a nearly deafening croaking of frogs. They seem to appear out of nowhere and went straight to mating. Soon there will be tadpoles. Not all is bad in the aftermath.

Unfortunately everyone can’t say the same. Bayard NE received a direct hit. The nursing home was nearly? destroyed and the town hit hard. A feedlot was also in the direct path of the storm and many pivots twisted and flipped. A pivot repair company in the area is desperately looking to hire short term help. Many homes and barns were in the path as well as livestock, including horses.




1 June 2017


We had a friend over for supper. She’s funny, great company, and very busy. We don’t see her often. We sat and talked, enjoyed our meal. She brought a salad. A seven layer salad she called it, to be exact. I was digging in, scarfing down the unusual, for us, dish. She gave a list of ingredients, at mayonnaise I nearly gagged on my mouthful. Anything can be good if you don’t know what it is. I shrugged mentally, attempting to hide any outward reaction, and told myself that if it tasted good before that horrible word was uttered it tasted just as good after. Eating more was difficult though.

She offered to leave the remains for us to finish at another meal. We happily accepted, the rest of my family not sharing my revulsion of mayonnaise for some strange reason. Bidding her a fond farewell, with hopes to see her again much sooner than the last spell between visits, we promptly forgot her offering in the refrigerator.

Going in after milk or some other much needed commodity, I would glance towards that lower shelf upon which it sat and think absently to myself that I should do something about that, then completely forget about it again. Finally, needing the space, I dug it out, fearing to open the lid, and sat it on the counter. I would take it out to the chickens and open it out there, by now it must be getting a bit stinky, no use in smelling up the house.

And there it sat. A large flat dish, taking up most of my counter space but useful to set other things on top of so we could work around it. Spring is busy. I got busy and forgot about it, sitting there taking up my whole counter. I always meant to get to it, as soon as I finished washing the other dishes. As soon as I got lunch made. As soon as we finished working cattle and there was more time. Until, I couldn’t stand the mess in the kitchen any longer. All the dishes must be washed! I was on a mission.

How do other people manage it? I am proud to be a member of a hobby who’s participants pride themselves on their lack of house cleaning skills. Clean house? Me? Nonsense I have a horse to ride! It is the cry of horsewomen everywhere. Between horses and children I always have somewhere else to lay the blame for my lack of housekeeping skills. Or any interest in that area at all.

But the time had come. All things must be reckoned with eventually. Carrying the carefully sealed container outside I opened it and quickly dumped the white, lumpy, congealed contents to the chickens. And left it lay there to “air out”. A day, or two, later I returned for the repulsive thing. I moved it as far as the hydrant where it received a compulsory washing then was left lay until I could stomach bringing it into the house.

Once in the sink we began our battle in earnest. I started scraping, it responded with a desperate cling, refusing to budge, attacking my fingers and anything else it touched. It did battle with a sticky film, removable only by scrubbing the skin its self off. Hot water was applied liberally, more scrapping and finally the big guns, an onslaught of 409 backed up with more scrubbing, then soaking.

There it sits, in my sink. My enemy, my foe, my companion for the last month. Two months? How long has it dwelt there, haunting me and my kitchen. Still there taunting me. Daring me to try again to vanquish it once and for all.

Or to admit defeat. To admit my failing to my friend and just buy her a new pan already.