1966 – Please pardon my paraphrase, Mr. Steinbeck, but DAMN, it was cold.
Not to mention, we’d lost power. So, there were 25 cows to milk …. by hand. (Milking machines needed electricity to run.)
The snow was +/- 22 inches deep already. Even if the cows were let out of the barn after milking, they wouldn’t walk to their watering hole. The white stuff was just too deep, and still coming down. They would chew on snow to hold them over.
Oh, did I mention the wind? It was fashioning monstrous drifts. Uncivil drifts ! Drifts that defied anyone to even get within their gravitational pull! They had no business even being on the farm ! This was a regulation blizzard.
It was weather like this that made Dad feel blessed that he had three sons. After all, how would those cows get water?
“EASY!” Enter the carriers, Dan, Dave and Pete .
On the farm there was an old artesian well. You know, one of those cutesy things with a little roof over it and a crankable axle that spooled rope… and a bucket that descended ten feet to the water.
There were two problems: the whole roof and bucket thing had existed many years prior. That arrangement was the fancy of someone’s distant past. It was barely obvious that it had once existed.
A more crude method now existed. It went like this: tie rope to handle of the bucket. Throw bucket to bottom of the well (without allowing weight of the bucket to pull all of the rope down into the water. Note: that may seem obvious, but, after making that mistake, I could still hear Dave saying “Hey, Nimrod, can ya see that won’t work?”
Hefting the full bucket from the bottom of the well was the stuff of freezing toil, but, time and again, we muscled them up.
Problem #2: Humping the full bucket from the well up to the barn. I should say, humping both buckets simultaneously +- 200 feet to the barn, using the path we’d just shoveled.
As though this wasn’t sufficiently disconcerting, one cow would drink both buckets without blinking! Was there an expletive sufficient to express my dismay over this whole miserable episode??
I don’t think so, but slowly the cows got watered.