Challenge to the Gods
If you think the Gods don’t listen to you, just offer up a challenge and wait to see what happens.
The other day, my friend, Bob, helped me load some steers to take to Lewistown. Snow had drifted through the area around the loading chute, but we cleaned it out with the skid steer. I only got the truck and trailer stuck once. This was after I had the tractor stuck twice the day before.
As we shoveled our way clear, Bob bemoaned the fact that one of my tractors is out of commission.
“You don’t have anything to pull with if you can’t shovel your way out,” he said.
“Oh, I can always shovel my way out,” I threw back at him.
Silence as the wind paused.
The wind picked up again while Bob and I loaded the steers and away I went.
Then last weekend’s little storm dropped about 10 inches of snow at the Graham Ranch, although it’s hard to tell exactly how much. Most of it drifted.
My house sits on one side of a broad coulee while the county road meets the driveway on the other side. That means my son and daughter will be able to tell their grandchildren that they really did walk uphill both ways just to meet the bus.
When the snow drifts, walking is a more reliable form of transportation than four wheel drive, but trucks can usually hit the high spots and make it to the road.
If you’re like me, you have a shovel in the back of every pickup, but it is a lot like the blanket and flares and tourniquet that are back there, too. You have them, but you never want to use them.
As I shoveled the snow from under the pickup, I thought about the tractor sitting a quarter of a mile away. Most people would opt for mechanical muscle. I could slog through the deep snow to fire it up. My boots and coveralls were heavy. I tasted tractor exhaust on the roof of my mouth. The sound of the engine would beckon the cattle and they would be in the way. Besides, there’s something satisfying about scooping a monster snowball from under the transmission housing of a truck.
I kept shoveling.
That ought to be good enough, I said to myself after clearing the powder plus two layers of crusty snow from the last storms.
I hopped in and shifted into gear.
The wheels spun gusts of giggles on the ice, still there from three snowstorms before.
Always an optimist, I left the motor running as I scooped more snow from under the truck. The cows circled the pickup.
This time, the truck moved about 20 feet before sliding down into a deeper drift.
I started to dig, then reached in and turned off the engine. Chuckles breezed by.
Every good driver knows you should rock the truck backward just a little to get a tiny bit of momentum. I rocked the truck. The wheels sank in place. I got the shovel out again. This time, I got the truck moving backward.
Ha! I thought. I beat the Gods. I’m tired, worked harder than I wanted to, but I won!
Almost immediately, the truck sank in another drift. I thought I heard chortles, but it was only the wind.
As I pulled the shovel from the back yet again, I looked at the tractor on the hill. I set the shovel down and started trudging. Belly laughs came from somewhere over the hill.
My friend, Mary, steered while I pulled the pickup to the county road. We left it there until I plowed the driveway.
As I parked the tractor, I thought of another conversation as Bob helped me load steers to go to the auction.
“Do you want to tie my tow rope to your truck and trailer now, just for a little extra boost up the hill?” Bob asked.
“No,” I said. “Not the first time.”
The wind paused again.
Oh shoot! I better have my shovel handy.