Yippee. we got some decent snow last night and it looks as though with a forecast that includes temps dropping below zero Fahrenheit at night a couple of times in the next 7 days and staying well below freezing even in the heat of the day, we will keep this one!
The storm ended right on schedule at a little after noon, and temperature had crept slowing up to 15 Fahrenheit. Cindy and I saddled up for a ride after having run Lucy and Spot loose around the arena for a few minutes to see how many kinks needed releasing before drawing a cinch tight and leaping on a couple of ponies with springs in their feet.
As if by order the cold north wind blowing across the top of lithos ceased as we rode out. The woods were a wonderland with the snow covered trees, and the horses step largely through knee deep powdery snow. What a grand empowering feeling. There are several places where the wet fall had left long puddles to freeze along the trail. Though too solid now to break through and cut a heel, they can be slippery under the fluffy unpacked snow. Lucy slid a few times and then seemed to learn when to move by feel rather than sight.
Going through the hemlock grove I ducked low beneath a particularly heavy laden bow trying to save it so that Cindy might catch the bounty of cold snow waiting to be dropped. I had already be caught twice and was carrying a lap full of snow. All I succeeded in doing was filling the back of the saddle with snow, so that when I sat up straight again I found I had a chilly seat. We laughed together as the sun appeared from the clouds sending beams of bright light through snow covered evergreens adding a dazzling sparkle here and there, speckled throughout the scene. It was picture perfect and just so much darn fun to be out riding. What a blessing to have a day and a horse and a friend and to be well!! I've been working very long days Nov and Dec and been quite ill in the midst of it all. I hadn't been out on Lucy since before thanksgiving. Cindy and I have vowed to go out every weekend form now on out.
The storm started after I went to bed which was just before midnight. I was reading this fun book by Laura Crum called "Slick Rock". It's a murder Mystery that involve a Solo back country pack trip through the Sierra Nevada Mountains by Female Veterinarian Gail McCarthy. So , yesterday afternoon at 4:00 when I came in to take a break form out side stuff (hauling in round bales and filling water etc etc. I picked up the book. Next thing I knew it was almost 8 PM and I had still one tub to fill and one round bale to unwrap and re-wrap in the fishing net twine that I use to keep waste to a bare minimum, and I hadn't made anything for dinner.
I went out and filled the water tub. dragged the hose down along the side of the driveway to drain it and very slowly coiled it into a 4 foot in diameter circle (not too small because it's so stiff when stored outside in winter it doesn't like to uncoil) running the hose up over my head the whole time to be sure every bit of water is removed. Nothing more annoying that dragging 200feet of hose out to fill tubs only to find it has ice enough in it somewhere to keep it from running. I have it down to fine science now. and I always store it completely flat so if there is a trace of water left in, it freezes in a puddle not a plug!
I Ran into the cabin tossed some yummy black heritage home grown pork chops in the oven beside some chunks of potato with olive oil and garlic and stuff, and cut up some carrots for steaming. I called Dan who is in the shop doing wiring still every night till at about 10 PM often 11. I asked him if he was bringing the tractor up when he came cause I needed it. He wasn't but he did because I Offered to take it back down.
So, He came up at around 9:30 and I changed the bucket on the tractor out for the forks and delivered a nice new round bale to Lucy and Spot.
Then I reasoned that in light of a storm coming that would dump 4 - 8 inches of snow in the next 12 hours, Dan would need the bucket down at the bottom of the hill with the tractor ( he uses that to remove snow because we haven't been able to afford the nifty snow blower attachment yet). He wanted the tractor left in the heated shop on the bottom of the hill. I figured that having the forks in there too was a good idea, rather than leaving them out to get buried in the snow. So I proceeded to pick up the bucket on the forks as I have done many times, to take the whole lot down to the shop. Down that long winding very steep driveway. Down that very steep driveway that last evening lacked snow bank enough to to give an illusion of safety along a rather slippery, scraped but still snow packed, surface. Our driveway gains an altitude of over 100 feet in the linear distance of 400 feet. it forms a complete W or an S with an extra hook.
Now this arrangement for carrying the bucket on the forks works well even on a somewhat slippery driveway, when I have the 650 pound grader blade on the back. However last night I didn't happen to have the grader blade. There was nothing back there for counter weight and even the improved chains matted not at all with so little weight over those rear tires. I came around the first corner headed down and the tractor suddenly picked up speed though my foot had not moved on the pedal. It began moving faster than low first gear allows. I know this sensation. It's not a good sign. I went for the break, nothing, I am picking up speed and now starting to spin, the bucket goes sailing off the forks into the snow just at the edge of the drive , I think I heard the sound of scraping steel as it went. I went careening past and caught a glimpse of it in my peripheral vision mid spin. I couldn't scream, One needs breath to scream. I had no breath. I tried to think about how to tell if I needed to leap of the machine before it toppled off the side of the driveway and began rolling over.
I didn't have time to organize that thought with my body parts before I reached the snow at the edge of the driveway down at the next sharp bend, where without the extra weight of the bucket the rear tires found a purchase at the rocky edge. I sat frozen, blood draining to my feet. Just as soon as I remembered how to breath, I would Get down and run to Dan for rescue.
No! Darn it, I would not! Not after just having been through the ordeal with Gail McCarthy alone in the wilderness trying to keep herself , two horses and a dog alive in the face of real danger! I would do this myself.
I assessed the situation. I was not completely stuck and I was not tipped over, thank God. The bucket looked to be retrievable if I could get the tractor to go back up the incline. Maybe it would if I kept to the rocky edge of the driveway. I breathed several times and following my plan was able to get back up to the bucket where it rested upside down in the snow. I had not yet figured out that it was the added weight of the bucket on front that caused my slide in the first place, so I picked the bucket up once more on the forks, only to start sliding all over again once both front tires where on the packed surface. I was able this time to see my error quickly and I dropped the forks hard to the ground. It slowed the slide and I came to a halt. The bucket continued on down the slope stopping just a few yards ahead of me, but once again off the side of the driveway. I maneuvered slowly over to it, and lowering the forks down over it, one fork on either side, I pushed it gradually back to the driveway and continued down with it in front of me. I went very slowly.
It was an amazingly lovely night. The full moon shone brightly through thickening clouds. I had left the lights on the tractor off to enjoy the night landscape, the shadows of the trees across the moonlit snow. I enjoyed the scene even as I waited tensely to feel the tractor sliding out of my control again. It didn't slide again and once at the bottom I was able to pick up the bucket and proceed to the shop. I walked up the driveway with still weak knees, but feeling, very satisfied that I had not embarrassed my womanhood, by calling for help unnecessarily, and a little wiser. That bucket was heavier that it looked.