Since Tuesday, we have stayed put in the ranch house, burning pinion in the fireplace during the day, lowering the thermostat to 65 degrees in cooperation with emergency power issues in Texas. The temperature is not expected to go above freezing until Saturday and another snowfall descends this evening.
Schools closed. Our mail carrier, Jeannie Chisolm, told us this morning that the roads are treacherous on her route that encompasses county roads in Erath and Palo Pinto Counties.
I needed to make a mercy run to Interstate 20, five miles away, for supplies. First, I had to put weight in back of the F-250. The old “two-bales-of-hay-watered-down-and-frozen” ploy was not feasible. Too cold and I didn’t want the hassle of clean up next week. As a second option, I decided to load the F-250 with cedar posts in order to weigh the rear end down. Actually, the wood used for fence posts is not cedar, but juniper. The colloquial is “cedar,” however, and I’m not about to go to the “cedar” yard and ask for “juniper” posts — might result in fisticuffs about definition of terms. But, back to loading cedar.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. First, I broke the ice around the barn doors with a flat shovel in order to drive the DX-55 Case-Farmall into the pasture where I stored the posts. After the tractor warmed up, I loaded two big stacks of cedars into the front-end loader, sweeping some snow off the posts and observed Meadow Larks nearby, scratching for seed where the posts had rested. I drove up the hill to the house. I used a rubber hammer to dislodge the goose-neck ball from the bed of the pickup, as it had become frozen after the rain Monday evening. I use the rubber hammer and vise-grips frequently in these times.
I dumped — very carefully — two loads of 6 to 9 inch cedar posts into the bed of the F-250, raising the front-end loader above the bed of the pickup and away from the back window. I estimated the load to be about 800 pounds, sufficient to give traction on ice for the pickup. I test drove the 250 up and down the lane. Two loads seemed sufficient — it was.
Between our place and the interstate, a pickup had overturned and at least ten off-road events in the bar ditch had occurred. Trucks on the interstate traveled in one lane at 15-20 m.p.h. We bought our few supplies and came back to the house on the road with two inches of ice beneath several inches of snow. The clerk at the Exxon station stated that the local propane dealer had run out of propane and his trucks could not resupply until the roads cleared. There was no milk for sale — all sold out.
Back at the house, we settle in. I give Star a loaf of hay to tide him over till supper. Lottie our Schnauzer jumps up on the fireplace bench to warm herself after we relight the fire. I look out and see cedar posts in the F-250 and I know in an emergency we can make the Palo Pinto Rural Health Clinic (PPRHC) in Gordon with cedar posts as weight in the back for traction.