Cedar post traction

The weather remains cold, down to 12 degrees last night and up to 21 degrees at 3:00 p.m.  I do like Winter.

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.

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14 Comments

Filed under Adventure, Cedar, Flying Hat Ranch, Juniper

14 responses to “Cedar post traction

  1. Good ol’ country ingenuity! Glad you made it there and back without incident. Stay in and stay warm.

  2. Kittie Howard

    Damn! This is tough weather. WOW! Jack, you remind me of Jack London. You could survive anywhere.

    You and Brenda stay warm. You’re in our thoughts and prayers!

    (It’s called cedar in Louisiana, too, but isn’t…loved how you described buying what isn’t cedar.)

    • Thanks. Jack London was a hero of mine. Can’t go far without reading his work. Classic. I didn’t know what it was called in Louisiana. So much of what is Texas came from Louisiana, a southern exposure always surfaces in Texas history and culture.

  3. The trusty F-250 is exactly the same truck we have, the ’71 version! We used to use bags of salt and cinder blocks, but naturally not necessary here. But it’s bitterly cold, found all the big outdoor water bowls frozen and exploded this morning, both glass and plastic. I tried to do laundry in the shed where the outside cats’ beds are, just so I could use the dryer to warm up the shed, but pipes are frozen solid.

    No, your chore of loading the bed with cedar posts does not sound easy, but leave it to you to notice meadow larks while performing this unpleasant task!

    • I didn’t know you all were having the arctic blast over there. Bitter cold. I’ve got ice in the stock tank, three-inches thick. Maybe I’ll get a picture. Good that you have a F-250. Those vehicles run and run.

  4. The “cedar” vs “juniper” terminology brought back a memory for me. When I lived in Arizona we would go up to the northern plains part of the state and cut juniper. You didn’t call it juniper up there though: everyone knew it was “knock-down cedar”.

    That extra weight in the truck sure makes a difference, doesn’t it! I am a member of a rural fire department, and one of the trucks we use is an F-350, which is pretty close to the same as my F-250, but it is a dually and carries 300 gallons of water and several hundred pounds of pump equipment. What a difference the weight makes in deep snow or on ice!

  5. In the old days before I could afford a 4 X 4 truck I used to load the back of my pick-up with cord wood. I still got stuck routinely because even with the extra weight the combination of deep snow and ice used to defeat my attempts to get home in inclement weather. Have not been stuck since going the four wheel drive route, however, along the way I added the element of intelligence. Now I don’t drive in storms unless I have to, and then it is with a snow plow on the front of the Tacoma.

    I saw in the news that Texas had been “borrowing” electricity from the Mexican grid, but had been cut off because it is now also cold in Mexico and they can have need for all of the power that they make. Sounds like conservation is the key until the cold weather let’s up. Climate change seems to have many surprises.

    Watered down frozen hay sounds interesting, how much does a frozen bale of hay weigh?

    • Good for you and your 4 X 4 truck. I had one many years ago in Amarillo, Texas, and you need them up there. We were four days inside with one mercy run. Yes, Mexico sent us power. Fort Worth had more rolling blackouts than we did — Fort Worth is about 75 miles away to the east.

      A three-strand bale weighs about 100 lbs. Let the water soak in it and I estimate another 100 lbs. when it is iced. So, maybe 200 -250 lbs? I’ll have to go to a public weigh station to be more exact. Two bales probably adds 400 lbs. or more.

      Cord wood would make good weight in the rear end. And, not a messy clean up like a bale of hay.

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