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Posted 3/23/11 (Wed)


First full day of spring as I write this. And winter storm warnings for tonight and tomorrow. High winds, freezing rain turning to snow, and falling temperatures. That is darn sure proof that calving season is here!
I’ve been checking heifers this past week. I usually don’t start until we lose the first calf, but this year, I decided to operate like a real ranch. Seven nights of checking heifers and not one calf. I think they are waiting for me to get a good night’s sleep. Maybe tonight.
I have to tell you about that blizzard last week. I guess I should have written about it a week ago, but with St. Patrick’s Day and all, just couldn’t do it.
Those of us in the southwest part of the state missed the storm. Shirley did not. Normally, she leaves Bismarck early Friday afternoon and heads home. It just happens that I was invited to a pinochle game at a local establishment that afternoon. What could I do? What should I do? You are right. I played pinochle.
As I was on the way to the game, Shirley called to check on the weather. I assured her the weather was fine. Windy, but that is pretty much an everyday occurrence. No snow moving. She should try to get home to spend time with her grandchildren, go through the mail, wash clothes, clean the house, do dishes, pick up around the yard, and get a little rest. Well, not really, but it was a thought. But I did assure her the roads were good, and she would be fine.
One-half hour later she called. She was stuck in a whiteout east of New Salem. I-94 had shut down. I assured her that I was all right, and playing pinochle at Maverick’s. That really impressed her.
An hour later, I called to check on her. A highway patrolman had knocked on her window, inquired about her condition, made sure the car had enough gas to run several hours, and assured her that she wouldn’t get run into because all traffic was at a standstill. She was pretty nervous. I figured she was worried about me and the heifers. I assured her that I was still playing pinochle and was fine.
About five o’clock, after she had been stranded on the road for four hours, I called to check. I informed her that I had taken a drive. Still windy. No snow moving. Heifers were fine. Visibility about five miles. And I was going back to the pinochle game. Sit tight.
As evening approached, and the pinochle game was winding down, I called her again. I am quite a guy. She informed me that the highway patrolman had come by and knocked on her window again. They were going to call out the National Guard if the wind died down enough to be on the road. There were about 800 to a thousand cars stuck on the Interstate.
Another hour went by, and I called to make sure she was fine. She was, but she was getting a little hungry. Well, what could I do? I told her about all the things I had put in a tuna casserole the night before. I even explained how it smelled when it came from the oven. I even told her there was some left over in the fridge, and if I drank another Guiness, I would be too full to eat tonight. She could have the leftovers when she got home. I am quite a guy! She didn’t seem impressed. I just don’t understand wives.
About nine o’clock, I went to bed. I assured her that the heifers were fine, and I would call her in the morning. I assured her that the car could idle a couple of days without any problem. Just get out once in awhile and kick the snow away from the exhaust pipe, and leave a window slightly open. She replied… Well, I won’t say how she replied.
After nine hours in the car, the highway patrol got the caravan into New Salem. The highway got opened up the next afternoon, and she made it home safe and sound.
But I will tell you one thing. The next time she is stuck in a blizzard, if I am playing pinochle, I am going to lie. I’ve been sleeping with the heifers on the weekends.