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Posted 3/30/11 (Wed)


Man! Just another day in paradise! Snow, wind, and icy roads. Some things never change. No travel advised. I think you could just post that and leave it up year-round. People should just stay home.
In our hotshot business, we have an opportunity to see a lot of country. From the Canadian line to Houston, Texas. From Eastern Montana to Bismarck. And I don’t need to tell you; it has been a long, dreary winter. I swear some of the snow I was moving yesterday was two years old! I don’t need the Corps of Engineers to give a flood forecast. I can just look out the pickup window, and tell you there is one heck of a lot of snow that is going to turn to water sometime in the next few months. And it will flow downhill. So if you are living next to a creek or river, I’d be moving my stuff upstairs.
It seems like we have been moving stuff most of our lives. Move snow in the winter. Move rocks in the summer. Haul hay in the fall. Haul hay in the winter. Haul hay in the spring. Make hay in the summer. Haul the used hay out in the spring. Load. Unload. Load. Unload. As the Indian people realized eons ago, life is a circle.
Watching some of the better-equipped farmers move snow brought back a memory this week. You know, those farmers with the big dozers on the front of their multi-wheeled, multi-axle, super horsepower tractors. The ones with two seats. One for the operator and one for the banker that financed the tractor.
Anyway, I suppose thirty years ago or so, we put a dozer on a four-wheel- drive tractor. It was a pretty neat deal. We had been fighting snow all winter, and it was tough to get to the river to feed cows. This dozer was a thing of beauty. Nearly as wide as the wheels on the tractor. Note I said nearly. You could pull a pin and set the blade at an angle! What an invention.
I was so excited to run this deal, I nearly wet my pants! Note I said nearly. The first morning I was going to operate it, we were heading for the river to feed cows. Dad had a load of cake on the pickup, and I was breaking trail.
Down the county road we went. About 15 miles per hour. Rolling that snow off the road like a madman. You would have been proud of me. I turned south off the county road onto the river road. Another mile of rolling that snow like a professional. This sure beat the heck out of shoveling.
One of the places we always had trouble was where the road dropped off into the badlands. The wind blew that snow across the flat, and left a huge drift before you got down into the shelter of the buttes and trees. I was looking forward to plowing into that sucker at 15 mph!
As I started over that hill, I could see that huge drift on the down slope. Being a man, I opened the throttle up so I was blowing smoke. Took a chew of Copenhagen, let out a war whoop, and popped the clutch. That old John Deere was a thing of beauty as I broke over the top that hill. I hit that drift at 18 mph!
You ever start down a steep hill at 18 mph? With a ten-foot-high drift in front of a three-foot-high dozer? Oh, it rolled that snow alright. So I had like a fifteen-foot-high drift in front of me. Then the tractor kind of went up on the snow. Then the tractor kind of stopped. I was going down a pretty steep hill, with 15 feet of snow in front of me. Four feet of snow beneath me. And an icy track going back up the hill behind me.
For two days we shoveled. First, we shoveled it out so we could back up. Wasn’t going to happen. Too icy. We had to shovel it out frontward. Fifteen feet of snow. With a number 14 scoop shovel.
I know there had to be a lesson in there somewhere. But I guess I failed to learn it. I’m going out this morning to shovel out our tractor. Wish Shirley was home. But then, she would remind me that she wanted to haul that hay last summer. And I said, “Oh, let’s just haul it out of the field as we feed it. That will save time handling the bales.” I’m not real smart, but I can shovel.