Friday, February 12, 2021

#212. or, Second Hand Farmer

  Wanna know something? 

  Well, probably not but I'm gonna tell you anyway. 

  Remember in movies, in the climactic moment of suspense when the hero has to save the world from imminent destruction? The bomb timer counts down, then with no time left, the wire is cut and the camera pans to the timer and we see we were one second from the end of the world. 

  One second!

  One whole second. I scoff at your second. 

  I live in a world between seconds.

  Similar to a sniper. With focus so intense that the world disappears till there's only the bullet and the target. Between heartbeats, and the stoppage of time after the trigger is pulled and everything ceases to exist until the target is reached. 

  That's where I make my home. 

  Alongside the formula one drivers. With blinding speed and the life or death decisions made between the ticks of the second hand as he plots his course, reacts, moves 1500 pounds of car inches from his rival, between the flaps of a hummingbirds wings, around his opponent and on to victory. 

  Yes. I am comfortable there. With the snipers, the formula one drivers, and apparently Dominic Toretto. I know this place all too well. Because I thaw frozen cattle watering bowls when it's minus forty fricken degrees.

 Let me explain.

  On occasion, the place I live gets cold. The Polar Vortex they call it. Not to be confused with Polar Express which is a much happier thing, but I digress. Anyway, continued temperatures at minus 40 degrees. Which is a convenient but accurate temperature for this story because no Celsius/Fahrenheit conversion is required. Generally though, we are mostly prepared for this to happen. Specifically, in regards to cattle watering bowls, which are heated with an element like an oven and a heat tape running down the pipe that supplies the water underground from the well. Sometimes, that underground pipe will freeze requiring me to remove the valve and fittings from the top of the pipe where it connects to the watering bowl parts. Then, I pump water down the frozen pipe with a smaller pipe and a repurposed yard sprayer at the point where the ice begins, and until I am through the ice. Still with me? Cause the tricky part is next. Once you get through the ice, the water starts to come. And quickly! Before the water gets to the top of the pipe, I need to strip the smaller heating hose out of the now thawed and flowing under pressure waterline, grab the fitting and put it exactly into the waterline. It's a tight fit, so grabbing each part and forcing and twisting will be required, then put the hose clamp back on because sometimes the water will push the fittings back apart. All before the inevitable geyser like eruption. Of cold water. At minus 40 degrees. All while kneeling on ice and halfway upside down in a box half the size of a smartcar trunk.

  Sometimes I make it. When I don't, it's usually because my fingers have stopped working and I've been distracted by thoughts of white sandy beaches and flip flops.

  Ice is a funny thing. It's good for skating on. The combination of its pebbled surface and a forty pound granite rock combine in poetry like fashion. It holds my truck up so I can drive to a fishing spot, drill a hole through it and spend an afternoon wetting a line. More importantly, it's one of the staple ingredients when I make mojitos. It is less desirable when it has frozen my layered outerwear into a statue of a tired farmer that wishes he lived in a climate that didn't require one whole dresser drawer be dedicated to long johns.

  On the plus side, I'm getting pretty good at shimmying out of my frozen winter gear like a boa constrictor shedding it's skin. Particularly, when time is of the essence. Like when I'm doing the pee dance,

  ........and the time between the ticks of the second hand seem like an eternity.    



  1. “That sounds brutal,” says me who is fussing about 19° F for a few days here in usually warm Texas. I would love to see you win the lottery and retire on a warm sunny beach, mojito in hand! 😎

    1. Hey Josie. I spend more and more time thinking about that lately. :)

  2. That's the best Polar Vortex story I've ever read! I like the sniper/race car driver analogy! Speaking of heated water troughs, what the hell did our pioneer forebears do back in the 1800s? Did they have to heat water for the animals over a fire or something?

    1. Hi Debra. Not that I have ever been a pioneer in anything, but one of my jobs when I was a kid was to go out every day in the winter and chop a hole in the ice on the dugout so the cows could drink. I suspect it was something like that.