by Tammy Taylor
The weathermen predicted there would be a winter storm hit our part of Northeast Texas, and they even predicted it would include hazardous ice accumulations in our area. But you know how weathermen are, they ALWAYS predict it’s going to be disastrous. My motto is: hope for the best but prepare for the worst. RancherMan & I spent the days preceding this winter storm making sure the animals were properly cared for. We set out fresh rolls of hay in all of the paddocks, even the vacant ones in the event they would be needed. We made sure the goats also had plenty of fresh hay & even packed soft hay into their shelter as well to give them a warm place to sleep. We filled a secondary large feed bucket with fresh hay & stored it in the feed shed so we could easily top off the goats’ hay if the wintery weather lasted longer than expected. RancherMan went to work making sure we had lots of seasoned firewood cut, split and stacked in the wood rack and I cleaned out the fireplace of any residual ashes and loaded fresh logs into it, as well as filling up the wood supply that stands at the ready right next to the stove. Then knowing we had done all we could do to prepare, we waited.
It didn’t take long before those first chilly winds began to blow and we knew we might be in for a wild ride. The forecast was showing we were in the ice-accumulation bulls-eye & we were hoping they were wrong. But just before dark the first rounds of sleet hit, then freezing rain – and it rained hard for hours as the temperatures plummeted. Finally at about 11 pm we lost power. RancherMan was up all night making sure the fire stayed lit to keep the house warm, and we waited through the dark night listening to the howling wind. Before daybreak we could hear crashing sounds outside – the ice was building up so heavily that huge tree limbs were crashing to the ground.
When at last it was daybreak and we could see outside, although it was still sleeting heavily we suited up in our insulated coveralls and stepped into the frigid weather to check on the cattle and survey the damage. The damage was severe. The wind was still pretty stiff and the overloaded trees were crackling and crashing down all around us. Every few minutes you could hear the crashing of another large tree somewhere and we prayed it wasn’t on a fence or (heaven forbid) on top of a cow.
We hurried to the pasture and called our mama cows together and brought them into a closer pen & fresh hay. There wasn’t much roaming room in that pen but they like to hang out in the creek when the weather is bad and that’s where most of the trees were crashing – we had to protect them. Even in this smaller pen we watched as some of the larger trees gave up their large branches and sent them crashing down, sometimes narrowly missing cattle as they scurried away.
We then went to another pasture to check on the heifers as well and they were also all accounted for. But with trees continuously crashing along the fenceline we needed to check to make sure they were still secured. Walking along that icy road with that stiff wind was pretty brutal, the gusts sending the hard sleet pellets stinging into our cheeks. As we walked along that road the trees on either side were splitting and crashing down so we were careful not to walk under any limbs if at all possible. We completed our fenceline check, it was intact and although there were several limbs down on the fence, none had broken any wires so we headed back to the house to thaw out.
We called on our neighbors just down the street who have two small children – we wanted to make sure they were staying warm and offered for them to come stay with us since RancherMan was doing such a fine job keeping our house warm. They promised they would take us up on the offer if their house got cold, but for now they were doing fine. We kept track of each other all day – good neighbors are a blessing indeed.
All day we went without electricity and RancherMan worked hard to make sure the house stayed warm, but our stock of firewood was dwindling. Nervously we eyed our supply and steadily it went down. As the light of day faded into night we could hear the wind still howling outside, and the sound of trees crashing to the ground. It would be another nerve-wrecking night.
As it turned out, the weatherman was right and our part of NE Texas was indeed in the bulls-eye of the storm. So far we’ve been without electricity for 3 days and there’s no telling when it will be turned back on. We eventually lost water as well and with several trees falling across the road we were pretty well stuck riding out the storm. Without television coverage we couldn’t see what other areas were dealing with, and the cell tower in our town was down so we couldn’t even log on with our phones or make calls or send texts. But as I sat in the livingroom with RancherMan, a warm fire blazing, I thought about how blessed I am. Yes there’s frightening weather outside and it’s caused much damage that will have to be cleaned up, fences to be repaired, trees to cut down and limbs to be hauled to the burn pile. But we’re here & we’re safe. We’re warm and we’re fed. We’re sheltered from that dreadful wind, and we’re TOGETHER. Yep, I’m blessed.