It was a cold, icy February afternoon about a year ago when this story took place.
My husband had went to go see one of his friends that afternoon determined that I could take care of the ranch by myself with the help of my then, almost five year old, daughter. And with me being the determined person I am to show him I could most definitely take care of the ranch while he was away, agreed.
The temperature that afternoon was well below freezing and with it being that cold I had to break the ice on the water trough at least twice a day.
On that particular day I had already fed the cattle herds and had busted the ice on the troughs once. It was about two in the evening when I headed out to check the cows and break the ice again.
Our cattle were split into three different herds, that year. The first herd I checked I found two new calves. After tagging them, I quickly changed herds and checked the second one, five calves. So again, I tagged the calves and went on to the third and final herd for the evening.
The third herd is where this story takes place. I checked the herd as usual and on that day tagged four new calves then weighed and tagged two new registered calves.
Then promptly I drove down to break the trough that provides waters for both the second and third herd. By this time my daughter had fallen asleep on the front seat so I quietly got out and grabbed the ax to break the ice. Trying not to wake her up while opening or shutting the door.
That is when I saw it, a large black nose and two eyes sticking out of the trough, but nothing else.
I quickly jumped onto the frozen ice and made my way out to the cow. As I neared her I saw her eyes following me and breathed a slight sigh of relief as I realized she was, at least, alive.
“Don’t worry old girl, I will get you out of there. I promise.” I quietly said to the cow as I chopped at the ice in front of her hoping to break a path out, for her.
Our water troughs are homemade twenty by twenty three foot deep concrete troughs that are either well or windmill ran.
After about my sixth chop on the ice the cow moved a bit and tried to regain her footing. However, with the cold water and the slick concrete trough bottom she instead broke more of the ice.
A cracking sound caught me off guard as the ice broke beneath me and sent me almost waist deep in the freezing cold water. I cursed as the cold water hit my legs.
After that I waded back to where the cow was and tried to help her get to her feet. After a few fetal attempts I realized that it wasn’t any use, she was old and the freezing cold water had made her weak.
I knew I was going to have to go get the tractor. I left the pickup with my sleeping daughter and quickly ran the whole way to the barn where the tractor was.
As I ran my coveralls got stiffer and stiffer. I knew they were freezing from the water. I knew I had to hurry or the cow would be dead.
Within fifteen minutes I was back to the trough with the tractor and a couple chains prepared to lift the cow out of the trough.
I fastened a chain around her girth and was able to lift her out and lay her down on the ground near the trough. I quickly unhooked the chain and tried to get her to stand. She fought me a few times then gave up.
I knew that I had to get her dry or she was going to freeze to death. Hastily I searched the pickup for towels or anything to dry her with, no luck was mine to be had.
So I took off my jacket and started rubbing her, hard, with it. She began shivering and I knew I was getting a little warmth back into her body.
It wasn’t long however until my jacket was soaking wet and starting to freeze from the water. I tossed it aside and took off my sweatshirt and started rubbing her with that.
The cow tried to stand once and then fell back down again. By this time I had been working on her about twenty minutes to a half hour. I rubbed her legs and tried to get her dry but it wasn’t long before my sweatshirt was saturated and also starting to get hard from the wind and freezing cold.
I tossed it aside and took off my t-shirt. I was able to get the main part of her body dry to the touch and was feeling like I was making progress finally. Again I worked on her legs trying to get more blood flowing to them.
Before long my t-shirt was soaking wet and not doing much good so I slipped off my thermal wool undershirt. I rubbed and worked on her legs frantically as darkness was setting in by this time and I knew I had to get the cow up and moving.
About twenty minutes later the cow stood up and started back towards the herd slowly and unsteadily.
I stood watching her, proud of myself for what I had done. I gathered up my wet clothes, tossed them onto the flat bed and climbed in to the truck shivering myself.
“Mom, where are we?” Came the sleepy voice of my daughter who had just woken up beside me on the seat.
I looked over at her and smiled despite my shivering. “Checking cows, sweetie?” I said as she opened her eyes and looked at me.
She wiped her eyes and gave me strange look and innocently asked. “Why are you wearing only a bra?”