For publication in The Kamloops Daily News, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008
When the David Brown wouldn’t start for the third morning in a row, I stopped feeling sorry for those poor Lower Mainlanders and their bit of snow.
Check that — I never did feel sorry for them, but standing out there at 31 below with the Dave Brown hooked up to the battery charger and block heater, looking like a patient on life support, I began to resent their whining.
The Dave Brown is 38 years old and they literally don’t make ‘em like that anymore. In fact, they don’t make them at all. I’m told Dave spent most of the 38 years faithfully toiling at the Willow Ranch before being adopted out to “The Farm” (that’s what we call our place, a generous term since our main crop is marmots). Those 50 horses of diesel power and a six-foot rear blade are usually all I need to clear the snow from our half mile of driveway.
When the thermometer dips below minus 20, though, Dave turns from Mr. Dependable to Mr. Leave Me Alone, I’m Too Cold to Move. At 19 under, that old tractor fires instantly to life and we chug along, life in the slow lane, laughing at Mother Nature and anything she can throw at as.
And Mom nature, fighting back, takes it to the next level. That’s when Dave folds like a cheap tent. During these past couple of weeks, we’ve watched helplessly as the snow piles up, and Dave continues to refuse to start.
One morning, old Dave coughed a little like he does when he’s giving it the old college try, then fell silent.
I resent this, since I go to great lengths even to walk outside to where Dave sits, draped with a tarp and connected to all those wires. It’s a major production, beginning with long underwear and two pairs of sox, and progressing through heavy pants and a couple of shirts, insulated snow boots, lined winter coat, scarf, balaclava, toque, and hood. I top this off by putting on thick winter gloves and pulling socks over the gloves.
All of this makes any kind of movement quite the exercise, so when I do make it out to Dave Brown, I’m ready to get a little something back. Instead, I get rejection.
The Boys (our horses) don’t much like this weather either. Their eyelashes turn white with frost, and they live for their next feeding of hay and pellets, which help warm them up. By now, the heater in the trough is doing only partial duty, and chipping out inch-thick ice is part of the morning routine. Tanner and Bradley are stoic beasts, taking whatever comes, but I marvel at their stamina in such conditions.
The dogs, of course, have been spending most of their days in the house. A few times a day, we roust them off the couch and push them outside, where they do a three-legged hop into the yard for a pee, or, if they’re feeling brave, accompany me to the barn.
Lower Mainlanders aren’t the only ones who turn into weenies in this weather.I heard one downtowner the other day worrying about catching a chill on his way to Cowboy for his daily eggnog latte.
And I understand one family was family who were depressed because the pump on their hot tub froze up, and “right at Christmas, too!” Apparently, this is a not uncommon hereabouts, and I sympathize. One can scarcely imagine Christmas without the hot tub. At The Farm, when a pump freezes up, it means we have to haul water from the river to the house in buckets for a couple of days.
Anyway, if I hear CBC giving one more dire report about a bus being behind schedule in downtown Vancouver because of the snow, or a campus being closed because the poor darlings can’t be expected to go into class “in freezing temperatures,” I will probably rip the power cord from the wall and demolish the radio.
Well Mel, in their defense, at least Vancouver has yet to call in the army for help (a la Toronto)