Submitted by Kaare Askildt, former Preeceville area farmer in training. This is the first of an eight part series on the move from farm to Hazel Dell.
We were getting closer to actually moving to our new digs by Hazel Dell, which was named the Ponderosa many, many years ago by a previous owner.
But first my mentor and neighbour Tim Olson had to get a semi-trailer into the yard to empty the granaries for the oats he had stored there, and that meant clearing the yard for snow. Tim advised me of the day that he was coming over with his tractor to clean the yard, and of course I offered up my snow clearing services as well. Between the two of us we would have the snow cleared in no time flat. Well, we got a snow dump a couple of days before, and with the northern winds blowing the driveway was drifted in and barely passable.
My wife revoked my “Farmer Graduation Certificate” that morning. Against her stern request I decided to clear the driveway, and do a couple of windrows to prevent the driveway from drifting in again. “Tim is coming with a plow,” she said, “and he’ll do the driveway! No sense doing windrows as the forecast is calling for milder weather and no winds! Clear the yard first and then you can play with the windrows later.”
Did I listen? Nooo, I knew better. The weather can change at any moment I thought, so we should be prepared. After doing a couple of runs in the driveway, I decided it was time to do the windrows in the field. Everything was going fine until I hit the creek bed and got stuck. Sunk in to the axles in fact. I’m still suffering from vertigo (not where to go), so my balance is still a bit off. However, I had no way of communicating with my wife or anybody else, so I had to dismount the tractor and then climb over the snow bank by the driveway. I sunk into my hips wading through the heavy snow, while trying to clear some away with my arms and hands, sort of a sweeping half breast stroke kind of motion, all the while muttering some select Norwegian phrases under my breath!
I finally made it over the bank, and staggered off to the house. I snuck in and got the keys to the truck and drove down to Rick Prestie to ask him for help to get the tractor out. Rick was in a meeting, but promised to come in about a half hour. I figured I better get the chain and the steel cable in case he would need them. My wife was waiting in the yard as I drove in, and was wondering what had happened. I sheepishly told her, and she revoked my graduation certificate right there on the spot, with an “I told you so!” Anyway we loaded the chain and steel cable, drove back out to wait for help.
Tim was the first to arrive, and he just grinned and shook his head. While he was doing some snow clearing and driving his tractor up behind mine, I wrapped the middle of the heavy chain around my shoulders while the ends were hanging down and dragging in the snow. My wife told me not to wrap the chains around my body, as it would unbalance me, but I ignored her. I looked like the Marley character in Dickens “A Christmas Carol.” The inevitable had to happen, while climbing back over the snow bank and into the field; I did a face plant into the deep snow with the chain weighing me down. My wife had a hard time containing herself and told me that I must have been really angry laying there, as the snow seemed to melt around me! With her help I managed to get back on my feet and staggered on to the tractor with the chains still dragging in the snow. Tim tried the best he could to get me out, but to no avail. Rick arrived with his backhoe and hauled my tractor out like it was a Tonka Toy! Thank you Rick!
Stay tuned for Part Two next week.