I thought yesterday was a rough day but it turns out it was nothing compared to today. We decided I should get to the mill early this morning to help answer the phones and pay the bills. Tuesday’s are the days I reconcile our corn tickets and write corn checks. There were several farmers anxiously waiting for me to get their checks wrote so they could go home and “hunker” down for the blizzard. I decided around 12:30 I should head back to the farm because visibility was horrible and the roads were getting more slick.
The roads were too slick to have semi’s and trailers hauling feed to the hogs so we had to park them. That left Kevin to haul feed with our straight truck (a straight truck has a feed bed attached to the frame of the truck). We stayed as close to home as we could but we had several barns that were going to need feed before Thursday morning.
Kevin was on his third load of feed when his luck started to run out. Normally he would have had three loads hauled by noon but the weather complicated our schedule and he was only on his third load at 4:30 p.m. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has not been able to get to the secondary blacktop roads today; unfortunately, these are the roads that lead to where our hogs are housed, in the country! We can’t let our hogs go without feed so our top priority is to make sure they are cared for. Kevin always puts the welfare of the hogs before his own because that is our responsibility. We respect our livestock and we know they depend on us.
Kevin came upon a truck that was stuck in a snow drift while he was delivering his third load of feed. He was able to pull the truck out of the snow drift and help our friend Danny navigate his way home. Kevin was trying to make it back to town with an empty feed truck when he got caught in a snow drift that pulled the truck off the road and into the ditch. He was out of luck.
To make matters worse, he hadn’t eaten all day because he was more worried about caring for the hogs. And to top it off, his cell phone was down to one bar of battery and the heater in the truck wasn’t working that well. He sat tight for a while hoping someone would come along but no one else was out on the roads and DOT wasn’t either. He called me and asked me to call DOT and see if they could send a maintainer out to open the road. He had already called a wrecker who was willing to come get him but DOT needed to open the road first he said.
I called DOT and they politely said they couldn’t help and for Kevin to find a farmer to help him or wait until morning and they would try to find him then. I was stunned, my husband had a cell phone that was almost dead, a truck with little heat, and he hadn’t eaten all day. I was worried he may not make it through the night in the truck.
By this time, I was a little worn out because I had just watched Oprah and listened to Michael Pollan talk about how bad industrial agriculture was. I wanted to scream at my TV and tell Pollan that if our hogs were outside in this blizzard, they would be suffering and dead. Thanks to our barns, our hogs had dry feed and clean water and a warm place to live. Our hogs were a lot warmer than my husband was, and he hadn’t eaten all day because he was caring for the hogs. But I didn’t yell at the TV, instead, I called my husband and told him to start calling farmers nearby to see if they could help. His response was, I already did that and no one can get to me with their tractors until DOT opens up the road some.
By this time our kids had figured out what was going on and they were hysterical. I calmed them down and started calling farmers who we purchase corn from. On my first call I was able to contact a farmer, Lee, who volunteered to try and find Kevin. His wife promised they would call me as soon as they found him if they could make it trough the drifts. An hour went by and no word came. Finally, the phone rang and it was Lee’s wife. She said they found Kevin and were able to find another farmer who had a bigger tractor with a blade on it. They were able to clear the road and pull Kevin out of the ditch! What a relief. I was so thankful to Lee and his wife for helping Kevin. I told them we would have to have dinner together sometime so we could thank them. They said they were not worried about it because they knew we would do the same for them if the situation was reversed. That is the great part of living in the country, neighbors always help neighbors, even during a blizzard.
Kevin made it back to the feed mill where his dad was waiting about 8:20 p.m. BUT, they had another challenge. The mill is four miles from the farm and the roads to our farm are so bad there is no way they can make it home. So they are having a ‘bunking party’ at the feed mill and some father/son bonding with no food involved.
I am thankful Kevin is safe and sound and in a warm place. Now I am praying we don’t lose our electricity because Kevin’s mom and I are the only people on the farm besides our two children. If our power does fail, she and I will have to walk through the snow drifts to dig out the tractors and hook up the generators so our hogs can stay warm.
Let’s hope tomorrow is a brighter day for us all and that everyone who is stranded out on the roads tonight is safe and warm and has plenty of food. Check back tomorrow to see if Kevin and his dad make it home!