Voices From the Farm: First Ice Storm of the Year, 1967

Late one evening at the beginning of January, a big storm with strong winds and freezing rain was moving in. I suddenly realized Cricket was not around.

I knew he had been outside earlier in the evening, but thought he had come in. I made one quick search around to make sure he was not in the house, he was not. I went out on the enclosed porch, opened the door and called for him several times. Then realizing he probably couldn’t hear me above the noise of the storm, I donned a hooded raincoat and went outside. I called and called, but no Cricket.

At last, in a brief lull in the velocity of the wind, I heard a faint tiny meow coming from the big cottonwood tree just above the house. I got a flashlight from the house and played the light up into the tree, and he was there on a limb far above me. Both he and the limb were covered with ice. I knew I had to get him down, as the temperature was going to drop below zero and he was still a kitten, not quite half grown yet, and he would freeze to death.

Jerry and Lisa were both asleep, and I really didn’t want to get them out of bed, and out in this mess in the middle of the night. Besides, only one person was going to be able to climb up there to get him. Our aluminum ladder was lying nearby, along the upper side of the house, where it had been left when the winter storm windows were put on earlier in the Fall. Of course, the ladder was also ice covered, so it was treacherous climbing up until I was as close as I could get to the branch he was on, next to the trunk of the tree.

He was meowing pitifully, and desperately wanted to come to me, but the thick ice covering the branch was just too slippery. Each time he tried to move he would begin to slip and quickly retreat to the tree trunk. I was chilled to the bone by this time, but I knew I just had to keep reaching out to him and coaxing him to come to me.

After what seemed an eternity, he finally moved just a little way along the limb… then another long wait, and more coaxing, and he would get just a little bit closer. With each attempt we kept making a tiny bit of progress, until I was finally able to reach out, grasp hold of his fur and pull him toward me.

Cricket was shivering uncontrollably. and my hands were half frozen, so holding onto him and getting back down the ladder was scary. At last we were on the ground and made our way in the house.

He was soaking wet, and I got towels and dried him off. He was one mighty glad kitty to be back in the house where it was warm and dry! As was I. We both survived the ordeal just fine, but I would not want to do it again!

It was quite a winter! By March 10, we’d had our driveway plowed a total of 9 times, but finally the weather began to break and we had some springlike days.

How good it was to hear the first Meadowlark singing, and in a few days the snow had melted enough that the run off waters were rushing through the bottom land. Lisa wanted to go down to the “brook,”as she called it, so I left my Friday cleaning and we went down. It was a big adventure for her, and I enjoyed it too!

On March 30, we acquired a new dog! We regularly bought our milk at a dairy on the other side of town. We were always greeted by an adorable little Wheaton Terrier type dog, which Lisa and I both loved, and made a fuss over.

On this day, the lady who owned the dairy, said, “Why don’t you take that dog home with you?” She then added that someone had dropped the dog off in their driveway, and they didn’t really want a dog. They called the dog, “Charlie.” Well, there was always room for one more dog, so we took Charlie home with us.

4 thoughts on “Voices From the Farm: First Ice Storm of the Year, 1967

  1. Who needs the fire department, just call Lea! Guess animal lovers all do crazy things that we would never allow our children to do. We just tore up our back steps because a baby feral cat fell into a 5ft. window well and could not get up. All worked out, happily, and mama and all babies doing well, steps,…. not so much. Repairs to come. Thanks for being Lea. Mary

    1. Mary,

      Well, thankfully, I didn’t get too many “fire department” calls, but as my flock grew, and I read everything I could find on sheep problems, and attended short courses on sheep management, and learned by experience, I began getting a lot of “I’ve got a question for you” calls from other sheep producers. I came to understand this, when they began telling me that they had called a vet, but he told them, “Call Lea, she knows a lot more about sheep than I do.”

      It turned out, most veterinarians didn’t learn much about sheep in vet school. The curriculum was largely focused on problems and diseases of cattle, horses, and hogs, at least in the Midwest area. There just weren’t enough sheep to make it lucrative to be a sheep vet, so that part of their education got a “once over lightly” approach.

      Thanks for all the comments!


  2. What a treasure your oral history is. Just think if we had more of this oral history from hundred or so years ago how much richer our lives will be. Hopefully your oral history will live on and in a hundred years, teach the newer generations about how life was.

    Now, I have to be a mother here…do you realize how dangerous it was for you to be on a slippery ladder, with no one knowing where you were? You could have fallen and laid there in the freezing ice all night with no one to rescue you!! Glad it all worked out well for you and cricket!!

    1. Sands,

      Oh, you better believe my heart was in my mouth the whole time I was on that icy ladder! And I sure did think about the fact that nobody knew I was out there! But, I still think I did the right thing, I knew Cricket would respond to me better than Jerry, I was the one who was always there, who fed him, and although it would have been good to have someone there, just in case… on the other hand, I didn’t have someone telling me what to do, and how to do it, getting upset if I didn’t listen, and yelling! I was nervous enough already!

      Still thankful Cricket and I both survived!


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