Tuesday, April 30, 2013

No Longer Stranded

It seems as if the majority of my posts lately revolve around the weather - welcome to the life of a farmer.  To carry on the tradition, please continue reading.  I promise this one gets exciting...

Spring has finally hit the Midwest and we are loving the warmer weather!  Nearly all of the snow has melted, which the ever-eager farmers are very happy about.  Yesterday marked the first day in the field for 2013!  Travis thought it very important I mention he won the unofficial contest of getting in the field first in our area.  I'll explain more in a post later this week...

Since it is the end of April, it is hard to believe that just a week ago Travis and I were stranded in South Dakota stuck in the middle of a blizzard during what was supposedly the spring season.

It all started when Travis asked me to drive with him to Nebraska to pick up a fertilizer spreader that he had purchased through an online auction.  I can't speak for other farming families, but this is how our operation purchases the majority of our equipment.

I have been asked to go on these trips before, but I had conflicts with my social schedule, or the boys were sick, or I just really didn't feel like driving 8-9 hours there and back in two days.  But this time my schedule was clear, everyone was healthy, and I figured what a better way to end the tax season than spend countless hours with the man I married after spending the last couple of months in the tax office with him every other day...

Clearly I was not thinking clearly.

Really I just wanted a full night of uninterrupted sleep since our boys take turns on who is going to be up every two hours every single night.  When will it end?!?!?

Aside from the constant bouncing from riding in a large pick-up with an empty trailer pulled behind it, the drive down was a peaceful one.  If you want to feel how much weight you gained this winter, this is a good jiggle test.

Since I have not been to Nebraska before, I was able to see the different landscapes along the way.

The Missouri River at Yankton, SD
Entering Nebraska
Once we got to our hotel in Norfolk, we even had time to catch dinner and a movie.  It was in the high fifties and sunny!

In the middle of the night we were awoke by a phone call to our room; we also heard fire engine sirens.  Apparently there was a fire in our building...awesome.  Everyone had to go to the lobby at 12:30 in the morning and wait for an hour for them to discover that the smoke on one of the upper floors was caused by an arcing ice machine.  Once we got back to our room, I couldn't fall asleep.  So much for my plan.

The next day I dragged myself to the pick-up and we were headed to Primrose, NE, to get our prize: the fertilizer spreader.

Primrose population: 61
The guys at the Co-op helped Travis get the fertilizer spreader on the trailer with a pay-loader.  I assisted by taking photos.

After it was on the trailer, I went into the pick-up while Travis chained the spreader down for an hour in the cold, cold rain.  I am so supportive.

Then we headed back towards Norfolk in the rain hoping that it would stay above freezing and let up a bit.  There was getting to be quite a bit of water on the road, which created less than favorable driving conditions.

After a quick lunch in Norfolk, we forged on towards Yankton.  Here is where it got bad.  Very bad.

The snow turned to sleet.

The sleet turned to snow.

The snow turned into a full-on blizzard.

Halfway to Yankton we had to stop at a country gas station/cafe and re-access our situation.  Do we continue on and just take it slow?  Or do we stop and wait out the storm?  The closest town was 10 miles or so away.  We decided to continue on and try to make it to Yankton.

Yankton: 29 miles
Then the pick-up started having issues with the engine power.  This particular model will restrict power from the engine if blowing snow gets into the air intake.  Typically, owners will put a cold weather front (grill cover) on the pick-up during the winter months.  We did not have the cold weather front with us because it was April 22nd and the chances of getting a blizzard this late in the season were unforeseeable, or so we thought.

We were barely making it even down the rolling hills of north-eastern Nebraska, let alone up them.  We were literally going 15 mph as Travis had the accelerator floored.  Something had to be done.

Enter the redneck cold weather front...aka cat food bag.

My father-in-law owns this particular pick-up and keeps cat food bags on the back seats as a seat covers (I am not making this up).  Travis took one of those bags and wired it to the front of the pick-up to create a make-shift cold weather front.

The crazy thing is that it worked.  We were immediately able to go up the hills at 40 mph pulling the loaded trailer on the non-plowed roads.  We got a lot of waves from people passing by going the other way.  I think Travis liked the attention.  I tried not to have a heart attack.

Entering South Dakota on the bridge over the Missouri River
The blizzard continued and we made it 20 miles in a hour-and-a-half.  By this time my mother-in-law had graciously called ahead and booked us a hotel room for our unscheduled stay in Yankton.  Travis still wasn't sure if we were going to stop, but he quickly changed his mind after we almost got stuck parking in the parking lot.

The beautiful thing about the whole situation was that I fell asleep at 9pm and slept straight through to next morning.  And the driving conditions the next day were safe.

We pulled into the farm that afternoon and had two very eager helpers.

You know what happened to this fertilizer spreader???

Travis sold it two days later.  This was the first one of the two that he had purchased this winter, and it was not properly spaced for corn rows...but it was "a good deal."  The other one does have the appropriate spacing and we'll be keeping it.

Travis is adding "equipment jockey" to his list of specialties.

I am removing "travel companion" from mine.  Well, at least for another year.


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