Outdoors Column: Better Weather

Saturday morning, the sun was shining brightly off the fresh snow. It looked like a beautiful Iowa winter morning. I was well into my second cup of coffee when my son, Damon called. He was wondering if I would like to go help him get in a load of wood. I rather enjoy cutting wood so I told him I would be happy to help. I would meet him in the long hay field in a half hour with the little tractor. I decided to check the thermometer to see what kind of clothes to wear. I turned the news on to discover, in spite of being a bright sunny day, the temperature was nine below zero with a wind chill of twenty below. I decided Damon must be out of wood. I know he had a large pile the last time I looked, but we have had some brutally cold weather. I put on most of the clothes I own and headed outside.


The dogs and I were somewhat shocked at how cold it felt. They did what they had to do and rather than go with me, they wanted back inside. I put my tools and saw on the tractor only to discover it would not start. I put the block heater on it and tried assorted dangerous methods to start the little Diesel engine. Deciding all attempts were futile, I loaded the saw and tools into the pick up. One attempt at cranking the starter told me my ever faithful pick up was not going to start either. Even jump starting would not crank the cold engine fast enough to get it to fire. It had been close to an hour since I was supposed to meet Damon. He was either done or frozen to death. I put the saw in the escape that was in the heated garage and went out to check on him.


I cut across country to the hay field. It really was a beautiful day going through the timber and across the bright white pristine meadows. The only marks on the snow were deer and turkey tracks. When I pulled into the hayfield, Damon and a friend, Tyler, were in his truck. I asked if he had a wood emergency. He said, “no”, he just did not realize how cold it was until he started cutting wood and his hands went numb. Tyler was not paying attention to the outside temperatures either or thought it was normal behavior to go cut wood when it is cold enough to freeze to death in minutes. Three of us cut wood until the entertainment value was gone and they each had a large load of firewood. 


Sunday the temperature rose to the twenties. We felt the need to get outside and enjoy the balmy weather. The dogs were as ready to get outside as my wife and I were. The dogs had been pretty much cooped up for two weeks during the below zero weather. We decided to bring the trail cameras in for the season. The dogs were off, barking and excited to be running in nice weather. Louie ran full speed into a rose bush while watching Jag and trying to help catch a rabbit. The wildlife trails crisscrossed the Ranger trails where dozens of deer have been traveling. Everyone felt better after a couple hours of fresh air and exercise.


Back home, Jag stretched out on his pillow ready for a nap. Louie laid across our laps and was content to relax while we picked dozens of thorns out of him. The cameras had about twelve hundred pictures, mostly of deer, and some really nice ones. 


I have learned, the weather will always change, given a little time. Sometimes it changes for the better.