High Wind Warning
- October 25, 2023
- Jan Swan Wood
We had been day working steady all fall. Day after day of up before dawn, pack a lunch while eating breakfast, saddle and load horses and be somewhere far away by daylight. But, the season was winding down and it was becoming important to get any cows home from summer range before winter struck.
On the day in question, we were up before dawn as usual and by the time we headed north for a 50 mile drive to the pasture, the wind had come up and was trying to push us off the highway. We got there and the gather was still on, so we pulled our winter caps down over our ears to keep them on and headed around the pasture. The cows were spooky from the wind, but I think even they knew it was time to go home, so they didn’t gather too bad, even though we had to go right into that wind to get to the pens.
By the time we were in the pens with them, I’m sure the wind was well over 40 mph. It was a zesty day so we sat downwind of a windbreak to have a cup of coffee, a brownie and wait on the trucks. We all wondered if the trucks would make it. While we waited, we wondered what was taking another friend so long to get there. She was bringing their big trailer to haul the open cows to the sale barn while the other cows took a semi ride to their winter pasture.
Heidi finally pulled in and parked her dually crewcab pickup and big aluminum trailer. She just sat for a while. Some of us walked over to see what was up. Heidi was pretty pale and still shaky when she got out into the shrieking wind. She walked around to the passenger side of her outfit and showed us what had happened. The wind had caught her broadside and tipped the big gooseneck trailer over far enough that it had crushed the box on the off side. She’d kept her outfit on the road and it finally landed back on it’s wheels. It had, rightfully, scared the stuffing out of her!
We got back out of the wind and sat back down to wait for the trucks. Dan went and called on his bag phone to see why the trucks were so late. When he rejoined us, he said the trucks weren’t coming, as the wind was gusting over 60 mph and those empty bullracks had no business on the road and they’d parked in town. Dan said that he’d go turn the cows back out and we’d all head for home before it got any worse.
Heidi sat there on the ground giving Dan a stern look. Finally, this quiet woman leaned forward, pointed a finger at him and said “Dan, I am hauling 15 head of cows back with me. I’d like it to be your opens, but I don’t really care. I will be loading 15 head, so if you want to pick them, get ‘er done.”
We obligingly sorted off the 15 open cows and loaded them on her trailer. She didn’t have any trouble with it tipping on her way back south.
About Jan Swan Wood
Jan was raised on a ranch in far western South Dakota. She grew up horseback working all descriptions of cattle, plus sheep and horses. After leaving home she pursued a post-graduate study of cowboying and dayworking in Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota....