On this warm June day, I’m looking through notes written in winter, a long
time ago. My classes at Christian College met on either Mondays and Wednesdays
or Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I was at home alone on some Fridays. There was
time to read yesterday’s paper before doing breakfast dishes and getting into
the weekly cleaning. It’s not always easy in winter, though. Here are notes I
made one Friday in February, 1958:
“It’s eight below zero, the sun is bright, and the wind is calm compared to
blustery yesterday. As Chub and the kids hurried off to school and work, he
yelled, ‘I forgot to water the pigs.’ When I took two plastic buckets full of
warm water to the hog lot I was greeted by 15 thirsty porkers. They pressed
against the gate, trying to get that water. How could I ever push that gate
open against their weight?
The trough was near enough to the fence for Chub to pour the water into it
without his having to go into the lot with the hogs but my arms are too short.
The water would splash out of the trough as fast as I poured it in. Climbing
over was the only way because I couldn’t open the gate against the weight of
It wasn’t hard to climb over the wooden gate, but getting a bucket of water
over posed a problem. On the pig side of the gate, I was being nuzzled by
their cold snouts, and my feet were trampled by their sharp toes. It was the
water they wanted, and those buckets were still on the ground outside of the
pig lot. I reached through the gate slats, sloshed out about a third of the
water from one bucket to make it easier to handle and then lifted it as far as
I could. With the other arm through between two higher slats, I got the bucket
higher. Finally, it was at the top of the gate, and I balanced it there a few
moments to rest my arms. The water that splashed on my mittens and coat froze
With the bucket held high I looked at a sea of pig’s backs and saw no place to
pour the water; the trough was full of pigs! They were grunting and shoving
and begging for water, and I was fussing at them, aloud, and threatening to
pour the water over their backs. I stood there holding that bucket and
wondering what to do. One pig put his front feet on another’s shoulders and
got his snout into the bucket. Others got the idea, and I had to kick them
away, losing more of the precious water in the process.
Finally, I splashed a little water at one end of the trough. They all shifted,
and I hurried back to the other end to pour. And so it went, too, with the
second bucket of water, which I got by opening the gate when they were still
trying to drink at the empty trough. It was easier to get through the gate
when I went back with two more full buckets.
Now, I’m going to make a cup of tea. I turn the faucet. Frozen pipes!
Solution? The sows will love the calf’s milk, and I’ll turn the calf in with
his mother. Then Chub can take it from there when he gets home. We have more
milk than water on this farm today.”