A Cowboy’s Faith: Snow and ice will become water

buchmanhead“Don’t worry; the snow will blow in through the cracks.”

Our second cousin said that nearly five decades ago when Uncle Don was concerned about getting water to a couple big sows penned in an old barn with only ice frozen tightly into a split hot-water-heater trough.

Every year about this time we’re reminded of that when we’re forced to figure out how to keep livestock’s most essential nutrient, water, available to them.

Providing an open water supply for cattle and horses in 14 different pens is a major chore when it’s freezing for an extended time. Fortunately, water doesn’t freeze solid in a couple of pastures with sizeable cattle numbers. But, ice must always be opened, or water pumped and hosed or carried daily for the others whenever it freezes.

More than half of the pens are watered from wells, so electrical pumps must be working while pipelines and hoses remain thawed. Added to aggravation, the plastic hose drained and put inside yesterday, snapped in two this afternoon, and must be replaced.

“A horse can be led to water, but he can’t be made to drink.” When we provide water, it’s worthless unless consumed.

After “surviving on snow,” or licking ice for a couple of days, most livestock learn that  when somebody comes with the hose, water bucket, or an axe to chop the frozen pond, they’d better be there, before the water freezes again, or they won’t get a drink.

Interesting though how some livestock has natural instinct to take care of themselves, regardless of conditions.

Certain horses keep their water open by licking, breathing and pawing, while others in neighboring pens always have a solid block of ice during freezing weather.

Frequently, we’ve been advised: “Get heaters for the tanks, and windmill-circulators to keep ponds open.” Tank heaters have been tried ineffectively, and everybody we know who bought the pond thawing contraptions have them in the junk pile.

Home water is most essential, and many people have reported frozen pipes, but thankfully not us this year, so far.

Reminds us of Job 37:12: “It’s God’s breath that forms the ice, it’s God’s breath that turns lakes solid.” Fortunately, Psalm 147:18: “He sends out His word, and melts ice and snow; He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow.”


Frank_BuchmanFrank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.

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