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I had chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream for my Valentine's present. My close relative has a box of not very good candy with all kinds of flavors in it! She thinks that is very nice and always seems to enjoy the pretty box and the bad-tasting chocolates. I think I'd rather be poked in the eye with a sharp stick than eat chocolate-covered lime jelly-looking stuff! She did not offer me any of her candy even though I saw her eat some of my cake and ice cream!

Cattle workings are sorta miserable right now. The February calves are happening and we have put them in the only hay barn that is half empty. I have double numbers in the calving stalls and we have lost three calves that would have lived if born in March. The cows have almost finished and we are fortunate to have saved the last 10 head that hit ice when they slipped into this world. I have worked tight-lipped because the offspring are both feeling pretty stupid for their early calving insistence.

That said, the rest of the cattle have to be fed and hay put out. We finished haying last night and I got in the house after seven. The old body feels the cold so much worse than it did 25 years ago! I suspect my woes are small compared to many who are trying to take care of their business without any help. We will make it, climb over drifts, and wade in fanny deep snow, but we will be better for having made the effort and walked through it.

Pots of chili and cornbread are happening all around us today. I hope the needs of families are met and plenty of warm clothing and hot food is available. It is not possible for my close relative to deliver any food to neighbors at the moment but our phones are working and she has talked to most of the widows and homes with children. We are so tied up with cattle that I have not even tried to do anything for needy folks.

Our own offspring are accounted for and all warm and fed. Some whining and begging to go play in the frozen tundra has occurred but seems mothers know best and all have been locked in!

I hope the water tanks continue to run; frozen water supplies are about the nastiest problem to deal with in this weather. So far, all the cattle and the two very important horses are watered!

It is my opinion, and everyone has one, this will be remembered and tales of agony will be told at the round table and every coffee shop across four states! The sweat and blisters of hay season will remove most feelings that bubble up with the memory but it will stay in our mind banks a good many years. I sure hope we never have cows producing calves in February for the rest of my years!

My new leather gloves are a pitiful sight and I thank God for new long johns which have not been off since the first snowflake. The threat of battle has begun but laundry can wait!

Bill is the pen name used by the Gravette area author of this weekly column. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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