Amanda Hopper Writes

A writer's tale of living and working in the country.

The Strangest Place I’ve Ever Gone…..Swimming.

Today as I stared at my cows grazing on the neighbor’s property…again…I began having flashbacks of this summer. A summer so crazy that many of the crazy things that happened never even made the top ten. At least three of the top 15 involve my cows who seem to have the uncanny ability to escape barbwire fences. They are definitely grass is greener animals, and if they even think something better is going down on the other side of that fence, they are gone. This time it was hay. My neighbor put out hay the night before I did. He did it for the deer, but awoke to find my cows happily munching on his bait. Every time I went out to check, they were all on my side of the fence. These stupid cows are the smartest animals I have ever met! They are double dipping hay! As soon as my neighbor’s supply runs out, they mosey back over the fence and eat our stash. Seeing them grazing next door brings back bad memories. One I had almost forgotten came to mind today and makes for a good laugh…now, months later it makes for a good laugh…
Flashback to late July…

The cows and new born calves are at the neighboring property and we still haven’t had a free moment to work on the fence. The heat is stubbornly stuck above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the stock tank is still in our back pasture. I suit up in my grubby cowgirl gear and drain the stock tank. Our metal stock tank has a rubber stopper at the bottom of the tank to allow for draining, but it has to be unscrewed with a socket wrench. When the tank is empty, Grant and I load the silver tub into the bed of the truck and drive it over next door. We set it up next to our fence and run 150 feet of hose to allow for fill-up. I scrub the tank out since it is empty and spend a few minutes replacing the rubber stopper. We painstakingly turn on the water and wait, in the burning sun, for the tank to fill with cool water. The cows are hoovering, waiting for us to be done. Grant and I take turns sitting in the truck with the air conditioning, the temperature gage states that it is now 108 degrees F. outside.
During my turn, the tank reached half capacity and…the dam brakes. The rubber stopper shoots out the tank at alarming speed and the cold well water begins pouring out the metal tank. I run to the truck and snatch the wrench. I locate the stopper and began struggling to get it back in place before all the water drains out.
After working for a few minutes with water still fleeing behind the stopper, realization dawns. There is  a matching rubber nut that hold the stopper from the inside of the tank. It can only be tightened by holding the nut and continuing to wrench from the outside. I stand up straight and stare at Grant. He stares back, alarmed that the water we have just spent 30 minutes filling is leaving in much less time.
I know what I have to do. But it means plunging half my body into the stock tank. A stock tank filled with cow cooties. You know they regurgitate their food right?
And they drool.
But the heat is overwhelming, and I am not willing to spend more time in the sun for fear of my clothes catch on fire. So I take a deep breath and shove my left arm all the way up to my shoulder into the water, holding the nut and trying to quickly wrench from the outside of the now cold metal.
I soon realize there is a big problem. My arms are too short. I can’t fight the pressure from the water with my one hand while wrenching with the other. The solution is so unpleasant I find myself saying words that I didn’t know I actually knew.
I keep telling myself that I am a grown-up and that my boys are watching from inside the car. I hate being a grown-up. Why does being a grown-up always involve cleaning up something gross?
I plunge my leg, complete with jeans and boot into the frigid water, bending at the waist and shoving my wet arm back into the abyss. I am now half-in, half-out of the tank, straddling the metal wall, cursing the existence of cows, in a bizarre game of twister.
Have you ever felt God laughing at you? I can tell you that I have. He was having a good ol’ chuckle at my predicament.
It took several tries, and the placement of my cheek in the water before I was successful at sealing the gap. When I stood up, half my body soaking wet, I looked around to find the cows staring at me. The kids were pressed up against their truck windows…laughing. I apparently was the only one who did not find my being covered in cow spit not funny.
I suppose now it’s funny. I would have laughed at the time if it was someone else in the tank. I never thought a year ago, that I would be spending my days cleaning and filling stock tanks…driving around a small farm towing hay bales for hungry calves.
I also never thought I would get to spend every evening watching the most beautiful sunsets in the world. So I guess I’ll take the ugly and sometimes nasty chores that come with farming as long as God keeps sending the sunsets….

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