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Friday, 15 April 2011

Snowbound on the banks of the Niobrara









I seem to be cranking out material faster than I can get up to the ranch house and post it, so the news you read here will already be old news. A lot has happened overnight – namely, the arrival of several inches of snow, driven by a high wind, that’s piled up in drifts. I walked up to the spot where I can get a `phone signal a little after six this morning. It was very heavy going, and the wind up there was vicious. Still, managed to text home, cancelling this afternoon’s `phone conversation.

I knew a spring blizzard was a possibility. Mari Sandoz writes about going out to round up the cattle after a damaging snowstorm in early May. When the sun came out the dazzle cost her the sight in one eye – permanently. So, I’m going to put sun glasses on the shopping list, for whenever I finally make it to town.

The fact that I can’t get out yet is no great inconvenience. I am out of milk, and eggs, but there are four more of those 7% beers in the fridge. Otherwise I have plenty of food. Which brings me on to the dinner I was cooking last night. It was… superb, probably because I donated portion of my India Pale Ale to the onion gravy. And there are leftovers to feed me tonight.

Having lived way out in the country for two or three spells in the past, I make a point of being well provisioned. There’s enough grub here to keep me going another week or two – so long as I don’t get sick of chile beans and spaghetti bolognese.

30 degrees this morning. 47 in the house – so I went down in the basement and turned the living room heaters back on. I am wearing a fleece, a down jacket and a thick hat that covers my ears. And I still have the option of putting on my long underwear. Merino wool: very cosy. Mind, when I glanced in the mirror earlier I was startled to see that I look a little like Old Jules himself. Guess I ought to shave some time.

Now, the mice. Either I can run up the flag and claim victory, or the little buggers are re-grouping. I set all three traps last night – with a fourth on stand-by. Not so much as a nibble. I am reminded that when I was at boarding-school we were plagued by mice in our sixth-form common-room. We caught one on about six successive nights – which one of our number, a Zoology student, dissected in the lab. All females, mostly pregnant, he reported. There was then a gap of several days before a large, weary, reluctant old male ventured out to see where his women folk had got to – and paid the ultimate price. So I’ll leave the traps set, with their tempting blobs of bacon grease.