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Posted 1/27/10 (Wed)


I’m forecasting a cold, snowy, and windy January. And unlike many prognosticators, I don’t have to butcher a hog and look at its spleen. I don’t have to see how many berries grew in the Juneberry bush. I don’t have to see how thick the hair is on an old coyote’s back. I just have to look out the window! I believe the snow is up to Shirlely’s waist between here and the barn this morning!
But, unlike many of my friends and neighbors, at least we have power. I have got Shirley convinced that I have to stay in the house and monitor the electric input via the computer. You see, there is a lot of electricity in the lines that are still up. That electricity is used to going to South Heart and Grassy Butte and Taylor and Harding County and pretty much all over the northern plains. Now, if you stop the current from going to all of these towns and farms and ranches, it creates an overload. I guess you would compare it to an overflow on a huge dam. You have a constant supply of water running into the dam. If the overflow is shut off, the water, like the electricity, has nowhere to go. So it just builds up in the lines and looks for an outlet. So, Shirley realizes that only one of us knows how to divert the current from our house and send it on down the line. That being me. So, she is struggling through the snow. And it looks deep.
But, as hard as this weather has been on people and outfits that have lost their power, it has to be nearly unbearable for the guys out there working on these lines. The winds have been horrible. Gusts to around fifty mph yesterday and during the night. Poles have been snapped off like they were matchsticks. No travel advised in a lot of areas. Hopefully I can make it to town for pinochle when Shirley is done with chores.
And you know those linemen are dozing snow, replacing poles, and stringing wire. I don’t know what your electricity costs, but I’ll tell you what, it dang sure is cheap. I had a friend a few years ago who was splicing a line during an ice storm in Minnesota. He was on a crew that was on loan from the rural electrics here in North Dakota. Someone mistakenly energized the line while he had hold of it. It didn’t hurt him too much. He was a bull rider. But it blew his shoes off, melted his pickup keys into his thigh, and blew holes in his heels. He was lucky. Be safe out there, you guys.
I never really understood electricity. I first started experimenting with it about fifty-five years ago when I had a black pony. Dad had strung an electric wire so we could graze some cattle on some fields in the fall. My job was to ride out once or twice a day and check that fence. Now, Dad gave me a rubber handled screwdriver to check the spark with. But one day I forgot it. So, being a rather intelligent lad, I held onto my pony’s nose and touched the wire with my bare hand. The wire was hot.
A few days later, I had a really, really good idea. Being a little kid and all. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you peed on an electric wire?
I’m finally getting over my stuttering.