Home News Vision Historical Anecdotes: Silver linings, part 2

Historical Anecdotes: Silver linings, part 2

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

By Janice Dunnahoo

Special to the Daily Record

Following is the second part of the Christmas/New Year story by Daniel “Dan” A. Storm.

Dan Storm was a rancher in Glencoe. He was a writer for the Ruidoso News, a graduate of the University of Texas and the most extended playing actor in the reenactment of “The Last Escape of Billy the Kid,” playing the part of Buckshot Roberts. Dan was also a friend to my family. Next week will be the third part of Dan’s winter stories.

Lost in the Snow

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“The cows began wolfing down the hay as if they had to catch a train or a cattle truck. Why, I wondered. Of course, the little baby black calf didn’t eat anything, but every once in a while she would turn her head back and call in her little calf voice as much as to say, ‘Mother, come on over. There is hay over here.’ But mother Jersey knows best and she stayed where she was.

“By this time it was about dark and I went on home trusting that everything would be all right. It wasn’t cold at all and I couldn’t see why some of the cows were hid out.

Punishment Dealt Out By A Bad Conscience

“At first the fireplace seemed too hot for the room. Then all at once the curtains on the north side of the house moved. The familiar whistling, wailing sound and the feeling of a wall of cold moving in told me my old friend the North Wind had come to pay me a visit. I am never quite ready for this old friend when he comes a-rapping at the window and a-knocking at the doors.

“I stepped outside and the thermometer had taken quite a nose dive. And just a while ago it had been warm. I fell back into the house with the bitter cold biting at my heels like a timber wolf. I expected cold all right but not this sudden or this much of it.

“I threw all the world into the fireplace that it would take and built a fire in the furnace. Then as I sat by the fire in the old chair I began to have visions of little calves shivering and shaking out in the cold. I put on my G.I. overcoat and all the winter clothes I could find, grabbed the flashlight, and went down to where I had thrown the hay. About half of it was left. This was something new to me. Always before the cows had eaten it to the last straw and then looked at me as if to say, ‘Well that was all right, what there was of it.’

“What happened, of course, was that the cows felt this cold snap coming and got under cover.

A Helpless Babe In the Snowy Woods

“But what about the little calf that is only a few days old, and her maybe separated from her mother. They should both be in the barn. I walked and climbed till my over-shoes ripped out, and my flashlight batteries faded away. But no sign of the Jersey mother and her little black calf. I thought I knew every inch of the eighty acres this side of the creek.

“I like to have never got back in the house, feeling sorry for the little calf I figured surely was lost, and little realizing I had been lost myself for hours in my own backyard.

“In bed I could not rest. With all the fires lit and all the covers on the bed, it was cold. What in the world was the matter. The colder it got the more unable I was to sleep for worrying about the little calf. Surely it couldn’t be this cold and I was just imagining all this. I went out to the thermometer again and it said two below. It wasn’t my imagination. I bundled up and went back out to search again, but by this time it was four below and a wind along with it. I went a ways and directly it felt like I didn’t have any feet. Then, walking straight into the wind I lost my scarf and while I stumbled around to find it my ears and nose almost froze, so I turned back.

“In bed I said to myself, ‘If you are this cold how cold do you think the little calf is, you coward?’

“Feeling like a murderer and with visions of what had happened to the little calf too terrible to think about I lay staring awake, half eager and half dreading for daylight to get here.

“All at once the light appeared miraculously in the room. And somehow the breaking of a new day sent a ray of hope beaming through the heaviness of my soul. But did I dare hope for such a thing? Light of step and with my heart pounding I rushed outside stumbling, sliding, wading in the knee-deep snow. The world was wide with a clear sky above. The frozen crust on the snow would hold you up if you didn’t run too heavily.

“Out in front of the house I could look down to the feeding grounds near the old corral and on to the fields beyond. Nothing in sight moved. I gave the call. Nothing stirred, nothing changed on the still, white winter landscape. I called again. And what little dark spec do you think came moving rapidly out of nowhere across the most distant snow field? The little black calf, skimming along the frozen snow light as a little will-o-the-wisp. She came flying right over to the hay left over from the night before. Behind came the rest of the herd, plunging and running through the drifts.

“Friends, how can I tell you my feelings at that moment? The next morning when I told my friend, Elfego Polaco, about this he said, ‘You know why cows and calves have strength to stand the cold do you not? Because they helped El Niño when he was born. There in that stable they gathered close around Him so the heat of their bodies would reach Him. And the little calves warmed him with their breath.’

“El Niño” is Spanish for ‘The Christ Child.’”

Historian Janice Dunnahoo can be reached at jdunna@hotmail.com.

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