Nov 14, 2015

"Mighty Joe Banks"
and his 
"Beautiful Assistant" 
(Part III)

The day after the first hard frost was rainy and cold
with an icy glaze on the roof of each farm building.
Despite the rainbow, it was a red-flag alert to us that we needed to do 
something right away about the water issues that were still pending.

Of course it is always a concern if a cow misses a milking, 
mastitis can be just a step away, and that is serious business,
especially when the weather is turning colder.
On the top of the "water issue" list was that we understood 
we had to do something about the water (or lack of it) in the front field 
where the animals love to stay, even long after the freezing begins. 
As long as they have food, shelter, and water, they love to be out.

The small green water cup that Mr. W. and Lydia are drinking from on that wooden post  is not freeze-proof and in the past, 
when the temperature  started to dip
it was replaced by a large green plastic tub that had to be filled  at least once a day and sometimes more often, by hand, with a bucket.
Worse than having to fill it every morning and afternoon  was trying to break the thick layer of ice that formed on it throughout the day and during the night.

There had to be a better way.
Much earlier in the season Pappa had replaced the culverts on the fägata which is the main pathway that heads up to the forest along the edge of the farm where the Spring and Autumn run-off flows. So we knew there would be no stoppage along that water line with the enlarged culverts.  An early fall of snow caught us by surprise but didn't stay long, and didn't deter Pappa and the digger from also making a new bridge of large cement culverts over the back water ditch so the cows could go over it and out to the fields without being afraid of the ice.

The front field was a different kettle of fish.

Look closely at the first picture below and you can see that Joe had begun a continuation of a water ditch that runs toward the main house, along the side of the garden plot.

He started it on his own while Sara was baking a beautiful carrot cake inside, but it soon became clear that this was not a one-man job, so she put the cake to rest and came out to help. He was pretty discouraged at first - that's him sitting in the ditch -  but her good humor was contagious, Joe perked up and they dug in together to un-earth a pile of massive rocks and boulders and move the ditch farther and farther along.  
And when the initial enthusiasm began to wane, even  for Sara, 
Pappa left his cheese-making in the dairy to come out 
and offer some good advice and  a much-needed pep-talk.

That was all it took.

Even the coldest and wettest days didn't stop them in their quest. Undaunted after Sara had to board the bus to go home to Gothenburg, the two shovels became one and Joe braved it through alone to the very end.

We were so proud of his determination...

and loved this picture of him 
when he finally made it all the way to the fence-line of the front field.
 His work enabled us to supply water to the animals who were there, 
even when it was minus degrees outside,
using the black water line you see there lying in the newly dug ditch. 

Pappa always refers to this good young man as 
"Beloved Joe". 
It is an apt description.

 From Cornwall, England,  Joe had had a challenging life growing up
 and had faced many difficulties.
He credited a loving and supportive family,
and a strong faith in God as the key elements in his successes thus far.

When a little three-year-old granddaughter we had never even had a chance to meet was diagnosed with leukemia and was half a world away, 
I was crying quietly at the kitchen sink. 
Joe came over and put his arm around me tenderly and said, 
"Nainy, sometimes in life there is nothing you can do but pray",
and he was right. 

Leaving us as winter approached, he headed East 
and hopped on the Trans-Siberian Railway, 
took it across Russia into China, saw the Great Wall, 
travelled on to Viet Nam, 
and that was where we lost track of him.

Just a few months ago we contacted his parents in England 
and asked about him.
His father e-mailed us back right away and assured us that Joe was well and happy and getting ready to be married in the coming weeks.

One of his comments about Joe's time with us on the farm 
gave us the greatest joy of all....

"We often have said, we have rarely seen him 
so happy
he loves hard graft (work) and being outdoors". 

Joe's efforts were not only tireless, but highly effective.
He had only been gone a few short days when winter hit with all it's fury.

Did WE worry? 
NO we didn't.

Our animals had food, they had shelter, and they had WATER!

Our three W's:


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