prompt: ‘power’ Sep 25
“We never really had a choice, did we?”
“Not once the power went off… and stayed off.” I pull a long face and roll my eyes, my vision crystal-clear of that unfortunate Christmas Day.
Plan A had been immaculate. Night before feed-out of hay to the day paddock(tick) before a later-than-normal start to the milking — maybe as late as 8.30am (we hardly dared breathe at the audacity of our timing, but this would allow us to skip the festive night milking). Then a bath and spruce-up and off to our extra-special lunch with family at my brother’s home in the city, a 2-1/2 hour drive away. Our only regret? We would be coming home in the dark to bring the cows in for their latest ever milking.
All began to unravel with a power break – at our all-electric dairy! No-o-o! NO! This is impossible. It can’t be happening. When would the power come back on? A desperate phone call to the duty officer confirmed what we dreaded to hear. He had no idea when supply would be resumed. “On this day of the year…” he said reluctantly, “the downtime is totally unpredictable. It’s anyone’s guess how long it’ll take to round up the guys to check the lines… and then find where the problem is. Sorry, but can’t even make a guesstimate.”
Contingency plans were desperately created, examined, and most discarded. Phone calls to the family kept up an optimistic belief that we would be only a little late. “No problems,” said my brother cheerfully, “… just drive safely.”
With no milking possible, we hastily reversed the order of chores—like giving greedy calves their buckets of milk; hens fed and water topped up; extra meals readied for dogs and cats. Back in the dairy, Kanute hopefully flicked a switch. In the deafening silence, his eyes reluctantly met mine. “Still no power.” He sighed heavily.
Risking our baths BEFORE milking, just to pass time, we cheered up as best clothes were laid out on our bed, Christmas presents packed into the car, and drinks put back into the refrigerator to continue chilling until the last possible moment. With this flurry of activity over, we headed back over to the dairy, muttering prayers and pleas for a happy outcome. But nothing had changed. Still no power.
Another phone call to my brother (luckily somewhat fortified by a Christmas Eggnog… or two?) and the news we were going to engage ‘the monster’ (alias the ancient petrol engine), providing we were not deafened, asphyxiated or drowned in cow (uhrr…) manure! Against all odds, we were winning. UNTIL the monster abruptly coughed and spluttered a few times and simply expired. It had a loud, grievous and smoky death with no possibility of resuscitation.
Reluctantly we conceived Plan C, our only option. Let the cows out into a small paddock to wait; clean the dairy to enable milking the rest of the cows IF and WHEN power resumed; and phone my brother once again, suggesting they go ahead with lunch without us.
“We’ll definitely make it later in the afternoon,” I said, through gritted teeth, summoning up my last reserves of courage and cheerfulness. Did my dear brother sound tinily tight-lipped when he agreed?
Author’s Note: This is too good a story about our most novel ‘Holy-day’ to stop here, but I’ve already tip-toed over the word count and the Whatpad Wordwardens led by the bashful Brit are glowering… I just know it! SO readers, by hook or by crook, I’ll weave in next week’s prompt and finish the tale of just another day down on the farm.