My brother and I watched the low area at the bottom of the pasture slowly fill with water from the heavy snowmelt as we brought in the cows each evening.
Our parents were in town shopping when we decided to hook a chain to the cow trough and drag it to the new pond. Dad had made the watering trough from a metal fifty-five gallon drum. He’d cut off one side with his welder and set it in a frame of short logs. It would be the perfect vessel to take us exploring on our lake.
We emptied the water from the barrel by using the tractor lift. Then we hooked the chain to our makeshift boat and in no time had it towed to the water’s edge. We even thought to nail a plank to a pole for a paddle.
It took some effort to launch the craft, but the bank was downhill and slick with mud. It didn’t concern us that we both had water in our boots by the time we embarked. The two of us fit just fine in our craft and we were soon paddling around the pond. It was heady adventure but the excitement wore off in the cold evening breeze. We realized we’d probably get in as much, or more trouble for not doing our chores as for relocating the watering trough.
My big brother decided he could cover for me on our chores if I’d take on the task of dragging our improvised boat back to its place of origin.
We made it to shore without incident and he hurried up the hill to bring in the cows.
It didn't look like it would be too difficult to hook the chain to the trough and drag it back with the tractor. I just knew I had enough time to take a short solo voyage first. I was giddy with power as I took command of what had quickly become a pirate ship. All went well until the paddle broke and I was left in deep water with nothing but a short pole. The plank part of the paddle was quickly floating out of reach and the sun was leaving the sky.
Fortunately there was still a nail in the end of the pole I held in my hand. I was somehow able to pull in the plank, but not before both sleeves of my coat were soaked. I paddled to shore with the plank and had to wade up to my hips to get the chain wrapped around the watering trough. I was nearly blue with cold by the time I’d towed it back to the barnyard.
If I remember right Brother and I both had extra duties added to our chore list for a week. A sailor’s life is not an easy one.
The watering trough/boat