Looking Forward to Winter—or Not
At this writing, a wet snow is falling. The moisture is wonderful, but I admit that I’m not looking forward to the approaching winter season. My less-than-eager attitude toward winter probably started when I was a kid.
When I was growing up, I was always at the corral for evening winter chores, feeding my 4-H steer (sometimes more than one) and brushing him as he ate his supper. Dad was there, too, milking the cow and doing other stuff. I always waited around to walk back to the house with Dad, and by that time my feet were so cold that it felt like I was wearing wooden shoes. The cold was one thing that I dreaded about winter.
Another was having to maneuver the deep snow. One of my once-a-day chores was carrying a bucket of grain to the chicken house, which was located behind the house. I think I finished this chore in the mornings. I had to crawl over the corral fence while carrying a bucket, fill it with wheat from a metal grain bin, crawl back over the fence with the bucket, and then carry it across the corral to the house and beyond. There were trails or paths for walking, but on each side there was deep snow, and sometimes the bucket dragged in the snow.
One of the big winter jobs on the ranch was feeding the cattle. On weekends my siblings enjoyed going along with Dad. They tied a kid sled to the back of the horse-drawn hay sled, and sometimes, if the road to the haystack in the cattle’s bedding grounds was smooth, they got a free ride.
Depending on the location of the haystack, there was often a hill just the right size for sledding, and the girls enjoyed themselves while Dad loaded the hay.
I didn’t share my siblings’ enthusiasm for playing in the snow—it was just too cold—so I usually stayed at the house. I did sometimes enjoy recesses outdoors at our country school in the winter, however. We kids made snow forts and molded snowballs that we piled up for a snowball fight. We got wet, and I can still remember the odor of wet mittens and coats as they dried out near the gas stove inside the school.
Now, as an adult, with worries about slick roads, drifting snow, and having to dig out corral gates, I still don’t care much about the winter. As it approaches, I typically procrastinate when it comes to finishing pre-winter chores, perhaps hoping that winter won’t arrive if I don’t get them done. In spite of that, this October I have rolled up the hoses; transplanted geraniums to inside pots; had filters replaced in the furnace and new batteries installed in the thermostat; and gotten tanks filled with propane.
I am excited about the winter moisture, however. It will fill area ponds, perhaps replenish well water, provide irrigation water for pastures and hay – in other words, lessen the drought. I can put up with the inconveniences of winter for all that.
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