September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Hard on the hardy
Kurt has been up since four o'clock, plowing the driveway for the milk truck. He had to make a run to the gas station earlier in the week for diesel. He had been waiting for the yard to dry off before filling our fuel tanks, and hadn't planned on needing to run the skid loader for the hours it takes to clean up after a snowstorm.
It is one thing to have a freak snowstorm in April that vanishes in the warmth of the next day. This weather is something else entirely. Spring had sprung here earlier in April. The snow had melted, our muddy driveway was almost dry, and the crocuses were poking their heads out of the ground. Spring was just teasing us. We've had snow on the ground for over a week now, and with this fresh snow and cold temperatures in the forecast, it is going to be awhile before we see any green. Even the hardiest of us Minnesotans have a hard time handling this much winter.
Bags of corn and soybean seed sit in our shed, waiting to be planted in warmer soil. Last year, we seeded oats on March 31. I can't even hazard a guess as to when we will be able to get into the fields this year. Mud will make them impassable long after the snow melts.
I suppose I should take advantage of this late spring before I lose my husband to planting season. Not everything on the winter to-do list has been accomplished. We are still working on a remodel of one of our bathrooms. Whenever you tear off wallpaper in an old farmhouse like ours, the project you had in mind usually sprouts many more steps than you had planned. I now know that my mother-in-law wallpapered the bathroom to hide cracks in the walls and old tile adhesive. What was going to be a simple paint-job turned out to include joint compound, sandpaper, new tile and grout. Maybe I can urge my husband to put in the new sink and toilet before it's time to prep the planter.
The lingering winter does have one hidden blessing for our family. We are a man down right now. My father-in-law had surgery in late March and is under strict orders to take it easy. It's not in a farmer's nature to sit around when there is work to be done. I think he is able to rest easier knowing that planting season isn't yet upon us. If the sun were shining and the fields ready to go, we might have to tie him to his chair.
During morning milking, I'm grateful that the three cows we let out overnight have come up to the barn by themselves. If I would have had to walk through the barnyard to fetch them from the pole barn, I probably would have lost my boots. Underneath the 12 inches of snow is at least six inches of mud.
On my way to the calf barn, while I push through two-foot drifts, I stop and listen to a distant buzz. Is that what I think it is? Two snowmobiles whiz by along the highway. I guess I'll have to dig out Lily's snow pants and boots for the second time this spring. I'll pull the sleds back out of storage, too. After all, it's a snow day. If spring refuses to come, a little winter fun might keep us sane.
An update on my spring hopes before I submit my column: It is April 22, and we are under another winter storm warning. I come in from outside where it is snowing. Again. Lily laughs at me.
"Mama," she says, "you have snow hair!"
I look at her and say, "I'm tired of having snow hair. I want a suntan."