Late-Winter Snow & Ice Keep Many Tools in Use

Spring approaches, but warmer temperatures bring snow and ice, which means shovels, blowers and digging bars are still needed to keep the farm running smoothly.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Daniel Johnson

First, let me set the record straight—I don’t dislike winter by any means. To be honest, I rather enjoy the changing of the seasons from spring to summer to fall to winter, because each season has its good points. Winter is a time to relax and recharge, content in the knowledge that the grass isn’t growing too long and that you can’t work in the fields even if you wanted to. It’s a time to focus on indoor projects and plan ahead for the spring.

But of course after a while, winter can get rather frustrating. As of last week, I’m officially ready for winter to end.

I feel this way every year. Where I live, in the upper Midwest, the end of February and early March tend to bring warmer weather, and with the warmer weather comes snow (lots of snow!), which promptly starts to melt in the heat of the sun. Unfortunately, it’s still not warm enough for the temperatures to stay above freezing for more than a few hours around midday, which means that the melting snow freezes solid during the night, creating very icy (and slippery) conditions.

These wintry conditions have been particularly frustrating this year, and my tools for snow removal—various types of shovels as well as blowers and snowplows—have been getting plenty of use. For example, all winter long, snow has been accumulating on the roof of my hay barn, but the recent warm days and cold nights caused a large amount of snow to slide off the roof, pile up in front of the door—and freeze solid. Armed with snow shovels, metal digging shovels and spades, three people spent the better part of half an hour to dig a path through the resulting three-foot snow pile.

But that’s not all. Slippery ice patches have been forming on every path to and from the farm outbuildings, as well as in the driveway and in front of doorways. Basically, any location that sees frequent human or vehicle traffic has turned to ice as the result of snow repeatedly melting and refreezing. Equipped with safety goggles, I’ve had to take my digging bar and metal digging shovel all over the farm, chipping away at the ice in an attempt to break it up and make conditions safer.

And—oh yes—winter also has subtle effects on smaller outbuildings. Snow and ice inevitably builds up in the frame of doorways, making it difficult to shut the doors and requiring a human to chip away at these ice patches as well. When the temperature dips down below 0 degrees F, the buildings themselves seem to react to the extreme cold—all of a sudden, getting even an ice-free door to shut requires some effort.

Subscribe now

If there’s one bright side to all of this, it’s that the same warm weather that is causing ice to form and snow to fall is a sure sign that spring is near. I can already feel in the air that the shifting of the seasons is coming—and believe me, I’m ready to welcome spring with open arms!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *