Snow incommunicado

UPDATE 12.01.05: Got a call from Brenda (my sister-in-law) to let us know that everyone is okay. The power is out all over and the phone lines are down... she was able to call because the phone out by the feedlot is working. She wasn't sure why that was the only phone working, but when she realized it had a dial tone, she thought we'd want to know what was going on. Jim (my little brother) and his family are staying at Mom & Dad's place (because they have a generator). Tony (my older brother), Brenda and the kids don't have power at their place, but they are getting by okay. Just trying to stay out of the wind/cold as much as possible and stay warm. Whew. I feel better... don't you?! Thanks for all the good thoughts yesterday.

Petersens, are you out there?
OK... I know this is futile, but I have to post about it. While I'm not panicked or anything, I am feeling a little unnerved. I've been trying to reach my family in Nebraska for the past two days. The phones are ringing but no one is picking up. I can only guess that the blizzards that went through the area on Monday have knocked down phone lines. AND, since they live out in the middle of nowhere, literally, that they are just waiting the situation out. It is just a really weird feeling to be here, 1000 miles away, with no way to get ahold of them.

So... please send good thoughts Nebraska way. AND, if you read this and you know something, click that little envelope at the bottom of this post to send me an e-mail about it. (Thanks!)

This kind of thing happens all the time up in Nebraska and KELOLAND... so I'm sure everyone is alright.

As I type this post, I'm thinking about what we used to do when we got snowed in.

Always thinking ahead.
Living on the farm, we were always prepared for stuff like this. There isn't a grocery store up the street or a gas station down the road... so you plan ahead... always. There was always plenty of canned stuff from Mom's garden in the cave house, a stocked fridge & pantry, and plenty of meat in the chest freezers downstairs. We had two freezers... one was beef and the other was pork, veggies and other things like homemade bread and egg noodles that we always made in bulk.. oh yeah... and stuff Dad had bought from the Schwans man. (yummy... we loved it when the Dad was home when the Schwans truck came... he has a HUGE sweet tooth and bought sherbet push-ups, ice cream, fudge bars, popsicles, etc. And, what I didn't know until I didn't have it anymore is that Schwans ROCKS, too. They have the best ice cream I've ever tasted... just a little bit better than Blue Bell.)

The Wood Stove.
There was a wood burning stove in the basement to keep us warm when the power went out. It smelled so good and radiated A LOT of heat. My Dad and brothers would chop wood throughout the summer and fall to make sure we had enough wood to get us through the winter.

Kerosene Lamps
When ice storms and blizzards took our lights, we'd get out the kerosene lamps and play board games at night. Mom would make some real buttered popcorn with the "Whirly pop" stove popper. It was so warm and cozy and it made me feel very close to my family. (I have one of those lamps in my house here in Nashville... maybe I'll get it out tonight and pretend I'm home hanging out in the snow. Wanna come over to play Monopoly by lamp with me?!)

Snow Mountains
Before Dad could feed the cattle in the morning, he had to use the tractor with the loader bucket to push the snow up into big piles all over our farm. Many winters, those piles reached half way up the light posts. The one Dad made in the middle of the yard in front of the house was always the biggest (I'm sure he did this partly because it was easy and partly because he knew we'd have fun playing on it.) My brothers and I would bundle up in our ugly green farm coveralls, zippered sweatshirts, chopper gloves, overboots, stocking hats and scarves. (And, long johns and two pairs of socks... sometimes three!) We'd play "king of the mountain" on our giant snow piles... I lost a lot. HA. We'd also make slides and dig tunnels. Believe it or not, we never really noticed how cold it was until we had icicles hanging on our scarves and our nose started freezing shut when we took a deep breath... or until Mom was yelling to us that it was time to come in and warm up.

Wet clothes & deer jerky.
When we did finally go inside, we'd take off all of our wet clothes and hang them in front of the stove from hooks in the basement rafters. I can remember putting pieces of deer jerky from the chest freezer on the wood stove to thaw while we shed our winter duds. By the time we were all changed, the jerky was thawed and so yummy and chewy.

Toboggans & the Hay Meadow
Once the maintainer (snow plow) had gone by and cleared the road, sometimes we'd pile into the back of the pick-up with our sleds and toboggans(a giant sled that holds at least six people... not a stocking cap!) to go sledding in our hay meadow. Because we mowed it for wild hay in the summer we always kept the seedling trees from growing on the hillsides. That meant the hay meadow had fewer trees than the hills than in our pasture... PLUS, the hills were really steep and long so we could get going really fast. It was the PERFECT sledding scenario... no trees, no cars and sssspppeeeeed.

Snowball fights and forts.
As the snow storms came and went, the cold temperature did not. Consequently, nothing melted and the drifts would pile higher and higher in the non-road / path areas. We would make big snow bricks and build forts in the shelter belt (tree lines planted around farms to protect them from the wind) and in the yard. Then, behind these forts we would create stockpiles of snowballs and have incredible snow wars.

Trying not to sink in.
Because the drifts would build on themselves in each storm, they'd develop thick crusts on the top if the weather warmed up to 33 and the snow melted a little. When we would walk to the school bus stop at the top of our hill, it was a challenge to see how far and carefully we could walk so as not to fall through the snow. When we did fall through, depending on the size of the drift, we might even end up hip-high in snow.

Chores sucked.
There were also things that weren't so fun about tons of ice and snow... like scooping cattle bunks so we could feed the cattle... or chopping 6 inches of ice out of the tanks so the cattle could drink... or using a feed scoop to clear away big drifts by the house and in front of the chicken coop. (Have I ever told you that we had 400 chickens, too?!) The chickens were pretty much my deal growing up... and let me tell you, hauling five gallon buckets of water and feed through three feet of snow is no picnic.

Believe it or not...
The funny thing is, that even these things seem good to me now. I miss the farm and being completely independent. I miss physically working hard and being tired from it at night. I miss snow and ice... and everything that goes with it.

I wish I were home, stuck in a blizzard with my family right now.


Denice said...

Aahhwww...I'm so glad you heard from your family and know they're all ok. When you called the other day asking about what was going on and that you couldn't reach them, I could hear the concern in your voice. That was great of Brenda to call you on the one phone that worked.

So...you're missing the midwest winters, are ya?! So good to read about all the stuff that's great about growing up on the farm...and I'm SO with you on everything. Makes me think a lot...and I wish I was able to live on a farm that way again. Maybe someday? I miss it too....and am thankful I'm able to be out at the farm as much as possible. It's really the best isn't it!

Hope you have a great weekend.

Love ya ~ Denice

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