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Rural Roots - Rural Roots is a column by Fred Jones
2012-11-30 at 13:29

Old Man Winter arrives

Two points: Ol’ Man Winter has arrived and, welcome to December. 

Oh, and my glasses fog up immediately whenever I re-enter Casa Jones. Okay, that was a third point. Math has never been my strong suit.

It snowed. Anyone not aware of this fact lives in a basement and has not yet emerged.

It came, as predicted, Thursday night of last week. I drove to town with son Doug for his regular karate meeting. 

When we left the Dojo (where karate takes place) two hours later, it was raining – not hard and not yet freezing. 

A couple of miles from our village, the rain changed to sleet mixed with snow.  Still, the roads were not icy or slippery – yet.  

“I hope tomorrow is a snow day,” enthused Doug as we drove into horizontally blowing white stuff.

He got his wish: no school buses running, no school. When the daylight arrived, I climbed on board Big Red, my faithful diesel tractor, and for the next three hours, cleared pathways and driveways, not only on our property but also for our neighbour across the road. 

I figured that about six inches of the white stuff blessed our land and with the winds blowing all of this fresh-fallen, we had drifts up to a foot-and-a-half. Red had a workout.

But though I’d spent three hours clearing driveway and path to and from hoosie and barn to allow Joneses, barn help and clients access to the farm, I had another hour Saturday morning clearing pathways from barn to paddocks, to the shavings shed that contains the bedding for the stalls, and to Mt. Crumpet, the manure pile way off in the bush. 

The day was nippy. I bundled up with gloves, scarf, and well-worn winter farm suit, the jacket of which requires several strips of duct tape to mend pockets.  It’s on my to-do list.

So, snow, here to stay. And just the previous day, Doug, Beth and I were speculating as to whether or not we’d have a green Christmas! Hah!  Ya just never know.  Predicting the weather is no longer a certainty.   

Another wee problem: driving a big, round hay bale into one of the paddocks for the horsey denizens therein is tough going. 

The trouble is that the ground hasn’t yet frozen. Under the snow lies a muddy quagmire - a mixture of resident clay, rain and now snow, and the constant pummeling of horses’ hooves. 

So when Big Red enters the paddock and tries to cover the distance twixt gate and bale holder, I quickly discovered that steering is difficult with the muck grabbing at the front tires and the tractor’s rear tires beginning to spin; but so far, we’ve made it.

And we’ve made it to December, what I like to call the Christmas month because of the definite change in season to white contrasted against the dark green of the pine trees and for the festive energy, especially seasonal food and friends.

I’ve noticed some of our neighbours have already decorated the outside of their domiciles with festive lights, very welcome when driving home in the dark.

And very welcome as well are the new set of snow tires that I managed to install on the car just in time for the first serious whitening of the land. 

I think we’re about ready for Ol’ Man Winter.

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