Winter Work

February 7, 2022

Today’s snowstorm has me feeling cozy in our warm home. Cousins are visiting to sled down the hill that sets right outside the kitchen window. The snow piles have turned to massive mountains for the little ones to climb. The tractor is fired up and making its way around the farm.

As I noticed the passing of the tractor early this morning, I hurried into my boots, tightened my robe and stepped into the thick layer of cool crystals covering the deck. Step by step, I finally made my way down the hill to catch the corner of my husband’s eye. He stops, as I wave to him hurriedly. He is amused by my ill-coordinated saunter towards him, and I smile. He knows exactly what is on my mind without much of a muster from me, and poses generously in the moment.

Got it! I captured a glimpse of his day that tells a much bigger story than what is visible. He’s cold, yet, prepared, and this snowstorm is faced with all of his confidence.

It all starts with the beard. This one has been growing since October. It is his body’s biggest defense against winter’s predictable offense.

I make note of the puttering rumble of the tractor as I turn away from him. The simple act of turning on this machine requires anticipation. If he doesn’t prepare properly, the tractor will not start. Since tractors have large motors, the oil becomes nice and thick during cold temperatures. We plug our tractors into an electric outlet overnight. The electricity then generates heat that warms an element to keep the coolant circulating within the motor, making the engine fire up a little easier in the early mornings.

As my hand reaches for the back door, I take one more look at what has been accomplished. Progress needs notice quickly during snowfall; if you blink, you can miss it. They have moved a good amount of snow before I’ve finished my first cup of coffee. He and his crew make sure all the equipment is hooked up accordingly the day before, wasting no time in the morning. If all goes smoothly, they simply turn the tractor over, make the motor hum, and steer their way to the lanes and fields.

Moving substantial amounts of snow requires planning. The snow piles are pushed back further a day or two in advance in order to allow space for more accumulated precipitation. We also make a plan for creating pathways within each field. We plow small paths for our animals, in similar fashion to a township representative keeping the sidewalks clear within the city limits. The clear paths allow our animals to walk to the feeders and waters with ease, as well as eliminate wet snow collecting on their hooves and filling their warm huts where they lay to rest.

Regardless of when this snow will stop falling, I know that it will. I know that this land is being cared for during the harshest of weather. Our gratitude for the responsibility to care for the land weighs heavily during the winter. It’s a much different feeling than when we stand on top of a green grassy hill, breathe in fresh clean air, and feel the rays of the sunshine kiss our hands; yet, it still remains.


Renee Robinson-Seelye

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