Letter from Langdon: Big Weather

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Andrew Wyeth said “winter is when you feel the bone structure of the landscape.”

There is definitely some meat on those bones in Missouri today.

The storm began yesterday, early in the morning, with ice. Schools were quick to cancel classes. Temperatures hovered near freezing until long about dark when Old Man Winter kicked the freezer door open with a Frigidaire wind and frosty, ice-crystal snow. 

Here outside of Langdon we’ve been spared much of the heavy snow that my friend Mary reported on her Facebook page…maybe more than 20 inches in Columbia. South of here about 30 miles, they say I-29 turned into a parking lot when a tractor trailer jackknifed blocking 2 lanes and bringing traffic to a halt.

When it storms there’s not much to accomplish on the farm but what you can do to keep the animals comfortable, mostly by giving them access to some shelter from the wind and plenty to eat. We try to do that well in advance of the storm, because as George Herbert said, “In winter, one mile is two.”

Mother Nature still trumps mankind whenever she feels like it.

Richard Oswald
On bad winter days, we tend to congregate in the farm shop where my grandson Ryan and I work on the old ’78 K10.
Both east and south of here, where livestock confinement operations are more prevalent, there’s worry that the big feed trucks, tractor trailers that carry corporate grain to corporate hogs and corporate chickens may not be able to get out and about where ice and snow drifts have made roads impassable. 

In that case one mile may as well be 100.

One of the best things we have on days like this is the farm shop. It’s heated enough that when we come in from outside it feels good. After an hour or two it starts to feel chilly inside. Instead of turning up the thermostat or throwing another log on the fire we just go outside for a minute or so. 

Coming back in, it feels just fine again.

The shop always needs cleaning. But you can only clean so much, so we need a project. This year the project is a ’79 Chevy K10 with skin cancer/rust. The poor thing is way past chemo/paint, so we’re doing surgery. Fender transplants, skin grafts on the doors, and flatbed prosthesis in place of the rusty eight foot box should bring her back to life.

Richard Oswald
Me and Ryan’s dad Tim back when the truck was new. Tim is holding Babe, the Australian shepherd.
Our Heartbeat of America has a 350 cubic inch mill and 4 speed tranny. Nothing fancy, but it’s been pickup trucks like this one that fed the cows and sows on days like these back when 4-wheel drive tractors weren’t even dreamed of — at least not on this farm. Animals don’t like to come out into the open when the wind-chill is 20 below, so for nearly 40 years we’ve hauled hay and corn in bales and buckets straight to the animals in a 4X4.  

Once I was a fanatic about breaking drifts and charging out into winter storms, but as I get older some of my beliefs seem to be changing. I’m still the same guy I was back when, but just barely.

Like the great Will Rogers once said, “I was just thinking, if it is really religion with these nudist colonies, they sure must turn atheists in the wintertime”

Richard Oswald
Big weather.

 

 

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