Friday, January 31, 2014

Sounds of winter on the farm

It is amazing how quiet winter is.  Everything is sleeping.  Animals are hibernating, bugs too.  The resident robins are even quiet leaving just the sound of the wind when it blows and the falling snow.  Tonight I stood out on the deck and watched it snow. 

There was no sound.  Last night as the snow started, there was a sound of snow pellets hitting the tarp covering the wood pile.  A gentle tapping as each little snow ball bounced on the tarp. 

Today I was able to capture some of the beauty that the night hides under a veil of darkness as it works its magic.

Tonight there is no sound.  No tapping.  No wind whispering through the trees.  No birds cooing as they huddle in the evergreens.  Tonight there is no sound.  Just darkness pierced only by the light on the house that illuminates the deck and wood pile.  Without the light there is just darkness.  Without the light there is coldness in the dark as Mother Nature quietly paints the countryside in a blanket of white to be unveiled as a new treasure with the morning sunrise. 

The snow sparkles like diamonds falling quietly to the ground only to melt away into the ground, not to be seen as a sparkling diamond again.  It is almost like looking up into the summer sky at the multitude of stars sparkling in their constellations.

So ends another month and the start of the new year.  What a wondrous way to bring January quietly to a close.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A glimpse of the dirty 30s

Here lately we have had some days of very high winds sustaining at about 30 mph with gusts up to 60 or so. Because of this we have had a brief glimpse into what was so much worse in the dirty 30s. The Dust Bowl. Last Thursday the dirt was so dense that there were accidents on highways with fatalities, numerous road closures and a brown sky. You could actually taste the dirt in the air, feel it sting your face, and leave a layer of the finer bits for cleaning up on car dashboards, shelves, computer monitors, any surface that will hold the dirt.

Thank goodness for years of farming practices making advances in new practices for soil conservation and land management. Because of these simple tools the farmer uses today we were not engulfed in a rolling cloud of dust throughout the entire region. It was localized to areas that had bare fields or dry pastures that had been overgrazed. But what they did not have in the 30s were the cattle trucks and grain trucks trying to drive down the road to deliver their load or get to the next pickup location.

The wind is still a powerful force and out here on the prairie there is nothing to break it or slow it down. It is relentless. It picks up anything not hunkered down and tosses it across fields, over roads, and piles those items where ever it can find a barrier. The most prominent thing we see getting pushed around by the wind are the tumbleweeds. They are ripe for the picking. They break from their root hold and scatter their seeds where ever the wind takes them. They get tangled up in the fences, in alcoves of buildings, in the wind breaks, anywhere something can grab them and hold them.

We have built houses with better construction techniques to keep much of the dirt out so we don't have to do the wet towels on the window sills. We may still have to dust, but we won't be needing the shop vac to suck up large quantities of dirt from the floors. The cars we drive still get a fine film in them, but more so because we have to open the doors to get in and out than from just dirt sneaking in around cracks and crevices.

What would have made these wind events less dust would have been a nice layer of snow. Yes the snow would blow around and cause blizzards but where it lands it tends to eventually melt and provide the much needed moisture to hold the dirt in place and give the fields planted with hopeful wheat a much needed drink. It would also anchor more of that fine topsoil where it is and not rearrange it such that it fills the air and makes driving hazardous or breathing difficult.

So if you are blessed with snow, please know that there are those of us who would gladly take some of that for our fields, gardens, yards, and roads to just settle the dust - so to speak.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Small town Ameria, I love it!

What I love about small town America is that I live in one. Well I don't actually live in town, but even still I love things that can only be found in small town America.

I LOVE. . . . .

- that the grocery store will sack your groceries and take them out to your car for you.

- that the gorcery store workers know what car you drive and will put your groceries in your car before you are done paying for them.

- that someone can park their car to go into a store and get stopped to talk to 5 people before they get across the street to their destination.

- that people will honk at you just for fun when they see you crossing the street.

- that I can learn about my grandpa that died when I was 6 through other's memories of things he said and did.

- being able to know my FedEx and UPS drivers well enough they know where I work in town and they can bring my packages to work instead of my home address clear out in the country if they don't want to drive that far away.

- knowing the old folks in the county and being able to help them out when they need me to.

- getting compliments on my mom and dad by someone who has known them since they were kids.

- that there is a whole group of men and women who meet at the grocery store for coffee and visiting every morning.

- when neighbors actually talk to each other and trust each other enough to have a key to their house in case something is wrong and they need to get inside.

- that I know my mail carrier and he knows he can call me if I have a box to big to leave in the mailbox and I can jump in the car and meet him right away at the mailbox (which is about a mile from the house).

I am sure there are a lot of other things and I could go on for days, but I had just witnessed a couple of these in a matter of minutes so I was inspired to share a little small town loving.