Farm Winter Wonderland

There’s nothing quite like the beauty of a white winter wonderland when you’re out on the farm.

For me, waking up in the early light to snow-blanketed fields and tree branches glistening, heavy with morning frost, is pure magic. On these days, the only sign of even the slightest disturbance is from the tracks in the snow made by our Australian Shepherd, Bodie, who paces around the farm during the night like a diligent watchman, guarding us as we sleep.

It’s the kind of morning where you lazily relish a steaming cup of coffee by the window, snug in your flannel pajamas and slippers, watching as the snow whirls in the air, as though you’re part of your own private snow globe.

At least, that’s what happens when you’re 30 weeks pregnant, on holiday vacation and under strict instruction from your husband not to go outside lest you fall and go into early labor. When you’re a farmer, on the other hand, even on a holiday, the work has just begun.

Though you won’t hear him complain, Farmer Dan and those in his profession are undoubtedly weary of the mundane and unappreciated work that comes hand-in-hand with heavy snowfalls. For the past few weeks, he’s been diligently clearing snow off our gravel roads, making sure the cow yards are dry and bedded with fresh straw, and scooping the cement bunks where the herd eats its hay and grain. So far, it’s been the type of winter when as soon as the snow is cleared, more is already on its way, and it’s back to putting on the heavy coat and flannel-lined jeans that are still slightly damp from the last time my farmer was outside.

When you’re a farmer, on the other hand, even on a holiday, the work has just begun.

While the monotony of snow removal and the discomfort associated with South Dakota’s stinging cold weather may be enough to make some complain, the farmers I know seem to have the uncanny knack of seeing the positive in every trying situation – especially Farmer Dan. Ever the optimist, he chooses instead to focus on the much-needed moisture the fields will get from the snow – an ever-present thought on our minds since experiencing record drought conditions during our first full year of farming in 2012.

And though the days may seem long, cold and gloomy now, it won’t be long before springtime is upon us, and it will be time for calving and for the seed he just ordered to be put into the ground. South Dakota weather may be temperamental, unpredictable and inconvenient at times, but it always brings something new with each season, and nobody appreciates that more than a farmer.

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