Meandering Thoughts

Meandering Thoughts

Monday, December 28, 2009

Winter in Ohio

Winter in Ohio usually means cold and wet weather.  Which only means rain or snow conditions.  I remember when we raised hogs, this was during the first 25 years of marriage.  It seemed always to be muddy, which means rain.  Being in a hog lot in the mud was sure to mean boot sucking mud!  More than once a boot would come off and you'd have to put your stocking foot in the mud to pull the boot out.  By then they other booted foot was well planted and the struggle was on.  If it froze in that same hog lot walking was even more dangerous.  The craters left behind from frozen hog prints were ankle spraining events.  And don't try to move quickly, you'd surely fall and hurt yourself. 

It was almost as bad in the horse lot as the hog pens.  Horses tend not to leave the barn much in the winter.  They need a good wind break and usually they hang out where the hay and water are.  They churn the earth up into a knee deep, mud sucking experience.  They seem to have as much trouble walking on their frozen hoof prints as we do.  I really worried for them when rain froze on the ground turning horse lots, side walks and driveways into ice skating rinks.  Watching horses legs going every which way is a very frightening thing!  Going out to feed the critters was a test in balance and agility.  As we age, this becomes less and less fun. 

One of the biggest problems I remember having in the winter is when the power would go off.  Neighbors would call neighbors to see if it was a regional problem or something that happened to just them.  Then things got harder.  If it were out for long periods, like the Blizzard of 1978, we were without power for over a week.  Roads were impassable, living in the country doesn't make you a priority.  We were breaking ice in water tanks to keep horses watered, they would normally have a water heater keeping water thawed.  We were lucky enough to have a hand pump outside our house to pump water.  To carry 5 gallon buckets of water to hogs morning, noon and night was not easy.  Animals always came first, then we worried about our own needs.

Back in the 70's we were still pretty self sufficient.  We had two freezers and always had our own meat and  veggies stored away.  Keeping our pipes from freezing and keeping warm were other matters to consider.  We then had a wood stove, wood was stacked at the back door and we managed to stay warm. Of course wearing more layers of clothing helped.  During that time we were going through a recession and were working hard to conserve energy.  Heavy quilted window dressings were not uncommon.  We learned to be creative with less, I see us needing to do that again in 2009.  Do my children remember how to survive with no power?  Do they have a freezer of food from their gardens?  My son and his wife only heat with wood.  Most winters their girls are wearing t-shirts and shorts in the house it is so warm!

Generators are the answer to today's power outages, but you need gasoline to run them.  Do we have some on hand, just in case of a power outage?  Last year when Hurricane Ike blew through Ohio from Florida, even the gas stations were closed because they had no power.   Many people had to chain saw the trees off the road to even get to town.  I remember driving through Xenia during this power outage.  It looked strangely like a ghost town.  The other comment I remember Emily saying, she lives in a town, people came out of their houses.  They looked dazed and didn't seem to know what to do with themselves without a TV to watch.  She said she saw people she'd never seen on her street before.  How sad is that?     

Winter in Ohio can always be a challenge.  It can be fun too!  I remember as a kid when it snowed.  My Dad was very inventive!  He made a huge "bobsled" that at least 6 kids could straddle and ride, then he'd pull us up and down our long lane with the jeep.  We also got pulled by the jeep with our little sleds hooked behind.  Roads weren't plowed clean in those days!  It was so much fun! Today, my son has a really big hillside next to their house.  The girls will bundle up in snow clothes, scarves and gloves, boots and goggles for their eyes.  They head for the hill with their sleds, not before my son comes down to get the four wheeler.  The girls slide down the hill and then attach a rope to the four wheeler and get pulled to the top again.  It is the most fun!  I remember having to get off at the bottom of the hill and pulling my own sled back to the top!  I'm sure the girls get colder faster, we kept warm by walking back up that hill!

So here I sit this snowy and cold day in 2009 just before the New Year.  I am reminded how quickly December has passed and that in only a couple months and I'll be looking for signs of spring again!!!

(Pictures are of my brother, Brian and I, in 1952.)

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