We live in an area of the country where, in most years, there are four distinct seasons. Call me crazy, but up until the last couple of years, winter has always been my favorite.
For me, spring is always too unpredictable to really enjoy; cold one day, warm the next and, in my part of the world, the never-ending chance for tornados or flooding rains. Summers are always hot, dry and seemingly last forever. You can only take off so many clothes to stay cool, before the neighbors start to complain. In the fall, all the grass and trees take on a look of dead, which is really depressing to me.
Winter, however, had always been my season. As a kid, bundling up in warm layers of clothes to build snowmen, having snowball fights and going sledding, was a big treat. Even as a young man, I continued to enjoy the colder temps, just knowing how good it would feel to come in by the fire and warm all the extremities, once the outside jobs were completed.
I remember visiting with a farmer friend from the very northern tip of Wisconsin a few years ago, and him telling me, that where he was from, they really only had two seasons – winter and the Fourth of July. Even though he was exaggerating (I think), I thought to myself that it must be a wonderful place to live and farm. I could even imagine myself moving there.
A lot of my cattlemen buddies disagree with my past love of winter, when it comes to raising cattle, but I have always taken great pleasure in caring for cattle in cold weather. Feeding hay and chopping ice on the ponds for the cows is kind of like dating those “husky” girls in college – they seem to appreciate it more.
But, alas, all good things come to an end. These last two or three winters have become a lot less enjoyable for me. Even though the recent winters haven’t been extremely cold or snowy, it seems that my toes, fingers and ears react much more negatively than they did just a few short years ago. And, now, when I slip and fall on snow-packed ground or ice-covered ponds, I don’t seem to jump right back up like I used to… at least, not without assistance.
As I write this column, I’m staring out the window at the ground that is beginning to turn white. We’ve had freezing rain, sleet and snow this morning and the TV weatherperson is predicting temperatures in the single digits tonight, with the wind chill below zero. A few years ago, I would have looked forward to getting up earlier than usual, and getting out to check the cows and make sure everyone was OK, but I have a feeling I’ll have to drink an extra cup or two of coffee before I find the fortitude to do so.
Given my newly found distaste for winter, I can only conclude two things; I guess I really am getting old, and secondly, the only time I need to go back to northern Wisconsin is on the fourth of July.
Jerry Crownover farms in Lawrence County. He is a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University, and is an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’