December 27, 2018

We are One Snow Away from Disaster

By John & Joan Maxwell
Cinnamon Ridge Farms

On the farm, weather can be a real challenge, especially snow and cold. Our livestock need to be kept warm, but also need fresh air, as respiratory infections such as pneumonia can occur in stale air environments. Then, when big snowfalls occur, not only do the driveways need to be plowed, but also many of the yards for the livestock’s recreation need to be cleared. One winter, in particular, stands out for me as the worst in my lifetime: the winter of 1978-79 packed a huge snowfall and followed with severe cold.

That winter started early. We already had ten inches of snow on the ground before the blizzard on January 12th. I was playing high school basketball in a Friday night away game in Burlington.  The weather forecast had predicted only 2 to 4 inches, so little thought was given to travel conditions. At least that much had already fallen, however, as we were loading on the bus. The driving wind brought more snow minute by minute.  The swirling snow and wind sure made for poor visibility and slick roads! Our team bus driver really stepped up to the challenge, but even with his best efforts, we had a hard time making the trip home. It took almost four hours to make the normally two-hour ride. After our team arrived at Davenport West, I then had an even harder time getting back to our home farm. The back roads I needed to travel were far worse than the main roads the bus had taken. I finally made it to our driveway, only to get stuck in the snow, which had now accumulated to over a foot!

The next morning I couldn’t even see the car! It was completely covered in snow. In total, that blizzard dumped about 18 inches. The whole family spent the next few days moving snow and getting animal pens cleared. The most challenging was digging out the car in the driveway. My mom packed a hot lunch and thermos of coffee and sent me to flag down the snow plow on our road. The plow driver was appreciative of the warm food and was willing to return the favor. Once he’d finished with the road, he came and cleared our driveway. This way the milk truck could come and empty our now-full tank of milk and deliver it to the processing plant.

The roads were a long tunnel, it was only one car width wide and the snow wall sides were taller than the car. My dad remarked that if we got another big blizzard, the tunnels would fill, and the whole county could be snowed in. Finally, the spring came, seemingly much later than usual, and all that snow melted creating a big muddy mess.

The winter of ’78-79 really taught me how well our community runs when people look out for each other. I feel very fortunate to live in an area where, for decades, county employees have worked tirelessly to keep roads clear in all kinds of weather.

Having such a great county road crew gives everyone the opportunity to come to the Cinnamon Ridge Country Cupboard store in rural Donahue for our farm fresh eggs, meat, cheese, and baked goods.

Filed Under: Community, Family, Featured, History