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By Staff | Feb 18, 2011

My neighbor Steve was in Death Valley, Calif., a few weeks ago and I asked him what is was like there. He said it was in the 70s for temperature.

I told him it sounded wonderful and this winter I thought right here in northern Iowa we could be called Death Valley. There were times of snow, wind and near zero visibility. It was that bad.

This is my 64th winter and I can not say it is any better than the other 63 winters I have endured. You would think a person would get used to something after going through it 63 times, but not me.

You’d think that doing winters for six decades I’d find something to enjoy, but I have not. I am more than grateful for the tank with a supply of liquid propane and a furnace that turns itself on when necessary and then off with no attention needed from me.

Even though I have not fed cattle since the early-1990s, those winter chores are still easy to recall. Frozen silage stuck to the silo wall and temperamental tank heaters are just the starters.

My only livestock concern today is if the cats have food and water available. The tank heater now is a heated water bowl for the cats and when it gets empty, they lie in it for warmth.

Ike, the family dog, has found something to enjoy in the arrival of winter. He sleeps inside on the living room carpet each night and as much of the day as we will let him.

He is getting to be an old dog, and it is a reward for his years of faithful companionship.

Going way back in winter memories, I can remember waiting for the school bus at the end of our driveway. If the bus was running late, I can remember numb fingers and toes while waiting for the bus to arrive.

Then there was a stinging sensation as the circulation slowly returned.

I am a genuine winter weenie. Winter is not my season and whatever good there is in it, provides me with only a very small comfort.

It is an adventure leaving the driveway to turn on the gravel road because the snow has blocked the visibility both left and right.

We creep ahead slowly as we enter the road looking for anyone coming from either direction.

I believe there were some winters sprinkled through the years that were OK.

They arrived late and after a few weeks of cold and snow, became livable with temperatures just below freezing.

The last few years we have had winters like I remember when I was a teenager in the 1960s with howling winds and way too much snow.

The snow is piling up most everywhere, and we still have weeks to go before any warm weather will force the piles to shrink.

The good news in all this is that all the previous winters have left giving way to a glorious spring. We have every reason to believe this winter will do likewise, and this week’s moderating temperatures give us hope that spring will arrive once again with summer right behind it.

Then the cats will get fed at their normal site on the north side of the house where they will nap in the shade.

Ike will be forced to sleep outside, which is not his preference, but he will get used to it just like all the previous years.

The snow will be gone and the potatoes will be planted in the soft earth in anticipation of next summer’s homemade French fries, baked potatoes and hash browns.

Then I can complain about mowing the lawn.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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