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'Cold weather lately' and other understatementsPosted Tuesday, March 2, 2010, at 1:55 PM
So the weather has been cold lately -- obviously the understatement of the century.
We've had plenty of snow, too (another understatement).
It's hard to feed animals in this weather, but it certainly has to be done every day. We can't skip a day because it is too cold, too snowy or too muddy. It's our job, but sometimes it isn't an easy one.
When it is extremely cold, the diesel fuel in tractors gel up, if the engines start at all. They, along with other utility vehicles used for feeding, get stuck in drifts; electric waterers become tempermental; and ponds and creeks freeze up, ensuring the farmer gets his exercise cutting holes in the ice so the cows can still get a drink.
This year we've even had problems getting feed trucks to the farm to deliver our DDGs (dried distillers grain). That is the high-protein supplement left over after ethanol is extracted from corn. Our cows love it.
Yes, feeding, or doing anything in this winter, has been tough. (I know, I know, another understatement.)
But every time I think of our hardships, I think how easy we really have it, compared to those who are the reason we are all here -- pioneers.
Sometime after Lewis and Clark opened up the West, some settler, some pioneer, maybe a young family, maybe a young man and, in a few cases, an adventurous single woman, came to this area with not much more than an axe, a black powder rifle and a few personal belongings, hoping to carve a life out of the soil on the unbroken prairie.
I don't know about you, but those covered wagons wouldn't be able to hold what is now stuffed in my bedroom closet, let alone everything I own.
And remember, that was before the whole "Global Warming" thing. No doubt it was cold -- very cold -- here in Missouri and the other western states.
Yet somehow homes, farms, barns and towns were carved from the hard work and dedication of those pioneering families.
They didn't worry about health care, they just wanted to survive. And many didn't.
They didn't need "things" to be happy, they just wanted to make it through the winter.
They weren't particular about what they ate, they just hoped they'd have enough to survive.
Their luxuries would be garden seeds to grow their own food, a milk cow, a hog to butcher and a warm fire. Of course, with those "luxuries" came hard work, plowing the prairie soil, taking care of animals and cutting and splitting firewood by hand.
The houses were usually homebuilt log cabins, sod houses or dugouts. There wasn't central heating, air-conditioning, electricity or even indoor plumbing. (I can't tell you how thankful I am for indoor plumbing!!)
The beds and pillows were stuffed with dried grass or straw. No Sealy Posturepedics or Sleep Numbers in the bunch. I imagine between the cold in the winter, heat in the summer and hours of hard work, they slept well anyway.
Were they happy? I don't know.
But as I get older, I realize happiness isn't something you get. Instead it's often a feeling that comes after an accomplishment, or doing something I didn't think I could do. For me it might be helping a friend, finishing a project in the garden, learning a new task or seeing my sons succeed.
So when I think of that, they probably were happy, or at the very least, content.
After all, look at what they accomplished. They came to a new land, they plowed the land, lived on the land, established towns and farms and roads.
We still benefit from their work today.
They didn't rely on anyone or any government. They relied on their faith in God and faith in themselves. They had faith the hard work would pay off.
When I look out my window from my warm house, I don't know the people who first established our farm, but I can tell you I'm awful thankful for their hard work.
The next time I'm tempted to complain (okay, whine) about the cold weather, I think I'll try to remember the pioneers instead.
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