THROUGH THE WOODS:  It is Really Winter 

Cold woodpecker.Photo by Nancy Kern

THIS PAST WEEK finally brought what I remember as a real winter. In 1968 I was working in Schenectady and shared the commute with a few friends, all of us in our early 20s. I am a farm girl with lots of winter gasoline engine experience and always added dry gas to the full gas tank in my 1960 Chevy Bel Air to mitigate moisture problems. It didn’t occur to me that some might not do this. It was Alison’s turn to drive her Plymouth Valiant and when Nancy and I reached her on that -22 degree Fahrenheit morning (not the wind chill factor) her car wouldn’t start. She got into my car and off we went and arrived almost on time.

No cell phones back then. I had blankets, clothes and extra everything, jumper cables, and flares and they grabbed the blankets. My car usually worked but the heater left a lot to be desired. On the way, we discussed winter car maintenance and safety. Both were inexperienced city girls. They learned. Alison had called her garage serviceman and he determined her car had a frozen gas line and said it was a hectic day. Growing up in the Town of Austerlitz, NY in the 1950s and ’60s winter temperatures getting down to -10 to -30 degrees weren’t that unusual. Running a dairy farm, you had to anticipate and prepare for winter. There were strategies to deal with frozen pipes, power outages, dead batteries, cold barns, animals possibly in distress, and our own sicknesses. All the farmers helped each other when needed.

Our brook (part of the Agawamuck watershed) had open water for our stock if necessary, and they could be let out of the barns for short periods of time. A Holstein (B&W) cow may drink 30 to 50 gallons of water daily. We had horses as well as tractors so there were backups to backups.

One winter I was riding our first snowmobile a half mile from home and it died. I waded through deep drifts, got my horse, and dragged the snowmobile home. Last week my great-nephews had a similar experience, but they don’t have a horse. I told my story, but I doubt their father will buy a horse. Their snowmobile may stay in the woods until spring, or until another snowmobile can rescue it. Some warm weather returns, and it would be nice for my oil bill if this would last until spring. Based on my past experiences my advice is to be prepared. Now I belong to AAA!

Comments are closed.