Russ' Vintage Iron

Snowbound Christmas

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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As you get older and more time passes, it is interesting how your views change on certain events. This occurred to me recently as I was thinking back to a fairly recent Christmas.

The year 2009 was a big year for us. My wife, Tracie, and I had a second son, Burke, that summer. He was a welcome addition to our growing family, which included our older son, Kyle, who was 5 years old at the time.

On Christmas Eve that year, we headed to my folks' house, as the weather forecast called for snow that day and into the next day. You don't pack light when you have a baby, so we took extra clothes in case we had to spend the night because of the weather.

It began to snow about the time we went to Christmas Eve Mass at 4 p.m., but it was a fairly light snow. After church, we all went to my aunt's house for supper, and by then, it was snowing fairly heavy.

We live about 30 miles north of my folks, so we decided we would spend the night, as the snow was beginning to accumulate. Living in a rural area, we knew if the main roads weren't good, the back roads were certainly not going to be drivable.

The next morning, my dad woke me up early to have me help him clear his driveway. My dad may be a "curbside farmer" now since they live in town, but he has always kept our 1958 John Deere 520 tractor with a three-point blade (the only tractor we have that's small enough to clear the doorframe) in his garage to push snow.

He opened the garage door and you could barely see anything, as it had snowed around 2 feet that night. It was a Christmas snowstorm to remember. I don't ever remember that much snow falling at one time!

We got the 520 out of the garage, and Dad did get the snow off his driveway/street as well as he could. We traveled the roughly 10 blocks to clear off my aunt's driveway as well as her neighbor's.

(Side note here: My cousin and his wife, who live in a Phoenix suburb, were back in Nebraska that Christmas and experienced the storm. They have never been back at Christmas since then.)

We had a quiet Christmas Day, but then the flu began to sweep through the house. With nine people in one house, I imagine germs were everywhere. Kyle was sick, so we had to find a Walgreens open on Christmas Day after a major snowstorm for children's medicine, which we did.

There was no way we were getting home that day, so I had to call our neighbor to see if he could go check on our cows and do chores. He told us the county maintainer hadn't been by yet, so there was no getting around except by tractor.

The next day, Dec. 26, the sickness (probably started by my kids) was still in the house. We decided we would go to my mother-in-law's house a couple towns away because the kids' doctor was there. We were set to spend the night there after visiting the doctor, but the neighbor called and said the road had been cleared, so we set out for home in the afternoon.

We made it home and up our quarter-of-a-mile lane, thanks to our good neighbor, but we immediately got stuck at the place where he had stopped clearing snow. This led to many trips back and forth between the vehicle and the house, carrying various presents, kids' bags, etc., in the deep snow.

The next morning, I got up early as I had lot of things to accomplish.

I had to push snow with two different tractors (the JD 4440 and a blade, as well as the 4020 with the loader) as there was so much snow. I also had to get our car unstuck, feed the cows hay and grain, and get this all done by noon to be at my mother-in-law's house for their family Christmas.

I did get everything done, but it was closer to 1 p.m. by the time we got there. I thought this was pretty good considering everything I did and the condition of the roads. My wife's family didn't share that opinion, though. I guess they were hungry.

At the time, it wasn't much fun being away from home with everyone sick, and then being stuck in deep snow 50 feet from the garage. But, looking back, this has become one of our most memorable Christmases and one we will never forget.

And, hopefully, a Christmas we don't ever have to experience again. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Russ Quinn can be reached at

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