Russ' Vintage Iron

Even More on Vintage Snow Removal

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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The last couple of months in this space we have discussed how snow was moved on farms in the past. Last month, we had a reader tell us about his experiences moving snow in Minnesota.

This month we have another story about moving snow from the past.

Here is the tale:

"Here in Ohio we had a blizzard in 1978 and rear-mount, pto-driven snow blowers privately owned by farmers were employed by the state to clear highways for sometimes long distances. [Editor's Note: The tractors had to be driven in reverse to blow the snow with this implement.)

"My friend, whose name is Gary Riley, was working on a farm just south of Washington Court House at the time and the state commissioned him to clear Highway 62 from the south side of town to the county line, which is 10 miles away. Once he got there, he backed back home for a grand total of 20 miles. He said he couldn't straighten his neck for a couple of days.

"There were several snow blowers around because we had a large volume of snow the winter before but not a storm like 1978. Think subzero hurricane with a lot of snow.

"I recall hearing on the radio at the time saying not to venture outside because doing so would be 'certain death.' That'll get your attention.

"My parents had a picture of our farm taken from a National Guard helicopter being used to evacuate medical emergencies. I'm sure every area has their notable weather events and that was ours.

"We've had snow since then but nothing like that. Some of those snow blowers from that era are still stashed in barns around here.

"It was discovered then that while some brands of tractors lubricate the transmission in reverse, others, Case being one, do not. Our area had a large Case dealer at the time, and this presented many issues.

"To be clear, I do not wish to speak ill of Case tractors. At that time, we had an excellent dealer and there were many Case tractors in the area, and once the issue came up, word got around quickly not to use them for that.

"I don't know how many tractors actually needed repair. Case may not have been the only one, and honestly, tractors were designed to go forward with only brief moments in reverse, so this created a unique circumstance.

"For the record, Gary used his employer's 4-year-old John Deere 4430."

Dave Duff

Fayette County, Ohio

A big thanks goes out to Dave for taking the time to send me his story. It is interesting he brought up some areas had storms everyone seems to remember for years. I imagine this could be winter or summer storms.

There have been winter storms I can remember that dropped lots of snow in our area, namely the Christmas Eve snowstorm of 2009. But, for some reason, I seem to remember the times it got extremely cold more than the snow.

In December 1983 it was extremely cold in eastern Nebraska right around Christmas, air temperatures dropped down to -20 to -30. I remember my dad driving his new 1983 Ford F-150 pickup up on the sidewalk as close as he possibly could drive to the front of the church when we went to Christmas Eve mass so we didn't have to walk outside for very long.

Then in December 1989 it was again about this cold. I was a sophomore in high school at the time, and my first car, a rusty 1978 Ford F-150 pickup, did not want to start for a whole week. I had to hitch a ride to school from my cousins until my pickup thawed out.

About 12 years ago, we had temperatures this cold once again. We had several weaned spring calves get sick and die because of the wet and cold. I learned firsthand how important bedding was to cattle when it gets this cold.

And this last February we had another extreme cold stretch of weather. I'm going to guess most people, especially those who live in Texas, will always remember this historic cold weather year.

This time, our cattle were well bedded down. Experience is a good teacher.

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