By Jackie Mundt, Pratt County farmer and rancher
PRATT COUNTY, Kan. – There are two kinds of people in the world: people who hate snow and those of us who love it.
If you think I am crazy, consider I grew up in Wisconsin. In my world, snow means picturesque landscapes coated in white, the fun of sledding, tubing, downhill skiing and snowmobile rides, and if you are lucky — a snow day.
My farm friends might roll their eyes and say, what about chores. On my family’s dairy farm our cows were safe and warm in the barn, and we didn’t have to break ice or dig them out of the snow. We only had issues if temperatures were extremely low for a long enough time that the barn cleaner froze up. Those were not fun days.
Since snow is a much rarer treat in Kansas, helping with livestock and navigating drifts on snowy days doesn’t really bother me. Plus, the snow never seems to last longer than a day or two so it melts before my excitement wears off.
You might think it is too early to be wishing for snow but there are chances in the forecast, and I am filled with anticipation. I dream of fluffy floating flakes that fall peacefully as the sound is absorbed and the countryside is blanketed in white.
That may be a bit of wishful thinking since Kansas snow often seems like it is right out of the blizzard from the Claymation classic “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” The drier, drifting snow that whips across the Kansas plains is exactly where I imagine the Abominable Snowman.
Even if it isn’t the picture perfectness of my dreams, snow is needed. This year’s drought conditions have ensured that pretty much all farmers are excited about any precipitation regardless of form.
The unexpected break from our busy lives can be a blessing too as we pause our daily routines and postpone plans. Snow days are a special kind of boost to moral because they often include spending time with our loved ones and doing all the little things that we never have time for otherwise.
On days when the world shut down, my family often had a blast and made lasting memories. In my younger years, snow days were spent making forts with my brothers. As I grew older, my dad would take us out for a snowmobile ride. Mom was ready with snacks to warm us up while watching movies as a family. Snow days have brought me so much joy because they are almost always spent with family.
In the aftermath of the pandemic there has been debate about whether or not remote work and school means the end of snow days. I have been heartened to see that many educators fighting to keep snow days. There is great value in disrupted schedules making time for joy and togetherness.
Today when I end up canceling plans because of snow, it usually allows me to spend more time helping on the farm. Checking on livestock and making the rounds on the farm don’t seem like work when you are with your favorite people and have nowhere else to be. Quality time working is just as fulfilling as play.
If we are lucky enough and get great snowfalls this winter, remember not to spend too much time worrying about canceled plans or the work that is looming. Instead, I hope you will join me in embracing snow for the beauty, the moisture and the moments of togetherness.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.