Thursday, December 11, 2008

How Cold Does it Get in Frostbite Falls?

Well, folks, just check that little weather thingie over there to the right and you can see how cold it is right now. As I write this morning the current temperature is 7 degrees ABOVE zero, but our local Weather Guesser tells us we're in for a snowstorm this weekend with 8-12 inches of snow and a cold snap next week. By Tuesday we're supposed to have a 20 below zero nighter. I told Ole I better find his red long handles so he can stay warm next week.

If we get 8-12 inches of snow that means Ole's going to have to get his tractor going with the 8 foot snowblower on it. Moving the snow these days is a breeze compared to what it used to be when we first moved out here.

When we bought this property Ole decided we had to build the house WAY back away from the highway, so that required a really long driveway - about a quarter mile long - and besides that it's got two curves in it. It's pretty in the summer because we've got trees planted along each side of it the entire length. But it can be a real bugger in the winter when you're trying to get in and out and everything is white. It can be a bugger to blow the snow off it also, but then that's not my job, so . . .

For the first few years after we built the house Ole used the tractor below to move snow. It had a bucket on the front at that time, and lots of levers to push and pull in order to go forward and back and to get the bucket to go up and down to dump the snow. He would dress up in his snowmbile suit, put his face mask on, and pile blankets on the metal seat in order to keep from getting frostbite on his backside because the seat was so cold.

That old clunker was a beast to start when it was below zero. It didn't have an engine heater on like the cars up in the Northland do, so sometimes it would take hours to get the engine warm enough to get it started. Now Ole, being the ingenius person that he is, came up with a solution. He would park the tractor alongside the garage so it was out of the wind. Then he filled a five-gallon metal bucket full of old gunny sacks and poured fuel oil over them. He would set that bucket underneath the engine, cover the front of the tractor with a big tarp and then light the bucket on fire. It would burn like a huge candle and by golly that tractor would start in less than an hour. You see, when it's that cold the engine oil gets so thick it's like a brick and the engine can't turnover to start the tractor. You just have to thin that oil out a bit and then things move right along. I was always afraid the house would burn down.

After a few years of fighting with that old tractor and freezing his tookus off all the time, he graduated to a four-wheel-drive pickup with a blade on the front. We got into the 20th century because now he was sitting inside with a heater and the truck could be plugged in to start it. The only problem with that was that Ole didn't think a four-wheel-drive could get stuck. WRONG! When a four-wheel-drive gets stuck it's REALLY stuck. He had to be pulled out of snowbanks more than once by sombody with a bigger truck. And he still needed to wear his red long-handles because he had to get outside to shovel the truck out!

Now Ole thinks he's pretty smart. He got a newer tractor with a cab and a heater and a big snowblower and a set of chains for the big wheels. And he doesn't get stuck anymore and he stays toasty warm. He doesn't have to wear his red long handles anymore and sometimes he even has to take his jacket off.

But I still hope we don't get that 8-12 inches of snow that's forecast. Ick.

Love, Lena

PS: Local news article from last year: "Police arrested an intoxicated man one cold morning for urinating on a car in public. His claim? He was only trying to thaw out the frozen locks on his car."


capitolady said...

Is it that time of year already? I am never prepared for the cold. Now that is what I call a snow thrower!!!

Carolyn said...

I am so not ready for the big snow and extreme cold weather this year! I thought our driveway was too big (we can park six cars on it), but after ready your entry, I'm not going to complain about shoveling it anymore! I will however continue to complain about the snowplow driver who always leaves a HUGE berm right in front of our driveway.