Spring thaw on farm brings mud, muck and surrender

Mandie Tilderquist
Spring can't come soon enough for farm kids Hank and Jack Tilderquist as they attempt to ride their bikes in the snow

If April showers bring May flowers, what do April blizzards bring? Tears, that’s what. Well, maybe it’s not quite that extreme, but it’s awfully close, especially when you live on a farm.

After enduring months of frozen tundra-like weather and frost bitten animals, we yearn for the warm sunshine on our pasty, white faces. It will be so lovely when feeding calves doesn’t require extra balance and effort just to remain upright when walking on slippery sheets of ice.

No one has to worry about plowing the drifting snow out of the driveway before the milkman gets there and beard condensation doesn’t result in facial icicles. The cows will gracefully and willingly stroll in and out of the parlor to get milked since there’s no jagged ice to poke the bottom of their hooves. Well, that may be going a bit too far, but conditions will certainly improve all around.

Today is almost a record-breaking day in April, with it’s abnormally cold temperatures and a wind that definitely “stings the toes and bites the nose.” For the millionth time today, I longingly gaze out the window, searching for any sign of spring. There were a few robins looking for worms the other day, but they must have packed up and went south...again. I can’t say that I blame them.

Mandie Tilderquist

I also see a very familiar sight as I peer out of my frosty windows. My farm kids are
out playing in the fresh powder and sledding. My boys even attempted a bike ride until the treads disappeared and the risk of a nose dive was too great.

Unlike grumbling adults, the children were laughing. Instead of whining about this never-ending winter, they were out embracing it. Hey, when life gives you lemons, right?

As much as I’m looking forward to the long-awaited spring thaw, there is a tiny feeling of dread deep down. I think that any farm mom can relate. It’s a lethal combination that causes an increase in the electric bill since the washing machine is constantly running.

Showers become more frequent and there are mountains of clothes and wet towels everywhere. Carpets are being scrubbed and floors tirelessly swept in every farm home across the country.

Mud and manure wreak havoc on everything. These two elements of nature bring me so much stress. It’s ridiculous really. It turns me into a drill sergeant that is obsessed with vacuuming. I’m pretty sure my family doesn’t like “Springtime Mom.”

So, it got me to thinking. Why do I allow myself to morph into this cranky, clean freak for a few months out of the year? Why can’t I just embrace the mess? There will not be four pairs of dirty, stinky rubber boots in my mudroom that are strewn about for that much longer. Then what will I do when I only have to clean up after one? I’ll probably miss the days of the mud and the mess of little ones.

I’ve learned that you have to pick and choose your battles, just like in marriage. Maybe this one just isn’t worth it. Maybe this year I just need to wave the white flag and
surrender to the muck. After all, I really would rather be dealing with a squishy, muddy, driveway in the country than a cold, concrete one in the city.

This spring, if it ever decides to show up, I vow to put away my cleaning supplies and only use them when really needed. I will not complain about my far less than perfect home. I will be thankful for everything that God’s glorious creation has to offer. I will embrace the mess because this is my mess and it’s beautiful. This mess is made by the five most wonderful blessings in my life. The blessings I’ve prayed for and the good Lord saw fit to give me.

Tomorrow there is more snow in the forecast. Instead of whining about not getting my garden started, maybe I’ll go out and sled with my kids... in April. I’ll probably ask myself again why we live here, but then remember how beautiful the farm is when it’s blanketed in green and new life is all around. I wish it were that way right now, but it’s totally worth the wait and all of the messes it brings.

Tilderquist is a Jesus follower, cookie baker, proud wife of a Minnesota farmer, blessed mama of four and loving her life.