What a difference a week makes

Susan Manzke


Bob opens path to get oil to the furnace.

The blizzard of 2018 will go down in history. Many barn and other building roofs will take weeks to rebuild. The big expenses of the storm will be felt for a long time.

Bob and I were trapped for days on our farm. We were rescued by a neighbor who plowed our drive from the road to our garage. Even with that exit available, I felt down in the dumps and wanted to stay put.

One particular problem for us was the possibility of running out of fuel oil in our house. When the storm hit the gauge on the tank was extremely low. In a usual spring, we would have been able to coast a long way on that little oil. As the snow drifted around us, Bob and I were worried we’d awaken to a cold house.

I kept anticipating the worst. In the middle of the night, I lay in bed listening for the sound of the furnace turning on. It wouldn’t be a complete calamity if it quit because we had a couple space heaters that would get us past the worst. Yet, I was considering how many sweaters I would be able to wear yet still move around.

Bob kept looking toward the barn where his tractor and loader sat behind drifts of snow. These drifts wouldn’t move so easily, even our neighbor’s pickup/plow couldn’t budge them. That’s why Bob wanted to get to the tractor, to lift and relocate the worst of the snow. When that was accomplished we’d be able to get oil to the house.

Melting began right away as spring returned. Still the biggest drifts were all on the north side of our buildings where the sun’s rays didn’t reach.

Bob walked as far as he dared. “I’m afraid I’ll get stuck walking on a drift,” he said. “If I fall through into the deep snow, I don’t know how I’d get out.”

I suggested he would have to roll, but even if he could do that (which he can’t) he’d have a long way to go before finding firm, level ground.

Bob finally digs his way out of the shed.

Our blizzard started with rain on Friday before turning to sleet and then snow.  A week later on the following Friday, the sun was shining and the thermometer his the 60 degree mark. Yet Bob continued to puzzle over the blocked barn.

I looked at it too. I couldn’t get across it any easier than Bob. Once I sunk in up to my knees I started digging a path. “I think we might be able to get through the drifts now,” I told Bob.

We took turns working our way through the very heavy snow pack. A low section let us take a rest before tackling the worst near the barn.

We were about ready to go inside for lunch when I took a chance walking over the large drift. This time I wasn’t sinking in so deep. I made it to the building. Bob followed in my footsteps. Together we dug out the large sliding door. It needed a lot of shoveling because it had to open far enough so the tractor could pass through.

Snow was flying from our shovels now. Seeing the end in sight motivated us.

Finally, the door opened and the old Massey Ferguson tractor started! Bob smiled. I cheered and did a little happy dance.

Sunny sees a cat in the distance and climbs drift wanting to chase it.

Bob climbed on the tractor and started making a real path through the drifts. Being on his tractor really made him happy. Eventually he cleared enough of the drifts so we could add fuel to our empty tank.

All this work was done in our shirtsleeves. No jackets were needed because it was sunny and warm outside. Now I finally understand how people can go skiing in shorts in the spring. Even spring snow shoveling can be accomplished without winter coats. And it can be fun, too, especially when it’s really starting to feel like spring has finally arrived in Wisconsin.

Susan & Bob Manzke, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;