Snow in October?

Wisconsin State Farmer

I’m mowing one of my prairie patches with my tractor and rotary mower. The temperature is in the low 40s and all is going well. Earlier in the morning it had rained a bit, but with a stiff westerly wind, the field is dry and mowing is easy.

Snow doesn't keep author Jerry Apps from mowing his prairie patches.

I’ve always enjoyed mowing. One thing about it. You can see what you’ve accomplished. Immediately. Sometimes it takes weeks, months and or even years before I learn whether I’ve accomplished anything with what I mostly do (writing, teaching, TV work). Not so with mowing. Feedback is immediate. The grass is cut.

About one-fourth into the project I glimpsed some white specks flying on the wind. Could they be snowflakes? Can’t be I told myself. It is October 20. Way too early for snowflakes.

I continued on. More snowflakes. The temperature seemed to be dropping as well. More than half done. Heavy snow falling. Heavy snow in October. My mind said not possible. The hood of my tractor said otherwise. It was snowing. Big time snowing. The kind where you have trouble seeing where you are going and where you have been. 

Never before in my many years of mowing have I cut grass in a snowstorm. But we Germans can be stubborn. I had to finish the job. Snow or no. And I did. I don’t know why I am writing about this. People will think I’ve lost a few marbles. ‘That guy mows hay in a snowstorm.” But the field is mowed.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: When it comes to weather, expect the unexpected. 

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to