The deer in my yard


I sent my family a picture taken of our back yard yesterday, challenging them to count the number of deer in our yard. It was a bit of a family joke. You can see for yourself. I count 9 deer and 2 Deere. Our father, among other ventures of his life, was a John Deere dealer for 25 years. Our shop had franchises for agricultural, industrial and lawn equipment. The franchise and the shop were sold nearly 40 years ago, so backhoes were a bit smaller in those days, but the equipment parked in my back yard was a fun reminder of our family business. For those of you who think I can’t count, the middle machine is a Komatsu, not a Deere.

The equipment in my yard is there for moving underground utilities in preparation for a road widening project that will be undertaken this summer. By my count about 400 new houses have been built farther up the road since we bought our house. That translates to probably 1500 more cars going by each day. The project not only will widen the road, but also flatten out a few curves. It should result in fewer cars sliding off the road into our back yard in years to come. Right now we’re hoping no one slides off of the road. Those machines are pretty heavy and won’t yield much if hit by a car.

Of course, my yard doesn’t look like that this morning. Among the notices in my inbox is a message stating “Pennington County offices will be closed today due to continued snow, snow packed and icy roads, and low visibility outside of Rapid City. . . . No travel advisory remains in effect for Pennington County outside of Rapid City as snow continues to fall and high winds are causing drifting in some areas.”

It looks like we’ve got somewhere between 6 and 8 inches of the white stuff. Part of my social distancing practice this morning will be an hour or so with the snow blower. The snow won’t linger. It may stay cold through tomorrow, but by Saturday temperatures will near 50 degrees and the forecast calls for temperatures in the 60’s by the first part of next week. I can remember several years when we’ve had spring blizzards for Palm Sunday and Holy Week, so I think our weather is what you might call normal. However, we are starting to get a bit tired of the snow which i typical for spring in South Dakota.

The impact of the blizzard will be minimal since there are so many people who are staying at home anyway. I’ll probably clear the snow from the neighbor’s driveway, but their car hasn’t been out of the drive all week and I don’t expect that they have anywhere to go today. Most businesses and government offices are down to essential employees only. At the church the newsletter is printed and we are mailing a few more copies than usual this month because people can’t get to church to pick up a copy. Distribution may be delayed for a day if we are late getting to the office, but the electronic version is already out and a slight delay in the newsletter won’t create a panic. Most of the rest of our work, finishing bulletins and worship orders for Holy Week, can be done from home as easily as from the office.

Were it a normal year, whatever that means, this morning would end up being a blizzard day for the public schools. This much snow takes a lot of time to clear from parking lots and sidewalks. But with schools closed to slow the spread of the pandemic, the kids can probably sleep in this morning anyway, though we used to really pop out of bed when it was snowing when I was a kid. Thinking back, however, I can’t ever remember our school taking a snow day. When the snow was really heavy, the buses didn’t run, but there were a lot of kids and most of the teachers who lived within walking distance of the school and we usually kept on going despite the snow and cold weather.

That last paragraph is probably one of those grandpa stories that it is just as well not to tell to my grandkids. Sometimes they will talk about the old days, which means the days when their parents were children. I can occasionally entertain them with a story of my childhood, but they mostly think of those stories about a time so long ago that it doesn’t have much impact on today.

I don’t know if my tendency to get right out and clear the snow in the morning comes from the days when I had to deliver 150 newspapers before school started, but somewhere along the line I learned to enjoy the morning. I may be a bit draggy in the evening, but in the morning I’m ready to go.

When things slow down, I probably spend a bit more time remembering and reminiscing about the old days. When I was a young adult and did some truck driving for my father’s business I had a ring of six keys that would start every machine that John Deere made. When we went out to pick up a machine to haul it in for repairs, we didn’t worry about whether or not the key had been removed. One of those backhoes would make short work of the snow in my driveway, but I’d really get in trouble if I “borrowed” it.

On the other hand, on Monday I was digging out a small tree so that it could be moved to another place in our yard and escape being destroyed by the utilities project and the construction crew gave me a hand with their machine. In about 1 minute they accomplished what would have taken me half a day. I was grateful for their help. They didn’t have to do it, but they were generous folk.

As we weather the storms of this life it is good to remember that we are all in this together and we need one another to get the job done.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!