Monday, December 6, 2010

Walking in a Winter Wonder-whaaaaaa?

December Challenge: Holiday Adventures

After college, I spent a year in Vermont working on a horse farm. I got to experience East Coast weather in all its many moods and colors. Having grown up in Utah, I thought myself well-versed in the realities of a harsh winter. I was wrong. So, so wrong.

Thanks goodness for snow tires . . .

Come February, I was halfway through my apprenticeship. Up to that point, we'd had about three months of breaking the ice in the stall buckets every morning, three months of doing nighttime barn checks where the air was so cold it literally stung the skin, three months of sleeping fully clothed under a pile of blankets. Little did we know: Vermont had yet to unleash the full wrath of its winter on this poor desert girl and her Floridian roommate.

The Great Valentine's Day Blizzard of '07 started early in the day. The storm was so relentless, we all soon dashed home to hunker until it let up. Except it didn't. We lived in an apartment attached to the main farmhouse. Through our windows, we could see the boss riding up and down the driveway on the farm's ancient tractor/snowplow all afternoon, doing his darndest to keep up with the piling snow. He finally drove the tractor home in the dark because his car was buried.

The main barn, morning after the Great Valentine's Day Blizzard of '07

We emerged the next morning to marvel at the wonderland the storm had left behind. The sky was completely clear and the snow sparkled. It was actually kind of amazing. "Do you have any survivors?" My roommate called in the general direction of the tiny cottage down the lane, where the other two apprentices lived. "Yeah, two," someone yelled back. We could only see the tip of the roof over all the snow.

The beauty of it all kind of wore off when I had to wade through drifts up to my thigh just to get to the barn to feed the young horses I was responsible for. After morning chores, the four apprentices and the assistant horse trainer burned quite a lot of calories (and a variety of colorful cuss words) digging the boss's car out of its snow tomb before driving it back to his house.

The broodmares were the toughest critters on the place.

Then we got to claw our way through the vast ocean of untouched, knee-deep snow that extended from the road to his front door. At the end of that short trek that was somehow so long, I flopped onto my back in the snow, wearing so many layers that I probably looked like that kid from "A Christmas Story," and panted helplessly up at the blue sky. We were all so exhausted, we camped out in the boss's living room and fell asleep to an episode of "The Gilmore Girls."

And that's why Vermont-in-winter will always be "Satan's Icebox" to me.


Janiel Miller said...

Wow. Gorgeous pictures. Is that white building the farmhouse? Believe it or not this makes me miss the East Coast. Sounds like you guys worked hard. Glad you had a soft place to collapse at the end of the day.

Sara B. Larson said...

Wow, what a storm! THose mares are tough, for sure. What a deal. I guess it does make UT look pretty tame. ;)

Russo said...

Maegan, you are just one incredible chicka. The stuff you have done is incredible. Working at a horsefarm, crazy cool. And those blizzard pics are insane!

Russo said...

PS I loved Satans Ice3 box-freaking funny