Grit Blogs > The Daily Commute

Kansas Blizzard Of 2011

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief

Tags: weather, snow, farms,

GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.Well, the great Kansas blizzard of 2011 appears to be over. Some folks say that the Kansas blizzard of 2011 was of a magnitude not seen for years. I'll admit that it was the first real blizzard that I've experienced in Kansas, but it wasn't the worst I've experienced in either North Dakota or South Dakota. Still, when the temperatures are in the low teens and the wind is driving the snow sideways at about 25 miles per hour, you definitely have a blizzard on your hands, and it is hard on people, machines, animals and plants. Yet, blizzards are characteristic of the plains states so the plants, animals and people that live there have sufficient adaptation to plow through in most cases.

Kansas Blizzard of 2011 Getting the tractor out  

Courtesy Karen Keb 

Down in my part of Osage County, Kansas the snow amounts were no where near as dramatic as they were further east and into Missouri. The accumulation at our relatively sheltered farmstead ranged from 4-foot drifts in the lee of the wind to an inch or less in smooth open areas. In the yard and animal pens we received a fairly uniform 10 inches of accumulation -- enough to require shoveling out of feeders and gates and plowing paths. Truth be told, I enjoy snow and the work that it takes to keep the farm going in spite of it.

Last night when I got home from work, I set to on some of my favorite chores -- the encore performance this morning was met with subzero temperatures, calm air and a gorgeous sunrise.

Kansas Blizzard of 2011 pushing snow 

Courtesy Karen Keb 

When I pulled our trusty Kubota out of the shed, the hay spears were still on the loader arms so I swapped them for the utility bucket instead of the snow bucket (visible in the background) because I need to unload bagged feed from the truck. The box blade is useful for pulling snow away from buildings and for pushing it off the lane.

Kansas Blizzard 2011 Snowy Border Terrier Named Molly 

Courtesy Karen Keb 

Molly, our 7-month old Border Terrier loves to romp with us while we are out doing chores. She has seen snow just twice before yesterday, and she doesn't let it hold her back. Molly also has a wonderful knack for staying out of the way of equipment such as the tractor, but she loves racing up and down the plowed corridors and then leaping over the snow piles and into the soft powder.

Kansas Blizzard of 2011 sunrise the morning after 

It cleared up sooner than expected last night so the temperatures dropped further than expected. Chores were completed and the snow was plowed once again when I paused to take in this icy sunrise. How can you hate winter when you get to experience something so glorious?

Kansas Blizzard 2011 The Morning After 

Our little 104 year old farmhouse survived the blizzard in style. The new mudroom addition stayed snug, warm and dry. It was nice to be able to shed my ice-encrusted coveralls in a proper mudroom and pop them into the drier so they'd be comfortable when I next needed them.

Kansas Blizzard of 2011 Heading off to Work 

Last night on the way home from work I had a little trouble getting the big Dodge through a couple of drifts. I heard the maintainer scrape past this morning about 4:45. Thanks Mr. maintainer driver for making my trek to US 75 this morning an easy one.

They say it will be even colder tonight, although the winds are scheduled to be calm. I hope it stays calm for the sake of the plants, people, animals and machinery.

Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .