I took the thick post and struck the two inches thick frozen water. The ice cracked and I pulled the post up and it came down again with a resounding thud, then a splash as shards of ice scattered across the surface of the water.

There is something about breaking ice outside that connects me with my yesterday. I can almost hear the same noise as grand mama broke ice for the pig to have a drink. Farming means you have to make sure that all the animals around you can get fresh water even when there is freezing weather.

I let the chickens out of the house and amidst the flurry of feathers the warmth from them being inside the house together came out to greet me. The pungent smell of the hay and chicken manure greeted my nose as I stepped over to the nest boxes to fluff the hay for the day.

I’ve learned that my gals like to make their own little circle of comfort so I try to remember to fluff up their nests every day or so and put more hay in there for them to throw out.

As I grinned at their antics in the yard jockying for the best place at the food troughs, squawking when someone pecked them a little too hard and in general playing ring around the yard running to another place to eat, my mind wandered to the Spears, who established this Magnolia Plantation and others like them who survived in this county during cold winters and hot summers.

Theirs was a harder life than I could ever imagine. Their livelihood depended on feeding the chickens, cows and pigs every day and making sure they were sheltered. They couldn’t just let the farm work slip by because that was the food for their table and the clothes for their back. I was very grateful they did not give up and gave those of us who walk behind them a place that we can call home.

I reckon I’ve been thinking about hard times after cold weather because we just marked another year after one of the most devastating ice storms this area and well nigh most of the entire state has ever had. The ice storm that came February 10, 1994.

I looked at some of the pictures David Helms and Mark Brock took during that time and realized once again just how devastating it was. But even as hard as that one was, I wrote a story the next week about the ice storm of 1951 which was even worse than that one because the temperatures went to below zero and the ice stayed on the ground for some 12 days. Can you imagine that? The folks who survived that one had to break the ice three times a day to let their livestock have some water to drink. B-r-r-r-r-r-r-r. It makes my feet cold to think about it.

So, here lately I have been welcoming the warming effect the sunshine has on my face, and grateful that we aren’t paralyzed with ice.  But I wouldn’t mind a little three inch snow. Just don’t tell my dear editor I said that.

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