The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

The Wisdom Of Barnyard Bruke: "THE WINTER OF THE DEEP SNOW"

"Greetings to everyone in western Illinois.

Lots of folk talk about the "blizzard" last week.

To some purists it was not a "blizzard" because it was not accompanied by zero or colder weather for several days. It was not a part of a consistently cold winter.

Purists or not, me and the boys are a call'n it a blizzard because that's what it seemed like to us.

There was a feller over east by Kernan, IL that got stuck in a snowdrift one mile from home.

He took off on foot to make it home. They found him two hundred yards from his car, froze to death.

Oddly enough, he died about three or four miles from the spot a lady died involved in a car wreck that walked for home, while she lost her shoes and was walk'n barefoot and in a dress in the blizzard last December.

She made it over one mile before she froze to death. It wasn't until late in January that anyone found her frozen body.

It would be well this time of year to dress in warm clothing or at least have it available in the car.

A warm hat, scarf, gloves, and boots would help also. Many folk dress too lightly to be walk'n out in deep snow, in a powerful strong wind, with no boots or gloves on.

Both of the aforementioned deaths happened to relatively young folk in their 40's who misjudged the possible consequences of severe weather. Don't you be one of them!

I heard a story in the coffee shop of a farm family up north. They said Dudley Ricketts' six year old son, up north, had a cow that had a calf dure'n the latest blizzard. They put it in a "hot box" and its do'in well. Talk is the boy is go'n to name the calf "Blizzard".

West of La Harpe someone got stuck in a snowdrift and spun his tires until he peeled the rubber off. I reckon that'll be an expensive lesson.

Many farmers go'n about their chores the next morn'n after the storm found cars stuck in a drift from the night before with passengers remain'n safely in their vehicles.

With todays front wheel drive chore'n tractors they were able to be pulled out and traveled safely on their way.

Another farmer in Hancock County found a young calf stuck in a bale of hay, tryin' to keep warm I suppose. The calf ended up injurin' his leg so badly they are not sure if he'll make it. It was a $600 calf. Keepin' animals warm and fed and gates free of snow and ice is a real challenge as well as keeping yourself warm in these sub-zero temperatures of the last couple of days.

Let me tell you of a "real blizzard" that happened on December 10th, 1830 in Illinois around these parts.

On December 10, 1830, four inches of snow fell, and on December 29th, two and a half feet of snow fell in a quiet calm, until it lay evenly all across the land.

A gale followed which piled drifts three feet high.

On January 5, 1831, another big snowstorm dropped snow to make it about five feet and in some areas six feet deep on the level prairie.

When the snow ended, a cold rain fell which quickly turned to sleet, effectively covering everything with an armor of ice several inches thick.

The clouds passed and the wind came down from the northwest with extraordinary ferocity. Came loose out'a the Dakota's from Canada I suppose.

It was a steady fierce gale all day and night, the air was filled with fly'n snow which blinded the eyes and almost stopped the breath of anyone who attempted to face it.

From December 10th to February 25th, the temperature never rose above freeze'n and sometimes dropped to twenty degrees below zero.

It was not safe for a man to travel in those conditions. His horse could make no progress but only floundered in the snow.

Had a man risked to travel, he would have been lost quickly in that white world, for all landmarks were distorted or hidden by the immensity and depth of all that unbelievable snow.

Pioneers huddled in their cabins and many froze to death.

Wildlife was almost eliminated in the severe weather. Wolves ran the starv'in deer for they could run on top of the snow, while the deer, with their sharp hooves, cut into the crust and were hobbled by the icy armor plate.

Several men told of chopping trees down for use as firewood, and as they chopped, desperately hungry deer would feed on the top branches of the downed tree.

The deer were so emancipated from starvation as to render their meat unfit to eat. Next spring tree stumps that were cut off level with the snow stood six and seven feet tall, proof, of the snow depths.

Thousands of wolves perished and it is said that storm finished off most of the wolf population in northern Illinois. When the snow eventually disappeared the wolves were skinned by the settlers and their skins made into robes and fur coats.

Large numbers of Buffalo died off in the northern part of Warren County, and it was said that winter finished off the Buffalo east of the Mississippi River. Large piles of their bleached bones lay on the prairie for years afterward where they had congregated for a last futile refuge. There is a knoll near an old one-room school house southwest of Kirkwood where for years the school children played with and collected the white piled up bones of the buffalo.

A late spring, followed by an early killing frost in September, created a scarcity of grain for food. Wildlife was gone from the winter before.

Upstate Illinois learned that southern Illinois had a plentiful supply of corn. As a result the crude roads to southern Illinois were filled with caravans of wagons of all sort. There to buy precious grain at a reasonable price.

Many folk saw the similarity of this situation to that of the famine in Canaan, described in Genesis of the Old Testament. That famine caused the Israeli people to go to Egypt to buy corn from Joseph. Also, the converge of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers had similarities.

The caravans rolled slowly southward with the common reply to questions that they "were going to Egypt to buy corn". From that time on, southern Illinois has been called "Little Egypt". Even Southern Illinois University has the Egyptian dog "The Saluki" as its mascot.

Maybe next week I'll tell you more of the winter of the "Deep Snow" Anyways, keep warm!

Keep on Smile'n

Catch ya Later

Barnyard Bruke