I was thinking about the chores remaining to get ready for winter one day as I walked along Wildcat Boulevard. I had finished some tasks, but still had a few to do like cover the attic fan and the air conditioner.
Finishing those chores that afternoon made me feel good, and even better the next day when the first snowstorm of the winter blew into town.
Getting a farmstead ready for winter in Minnesota when I was a kid took much more preparation. The old farmhouse was cold. We had learned that much of the coldness came from the wind blowing in and around the basement foundation.
To alleviate this cold, we wrapped a roll of tar paper around the house and held it in place with straw bales and wooden cleats. This was an eyesore, but it certainly helped the house keep warmer.
Of course, we had placed water heater in all the tanks the farm animals drank from. The big cow tank was kept from freezing with a fuel oil heater. Constructed of heavy six-inch pipe, it sat down in the water. A fire was started in the bottom of the pipe, and a container of fuel oil dripped down from above, giving steady fire to heat the water.
You knew the cow tank heater was doing its job when steam started coming from the water. Cattle drank more water when it was warm. We milked cows, so drinking lots of water meant more milk in the bucket.
Some places have winter preparations we would never think of. For example, about half of the shipping guides (beacons, day markers, fog signals, etc.) in the Great Lakes are retrieved early each winter.
All together, there are nearly 2,700 navigational devices in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway System. Retrieving takes a little over two months each fall. Then the devices must be replaced each spring to prepare for the shipping season.
With the delay in building the Keystone Oil Pipeline, more crude oil is moved through the Duluth/Superior Minnesota shipping points. There it is taken by sea-going ships to refineries in the South. The heavy traffic requires many guidance devices.
Take a walk, hopefully you were prepared for winter, drive carefully on icy roads, and see what you notice while passing along Wildcat Boulevard.
Russell Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.