How weather impacts farm life

Jeff Burbrink

Wow! The first snowfall of the year was a dozy! I imagine a lot of people were not prepared for all the extra work that goes on after a substantial snowfall.

What makes farming different when there is snow on the farm? The same things need to be tended to no matter what the weather brings. Livestock need feed, calves need tending, crops need to be brought in, grain taken to market, machinery needs mending, all in a normal day’s work on a farm.

Except the weather changes everything. Temperatures are colder, so water lines freeze. Snow needs to be moved so traffic can maneuver around the buildings. During major storms, farmers are often the first to clear the roads in a rural neighborhood because the milk truck needs to pick up its load. Manure freezes up and inevitably the scraper does too. And that vital piece of equipment you need right now, well, it is going to break when it’s the coldest.

Farmers, being the generous people they are, often get involved in helping others during snowstorms. Snow-moving equipment works just as well on church parking lots as it does on barn lots. Elderly neighbors appreciate that service, too. School bus drivers are glad we have so many dairies in this community, because the roads are often cleared to make way for the milk hauler. And there is always that person that doesn’t heed the slippery road conditions and slides off into the ditch, right in front of the farmstead.

Farming is not an easy life, and winter does not make it any easier. Having lived most of my life in rural areas, I have gained a healthy respect for those who grow our food, and do much more than that for us. 

Jeff Burbrink is a educator with Purdue Extension Elkhart County. He can be reached at 574-533-0554 or

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