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May I whine?  If you don’t like complaining, you might want to tune out before you read any further…

Don’t get me wrong.  I love to run, but today’s run was tough.  My run started out like most other days.  I have been running in snowshoes this winter in our pasture to avoid our icy country roads and the dangers that come with it.  I pulled on my snowpants, hat, and gloves; secured the velcro on my facemask; and snapped on my snowshoes.  Out the door I went, over the electric fence and into the pasture covered by a fresh blanket of snow.

Every time we get a fresh snow I need to establish a new path.  Running in 6 inches of snow is more difficult than it may sound.  If you’ve ever run with weights on your ankles, it’s kind of like that, except 10 times harder!  Today I just didn’t feel like blazing a new trail, but had no choice.  As I ran I tried to fill my mind with positive thoughts, but the whining kept creeping in.

Here’s kind of how my inner dialogue sounded:

This fresh air feels good… The wind is freezing my face   My legs are getting stronger… These hills are way too steep  The snow is sparkling like diamonds… This snow is way too deep

As I ran, my snowshoes started to feel really heavy.  I looked back to find my running partner, Hal, running on the backs of my snowshoes.  “Hal, use your own four feet”, I hollered.  Hal, of course, is our 8-month-old border collie.  He loves to run and doesn’t need any help from my snowshoes.

Finally, I found myself climbing the last hill to our backyard.  I made it!  Not every workout is fun.  I find myself breaking my workouts into percentages of pleasure and pain.  Today was definitely heavy on the pain and light on the pleasure, but I know I will be back at it tomorrow.

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The kids decided this would be a great year to host a sledding party with all the snow we’ve gotten in December.  So, we set the date for today and left the weather to chance.  Wouldn’t you know it, it’s raining outside!

A little rain never ruined a sledding party.  The moisture is actually making our backyard hills very slick and icy.  Perfect for going really fast in a sled.  I love watching the kids fly down the hills, laughing the whole way.  I feel it’s so important for the kids to be active and outside.

Along with fun, my kids have had their share of work responsibilities during Christmas break also.  The girls have been working in the sow unit most mornings at 6:00am.  They help with processing pig litters, breeding sows, feeding sows, farrowing sows, and doing laundry.  If they get a day to sleep in, they really appreciate it!

It’s Minnesota.  It’s been snowing.  It’s almost Christmas.  It’s time to shovel off the roof.  This may sound like preparations for Santa, but no, I’m not talking about the roof of our house.  We need to shovel off our hog barn roofs.  And no, Santa doesn’t visit our pigs.

I’ve lost count of how much snow we’ve received so far, but know that we are on the verge of record-breaking snow amounts for our area in December.  Brandon decided today was the day to tackle the enormous job of moving the snow from the roof to the ground.  One of our buildings is the length of a football field, so that gives you an idea of the task at hand.  This morning he rented a  snowblower up in town, got the shovels around, and up on the roof he went.  I asked him how it was decided what staff members stayed inside the barn to work with the pigs and which ones got to bundle up to go outside.  I think the answer had something to do with a short straw.

Our boys, ages 11 and 8, were envious of the employees perched on the roof, so Brandon invited them up to help with the job.  They are still at ages where climbing on the roof is definitely not work.  My only stipulation was no emergency room visits two days before Christmas.  Life on the farm is always interesting.

Winter has not even officially started, yet we’ve had enough snow to make most people ready for it to be over. Cold temperatures and icy winds have added to the mix and we’re already talking about what it takes to be a “hardy Minnesotan”.

What should we do? Well, when you’re 13 year old son asks you to come outside and have a snowball fight, you put on your winter gear and get involved. The snowball fight turned into a “King of the Hill” contest that pitted Adam and Brett against Beth and I. Thanks to the huge snow piles that Dale made from all the snow so far, we had an awesome hill to claim.

Fortunately the boys have enough respect for Beth and I that they don’t use all their strength. I use my “experience” (isn’t that what we say when we get older and less agile?) to try to outsmart them. We try to stop the game before someone gets hurt, which isn’t always easy since Beth always seems to catch a flying boot or knee.

Not everyone has a nice yard or big snow pile to play on. But as the saying goes, life is what you make it. Winter looks like it’s here to stay for a while and we can either try to find some enjoyment out of it or be unhappy. Snowball fight anyone?