Dark Days of Winter Without the Holiday Glitter

Western Ag Vignettes

January has the harsh reputation of the wake month.

Published on: January 28, 2014

No way around it. January is a bad month. It has the task of being the wake after the holidays when we have to address another year.

That's hard with short, dark and cold days for the West. Record low temperatures in Montana don't help folks there see the silver lining of much of anything. The pretty snow simply becomes a nuisance as we come to the realization there are a couple more months of short winter days.

Yet, as the days begin to lengthen, we have the first glimpse of spring and that gives us reason to face our mundane chores.

I particularly dislike the winter because it seems that due to the early darkness, each day ends quicker. I know that's an illusion, and that I would go bananas in Alaska, but my body clock seems to tick down faster when the sun sets. Something to do with psychology, I know, but nevertheless I hate short cold days.

I know I become less productive in the winter. Is that normal? It seems harder to go about my normal personal chores after finishing my work day at about 4:30. We eat soon after that, and then the sky is dark. No way to work in the yard, but even keeping busy with household  jobs is harder.

Maybe this is just laziness (some of it is), but usually I am considered to be an energetic person always involved in this task or that  job. I winter, I  spend more time watching TV or playing on my I-Pad.

Of course, this isn't the way my farmer and rancher readers act at this time of the year. There're plenty of demands, particularly with livestock. And, dairymen never get a break. On the farm, equipment must be repaired and plans must be worked up for this year's seedings.

I guess I have the luxury of winter rest, and perhaps I should simply be thankful for that. Yet, boredom can set in, and too much time is simply wasted – not something I am proud to admit.

On the other hand, spending all that time in the family room with the grandkids and our daughter is pretty nice, Sally and I agree. Seems like there is some kind of rare connection made when so much time is spent reading, playing with computers, watching TV and messing with the dog in the winter. In the warmer seasons, it seems like more of us are gone in different directions. There is less connection as the family spreads its spring wings.

Perhaps cabin fever has a good side after all, and maybe I should just enjoy the ambiance rather than regretting the loss of  long days.

Maybe I should spend more time worrying about the fact western snowpacks aren't up to snuff, and outlooks for August water are not optimistic.

After all, winter's job is to bring moisture. Without performing that vital task, we're only left with short, dark and cold days.

C'mon winter, do your stuff!