The Joy of Plowing (snow)

Since moving to “up-state” New York, we have been blessed with larger volumes of snow, and that in turn also increases the amount of snow that accumulates.  It looks fantastic when it builds up and the kids love the ability to practice their snow sledding skills down the driveway.

Orange County in New York does not, according to some, qualify as being up-state.  For me, it is North of NYC, and above New Jersey, so I’m up-state 🙂

I have to admit, I admire the beauty and silence that the snow brings, especially when we go above the 4-5 inches (10-12 cm for my European metrics followers).

That said, when you have a drive that’s 150ft long with an incline, then clearing a path after the snow has settled becomes a massive workout.  It takes us roughly 2 hours to clear the main driveway and the path up to the house.

We’ve only been “up-state” 5 years, so still pretty new to the snow clearing adventures.  Yes, I’m a Viking and from the Nordic region, but the last time we had this much snow was back in 1979/1980 when Denmark was hit by 2 feet of snow.  Here, we get at least a foot each year, and normally during each snowstorm.

Clearing a foot of snow with shovels and a snowblower is hard and exhausting, despite our snowblower is powerful and has caterpillar tracks instead of wheels.

When I fell ill last October (2018) the doctor ordered me not to engage in any hard labor or physical exercises, to ensure that I made a good recovery.

My dear wife is not able to control the snow blower, so we decided to get a local redneck with a plow to help us clear the driveway.  He owns a banged-up 4×4 truck, a friendly pit-bull, chews tobacco, wears a t-shirt in the storm and listens to proper country music – nice guy nevertheless 🙂

While he was great, we were still relying on his availability and his primary focus was local businesses who had hired him too before he attended residential driveways.  Each visit was about $60, and during some snow storms he showed up 2-3 times.  So, it could easily end up being $150-180 per storm.  As you can see, it all adds up, so clearing snow can be lucrative and expensive.

During the summer and while I was recovering, my wife and I talked at length about what we should do this coming winter.  Do we hire the dude back or do we go back out to get some physical exercise and cardio while clearing snow ourselves?

Honestly, it was a rather quick conversation as my wife quickly said “we are not paying for a guy to plow the driveway, and we are not doing it with physical labor.  We need an alternative”.

Right there, my boyish mind jumped into action.  I’ve always wanted a quad bike or some similar outdoor machinery and cheekily suggested: “we should buy a quad bike with a plow!”.

She did not utter no immediately, which is a very good sign.  Normally, if your better half states firmly no immediately, then you know your idea is not considered a viable solution.  In this case, I had found an opportunity.

I did my research, visited a few places, and narrowed it down to a larger sized quad bike (1000cc) or UTV side-by-side (500cc).  Either would, of course, have a plow mounted, with a suitable outdoor Bluetooth speaker.

Once I showed my wife the options, my SWOT analysis, and accessory options, we opted for the UTV.  Perhaps my SWOT diagram swayed slightly in favor of the UTV, but I do think it is the better choice.

The UTV allows for easy steering (with a wheel), comfortable seats, windshield, roof, automatic gears, remote plow and salter, light LED beams and of course the mandatory excessive Bluetooth speaker.

It was delivered just in time for the first winter storm, and I made the virgin voyage one late afternoon accompanied by Guns ‘n Roses blaring from the speaker with my 9-year-old daughter acting as co-pilot controlling the plow.  Excellent teamwork!

We cleared the driveway down to the blacktop in 20-25 minutes, all while not breaking into a sweat.  In fact, my Apple Watch traced excellent heart rhythm and beats per minute, so no worries about my heart failure kicking back in again.

It’s these little moments of pure joy and happiness that makes gardening and snow plowing fun.  If we cannot live and enjoy life, and the tools that make life simpler, then work becomes a burden.

We get angry and stressed when the slightest snowstorm is approaching, as we contemplate the heavy work that is coming with it.

As Max Lucado shares in his awesome videos, Travel Light, we have to drop the excessive burdens and learn to live – no more anxiety and anger.

Although I do believe Max might not have thought that a UTV will be a suitable method for traveling lighter.

Why am I telling this story?

We need to work smarter, even at home, to manage our inner peace.

We spend many hours in stressful environments, busy jobs, and daily family activities.  It is important that we take time to wind down and find better ways to improve our lives.

Granted, investing in a UTV is perhaps not the wisest approach, but it certainly helped be alleviate anxiety about heaving snow lifting and my heart rate increases too much, and also the challenges I face trying to get my kids involved with snow clearing.

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