Saturday, December 20, 2014

Farm family plows through slushy snow to help cattle, neighbors

By BOBBY BURCH, Herald Staff Writer | 2/26/2013

RANTOUL — Several members of a local farming family assumed the roles of good Samaritans Tuesday as Franklin County was blanketed with its second snowstorm in five days.

As others watched more than six inches of snow pummel the area Tuesday, the Spencer family fired up its trucks and tractors to help others in rural Franklin County.

“The first thing we did was to make sure all our wives could get to work, so our first goal was to get up and get our main road opened up, which is on Ohio Terrance,” Aaron Spencer said Tuesday afternoon while taking a break from plowing snow. “After we hit Rock Creek Road, we went out to check our cattle, and we started blading the county road at that point so we could get down the road easier with our tractors and trucks because the snow drifts were from two foot to three foot, even possibly four foot in some places.”

Aaron Spencer, along with three others in the family, cleared several of their neighbors’ driveways and about nine miles of country roads, he said. After Tuesday’s snowstorm, about 6 inches of snow piled on top of the remaining nine-and-a-half inches of snow that fell last week, according to the Ottawa Water Treatment Plant. Tuesday’s snow, which was largely a wet snow that later turned to slush, brought the total snow accumulation to at least 15 inches in the past five days. More snowfall overnight Tuesday and Wednesday added another 2 inches to that total.

While his family didn’t experience too many problems, Spencer said, the snow Tuesday presented challenges the previous snowstorm did not.

“It’s been a muddy mess,” Aaron Spencer said. “It’s actually been worse than before because at least before the ground was frozen and it easier to blade. But now it’s just a big, muddy mess underneath and it makes everything muddy and you can’t get around anywhere. The ground has really turned into slush.”

The snow arrived at an inopportune time for the family, which had about 140 cattle giving birth to new calves, Aaron Spencer said. To care for the livestock, the Spencers have sheltered their cattle and have provided extra hay and bedding during the calving process, he said.

Despite the their busy schedule, the family took to the streets to help those in the area.

“We covered most the people that we usually help out, especially some of the elderly people and the people that have no equipment,” Spencer said. “We’d go around to help them out anyways.”

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