The Last Windrow: Inventor of the snowblower is an unsung hero of winter
A ominous sound came to my frost bitten ears last week. It was just after our area had received another seven inches of white, fluffy snow. The snow lay upon our home's landscape and called to be removed. The grinding, rattling sound came from our 1978 model snowblower.
My wife stuck her head out of the back door of the house to ask me what that horrible noise was. Usually only the humming motor was heard, but not that day. Today the machine and the human being struggling behind it were both looking like they'd weathered over 40 years of removing snow from the homestead.
Hanging on to the vibrating snowblower's handlebars, I got to wondering whoever invented this piece of required north country equipment? You think of things like that as the snowflakes drift down your coat collar and the tips of your fingers start to tingle. I decided to look up the history of this chugging beast.
Want a good trivia question? I found out through much research that the guy who invented the snowblower haled from Montreal. No doubt the extreme snowfalls surrounding that Canadian city inspired this person. His name was Arthur Sicard and he invented the modern snowblower in 1925. He died in 1946, the year of my birth. God bless the man.
My early farm days found us using shovels to make paths to our barns and to the feed yards. We had a tractor loader to clear the wide expanses, but shovels were needed to clear the smaller paths required to get to certain buildings. We moved from the farm in 1970 and I never had the luxury of piloting a snowblower anywhere on the farm.
But, one of the first purchases my family made after moving to northern Minnesota was a snowblower. I found it actually to be rather fun to be able to clear the sidewalks and paths to the woodshed with this contraption. Deep snow could actually be enjoyable to remove with a device that blasted snow into the air and away from the garage doors. It was a magical moment.
It seems that Sicard used his past experience with threshing machines to get his snowblower idea. Anyone who has been around a threshing machine will remember the large spout that blew straw from the machine. That blowing action from the thresher gave Sicard the initial idea of putting a machine together that would blow snow away from farm lanes allowing the farmers to reach their livestock much faster than using a human and a shovel. And so he is attributed to being the inventor. God bless him.
But, my personal 40 year old snowblower is showing its age, just like me. Where I used to trot behind the machine in third gear, now I'm down to first. Where I used to pride myself in clearing our property in an hour, now I take two days. The tires on my snowblower are a little thinner, just like the hair on my head, and once in awhile it backfires, and well, let's just say I had beans for supper last night.
The growling, grinding sound that was emitted from our snowblower last week is the result of, I'm afraid, a fried main bearing. I've looked up the problem on the internet and found that I could possibly repair it, but it was suggested that taking it to a repair shop with special tools might be wise. I'm always up for wisdom.
I'm just hoping my snowblower will hang together to get through this past snowfall. If I can limp the machine to spring, I will truck it over to my favorite mechanic and hope he will take mercy on my billfold.
How long it is to spring? God bless Arthur Sicard. An unsung hero of winter.
See you next time. Okay?