Weather forecasts in the 1940s and 1950s were not what they are today. For instance, a few years ago, we had school on Monday and a big winter storm was forecast to move into the Tomah area early Wednesday morning. Before we left school on Monday, school had already been canceled for Wednesday. Mind you, we had school the next day, Tuesday. But like clockwork, a blizzard pounded south central Wisconsin starting at 6 AM on Wednesday.
Such accurate forecasting did not happen when I was a kid. I vividly recall the radio weatherman on the noon news on a Saturday saying, “Tomorrow will be partly cloudy.” Sunday morning we had to shovel six inches of white “partly cloudy” out of the way so we could get to the barn to milk the cows.
If the returning robins were no indication that spring had arrived, other creatures gave us clues. The long, long “V” formation of honking geese heading north into Canada was a good sign. The Scheckel farm was smack in the middle of the Mississippi River flyway. Another sign of spring was the morning doves. We seldom saw them around the farm buildings, but we could hear them. Their mournful cooing in the far distance was unmistakable.
Then the barn swallows would appear. They were graceful flyers. They started building their mud nests clinging to the rafters in the Small Barn. The meadowlarks were seen in the fields. And although they stayed around all winter, the cardinals started singing, which they did not do all winter. Well, I could understand why. Who feels like singing when you’re freezing your feathery fanny?