The Art of Snow Removal

Sunday night and yesterday we were in a winter weather advisory and got 4 inches of snow that blew around and actually drifted. People assume that because we live in ND, we must have scads of snow all winter. In our part of the state we are semi-arid the best of times, and since we are currently in a drought, our snow fall has been negligible. Our snow is typically light and dry.

There are times when snow removal is necessary, though, and this recent snowfall was one of them. Husband went manfully out into the bitter cold yesterday afternoon and attacked the drifts in the driveway and between the garage and the front steps using three of the five snow shovels he has in our garage. They differ in the volume and weight of snow that can be thrown from the particular shovel. You can see them lined up in order from least to greatest volume in the header photo. He insists his numerous shovels and judicious selection of shovel to weight and volume of snow is ergonomically sound and the reason he has not had a serious injury or heart attack clearing the snow. He has not succumbed to the lure of the Dakota Roller, a shovel with wheels.

When I clear snow, I grab whatever shovel I can find and push the snow around to where I want it. Tossing the snow seems like too much work. I sort of share the philosophy of our municipal street department. If it isn’t too deep to drive through, why bother with it? It is going to melt by the middle of May.

How many snow shovels do you own? What is your philosophy of snow removal? Do you drive through through drifts and puddles just for the fun of it?

50 thoughts on “The Art of Snow Removal”

    1. But what about the hurricanes, snakes, alligators, and rising water? Do those replace snow as aggravations? Some of those things really are aversive to me—more than snow.

      Liked by 4 people

  1. Two that I use: a pusher and a scooper. One or two are old backups that have no ergonomic value at all. After that, hello, snowblower. Especially in March.

    If more than two inches is expected and I can be around the house, I’ll try to shovel in stages. Get the first inch or two, wait for an hour or so, then get the next inch or two, etc. That assumes fluffy shovelable snow. If it’s wet and heavy, I do it at the end with the snowblower.

    I figure shoveling small amounts on my driveway is 15 -20 minutes of exercise each time. So if I can shovel 2 or 3 times a day, I don’t need to hit the treadmill or weight machines. 🙂

    Drifts and puddles? Not usually.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Currently zero shovels as I rent. Not even a shovel in the car because if I’m stuck, everyone else is stuck. There will be nowhere to go. When I had a shovel, I preferred the aluminum grain shovel. Gotta throw that stuff!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Do you have sidewalks, Renee? The front sidewalk is the only reason I shoved just a couple of inches, so no one can sue use if they slip and fall. I used to even shovel a path through the grass for the mail carrier because they walk there anyway, and in Robbinsdale there were two steps up the rock wall…

    We have two regular shovels, rounded shape, and one ergonomic one that is unwieldy for me. If it’s not a blizzard wind, I don’t mind shoveling the light stuff and, like Chris, actually like it for the exercise. The wet heavy stuff we try to do in stages, not all at once. Husband does the driveway and the back, I do the front and (sometimes) side. And some kind soul from the next block comes if it’s really deep and does our end of the alley.

    I drive through as little snow as possible, because it builds up around the wheels, then drops on the garage floor and has to be moved out to prevent a lake in the garage.

    Looks like we’ll be shoveling later today.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I have two or three snow shovels but usually end up using the same one. I have a snow blower too, but only get it out once or twice a winter when we get more than about six inches of snow in a single snowfall. Otherwise it’s more bother than it’s worth and when I do get it out, I clear the sidewalk all up and down my side of the block, just to make it worthwhile.

    The one time we got such a snowfall this winter, the snowblower wouldn’t start. It’s about 20 years old and I use it so seldom that I don’t give it much attention. I got it when we had a much bigger driveway at another house and I was also taking it over to clear my parent’s driveway. Later,I replaced the spark plug and it started right up.

    I like to clear even minor snows from the front walk. If you don’t, the foot traffic compresses the snow and it turns into ice.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I rent, so I don’t need to shovel, but I still have the metal shovel that I kept in the back of my dear old Civic. That shovel was one of my dad’s; he had a variety of shovels as befits a man of his generation (one of them might even have come from the family farm, it looked old enough). The snow shovel may never get used again, but it’s comforting to have it just in case. I was in my landlady’s car last weekend to do a grocery run, and noticed that she also has a snow shovel in the back of her car. The house shovel is a big black plastic one; I usually don’t care for plastic versions of things that used to be made of metal or wood, but maybe snow slides off plastic better than it does off metal?

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Rise and Dig Out, Baboons,

    In December, during a heavy, wet snow, our snowblower gave up the ghost after 25 years. We bought it new when we bought the house. So, we got out our two snow shovels and the metal grain shovel, and went at the snow until our neighbor across the street took pity upon us, brought his snowblower over, and dispatched the snow. Thank you Tony. Then we bought a new snowblower.

    Right now our 16 year old neighbor clears the snow from the driveway and sidewalk, as well as the entry to our house, so he makes money on it. I usually do not drive through snow banks for the fun of it. I have been stuck too many times for this to be a form of fun. However, a few years ago when I was teaching my friend’s daughter to drive, there was a beautiful 2 inch dry snow. So we took the car to the school parking lot and did wheelies. At first she thought it was just for fun. Then I taught her to steer out of a slick skid, a skill every Midwest driver must possess. And it was fun, too.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I was born and grew up in Los Angeles, where snow stays on the nearby mountains. If you want that kind of misery, you’re welcome to drive up there. I spent my adult decades in Taiwan where the snow situation is akin to Los Angeles, but there’s even less of it. I retired to Michigan 4 winters ago, and am learning about this stuff. We own 3 snow shovels, but the D-handle on one of them broke, so it doesn’t count. I also have a corded electric snow blower which I finally (this year) began to understand about how to use. The garage is behind the house. 135 feet of cord gets me all the way to the street. It hasn’t been spectacular, but adequately takes care of most of what falls and collects. Shovels are secondary tools.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Snow shovels are like hammers; you gotta have one of every kind.
    My favorites now are the ‘snow plow’ brands; fiberglass handles, poly blades. We have two different widths. These are ‘pusher’ models. Then there are the scooper ones. and you need a good metal edge on something for scraping. And I have one of the narrower old coal shovels for the steps; works great on the stone steps.
    At the college, I have a loading dock outside the theater, maybe 25′ long and 6′ deep. It’s just the right size for a little exercise. On rare occasions (like the east wind today) I’ll get a heck of a drift up there. Then it’s not so fun.
    Lately, on the real light stuff we’ve started using leaf blowers. And in an ‘all-around’ way, leave blowers might be my new favorite shop tool! Cordless Milwaukee brand blowers; i have two of them. One in the house for use on the deck to clear leaves or grass, and one in the shop for cleaning off machinery, lawn mowers, dust, whatever. They’re great tools!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Maybe on the farm you need a variety of shovels but here in the city one decent one will do the job. It’s not rocket science.

      I hesitate to use the snow blower unless it’s really necessary, and that would apply to any other motorized contraption, because I am sensitive to the racket they make, especially on those mornings when an ample snowfall has hushed the neighborhood.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I bet your neighbors forgive you for the noise when you’re plowing their sidewalks, but I hear ya.

        Parkey, our late neighbor, the one with the Virgin Mary in the bath tub, would use his leaf blower for hours early in the day, simply out of boredom, I’m convinced. That and possibly the idea that he knew it bugged us. That high pitched whine of the leaf blowers really sets my teeth on edge.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Our neighbor next door is an intern at Children’s Hospital and some of her shifts are night shifts but I never know when, so I never know when she’s sleeping.

          Liked by 2 people

  9. I have a collapsible shovel in the back of my car, just in case. I have an ergonomic type of snow shovel in the garage for the driveway and the steps. I like using that one the best. My low back hurts often and I’d rather avoid injury so I use that one. I have a traditional snow shovel up on the deck. I like to sweep or push the snow off the deck down onto the driveway before the company comes to shovel us out. They’re hired by our HOA to come and clear the snow. I try to get the deck done before they come. They don’t do a great job and don’t plow edge to edge. They zoom around on little skidder things and push the snow into huge mountains for kids to climb and slide down. Unfortunately, I frequently have to wait a day before they come to do the front steps. Sometimes they don’t do the steps at all, so it’s nice to be able to shovel them off myself. I like to clean up the edges of the driveway and make sure the steps are cleared completely. I take Pippin out during the night a lot, and I don’t like it when ice builds up on the stairs or driveway. Like Ben, when the snow is light and fluffy, I like to use a leaf blower and/or just sweep it with a push broom. Those leaf blowers really come in handy. Mine is a small, corded one that I bought at a garage sale. I’m really fortunate to have a south-facing view here. The driveway melts off quickly if you get the snow off of it and the sun comes out. The deck here heats up a lot too and if I keep it swept off, it stays pretty dry. Super hot in the summer though!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. For the first twenty-seven years of our marriage, I did the lion’s share of both snow shoveling, grass mowing, and gardening. Husband’s work was physical, mine was more sedentary, so it made sense and felt good for me to get out there and get some exercise. Then back troubles began getting in the way, and since my fall in February 2012, I’ve pretty much been useless in both the snow shoveling and gardening department. I’m now completely at husband’s mercy as to when snow gets shoveled. We have two snow blowers, one small, and one big one. We also have an assortment of more or less scientifically curated snow shovels. (Hope you appreciate how I snuck in the currently trendy use of a the word curate.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I was going to ask, “Curate is a trendy word? When did that happen? I need to get out more.” But just now I got an email from BookBub: “New Releases Curated Just For You”.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. They’re curating everything these days, from Valentine’s Day playlists; to reading lists; to all kinds of mundane commodities. In current lingo, Chris’ selection of pepper seeds qualifies as curated. Makes it sound more important, I guess. My prediction is that curate is going the way of awesome; soon it will have lost all meaning in the original sense. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go curate the pillows on my couch.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Could you please quit using all of these fancy words that have me constantly consulting my dictionary?

          Next baboon assignment: Curate a list of words that need a broader definition so they can be more widely used, and perhaps in the process lose all meaning. Extra points for five letter words.

          Liked by 5 people

        2. I’d not be surprised if a significant number of Americans wouldn’t have a clue what pejorative means, let alone be able to use it correctly in a sentence. That said, they know plenty of them.

          Liked by 2 people

  11. The snow accumulation here—4 or 5 inches—being modest, I opted not to get out the snow blower and cleared the steps, the sidewalks and the driveway by hand. In an act of abject recklessness, I did it all with the same shovel.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. My neighbors have chipped in on the snow removal. My own efforts were accomplished with a simple snow shovel with that weird angular handle, supposedly ergonomic. Tomorrow I’ll go out and tackle those plow ridges that the snowplow leaves when it sails past.


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