The blizzard of í92 is hard to forget. Itís not to be mistaken with the blizzard of í96 where
it was a warm 36 degrees Fahrenheit and the snow started falling like wet, solid rain. That
stuff stuck to everything. Thin electric fence lines collapsed under the weight of snow
sticking to it. Thatís not the only thing that collapsed. Scrub pine trees were falling over
from the weight of the snow and their weak root system. They just happened to be falling
over in roads, on power lines, on houses. Lee was cutting a tree off of one of our electric
fences and a pine silently fell behind him and landed right beside him. Missed him by
Soon the power and the telephones were out all over the area from pine trees falling on the
lines, people had to carry chain saws in their cars and trucks to travel the roads to clean off
the pine trees. You just never knew when they were going to fall.
The snow continued until it was so deep that it reached above your knees. Iím tall and it
was well above my knees. The goats refused to leave their buildings and patiently waited
for us to walk a good distance to get to their barns and out buildings to haul them water and
hay. I remember falling down on one of those trips to the goat barn and having to dive
under snow to find the ground to push myself back upright. Talk about a weird experience.
With the electric out we didnít have a generator to run the pump for water. So we melted
snow near our wood stove. You know one of those tall white bakery buckets? Fill that full
with snow, pack it in, sit it by the wood stove and it would melt down to about 4 inches of
Our road was so deep in snow and fallen pine trees that it took a week for the state road to
make it through using a bulldozer. We worked from daylight to dark just melting water,
hauling in firewood to keep the stoves going, and taking care of animals. And then, it turned
cold. Cold enough to completely freeze the Ohio River, and thatís a big river to freeze.
People were walking on the Ohio River carrying axes to help chop out the geese and ducks
whoís feet had got caught and frozen in the river. Sometime Iíll have to tell you about the
blizzard of í96, but this is about the blizzard of í92.
Now the blizzard of í92 started on a Saturday in late November. I had just had an episode
with my heart; this was before the heart surgery that corrected that defect, with it racing
over 220 times a minute for a couple of hours. It had corrected itself (back then it did, later
it didnít even try) and I was lying on the couch resting. Lee had been out all morning
We had only a few goats then. We kept several wethers on one side of the hill and kept a
few does on the other side. About 2 p.m. it started getting dark and then a boatload of
snow started falling. Big, monster flakes that blocked out the light. Lee came in to say that
all the wethers had made it back to their shelter, except Sonny.
Sonny was a big gentle Nubian wether. He had the kindest disposition of any goat Iíd ever
met, then or now. He tended to have seizures. We never could figure it out, but his eyes
would roll back and heíd fall over with a few minutes of convulsions. He only had them
once in a while, but since he didnít make it back off the hill with this bad weather
happening, Lee figured he was down, somewhere up in the hills. Lee came to get two of
our dogs to help him find Sonny.
Jenny and Chester had been in the backyard while Lee cut firewood. He was afraid heíd
fall a tree on them and had left them behind. They were ready for a run and a good snoop
through the hills. Two hours later and getting darker Lee and the dogs still hadnít shown
up. I got off the couch, hunted up two flashlights, put on my coat and boots and headed
out the door with our other dog, Katie.
Katie was a Doberman with a thyroid condition. She froze all the time. I had to bundle her
up in one of my sweatshirts, held in place with a big diaper pen, before she could go out.
She was tired of being cooped up in the house. This was going to be fun! Her thyroid pills
gave her plenty of energy, didnít help too much with the freezing.
I waded through deep snow to the hill while Katie bounded ahead of me. I was bellering
Leeís name as I went, using my best opera voice. I could have made it in the opera if only
I could sing. When I want my voice to be heard, itís heard! Lee shouted back farther up
the hill. Traveling up to him was treacherous because the snow hid a lot of deep narrow
ravines. One minute you are on solid ground, the next you disappear down a hole.
Lee still hadnít found Sonny. I handed him a flashlight and he took a dog and I took a dog
and Katie sort of flopped and floundered in the snow, having a wonderful time. Jenny was
the one who found Sonny. He was lying on his side with his head up, but unable to move.
We cleaned the snow off him because he was almost drowning in the deep snow and
discussed how to get him down the hill over really rough terrain. No way we could get the
tractor and wagon up this steep hill. We didnít have a sled to put him on and slide him
down. Lee came up with the idea that since the snow was so deep, rocks wouldnít hurt and
he could get hold of the big wetherís collar and slide him along the top of the snow on his
I went ahead with my flashlight because it was completely dark now and picked the path.
Leeís flashlight went out first. We had come to a deep ravine with a narrow strip of a path
across it at its mouth that deer used as a trail. I pointed it out to Lee and suggested we go
higher and find a better place to cross. He studied it and looked down at the wether he had
been sliding along behind him. Sonny was shivering from being wet and in the cold so long.
Lee told me to go first and then turn the flashlight on the path for him and Sonny. I
scrabbled across the steep hillside, holding onto small trees to keep from sliding down into
the ravine. It was difficult to cross while using both hands, I didnít see how Lee could do it
while sliding a goat behind him and only having one free hand to snatch at small trees.
The snow was coming down so heavy the flashlightís beam only went a few feet. Lee
insisted on still trying it to get Sonny in out of the storm quicker. I said, "Let me think
about it. Okay."
Lee started cautiously across, but Sonny slid at an angle knocking Lee off balance and
down Lee slid into the deep ravine. He had turned loose of Sonnyís collar and Sonny was
quickly sliding down behind Lee. I grabbed hold of a small tree, leaned out over the ravine
and made a quick decision. I snagged the goatís collar as he slid quickly past me and held
I figured Lee would have a nice little slide down the hill since everything was deeply
covered in snow and just have a sudden stop below with the help of a friendly tree. He
would fair better then the paralyze goat.
With one arm I grunted and tugged and the little tree held that I was holding to, and got that
goat up to my side and just held my place there. The dogs thought Lee was onto a bit of
fun and had gone racing after him down the ravine, having a wonderful time. Later I heard
puffing and grunting as he dragged himself back up the steep hill, using small trees as hand
holds. He congratulated me on my quick thinking.
My flashlight went out and it took another half-hour to finish sliding the big wether down
off that hill and to sloping ground the tractor could handle. I stayed with the goat and Lee
went to get the tractor and wagon. He was back in twenty minutes and we carefully loaded
Sonny in the wagon, all of us soaking wet from the snow. We put Sonny in a stall with a
Later Lee rigged up a sling to stand Sonny in. The goat was paralyzed but had a good
appetite. We figured he had a seizure and fell down the steep hill, hurting himself. After a
couple of weeks Sonny was okay. He had a funny little twist to his neck and we never let
him go on the steep hills again. He became our kid setter when we were weaning kids. He
took care of his kids, never hitting them, sharing his food, always the leader and taking
them to shelter when it rained. He took good care of his kids.
A couple of years later his seizures became so frequent we had to put him down. No
wether was ever missed as much by us and the kids he took such good care of, and the
blizzard of í92 is permanently etched into our brains because of saving a brave and gentle