Snow-Blowing vs. Shoveling

Snow-Blowing vs. Shoveling

Yoopers are no stranger to snow. Many lucky homeowners invest in the snow-blower. The idea: steer it like a lawn mower, walk up and down your driveway a few times, a twist here, a pull there, aim, and blow da snow! Easy, right?

Here are some tips on how to maintain your snow-blower. > Snowblower Maintenance

Is anything really ‘easy’ in two feet of snow? What about the good old fashioned shovel? There are also plenty of snow-plows attached to trucks in the U.P. this time of year. Whiteout storms like this week’s put snow removal techniques to the test. So, which route should you go?

What do you do?

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Snow-blowers require maintenance, gasoline, oil, storage, starting and trouble shooting. Snow plows require a 4×4 truck, and a mechanic to install. Both will put a significant hole in your flannel pocket, $300 -$500 for a blower, and over $1,500 for the plow. The most expensive basic snow-shovel tops out at $54.00, most between $15 and $30.

Shoveling requires some back-breaking brute and enthusiasm, but you can practice your ‘slap-shot’ techniques, and get in a good workout, scooping, throwing, and chucking the snow with a trusty ‘ole shovel. Think of it as Winter Crossfit. There’s something peaceful about shoveling. Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah of the Chicago Tribune compared it to swimming laps, “There was something serene, Zenlike in moving methodically across the asphalt. With flakes falling on your nose, the cold chilling your cheeks, your mind was free to roam in silence.”

That, I understand. I always thought of it like coloring. What did the world do before mechanical snow-throwers? Shoveling was family-time, a team effort. Mom, dad, all the kids got their own shovel and productively played in the winter wonderland of the U.P., together. We may have lost a sense of home style winter recreation with these silly inventions. I have both. This winter, I experimented with both, and I prefer shoveling.

My entire block was hauling these orange monsters up and down their driveways, making all kinds of ruckus, pulling levers and turning knobs, accidentally snagging 300lb machines into snowbanks, spinning wheels over changing terrain, spraying snow over mailboxes, and struggling to maneuver around tight corners and curbs. Whether they knew it or not, it was a race. Arguably, we tied, but there’s better sense of pride after your shovel. I nearly Instagramed a before and after photo.

When you shovel, rarely does one accidentally spray themselves in the face, kick chunks of ice at a window or accidentally go in reverse, straight into your gut. You don’t have to pull off a face mask, ear protectors, or turn off the shovel to hear someone talk to you. You don’t finish smelling like gasoline, or with soaking wet clothes.

Maybe I’m doing it all wrong, but I’d rather shovel.

Not everyone can afford to have a snow-thrower on hand. Is it a luxury? For a suburbanite like me, with a 30ft driveway, yes. I admit, sometimes it can be fun to make 15’ bleach white rainbows over my driveway and yard. But, for the job, as a tool, it’s winter-cross fit, scoop, scoop and throw. Every time I use a snow-blower, I end up shoveling to finish the job anyway.