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*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

This Weekend

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I’ve run out of things to say about this record-setting string of February snow storms. I refer you to my favorite weather blog, MPR’s Updraft, for a description of the next wave expected to dictate my weekend activities.

This efficient snow producer comes with wind this time. Blowing and drifting snow will be an issue Saturday night and Sunday. Warnings run all the way to the Mexico border in southeast Arizona.

https://blogs.mprnews.org/updraft/2019/02/two-act-snow-system-for-minnesota-this-weekend

NOAA

Last night, I re-plowed the drifted edges of the driveway to open it back to full width, and cleaned up the snow rubble left by the township plow, in preparation for doing it all again on Saturday.

While I was down by the road, I re-attached our mailbox that had been blown off its base for the umpteenth time by the powerful snow wash that rolls off that big plow blade.

I wish my little replica blade on the ATV could throw snow like that beast can. Would it hurt him to slow down some as he reaches my driveway, to take some of the oomph out of that blast of snow?

Apparently, it would. He shows me no mercy.

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Written by johnwhays

February 22, 2019 at 7:00 am

Best Part

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I might be putting my “great-north-winter-lover” membership in jeopardy, but the best part of my day yesterday was the six minutes when it almost stopped snowing. That pressing feeling of concern over whether the roof tops of all our buildings will cope, how we will ever get our paths cleared again, and if the Grizzly ATV and its aging plow blade will endure the abuse I’ve been putting them through, lifted just long enough to allow some precious moments of relief.

Then it was back to the harsh reality of plowing and shoveling snow up against piles that are already so tall that we are barely able to add to them, while new flakes quickly covered up the progress being made.

Walking Delilah anywhere other than on the driveway now requires snowshoes. Even then, the blowing snow has filled in many of our previous paths to the point of oblivion, and I had to abort a plan of trekking around the outside of the hayfield, because it was too much work fording the deep snow.

Since Delilah breaks trail out in front of me, she was more than happy with my call to bring her back to retrace our steps toward the house. At one point, she picked up a scent of interest just off to the side, and I paused to see what she would do.

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One step into the depths was as far as she got. Apparently the smell wasn’t worth further effort.

It’s official. This is now the snowiest February since the weather watchers started keeping records. Why stop here? Might as well make a run at most snow in any month. We are told there is another snow system taking aim for us this weekend.

I can’t imagine what we are going to get when March arrives. Historically, that is when the biggest snow dumps used to occur. Maybe the shifting global climate has moved that phenomena up a month.

We can only hope.

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Written by johnwhays

February 21, 2019 at 7:00 am

My Day

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Honestly, I never seriously thought I would one day be telling stories about how different things were, back in my day. That’s something old people do.

Last night, there was a news ticker across the bottom of the tv screen announcing school closings for today. At that point, not a single flake had wafted down out of the sky. How does that work?

When I was in school, if we woke up in the morning with mounds of snow covering everything, we would immediately turn on the local radio broadcast and listen for our school to be named in the list of closings. Superintendents waited until the last-minute to announce their decision. We never knew the night before.

Nowadays, kids know before they even go to sleep. They have no idea how easy they have it.

Have winter storm forecasts become so much more reliable that school officials trust them that much farther in advance?

This is what was posted yesterday as NOAA‘s model of what today’s storm would look like:

That was enough for me to throw in the towel on driving the long distance across the entire Twin Cities today.

If we end up with nine inches of snow by the end of the day, it’ll be another feather in the cap of present-day meteorology, for accuracy of their storm modeling.

And, I will feel justified to have voluntarily missed another mid-week shift at the day-job, avoiding the hazards of two rush-hour commutes during a snow event.

If the snow accumulation doesn’t measure up, I’ll be reminded of the old days, when we never knew how much snow we were going to get, until it had actually fallen.

 

 

 

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Written by johnwhays

February 20, 2019 at 7:00 am

Forward

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

February 19, 2019 at 7:00 am

Normal Returns

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Yesterday afternoon’s visit to the barn provided a return to normalcy. Apparently, Cayenne learned whatever it was the other two were trying to convey earlier in the morning, and she was again back in front of the line-up for pans of nutrition pellets.

With the endless mosquito-like buzzing of snowmobilers annoyingly goosing their engines in short staccato bursts (do they understand how engines work?) as they motor past our property on the marked trail, the horses have figured out how to act as if everything is fine and this is the way life should be.

Personally, I prefer the calm and quiet of the months when there was nothing but ice covering the ground, despite the scary challenge it presented for trying to walk anywhere. The snow machines remained parked in storage until about three weeks ago.

The chickens responded to the moderated afternoon temperatures with a (lately) rare excursion out of the coop. At this point, I think all of them are showing signs of some frostbite on their wattles and combs, but we have yet to witness any problems arising as a result. Time will tell.

They were happy to help clean up after Hunter beneath the hay bag where he was dining.

The 7-Day weather forecast for our region tosses in a likelihood of more snow, but at least the temperatures don’t look scary for frostbite. After days of the biting harshness from 35°F below zero temps, normal days seem like a cinch.

It’s refreshing to have the chickens voluntarily out-and-about on a reasonable winter day.

It helped provide a welcome bit of normalcy to our Sunday.

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Written by johnwhays

February 18, 2019 at 7:00 am

New Behavior

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We never know what we will find when heading down to the barn each morning. In the last few days, in a new twist, the horses have taken to hanging out beneath the willow tree located in the smaller paddock. As a result, we weren’t all that surprised to find Hunter and Cayenne parked there this morning as we approached, walking Delilah.

By the time we returned from a loop around the north pasture through the deep snow, Hunter had moved up under the overhang with Dezirea, but Cayenne remained under the tree.

While Cyndie was busy in the barn, preparing their servings of breakfast, I rolled a wheelbarrow out to clean up the frozen manure. The horses know this routine, and tend to step up in anticipation of pending food service. As I was raking, I sensed movement and looked up to find Dezirea energetically driving Cayenne down the slope, back toward that willow tree.

Not just once. Over, and over. I counted at least six times that Cayenne moved up and Dezirea pushed her back down, sometimes, way down, taking extra strides to ensure Cayenne got the message.

I have no idea what led to this very clear message. What could have gone on last night that led to this repeated “beat down” of Cayenne? Was it something she did? Something she didn’t do?

It’s a new behavior, in distinct contrast to previous activity among the three.

We will be watching with interest to see what the days ahead may reveal.

 

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Written by johnwhays

February 17, 2019 at 10:33 am

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Evolving Perspective

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I do it every year. At the beginning of the snow season, when I plow and shovel snow, I take great care to maintain order. On the gravel, I lift the blade to avoid pushing rocks far into the grass, in hope of saving my mower blades extra abuse in the summer.

By the house, I pile the snow away from the swinging bench and brush the snow off the seat to create an inviting place to sit and watch the activities of birds and squirrels.

There is a reason for every decision, and order abounds.

By February, the importance of those decisions has shifted significantly, and the new focus is on moving snow at any cost. The rocks are an unfortunate consequence of the newer priority of just getting this snow out-of-the-way. The bench becomes a place to store snow, not a place to sit.

It is my perspective that has changed about what the value of these things are. I care about some details up to a point, and then I no longer care.

I had the ladder out yesterday, scraping the latest covering of blown and fallen snow off the edges of the roof. It’s a laborious effort, balancing on my arches on that narrow rung of the ladder, while holding my arms over my shoulders to maneuver the rake on the end of the three 4-foot aluminum pole sections. Back and forth, reaching up, pulling back.

While taking a pause to rest, I became mesmerized by the steam rising off the roof where the sun was heating up the dark shingles. It was well below freezing, yet that solar energy was melting the snow as fast as ever.

I pulled out my pocket camera in hopes of capturing the wonder of the phenomena that had so captured my fancy that I was happy to remain even longer on that precarious perch, soaking up the scene.

I have no idea how I also captured the corner of my sleeve. How did it even reach up into the frame? It doesn’t make much sense to me.

Notice how the impact of the angle of solar intensity is evident by the melt occurring on the right, versus the roof slope on the left.

Most of the year, I would fret over physical abuse to the shingles, but this time of year my perspective has evolved. I’m willing to drag metal across the granules of shingle in order to remove that insulating layer of snow that will create ice dams that lead to bigger problems.

I am not one to rigidly cling to a single way of seeing most things. Everything is always undergoing change, including my perspective.

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Written by johnwhays

February 16, 2019 at 10:47 am