Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘bitter cold

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Written by johnwhays

January 30, 2019 at 7:00 am

Sub-zero Sun

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One thing about really cold winter days, they tend to be very bright with sunshine. As I mentioned yesterday, the wind kept most of our deck clear of accumulation, even though I bet we received around 2 to 3 inches.

Since the precipitation started as a foggy drizzle before the temperature dropped back below freezing, surfaces received an icy glaze for a base coat.

When conditions changed to wind-blown snow, instead of accumulating on the deck, it acted as more of a polishing agent.

I failed at making an indoor nap the primary accomplishment of my day yesterday. There was a mess of snow that drifted on our front walkway which needed to be cleared, so I used that as an excuse to force myself up and out into the Arctic air. One thing led to another and I kept working my way along the driveway in front of the garage doors.

At that point, I couldn’t stop myself from getting out the Grizzly and plowing the full length of the driveway.

In the grand scheme of winter plowing, it wasn’t my best effort, but it will do for now. The surface is a frozen mess of layers from the changing conditions of the last month or two. We’ve packed down countless minor dustings by driving over it until it becomes a solid slippery coating, after which a warm spell turned some of it to pure ice and other areas to a slushy series of tire tracks.

The subsequent plunge in temperature has locked all of this up tight and then firmly filled in the crevices with wind-blown snow.

The plow blade basically bounced around and over the frozen pathway, as opposed to cleaning it down to the asphalt.

We’ve got plenty of sub-zero sun shining down, but it isn’t going to improve the surface of our driveway any. That will require the next wave of warm Pacific air when the jet stream shifts again, which forecasts hint could be just a week away.

There’s never a dull moment in our Wintervale weather adventure land lottery.

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Written by johnwhays

January 13, 2018 at 10:28 am

Additional Animals

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We are caring for George’s animals this weekend while he is out of town, so we have additional mouths to feed during morning and evening chores. When we planned for this earlier last week, nobody gave much thought to the approaching polar vortex dropping our temperatures below zero.

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By Friday morning, when we stopped over to review procedures with George, it was clear that conditions would be extreme. George warned us about the hydrant in the barn not draining well and being susceptible to freezing. He listed several other options, should that occur.

That helped greatly when the situation arose Saturday morning at about the coldest hour all weekend. The pump handle did not want to move and I didn’t want to force it. We used the 2nd option, and hardly lost a step in getting everyone their morning rations of food and water.

By last night, after 3 visits in 2 days, the animals all seemed to understand what was about to go down when we pulled up again in my car. Dinner was about to be served! You can almost feel the creatures smiling when you present them with precisely what they are longing to have.

The ducks and chickens were particularly anxious about getting a drink of water. Their pans for water are not currently heated, so when their liquid becomes a solid, they have to leave the relative warmth of walls and a roof, and venture outside the barn to one of the troughs that have heaters serving the larger animals. A number of them seemed to prefer waiting until we arrived, based on their eager impatience.

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After tending to all the animals that needed something from us, it was time to add wood to the furnace. At the temperatures we were experiencing, the furnace seemed about as hungry for wood as the animals were for food and water.

There was not much energy being wasted by any of the sheep, horses, chickens or ducks. Everybody was in full conservation mode, huddling up with each other or hunkering down against the bitter bite of Arctic air pressing down from the clear sky.

George, rest assured that no one was left wanting for anything over weekend, and everybody was well-behaved, despite the harsh conditions.

I’m sure your faucet handle will thaw out again by June sometime.

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Written by johnwhays

February 14, 2016 at 7:00 am

Chilly Chillin’

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When I got home from work yesterday, Cyndie wasn’t back from an errand to Hudson, so it became my responsibility to take Delilah for a walk. Cyndie anticipated her arrival would be shortly thereafter and that she could tend to the horses.

Fine with me. Ms. Canine greeted me at the door, sweet as could be, and appeared perfectly thrilled over the opportunity to get outside, regardless the ongoing deep freeze we were experiencing.

DSCN4377eIt was an agenda-free stroll. We just hung out together.

I started with a little bush-whacking through undisturbed snow along one of our trails that hadn’t been traveled for a long time. Delilah loved it. There were plenty of fresh scents from critters for her to investigate, and several opportunities for her very fox-like “pounce.” She cocks her head to listen and then leaps straight up with all 4 paws, so that her nose-down landing, deep into the snow, will be a total surprise attack.

Cute as heck, but she very rarely seems to be on the right track. Makes me wonder what spawns the sudden dramatic maneuvers, either sound or scent. Maybe both. She obviously shows signs of listening, but I am never sure whether that is because she smelled something first, or not.

We made our way over toward the horses in the large paddock. They all seemed to be biding their time until they could get inside to the bedding of wood shavings in their stalls for some long winter naps. Even a thin metal roof overhead is good enough to offer a noticeable buffer from the bitter cold that seems to fall directly from outer space. They show signs of being keenly aware of that advantage when the nighttime temperatures head into double digits below zero.DSCN4378e

I glanced toward the orange glow of the setting sun and spotted a nice view of the steam that rises off the cooking compost pile. With the air so bitter cold, it is all the more fascinating that the microorganisms breaking down the pile of sullied bedding generate temperatures to 140° (F) and beyond.

The pile gets a thick version of hoarfrost from the steam, which provides a nice touch of drama on top of the otherwise unsavory mound.

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Written by johnwhays

January 19, 2016 at 7:00 am