Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘changing seasons

Ridiculous Reality

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Reality can be downright absurd. Still, we take what we get and forge ahead because reality doesn’t go away no matter how much we sometimes pretend things are otherwise. Regardless of how many distractions we find to escape into fantasy, reality is always there, waiting for us to return.

Our reality this morning at Wintervale is a rock-hard freeze of 13°F (-10°C), locking the mishmash of mud in the paddocks into an almost unnavigable pockmarked surface. Too bad that didn’t prevent the two chestnuts, Mia and Light, from almost running me over in a panicked retreat from the aggressive posturing of Mix. She has an annoyingly consistent need to disrupt the bucolic serenity by encroaching on the feeding space of Mia and Light.

At least we were able to enjoy a quick return to calm after forcing Mix back to where we could close some gates and allow better-protected feed pan grazing to resume.

The clear blue sky and bright sunshine are beautiful, but the ridiculous winter temperature at this point of our early spring is a bit of a slap in our faces.

On a stroll yesterday afternoon we took a moment to cut some branches with a handsaw in completion of a mid-way walking route through our woods. We added the first half of this shortcut path last fall and have enjoyed walking it so much we were inspired to complete the last portion. It will be nice to have the route adequately established before all the greenery explodes that would otherwise obscure it.

When we reached the clearing of our perimeter trail, I took a moment to re-stack a couple columns of balanced rocks that winter toppled.

How long do you think it will be until those views turn green again?

It’s gonna take a lot warmer temperatures than we are enduring lately, I know that much. A few warm days in a row and green growth will start showing up everywhere.

It hasn’t arrived yet, but we can see the month of April from where we are standing. It makes it all the more ridiculous that it feels like January today.

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Written by johnwhays

March 27, 2022 at 10:19 am

Ground Visible

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The change of seasons is marching full ahead with great results. I appreciate that our snowpack’s meltdown has been happening at a perfectly gradual pace. It’s been cool enough during the overnights that melting pauses so the runoff has been controlled, for the most part.

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Delilah and I found the fields entirely bare when we emerged from the woods where there was still snow covering the ground on our morning stroll.

By afternoon, water was flowing as the melting of remaining snow picked up again. It is very rewarding to witness the unimpeded drainage flowing where Cyndie and I worked hard to correct the grade in front of her perennial garden last year.

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My “swale” in the paddock hadn’t maintained its shape nearly as well and the water was draining randomly across the main travel path of two gateways where hoof prints in the soft earth disrupt any coordinated drainage. While cleaning up manure yesterday afternoon, I did a rudimentary job of stemming the flow as best I could, using the flimsy plastic tines of my fork scoop tool.

I want the water to flow out of the paddock to the left of the gate opening to the hayfield, not across the primary travel pattern of the horses. Any attempts I make toward achieving this goal end up getting stomped on by horses who don’t seem to notice what my efforts are intended to accomplish for them.

It’s almost like they have no idea how much they weigh and the amount of disruption in soft, wet soil they create.

One other creature who has no idea how much of a disaster she creates is Delilah. She prances around everywhere she pleases in the snow and mud and then assumes a little toweling off when we come inside the house and she’s good to go.

Sweeping the floor is an adventure after practically every outing.

Yeah, the ground is visible alright.

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Written by johnwhays

March 19, 2022 at 7:06 am

River Running

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Winter has loosed its grip. When we walked the perimeter yesterday morning while the temperature was below freezing, there was little evidence of a meltdown unleashing the spring runoff. By mid-afternoon, the drainage ditches were alive with running water.

The air temperature probably hit 50°F for a bit, resulting in water flowing as if there was an actual river along our southern property border, not just a swale that sits dry most of the time.

The bridge I built along the back pasture fence line was doing its job to perfection as the flow of water across our land poured beneath it into the main ditch just beyond.

If I didn’t know better, I’d be looking to see if I could spot any brook trout flitting around in the current.

From the looks of the extended forecast, we should have a nicely controlled meltdown in the days ahead, with overnight temperatures slowing the thaw for a few hours and daytime warmth climbing well into fast-melting territory.

Manure droppings in the paddock are no longer able to hide beneath snow cover. I’m actually looking forward to getting the place cleaned up again to our usual high standards. The only complication with that plan is that I don’t have a lot of open composting space to dump the couple of wheelbarrows-full it will require. The winters-worth of accumulation doesn’t break down so we’ve already got quite a few stacks that will need to be tended once they thaw. I need to stir the piles up and reshape them to get the composting action heating up so they will break down and shrink enough to begin merging piles together.

The fertilizer factory will be back in full swing before the trees leaf out.

Walking around with no coat on yesterday had me wondering if now would be a good time to take the plow blade off the Grizzly ATV. I don’t like to tempt fate. My mind quickly flashes memories of our first spring here when it snowed 18″ in the first few days of May.

A lot could happen weather-wise in the next month or so. I know from experience not to put away shovels just because the winter snow has all melted away. The plow isn’t hurting anything right where it is for now.

In the meantime, the new road bike I bought over the winter is about to get multiple outings to test how well we get along with each other.

When rivers start flowing through the snow, my bicycling season is nigh.

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Written by johnwhays

March 16, 2022 at 6:00 am

So Happy

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We were only away a few days but Pequenita seemed extra happy over our return yesterday. It seems as though she understands the routine of our leaving for days at a time and so maybe the occasion of our return is becoming something of an increased expectation for her.

She was rather comically clingy for the first part of the afternoon and then again when I sat on our bed and opened up my laptop.

I don’t mind giving her extended scratches when she shows so much appreciation for the touch, despite the limitations it creates for getting any real writing done.

The horses weren’t what I would describe as clingy when we showed up at the barn. Mix was in “bossy-mare” mode and preferred to pay amped-up attention to the two chestnuts, Mia and Light. They all looked noticeably more shaggy as their winter growth is filling in nicely.

Our weather is holding in “uneventful” mode while vast swaths of the country are experiencing events. The precipitation spinning around the low-pressure center in the middle states is staying just to our south. This buys us time to continue the process of winterizing Wintervale.

Today we plan to pull the pump from our landscape pond and cover the water with netting to capture leaves during the off-season. We also will remove the plastic awnings over the windows of the chicken coop and place solid plastic panels over the screens. Even though there won’t be any birds in there, we still want to keep it from filling up with snow.

We pulled in our plastic rain gauge to keep it from getting cracked when water freezes in it. We’ll be in the “in-between” season for a while, where precip can fall as rain and snow on any given day.

I’ll be happy to stay inside and give Pequenita scratches during weather like that, thank you very much.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2021 at 6:00 am

Less Color

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Not every plant bursts with color this time of year, but the changes still look cool.

Close to the forest floor, Cyndie snapped this shot of leaves with an eye-catching fade from green to an absence of color.

Walking through the woods yesterday we marveled over the carpet of leaves that are a perfectly distributed parquet of colors in certain sections. Under a few other trees, it’s one dominating color where all the leaves of individual trees dropped in a short span of time.

It’s interesting how they will soon all turn brown and not long after that, the ground will be covered with white.

Less color, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

October 5, 2021 at 6:00 am

Inside View

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Justifiably so, most pictures of trees in autumn are from beyond the forest where the view can include the variety of brilliant colors glowing from entire trees. Yesterday, Delilah and I paused on a walk through our woods so I could capture the view of early autumn from within the trees.

There are plenty of green leaves still attached to branches but the forest floor is already carpeted by a new batch of recently fallen leaves. The onset of fall is first noticeable by the leaves that fall on our trails, before the ones that start turning colors up in the branches.

I find myself needing to put effort toward consciously noticing this IS autumn. The early phases of this transition beyond summer are just as much a part of my favorite season as the later phases when branches are bare and mornings frosty.

Earlier in the week, Cyndie captured her shadow visible on the trunk of a tree that was glowing orange with a spot of just-risen sunlight appearing through the forested landscape behind her.

It may be the last week of September but the grass on our property is growing like it’s still mid-summer. It is becoming common now that I end up mowing grass and mulching fallen leaves all at the same time.

It bothers me a little bit that I am not shocked that 80-degree temperatures are forecast for the next few days.

Just like the fall season IS here right now, so is global warming and all the effects scientists have long predicted would occur if humans didn’t reduce the creation of greenhouse gasses at the rate that has grown steadily since the beginning of industrialization.

Fall colors and hot temperatures are an odd combination for my mind to associate.

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Written by johnwhays

September 25, 2021 at 9:37 am

Getting Bolder

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Even though the number of trees around us that are starting to show some colors of autumn is few, a couple took a jump yesterday toward premium brilliance. Those spots of bold color are particularly eye-catching.

That dot of redness stands out distinctly against the green around it. When this happens, I imagine what that tree would look like if all the leaves changed to the same degree at the same time.

Around the corner from that area is a maple tree turning orange.

I hope this is an indication of fall color intensity we can look forward to seeing more of as the month progresses.

I heard that the ever-changing sunrise and sunset times are moving 3-minutes per day about now. That’s a loss of 21-minutes of daylight this week. Could less sunlight mean slower grass growth finally?

I’m ready to be done mowing for the season. I suspect we still have a ways to go until I can park the mower for the winter.

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Written by johnwhays

September 13, 2021 at 6:00 am

Windows Open

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What a joy it is to be able to open our windows to the fresh spring air after months of being closed to the winter. Our thermometer registered a temp of 80°(F) for a bit and then dropped down when some clouds moved in. The clouds didn’t last and the temperature jumped back up with the return of direct sunlight.

We took a break from doing any major projects and enjoyed brunch with our visiting kids. Cyndie sent them home with grocery bags of leftovers and a few dozen free-range eggs.

I did sneak in a little time to give my bike a thorough spring cleaning. I pumped up the tires and oiled the chain in preparation for my first ride in two years.

At dusk, I stood out on the deck in the residual warmth of the day and watched Cyndie puttering around with her garden while she waited for the chickens to make their way into the coop for the night. We couldn’t see it, but somewhere there was an outdoor fire burning that gave the evening a comforting ambiance.

A pair of bats flitted about overhead, doing loops at several difference elevations.

Stepping back into the house, I was struck by how luxurious our home in the country is and how lucky we are to live here. Even more so during the pandemic.

I wonder what it will be like here in the coming years of continued warming of our planet.

At least we should be able to open our windows earlier and earlier each spring.

What a great milestone that is every year.

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Written by johnwhays

April 5, 2021 at 6:00 am

Magnificent Days

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We are enjoying magnificent weather this week for the month of September, although in the back of my mind the very summery temperatures echo too well some of the anticipated ramifications of the warming planet.

No floods or fires in our region at the moment. Just high heat (80°F!) and evolving colors in the tree leaves.

Wandering down the backyard hill toward the opening to the labyrinth, the leaves are still primarily green. Beyond that, there are brilliant splashes of gold, orange, and red showing up with surprising speed.

Our growing season seems to be ever-lengthening, but the end of this summer’s agricultural period is undoubtedly near. The declining hours of daylight aren’t being altered by the changing climate and plants don’t grow so well in the dark.

On the bright side, I think my lawn mowing might be done for the year.

Yesterday morning at work I received a sweet text from Cyndie letting me know that she heard “Rocky the Roo'” making progress on learning how to crow. She said his call had a definite sing-song inflection that was recognizable as the vague hint toward the ultimate “cock-a-doodle-doo.”

I wonder if the magnificent weather days will be just as mesmerizing with non-stop echos of rooster crowing reverberating across our valley. We didn’t check with any of our neighbors about how they might feel about the prospect. At the same time, none of them have ever asked us if their gunshots, barking dogs, hollering for missing cats, or high RPM farm machinery soundtracks have been any problem for us.

I think it a feature, not a bug, of living in the country.

Where pretty much every day is magnificent, no matter what the sounds.

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Shedding Season

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The hours of daylight are changing noticeably, but there are other ways the change of seasons is becoming obvious lately. When we step outside our doors there is an interesting series of sounds coming from our giant oak trees. Are they shooting at us? No, it is just the pinging and slapping of acorns strafing the land.

It’s best to wear a stiff hat if you will be spending any time beneath the oaks this time of year. Oh, and walking on the lawn under the tree outside the front door is like navigating shag carpet with a giant Lego® set spilled across it.

While the trees are shedding acorns, our Belgian Tervuren is shedding her fur.

It seems counter-intuitive to be shedding in the fall, but in order to grow the winter coat, dogs will lose the lighter summer coat. Delilah is one of the breeds that have a double coat, with an undercoat of short, wooly hairs beneath the top coat of long hairs, so the shedding is a bit more obvious.

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So, around here this time of year, it’s not just acorns making a mess on the lawn.

Yeah, I wish it was just the lawn where the mess occurred. Delilah spends more of her time in the house, so you can imagine what our floors are looking like lately.

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Written by johnwhays

September 15, 2019 at 6:45 am