Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘clearing snow

Exercising Outdoors

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Arms over my head, pushing to the limits of my reach and strength, I grunted like a powerlifter to gain a morsel beyond what it felt like I was able. It occurred to me that all this effort to clear snow off our roof might look like more work than reasonable, yet a similar effort lifting weights in a gym would appear to be a noble pursuit.

Why do I work so hard outside on our property when I could just join a gym and go indoors to lift weights for exercise?

Doesn’t that question just answer itself?

It was very rewarding to have our Avalanche snow “rake” work ideally for these snow conditions. I was able to use the plastic sheet attachment to bring down perfect large blocks of snow.

Here is a shot of the Avalanche in action when we first got it back in 2019:

It performed flawlessly for me again yesterday. Of course, that’s only half the job. Where the roof snow comes down at the front door and across the deck, the densely packed piles need to be shoveled away after my arms have been exhausted by the overhead pushing of the rake.

It was a day of big exercise at my outdoor gym facility, but I’m not sure I feel any stronger this morning for all that effort.

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Written by johnwhays

December 13, 2021 at 7:00 am

Snow Cope

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In a day of glorious sunshine yesterday, I labored to move what felt like an endless amount of snow. I succeeded in burying the Grizzly 660 ATV over the edge of the gravel drive around the hayshed. That forced me to get the diesel tractor started, but it wouldn’t be any help unless I could get chains mounted on the tires.

Those chains have been hanging in storage on nails in the back of the shop garage for two years and are so heavy that I can barely lift them. That is one reason I have found every possible reason to avoid using them for so long. Alas, necessity forces muscles to do what it takes and chains quickly became an afterthought while attention moved to dragging the ATV out of the snow and carefully maneuvering the Ford tractor to scoop snow into small mountains without getting it stuck, too.

By the end of the day, I was about halfway done with cleanup. Today I resume clearing snow off the eaves of the house roof and then shoveling away everything that drops onto the deck.

The horses appear to be coping well with the quick transition to deep snow cover and tracks reveal they are making gradual advances on excursions out into the hayfield and back pasture.

The snow up around the overhang is well-trodden so it doesn’t seem all that deep but frozen clumps clinging above hooves provide evidence of the depth they are negotiating out in the fields.

We expect a few more days with highs above freezing and moments of sunshine that will give the horses plenty of opportunities to dry out between their journeys out into the powder.

Coping with all the snow is what we do, even when it requires effort at the limits of available strength at any given moment.

Robustness r us.

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Written by johnwhays

December 12, 2021 at 11:20 am

Another Stray

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We received a little more than a dusting of snow overnight, but not quite an inch. It’s annoying, actually, in a region where it’s not certain whether the paltry amount will melt or add to possible future accumulations. Does it deserve the effort of plowing? Should I clear the valley on the roof where ice dams often result?

There are more times than I like to admit when I have wished I had cleaned up a previous snow event that I originally chose to ignore.

Cyndie was pondering sweeping the fresh snow cover away near the barn for the benefit of our royal residents, the chickens. Heaven forbid they be forced to deal with the elements like feral chickens.

Based on their initial egg-laying performances, they are behaving more like wild birds than the domesticated coop-homed free-rangers they are. We are witnessing the successful initial use of the nest boxes in the coop at a rate of about 70%. The other times, eggs appear to show up in any and all locations where the brood happens to find themselves.

There was a single frozen egg discovered this morning next to the wall of the barn. Oops.

It’s hard to tell right now exactly which birds are laying among the thirteen. Based on the number of eggs in a day, likely 4 or maybe 5 are starting to produce. We are starting to get a routine of three eggs a day.

It’s a good thing our primary focus is not on gaining eggs, but on having happy, healthy chickens roaming our grounds. Eggs are just a wonderful added benefit that we try not to neglect.

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Written by johnwhays

January 31, 2021 at 11:11 am

Complete Opposite

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As expected, we received new snow overnight. Not a lot. Around five inches have been added to our snowpack. The most noteworthy feature about this snowfall is how completely opposite it is in comparison to the previous snow that fell. The earlier event occurred with temperatures hovering around the freezing point and resulted in a heavy, soaking wet wallop of sticky snow. This latest precipitation is all dry powder snow.

There is an interesting result of the snow being such light powder that fell in tiny flakes visible beneath our deck railing.

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I am impressed with how the “shadow” effect shows up directly beneath the verticle slats in the railing.

Cyndie captured the moment of the sunrise this morning from the vicinity of the chicken coop.

She was, as always, very accommodating of the chickens and cleared the path to the barn overhang before opening the coop so the chickens could make their way to that sanctuary for their breakfast.

I will spend the day accommodating delivery drivers by plowing the driveway and clearing pathways. Given the light powder, it shouldn’t take much time. That will allow me to get back inside to spend time on a jigsaw puzzle and watch NFL playoff games in full rest and relaxation mode.

In a way, it’s the complete opposite of the stresses of the work week.

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Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2021 at 11:14 am

Snowy Sunday

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Last Sunday dawned with a fabulous snowfall that lasted until just after noon and dumped oodles of inches of wonderful powder. Then the sun came out and started making it sticky before I could finish clearing it all. From beginning to end, it was beautiful to gaze upon.

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Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2020 at 7:00 am

Floating Flakes

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All day yesterday snow-globe flakes floated magically out of the sky. It was mystical. I checked the radar in the morning to see if it was a temporary shower or something more substantial and the precipitation didn’t even show up. Somehow, flakes just kept falling from the time I woke up, continuing without pause through my last walk with Delilah in the dark of night.

It made for a gorgeous winter day. I occupied myself with raking snow off the last three valleys of our roof and then shoveling away the piles that resulted beneath.

There was a decent-sized drift hanging off one eave and plenty of straight accumulation built up on the opposite side of the house.

I let Delilah hang out with me while I worked, but by the time I moved to the back, she just stood at the door staring inside. It looked like she was hoping someone in there would notice and rescue her from the cold. I gave in and walked her around to let her in the front door.

Then she barked at me for the noise I was making on the roof.

Delilah got to have a real canine adventure Friday night when we took our last walk of the evening while the snowstorm was underway. While she had her nose in the snow investigating something that caught her attention, I spotted a field mouse skittering along on top of the snow.

By the time I got Delilah’s attention to come after it, the critter disappeared below the snow again. As Delilah hunted around near that spot, the mouse popped up right beside me and resumed its sprint to escape all this attention.

That was a fatal mistake. There is now one less field mouse roaming the ranch this winter and Delilah is feeling like quite the successful hunter.

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Written by johnwhays

January 20, 2020 at 7:00 am

Fly South

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Cyndie made plans to spend a couple of weeks with her parents in Florida long before the details of the latest snowstorm had materialized and didn’t guess that her planned departure would be timed smack dab in the worst of the wind and snow. Luckily, the impending weather allowed for a no-charge rescheduling and she nabbed a seat a day earlier, right as the heavy weather was beginning.

That just meant a little delay while the ground crews worked frantically to plow runways and de-ice planes. Not unsettling at all for wary travelers, I’m sure.

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Cyndie is a seasoned airline passenger and has been through this routine multiple times, so I’m sure she was able to take it in stride. I can’t honestly attest to her level of confidence because I was not there. No, I am not in Florida today, unlike her and our two adult children visiting their grandparents over the MLK holiday weekend.

More power to them.

While they were enjoying the bocce courts under beautiful blue skies, I had a day filled with a fair amount of folly. I had hoped to swiftly plow, shovel, and rake snow off the roof so I could also entertain the pooch who was otherwise woefully neglected in the warm confines of the house. When I left her tethered outside with me where she could watch, Delilah just sat forlornly.

If I have to ignore her while I work, I decided she might as well be inside where I don’t have to witness her sad face every time I pass.

When I started up the ATV for plowing, I discovered one of the front tires had an audible air leak. It was spitting out some of the green sealer that had been an earlier attempt to solve the problem. All that did was delay the inevitable, it seems. Short of a quick fix to remedy the situation properly, I opted for frequent returns to the shop garage for added air from the compressor.

Worked well enough to get the main driveway open for travel. I would come back later to plow around the barn and hay shed.

After walking Delilah and eating lunch, I raked the valley of the roof over the front door and then unburied the steps. By leaving the rest of the roof for today, my hope was to quickly finish plowing before needing to tend to Delilah’s dinner.

Then the cable that lifts the plow broke in the middle of pushing a deep pile of snow at the edge of the driveway turnoff that drops toward the barn.

The hour before the dog’s dinner was spent rigging a way to lift the blade so I could drive back to the garage so I could work on reattaching the hook to the next section of cable. That’s a project that needs three hands, so with my two cold hands (and one bloody finger) I dragged it out long enough that dinner ended up being late.

Yes, I was thinking about my family who all just flew south.

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Getting Out

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I’m burnin’ daylight, what little there is today. I have a full day of work ahead of me clearing snow and entertaining the “every-hour-I-need-attention” canine. I need to make this post short and get outside to shovel, plow, rake, and shovel again. Oh, and I need to reattach the mailbox, as usual.

The plow had only made its first pass by the time Delilah and I made our way down to the road to find the mailbox tossed down into the ditch. I won’t bother reattaching it until the plow passes one more time to clear snow off the shoulder.

Do you think this will inspire me to install a “plow-proof” mount that swings away? Probably not. I’ve toiled seven years already like this, so I suspect the most I might do is take another crack at erecting a legal obstruction to deflect the force of the snow spray away from the vulnerable surface of the mailbox.

At least the plastic sliding grooves are designed such that the box just pops off the base each time, so it can be replaced again with relative ease.

Time to go outside and play!

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Written by johnwhays

January 18, 2020 at 9:54 am

Weather Coming

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We’ve been warned that a major winter storm is on the way, so after work yesterday I did some preparatory plowing. All week long we’ve been getting small amounts of snow. Too little to warrant clearing each day, but enough that by yesterday it had added up to deserve attention, especially if we could get almost a foot more in the next two days.

I needed to push the old snow back far enough to create room for the oodles of new snow the National Weather Service has been warning us about for days.

While the weather is coming, Cyndie is going. She leaves for Florida today to spend a couple of weeks with her parents.

Looks like she picked a good time to be flying south.

If the predictions are accurate, I suspect I will spend the first weekend of her absence clearing snow.

Ready, or not, here comes some weather.

 

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Written by johnwhays

January 17, 2020 at 7:00 am

Productive Avalanche

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It occurs to me that a key reason I become excited enough about a product to proselytize to others about its features is when my initial disbelief is dashed by a performance that actually meets what was advertised. When I first saw roof rakes for removing snow by the use of a plastic sheet, I figured theory wouldn’t be able to live up to the challenges of reality.

I’ve raked a lot of snow off a fair number of roofs. Conditions are rarely ideal. I doubted the advertised ease of sliding the snow down on a plastic sheet. Oh my, it comes down so well I was almost knocked down by it.

When we were replacing boards on our deck a few months ago, I discovered a disconcerting amount of granules from our shingles on the ground below. It was enough to get me to take a chance on trying out this different technique.

Enter the Avalanche roof rake!

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From the clean and simple design, making it easy to assemble and use, to the speed and ease with which I brought down blocks of snow, the Avalanche roof rake has earned my highest praise. The only thing I can’t testify to after this first use is the longevity of that plastic sheet.

I abused it a fair amount in my attempts to navigate our angles and the existing icy edges. It folded and twisted multiple times, which experience tells me is potentially damaging.

Knowing our roof presented angles that would be problematic for the plastic sheet technique, I elected to order a second option, the Deluxe Rake head, which swaps out easily. This is basically the same as my old aluminum rake, but with the added feature of rollers that keep it from scraping directly on the granules of the asphalt shingles.

Yesterday’s first use proved to be an excellent test, as the condition of snow and ice on our roof was as bad as ever, due to the significant rainfall we suffered prior to an accumulation of snow at the end of November.

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If you look closely at the picture on the right above, it is possible to see there is a base layer of frozen snow beneath the deeper powder on top. It took the Deluxe head to break that up enough for me to pull it down. I also needed to use that head to drag the valleys between our two main roof surfaces.

The combination of the two options worked perfectly to accomplish the job well and did so with much less wear and tear on our shingles.

I got half of the roof done yesterday, and will be out today to finish the other side of the house. One thing I learned is that I should move the ladder farther back from the roof. While using the plastic sheet from where I was positioned yesterday, I got a face-full of snow shooting down at me in the worst way.

It’s a thrill to have so much snow coming down off the roof so quickly, but not all that great when it is hitting you right in the face.

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Written by johnwhays

December 15, 2019 at 11:05 am