Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘clearing snow

Tree Dwelling

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Near the edge of the woods at the bottom of the hill behind our house, there is a large tree with three distinct critter access points. I noticed them the other day because Delilah stopped to look up at the tree with excited interest. That almost always means a squirrel was moving around in the branches.

I didn’t see any life in the branches but I very much noticed the three holes in the tree.

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Do you think those are three separate “apartments” or is that a deluxe three-story home with a door on each floor?

Cyndie, Delilah, and I are waking up at the lake place this morning on the weekend of the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race. Our friends, the Williams family will be joining us, and their daughter, Ella will be skiing it on Saturday for the first time.

It is estimated the event brings 40-thousand people to Hayward for the weekend. That changes things dramatically around here. For reference, the population of Hayward is a little over 2000. It messes up our navigation because they close roads and strive to move everyone by shuttle bus. Foils our desire to sneak down a fire lane road to catch a glimpse of racers in the middle of the woods.

Organizers want all spectators to watch the beginning or the end, or both, traveling by shuttle bus. I’d prefer to not be constrained to standing among the masses. I’m not tall enough to expect I will be able to see anything in a crowd, anyway.

Before we left home yesterday, I needed to finish clearing snow from in front of the big barn doors so I could move bales of hay in for the person tending to the horses while we are away. I also needed to pull snow off the eaves above the front door of the house and then shovel that into a giant mound by the front steps.

Arriving up here hours later, the first order of business was to shovel access paths to the doors. The driveway was plowed and caretakers had pulled some snow off the roof but no good attention had been paid toward clearing snow from in front of the doors.

Ski racing might be an Olympic sport, but I feel like the shoveling I’ve been doing lately is medal-worthy.

In case you didn’t form an opinion about the tree pictured above, I’d say it’s one palatial three-story home based on the noticeable lack of tracks in the snow at the base. I may be wrong, but I’m guessing it’s some fat-cat of a squirrel luxuriating up there with no reason to come out and get his feet wet.

I think Delilah could smell him.

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Written by johnwhays

February 25, 2022 at 7:00 am

Least Favorite

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We are on the back side of one of my least favorite winter snow weather events this morning. Basically, I dislike it for the resulting conditions that make clearing the accumulation so annoying. It doesn’t make for pleasant conditions for animals that have to endure the tribulations of dealing with the wide range of precipitation, either.

It starts like this:

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The temperature climbs well above freezing and a light mist of wetness falls to get everything good and wet. The warm temperature also starts to melt the snow already on the ground.

Next, big snow moves in and falls in gorgeous flakes that make the world look like every favorite winter snowscape scene you’ve ever witnessed.

That puts you in a gleeful state of mind that becomes a set up for the other shoe that is going to drop when it comes time to shovel or plow when the precipitation is over.

The wet snow sticks to every surface and paints trees with a beautiful white accent that makes the forest look like something from a fairy tale.

This is the time when the tide turns and the temperature begins to plummet while the wind kicks up to uncomfortable speeds. The flakes that aren’t already stuck solid to surfaces are whipped up into little missiles that embed themselves into every nook and cranny available to create a stucco concrete finish that would be the envy of many a cement craftsman.

Clearing the front steps is difficult without the aid of chemical assistance and sharpened heavy metal tools.

Alas, there is an excellent antidote for crummy weather conditions that experienced winter-hardened folk who live near destination restaurants can employ to compensate for any angst-inducing hassles of unfavorable snow conditions.

Last night, Cyndie and I had an early Valentine’s Day dinner at the Shady Grove restaurant just two miles from home and dined like royalty, finishing with our highly favored dessert treat that they expertly prepare.

With only seconds to spare before there was nothing left to show for it but a sticky doily, Cyndie snapped a photo of the remains of their salted chocolate caramel tart for posterity. My sugar ratio was definitely knocked way out of balance by the end of the day yesterday.

And that, my faithful readers, is how you go from a least-favorite to a most-favorite in just a few hundred words.

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Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2022 at 11:05 am

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