Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘cold temperatures

Ridiculous Reality

leave a comment »

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.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 27, 2022 at 10:19 am

Squeaky Stroll

leave a comment »

How would you like to tag along virtually on a frigid mid-day walk with Delilah on some of our trails? In a rare (for me) instance of verticle orientation filming, I recorded nine minutes of our rather uneventful stroll yesterday to provide a glimpse of what has been a major part of my days since Cyndie has become hampered by a troublesome painful knee (the one that hasn’t been replaced by an artificial joint yet).

With the air temperature just below zero (F), my boots squeaking on the snow are the prominent audio component of the recording as I quick-step to keep up with Miss D. I won’t feel bad if you choose to turn down your volume to reduce the potential annoyance of the squeak but I hope you can turn it up whenever she allows me to stop so you can enjoy the sweet sounds of birds in the otherwise serene quiet of a mostly calm day.

I directed Delilah to make the first turn and then let her choose the route the rest of the way. Hopefully, my motion won’t make you feel car-sick as the girl pulls me around bends and I hustle to keep up with her pace. I turned twice to provide a glimpse of the horses, but they were lingering around the gate between the paddock and hayfield and at that distance weren’t much to see.

If you spend the full nine minutes to follow her along on this video like she’s pulling you on a dogsled, you will be presented with a pretty good perception of the experience of walking through parts of our woods to where this trail emerges behind the back pasture.

.

It ends rather unceremoniously at the point my phone battery got too cold and gave up on me. We were approximately halfway around the property perimeter at that point. It was simply more of the same to complete the trip, just without the trees. If you’ve watched the video, you’ve seen the best part of the trek.

Thanks for coming along!

.

.

Written by johnwhays

February 4, 2022 at 7:00 am

Chaos Ensued

with 4 comments

It wasn’t a stellar start of the day for my unnecessarily grumbly countenance yesterday morning. We are ensconced in a pattern of dry, cold winter days that can tend to chip away at a person’s stoicism against the elements. The temperature reading began with a minus sign once again and we steeled ourselves as usual for the “spacewalk” to exercise Delilah and feed the horses.

It was a wonderfully calm morning and the only sound from the trees was occasional cracking in response to the cycles of freezing and thawing we have had of late. My mood was perfectly balanced between not wanting to be out in the cold at the crack of dawn for another consecutive day and being thrilled to witness the beauty and wonder of a new and beautiful winter morning.

Under the barn overhang, I was met by evidence the horses had been under there all night. If they spend time out in the fields, I don’t scoop up the piles. Under the overhang, we try to remove their manure as fast as they produce it. Maybe it was because there was poop everywhere that one of them decided to do their business over one of the hay boxes.

Half-frozen to a wrought iron corner bracket, it defied convenient clean-up. While dealing with the mess I discovered the box has been kicked enough that it is barely holding together. It kind of took the wind out of my sail of cheerfulness.

Once back in the house, I recovered nicely with a spectacular breakfast of perfectly poached eggs on toast that Cyndie served and I was reclining under a lap blanket absorbing the stories in the daily newspaper. It was deliciously serene when Delilah leaned into my chair to request some scratches.

While I focused on what I was reading, Delilah would rotate her body to move my hand where she wanted me next.

Suddenly, she yelped and snapped at me when I inadvertently pinched her in my overzealous massaging/scratching. I jumped and professed my apologies.

Before we had barely begun to settle ourselves, Pequenita showed up out of nowhere, attacking Delilah with punches and swipes while hissing in anger. Delilah instantly responded in kind with growls and glaring canines. We bumped the side table next to me and knocked my full tumbler of ice water to the floor where the top blew off and cubes and water went everywhere.

Cyndie was on top of Delilah instantly to scold her to get off the cat. She pulled Delilah away and was making the dog lay down in submission and the cat showed up again in full fight mode of hissing and swinging paws at the poor pooch. I was yelling that it wasn’t Delilah’s fault and Cyndie was hollering at both pets.

We have never, ever seen this type of aggression from Pequenita. It seems most likely to us that she was reacting to defend me from Delilah’s reaction to my having pinched her.

It was unprecedented madness of a surprising degree.

Helped me totally get over the angst of the busted, pooped-on hay box.

I got the water and ice cubes cleaned up and both pets calmed down and found themselves separate corners.

Ultimately, our calm serenity was restored, but geesh! Took me a while to get my pulse back to restively reclining mode.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

February 3, 2022 at 7:00 am

Frosted Whiskers

leave a comment »

We knew it was dramatically cold outside before we even got out of bed.

BANG!”

It appeared that either someone had dropped an anvil on the roof over our heads or the extreme cold was distorting the components of our roof and/or the snowpack frozen upon it. It’s the second time this week our structure has complained in the form of a loud boom overhead in reacting to the depths to which the cold has bitten.

The horses haven’t complained. They are impressively stoic about the deep freeze but they can’t hide the icing that collects on their whiskers and eyelashes.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Light was modeling some gorgeous frozen eye lashes Wednesday morning.

At double-digits below zero (F), they don’t try to lick their feed pans clean, an exercise that otherwise happens regularly. At these temperatures, their own saliva freezes as it contacts the rubber pan when they’ve gobbled most of the pellets.

On any other day, that pan would be licked spotless.

As I was snapping photos of Light’s icy highlights, she decided to show me her tongue can still be used for other purposes. Was she sending me a message?

At least she didn’t make the “raspberry” sound toward my general direction.

“I love you, too, Light.”

.

.

Written by johnwhays

January 21, 2022 at 7:00 am

Indoor Pursuits

leave a comment »

One day after a big melt, everything froze solid again and the wind chill is biting. Putting on the equivalent of a spacesuit to walk the dog makes sense because when we step outside the cold feels like we are in outer space.

The horses didn’t seem to pay the Arctic cold much attention, except maybe to more fervently devour hay for fuel to generate desired body warmth. We didn’t waste much time after the morning “cheers” (Ian’s and my more descriptive variant of “chores”) of seeing they got properly fed, knocking away ice that formed on their waterer, and doing the requisite housekeeping under and around the barn overhang.

We headed straight back to the house to thaw out.

The rest of the day was given to indoor pursuits, beginning with scouring the local newspaper over a warm breakfast. Cyndie and I then each independently processed the day’s Wordle challenge. After that, I lost myself in a jigsaw puzzle while Cyndie was occupied at the other end of the old family table toiling on a craft project.

We also took turns scouring our closets and dressers for clothes we can live without in a burst of decluttering. Getting rid of shirts that I haven’t worn in years is an exercise I really enjoy. I need to be in the right mood for it to go smoothly and when I am, it becomes easier as I go to dig ever deeper and jettison excess versions of button-downs or short and long sleeve tees with minimal hesitation.

At this point, there are many shirts I was only wearing to the day-job that now deserve to be retired, since I’m no longer employed outside the home.

My uniform for working at home tends to be rather limited and one combination of base and outer layer pullover shirts can last me for days before needing to be tossed to the laundry.

It all gets covered with the spacesuit when we go outside anyway, so if I can avoid working up a sweat, nothing gets too dirty except the treasured outer covering of my lined Carhartt overalls. Those now have so many accumulated layers of having been soiled that they almost stand up on their own. Makes it increasingly easier to climb into them over time.

Anything to make the project of dressing for outer space a little less onerous between the hours of indoor pursuits where we are warm and cozy.

.

.

Light Series

leave a comment »

As in, a series of images of our horse, Light, on a very cold morning. Our four horses moved from eating all the pellets in their feed pans to chomping hay before the pans were even empty, a significantly uncharacteristic behavior. Before Light started in on the hay, she hesitatingly drifted down toward the waterer which seemed logical, except she didn’t drink.

She stood and looked through the opening between the two paddocks and then continued her slow stroll forward toward her goal.

I was thinking about capturing a shot of Swings munching hay from a hanging net bag in front of the soft color of the pre-dawn sky and ended up watching Light in the distance. I could tell she wanted to lay down so I just kept pressing the photo button as it played out, staying with the task until she climbed the rise to rejoin the others in fueling their body furnaces with hay.

I assume she had an itch under her blanket but she sure was methodically slow about relieving that urge, if that’s what it was. The temperature was pretty cold (-4°F), but not as extreme as a few days ago. Maybe that is just the speed she moves when she is cold.

Both Cyndie and I commented on how cold it felt out there this morning. It struck me that the icy bite of the chill this morning felt almost more harsh than when it was -20 the other day. What that tells me is that the difference between the two extremes is less dramatic than people’s perception of the big numbers implies.

The horses are really going to enjoy, and fully absorb, the bright sunshine out there today.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

January 9, 2022 at 11:14 am

Chilly Sunrise

leave a comment »

When the air temperature is below zero (F) and there is a fog of ice crystals in the air of our valley, the rising rays create sun dogs of reflection 180° apart. Those conditions were met yesterday while I was feeding the horses.

When Delilah and I walked to the end of the driveway to put outgoing mail in the mailbox, our vantage changed so the sun was behind the pine trees on our neighbor’s land. I walked across the road to get the telephone pole out of frame, but I didn’t notice the wires were still in the shot. Oh, well.

Still looks pretty cool.

In fact, it was downright COLD! Poor Delilah was hopping along on three legs every so often to give a paw a break. Eventually, she resorted to simply running and pulling me along behind her to get back to the house, and her breakfast, as quickly as possible.

If ever there was a way to feel like a load, trudging along behind a dog that urgently wants to run faster than you can is pretty high on the list. Being a little numb and wearing the equivalence of a spacesuit with lead-weight boots does wonders to enhance the impression.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 30, 2021 at 7:00 am

Fresh Snow

leave a comment »

While hiking with Delilah on our trails in the freshly fallen snow, I noticed this uncharacteristic specimen hanging about head-high on a tree.

Maybe the handiwork of some ingenious squirrel?

When we emerged from the woods and continued around the perimeter of our pastures, I caught sight of three of the horses standing out in the open. Only Mix appeared to have enough sense to stay under the overhang. I’ve never understood why horses choose to stand out in the rain or snow when they have the option of cover available.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Mix was still a little wet, so she hadn’t spent all of her time sheltered.

Thus far, all four horses appear to be coping well with the winter weather we have been experiencing, but the real test comes next. We are expecting a cold spell for a few days that threatens to go below zero (F) at some point.

I went out late last night to plow before the temperature dropped too much for comfort. Clearing snow in the limited illumination of the ATV headlights is an imperfect science. I’ll find out this morning if I missed some spots. Not that I plan to spend much time racing around on the four-wheeler to finish cleaning up when it’s wickedly cold out.

This is “stay indoors and work on jigsaw puzzles” weather.

If we are lucky, Cyndie will return from her mom’s today and it will get a little more festive around here. I’ve been alone since the day after Christmas and the isolation is starting to get old, especially coming on the heels of all the socializing of the holiday gatherings.

Cyndie and her brothers have been working to move furnishings to her mom’s new residence in the Friendship Village community and clean up and stage the old residence for filming by the realty company. That meant immediately stashing any and all Christmas decorations. I wasn’t surprised when Cyndie’s plan for a one-night overnight mushroomed into three nights away.

Too bad I can’t bring the horses inside the house to keep me company and get them out of the cold.

They’d probably prefer to go out and stand on the deck, anyway.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 29, 2021 at 7:00 am

Morning Scene

leave a comment »

Our spell of extremely cold weather is slowly easing back to normal cold, with this morning’s wake-up temperature just a few degrees (F) below zero. That’s enough of a chill that the chickens were showing reasonable hesitancy about getting up and facing the day. Rocky and a few hens didn’t even leave the coop when given the chance after Cyndie opened the chicken door.

There was an uncharacteristic whiff in the air that something burned that shouldn’t overnight, but nothing in our line of sight showed any evidence of disruption. It’s a strange feeling to wake up so completely oblivious to significant activity that may have happened nearby during our contented slumber. It was too prominent a smell and spread over the large expanse of our entire valley to not have been something noteworthy.

The sky was cloudless and the air just thick enough that a thin coating of frost is covering our branches. It’s going to be a beautiful day.

The bite of the pre-dawn chill had many of our chickens looking to get their feet off the cold ground as they huddled in the corner where the sunshine will first arrive when it makes its way above the treeline. We’ve propped up a couple branches for their benefit. I noticed two of the Domestiques chose to balance impressively on one foot on the wobbly perch so they could keep the other foot tucked up inside their feathers for warmth.

I have a feeling the solar energy will warm the day in multiple ways today.

Don’t know if it will be able to do anything about the odd smoky smell, but it is definitely boosting the emotional outlook a good amount.

That’s how it goes after you’ve just endured weeks of epic deep-freeze temperatures.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

February 20, 2021 at 10:24 am

Another Saturday

leave a comment »

Another Saturday morning when I get to choose what will get my attention. It’s hard to ignore the most prominent fact imposing its way over almost everything we pick. Our weather has entered a cold spell. In our region, winter cold spells mean below zero Fahrenheit. Not quite polar region craziness of 70-below, but days of any number below-zero bitter cold might as well have the same impact.

Preparing to exit the home module for any length of time involves donning garb that rivals climbing into a spacesuit. If you don’t like wearing a facemask for protection from spreading the coronavirus, you won’t like going outside today.

Delilah paces semi-patiently at the front door while we methodically navigate the fine art of adding multiple layers of apparel and accessories in precise order. She takes several slurps from her water bowl in preparation for the impending outing.

It occurred to me this morning that, if we didn’t have a dog or chickens, we wouldn’t need to get out of bed and go outside when it is so wickedly cold. Some people don’t have to go outside if they don’t want to. I didn’t want to go outside, but I didn’t mind that we had to.

The snow squeaked under our boot steps. Eyelashes occasionally stick together as they frost up. Moving air starts to sting exposed flesh. Every few steps, Delilah will keep one paw up and hop once or twice to give that foot a break from contacting the snow. She emphatically rejected our several attempts in the past to offer her winter booties.

The chickens seemed nonplussed by the harsh conditions. We added some extra straw to the coop and installed a radiant heat source to ease their burden a little bit. They seemed to be demonstrating their winter hardiness, as advertised for our variety of breeds.

Accomplishing our goals with minimal distractions allowed us to promptly return to the safe warmth of our spaceship where Cyndie prepared an omelet for breakfast that rivaled a 3-star chef’s and I ignited an inspiring fire in the fireplace.

I am leaving the decision for later about whether I will interrupt my indoor endorphin-producing hobbies to go outside and finish clearing the snow off the deck that I pulled down off the roof eaves yesterday.

It’s Saturday. Morning cartoons, hot cocoa, snuggling under a blanket, giggling with family, listening to music, reading a book, writing inspirations, laughing at our foibles, assembling a puzzle, staring at the fire, it’s the best day of the week type of stuff.

Baby, it’s cold outside, but that is just the way things go sometimes.

There are plenty of ways to cope and we are going to employ several of them and enjoy this Saturday to the fullest. I invite you to do the same, whether you are experiencing a polar vortex or reside somewhere closer to the equator than we do.

.

.