Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘cold temperatures

Frosted Whiskers

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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.

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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.”

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Written by johnwhays

January 21, 2022 at 7:00 am

Indoor Pursuits

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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.

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Light Series

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

January 9, 2022 at 11:14 am

Chilly Sunrise

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

December 30, 2021 at 7:00 am

Fresh Snow

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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.

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

December 29, 2021 at 7:00 am

Morning Scene

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

February 20, 2021 at 10:24 am

Another Saturday

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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.

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Cold Now

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If we thought winter was coming on a little quick and fierce last week, today it has moved to another level of harsh. Single-digit cold temperatures are not a very friendly way for winter to show up and say hello.

So much for getting to know her first.

We have entered the period when any mechanical device that may have functioned normally in moderate temperatures is now being taxed to the brink of failing to function at all. When I attempted to back out of my parking space like usual after work yesterday, my car protested with unexpected sluggishness.

Oh, yeah. It had been sitting out all day in the Arctic chill. I forgot it’s no longer business as usual outside.

The flurries of snow that fell over the weekend hardly stayed on the ground. There was a small corner patch of the driveway that was the first to freeze and collect snow. The rest of the pavement still held enough residual ground warmth to melt the flakes that landed there.

That won’t be a problem any longer. At these temperatures, the asphalt is plenty cold now.

Our landscape pond is solid ice. If it wasn’t so small, we could use it as a skating rink.

The leaves might make the surface a little rough, though.

The cold air makes for a beautiful evening sky. Cyndie took this picture when making a trip to the chicken coop to close the door for the night. We have the water tanks plugged in to keep them from freezing, but the hens have to fend for themselves to keep warm. They are all winter-hardy breeds and fluff their feathers up in comical poofs of a genuine down coat to stave off the cold.

The coop provides shelter from the wind where they can smoosh together on the roost overnight to share their body warmth. I never watched to notice if the ones on the end are given a turn in the middle at some point. Seems only fair.

The harsh cold we are getting blasted with today is a fine ‘how-do-you-do?’ from winter, but maybe we can look at it as a bit of tough love that will serve us well as the season progresses.

After this start, returning to normal temperatures for November will feel absolutely tolerable!

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Written by johnwhays

November 12, 2019 at 7:00 am

Not Subtle

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Mother nature wasn’t subtle about bringing on winter weather this year. The pleasure of warm fall days was a rare occurrence. Now it seems as though harsh, biting cold temperatures are the norm.

Our neighborhood was on the edge of accumulating snow on Tuesday night, which made the first 10 miles of my commute on Wednesday morning a little tricky. The ol’ Subaru didn’t want to stop at the first three intersections of my drive, sliding on the slippery layer of new-fallen snow. Luckily, at the early hour of my departure, there was little other traffic sharing the road.

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Delilah was thrilled with the new snow coating, dragging her nose to scrape up some of the precious white stuff. That double-layer coat she wears year-round is a lot more comfortable now than it was in the summer. No wonder she is so happy. It’s finally her weather again.

Last night there was a halo of ice crystals around the moon that evoked memories of the sun dogs that form on the coldest of winter days.

Cold like we are getting this year is a lot more intense when it shows up as quick as it has and we haven’t had time to comfortably acclimatize.

It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like winter. Brrr. Wish I could remember where I stashed my favorite cold-weather gloves the last time I used them eight months ago.

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Written by johnwhays

November 7, 2019 at 7:00 am

Getting Cold

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The weather at the lake this weekend is rather brisk, with filtered sunlight softly glowing through milky clouds. We headed to town for breakfast and a little stroll around yesterday morning. The briskness came across as downright flippin’ cold as we walked the short lengths of sidewalk between warm shops.

I am forever fascinated by how different a temperature of 39° (F) feels the first time it visits in the fall, as compared to the first time it is reached in late winter. Yesterday, the “briskness” was bone chilling. In late winter, temperatures above freezing lead us to lose our hats and open our coats.

We stepped out of the frigid fall air into a shop that sold puzzles. Cyndie encouraged me to revisit a long loved hobby of jigsaw puzzles, so I gave the weird variety of images a serious review. My choice was primarily focused on choosing an actual image, preferably of a landscape that appealed to me.

It was a pretty easy choice, because there was only one that met those parameters. I didn’t really process the note on the cover touting the large piece format, but it turned out to be a perfect choice.

“Easy to See & Handle!”

Why, yes, they are! Ideal for pulling off a one-day build before we need to pack up and head home.

Building a jigsaw puzzle in front of the warm glow from the fireplace while listening to our most memorable music from our dating years just happens to be a very comforting way to deal with that first cold blast of the season after summer ends.

I’m sure I’ll have many more opportunities to be outside re-acclimating my body to winter temperatures in the weeks ahead.

This weekend was focused more on staying warm, which I can report we happily achieved in luxury at this fabulous place on the lake.

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Written by johnwhays

September 30, 2018 at 10:09 am