Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘cold

Let’s Move

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When they started out in the brooder five weeks ago, our chicks had plenty of room. They are now getting a little testy with each other over their lack of space.

It’s time to move to the coop.

We probably would have already moved them, except it’s been so cold and snowy.

Now we are expecting a run of warmer weather and they are going to be movin’ on up.

You can see in the photo that they are sprouting enough feathers to reveal their eventual colors. The Golden Laced Wyandottes are showing that golden lacing nicely. They all have a long way to go before maturing into their wattles and combs.

By that time, we will need to have decided whether to let them roam free or keep them confined to protect them from predators. For a while there we felt okay with last year’s experiment, but with the rash of springtime attacks polishing off the last of that brood, it doesn’t feel quite right to not try something different.

We’ll move on that decision when they start to out-grow the coop in a month or two.

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Written by johnwhays

April 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

April Fooling

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We get the joke. Today starts the fourth month of 2018, and despite the general trend of average warmth climbing around the globe, we woke to teeth-chattering cold. The clear sky overnight was wonderful for viewing the blue moon, but it also contributed to the drop in temperature.

We had a reading of 10°(F) before the sun came up. With the fresh coating of snow on the ground from Friday night’s storm, there is cold in the air, as well as radiating from the ground.

We’re not laughing.

It seems like the forest animals weren’t much interested in facing the cold, either. In a search for tracks around the full perimeter of our property, there were surprisingly few foot prints revealing activity. Based on the evidence we collected, a rabbit was the only critter moving around.

At least we know that it didn’t have any problems with dodging predators.

The cougar that growled near Cyndie and Delilah last week is likely long gone after its journey past our home. We did a search in the neighboring woods where the eery sounds came from last week, but did not find any hint of a foot print or disturbed snow where the drama played out.

In a long shot reaction, I mounted our trail camera to observe the trail closest to the area, but it only provided added evidence that nothing was moving around after the snow, except Delilah and me.

Yesterday, Cyndie unleashed a great weapon against cold and snow. She filled the house with the smells of fresh-baked buns and whipped together a couple of egg bakes for a family brunch today.

No foolin’.

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Written by johnwhays

April 1, 2018 at 9:27 am

‘Nother Day

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It’s a gorgeous Saturday morning here on the ranch, with snowflakes flying and a fire dancing in the fireplace. Wish you could be here to take it all in with me, but since you are not, I’ll try to enjoy it enough for all of us.

I’m afraid Hunter is going to see this as another day of imprisonment. Despite our belief in an equine sense of the world that is heightened beyond our perceptions, I all too often fall back into a common thinking that we are outsmarting him.

The doctor’s orders are for full-time confinement in the stall with extra bedding for at least a week, plus daily doses of an anti-inflammatory. Whether or not Hunter recognizes our efforts are aimed at relieving his pain, he is not accepting the regiment willingly.

The way Cyndie describes the relative futility of injecting medicine into the mouth of a horse who doesn’t want it reminds me of raising kids. However, there is a big difference between imposing your will on a helpless little baby and a 1000-pound horse.

Watching Hunter battle his forced confinement by biting on the top board of his stall that is just barely out of reach for him breaks my heart when comparing this option to the acres of rolling open fields he is longing to gaze upon.

Our exercise becomes one of searching out a flavoring agent that might loosen his clenched teeth when medicine is delivered, and testing all manner of gimmicks for him to “play” with that will pass his time within the four walls.

We bought a two-burner heat fixture that is mounted atop a small propane tank in hopes of throwing a little heat into the barn during the veterinarian’s visit. Only one of the burners worked. The valve on the second one wouldn’t feed gas unless the starting button was held in.

The instructions said to hold it for 30 seconds. I tried, 3o, 40, a minute, two minutes. Yeah, I’m that patient.

No, it wouldn’t work.

At least the below zero cold is on hold for the days this week, and we are at a balmy 15°(F) with all this snow flying today.

We don’t need no stinkin’ heater.

Luckily, Hunter has received a room upgrade at the inn. Due to a recent vacancy, he has moved from a stall with no window to one on a corner that has two windows.

Here’s hoping he is enjoying the view of the current snow-globe landscape and not wasting his energy gnawing on the top board.

Send our sorry pal your love!

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Written by johnwhays

February 3, 2018 at 10:33 am

Sub-zero Sun

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One thing about really cold winter days, they tend to be very bright with sunshine. As I mentioned yesterday, the wind kept most of our deck clear of accumulation, even though I bet we received around 2 to 3 inches.

Since the precipitation started as a foggy drizzle before the temperature dropped back below freezing, surfaces received an icy glaze for a base coat.

When conditions changed to wind-blown snow, instead of accumulating on the deck, it acted as more of a polishing agent.

I failed at making an indoor nap the primary accomplishment of my day yesterday. There was a mess of snow that drifted on our front walkway which needed to be cleared, so I used that as an excuse to force myself up and out into the Arctic air. One thing led to another and I kept working my way along the driveway in front of the garage doors.

At that point, I couldn’t stop myself from getting out the Grizzly and plowing the full length of the driveway.

In the grand scheme of winter plowing, it wasn’t my best effort, but it will do for now. The surface is a frozen mess of layers from the changing conditions of the last month or two. We’ve packed down countless minor dustings by driving over it until it becomes a solid slippery coating, after which a warm spell turned some of it to pure ice and other areas to a slushy series of tire tracks.

The subsequent plunge in temperature has locked all of this up tight and then firmly filled in the crevices with wind-blown snow.

The plow blade basically bounced around and over the frozen pathway, as opposed to cleaning it down to the asphalt.

We’ve got plenty of sub-zero sun shining down, but it isn’t going to improve the surface of our driveway any. That will require the next wave of warm Pacific air when the jet stream shifts again, which forecasts hint could be just a week away.

There’s never a dull moment in our Wintervale weather adventure land lottery.

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Written by johnwhays

January 13, 2018 at 10:28 am

Cold Again

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We didn’t end up receiving the amount of snow that looked like a good possibility on the prediction charts provided by the weather service in the final hours before yesterday’s storm rolled across the region. It’s difficult to get a read on the actual amount because there was enough wind to keep most of the deck clear down to the boards, and in areas where it piled up, the drifts are all exaggerations of what officially fell out of the sky.

My commute both to and from work was generally uneventful, but complicated too frequently by overly cautious drivers who ended up blocking the passing lane.

It took me over twice as long as normal to get home. After an hour and a half, I decided to stop to get gas, just so I could use the bathroom.

The highlight of the day was that George and Annaliese arrived for a visit. Our horses needed a trim, and George offered his farrier services in exchange for room and board for a few days while he is back to service a batch of his old clients.

We shared a fine meal and sat by the fire for an ice cream and brownie dessert, chatting the night away in a throwback to the many wonderful days we shared in similar fashion last year when they lived with us while in transition between homes.

The horses were granted the protection of the barn overnight, so they didn’t have to tolerate the windchill. They are pretty transparent about how much they like being able to come in when the weather gets nasty.

It’s cold again outside, but we have all the warmth we need inside to rally our energies for doing battle against the winter elements for the chores that demand attention.

Something tells me that my indoor chores, like napping, just might be the primary thing demanding attention from me for the rest of this day.

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Written by johnwhays

January 12, 2018 at 7:00 am

Frosty Morning

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We are well into the season of squeaky footsteps. The air was dead calm this morning, somewhere in the double digits below zero, allowing sounds to carry clearly for great distances, except that you can’t hear anything but your own squealing boots against the packed snow along the trail at these temperatures.

Though, stopping for a moment to listen to the mostly quiet, calm winter morning becomes a spiritual experience. At least, it is when you really love this season more than all the others.

The horses were showing the effects of the cold on their faces.

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I wonder if they ever contemplate what it would be like to suddenly find themselves standing on a tropical beach at this time of year. Was I just in the Dominican Republic last week?

I’m having trouble remembering what that was like. Maybe that’s what frozen eyelashes will do to you.

We are expecting a little break from the extreme cold, which will allow the horses a chance to get out from under the blankets to scratch itches that naturally develop.

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They were happily soaking up the initial rays of sunlight while voraciously gobbling fuel to stoke their internal furnaces in recovery from another long, cold night. I think they will find the next few days a nice respite from the endurance exercise of the last two frigid weeks.

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Written by johnwhays

January 6, 2018 at 11:18 am

Survival Naps

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Yesterday, Cyndie sent me a text from the doctor’s office. She asked me to pick up some prescriptions for her, and wrote that she had declined their option to go to the hospital.

Hello!

That got my attention.

They gave her lots of tender loving care while she was awaiting test results, and I headed home early from work. She was a mess when they saw her, with a fever that climbed a couple of degrees while she was there. After a nebulizer treatment to open her lungs, Cyndie headed home for the best medicine of all: a nap on her own bed under the watchful eye of Pequenita.

Too bad we left all that warm, moist air in the Dominican Republic. Someone is currently not allowed to be outside breathing our very frozen oxygen molecules.

That means I am on full-time animal care for a while. On Wednesday and Thursday, I tended to the horses and Delilah in the morning before starting my commute. Under the crunch of time and darkness, the chickens were pretty much neglected, left to fend for themselves in the coop.

When I checked on them yesterday afternoon, our winter-hardy birds were doing just fine. The electric waterer was working slick, only freezing around the edge. I served them a portion of cracked corn and meal worms, cleaned the poop board, and they looked perfectly happy with the situation.

The young chestnuts were doing their own version of surviving the cold air. They positioned themselves strategically out of the breeze and broadside to the sun for an afternoon nap.

Luckily, this cold snap is due to give way to more reasonable temperatures this weekend, so the animals and I will get a little break from the extreme elements.

I may even crank up the Grizzly to clean up the inch of snow that has gradually accumulated since I last plowed. It hardly seems worth it, but doing so makes it a little easier to walk around, and who doesn’t need a little more easy when you are trudging through the dead of winter?

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Written by johnwhays

January 5, 2018 at 7:00 am