Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘cold

Solar Anticipation

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Days are getting longer to the point of noticeably changing for us, as the periods of time when we feed our horses in the morning and evening are again happening in the presence of the sun’s rays. Last night we received a fresh blanket of the lightest versions of snow, a direct reflection of the low temperature at the time. As the precipitation moved past us, the clear sky that resulted dropped the temperature even more.

This morning the horses showed great patience but also eager anticipation for the sunlight to reach our location.

The air was ripe with hope. It was as if I could feel the rotation of the earth that was slowly bringing our vantage point in line with direct sunlight.

When the sun became visible, I was ready to return to the shelter of our house where I could relax my defenses against the icy bite of the air and leave the horses to luxuriate in the climbing energy of solar rays.

As we enjoyed our breakfast in the loft, increasing sunshine provided assistance for the heat radiating from inside to start sliding the overnight snow off the skylight overhead.

It’s going to be a beautiful, sunny winter day.



Written by johnwhays

January 23, 2022 at 11:26 am

Little Motivation

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This morning I dug out one of my winter hats –the one that is actually a Buff® made of half thick pile fabric/half ultra-stretch polyester microfiber– for the first time in over half a year. There was frost coating much of our fields. Cold temperatures feel so much colder this time of year.

Yesterday, I fell asleep on the ground in the sun while sitting with Delilah in wait for an appliance repair person to appear in the allotted window of time between 9 and noon. The warmth was soothing until Delilah would stand in the way and cover me with her shadow. The chill that instantly resulted was irritating.

The repairman showed up around 12:45, spun the basket of our washing machine by hand, and immediately pronounced the bearings were in need of replacement and that would require a new appointment on another day. Cyndie is wondering if we should bother with the expensive work or simply replace it with a new one for a little additional expense. I don’t have a good answer for the question except for my strong aversion to disposable devices.

I don’t know what it is but I am feeling little motivation to pursue any productive effort the last few days. A strong pull to just stand among the horses, or as I did yesterday, lay around with Delilah has become my most appealing notion.

It is warming up nicely and the sun is shining brightly so I am hoping to muster the energy to drain water from hoses and roll them up on a day when the weather is pleasant instead of waiting like I almost always do until it is ridiculously cold and the hoses stiff.

I’m wondering if getting my body in motion will result in it staying in motion for the bulk of today’s daylight hours.

I have recently updated system software which has rendered my old familiar image editor inoperable. Time to pick a new program and learn how to use it. That project doesn’t require my body to get in motion but it does beg for some motivation. Right now, that motivation comes from having initiated a 10-day free trial with the first potential replacement.

I loath the frustration of not being able to do what I want to in manipulating software, especially when I am unable to discern whether it is because the software simply doesn’t support the feature or just that I don’t know how to operate the program yet.

My primary life motivation leans toward avoiding frustrations as much as possible.

The lure of visions of standing among horses is strong. It would be frustrating to fight against that.

Draining hoses can wait until later this afternoon when it is even warmer. Software exploration can wait until after dark.



Written by johnwhays

October 16, 2021 at 10:48 am

Managing Well

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We managed to survive the coldest weekend so far this winter without too much trouble. Our heated waterer for the chickens didn’t fare so well, though. Cyndie brought it inside to thaw and tried a second time, but when it froze again, we put the backup unit into use.

I took advantage of the brittleness of frozen firewood logs and busted a bunch of them open on the manual splitter.

Full disclosure: That graphic wasn’t from this weekend. I keep my hat on when the windchill is minus-25°(F). Still, the exercise generates plenty of body warmth. Another reason I don’t need a gym membership for working out.

The ol’ Norwegian Smart-Splitter® is ideal for making kindling. Snaps off little bite sized pieces with one stroke. I push the limits a little bit and use it along with a separate wedge to split full-sized logs. Takes a few extra throws of the weight to coerce the more stubborn logs. If you look close, the once-yellow wedge is stuck in the wood beside the green wedge of the Smart Splitter. I’ve got a maul in my left hand and I switch back and forth between the two to increase expansion pressure until the wood finally gives.

Even though the wood was easier to split, I was less interested in being outside long enough to get it all done. Truth be told, I had a greater urge to lean back with my feet up in the recliner under a snuggly blanket.

Happily, Pequenita felt similar to me about spending the rest of the day on the recliner.

That’s what I call managing well to deal with a crazy, bitterly cold day.



Written by johnwhays

February 15, 2021 at 7:00 am

Forging Ahead

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The bite of persistent extreme cold weather continues to oppressively dominate life for us and our stoic chickens. There is little in the way of frivolous activity from the hens, beyond the brave layers who make extra trips between the nest boxes in the coop and the nook under the barn overhang where they have been spending the rest of the daylight hours.

Surprisingly, this cold snap does not appear to be stifling the continued development of the maturing hens into the egg-laying phase of their lives. Yesterday, we were gifted with six eggs, the most in one day so far from this brood. Unsurprisingly, not all of the eggs were found before freezing to the point of cracking.

Not all of the eggs were laid in one of the nest boxes, but at least four of the layers chose the same box.

As of yesterday, we hadn’t yet made the transition to using egg cartons when collecting eggs. When it is only one or two eggs, both Cyndie and I tend to slip them into pockets for the trip back up to the house. Once we start finding a half-dozen or more at one time, our stash of old egg cartons definitely comes into play.

As Cyndie multitasked yesterday to walk Delilah, collect the emptied trash and recycling bins, and collect eggs from the coop, she was suddenly met with —


With Delilah’s leash quick-clipped to the handle of one of the bins and Cyndie’s grip on each of the two bins, eggs in her jacket pocket, our alerted canine unexpectedly bolted 90° sideways over the snow piled along the edge of the driveway.

The jolt on the leash yanked so powerfully it pulled both the bins and Cyndie into the bank of snow where she toppled over and unceremoniously landed headfirst in the snow, resulting in one broken egg in her pocket.

She made her way back to upright and got Delilah under control and forged ahead for the warmth of the house.

Today is even colder than yesterday and tomorrow is due to be colder than today.

We’ll just keep on keeping on, uncertain of what frigid adventure might result next.



Written by johnwhays

February 13, 2021 at 11:06 am

Cold Enough

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How many days have I been writing about this latest cold spell? Don’t answer that. I don’t want to know.  I naively suspected the cold wouldn’t last unusually long, but I was wrong. According to the latest update of the forecast, not only will our cold spell be continuing, it is anticipated that it will bite even deeper this weekend than last.

The week of minor flurries and consistent wind slowly served to fill the edges of our plowed driveway with growing drifts to the point I needed to scrape them back last night.

The sides are soon reaching the limits of my blade’s ability to roll them over. I expect the next accumulation will result in a narrower overall width. At least we have made it to the second week of February. Winter is almost over, isn’t it? Don’t answer that.

I’ve lived long enough to know better than to get my hopes up about that.



Written by johnwhays

February 11, 2021 at 7:00 am

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Words on Images




Written by johnwhays

February 9, 2021 at 7:00 am

Not Bad

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Even though the cold is extreme, it is not impossible to be outside enjoying the crispness of the elements. Yesterday, after giving Delilah an abbreviated opportunity to have an extra loop from the barn past the labyrinth, which gave her one last chance to pee before heading in, I spent a little extra time outside doing some clean up of the snow I pulled off the roof the day before.

The bright sunshine was providing enough energy against the shingles to evaporate some of what remained after my raking. I took a picture to see if I could capture the steamy clouds wafting up off the roof, but mostly it highlighted the smoke coming out of the chimney from the cozy fire in our fireplace.

I wandered over to the wood splitter to see how some of the stringy specimens responded to the frigid temperature. As expected, the efficiency of my treasured splitter was nicely enhanced and I quickly dispatched several logs. Splitting wood wasn’t the main thing I wanted to work on, so I left more of that for another day. The cold weather is predicted to last long enough that I will have an opportunity to make greater headway on filling the woodshed next weekend.

My main objective was shoveling the snow that had come down off the roof the day before. It buried our backup generator and I want the vents kept clear so it can breathe for its weekly automatic 12-minute maintenance run each Wednesday. That pile of snow was as dense and firm as possible after setting overnight in the deep freeze. It would have been a cinch to dig a snow-cave into that mound, but my objective was to remove it, so the density was more of a hassle.

From the generator, I made my way around the house to the back deck. The two roof-valleys on the backside of our house hadn’t been cleared yet all winter, basically a neglectful mistake on my part. Since I don’t see them every day like I do the front, they fall into the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” category. When I do think of them, my faulty logic figures the increased sun exposure of the southern orientation will help reduce the need for my added effort.

Boy, was I wrong. As I made my way around the house with the roof rake on Saturday, each valley I came to ended up having more snow and was more difficult to pull down. I now hope this lesson will inspire me to put in the effort to stay ahead of the game by cleaning all four valleys each time snow accumulates, just to prevent it from becoming exponentially more difficult when conditions eventually force the need to avert ice dam accumulation.

While I was out on the deck shoveling, twice I heard the loud SNAP of tree trunks cracking in the cold. Since it was far from the coldest point of the 24-hour cycle of a temperature swing, it caused me to wonder if the sunshine on the dark bark contributed to some significant temperature variant that brought the stress beyond what it could handle.

It’s warm enough to melt snow on the shingles at 5-below and cold enough to grow ice formations on the facial hair of a warm-blooded human.

Harsh, but not really all that bad.



Written by johnwhays

February 8, 2021 at 7:00 am

Good Things

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There is frost on several of our double-pane windows this morning, revealing which ones have been compromised by the ravages of time. Our thermometer read -21°(F) when Cyndie took Delilah out for a walk and to check on how the chickens fared overnight. She reported the heaters were holding the coop temperature to 1° which we consider a win.

If any eggs laid today don’t freeze before we find and collect them, it will be a double win.

It is the morning before the big NFL championship game and there’s an incredible matchup of two quarterbacks on opposite phases of their careers. I wonder how those two guys are coping with their Sunday morning before the game. I would be a nervous psychological mess.

Happily, I get to sit on my easy chair, snack on special treats Cyndie will serve up, and witness the real-time drama of professional athletes battling each other and their own nerves in the biggest game of the season.

The sun is out, as it almost always is on the coldest winter days, and it looks almost inviting outside. Since we have the luxury of a warm house for protection from the harsh elements, it isn’t scary to step outside for short jaunts. This morning, first thing, I spotted three squirrels frolicking in the high branches of our trees.

If they can deal with extreme cold, certainly we can, too.

I like to think about the good things that result from cold winter days. There are no annoying mosquitos. I will not be surprised by the sudden slithering of a garden snake. I don’t have to slather my arms and legs with sunscreen lotion.

I don’t feel guilty about staying inside to watch other people getting exercise in a sports competition while I consume unnecessary calories in the comfort of my warm abode.

Happy Superbowl Sunday!



Written by johnwhays

February 7, 2021 at 10:47 am

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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.



Well Warned

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Modern meteorology provides impressive advanced warning of serious weather coming our way, but knowing about it so far in advance and hearing about the impending extremes over and over for days in a row tends to inflate the impact beyond reality.

Sure, it’s going to get cold. Thanks for letting us know. Now talk about something else.

Cyndie ordered some fancy heaters for the chicken coop, hoping they arrive quick enough to take the edge of the bitter cold our birds will be subject to with nothing but their fluffed feathers to insulate them. One protection we read about involves covering their wattles and combs with petroleum jelly to stave off frostbite. We’d have to catch them, first.

Neither of us wanted to put the chickens (or ourselves) through the added stress of that escapade.

Yesterday it was above freezing here. By Sunday, they are telling us the high temperature for the day won’t make it out of the negative digits.

We appreciate the warning.

Now I’m going to think about something else.



Written by johnwhays

February 4, 2021 at 7:00 am