Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘extreme cold

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

Steaming Cold

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DSCN2866eYesterday morning we awoke to double-digit below-zero temperatures. It was probably the coldest night we have left the horses outside to endure. They did have their blankets on, and despite significant frost on their faces from their breath and some nasty snow/ice buildup on the bottoms of their hooves, they seemed to have handled it fine.

I experienced another first when I decided to see if I could to anything to help Legacy with the excessive buildup under his front hooves. After locating a hoof pick in Cyndie’s tray of tools, I stepped up and invited him to lift his foot for me.

Based on my vague memory of watching our farrier, George Walker, I maneuvered to hold Legacy’s leg between my knees. He seemed to welcome my efforts and was very accommodating of my untrained technique. It is probably best to have another person to handle the horse for this procedure, but he and I were the only ones available. We made due.

The whole chunk wouldn’t pop off like I’d hoped, so I scraped and scratched as best I was able to grind it down to a less severe knob. Legacy stood stationary after I finished that first hoof, so I took that as a sign of approval and walked around to repeat my performance on the other side. Other than his leaning excessively to the point of scaring me he was going to topple over, it went about the same as the first one. He seemed satisfied with the partial progress.

DSCN2860eOn a whim, I tried to see if I could get any good pictures of the ice crystal formations that grew on piles of manure. I thought the juxtaposition of the two might produce and interesting result.

It was steaming hot for a little while.

Surprisingly, the extreme cold doesn’t stop the biological processes at work in the compost pile, so the crystal growth gets a lot more substantial. That small mountain of manure is cooking and the steam rises all night long.

I was hoping to get a good image from the main pile, but it was probably too cold overnight and the ice accumulation grew so thick it got beyond the delicate beauty I was wanting to capture. Of course, that didn’t stop me from trying.

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When all the morning chores were done and Delilah and I had finished our breakfast, I made an extra trip back down to check on the horses. I had spoken with George about the ice buildup and confirmed I was doing the right thing. Emboldened, I wanted to see if I could help any of the other horses.

DSCN2901eThey were all napping in the sun. I sat on the ground with them for about a half an hour, soaking up the cold sunshine and enjoying the serenity with them. They didn’t need any further intervention from me.

By the afternoon, it looked like they had all successfully shed the accumulation that was stuck to them in the morning. A much better solution than my trying to do it for them.

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Written by johnwhays

February 20, 2015 at 7:00 am