Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘frozen ground

Harsh Environment

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It’s not always easy, carving out survival in all the crazy extremes of weather possible in the great outdoors. It may seem odd at first mention, but I think snow actually softens the blow of winter months, both figuratively and literally. We have received very little this year, and what did fall has mostly disappeared. After the rain and re-freeze, followed by a few days of melting, we settled into a pattern of cold that has created a particularly harsh environment outside.

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The ground is hard as rock and every other step is slippery from spots of ice.

Dezirea showed up with a bloody cut just under the joint of her cannon and pastern bones. If you look closely, there is a less obvious cut similarly located on her other front leg. I wondered if she maybe broke through some ice in the drainage rut that crosses the back pasture.

There isn’t any snow deep enough to have broken through a crust to get a cut like that.

Cyndie is up at the lake place for the weekend, so I sent her a text with the image. She asked if there was any blood on Hunter’s back hooves.

Hmm.

I hadn’t thought of that. Of course, there wasn’t.

Dezi was moving around just fine and didn’t seem any worse for the wear. There has been no further bleeding from the cut, so I am letting time do the natural healing it always provides, while also watching for any changes to the worse.

Delilah and I walked the pasture to look for any possible hazards or signs of a possible cause. Finding absolutely nothing, I’m beginning to think Cyndie may have identified the more likely culprit.

I sure hope Dezirea is dishing out as much as she is taking in the ongoing roughhousing happening among our three-horse herd.

Makes me miss Legacy that much more. Tomorrow is the first anniversary of his departure from this world. I’m definitely feeling it.

Toward the end of his life, Legacy’s poop took on a strikingly loose consistency. In an unsettlingly timed turn yesterday, while cleaning up after the horses in the paddock, I came upon a pile that was uncomfortably similar to what we used to see from the old herd leader.

Maybe the horses are feeling a little sick, too, over memories of what transpired a year ago on that oh-so-cold January thirteenth night.

A harsh environment, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

January 13, 2019 at 11:18 am

Eventual Success

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We finally got the break in our weather that allowed us to deal with all the leaves on the front lawn yesterday. How many weeks have I been whining about this issue?

You don’t have to answer that. It was a rhetorical question.

I am well aware of how long this dilemma has been dragging on. I have been looking at it every day since the big oak tree over the driveway suddenly let go of more leaves all at once than in all the previous years that we’ve lived here.

It was a big year for acorns, so maybe the two things are related. The tree put so much energy into growing acorns that it let go of the leaves in greater volume than usual? Yeah, that’s stated as a question. I have no actual knowledge on the subject.

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We had some help on the project yesterday. The chickens were very interested in all this scratchin’ that was going on and came up to check things out. If I wasn’t working fast enough for them, they would step into the leaves and start clawing away themselves to get at the goods.

It looked to me as though they just peck at the ground after invisible nothings, but pausing to crouch down and get up close and personal with one of the Australorps, I was surprised to see it pick up a big fat green caterpillar that I had no idea was there.

I sure hope all the pecking they are doing is reducing the tick and fly population that would otherwise emerge to trouble us next spring. The current brood of nine are covering a surprising range of territory with impressive thoroughness, based on the cute little scratching circles they leave behind throughout our forest floor.

The weather finally warmed above freezing enough that the ground surface was just pliable enough to give up the leaves, but the annoying push-up tunnels of moles and voles were still solid. It made for some all-terrain raking complications.

Unfortunately, some precipitation moved in with the warmth, so after we barely finished with the front yard, it started to rain. Now the ground is frozen beneath a thin slippery wet layer to give us something else to chirp about.

Will I ever be content with the way things are? Eventually.

Beyond the surface of petty complaints I am so deft at plying, I am more content than ever. Just yesterday I was pointing out how much simple joy the chickens bring every day. I had no idea how much pleasure they would provide.

Regarding the art of reframing all my petty whining, I am visualizing eventual success.

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Written by johnwhays

November 24, 2018 at 11:01 am

Nice Try

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The weather at home has eased enough to melt the snow in all the areas except shaded spots, but it hasn’t released its grip on the frozen ground. I had a spare ten minutes last Friday while Cyndie was finishing preparations for our visit to Anneliese and George’s house, so I grabbed a rake and tried moving some leaves off the grass on the front yard.

In the time I had, pretty much all I accomplished was clearing a small area of the yard and piling the leaves around two trees. That left a lot of oak leaves still frozen in the grass.

Earlier Friday morning, I also tried raking out piles of composted manure that I had dumped on the hay-field while Cyndie was in Guatemala. I hadn’t gotten a chance to do that before because it rained, then froze, and then snowed on those piles.

On Friday, it was almost warm enough to make me think raking out the piles would be possible. Almost. I worked on it anyway, because it felt like any little progress was better than no progress at all.

I’m counting on the universe giving me points for at least trying, on both the leaves and compost tasks.

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Written by johnwhays

November 19, 2018 at 7:00 am

Looking Brown

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When I got home from work yesterday, I looked at the thermometer outside to find the high and low temperatures for the day. It ranged from the warmest being 32.9°(F) and the coldest, 32.0°. Yummy.

It’s going to be a struggle sweeping up the wet leaves from the grass if the winter weather that showed up this week decides to stay.

Most of the ground is still too warm for the snow to last. The image of our woods below provides a clear demonstration of the difference between the relative warmth of the ground, compared to the above-ground branches that are cold enough the snow doesn’t melt.

Supposedly, the ground will have a chance to freeze in the days ahead, as the forecast predicts a number of days in a row with high temperatures not making it above the freezing point.

Other than the disaster this will present for me with regard to leaves in the yard, it will be a welcome change from the current swampy conditions on our trails. We’ve got standing water in multiple places. The lime-screenings around the barn overhang are starting to become a mud fest from heavy hoof traffic.

I am ready for it all to become rock hard. The squishing is becoming tiresome.

Look at the color palette of these three pictures. Does anyone else associate November with the color brown?

Last night, I was listening to music on the radio in the house and more than once, Delilah reacted as if she heard something outside. At one point, she barked, like someone was here.

I shut off the radio and let her hear the quiet.

We went to the front door so I could show her there was nobody around. She then ran around to the door to the garage. I’ve seen this routine many times. She was looking for Cyndie to arrive home.

I opened the door to the garage to show her it was dark in there. I made the mistake of turning on the light, which allowed Delilah to see Cyndie’s car and get revved up over what that usually means.

How do I explain to Delilah that Cyndie got a ride to the airport and her car has been parked in the garage for the last eight days?

I guess enough days have passed since Delilah last saw Cyndie that she is beginning to figure mom must be coming home soon.

Just two more days!

That might be all the time needed for enough snow to fall that Cyndie will never know I didn’t get around to removing all the leaves.

Well, never, until next spring, that is.

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More Cuttin’

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I stepped out with the chainsaws yesterday and continued crafting a new pathway along our north property line. First, I worked the pole saw to bring down branches that crossed the fence line from our neighbor’s trees. This is a task that, like so many others, seems to grow as you work.

For each branch that comes down, multiple previously unnoticed smaller branches suddenly appear.

I don’t know, maybe that’s part of the appeal. The simple task becomes a drawn out project requiring an athletic endurance to complete, and offers a visual reward that can be enjoyed for months.

With the overhead branches removed, the big remaining obstacle drew my total focus: that massive downed oak, frozen in the ground and blocking passage. I’d been slowly picking away at the bark and digging away the leaves around it for days. I found there was a portion where I could saw a section that was suspended above the ground.

It was irresistible to the point I extended my work day to continue progress. I’ve now got the main section across the trail cut into pieces that will be much easier to manage, once the ground releases them from winter’s grip.

I was able to roll one piece out and tip it up on end. That inspired a couple of additional cuts on what remained, even though there wasn’t clearance from the ground. I succeeded at the cost of a sharp blade. The end of the blind cutting put my saw in contact with blade-dulling dirt.

I will spend this morning practicing the art of sharpening my chainsaw blade while the sun climbs high and warms the soil around the dwindling limbs still seized in the frozen ground. Before I do any more cutting, I plan to use shovels and pry bars in hopes of finally eliminating the last barrier across our new route behind the wood shed.

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Written by johnwhays

March 19, 2017 at 9:50 am

Alternate Path

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For a very long time, I’ve wanted to clean up branches and trees that have fallen on the old rusty barbed wire fence along our north property line. Doing so could provide an alternate, straighter route for our perimeter trail. Instead of passing in front of the woodshed to get to a trail head that leads down the hill away from the yard, the new path would follow the fence line behind the woodshed, and be a continuation of a trail that currently runs behind the shop garage.

We’ll need to take out a nice thicket of raspberry bushes and ultimately move sections of a downed tree that is so large, previous owners cut it up, but left the pieces in place. The sections were too large to move.

Beyond those two issues, there were only a small number of saplings to be snipped, which is probably one big reason I felt inspired to open up this pathway in the first place. It was already almost there.

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Yesterday, I started the effort, thinking it might be quick and easy, once I got out the chainsaw. It was, and it wasn’t. There were a few branches that moved easily after being cut, but there remained a surprising number of the larger limbs that were held firmly in the frozen ground.

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Since we have a wealth of branches to be run through the chipper in that area, I’m planning to bring the tractor back there anyway, so I figure the hydraulic power of the loader might be the solution to moving the heavy sections of that tree trunk.

The question I haven’t answered is whether I will have better luck while the ground is still frozen, or should wait until after the thaw.

Today may involve a test of the frozen option.

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Written by johnwhays

March 12, 2017 at 9:27 am