Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Grizzly ATV

Dramatic Improvement

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Yesterday’s snowfall was a dramatic improvement over the first two plowable events we’ve experienced so far this season. Just ten days ago I posted about how yucky it was after receiving rain for a few hours before the storm changed to snow. Trying to plow that mess was a miserable experience.

I’d almost forgotten how good it is to clear dry snow. Last night the Grizzly ATV worked like magic again, plowing away the snow with ease. The snow conditions make a world of difference when it comes to clearing all our driving lanes and selected walking paths.

By the time I was done, instead of coming back into the house tired and frustrated, I was feeling a little giddy with excitement over the perfect conditions. I almost wanted to find something else to clear, but dinner proved to be a more enticing option.

In the middle of yesterday’s falling flakes, Cyndie captured a new shot of the snow slide on the hay shed. I was surprised to see how much of it was still holding together, even though the left side had started coming apart.

Cyndie and Delilah made me jealous after I heard Cyndie’s description of their coming upon an owl while they were walking one of the trails in our woods.

She wasn’t sure about it at first, as the large bird swooped away from them and settled upon a branch overhead. Cyndie guessed it might be a hawk. Then, that telltale rotation of the head gave it away as the owl twisted to look in their direction.

Delilah hadn’t followed the flight with her eyes so was oblivious when the noble hunter chose to perch above them, but Cyndie’s posturing to take the picture was enough to clue her in.

The owl must not be all that wise because Delilah’s rushing toward the tree scared it off, even though the threat was meaningless from down on the ground.

In the low light of dusk, all that showed up in the image was a dark blob up in the branches.

I don’t remember where I read that the presence of owls is an indication of a healthy forest environment, but the idea stuck with me. Many symbolisms about owl sightings align with either good fortune or a bad omen, so we could go either way with that.

I’m choosing to focus on the probability that it is our vibrant, healthy forest that attracted the owl to visit.

With luck, that predator is helping to control our mouse and mole populations.

Having fewer moles ravaging our yard spaces would be a dramatic improvement in the summer season. It always amazes me to find tracks in the snow from mice and moles when the temperatures are cold and the ground frozen solid.

Now I’ll watch for owl-wing feather streaks in the snow, too.



Written by johnwhays

December 10, 2019 at 7:00 am

Bad Decision

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It has been a while since I used the Grizzly ATV. Last time I had it out, I decided to park it in the hay shed since we no longer need to store hay in there. That turned out to be a bad decision.

Maybe birds don’t like the Grizzly and they were sending a message.

If I had parked it one foot over in either direction, they would have at least missed the seat. It was positioned directly beneath a joist where they perch. Just lovely.

I posted a message to the neighborhood group for input on our fisher sighting. Nobody else has reported similar. We still have all eight chickens, despite visible signs where the critter had dug to get in and out of the barn. Luckily, the chickens aren’t ever in the barn. We keep the doors shut.

There were no visitors to the chicken coop in the last twenty hours other than Cyndie and the chickens, based on the surveillance of the trail camera.

Maybe the fisher is more interested in moles and voles than chickens. After mowing yesterday, it became obvious there are plenty of burrowing rodents active across our land.

That’s probably why the big weasel showed up. It’s here to rid our yard of pesky moles.

See how I visualize the outcome I desire?

I’ll let you know how well it works. (I’m guessing not so well in this case when delivered with a heavy amount of sarcasm.).l


Written by johnwhays

August 17, 2019 at 7:59 am

Necessity Invents

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I was running out of options, in regard to clearing snow. In addition to the advancing drifts narrowing the bottom half of our driveway, we are facing the possibility of more heavy, wet snow this coming weekend. If I don’t open up some space, the next snowfall would really be a pain to clear.

Necessity being the mother of invention, I needed to figure out a way to open more width along the rise where the drifting occurs.

It was tedious, but using the most available tool –our Grizzly plow– I decided to make a series of 45-degree pushes in little “bites” to move the bank out wider. In the first 20 feet, I got stuck twice, and needed to shovel my way out.

Getting hung up like that was not going to cut it, if I was going to finish this project all at once. I needed to alter my technique.

I decided to skip ahead to focus on the narrowest section first. If getting stuck was going to keep me from getting very far, I should at the very least widen the narrowest portion of the plowed driveway.

I can’t say it was any particular savvy on my part, other than recognizing what was happening, but my switch to a new spot arbitrarily reversed my direction so that I was cutting into the snow bank from the opposite angle. In so doing, I ended up pushing first with the skinny side of the plow blade.

It quickly became apparent that this orientation facilitated backing out, while coming from the other direction was getting me hung up on the wide end of the blade.

I didn’t get stuck once finishing the rest of that whole southern stretch of the driveway.

John – 1; Drifts – 0.

I win!






Written by johnwhays

March 6, 2019 at 7:00 am

Snow Motion

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Here I go again. If I’m not writing about our animals, I must be fussing about the weather. It’s too warm, too soon; or raining way too much; or getting too dry; or… wait for it: snowing too much in April.

It’s always something.

Well, when it is too much snow, and a person needs to drive 65 miles across the heart of the population center of a large metropolitan area, it may also involve a day staying home from work in the middle of the week.

There isn’t much more than that to tell. I stayed home to avoid the traffic risks and spent my precious time shoveling and plowing too many inches of sticky spring snow.

Can I just say, snowman-making snow is not friendly for plowing. It’s already a known fact it is a pain in the back for shoveling, but my poor Grizzly and plow-blade setup does not like pushing snow that sticks together in giant blocks and to everything that presses against it.

Luckily, when the blade frame came loose beneath the ATV under the strain of the heavy snow I was trying to push, it wasn’t because something broke.

One of the holding pins had worked its way out and was laying somewhere along the quarter-mile length of our driveway.

Not to worry, I keep spare pins on hand. This isn’t my first winter here, you know?

Okay, okay, I have spares because this happened one other wicked winter when I had no clue the pins might come out under stressful plowing conditions and I was left stranded at the end of the driveway with a crippled rig.

Despite the challenges of this year’s spring season arriving in “snow-motion,” I’m not stressing over it.

It gave me an extra day off from driving to work!

(For the record, the pictures above were taken in the middle of the day yesterday, about half-way to our total accumulation. We received even more snow than shown by these images.)

Happy spring, everyone!



Written by johnwhays

April 4, 2018 at 6:00 am

Drifted Driveway

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My system of plowing in the middle of big snowstorms to avoid dealing with too many inches at one time doesn’t work so well when you are out-of-town during the snowfall events.

There were two storms while we were in Florida over the weekend.

Mid-morning yesterday, I received a phone call from McKenna. First, she explained that her boyfriend got his truck stuck trying to get out of the driveway. Second, she got her truck stuck trying to pull him out.

It turned out that the assessments she gave us in response to our queries over the weekend from Florida about whether the driveway needed to be plowed, or not, were based on how things looked out on the back deck, not the actual driveway.

The wind blowing across the driveway from the open field at the top of the first hill took the roughly 10-inches that fell in two separate events on Thursday and Saturday and firmly packed it into about a 36-inch deep drift. The deck on the back of the house benefitted from wind clearing a lot of the snow off and sunshine melting what was left.

It didn’t look very intimidating.

The driveway, however, looked pretty darn intimidating, but they didn’t realize that until they had both tried driving into it.

By the time I got home, they had successfully dug through the worst part of the deep snow and were able to get their trucks out. I spotted their tracks and decided to see what my Crosstrek could do.

About two-thirds of the way up the first slope, I could see that the undercarriage of their trucks had pressed on the snow significantly. I knew then I was in trouble. I’m pretty sure my car has less clearance than their trucks.

Luckily, Cyndie was there with a shovel. She had smartly parked her car on the roadside, having arrived when the trucks hadn’t been completely extricated yet. I dug out enough of the snow from beneath the car that I was able to move forward and keep going toward the house.

Being cocky, I forged ahead and tried to back the car into the garage like I usually do. I got stuck again, now spinning on glare ice beneath all the snow.

After a little more shoveling, I got the car into the garage. Then it was time to change clothes and jump on the Grizzly, to see if I would be able to plow all the heavy, wet snow.

It was a trick, and the driveway didn’t give in without a fight. The drift was too much for the ATV. Every time I made a pass, the firmly packed snow would push the Griz out and around. It looked like I was plowing an “S” curve.

I dug out a section to find where the pavement ended, which revealed how much snow was left to move. Much of that volume was moved by hand, with a scoop shovel, instead of with the plow.

While I was plowing down by the road, I paused to pick up the pieces of our mailbox, which pops apart when blasted by snow flying off the county plow. It was easily repairable.

Once the driveway was wide enough to easily fit vehicles, I was able to move on to cleaning snow off the roof near the front door, and then shoveling the heavy, wet snow again, to clear the steps and walkway.

We are definitely not in Florida anymore.



Written by johnwhays

February 27, 2018 at 7:00 am

So Much

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What a difference a day makes. On Monday, the storm was inundating us with so much snow that we struggled to deal with it. The intensity created an impression that it might never end. Yesterday, if it weren’t for the huge amount of snow now covering everything, it was as if the storm had never happened. It’s like the drama of Monday was just a dream.

Yesterday, the interstate was almost dry, the sun was out, and visibility was crystal clear.

When I got home from work, I had to immediately pick up where I had left of with the plowing on Monday. After a few quick passes up and down the driveway to clear the couple of inches that had fallen overnight, I focused my attention on clearing the area around the hay shed and barn.

It was a laborious and tedious process of wrestling the Grizzly through deep snow, on the icy slope dropping from the driveway to the barn. I got stuck several times, but scrambled my way out each time by some crazy maneuvering back and forth, to and fro.

Other than some cleanup needed around the edges with a shovel, I’m declaring the driveways now complete.

You know that clean deck I was showing off a week or so ago?

That will be the next project. The wind didn’t blow it clean this time.



Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2018 at 7:00 am

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Workshops Happening

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It was a gorgeous day for hosting a workshop yesterday, and that’s exactly what happened while I was away at the day-job. The illustrious staff posed in their new shirts, wearing smiles of success after a full day of activity.

Shelby, Cyndie, and Dunia put on a Team Building workshop for a corporate client. From the banter of follow-up analysis that I overheard, it sounded like folks engaged well with the curriculum.

I was a little nervous early in the morning when I received a call from Cyndie asking what I use for a pin to attach the grader/rake to the ATV. The round pen sand did deserve attention, after the dowsing of rain in two significant batches on Monday, which left some spots a little soupy.

Piloting the Grizzly while pulling the grader inside the confines of the round pen, using only one good arm seemed like more stress than necessary in the waning minutes before people arrive.

She decided to make do with a hand rake.

I’m sure it wasn’t perfect, but it sounds like it worked well enough.

When I got home, I was happy to find the beautiful new flag we bought as an attention-getting marker was flowing perfectly at the driveway entrance.

It should be no question now that clients have found the right place when they reach our street and that flag is out.

Now if we could just arrange for the weather to be as nice for all the rest of the workshops in August and September as it was yesterday, we’d have it made. It’s sounding like we won’t be so lucky come this Saturday.

I told Cyndie we need to buy some Wintervale umbrellas.

The way things go, if we have umbrellas, we’ll never need to use them. Or so it often seems.