Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘heavy snow

Heavy Record

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Not that I’m going to write about the weather or anything… I used to like snow. Yesterday we received a record 7+ inches of heavy, wet and sticky, white stuff. It wasn’t all that likeable for the adventures I faced. Honestly, I shouldn’t complain about my commute home from work, as it was only about a half-hour longer than normal. I didn’t witness any spinouts, cars in ditches, or jackknifed semis (of which the State Highway Patrol reported there were 17). Just slow-moving vehicles along my route.

I left work early to give myself time to arrive at my health clinic for an appointment to get my flu shot. The curvy entrance to the place was a mess of unplowed slushy snow and my four tires had no grip as I rounded a bend and slid sideways into the oncoming lane. Luckily, nobody was coming from the other direction.

The snow was so deep on our driveway, I decided I should plow. This was one heck of a first accumulation, coming in October, barely three days after I mowed the grass around the house and swept up leaves.

The chickens are freaking out over this weather and the young ones seem to have no clue how to deal with it. They got all wet and shivery but wouldn’t be coaxed inside the shelter of their coop. Cyndie ended up chasing every last one of them to force them in by her hands.

We forgot the solution from last year of stuffing plastic along the outer edge of the space between the roof panels and the hardware cloth that is the ceiling of the coop. It keeps out blowing snow. Cyndie reported a lot of white coating the inside.

I hope we aren’t going to run out of names for the winter storms this year like the weather service did for the hurricane season. Starting this early in the season does not bode well.

If they didn’t assign them alphabetically, I think they should name yesterday’s storm, “Yuck.”

Spoken like the old fogey I seem to be turning into as the years go by.



Written by johnwhays

October 21, 2020 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Giving Up

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To heck with keeping up, I’m ready to give up. The snow-pocalypse of February wins. I can only endure so much, and it turns out, unending accumulation of plow-able amounts of snow in close succession is more than my fragile mind can handle.

It takes a certain mental discipline to clear the quarter-mile of driveway from the house to the road, then around the hay shed and in front of the barn, when the snow is falling fast enough to cover your progress as fast as you make it.

That’s alright. After the year when I waited until the snow was absolutely stopped before plowing, and there was too much for even my big tractor to clear, I learned that it would be smarter to plow whenever we get 5 or 6 inches, even if it was still snowing.

But it is very rare that it would take more than two sessions of plowing. Until now.

I am officially drained of my stoic Northland resilience. Is this one of the ways that zombies are created? I am but a shell of my former self. In the fading light of day, I found myself stumbling up the driveway from the barn, dragging a shovel behind me, while the snow continued to fall.

There is no space to push more snow. At the end of the day yesterday, the wind started to pick up and create drifts. Of all times for us to need more gas, it happens in the heart of a big snowstorm.

I stayed home from work yesterday, and the highlight of the day for me was that I wasn’t driving my car on snowy roads. Then I needed gas. Out I ventured onto the drifted roads in my car, frowning.

This battle all played out after I had spent the early part of the day raking snow off the roof, and then needing to shovel the giant mound from our front steps.

It was exhausting work, but when I finished, it seemed like the snow was letting up, inspiring me to move on to the plowing. I even saw a glimpse of a bright yellow circle in the sky, through the clouds for a few seconds.

It didn’t last. Halfway through plowing, the rate of snowfall picked up dramatically. That was pretty much the point that my brain threw in the towel.

The rest of the plowing was devoid of my usual attention to detail.

There are options that would serve to remedy my problem of having nowhere to push more snow: a snowblower attachment, for one.

Visiting Cyndie’s parents in Florida for several months is another possibility. I wonder if they would mind if we brought all our animals along.

I think the horses and chickens are all about as done with falling snow as I am.



Written by johnwhays

February 13, 2019 at 7:00 am

Keeping Up

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While we were risking our lives to drive across the Twin Cities in heavy snow for the funeral on Sunday, our property back home was getting buried by another plowable layer. That meant, when I got home from work yesterday, I needed to plow and shovel a few hours worth of snow to get the place cleaned up.

Normally, this is a very rewarding endeavor, but this time it felt a little insane. Expending all this energy to clear snow when even more is imminent. By the end of the day today, our landscape will likely look as if I hadn’t done anything, if the passing precipitation lives up to what was predicted.

It reminds me of a humorous thought a friend once expressed. It went something like this: “I dusted once. A week later, all the dust had returned. I won’t fall for that again.”

As fast as we clear away fallen snow this February, more falls to replace it. My heart wants to just wait until it stops snowing for a few days and then plow. My mind knows the folly of such a plan. The more often I plow, the easier each following effort will be.

There are a couple of challenges created by these repeating waves of significant snowfalls. It is getting harder and harder to clear the snow because the piles are growing mighty tall, and the deep snow on our roof is leading to ice dams on the eaves.

That second one is a compound problem, actually. I can pull the snow down off of the roof with a rake, but then I need to shovel it somewhere. That means I have to throw it up and over the tall piles that already exist.

Just what I need. More shoveling!

I can’t keep up as it is.

It’s almost like the early summer growing season, when the grass grows so fast that it needs cutting the day after I just finished cutting it.

We are a land of two main seasons: shoveling snow or mowing grass.



Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2019 at 7:00 am

Risking Again

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After last week’s risky and dangerous commute home from work, I intended to be more cautious about venturing out when the weather gets wild and the roads are dicey.

However, there are some things that cause us to push that envelope of safety, like, say… a funeral for a family member. That is what we were faced with yesterday. The service for Cyndie’s aunt was at a church in Plymouth, MN, not far from the location of my day-job.

I stepped out to clean off the front steps yesterday morning, and soon learned the snow was coming down so fast that the areas where I shoveled were getting covered right back up in minutes. That caused an alert that our drive to the cities was going to take much longer than normal.

I rushed inside to let Cyndie know that we needed to depart as soon as possible, and anything she was hoping to accomplish before leaving needed to be immediately re-evaluated as to whether it was more important than possibly missing the funeral.

It was another day of crash-defying navigation in horrible visibility with heavy snow falling and roads slippery and snow-covered. Just the conditions I never wanted to find myself in again for a very long time. It’s exhausting.

To complicate matters, we needed to drive separately. We would both stay overnight in Edina, and I would drive to work this morning, while Cyndie will join immediate family at the cemetery for a brief burial service. After that, she will drive home to take over from our house/animal sitter, Anna, who stayed overnight at Wintervale for us.

I drove ahead of Cyndie, but kept a close eye on her in my rear view mirror. Together, we slowly made our way with barely a minute to spare, luckily avoiding the fate that we witnessed maybe a dozen times along the way, of cars losing control and crashing into the ditches all around us.

It was crazy making. It was white-knuckle gripping of the steering wheel the whole way. That kind of “edge-of-disaster” driving is really, really exhausting.

Follow that with heavy emotions of a funeral service, and that’s one heck of a draining day.

Wouldn’t you know, tomorrow we are due to get hit with another big snow event.

Something tells me I won’t be driving to work Tuesday.



Written by johnwhays

February 11, 2019 at 7:00 am

All Day

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Two all day things: It snowed all day yesterday and we shoveled all day. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!

On Wednesday night, we noticed all the school districts in our vicinity were announcing they would be closed on Thursday, so I decided that was a pretty good clue that I shouldn’t try driving to the day-job. As a result, I am going in today, in a swap of days for my 4-day work week.

Sitting at my desk today will be a welcome relief from the strenuous exercise of shoveling for hours on end.

I took a little break to see what the horses thought of all these flying flakes. Cyndie caught a picture of Dezirea and me giving each other the eye. I think the horses were growing weary of the long duration of snowfall.









Cayenne was sporting some cute curls in her long wet winter growth.

I got out the snowshoes to walk Delilah on our trails through the woods. She was so fired up to be out in the deep snow that she wanted to run, but I couldn’t keep up with her at that pace. I felt bad slowing her down.

The chickens showed no interest in leaving the coop. I snowshoed all around the coop to pack down the snow for whenever they decide to come out again. It’s probably going to be too cold for them today, but eventually, they will get tired of being cooped up (literally!) and venture out into the world again.

We have one Buff Orpington that doesn’t seem to be her normal self. We think she may have scrapped with that possum and be suffering some ill effects as a result. Cyndie couldn’t see any obvious physical wounds, so we have decided to just keep her comfortable and see if time heals whatever might be bothering her.

Today, I’m hoping to not do any shoveling all day. I’m expecting to be confused by this disruption of my normal routine, commuting and being at work on a Friday.

I expect it’s going to make my weekend seem unusually short, but my body will appreciate today’s break in the manual labor of property management chores.



Written by johnwhays

February 8, 2019 at 7:00 am

Mad Weather

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Using just a couple hours in the dark Tuesday night to plow and shovel the 9 inches of snow we received, left the overall job of cleaning up around here far from complete. I spent yesterday at the day-job again, arriving home with no interest in rushing out again to do the rest of the plowing or shoveling, so plenty of spots remain covered.

The deck ended up with a fascinating snowscape of waves and lines unlike anything I remember seeing before. We have ended up with a variety of interesting patterns over the years, but never one with peaks so tall while the slots between remained wide open.

It must have been the result of a perfect dryness of the flakes and lack of wind while they fell.

The pending challenge which we are very curious to have revealed, is whether the predicted next wave of snow will double what already fell Tuesday, and make our job of clearing paths and trails –and the back deck– even more challenging that it was already going to be.

Last night, Cyndie and I watched a rented sci-fi thriller, “Life” (2017), a movie that depicts a space station crew studying a one-celled life form picked up on Mars that unexpectedly grows into a threatening menace. At one point in the movie, the lead scientist ponders the terrorizing underway by the organism they had named, “Calvin”.

“Calvin doesn’t hate us. But he has to kill us in order to survive.”

While out in the snow last night, under a “downpour” of more freshly falling flakes, I realized I was feeling a similar sense about the multiple blasts of winter weather battering us of late. My mind tends to perceive the storms as having cognition and intentionally pummeling our region with increasing levels of abuse.

But the weather doesn’t hate us. It is just an unemotional result of ingredients playing out on a global scale. Somewhere, a butterfly flapped its wings and we got walloped by winter.

Still, I can’t deny the distinct impression that, even though the weather might not hate us, it’s behaving an awful lot like it’s a little bit mad at us right now.



Written by johnwhays

February 7, 2019 at 7:00 am