Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘ice

Even Icier

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If my experience yesterday on the south side of our house ends up being typical for any of you who happen to also be in the Twin Cities area that received rain over Thanksgiving weekend, I recommend that you check your roof for ice beneath the snow. There were areas where the frozen crust was two inches thick on our roof. That adds a lot of weight.

I knew there was an annoying frozen crust beneath the snow around here because it has made both plowing and shoveling a complex and frustrating endeavor, but I had no idea the result on the roof was so pronounced.

I struggled mightily to break through the thick frozen layer beneath the multiple inches of snow yesterday by turning the Avalanche Deluxe head on its side and chopping out small pieces at a time.

Using the head with the plastic film, I was only able to slide down the loose snow that was on top of the thick crust, but that still moved more snow, faster, with one stroke upwards than I ever did when trying to pull it all down with my old rake.

I’m just as pleased with my purchase today as I was after the first use on Saturday.

The only disadvantage of the ease of pulling the snow off the roof is the resulting large amount of densely packed snow on the deck, steps, and walkways that then needs to be shoveled away.

That project takes a lot longer than the time it took to bring it all down off the roof.

Shoveling it off the deck was made appropriately more laborious by the chunks of ice slabs mixed in with the snow.

I am very thankful for the forecast showing a few days with sun ahead and no days with precipitation in the next week to allow time for the raked roof to respond to the new exposure with some serious evaporation.

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Written by johnwhays

December 16, 2019 at 7:00 am

Crosstrek Love

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Have I mentioned how much I love my Subaru Crosstrek? It virtually drove itself home yesterday in the heavy snowfall we received. I just pressed the pedals every once in a while. The car plowed through the deep snow easily, holding the lane even when I had no idea where the lane was.

My only complaint was the icing on the wiper blades, but I wasn’t alone. Everyone was having the same problem I was on the last leg, reaching out their window to attempt “thwacking” the blade as it swung near, and pulling off wherever possible to get out and knock off ice.

This was my view toward the end:

There was nowhere to pull over, as each spot I came to was already filled by two or three cars, creating a scary hazard of potential collisions.

When I reached my driveway, I paused to clean my windshield so I could see to stay as close to the center of the pavement as possible. There was no guarantee that I would make it all the way up to the house.

After I parked in the garage, I noticed the back of my car was so coated by snow that my brake lights were hardly noticeable. I had been running with my 4-way flashers on during the craziest portion between River Falls and home, but they probably weren’t making a big difference in visibility.

After dinner, I went out to plow and poked a yardstick into the snow up by the house to check the depth. It was a little deeper down toward the shop garage, but this reading was a solid 8.5 inches.

That melty snow of last weekend is a thing of the past now. We have a fresh dose of the real McCoy. According to the forecast, this batch of flakes was just the warm up. Tonight and tomorrow, we are supposed to receive even more than what fell yesterday.

I’m not sure where I will put it all when plowing and shoveling. The piles are already impressively tall.

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Written by johnwhays

February 6, 2019 at 7:00 am

Contrast Comparison

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Let’s review.

Last week, polar vortex:

A few days ago, February thaw:

Yesterday morning, the commute to the cities was an ice adventure. On one of the close-to-home country roads, my tires lost grip and the Crosstrek started to float at a bit of a sideways angle. At the wee hours of morning, there were no other cars around, otherwise, that slide could have been a head-on collision disaster, as I encroached into the oncoming lane.

After a short distance, the tires re-gripped and the car violently responded with a sudden jolt of physics reality, returning without trouble to rolling straight forward, aligned in the proper lane of travel.

I adjusted my speed accordingly for the rest of the commute.

The residual trepidation that gripped me after that brief adventure in free flight was the possibility, or probability, of someone driving toward me losing traction like I had and then floating uncontrollably into my lane. Luckily, there were only a few cars that approached while I was on two-lane roads. After that, it was all divided highway.

I witnessed no crashes driving in the 5 o’clock hour, but my nerves were further rattled by a radio report that 4 salting trucks had slid into ditches in the county just north of our home.

I carefully pulled my car into the parking spot at work and breathed a sigh of relief. When I stepped out onto the glazed pavement, I was startled over how slippery it actually was. I couldn’t walk up the tiniest incline of sidewalk to the front door. I needed to “penguin” my way over to some snow and walk on that.

A coworker had the best solution for all this crazy winter weather we’ve been facing lately. Humans should be genetically engineered to hibernate during winter.

This is how I am able to recognize I am truly aging. That idea actually sounds appealing to me.

I suppose in a few more years, I will start talking about moving south over the winter months.

It’s enough to make my 20-year-old self roll over in his hypothetical grave. There are days I miss that guy.

I gotta admit, though, the sight of my 60-year milestone approaching on the horizon has me leaning more toward liking the looks of that future snow-bird guy a bit more than the young winter athlete of years gone by.

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Written by johnwhays

February 5, 2019 at 7:00 am

Looks Wrong

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This just looks wrong for a mid-January landscape in the Northland. When the sun came out for our afternoon walk, I was struck by how uncharacteristic the view was. I have only needed to plow the driveway once this season. It feels very strange.

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When Delilah and I were surveying the pasture for hazardous ice on Saturday, we instead found artistic ice formations.

I love these lines.

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One last thing that looks wrong this year, the white horse is missing from our herd.

In loving memory…

            LEGACY

7/18/1996 – 1/14/2018

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Written by johnwhays

January 14, 2019 at 7:00 am

Inescapable Icecapades

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Winter conditions on our land have devolved steadily ever since the combination of that day-long rain, followed by a hard freeze. This is despite last weekends’ several days of above freezing temperatures. The melts and re-freezes just seem to compound the disasters of ice that are building up in so many places.

The driveway around the barn is barely navigable.

The paddocks have become practically skate-able.

As I crested the last hill approaching our driveway on my commute home from work yesterday, I noticed debris in the road, but before I could react, I heard the “pop” of glass breaking.

I spent the next half hour with a push broom, trying to clean up the remains of a broken bottle that was scattered across several yards in front of our property, muttering to myself over what goes through a person’s mind that they are willing to toss their trash out the window.

Especially, in front of our beautiful land!

Our weather forecast is suggesting another few days ahead with temperatures expected to climb above freezing. Even with the promise of some partial sunshine, it isn’t clear whether the mild trend will add more treacherous ice to our low spots, or shrink our several skating rinks.

At this point, I think what we truly need to improve conditions is a significant amount of snow to fall. Seems a little reversed logic, doesn’t it?

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Written by johnwhays

January 10, 2019 at 7:00 am

Growing Crystals

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It is wet, and the temperature drops below freezing at night, so morning walks offer views of the overnight ice crystal growth. Photo op!

We are enjoying a couple of days with daytime temps climbing above freezing, so our snow cover is dwindling. Walking Delilah along the perimeter trails yesterday, I discovered tire tracks that revealed someone had left the road and driven into the ditch by our property.

Roads in the area are still slippery.

Delilah made a surprise discovery while we were making our way through our woods after I got home from work yesterday. (Interesting coincidence: Ward and I were just exchanging comments related to this subject on my Tuesday post, Feeling Wintery.)

Like she almost always does, she was paying frequent attention toward the center of our woods, obviously picking up the scent of something that interested her. She generally walks a short distance, then stops to look left and sniff at the air, before continuing on for a ways and stopping again.

Sometimes, she picks up a scent on the ground and tries to follow it a few steps off the trail. I tend to pull her back quickly to get her back on task of walking our regular patrol around the property.

All of a sudden yesterday, she bolted to the left as if she was immediately on the tail of some critter, circling around a large tree trunk beside the trail before I could put the brake on her leash. I spotted the pile of fur just as she struck it with a massive bite.

She then let go just about as fast as she had attacked. Uncharacteristically, she didn’t resist one bit when I put tension on her leash to bring her back to the trail.

We walked a short distance and I hooked her to a tree so I could go back alone to see what it was that she had bitten. It was an opossum. I didn’t bother to check for any other detail, choosing to let nature take its course, and us to finish our walk.

If that had been one of our chickens, they wouldn’t have stood a chance.

Even though we keep Delilah on a leash, we also need to pay attention to her at all times.

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Written by johnwhays

November 15, 2018 at 7:00 am

Insanity Revisits

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We deal with the weather here every day, and every time it gets insane it feels like the worst time ever. In reality, they are probably all equally insane, each with their own unique version of insanity.

This morning, it is freezing rain that makes just reaching our animals limb-threateningly risky, let alone extremely difficult to tend to their needs.

I knew it was severe this morning when I watched Delilah’s rush to return to the house cause Cyndie’s harsh reaction over being pulled too fast —faster than she could baby-step her penguin walk over the glaze in an escapade worthy of film to reach our front door and scale the slippery steps.

Her first words upon entering involved a bold reference to not wanting to live here any longer.

Yes, it’s that bad this morning.

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Written by johnwhays

March 4, 2018 at 10:29 am

Planning Ahead

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I’m happy to report that yesterday’s commute went without a hitch, despite completing the last few miles home in the afternoon in an ever-increasing snowfall.

It was a busy night for me last night. After putting Delilah through a long workout with some off-trail deep snow, I needed to plow the driveway and do some shoveling, before heading inside to pack for a weekend out of town. Not just out of town, but out of state. We are flying to spend the weekend with Cyndie’s parents in Florida, traveling with our friends, Barb and Mike Wilkus.

Our trusty home and animal sitter, McKenna, has offered to cover the necessary days that will allow us to spend a night before and after Florida at Cyndie’s parent’s Edina home to maximize efficiency and minimize driving between home, work, and the airport.

That meant I needed to think about getting ready for work this morning, as well as packing for four days in Florida, and then making sure I will have everything I need for going to work the following Monday. After work today, I will drive to Edina. Cyndie will meet me there to spend the night before we head to the airport with Barb and Mike early in the morning.

We get back to the Cities late on Sunday, and will be able to avoid the long drive back to Beldenville by returning to the Edina home for the night. Monday morning, I head directly to work from there.

That’s thinking a lot of days ahead for me. So much for living in the moment.

On the walk with Delilah, we found some good evidence of the icing that was occurring on Monday. It looked like someone had painted our fence posts gray, which, humorously, was my first thought when I spotted the odd sight.

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Oh, yeah. It was just ice.

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Written by johnwhays

February 21, 2018 at 7:00 am

Interesting Science

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I was actually beginning to write this interesting science post last Sunday morning, back when it was so cold outside, but then Cyndie burst in to announce we had a horse emergency. Boy, did we.

I spent a little time with the three chestnuts after I got home from work yesterday. They were mostly preoccupied with munching the freshly served hay that Cyndie had just put in the boxes, but there were some brief moments of acknowledgement from each of them.

They seemed a little hapless to me. It could just as easily be a projection of my own forlorn perspective, but they are obviously in the middle of trying to adjust to the sudden absence of their principle decision maker, so hapless feels like a logical possibility.

It snowed a lot on Sunday and Monday this week, so I also did some shoveling yesterday afternoon. The deck on the back side of the house had not been cleared since the snow piled up. I wanted to get that cleaned off before the next thaw arrives, which we are anticipating for the next few days, starting with this afternoon.

The last time I was writing about the deck was because it had remained surprisingly clear throughout the prior snowfall, partly because it had been so windy, and partly because that precipitation started as a drizzling rain. If you are a regular reader, you may recall that I posted a picture of it.

Well, by the afternoon of the very next day, the deck surface had changed so dramatically that I took another picture for comparison.

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I’ve written about this before, because it is a winter phenomenon that fascinates me. The ice sublimates from a solid to a gas without actually becoming liquid in between. It just disappears into cold, thin air.

If you enlarge the photo on the left, you can see the bumpy glaze of ice on the boards that formed as the relatively warm and wet precipitation started to fall. I originally posted that photo because I was amazed the several inches of snow that came out of the sky by the end of the event, never accumulated on the deck.

The wind kept the deck surprisingly clean.

By the afternoon of the next day, despite temperatures down around zero degrees (F), I glanced out and noticed that a large majority of the deck boards were now dry. There were hardly any of the icy bumps from the day before.

They hadn’t melted. The deck was completely dry. The frozen bumps had sublimated.

It’s like magic!

Or science.

Something like that.

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Written by johnwhays

January 18, 2018 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Tidying Up

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With temperatures climbing into the 40s yesterday, Cyndie and I saw an opportunity to do a little tidying up around the property. After the most recent bouts of quasi-winter rain-sleet-snow precipitation, an annoying icy, glazed mass of packed snow had become the surface of our driveway.dscn5785e

I took out an ice scraper and pushed away at the soft, wet edges of the ice pack in front of the house. The portion that will come up without resistance is visibly obvious. I focused on that, picking the low-hanging fruit. After working the edges and then pushing the crumble of snow and ice to the side with my shovel, I looked back to see there was already a whole new measure of visibly obvious portions that begged attention.

How could I not keep going? After three times around, I had the whole upper platform of our driveway clean to the pavement. The  melt was happening at an amazing rate.

Cyndie was down with the horses, planning to give each of them some individual attention and grooming. That was my next stop, thinking I could hang out with them and clean up manure while she brushed them out. Even though there was a cloud cover painting the day with a hue of gray, the air was absolutely calm, allowing the warm temperature to feel perfectly comfortable without getting hot.dscn5784e

Legacy’s tail has always grown long, but Cyndie noticed it had reached a point where he was stepping on it, so she decided to give it a trim.

After scooping fresh manure from under the overhang, I fanned out a little further around the paddock and picked up some of the newly exposed piles emerging from the melting snow. Like the last couple of winters, we have been dumping much of the season’s worth of manure right inside the paddock.

Since much of the manure is frozen by the time we get around to scooping it up, there isn’t much in the way of composting that goes on in the pile, so it just keeps getting bigger and bigger with every passing day.

dscn5782eContinuing with the theme of tidying up, I decided to try giving the giant mass a little more shape by cleaning up around the edges. I was surprised to discover over the last few winter seasons that despite the dark color of the pile, if it starts out frozen, if left alone, the center can stay frozen well into May or June.

We placed this pile at a spot that we would like to fill in effort to reduce the amount of slope, but it becomes a long slow process to move from an ugly pile of manure to an unnoticeable natural ground cover nicely filling a low spot.

All part of the ongoing process of running a neat and tidy ranch operation, regardless what the weather presents.

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Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2017 at 11:18 am