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

Posts Tagged ‘January thaw

January Thaw

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I have lived near the Twin Cities for most of my life, but I never realized how consistently we experience a January thaw. From Meteorologist, Paul Huttner’s Updraft blog:

“A January thaw is defined as two or more consecutive days of high temperatures above 32 degrees. That happens in 93 percent of all years on record for the Twin Cities. In fact, a January thaw is more reliable than a white Christmas (72 percent) in the Twin Cities.”

Everyone at Wintervale is enjoying this little break from the ravages of the deep cold that has besieged us for the last few weeks.

The sunshine and warm Pacific breeze was just right for an afternoon sun bath.

The chickens are much quicker to come out of the coop with the warmer temperatures. The Buff Orpington spent a fair amount of time breaking up frozen sand so her bath could be a mixture of sun and soil.

When I noticed her kicking up a dust cloud storm and wallowing luxuriously in it, I pulled out my camera to record video of the spectacle.

I got two seconds of fluttering and a minute and a half of her sitting mostly still, occasionally pecking at the frozen sand. She was not interested in being the star of my movie.

The scene of Dezirea nodding off in the sun, with her tail flowing gracefully in the gentle breeze turned out to be the more rewarding video, even though it has about the same amount of action as the shot of the hen.

Legacy interrupted my video of Dezirea when he stepped forward to poke his head into the bright sunshine and blocked my view.

We have been trying to absorb this early January thaw for all it is worth, given the impending swing back to serious winter weather being forecast. Tomorrow could become a day of our greatest snow accumulation this season, and the thermometer is expected to sink back to sub-zero overnight temperatures.

Hello, again, winter.

It’s getting hard maintaining a charade of still being on a tropical vacation by simply revisiting our photo albums.

But that doesn’t prevent us from putting forth an effort.

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Written by johnwhays

January 10, 2018 at 7:00 am

Much Better

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dscn5742eWe enjoyed a brief visit from the sun yesterday, which made quick work of melting areas I cleared of the small amount of snow left from the most recent precipitation.

The front tire on the Grizzly held air, so the Slime patch appears to be working. After getting the driveway and barn areas plowed, I hand-shoveled to clean up nooks and corners, then parked the ATV for this photo and headed in for lunch.

Once refueled, I ventured out again to shovel off the deck before turning my attention to plowing trails to make way for the bucket truck of the tree trimmers. I wish it had been a colder day.

Our record-setting January thaw has left the ground a little soft in places and my plow blade tended to dig in to the muddy ground, peeling up large rolls of earth. There isn’t really any flat ground here, and as the angle of the ATV tilts, the result at the end of the plow blade gets exaggerated. That makes it very difficult to figure out a height setting of the blade that won’t be too high or too low.

There really is no “just right” setting. If it is not digging in a little bit on one side or the other, it is usually because it is not plowing any snow at all as a result of being too high.

Regardless, I think I’ve established a drive-able section of two, maybe three, routes down our trails to reach a majority of the big trees we are hoping to have trimmed. I will not be surprised at all if the truck looks a lot bigger than I’m imagining once it arrives and attempts to turn the corners.

At the end of the day, as promised, I got a call from the auto body shop that my Subaru repair was completed. Cyndie drove me to pick it up. It looks good as new. They even gave it that new car smell. The owner was reviewing all the work they had done and I added, “Alignment.”

“Was that on the estimate?” Uh oh.

We headed inside to check, and sure enough, I was right. He was very apologetic. Said it was completely his fault that it got missed. Oh boy. Now I need to bring it back next week and drop it off again. People!

At least it looks much, much better than when I brought it in the first time.

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Written by johnwhays

January 28, 2017 at 10:31 am

Weekend Photos

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DSCN2747eI took this picture because it was feeling just warm enough to remind me of the outdoor furniture and the cook grill over the fire pit, but there was no confusing that it was all still buried and frozen. I guess that is the definition of a January thaw.

DSCN2762eThis is a giant tree that long ago fell over on this property that we bought. It lies at the side the trail near the top of a hill and has a very powerful presence. It captures my eye every time I walk by. In my mind I now think of it as “Brooke’s tree,” (the daughter of one of my nieces) because the last time she visited, it grabbed her attention, too. She wandered off the trail in search of a way to get up on top of it. I directed her to come back to the end visible in this image, where she found easy steps up.

DSCN2761eOne of my minimalist images. Less is more. It may not seem like there is anything to this, but I find plenty that appeals to my senses.

DSCN2748eThe back side of our house doesn’t get a lot of attention. I like this view. When I am back here, I enjoy the total isolation from the driveway and most of the activity on the ranch. It is near where I split logs, on the edge of our woods. In the winter there isn’t a lot of activity around this fire pit, but the rest of the year it is a natural gathering place.

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Written by johnwhays

January 26, 2015 at 7:00 am

Taking Steps

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The weather gives, and the weather takes away. After a couple of days with high winds, limited visibility, and repeated doses of accumulating snow, we received a gift on Sunday of blue sky and warm temperatures. We headed down to the labyrinth to reclaim it from days of blowing snow.

IMG_3338eI had just walked the labyrinth wearing snowshoes last week, to clearly define the route, but now it was filled in to the point of being difficult to discern. It looked like it had been neglected for most of the winter. I made it most of the way through before finally getting fooled and taking a misstep. Actually, I just went a step too far before making one of the u-turns.

When we started into the effort yesterday, the snow was powdery, but in a very short time it became very sticky. That made our work a bit more taxing, and soon we were shedding layers in the heat of our second January thaw.

I hope that doesn’t sound like a complaint. It was magnificent.

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Written by johnwhays

January 20, 2014 at 7:00 am

January Warmth

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We heard temperatures would get above freezing on Sunday, but didn’t expect it to rise into the 40s! Cyndie came up to the house after feeding the horses in the morning, and reported how nice it felt outside, as she grabbed a toy for Delilah and went back out to play.

IMG_3321eWhen I peeked out at them, I found Cyndie on her hands and knees, coaxing Delilah in a game as she crawled toward her. I went right for the camera, because they looked too cute together to resist.

The horses have been free of blankets for 2-days now, and they looked very comfortable with the relatively warm afternoon breeze we were experiencing.

With Elysa over for a visit, we re-inflated the big red ball, sealed it with a borrowed plug, and took it out to see if the horses wanted to play. It was the time of day when I would usually find them laying down for a nap, but they showed some initial interest.

It took a bit for them to figure out what the attention was for, taking turns scouting for treats, checking the ball, and investigating why Cyndie and Elysa were inside the fence with them. Then all of a sudden Hunter began pushing the ball with his nose, picking up speed and running up the hill of the big field. I was watching it all from a distance, and the sight of him playing with such gusto, and doing so all by himself, triggered an involuntary guffaw. It was a fabulous sight.

After that, despite several attempts, and eventually my joining them in the pasture to try enticing more energetic interaction with the ball, there were no further runs. Legacy’s only interest seemed to be in getting a grip of the plug with his teeth. I think it is safe to bet that he was the culprit in pulling the plug the first time I put the ball out for them. At least now we know better than to leave it with them unsupervised. We took the ball back to the barn and allowed them to resume their willful idleness.

For the first time since this season’s snow first fell back in early December, our front steps are clear and dry. That first precipitation started with a freezing rain that turned to snow and was then followed by a significant drop in temperature. We were never able to completely clear the front steps of that ice before each additional snowfall added to the mess. Some days it was interfering with our ability to close the storm door. Yesterday, I was finally able to completely scrape off the accumulated ice.

Thank goodness for the annual January thaw.

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Written by johnwhays

January 13, 2014 at 7:00 am