Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘melting snow

Problem Postponed

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My concerns about clearing the snow off our driveway were unwarranted. The warmth still in the ground was slowly melting the snow from below. Upon first light yesterday morning, I could see that plowing would be unnecessary. As the day wore on, the surface of the driveway just continued to lose snow cover, even though light snowfall continued off and on all day.

It wasn’t enough new snow to overcome the dark, wet driveway surface. Sure looks like a new layer of asphalt, doesn’t it?

Being new, it lacks the texture of the old, worn pavement we replaced. Sure, the old surface was breaking apart, but it provided traction! As a result, the new driveway threatens to be much more slippery than we are used to. I hunted down an empty bucket and started putting in a variety of sand and gravel so we will have something to throw down on bad sections after the residual ground warmth completely fades.

By then, I will be less concerned about driving the ATV along the shoulders when plowing because they will be frozen, too. The postponed problem will no longer be a problem at all.

Here’s hoping… Look at me, wishing for it to get freezing cold. That’s not usually the kind of desire an old man professes. Must be my inner child talking.

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Written by johnwhays

November 16, 2022 at 7:00 am

Words Emerge

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Spring has arrived on the calendar. Maybe that explains all this spring-like evidence unfolding before our eyes. Mud, primarily. Yesterday, I opened some gates for the horses that we have historically held open using step-in posts. Without thinking, I attempted to step them in and quickly met the resistance of frozen ground an inch or two below the surface.

It’s only spring on the surface thus far.

There is still snow in the woods, but it is shrinking by the minute.

The wooden blocks of the “boardwalk” we installed on a section of trail that gets the muddiest are beginning to reappear.

Cyndie has painted words of inspiration on some of them and it looks like those messages have survived the winter just fine.

Out on the open road I didn’t find any traces of snow while spending time on my new bicycle in the afternoon. I’m pretty confident I will never regret purchasing an e-bike. Having that motor assist took much of the stress out of my first real ride of the season.

Like the emerging words say, LOVE always. I expect I will be loving this bike for the rest of my life.

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Written by johnwhays

March 21, 2022 at 6:00 am

Ground Visible

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The change of seasons is marching full ahead with great results. I appreciate that our snowpack’s meltdown has been happening at a perfectly gradual pace. It’s been cool enough during the overnights that melting pauses so the runoff has been controlled, for the most part.

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Delilah and I found the fields entirely bare when we emerged from the woods where there was still snow covering the ground on our morning stroll.

By afternoon, water was flowing as the melting of remaining snow picked up again. It is very rewarding to witness the unimpeded drainage flowing where Cyndie and I worked hard to correct the grade in front of her perennial garden last year.

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My “swale” in the paddock hadn’t maintained its shape nearly as well and the water was draining randomly across the main travel path of two gateways where hoof prints in the soft earth disrupt any coordinated drainage. While cleaning up manure yesterday afternoon, I did a rudimentary job of stemming the flow as best I could, using the flimsy plastic tines of my fork scoop tool.

I want the water to flow out of the paddock to the left of the gate opening to the hayfield, not across the primary travel pattern of the horses. Any attempts I make toward achieving this goal end up getting stomped on by horses who don’t seem to notice what my efforts are intended to accomplish for them.

It’s almost like they have no idea how much they weigh and the amount of disruption in soft, wet soil they create.

One other creature who has no idea how much of a disaster she creates is Delilah. She prances around everywhere she pleases in the snow and mud and then assumes a little toweling off when we come inside the house and she’s good to go.

Sweeping the floor is an adventure after practically every outing.

Yeah, the ground is visible alright.

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Written by johnwhays

March 19, 2022 at 7:06 am

River Running

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Winter has loosed its grip. When we walked the perimeter yesterday morning while the temperature was below freezing, there was little evidence of a meltdown unleashing the spring runoff. By mid-afternoon, the drainage ditches were alive with running water.

The air temperature probably hit 50°F for a bit, resulting in water flowing as if there was an actual river along our southern property border, not just a swale that sits dry most of the time.

The bridge I built along the back pasture fence line was doing its job to perfection as the flow of water across our land poured beneath it into the main ditch just beyond.

If I didn’t know better, I’d be looking to see if I could spot any brook trout flitting around in the current.

From the looks of the extended forecast, we should have a nicely controlled meltdown in the days ahead, with overnight temperatures slowing the thaw for a few hours and daytime warmth climbing well into fast-melting territory.

Manure droppings in the paddock are no longer able to hide beneath snow cover. I’m actually looking forward to getting the place cleaned up again to our usual high standards. The only complication with that plan is that I don’t have a lot of open composting space to dump the couple of wheelbarrows-full it will require. The winters-worth of accumulation doesn’t break down so we’ve already got quite a few stacks that will need to be tended once they thaw. I need to stir the piles up and reshape them to get the composting action heating up so they will break down and shrink enough to begin merging piles together.

The fertilizer factory will be back in full swing before the trees leaf out.

Walking around with no coat on yesterday had me wondering if now would be a good time to take the plow blade off the Grizzly ATV. I don’t like to tempt fate. My mind quickly flashes memories of our first spring here when it snowed 18″ in the first few days of May.

A lot could happen weather-wise in the next month or so. I know from experience not to put away shovels just because the winter snow has all melted away. The plow isn’t hurting anything right where it is for now.

In the meantime, the new road bike I bought over the winter is about to get multiple outings to test how well we get along with each other.

When rivers start flowing through the snow, my bicycling season is nigh.

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Written by johnwhays

March 16, 2022 at 6:00 am

More Melting

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A local meteorologist on the radio pointed out the previous two days were our first pair of consecutive days of temperatures in the 40s (F) since December when we experienced a tornado in the area. Two days of melting is visibly changing our snowscape.

As we made our way around the north loop trail yesterday, I found it interesting that no old footprints were apparent along the pathway, yet the trail we repeatedly walk was clearly outlined.

I suspect that blowing snow had filled the path while we were up at the lake over the weekend and now it’s all being glazed level with the surrounding snowpack. We trudged through it seconds after I took that picture, taking the first steps toward reestablishing our typical packed trail.

The first week of March is predicted to bring us melting temperatures during the days and several chances for a mix of precipitation.

We noticed yesterday afternoon that the horses are starting to shed a little bit of their winter coat. The prospect of wet precipitation and near-freezing temperatures is an unwelcome combination when it comes to horses. As is our normal practice, we have closed some gates to separate the herd into two groups of two so there will be less competition over access to the protection of the barn overhang.

After the anxiety they showed the last time we moved them into stalls in the barn, I am not as quick to choose that option for keeping them dry. We are going to make the overhang as available as possible and leave it up to them to take advantage of it, or not.

You know the old saying… “You can provide a horse some shelter from the rain, but you can’t make him (or her, or them) use it.”

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Written by johnwhays

March 2, 2022 at 7:00 am

Driving Home

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In a rare change of routine for a weekend at the lake, we stayed overnight Sunday and drove home yesterday a little before noon. Why? Basically, because we could, although the added benefit of avoiding typical Sunday traffic returning to the Twin Cities was a welcome bonus.

It was a bit of a surprise to see a new inch of snow had fallen while we were gone. By the time we got home, the temperature had climbed into the 40s (F) and the snowpack was morphing from individual flakes into one smooth slushy.

Some short-legged critter left a trail of footprints in the deep snow by our labyrinth. In stark contrast to the mini-labyrinth among the trees at the lake, our circuit at home hasn’t been walked for months, making the path mostly invisible beneath the white covering.

Around the corner, we found an even more interesting pattern melted into the snow in the shadow of the fence of the back pasture.

Somehow, the lines of the wires were clearly reflected on the surface of the snow. I’m guessing it had to do with the angle of the moving sun aligning just right with the wires as it made its way across the sky.

By the time we got there, the sun was being obscured by a rather distinct change of cloud cover in the sky.

Near the bottom of that image, tiny specks of what happens to be our four horses can be seen hanging out in one of their favorite areas of our fields. As we made the last turn toward the barn, they started their journey up to the overhang for the afternoon feeding.

We were happy to find things in good order after a long weekend of care by the very capable horse person Cyndie found to cover for us when we are gone.

It was a wonderful weekend away, but as always, we are really glad to be home again.

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Written by johnwhays

March 1, 2022 at 7:00 am

Seasonal Scenes

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We are definitely in transition mode. The maple syrup producers are collecting sap as the daytime temps rise above freezing and then dip back down overnight. The ditches have started to fill with running water. Moisture is leaving the snowpack and going airborne.

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The patchy fog makes driving to work in the dark a real challenge as the visibility drops to zero in a blink one minute and becomes clear as a bell the next.

The receding snow cover unveils evidence of the rodent activity that goes on out of sight beneath the icy blanket. No wonder our dog cocks her head and looks down at the snow like an arctic fox and then leaps into the nose-first dive after whatever is making that sound that only dog and fox ears seem to detect.

The chickens are reveling in the expanding exposure of insect-rich soil. They have also amped up their egg production to record levels for this brood.

Today they may get a dose of March rain that forecasters hint could include some thunder by afternoon. By next week, the precipitation will likely be back to snow.

These are all typical scenes of our season of transition known as the month of March.

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Written by johnwhays

March 10, 2021 at 7:00 am

Big Melt

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If it was possible to measure, I’d claim yesterday as the day when the balance tipped from winter to spring around here. It certainly appears so in terms of the snowpack. That glacial iceberg that was covering the land has suddenly transformed into a massive snow-cone ice dessert spill.

Look at that texture and try to convince yourself it doesn’t appear as though a shaved ice machine must have overflowed.

Even though there are a lot of places where the ground has become fully exposed, there still remain significant areas in the woods where the depth of snow is almost to my knees. Imagine what it’s like when you step in snow-cone shaved ice that is deeper than the top of your boot.

Yeah, like that.

Out by the road, there was a clear delineation where the edge of winter’s glacier was receding.

Our local forecast is teasing a chance for 60°(F) over the coming weekend. That will be a pleasant “welcome home” for Cyndie, who is currently in Florida with Elysa for a short visit with Fred and Marie. A warm weekend here will be like a cool night down there.

I’m back to entertaining the pooch non-stop from the moment I walk in the door after work until I put her to bed in her crate. She was insufferably persistent in begging for attention last night, only the first day without her mamma around. Lucky for Delilah, that sweet face is pretty irresistible.

She won several full-body massages and multiple exploratory expeditions around the grounds. My writing is slowed significantly when typing with one hand while the other is fending off her insistent snout pleading for interaction.

I’m clinging to the evidence supporting how much emotional benefit there is from having the companionship of a dog.

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Written by johnwhays

March 4, 2020 at 7:00 am

Another Slide

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On a little different scale from the big snow on the roof over the shop door, yesterday the snow on the hay shed started the slow slide. It’s a little less dramatic, but I find it fascinating to look at nonetheless.

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It will be replaced in no time. Snow today will muck up my commute and replace what just slid off our rooftops.

Over the weekend, I spent some time clearing snow from around the edges of the driveway and around the hay shed and barn, partly because I neglected to do it sooner, and partly in preparation for today’s snow.

The machines are parked and ready for however many flakes show up.

I just need to make it home from work in order to plow. On the other hand, if I decide to stay at work instead, there’ll be plenty of fresh-baked Christmas cookies to eat for dinner. Cyndie sent me off with a generous platter to share with everyone.

You think there will be any left by the end of the day?

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Written by johnwhays

December 9, 2019 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Last Sunday

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Yesterday was our last Sunday with the horses. We spent most of the day with them. It was time well spent. We were blessed with very comfortable weather that allowed us to linger for a while with no agenda except to just be with them.

Eventually, Cyndie hooked up each horse for some individual quality grooming time, head to tail to toe.

You may notice that a couple of weeks has dramatically changed the look of our paddocks. Snow? What snow?

It’s turning to water and flowing over our silt fence.

As the day progressed, the clouds thinned and the gorgeous sunshine lulled the horses into a nap.

Cyndie asked me if I thought we had made the right decision about rehoming the horses.

I answered her with a question. “Are you having second thoughts?”

She said no, but then, why ask about the decision?

There is no right or wrong in life’s adventures when you don’t know what each new day will bring. We didn’t really know what we would accomplish when we moved here. We don’t yet know what we will do after the horses are gone.

We just listen to our hearts, pay attention to our instincts, and strive to integrate them with our minds. Then we send love to the universe and see where it leads.

Travel day is currently scheduled to occur on Thursday this week.

Yesterday, we took full advantage of being home all day with Cayenne, Hunter, and Dezirea for one last Sunday.

I gotta admit, it did feel right.

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Written by johnwhays

March 25, 2019 at 6:00 am