Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘plowing

What Else?

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There is nothing else for me to write about today. Our everything this weekend is buried by this April snow storm event. Twenty four hours after the last picture I posted yesterday, the view doesn’t look all that different.

We got pummeled by windblown snow all day long. I think our total accumulation is somewhat reduced by periods of tiny, sleety snowflakes that dropped straight down from the sky between the blustering gusts of blizzard winds. The drifting snow on the ground is very dense.

It looks like a little more accumulation, viewed on the deck where I shoveled a path to the rack of firewood.

The classic comma spiral of the storm, visible on the national radar composite, is providing us a little break from heavy precipitation this morning.

Just like the eye of a hurricane, the calm won’t last.

We could yet have a significant accumulation blanketing us after the back side of the storm makes its way slowly east.

I can’t remember, did the ground-hog see his shadow or not, back in February?

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Written by johnwhays

April 15, 2018 at 10:11 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.

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Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2018 at 7:00 am

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Big Dump

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Winter decided to dump a big snowfall on us over a very short amount of time yesterday. I knew it was going to be enough that I should get out in the middle of it to plow at least once before it was all over, but I wasn’t sure when that would be.

It took longer than we expected for the snowfall to start, and then the accumulation built rather slowly to about 2 inches. The next time I glanced outside from my perch by the fire, that amount had more than doubled. It was time to get out and plow or else it would be too late for my plan of working with reasonable amounts of snow.

As it was, the Grizzly ATV, as a snow plow, was just barely capable of the task. The first thing I did was get it buried and stuck sideways off the edge of the pavement where all four wheels just spun on the icy layer below. I needed to dig out all the snow packed underneath it, and then spin those tires until I gradually slid sideways enough to become mobile again.

After that, I decided to stay focused on just opening up the main driveway as wide as I could get it. The Grizzly does not command full control when trying to push large amounts of snow. The snow pushes back and tends to dictate what progress can be made.

I tried making more passes, while taking smaller bites with the blade each time, but the outer edges just grew unwieldy and the snow rolled back down behind me, such that I wasn’t really gaining much added width.

In the areas of tight confines, we resorted to hand shoveling, which allowed me to toss the snow up over the massive banks that quickly developed.

The snow was coming down at peak rates of multiple inches per hour while we worked, covering our tracks as fast as we made them, but every shovel width made was that much less snow I would need to move by the end of the storm. Cyndie was working up around the house and I was by the shop garage.

I watched the county plow truck make two passes in front of our property which meant there was going to be a new pile at the end of the driveway to clean up. Cyndie headed to the barn to put the horses in for the night and I finished cleaning edges where she had shoveled.

Cold, wet, and tired, I was ready for a break, but I noticed the falling snow had slowed considerably. It would be dark soon and there were already three fresh inches on the driveway in the hour-and-a-half since I first plowed.

I started up the ATV again and cleaned the driveway a second time. Of course, doing so throws snow in a couple spots that need to then be cleaned up by hand shoveling. My gloves were soaked through and I so wanted to be done, but there was a dog waiting anxiously to be let out for her afternoon walk.

Make that “run.” Delilah dragged me along as fast as I could trot as we headed down the plowed driveway while she searched for any opening to explore. There were none. It was down the driveway and back, except for a couple surprising leaps into the deep snow that she quickly aborted.

I measured 9 inches while shoveling, and I could see we got at least 3 more by the time I plowed the second time. It fell hard and fast all afternoon. I definitely made the right decision to stay home yesterday. That was a really big dump.

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Written by johnwhays

January 23, 2018 at 7:00 am

Sub-zero Sun

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One thing about really cold winter days, they tend to be very bright with sunshine. As I mentioned yesterday, the wind kept most of our deck clear of accumulation, even though I bet we received around 2 to 3 inches.

Since the precipitation started as a foggy drizzle before the temperature dropped back below freezing, surfaces received an icy glaze for a base coat.

When conditions changed to wind-blown snow, instead of accumulating on the deck, it acted as more of a polishing agent.

I failed at making an indoor nap the primary accomplishment of my day yesterday. There was a mess of snow that drifted on our front walkway which needed to be cleared, so I used that as an excuse to force myself up and out into the Arctic air. One thing led to another and I kept working my way along the driveway in front of the garage doors.

At that point, I couldn’t stop myself from getting out the Grizzly and plowing the full length of the driveway.

In the grand scheme of winter plowing, it wasn’t my best effort, but it will do for now. The surface is a frozen mess of layers from the changing conditions of the last month or two. We’ve packed down countless minor dustings by driving over it until it becomes a solid slippery coating, after which a warm spell turned some of it to pure ice and other areas to a slushy series of tire tracks.

The subsequent plunge in temperature has locked all of this up tight and then firmly filled in the crevices with wind-blown snow.

The plow blade basically bounced around and over the frozen pathway, as opposed to cleaning it down to the asphalt.

We’ve got plenty of sub-zero sun shining down, but it isn’t going to improve the surface of our driveway any. That will require the next wave of warm Pacific air when the jet stream shifts again, which forecasts hint could be just a week away.

There’s never a dull moment in our Wintervale weather adventure land lottery.

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Written by johnwhays

January 13, 2018 at 10:28 am

Different Landscape

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As predicted, by Friday morning our landscape didn’t look at all like it had on Thursday. While the bulk of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area squeaked by with nary a flying flake, our county rode the sharp northwest edge of precipitation and Wintervale Ranch received a respectable 9-10 inches by the end of the day yesterday.

Taken late Wednesday afternoon.

Taken late Wednesday afternoon.

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Taken Friday before noon.

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I took the snowy picture shortly after plowing the driveway in the morning, about mid-way through the duration of snowfall. Tracking the total accumulation involves some guess-work because the ground was so warm that snow was melting from the bottom up. The flakes also settle under their own weight and then the gusts of wind were whipping up some fair drifting.

dscn5854eThe National Weather Service report from just south of us was 11 inches and the next reading to our northwest was 9.5 inches. Since we are located between those, and our anecdotal evidence coincides, I feel justified with the assessment I presented in the opening paragraph.

Plowing was a hassle because the bottom layer of the snow was heavy and wet, and the ground was soft from the recent thaw. It led to the blade tearing up bad spots of pavement, as well as the turf on each side of the driveway.

I like snow removal to look neat and tidy, but I was making a mess of things. Also, since I was plowing in the middle of the storm —to turn it into two small efforts instead of one big one— the new falling flakes were piling up as fast as I cleared what was already on the ground.
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It didn’t look like a job well-done, but it was perfectly fine for a mid-event effort.

Cyndie had put the horses inside the barn Thursday night in anticipation of the snow’s arrival, which had been predicted to start out as rain. We checked the radar several times that evening, for an indication of the timing of the precipitation’s start, but even though it appeared to already be snowing overhead, it was actually still dry outside on our grounds by the time we went to sleep.

When morning dawned, it was all white outside.

As the blowing and snowing became the obvious order of the day, it got easier to make a decision to stay indoors by the fire all afternoon. I played my guitar until I started to get sleepy. We watched a movie.

It feels a little like winter around here again.

It will be strange come Monday when I drive a few miles toward the cities for work and return to the places nearby that didn’t get the snow. We are now under a completely different landscape for a while.

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Written by johnwhays

February 25, 2017 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

Moving Snow

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Yesterday’s weather was a wonderfully ideal day for moving snow. After all the abuse we have endured so far this winter, from extreme cold, terribly windy, to freezing rain, we finally came to a day with warm sunshine, perfect below freezing temperatures, and negligible winds.

That came in very handy following an appointment I had with an arborist from a tree-trimming service. We have so many trees that need attention that we had to devise a plan that would be affordable. It’s not based on the individual trees, but on a set amount of time. We are going to have a crew here for 2 days to do as much work as possible.

That puts responsibility on me to make it as easy as possible to reach my highest priority trees.

In order to get to the most trees in those brief two days, their truck with a boom and basket will be essential. I need to clear a lot of snow from trails to allow their very large truck to get where I need it to go.

Any time they would spend trying to drive their truck through snow, with a risk of getting stuck, will come at the expense of valuable minutes cutting branches.

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I started plowing around the barn with the four-wheeler, finishing with hand-shoveling, to widen access as much as possible. After that I headed onto our trails, trying to split the difference between plowing snow and just trying to maintain forward momentum.

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I made a good start down the trails, but there is a lot left to be done today. Our trees may think I’m nuts to be moving all this snow beneath them, but won’t they be surprised when the cutting crew shows up for the main event.

It’ll be time for them to shape up and drop all that dead wood they’ve been holding for years.

I’m looking forward to having branches come down when we want them to, as opposed to the possibility of falling unexpectedly when some unsuspecting soul happens to be strolling beneath.

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Written by johnwhays

January 15, 2017 at 10:48 am