Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Rain

Barely Started

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I don’t know why I would expect this year’s weather to be any better for getting our hay-field cut and baled in a timely manner compared to the previous five summers. It’s past the middle of July and we are still waiting on the neighbor who volunteered to tackle the job for us.

All the mowing I did last year to discourage weeds and give the grass a boost looks to be marginalized by the vast number of new weeds reaching maturity out there today.

I had hoped the field would get cut in June while I was on my bike trip, but Cyndie reported rain almost every day I was gone. Then there was the 4th of July holiday week, followed by more days of rain. The window of dry weather this week is very short, but Cyndie spoke with our neighbor and he confirmed our field is still in his plans.

I expect he needs to get his fields cut first. When I got home yesterday, I spotted him cutting a field on the corner.

Finally, last night we heard the tractor in our field. By the time I got out there to witness the scene, he had cut three passes inside the fence and was driving away down the road.

Did something fail on his equipment? Did he just run out of time? We’re hoping to talk with him later this morning to learn his status.

From the looks of the forecast, more rain is expected on Thursday. This doesn’t leave much time for drying, based on my understanding of the process. At least we have a spell of dry Canadian air over us currently. That goes a long way in determining how quickly the cut grass will dry.

Last week’s mid-70° dew point temperatures weren’t doing much toward helping anything to dry out.

Meanwhile, we have already purchased and stored enough hay for the year, so we don’t actually need this as much as we simply want the field cut, and are hoping someone could use the bales.

While walking the three freshly cut rows last night, Delilah was in her glory to investigate the scene. In no time at all, she had sniffed out the body of a decent sized rodent and consumed it faster than either Cyndie or I could react to dissuade her.

That’s really queasy-making, I tell ya.

Here’s hoping our neighbor’s barely getting started cutting last night will change over to completely finished by the end of today.

 

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Written by johnwhays

July 17, 2018 at 6:00 am

Wild Life

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Lately, the night views at the coop have been dominated by the masked bandits. Luckily, despite their regular visits, there isn’t anything left out overnight to reward them.

Doesn’t prevent them from checking, just in case.

The only other (not-so) wild life we captured shots of recently was a neighbor’s cat. It sat for over ten minutes with its body facing the camera, but the head was always twisted side to side or around backwards. I don’t know why it didn’t just turn around.

I think maybe it was trying to see where that rabbit went that had been filling our memory card with pictures the previous week. That critter was pouncing back and forth across the view all night long.

The other wildness we have been enjoying was in the sky. Cyndie snapped this panorama as a thundering shower loomed large over the ranch.

I had just finished mowing and was putting the tractor in the garage when the first giant drops started slapping the ground.

It was a wild day of chores yesterday, after I squeaked in a short bike ride to start my exhausting day. Our grove of trees by the road was expanding to obscure the view of traffic coming down the hill, so I hauled out the pole chainsaw and did some highway crew style pruning.

No mercy.

Being clever, I put the battery charger on the truck before heading out on my bike ride earlier, thinking I might want to load the cuttings into the pickup so I wouldn’t have to work on chipping them near traffic.

There is a phantom load draining the battery that we haven’t been able to identify. I have finally heeded advice from a smart thinking friend and purchased a switch to protect the battery. After all the branches were loaded in the back, I parked the truck at the shop to install the device while the battery had some life to it.

I bought a unit that will automatically switch out the battery when it senses the voltage drop to a certain point. To reconnect, we simply press the brake pedal or toggle the headlights and the switch re-engages the battery to start the truck. This way, we don’t have to pop the hood and open or close the switch every time we use the truck.

We never know how long an interval it will be between uses, and both Cyndie and I are prone to forgetting just this kind of occasional detail.

With the installation complete, I moved on to the lawn tractor to finish the yard that I started Thursday afternoon, before that round of all-night thunderstorms. On my bike ride in the morning, I saw a lot of farm fields with brand new lakes in them. Our rain gauge indicated over 4-inches had fallen overnight.

Low on gas, and running out of time before the next thunderstorm, I wildly hustled to the arena to mow that, too.

By the time Cyndie and I called it a day, the clock had reached 7:30 p.m.

Another wild day in our wild life.

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Occasional Rain

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One of the things I was intrigued by during our week in Punta Cana was the occurrence of daily passing showers. It often happened without warning. Sometimes the drops appeared to be falling out of blue sky. Clouds frequently floated past, though very few actually dumped rain.

The ones that did, provided enough regular moisture, they have no need for a mechanical irrigation system.

The air never felt oppressively humid, but the difference from the dry winter air at home was definitely noticeable. I suppose the breeze off the ocean helps moderate the atmosphere.

Several times, we walked to breakfast in beautiful morning sunshine, and while we were eating, the view outside would suddenly reveal a soaking shower. By the time we finished eating and stepped back outside, the sun was shining again and the walkways were already beginning to dry.

A couple of times we were poolside for the surprise showers. The shade umbrellas of palm tree leaves provided enough cover to keep our towels and stuff from getting soaked.

Towels on the recliners in the pool didn’t fare so well.

The frequent, brief soakings seemed like the perfect conditions for growing the lush landscape they maintained daily at the resort. I took note of the machete they used to trim their hedges, even though we don’t have any hedges to be trimmed at Wintervale. The tool produced a very clean line, in the hands of an experienced artisan.

When they closely cropped the grass areas, I felt right at home with the sound of the power trimmer that was identical to what we use along our fence lines and around the labyrinth.

I had to restrain myself from asking if I could help the landscaping crew for a day. Actually, I considered asking if any of them would consider coming to Wisconsin to work on our property, but the timing didn’t seem right.

With our temperatures down in the double-digits below-zero range, there just isn’t a lot of yard work happening around here for a while.

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Written by johnwhays

January 3, 2018 at 7:00 am

Autumn Sunshine

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This week, the weather forecast is ideal for sun and color. We are reaching the point where the tree-scape offers hardly any remaining green foliage. With evening’s arrival rapidly moving to an ever-earlier hour, the late afternoon sunshine is now putting its low spotlight on the peaking red/yellow/orange hues of autumn, illuminating them with a wonderfully amplified brilliance.

The grass isn’t showing much regard for the change of season. It is still growing like it’s early summer. Last time we had opportunity to mow, Cyndie took a crack at it, but wasn’t able to finish because the belt slipped off the pulleys.

After work yesterday, I picked up where she left off, and found the challenge of extra-long grass compounded by standing water in many places. The soaking rain we received on Saturday has yet to soak in.

A week of drying will be a timely blessing. One that comes with a bonus of some prime autumn viewing.

And for the record, the two shots above are different angle views of the same tree.

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Written by johnwhays

October 17, 2017 at 6:00 am

Triple Fenced

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The heat and humidity have broken and it finally feels a little more like September now. We were expecting the transition to involve a lot more rain than showed up yesterday. The line of precipitation slowly moving west is doing so at an angle that is sliding from the southwest to the northeast and for some reason, most of the rain moved around, rather than over our region.

Ironically, now I am wishing we would actually receive a heavy dose of rain, because last Friday we put a lot of energy into shoring up the silt fence at the property line adjacent to our neighbor’s corn field. In fact, we turned it into a bit of a terrace with three-tiered layers of silt fence.

The first two are short sections to slow the flow before it reaches our long fence. Between the top two sections there is the skeleton frame for a berm, in the form of piled dead pine trees. The soil runoff will accumulate around the branches and hold them in place. Eventually, weeds and grasses will grow through the branches and that forms a nice natural barrier that will hold soil in place but allow water to flow.

We have added support to the fabric fence by using old hay bales that we can’t feed to the horses because they have gotten moldy.

If I am able, I hope to trek out there in the middle of heavy rain to observe the action as it happens. At the very least, I now know that we need to check it after every big rainfall and remove excess soil if it accumulates.

I don’t know why I originally assumed the soil fence wouldn’t need regular maintenance, but after the soil conservation consultant pointed it out so very matter-of-factly, digging out accumulation makes total sense to me now.

If our enhancements work to mitigate the mud overflow messing up that area, we will be one step closer to being able to enjoy a good cloudburst when it happens. There still remains a problem in the paddocks, where a terrace or silt fence is not an option.

We plan to do some digging to create a couple of better defined routes directing runoff straight to the drainage swale beyond the wood fence, hoping to reduce the amount of flow traveling to one spot with energy that washes away our precious lime screenings and creates a deep canyon of a rill.

It’s fine if a little flow goes that way, but it is currently a problem because most all of the flow is combining to rush sideways along the fence, instead of straight under it out of the paddock.

The trick in the paddocks is, our solution needs to be horse-proof. Their heavy hooves have a way of disrupting all of the simple spade-width channels I’ve created in the past, causing runoff to flow every which way, and ultimately not where we really want it to go.

The next version we have in mind will be scaled up. Maybe I should triple-size it.

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Written by johnwhays

September 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

Getting Orange

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Things are growing more orange around here. Yesterday at breakfast, Cyndie called me to come look at the difference in color of our eggs, compared to the ones purchased at the grocery store. Looks like the free-range diet of our three chickens is producing deep color in the yolks, seen on the right, below.

We spent the Labor Day holiday doing a lot of work, for a day off. Starting with a couple of hours cleaning out the compost area, using the loader bucket on the diesel tractor. There’s now plenty of room to store a winter’s worth of manure, just in case winter gets around to showing up.

Then we split up and Cyndie used the power trimmer in the labyrinth, while I entered a race against time to get the hayfield mowed before it rained.

Looking back toward the horses, I spotted another splash of orange color erupting from the green of our tree line.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like September.

At the end of a long day’s effort, we put our tools away and headed for the house under the drops of a perfect late-summer rain shower.

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Written by johnwhays

September 5, 2017 at 6:00 am

Horse Love

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It’s time our horses get a little love from the Relative Something blog, don’t you think? They’ve been a little short-changed here because energy for them has been directed toward the Facebook page of late. The lines get a little blurry sometimes, and I forget which hat I am wearing, blogger or Wintervale post-er.

I’ve got a fix for that today. To see this fun snippet of the herd nom-nom munching on the high grass of the middle pasture, I’m linking back to the Wintervale FB page.

If you don’t have time for the video, I’m including two snapshots of our crew in graze-mode for your enrichment. Enjoy!

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They are getting along well as the summer slowly winds down for them. We’ve noticed they have grown comfortable enough with being under the barn overhang now that even when rain roars on the metal roof, they stay beneath it and keep dry.

I like that better than when they preferred to stand as far as possible from the cover it offered, choosing instead to droop their heads down and get soaking wet, looking like sorry sad sacks.

Their health has been stable and good, although Cayenne still is working on growing out her hooves after a bout of laminitis. George has been kind enough to provide her an extra session of trimming between the normal span of time for the rest of the herd, which is helping to hasten a return to a desired hoof shape and less painful weight-bearing.

Shelby has been exercising the horses once a day, continuing a process that she started after Cyndie’s shoulder surgery in June. It has been a great help toward getting the horses ready for the workshops underway while Dunia is here.

One other thing the horses have adjusted nicely to this summer is the presence of three very friendly chickens who demonstrate a frequent preference to share the cozy space under the overhang, even though it sometimes means their meager ration of twice-daily nutrition pellets gets poached by the greedy birds.

Doesn’t seem to matter. The horses know they are still the stars of our show.

Makes me love them all the more.

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Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2017 at 6:00 am