Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘snow

Mostly Fine

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For the most part, we are good for now. The driveway is plowed, including the circle around the hay shed, allowing vehicle traffic. The weather looks to be settled for a few days of gray skies and temperatures below freezing. The thing that nags at me is that a change in either direction will produce complications I would prefer to avoid.

Here is a shot revealing the amount of pavement that has been lost to the mounds on the sides of the driveway that have gotten too high for my plow blade to be effective:

Ideally, I would plow the snow one blade width beyond the pavement to have room for the next big snowstorm.

Conversely, when temperatures climb above freezing and our snowpack begins to melt, I will be faced with a long period of water draining across the slope of pavement by the shop garage because I gave in and left a large amount of snow on the asphalt.

Water draining across that slope re-freezes most nights and becomes a real nuisance.

I suppose I could crank up the diesel tractor, scoop up the snow in the loader, and dump it on the downhill side of the pavement. I’m a little wary about the chains on the tires abusing our new asphalt. It’s like not wanting to see the first scratch in a new car’s paint.

More in the moment, this morning’s session with the horses was a delight in the magical frosty calm of a perfect winter day. After making it through the last storm without blankets, the herd seems content with their situation. They are all (mostly) dry and the footing is reasonable –not icy, not too deep or sticky.

When no vehicles were traveling past our place it was particularly calm and quiet. Not even a single neighboring dog could be heard making its usual announcement of existence.

“I’m here! It’s ME! Can you hear me barking over and over?”

After devouring their feed, the horses showed zero urgencies about switching to munching hay. There was nothing except a powerful sense of contentment.

I stood silently observing them for a few minutes before quietly making my departure toward the house for my breakfast.

For now, everything is perfectly fine.

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Written by johnwhays

January 22, 2023 at 11:34 am

Roof Raking

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It’s a dose of preventive medicine. I pull snow off the edges of the roof of our house to avert possible ice dams that can cause water leaks. It is a project that looms ominously before I can get to it, as icicles grow to incredible lengths. The work is strenuous to execute, requiring extended time with my arms overhead wrestling the rake into position and pulling it back down full of snow. That effort creates a mess below that needs to be shoveled away after it has compacted into a hard and heavy pile. But when completed, it offers a pleasing psychological reward every time I walk toward the house and spot the cleaned eaves.

I cleared the valley over the front door a day earlier and since then, plenty of evaporation has already occurred.

The toughest part of the whole project is that it only lasts until the next snowstorm.

In the meantime, the absence of concern about out-of-sight water problems is a deeply satisfying reward for the hassles associated with raking snow off the roof.

Since today happens to be January 7th, 2023, I would like to give a shout-out to anyone who happens to become old enough on this date to qualify for collecting their social security funds. Happy Birthday, DRH! Hope you don’t have mountains of snow on your roof up in the northland.

 

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Written by johnwhays

January 7, 2023 at 11:03 am

Day One

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‘Twas the first day of the new year and all through the house
the possibilities are endless like the droppings from that dang mouse.

The blessings we are able to enjoy tend to feel somewhat diminished by the harsh realities being suffered by people around the world who live in war zones or are enduring other oppressions. Mice in our house seem like such a minor hassle in comparison.

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The morning frost highlighted horse hair snagged on the overhang support beam that gets used as a scratching post. It also made our evergreen trees look like the flocked white Christmas trees that I always thought were ridiculous when I was a kid. In my limited knowledge, trees weren’t white. Why would they make them that way?

Plenty of life lessons available in that example of limited perspective.

The weather service has put us under a winter storm watch for Tuesday. The first new snow of the year! The old snow we already have is starting to show its age.

The squirrels out our windows are going gangbusters after the acorns under the snowpack.

Sure wish there was a way to harness their energy and put it to good use. I wonder if they could be trained to ward off the mice that get into our house.

Happy New Year 2023!

Written by johnwhays

January 1, 2023 at 11:18 am

Sad Outcome

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After two days in a row of above-freezing temperatures, the trees have finally shed a majority of the giant globs of snow that were caught in their branches. Unfortunately, it has revealed some of the damage caused by the heavy loads of snow.

That is some ugly pruning. Those aren’t the branches I would have chosen to remove.

As sad as it is to find damage like this, it brings a feeling of admiration for the large number of other trees that survived the hazardous weather unscathed. I haven’t trekked through the woods to do a full assessment yet, but of the trees along the driveway, the one pictured above looked the worst and I noticed only one other tree sporting a single broken branch.

Meanwhile, I tested the camera down at the barn for picking up the WiFi signal from our house and got a not-so-sad result. It wasn’t a complete success but I learned the cameral worked outside the front door of the barn but not inside or under the overhang on the backside of the barn.

If we decide to follow through on the idea of adding a camera that will cover the paddocks, it will likely require the addition of a signal booster or repeater of some sort. Having a camera at the barn is not something we urgently need so the level of a priority compared to a few other projects will probably move this down on our list of things to do.

It’s nice to learn how far the functional WiFi signal from the house can reach, at least. Think about all the “How-To” videos I will be able to consult in the shop/garage during my impersonations of a person who works on power equipment.

It sure is great finally having the fiber-optic cable bringing us the connectivity we’ve been longing for over the past ten years.

It feels like we’ve joined the 21st century.

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Written by johnwhays

December 30, 2022 at 7:00 am

Wind Chilled

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On my way back to the house from the barn yesterday morning, I looked up and laughed at the sight of the evergreen trees still swallowed by almost two feet of snow. It’s hard to discern actual branches under those massive globs of snow stuck to them.

Even though the temperature made its way above zero and was expected to climb into the 20s(F), a sharp wind kept the “feels like” number in the minus range. I did not wear my face mask when I went out to feed the horses at dusk and regretted it. I walked down the driveway to the mailbox and my cheeks and nose let me know they were not happy with my decision to do so without protecting them.

My intention at the start of the day had been to remove the blankets from the horses after I fed them breakfast but after they gobbled up what was in the pans, all four of them walked off to the far side of the back pasture. Maybe that was their not-so-subtle way of telling me they didn’t want them off yet. They could tell the wind was counteracting the effects of the rising temperature.

On Monday, I plowed and shoveled away the snow drifts on the driveway and felt pretty pleased with myself. Yesterday, the new winds filled things right back to the point it looked like I hadn’t done any clearing the day before.

I’m not going to let the winds have the final say. After I feed the horses this morning I’m going to plow the edges another time. Tit for tat.

I finally got out to start shoveling the mountains of snow that poured onto the deck the last two times that I raked the roof. Much of it was over my knees in depth until I got to the corner where two roof slopes meet into one valley. That pile was about as tall as I am and as dense as snow can get. I forgot to take a picture before I started.

Now that I have it trimmed down to a reasonable size, finishing clearing the rest of the deck should be possible this afternoon. I’m feeling plenty of empathy for what the people of Buffalo, NY are dealing with after the paralyzing and deadly amount of snow they received.

The forecast predicts we will get above freezing today. If it does, I sure hope it feels like it’s above freezing.

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Written by johnwhays

December 28, 2022 at 7:00 am

Meandering Paths

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We wait all year long for Christmas to get here and just like that, it’s over. Happy December 26th. Today is my half-birthday. To keep me humble, the skin by my thumbnail has split so that it constantly stings. One of the ways I deal with painful cracks in the skin on the edge of my fingernails is to apply germ-killing New-Skin. It occurred to me that, as I was wincing at the stinging pain of that antiseptic feature, it wasn’t much different from the constant sting of the cracked skin.

Cyndie and I made two trips to Bloomington, MN for Christmas gatherings of her family over the weekend. Driving was entirely nerve-wracking on Saturday and a little less-so yesterday. It’s really unsettling to be rolling along on what looks to be dry pavement, traveling at posted speeds, and constantly coming upon vehicles that have recently spun into the ditches.

I have no idea what they were doing to end up in their predicaments, but not knowing made it a guessing game about what I could do differently to avoid a similar fate. (Can you say, “black ice?”) Luckily, we completed all our driving without incidents.

Yesterday, to join the family at her mom’s place, we decided to skip giving the horses the noon feeding they have become accustomed to receiving. As we pulled up the driveway when getting home around the time for the evening feeding, the horses gave a little show of their opinion on the matter. One might describe them as looking a little “hangry.” (Irritable or angry because of hunger.)

Upon making my way down to the barn, I was happy to find their gesticulation had been more dramatic than necessary. They were much less rambunctious than I expected them to be and barely fussed over my choice to do some housekeeping before serving pans of feed. Conditions in the paddocks and under the overhang are stabilizing now that wind and snowfall have abated for a couple of days.

It isn’t much, but having the temperature climb to single digits above zero is at least a psychological improvement over the brutal conditions we’ve been dealing with over the last… I’ve lost track of how many days. Feels like it’s been a month or two.

I always enjoy seeing evidence of the horses’ meanderings out into the fresh snow on the fields. You can almost visualize the four mares heading out in a parallel formation before making some loops. These tracks appear in the mornings which tells me they go on these adventures in the dark of night.

My nighttime adventures are all in the dream world but feel a lot like the way those meandering pathways look.

The Monday after Christmas on Sunday feels like we have to wait 364 more days to find out if we were naughty or nice enough to get our wishes wrapped up and delivered under the tree.

Now that’s a long meandering path.

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Written by johnwhays

December 26, 2022 at 7:00 am

Ventured Out

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Apparently, the horses were just waiting for nightfall to venture out into the deep snow covering the hay field. Their meandering trails made for an interesting pattern beneath the colorful dawn sky yesterday morning.

It was around -5°(F) but the horses appeared unperturbed by the cold, even though there was frost on some of their whiskers and eyelashes. By noon, it had warmed to the mid-teens and their attitude had noticeably changed.

They showed a much greater interest in stuffing themselves with hay at noon. That preoccupation was a helpful distraction, allowing me to put blankets on all of them in advance of extreme weather coming in the days ahead. I think they were wise to the threat and were stoking their furnaces in advance. 

Probably why they were so accepting of my fumbling around to get the blankets on them. They seem to sense what lies ahead in the weather department.

I got the barn and hay shed loop plowed yesterday and it was just as tricky as I suspected because of the depth of the snow. By taking it slow and moving half-plow-blade amounts of snow at a time, I accomplished my goal. After parking the ATV back in the shop garage, I headed down to clean up the edges with a shovel and was surprised to find the feed delivery van parked at the barn, unloading bags.

They showed up a day early to avoid making deliveries in wild weather.

It’s a good thing I ventured out to plow when I did. This incident encourages me to not let things wait until the last minute. If I had waited any longer to get that part of the drive plowed, those 50 lb. bags of feed would be piled in the snow at the edge of the driveway and I would have been carrying them down to the barn by myself.

Sounds like winter is going to come in like a lion this year. There’ll be no worrying about whether or not it will be a white Christmas around these parts.

Ho, ho, ho.

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Written by johnwhays

December 20, 2022 at 7:00 am

Like Winter

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Even though it’s not officially winter yet, it feels a LOT like winter out there. The days are short; there is a lot of snow and freezing cold. The winter solstice occurs on Wednesday this week. It seems to me that the shortest day of the year should be the middle of winter.

I was so entertained by the sun dogs yesterday morning that I took a lot of pictures.

Beyond the awesome spectacle of the mystical rainbow circle around the sun, my eyes are drawn to the wonderful contrasting snowscape out in the hay field compared to inside the paddock.

I like being able to see evidence of where the horses are spending their time. The gates to both the hay field and the back pasture are open for them to wander out whenever they choose. Once the snow gets deep, they are more inclined to stay close to their hay, the waterer, and the shelter of the overhang.

I can’t say I blame them. I’d love to take a day off after wrestling for hours yesterday with the long handle of the snow rake to clear snow off the roof on the back side of our house. The extended length of the handle catches on deck railings and tree branches behind me while my attention is focused on moving the business end of the rake up on the roof. It’s a lot of work for my arm muscles, mostly reaching over my head.

There will be no rest for the weary today. I have yet to plow the area in front of the barn and around the hay shed. It won’t be simple because the depth of snow, including a significant drift, is approaching the limitations of the ATV and its plow blade. Since I prefer to not rely on the diesel tractor, for a variety of reasons, I will work slowly and methodically on the Yamaha Grizzly to at least get a lane open to the barn for the delivery of horse feed tomorrow.

Of course, more snow is expected to fall this week so a new round of plowing and shoveling will continue to dictate my activities in the foreseeable future.

It’s a good thing I like winter so much. No mosquitos and no snakes. However, sometimes there can be a lot of snow.

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Written by johnwhays

December 19, 2022 at 7:00 am

November’s End

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The weather predictions were spot-on for our area yesterday. They said it would snow and snow it did. Now, on the last day of November, it looks a lot like December outside. We received somewhere between 5 to 7 inches.

I was hoping it would stop snowing before I needed to head out and start plowing. To kill time, I spent the afternoon hours watching the U.S. men’s soccer team outlast Iran to advance to the round of 16 in the World Cup. Now we have to go through similar tense spectating on Saturday when going up against the Netherlands. It’s a good problem to have. It makes me think, be careful what you wish for.

I fed the horses in the morning just as the big snow was beginning to fall. They haven’t shown a great interest in the hay boxes until recently. Now is a good time to choose the boxes because they are well inside the overhang offering protection from rain and snow.

I’ve still been serving them hay in net bags so they have options. At this point, I would say they are going through the combination of bags and boxes at about an equal rate.

As darkness approached, I headed back out into the falling snow to feed the horses. They seemed to be taking the wintery weather in stride. While they munched on the pellets in their feed pans, I cranked up the ATV to plow.

It always seems like I make a big ruckus plowing, constantly backing up to then push forward again, over and over one blade-width at a time around the barn and hay shed. The horses don’t seem the least bit perturbed by the disturbance. I think it bothers me more than it does them.

When I felt I had done a reasonably sufficient job with the plow, I parked it back in the garage. The shoulders weren’t frozen solid yet so I did my best to keep the blade confined to just the width of the pavement.

A precious snow-dampened quiet returned and I noticed the moon was clearly visible in the sky. The falling snow had finally stopped. The only flakes still flying were being blown around by the wind.

There was still a lot of hand shoveling to be done around doorways, walkways, and the deck but I saved that for later today. After I drive Cyndie to a physical therapy appointment, I’m going to celebrate the last day of November 2022 by cleaning up new-fallen snow. She will be getting an initial assessment done to develop a rehab exercise plan.

Too bad there won’t be any snow shoveling included in her rehab plan.

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Written by johnwhays

November 30, 2022 at 7:00 am

Swift Switch

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We were not expecting to wake up to such a wintery scene yesterday morning as the one that greeted us as darkness faded enough to reveal whiteness covering our deck.

Ever one to playfully re-interpret reality, before Cyndie opened her eyes, I told her that it didn’t rain overnight like we had expected. The early dose of measurable snowfall made about the same impression on our Japanese silver grass as it did on us.

It felt like a great day to stay in bed a little longer than usual and be warm under covers but duty called and we dug boots from deep in the closet, spilling a pile of things out in the process, and took Delilah for a walk before feeding the horses.

Speaking of horses, yesterday we had a visit from the nutritionist from This Old Horse who measured each of our Thoroughbred mares and issued a pleasing assessment that they all looked really, really good and healthy.

They have gained weight as hoped. We’ve been giving Mix an extra serving of feed pellets per day and we will begin doing the same with Mia to keep them on track toward a goal of optimal robustness. Mia, especially, could use a bit more body fat to cope at this time of year. She was pretty shivery at the start of the day. We are going to get a moisture-wicking blanket for her to help during these in-between weeks of cold precipitation.

Their winter blankets would be a bit much at this point. She just needs a raincoat.

Mix likes using mud for a covering. She rubbed her face firmly to paint her cheeks thoroughly and looked proud of her appearance after she stood up again.

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By the end of the day the snow had disappeared and this morning there are areas of blue sky overhead. We are feeling a new urgency about finishing a few projects that require we be able to see the ground, including one that involves digging dirt before it freezes.

We also still need to shut down and pull the pump from our landscape pond. It looked strange to see the water flowing with everything covered in snow. I pulled a snow shovel out to clear the steps yesterday morning, feeling it was way too soon to be doing so.

Time marches on. We are having our grief over Pequenita’s passing poked by continuing to find her toys tucked under or behind furniture. Even a dust bunny of cat hair becomes a tear-jerker at this point. Thank you to all who have conveyed your support. We truly appreciate the love. ❤️

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Written by johnwhays

October 15, 2022 at 10:09 am