Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘snow

Peaceful Coexistence

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It is possible that the early arrival of snow cover this October is playing a role in the normalization process of our two groups of chickens. For the most part, they are getting along… separately, together, if that makes any sense. They settle down okay in the coop at night, randomly mixing positions on the two roosts, but during the day, there is no mistaking the obvious distinction of three versus twelve.

Cyndie has cleared a clean path from the coop to the barn and the group of young ones follow on her heels as she heads to fill enough pans of feed to foil the older three who try to lord over that resource.

The hens are coping with the reality of needing to share the coveted space under the overhang of the barn.

The young ones don’t show any need to challenge the hens. Just the opposite. They are quick to retreat at the first approach from any of their elders, but probably just as quick to return in exploration of their ever-expanding horizons.

We are satisfied with the present state of peaceful coexistence and thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to watch things develop before our eyes.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2020 at 10:00 am

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Perfect Balance

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If we have to endure so much snow in October, at least we benefited yesterday from a temperature that was the perfect balance for gorgeous falling snow without the need to plow or shovel. The ground isn’t frozen yet and the rate of falling flakes was not high enough to overwhelm the residual warmth in the asphalt of our driveway.

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It was snowing from the moment we woke up until very late in the afternoon but I didn’t need to lift a shovel.

I’m soaking up the pleasure of that to the fullest, knowing the feature won’t last.

This morning the temperature was down to 22°(F), well below freezing. The average for October is a high of 58 and low of 40. Of course, this is the year 2020, so, the word “average” doesn’t apply in the least.

These conditions are more in line with our December weather averages than October. We’re only about a month and a half out of whack.

Sing along with me… “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

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Written by johnwhays

October 24, 2020 at 8:25 am

Mixed Seasons

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Delilah doesn’t care that a winter-sized daylong snowstorm blasted into our otherwise reasonable autumnal October weather on Tuesday.

The ground cover is now an interesting mix of snow and leaves. The natural world seems to have lost patience with this thing we call order. What the heck, bring on the snow. We don’t need to wait for the trees to drop all their leaves first.

Delilah loves it. While I trudged with great effort through the deep, wet snow in the woods, she happily raced to sniff one wildlife footprint after another.

I didn’t take Delilah near the chickens during our stroll after I got home from work, so I didn’t see how the birds were coping with their new surroundings, but when Cyndie returned from closing the coop as darkness fell, she reported full merging of young and old on the roosts.

How synchronous! Mixed seasons and mixed flocks of chickens.

Maybe the old birds will share their winter savvy with the young ones.

“If we act like we are stuck and can’t walk anywhere because of the snow, that lady who thinks she’s our mother will shovel a path to the barn.”

She already did.

I’m guessing the young ones have already learned that detail.

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Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2020 at 6:00 am

Heavy Record

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Not that I’m going to write about the weather or anything… I used to like snow. Yesterday we received a record 7+ inches of heavy, wet and sticky, white stuff. It wasn’t all that likeable for the adventures I faced. Honestly, I shouldn’t complain about my commute home from work, as it was only about a half-hour longer than normal. I didn’t witness any spinouts, cars in ditches, or jackknifed semis (of which the State Highway Patrol reported there were 17). Just slow-moving vehicles along my route.

I left work early to give myself time to arrive at my health clinic for an appointment to get my flu shot. The curvy entrance to the place was a mess of unplowed slushy snow and my four tires had no grip as I rounded a bend and slid sideways into the oncoming lane. Luckily, nobody was coming from the other direction.

The snow was so deep on our driveway, I decided I should plow. This was one heck of a first accumulation, coming in October, barely three days after I mowed the grass around the house and swept up leaves.

The chickens are freaking out over this weather and the young ones seem to have no clue how to deal with it. They got all wet and shivery but wouldn’t be coaxed inside the shelter of their coop. Cyndie ended up chasing every last one of them to force them in by her hands.

We forgot the solution from last year of stuffing plastic along the outer edge of the space between the roof panels and the hardware cloth that is the ceiling of the coop. It keeps out blowing snow. Cyndie reported a lot of white coating the inside.

I hope we aren’t going to run out of names for the winter storms this year like the weather service did for the hurricane season. Starting this early in the season does not bode well.

If they didn’t assign them alphabetically, I think they should name yesterday’s storm, “Yuck.”

Spoken like the old fogey I seem to be turning into as the years go by.

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Written by johnwhays

October 21, 2020 at 6:00 am

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Attitude Adjustment

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I’m not sure how much the weather forecast for today, Tuesday, of “Snow, mainly after 10am. The snow could be heavy at times… New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible” contributed to making my Monday such a mental slog. Of course, that wouldn’t be living in the moment, would it?

Guilty as charged.

We are probably more prepared for the oncoming winter season right now than most other years, but that hasn’t served to assuage the typical hesitation long commuters feel about the arrival of snow.

That wasn’t the only stressor that yesterday, a classic Monday, presented, all of which accumulated so that by the time I arrived home, I was exhausted. Cue the kitty.

Pequenita offered me a little feline focused attitude adjustment. If you have a cat, you know the drill. After a little meow and some purring, while she rubs against me from every direction, Pequenita often settles down on my shins to convince me that we’re good. She’s got me, and I’ve got her.

Let it snow.

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Written by johnwhays

October 20, 2020 at 6:00 am

Wing Wave

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Well, the woods look a lot different now than they did on Saturday.

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It is mind-boggling how much things can change in one day. It is such a dramatic difference to go from walking our trails on a warm, sunny day to tromping through deep snow the next.

Yesterday, while describing my landscaping adventures, I forgot to mention the total highlight of the day Saturday. I was toiling away placing some bales along the property line when a small plane approached and made a banked turn. I pay attention when small planes show up because I know a number of pilots whom I always hope will visit when they’re in the area.

When the plane continued the loop and came around again, my confidence jumped that it could be one of my friends in high places. I was in a tangle of trees at that moment and chose to make a break for the most open space nearby, which turned out to be my neighbor’s field.

I looked up into the sun in hopes my sunglasses might reflect my presence and waved my arms. The plane rocked its wings in response.

It’s such a thrill to receive that acknowledgment. At the time, I still wasn’t clear who it was, but I was confident it was someone I knew.

Then my phone registered a message. It was from Mike Wilkus.

“There is a man outstanding in his field. Or at least the neighbor’s field.”

He sent me some wonderful photos.

From the road at the bottom of the picture you see our driveway climb beside the big hay-field and turn at the hay-shed and barn, rise past the shop garage to the house at top. The paddocks and round pen are clearly visible, as is the labyrinth tucked in trees above the upper pasture that was also cut for hay last year.

And zooming in for a closer view, in the neighbor’s field there is a guy waving.

Thanks, Mike!

That view would sure look a lot different today with all this snow we received.

We had about 8 inches by the time I went to bed last night. I wonder how long it will take to turn it all into water that will keep us in the mud season for an additional week or two.

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Written by johnwhays

April 13, 2020 at 6:00 am

Snow Coming

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I’m usually grateful to have advanced notice of coming weather, but sometimes I don’t like knowing we are about to receive large amounts of heavy, wet snow in April.

The snow is predicted to come in a narrow band, so it could shift a little, but we are located perilously close to the highest risk of seeing 6 or more inches of snowfall. Look to the right of the letter “e” in the word Moderate, just above Red Wing. Oh, joy.

I spent yesterday tinkering with the slowly developing berm we are constructing at the edge of our property where the neighboring cultivated farm field drains onto our land. It’s been 2-and-a-half years since we installed the latest version of erosion fencing and much of that has filled with so much topsoil the fabric is laying almost flat in some places.

Granted, the following photos were taken at different seasons, late summer vs. early spring, but the difference is rather striking.

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The bales obviously disintegrate. Progress that may not be evident can be found in the number of volunteer plants that have taken root and naturally help to hold soil in place. The thing is, though, that helps to hold our soil from eroding, but we still get large flows of the neighbor’s topsoil washing over our property.

If I can get the berm established enough to pool his runoff, it will serve as a natural replacement for the Polypropylene fabric and, most important to my sensibilities, be a less unsightly barrier.

I have found the use of gnarly dead branches that are too big for my chipper makes for great starter material in establishing a natural barrier. The highly fertilized runoff tends to fuel thick growth of tall grasses that ultimately create a tangled wall of live plants weaving through dead wood.

Looks like I’ll have a fresh opportunity Monday to see how my latest upgrade to the barrier yesterday will impact the drainage of many inches of melting snow.

Wouldn’t you know it, I changed the tires on the ATV yesterday to swap out the aggressive treaded winter tires for plowing snow, with the smoother treads of summer tires that are kinder to our land.

I could be in for a complex day tomorrow of clearing heavy, wet snow that will be a big problem for a day or two, and then melt. Then we can get on with spring, which is on the verge of swiftly getting sprung.

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Written by johnwhays

April 11, 2020 at 9:20 am

Wintry Spring

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The weather prank that would have fit nicely on April Fools’ Day happened two days late for that honor. Yesterday afternoon the flakes started flying and, beautiful as they can be, didn’t stop until there was an ugly couple of inches covering everything.

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Overnight last night, the temperature dropped to 22°(F) making it not only look like winter but feel like it, too.

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers. Well, April snow just might be an improvement on that because the snow tends to stay in place and soak the ground as it melts. If the forecasts are correct, this snow will disappear quickly.

The temperature shows signs of reaching 70 by Tuesday they are saying.

Growing things should find that enticing.

My reaction is to give the lawn tractor attention in preparation for the season ahead.

It is always startling when the number of days between putting away the snow shovel and getting out the lawnmower can be counted on the fingers of my two hands.

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Written by johnwhays

April 4, 2020 at 9:23 am

Morning Surprise

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When I pushed my nose up against the glass of the door to the deck in search of the critter that was setting off our motion light on Tuesday night, all I could report seeing was a few surprise snowflakes floating down. It was only a surprise in that I hadn’t noticed any other precipitation starting before that. My impression was that the predicted weather event would start with light rain that might eventually include a mix of snow.

Waking up yesterday morning with a two-and-a-half inch layer of sticky snowflakes coating everything was quite the surprise.

It made for some fabulous morning scenery.

I was darting off on my morning commute to the day-job in the Daylight Saving Time darkness of the early hour, so I didn’t get much chance to ogle the spectacle. By the time I reached the far side of the Twin Cities, there was no evidence anywhere that any new precipitation had even fallen there.

Knowing the snow at home wouldn’t last very long after the sun came up, I sent a message to Cyndie asking her to take pictures.

I’m really glad she did because, by the time I returned home in the afternoon, all the new-fallen snow had disappeared completely. It was if it had never happened.

My, how quickly things can change.

Early on, Cyndie reported the chickens appeared highly miffed over the sudden return of the cold blanket of white covering their stomping grounds. Happily for them, the annoyance was short-lived and they were out on patrol scouring their surroundings in execution of their primary responsibility as insect pest controllers when I got home.

It’s very rewarding to have them get after that task at the very instant bare ground begins to reappear from beneath the winter snowpack. They are champions of natural fly and tick reduction.

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Written by johnwhays

March 12, 2020 at 6:00 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