Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘storm damage

Double Duty

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This is becoming an all too frequent unwelcome occurrence. We had another tree succumb to high winds. This time it wasn’t in the woods, but right along the driveway during last Wednesday’s storm. When the look of winter arrived with a blast of 8 inches of heavy, wet blowing snow, it forced us into the double duty of cutting up the big pine across the driveway before I could plow.

Wind gusts were reaching 40 mph which turned out to be too much for the roots to hold that big beast.

Cyndie asked if we should use it for this year’s Christmas tree. I probably did a poor job of hiding my exasperation when I said she could if she was able to lift it.

Once we were in the middle of cutting it up and she discovered how big it really was, she understood my reluctance.

After I cut the trunk about halfway up, she pondered taking just the top portion. Again, I said that would be fine if she could lift it, knowing full well it was still too much tree.

Fortunately, the very top had split into two competing leaders, which made it an unappealing option when we reached a size that would be barely manageable.

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I offered her the alternative option of saving boughs for making a wreath or other decorative holiday arrangements. That met with her approval. No sense having all that wonderful pine scent going to waste.

Of course, this being a healthy live tree when it was pushed over, there was plenty of fresh, sticky sap to make a wonderful mess of her gloves and everything else around, including her hair by the time she was done moving things around.

An hour and a half later, I was able to start the plowing process, which was no picnic due to the stickiness of the snow. It kept sticking to the plow blade and hindered the winch’s ability to lift the blade. This being the first snowplowing of the season, I needed to establish an extra width by pushing the edges well past the end of the pavement to allow space for subsequent snow events.

I was moderately successful. We may have an opportunity to test this by tomorrow as we are due to get another comparable blast of wind and snow tonight.

Something tells me this is going to feel like a very long winter. Hopefully, I won’t be facing the double duty of lumberjack and plow driver all at the same time again.

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Written by johnwhays

November 30, 2019 at 10:26 am

Storm Damage

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By the looks of the driveway alone, up at the lake, it is obvious that there was some heavy rain. There is evidence of a flash flood of runoff that washed gravel away into the woods. Farther along on the property, we discovered that the big eagles’ nest had also succumbed to the deluge. There was debris of sticks and dead fish on the ground at the base of the tree. Looking up, the size of the structure had shrunk considerably.

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Still, the two youngsters remained perched, one on a branch above, and one on what was left of the nest. We occasionally hear them calling out to the adults who are the source of their meals. I would expect the stinky fish that landed below to eventually be picked up and delivered above again. It’s not like they’re past their expiration date or anything.

Getting the fish bodies up off the ground would make it a little easier to walk Delilah that direction. It takes a lot of muscle to steer her clear of trying to roll around in all the stench.

On a whim, I decided to be adventurous and take Delilah for an explore in the woods across the highway from our property. As soon as we made our way beyond the thicket of growth along the berm beside the road and got into the spacious forest beneath the spectacular canopy of the tall trees, I discovered the hazard of my decision.

All that rain seems to have unleashed a ferocious new batch of teeny mosquitos. They were unrelenting in their onslaught. I tried to keep moving to foil their attempts to land, but Delilah –lacking the exposed flesh I presented– didn’t share my urgency. She kept stopping to smell every enticing forest odor and, still on leash, frequently chose a path that had us at odds over which side of tree trunks to be on.

I had to cut our expedition short and set a course straight back to the bright sunlight of the roadway.

Things were much calmer when we got to the beach and I let her soak in the water while I stood on the sand taking a sunbath and listening to loons.

By that point, the storm damage was out of sight and out of mind. Almost the same for the chaos of the preceding week.

I will continue this course of therapy for a couple of days. It seems to be just what a doctor would order for what was ailing me.

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Written by johnwhays

August 10, 2019 at 7:51 am

High Points

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After work yesterday, Cyndie and I hopped in her car and drove up to the lake for the weekend. Leaving on a Thursday night makes for easy driving, in the absence of the typical weekend traffic headed north. Our route took us through some of the damage from last week’s storms that produced near-hurricane force winds and some baseball-sized hail.

It was fruitless to try to capture a representative photo of the large scope of broken trees for miles, but I snapped a few shots on my cell phone through the car window at highway speed.

It was a little easier to capture a sample of some building damage that hadn’t been covered up yet.

The extensive damage to trees was a really sad sight. It gave me a whole new perspective on the comparatively minor issues we are facing at home with a few dead or dying trees leaning across our trails. We’ve got it easy.

High point of the day for me yesterday was finding a neighboring farmer working our fields to finally bale some of the cut hay that has been left on the ground for weeks, repeatedly being rained on instead of properly drying out. The past week offered the longest stretch of dry days that I can recall so far this summer.

The second high point was getting a chance to watch portions of Stage 18 of the Tour de France on the subscription TV channels when we got here. At home, we only pick up what is publicly available through the airwaves, and bike racing coverage is minimal.

Two big mountain stages remain, today and tomorrow, and I am thrilled to be able to view all the drama as it happens.

Maybe it will be rainy here as the morning progresses so I don’t waste sunny lake time sitting indoors in front of the glowing screen getting my bike racing fix.

Honorable mention high point yesterday goes to the Coop’s pizza dinner we devoured when we got to Hayward. Oh, so delicious.

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Angry Skies

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When I opened the door to take Delilah for a walk yesterday afternoon, the sound of endlessly recurring thunder from the southern horizon instantly notched up her excitement to 11. She wasn’t sure what to do with the fact it didn’t end. The rumbles just kept rolling over, one on top of the other.

Our assessment of the tipped tree across one of the trails in the woods was akin to the old “We will rebuild” memes with a lawn chair tipped over post-earthquake.

Removal of this hazard will barely require the chainsaw, but that is not a complaint. Not by any means. I am thrilled this is the worst we suffered. The bigger tree leaning from the right side of that image is from our neighbor’s property and it was blown over in a previous storm. I will probably tend to that at the same time I get around to dealing with the little one across the trail.

It is wet enough around here again that the mosquitoes have become a nuisance that will make lumberjacking a less pleasant endeavor. There may be a rudimentary trim that happens in the short term, leaving the ultimate cleanup for more inviting fall-like weather in a couple of months.

The chickens were undisturbed about the angry sky rumbling almost overhead and came out of the tall grass to be sociable when I stopped by to pick eggs.

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The cut fields from last weekend haven’t even been raked into windrows yet. They just haven’t caught a break this summer for getting enough consecutive rain-free days to allow the grass to dry sufficiently for baling. It’s really sad to watch. I would really be suffering emotionally if we were depending on it to feed horses.

I can’t imagine how all the others who need hay are dealing with it this summer.

By luck, our fields were missed by the round of cloudbursts that moved past just to our south yesterday, but chances don’t look promising for later today.

The angry skies seem to echo the vibrations coming from my news radio covering U.S. politics.

Boy, do I miss blue skies, dry days, sunshine, and benevolent leadership.

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Written by johnwhays

July 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

Recovery Day

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After an incredibly full day on Saturday, yesterday was a blink of doing next to nothing and seeing the minutes on the clock disappear just as fast. I don’t understand how that works.

The morning dawned with a gusting wind just ahead of a very dark thunderstorm, which forced Cyndie and me out of bed to race around picking up things that had been left outside at the end of the celebration evening. Once things were in order, Cyndie offered me the choice of going down to open the coop and feeding the chickens or going inside to feed the dog and cat.

I felt like feeding Delilah and ‘Nita required less thought, so chose that option. Seconds later, the rain began to pour down. Cyndie got soaked.

Two storms moved over us yesterday, but neither seemed particularly threatening. However, after the second one, Cyndie discovered that the top of one of our big oak trees had snapped off and was tipped down across the shortcut trail to the barn. I refused to take a picture because there was no way I could capture the actual detail of what happened. It’s too big. There’s no angle to show the actual size. It’s in the middle of so many other trees you can’t discern which leaves are which.

That never stops Cyndie.

Dealing with that new calamity will have to wait. Yesterday I squeezed in a nap and slowly chipped away at rediscovering order and routine from the aftermath of Saturday’s big event.

Let’s relive a couple of fine moments again…

I knew that we would continue straight on that road, but was all too happy to pause while the details were confirmed. At least I didn’t call for a wrong turn at this junction.

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It was a very happy birthday celebration and it was a great honor to be able to share it with my treasured friend, Paul Keiski.

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Written by johnwhays

July 1, 2019 at 6:00 am

Ghost Leaves

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On a walk through the woods with Delilah yesterday morning, my attention was grabbed by some disintegrating leaves that never fell from the tree. They looked like ghosts of leaves.

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Why did they not fall to the ground?

Especially in the face of some wind gusts that were strong enough to break loose a roof panel on our wood shed. Yesterday, there was dead calm in the morning, so I took advantage of the perfect weather to work on replacing the busted section.

Learning from experience, I added some cross supports that will better hold the overhanging side from flexing, should future winds blow from that same direction.

That simple structure, built to store split logs while they dry for a year, has provided multiple lessons from failure.

When it blew over in a storm, I figured out a way to secure it to the ground by stringing some old fence wire over the cross beams and running it through the eye of earth anchor augers in three strategic locations.

With the help of my friend, Mike Wilkus, who came to my rescue when re-assembling the shed after it had overturned, I learned how to improve the diagonal bracing to stabilize the overall structure.

It leaves me wondering what the next failure will be that might teach me yet another lesson in the great world of being an amateur builder.

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Written by johnwhays

April 20, 2019 at 8:42 am

Reclaiming Peace

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The days following a disruptive weather event can be a confusing mix, emotionally. The threat has lifted and calm ensues, but the anxiety adrenaline hangover lingers. We are lucky to have dodged any significant damage or loss of power, but the multiple inches of dirty snow/slush, speckled with innumerable broken branches, delay the feeling of relief we seek.

Thank goodness for our hills and valleys that break up the wind around here.

The open terrain to the west didn’t protect the overexposed, iced up power poles lining roadways.

We don’t have anything near that level of clean up facing us. That must have been a real shocker to come upon.

Some of the local hunters stopped by for permission to cross our property with their dogs in search of coyotes. A short time later, gunshots rang out.

I had watched as the group of hounds calmly traveled out of the neighboring corn field and into the woods, with a single hunter walking behind them. After they disappeared into the ravine beyond our property, we never saw another glimpse of them.

One of these days, I’m going to ask if I can tag along. It occurred to me yesterday, that in all our years here, I have never actually seen a coyote. I’m curious about the logistics of how they finally get proximity to shoot, and then how they find their way out of the woods while carrying their kill.

In less than three weeks, our annual participation in the World Labyrinth Day peace walk will be upon us. We are finding it difficult to envision how we might be ready.

It’s not just the peace pole that can’t stand up in the soft earth. The stones balanced at each turn spend more time toppled that upright with all the freezing and thawing going on.

Our exercise may just be to claim our peace with accepting things just as they are.

Windy, calm; wet, or dry.

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Written by johnwhays

April 14, 2019 at 9:37 am