Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘weather

Advance Preparation

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While people in Florida have been preparing in advance for the threat of hurricane Ian, yesterday we took a first step in preparing for cold weather that will be impacting our lives in the weeks and months ahead. We’ve been planning for a while to try something new to see if we could adjust our horses’ attitudes about the inside of the barn. The last time we put them inside the stalls during harsh weather they were none too happy about it. More precisely, downright panicky over it.

The weather yesterday morning served up added inspiration for executing our plan by presenting our first confirmed frost of the season.

Didn’t really see that coming. The air temperature was 37°F up at the house. That much colder down the hill, obviously.

On a perfectly sunny morning, we opened access to the barn to let the horses freely explore on their own initiative while we lingered nearby to provide a calming presence. With the four stalls all open and stocked with food and water, they had a chance to come inside and check out the entire space or step in a stall for a nibble, yet they could also go right back outside whenever they wished.

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There was plenty of apprehension and a few instances of being startled but overall they behaved as well as we hoped and inspired us to continue the exercise many more times in the days ahead. It’s a little akin to having four bulls in a china shop to have them loosely meandering in the cramped space around the stalls. Mix was the only one to figure out there was something to eat in the stalls and grabbed a mouthful of feed before quickly darting back outside to munch. Then she came back in and repeated the routine a couple times.

Any quick movement from one horse triggers all the others to follow suite which is a little nerve wracking when suddenly they all have to make it through a narrow door at once.

They were obviously unsure about what we were up to and wary about the strange access we had granted. We are hoping their uncertainty will diminish with future iterations of the drill. Eventually, we will want to get them used to coming inside during darkness since that is often the situation when we end up bringing them in during stormy or super cold winter weather.

As often as possible in the days ahead, we hope to allow them to come and go as they please inside the barn in hopes of creating and strengthening feelings of comfort with being in the stalls.

Back when we had the Arabian horses our experience was completely different. Those four would line up and beg to be allowed in during nasty weather and seemed thrilled to each have their own protected spaces with unchallenged access to food and water.

I’m not expecting to achieve a change to that level from our rescued Thoroughbreds, but just getting to a point where they don’t show signs of triggered PTSD when we bring them inside during bad weather will be a great relief.

I like being prepared in advance, just in case we experience any bitter storms this winter.

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Written by johnwhays

September 28, 2022 at 6:00 am

Twice Blessed

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I arrived home yesterday, shortly after noon, and found everything in such great shape I could hardly fathom our good fortune for having found our latest house/animals sitter. Not only does she provide excellent care for our horses, dog, and cat, she cares for our home in every way. I swear it was cleaner when I walked in yesterday than when we left it last Thursday.

She brings in our mail and hauled our trash bins up from the end of the driveway. We checked in with her on Sunday night when we learned there was a tornado warning and she was already aware and waiting downstairs with Delilah.

Everything down at the barn looked great. We’ve been watching and treating an open wound on Mia’s leg that I thought still looked bad so I tried to get a picture to send to Cyndie for her review. Mia did everything she could to foil my attempts.

The good news is that those with better knowledge than us about this kind of thing have a more positive opinion of the progress. Someone is going to stop by to apply more salve to assure things keep going in the right direction.

From the looks of the property, that storm threat the other night didn’t bring much in the way of wind or rain. It is very dry and the prediction is for it to be hot and continued dry for the rest of the week. That’s not very conducive to the main concern I have right now about working on the gravel edge of our new asphalt driveway.

I only have two days before I’m scheduled to head back up to the lake for some biking in the woods. I’m holding onto the possibility that I won’t be working too hard here prior to that departure.

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Written by johnwhays

August 2, 2022 at 6:00 am

Nature’s Best

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Stormy skies can be a scary thing for some people but rainclouds also provide the backdrop for one of nature’s best spectacles. The weather pattern yesterday was a little chaotic with many periodic episodes of rain rolling by amidst hours of otherwise sun-bathed summer scenes.

It was the perfect recipe for a rainbow and that is precisely what we got.

Another highlight of the day involved multiple viewings of videos captured when Joni Mitchell surprised the world by showing up at the Newport Folk Festival. What a triumph at 78 years of age, after her brain aneurysm in 2015.

Joni is another one of nature’s best.

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Written by johnwhays

July 29, 2022 at 6:00 am

Missing Out

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Now that we are back at home, I don’t have access to television coverage of the Tour de France bike race. I decided to focus on other projects yesterday and headed outside to move lawn furniture in preparation for mowing the grass that is overdue to be trimmed. The dew point temperature was high and the grass was very wet. I was going to need to wait for dryer conditions later in the day.

I decided to fill the time by cleaning up the two sections of asphalt that didn’t get removed by the excavators. Between the shop garage and the house, the old asphalt was still in good enough shape that they can overlay new on top of it. I spent much of the day pulling grass and weeds from the cracks and cutting back the sod away from the edges.

I also did a deep sweeping with a push broom to remove all debris.

While working on all that, thunderstorms started blossoming almost directly overhead. When it thundered nearby I pulled out my phone and checked the radar. Sure enough, the green/yellow/red blotches were materializing right on top of us.

Delilah and I headed back inside just as the intensity of pouring rain started to peak. The lawn was not going to dry out any time soon.

Being stuck indoors, I could have easily checked out the bike race online, but I didn’t even think of it. I finished reading the news and closed my eyes for a ten-minute nap. When I came to again the sun was shining bright. That allowed me to take Delilah out for her noon walk, where we stop by the barn to give Mix a little mid-day feed of extra nutrition.

The dog and I only made it part way through the woods when it started to rain again.

Back in the house we went. I ate lunch and waited until I could get back outside to finish putzing around the upper driveway.

It took until 2:00 in the afternoon for the weather to stabilize and the precipitation end. At the end of the day, around the time I was turning in for the night, I thought to check on the race. I missed out on several incidents with the Jumbo-Visma team, including the yellow jersey crashing.

I can just imagine the heightened alarm of commentators Phil Ligget and Bob Roll describing the drama as it unfolded.

At least I won’t miss anything today as it is a rest day for the competition. My attention will be on a certain paving company’s expected arrival and whether the grass is drying enough for me to mow.

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Written by johnwhays

July 18, 2022 at 6:00 am

Slowly Advancing

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I love slow-motion replays. When I was little, I wanted so badly to be able to perform an athletic maneuver in slow motion while playing football in the yard. The closest we ever came was playing in the winter in deep snow surrounded by the padded insulating layers of our snow pants and jackets. We didn’t fall any slower but the landings were softer. It was easier to pretend we were moving in slow motion.

Watching radar images of advancing thunderstorms is a different version of slow motion. We can see it coming, but can’t do anything about the ultimate timing of arrival. It’ll get here when it gets here… if it doesn’t use up all the energy before then. My favorite MPR weather blog pointed out a whopping 86°F dew point in Iowa yesterday afternoon that combined with a 90°F temperature to create a heat index temperature of 121°!

That seems like the kind of extreme heat that could cook up some impressively stormy weather.

Yesterday morning at our place felt rather otherworldy. We walked out into a landscape that looked like we no longer had any neighbors. Our high dew point temperature was making it feel remarkably tropical. There were so many droplets falling from the tree leaves it sounded like it was raining in the woods. A thick fog was obscuring the view of anything beyond our property lines.

Days like this strain my senses to reconcile how dramatically different it is here during the frozen desolation of winter. I don’t tend to think about the changes between those two extremes as happening in slow motion, but obviously, the transition takes months.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about another thing changing in slow motion. It came to my attention via some television programs that included scenes of life in Europe in the 1930s and the early episodes of fascist intimidation. It is hard for me to imagine what that was like in light of the knowledge of where it led and the ultimate atrocities that transpired. It makes me want to shout at those people in history to not let it happen.

It causes me similar discomfort to witness rhetoric and animosities happening in the present day that has an eery similarity to 1930s Europe. There are moments when I experience the uncomfortable sense that I am living during the beginnings of a slow-motion transition away from democracy and acceptance toward an intolerant and authoritarian political philosophy.

The politicization of the US Supreme Court feels so wrong and shows no signs of reversing course. The long game being played by those who sought to reverse the law allowing women to choose to have an abortion by electing a president who would appoint judges to achieve their goals is very much a version of slow motion.

It disturbs me to witness the slow-motion trends happening in the present given the outcomes of authoritarian intolerance that played out multiple times throughout the world in the past.

It’s a jarring contrast to the innocence of my dreams of slow-motion leaping and diving in real-time when I was a kid.

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Written by johnwhays

July 6, 2022 at 6:00 am

Big Swing

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The temperature took a big swing of over 30°(F) in one day and we went from a high heat advisory on Monday to cool and wet yesterday.

I decided to take advantage of the rainy weather and started pulling weeds. I soon found myself pulling thistle that was mixed with poison ivy. That was enough to get me to change my focus to a different area where vines are taking over. Both projects turned out to be more overwhelming than handwork can solve.

I’m going to need to bring out the brush cutter on the back of the diesel tractor to interrupt the unwelcome trends growing in these two areas. We seem to have arrived at the peak vine growing time of the year as they are showing up everywhere we turn and in greater density than either Cyndie or I recall noticing in the previous ten years.

It’s hard to know if we are making any headway in controlling the vines because previous years’ efforts seem meaningless under the current onslaught of multiple climbing species showing up far and wide.

Speaking of big swings, I snapped a photo of Cyndie trying to interrupt a budding dreadlock in Mix’s tail while the mare was gobbling her morning feed.

 

It speaks volumes that Mix was agreeable to the annoying activity going on behind her while she ate. The horses really are allowing themselves to receive more attention from us every day. It’s wonderfully rewarding.

It’s a big swing from how they were behaving when they first arrived, a little over a year ago now.

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Written by johnwhays

June 16, 2022 at 6:00 am

Heavy Sky

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Who doesn’t like posts about the weather? It’s like a friend that everyone knows. We interact with the weather every single day. It’s our common denominator, even though it could be completely different for us at any given moment.

We didn’t receive the hail that our children in the Twin Cities reported, but the wild weather was swirling all around us. Poor Delilah was on full alert trying her darnedest to scare away the intimidating thunder with her most energetic ferocious barks. She leaped straight into the air to get after one particular rumble in the sky.

She puts out an incredibly valiant, yet futile effort to combat the ominous sounds and flashes of thunderstorms. The noise and her frantic energy quickly get tiresome to our weary ears and fractured ambiance.

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While out feeding the horses, the clouds put on a spectacular show that became very difficult to read. I wished I had taken one of the skywarn classes offered by the National Weather Service. The rain came in several waves with just a scattering of lightning and thunder. Between each, we saw moments of sunshine and general calm.

On an evening with a looming threat of severe weather, we lucked out as the worst cells slid either north or south of us. As nightfall descended, we walked out to deliver the trash and recycle bins to the road and got a good view of the backside of one of the big cells.

Our sky was beginning to look much less heavy already.

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Written by johnwhays

May 20, 2022 at 6:00 am

Stormy Again

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Not that I’m counting but last night was the third time this spring that we have been under a strong thunderstorm with a tornado warning issued and found ourselves in the basement as a precaution. We were lucky the last two times, and the worst of the storms slipped around us to the north and south. Last night seemed more intense in terms of rain and minor hail but we won’t know about the ultimate impact until I get out and walk the property and check on the horses.

It was one of those storms that boggle my mind with the non-stop flashes of lightning. I understand the build-up of static charge and the dissipation of the charge in the massive bolt of electricity. What doesn’t make sense is how the charge builds up again so fast and there is another flash and another flash and an endless number of flashes after that with no time between.

The only other news of the day yesterday was that Cyndie drove herself to and from her physical therapy appointment with me in the passenger seat in case needed. My assistance was not required, but she did send me to fill the car with gas while she was inside working on reclaiming strength in her leg muscles.

Every day is a milestone of recovery progress for that woman.

If I discover anything interesting during this morning’s reconnaissance trek around the property, I’ll update this post. It’ll give me an image to include for the otherwise lack thereof.

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Written by johnwhays

May 12, 2022 at 6:00 am

Impressive Sky

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There was no missing the approach of a significant change in the weather yesterday afternoon. It didn’t come as a surprise after a dramatic jump in temperature and humidity that was combined with a strong, gusty wind. All the ingredients were there for a bumpy end of the day.

I was moving the horses back into the paddock from the back pasture when the leading edge of a line of thunderstorms arrived overhead. A short while later, our cell phones announced our county was included in a tornado warning.

This was the second such warning to occur in this county during the past three weeks. Something tells me it’s going to be a long year for severe weather. It would be just fine with me to be wrong and have these two close calls be nature’s way of using up the threatening storms right away in early spring so the rest of the warm months will be safe and calm.

In addition to the weather drama, I got a little shock when an itch on my side turned out to be a small wood tick latched onto my flesh. Makes me miss our chickens free-ranging all over the place and controlling insects like nothing else I’ve ever seen. Sure wish the rest of the busy wildlife around here would pick up the slack and eat more flies and ticks.

The horses are also going to miss the fly-control the chickens were providing. All the wet weather of the previous weeks is harbinger of a high fly population this year. Flies have shown up early and are already making pests of themselves around the horses’ eyes.

As the sky began to look gloomier and doom-ier, we checked weather radar maps and watched as the worst looking blobs on the screen approached. Fear not, this wasn’t to be our day for damage. Just like the storms a couple of weeks ago, our location was spared as the worst-looking masses passed on either side of our property.

At one point, it began to rain in the backyard while the other side of our house remained dry.

That’s what I call really riding the edge.

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Written by johnwhays

May 10, 2022 at 6:00 am

Broken News

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If every report is labeled “Breaking News!” it kinda dilutes the meaning of breaking, doesn’t it?. The breaking news from Wintervale is that Cyndie has switched from using a walker for getting around to walking with a cane. Tomorrow marks two weeks since the knee replacement surgery. She is making really good progress toward healing and recovering full function in the weeks ahead.

Already, I am enjoying the benefits of some assistance in the kitchen from her with meal prep.

Beyond that news, it feels like I would describe that it’s been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone. It’s muddier than ever after two more days of rain. I recently saw an amusing comment from a meteorologist distorting the old adage that April showers will bring May flowers. This year, he predicted, April showers will bring May showers. Oh, joy.

Honestly, as much as I am averse to suffering from drought, I think my attitude is more strongly opposed to the disgustingly muddy conditions brought on by endless rains. Too much, or too little has become the norm.

I sincerely hope all the underground roots are sucking up the maximum amount of hydration they can. A limited number of growing things are popping out some greenery regardless of the continued pattern of clouds, rain, and cooler than average temperatures. I trust there to be a spectacular burst of budding greens upon the next visit of warmth and prolonged sunshine.

I am growing increasingly weary of trying to keep the horses comfortable amid conditions that are anything but.

It’s an excellent opportunity to practice mind over matter and allow mental space for a positive spin on a grim spring weather pattern. I’ll get right on that.

Breaking News!: It’s still cold and wet outside today. Happy May Day everyone!

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Written by johnwhays

May 1, 2022 at 10:21 am