Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘weather

Feeling Wintery

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We did not get much of a chance to ease our way into winter this month. This morning’s single-digit low temperature is the second time already in November that we have faced such surprisingly cold air. The average high and low for this area in November is 40°/25°(F).

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My favorite weather blog is predicting a brown Thanksgiving next week, so we are looking forward to a return to more normal high temperatures in the days ahead, to melt away the remnants of last week’s snowfall.

The horses have been quick to develop their thicker winter coats and appear to be adapting to the cold without difficulty. Delilah loves the snow and romps with visible excitement, frequently burying her snout in the powder and coming up with a wonderfully frosty nose.

The chickens are already over most of their apprehension about walking in the snow, so we aren’t too concerned about them. I noticed recently that the size of one roost (there are actually two) seems to best accommodate 8 hens, based on how our current brood situate themselves.

Unfortunately, we currently have 9 birds.

Last one in tends to set off a chain reaction of chickens wrangling for position, with one dropping down when a 9th barges in line. Occasionally, a Wyandotte will choose to hurdle them all and perch against the wall on a stud above the window.

Last winter, we only had three hens and they didn’t have any problem fitting. You’d think they would split up and use both roosts, but I haven’t seen that yet.

For the first time in the two years we’ve had chickens, we think we may have a sick hen. Her change in behavior started about the same time the snow arrived, so it wasn’t clear at first that there was any issue beyond not wanting to walk in the snow. Now that the other eight have returned to normal behavior, the malaise of the ninth has become more conspicuous.

She doesn’t want to leave the coop. It is hard to track her eating and drinking, so we are not sure if this is a serious illness or something minor that will resolve itself over time. We’ll start observing her with increased scrutiny to see if we learn anything more.

We have been so intent on tracking the potential predators that threaten the hens, it would be a shame to instead lose one to illness. We hope to do everything we can to prevent that from happening.

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Written by johnwhays

November 13, 2018 at 7:00 am

Double Coverage

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This morning, on our return from the morning chores of feeding and cleaning up after horses and chickens, I asked Delilah to pause a moment to allow me a chance to capture the image of the sloppy snow starting to coat our house and yard.

It occurred to me that the leaves covering our grass were getting covered by snow. Double coverage!

A couple of days ago, the temperature was cold, but it was dry. I photographed some leaves that were decorating the frosty glass table on our deck.

Is it possible that I have waited too long to sweep up the leaves from the lawn? It seems as though snow and cold are nipping at our heels.

Last night the time changed from Daylight Saving Time back to Standard. We moved our clocks back one hour. For the record, animals do not recognize this artificial frame of reference. Delilah did not know that she was waking up earlier than our clocks indicated she should.

It’s only one hour, but it tends to have an impact that feels more significant that sixty simple minutes.

Speaking of double coverage, I end up trying to meld my adjustment to the new time designations with the animals’ oblivion over the change.

Today’s wet snow provided a distraction from what time breakfast was being served for our animals. The falling flakes also make a point that winter weather is nigh.

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Written by johnwhays

November 4, 2018 at 10:58 am

Yep, Snow

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Well, we got that out of the way. The first snowfall of the season arrived and decorated our place with a light frosting of white yesterday.

Made for a great Sunday afternoon of lounging in front of the fireplace and watching football games on television up in the loft.

There will be plenty of other days to be out in the elements when flakes are flying in the months ahead. I elected to spend the first one indoors.

Am I showing my age?

Yeah, probably.

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Written by johnwhays

October 15, 2018 at 6:00 am

Following Up

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Picking up right where I left off yesterday, the story is rain and more rain, and a raccoon that needed to be dealt with once and for all.

Tuesday was a crazy day for Cyndie at home. First, she had to move the horses into the barn for an appointment with Marcus to trim their hooves early in the morning. After cleaning up from that project, she started calling around to see what interest our local authorities might have in our ailing masked bandit.

Since no humans had come in contact with the raccoon, Public Health referred Cyndie to the DNR. They said they didn’t have anyone who could come out, but gave out the number for their biologist. They also suggested she could call the Sheriff.

The Sheriff’s office suggested she call the DNR. Figures.

Eventually, the dispatcher offered to pass on the issue to a Deputy who would call Cyndie back.

Cyndie said she was finally trying to have some breakfast around 10:30 when Delilah started a barking fit at the front door. It was a Deputy Sheriff.

The officer asked if we had any firearms. Nope. Then she offered to shoot it for us.

In her estimation, there was a good chance the coon was suffering from distemper. Regardless the affliction, ailing wildlife is not something you want around for other predators to eat, so she assured Cyndie that it was the right decision to call.

The Deputy elected to use a shotgun, so she could keep a distance. Cyndie said the weapon was almost as long as the petite officer was tall. After several warnings that the shot would be loud, the results possibly messy, that it would startle our horses, that it would be very loud, and that Cyndie didn’t have to look if she didn’t want to, the deed was done.

By the way, this was all accomplished in the rain.

The very kind and helpful officer stayed around to give Cyndie a hand triple-bagging the body and putting it into a closed garbage can for storage until our trash gets picked up.

One good thing about the rain is that it washes away any residual mess that might appeal to our dog on her many walks past that spot in the days ahead.

Delilah is more interested in the sound running water makes as the mini-waterfalls pour over the edges of washouts in the drainage ditch cutting across our fields.

Seems like that water is going to be flowing for days, so she’ll have plenty of distraction.

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Written by johnwhays

October 10, 2018 at 6:00 am

More Weather

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Weather was the center of attention on the ranch again yesterday afternoon. During my hour drive home from work, I heard the announcement that our county was included in a tornado watch until 11:00 p.m. I checked the radar when I got home and found there was nothing to indicate a storm was imminent.

During the short time I was catching up on my daily reading on a handful of web sites, the radar screen rapidly changed from nothing of interest to “better take cover soon!”

That came up really fast. In the image, there is a marker indicating our home, southeast of River Falls. I figured there was plenty of time before the main event would get here, so I stepped outside to see what it looked like in real life.

The change in atmosphere from when I left the workplace to when I walked out the door to look at the sky was remarkable. The dew point temperature had soared to a tropical 70° (F). The air temperature was in the high 70s.

I don’t know how much the sudden return of warmth might have contributed, but yesterday also happened to mark the return of our annual Asian beetle infestation. It is striking how specifically the environment changes in a single day, going from nothing at all, to thousands of bugs swarming all at once.

Somewhere nearby, a soybean crop has been harvested from the field, triggering the mass migration of beetles to some source of water and shelter.

Getting out in the air provided a feeling that there was more than enough fuel for a rip-roaring thunderstorm, but the reality I encountered didn’t look bad at all yet.

It was actually a serene scene of calm horses in front of a backdrop of fall colors in the trees. Low clouds were sweeping by at a pretty good clip, mostly obscuring the higher and darker wall of the approaching storm.

A short while later, while we were eating dinner, the sky opened up to dump an inch of rain in a relatively short-lived outburst. Oddly, there was little in the way of lightning and thunder. Maybe it was moving by too fast. The sky turned a little green, but that was probably more a function of the low angle of the setting sun than it was the measure of threat from the storm.

It didn’t even blow that hard during the peak. That actually came later. Once the storm had passed, the sky cleared, stars shined bright, and strong gusting winds blew in to fill the void.

It was just another day where the weather served up the equivalence of several days of action –or several seasons even– all in a single afternoon.

We measure that in WPMs around here. That is, Weather Per Minute.

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Written by johnwhays

October 4, 2018 at 6:00 am

Getting Cold

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The weather at the lake this weekend is rather brisk, with filtered sunlight softly glowing through milky clouds. We headed to town for breakfast and a little stroll around yesterday morning. The briskness came across as downright flippin’ cold as we walked the short lengths of sidewalk between warm shops.

I am forever fascinated by how different a temperature of 39° (F) feels the first time it visits in the fall, as compared to the first time it is reached in late winter. Yesterday, the “briskness” was bone chilling. In late winter, temperatures above freezing lead us to lose our hats and open our coats.

We stepped out of the frigid fall air into a shop that sold puzzles. Cyndie encouraged me to revisit a long loved hobby of jigsaw puzzles, so I gave the weird variety of images a serious review. My choice was primarily focused on choosing an actual image, preferably of a landscape that appealed to me.

It was a pretty easy choice, because there was only one that met those parameters. I didn’t really process the note on the cover touting the large piece format, but it turned out to be a perfect choice.

“Easy to See & Handle!”

Why, yes, they are! Ideal for pulling off a one-day build before we need to pack up and head home.

Building a jigsaw puzzle in front of the warm glow from the fireplace while listening to our most memorable music from our dating years just happens to be a very comforting way to deal with that first cold blast of the season after summer ends.

I’m sure I’ll have many more opportunities to be outside re-acclimating my body to winter temperatures in the weeks ahead.

This weekend was focused more on staying warm, which I can report we happily achieved in luxury at this fabulous place on the lake.

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Written by johnwhays

September 30, 2018 at 10:09 am

Little Scary

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Summer is going out with a bang this year. Tomorrow will mark the change to autumn already, preceded last night by a late season outbreak of severe weather that provided a little scare in our parts.

We were aware there was a chance for heavy weather, but after a couple of intense downpours, our concern lessened and we turned on a DVD movie up in the loft. Three quarters of the way into “Trumbo,” my phone went into alarm mode beneath us on the main floor. At almost the same time, Cyndie received a text warning us our area was about to get hit hard.

I shut down the movie and brought up the local television broadcasts to see what they were reporting. The radar image looked ominous enough that we decided to hustle down from the loft and switch the news on in the bedroom. My natural aversion to hiding kept us from going all the way to the basement, despite the advice of the weather broadcasters. I wanted to be able to see what was happening.

Locally, nothing worth noting was happening, even though the radar image made it appear the worst of it was just moving overhead. I put on boots to step outside, hoping get a better sense of what was really happening.

What was happening was, it had started to rain, so I closed the door and kicked off the boots. It finally changed from dead calm –the calm was actually more eery– to moderately windy. I never noticed a significant main gust.

While broadcasters talked about the possibility of tornadoes wrapped in the rain in very close proximity to our location, we only saw evidence of normal thunderstorm bluster with heavy rain in the barely visible evening light, occasionally illuminated for fractions of seconds by flashes of lightning.

It was scary for a little while, based on the radar image and warning messages, but we seem to have dodged any justifiably scary conditions.

Once we get out this morning in the light of day, we’ll have a better sense of whether we took the drama too lightly, or not. You can be assured I will have my camera with me, so I can share what we find, if there is any damage to report.

I’m hoping the brief scare we got last night was the worst that came out of summer’s last thunderstorm blast for 2018.

I’ll let you know.

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Written by johnwhays

September 21, 2018 at 6:00 am