Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘weather

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

Wanting Green

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The horses are starting to seem a little hangry with the amount of grass surrounding the paddock that is turning deliciously green.

I’m wondering if they will be so excited when we open the gate to the back pasture that they will take off running as if they were in a race like they did last year. The other option, which I’ve witnessed more often than not, is that they will take one step through the gate and start munching grass like they may never get another chance.

At present, they are twisting their necks to reach under the bottom boards of the fence to nibble any blades they can reach and then they look at me like I must be thick-headed not to understand they want out.

I tried cleaning up manure before the next series of predicted rainy days and made it about halfway through the paddock before the wheelbarrow was full and I was out of time. I see again more evidence proving an off-handed comment our fence installer made about the ground being high along old fence lines.

My mind tried to imagine why there would be a build-up of earth along a fence over the years but now, having heavy animals, I see they compress the dirt everywhere except under the fence, leaving that as the higher ground.

The horses pack the ground so densely that it’s hard for the grass to grow. Never mind that grass seems perfectly able to grow through our asphalt driveway.

Even when an odd tuft of grass does overcome the compacted soil and start to grow, the horses kill it by munching it down to a nub.

Given enough evolutionary time, I wonder if horses could learn to leave enough grass growth that it doesn’t all die so that they always have some fresh green blades to eat.

I suspect they’d prefer to not be confined to a paddock or any fenced boundaries so they wouldn’t have to worry about overeating in one limited space.

Won’t be too much longer before we can open up the pasture for them. I offered to drive Cyndie down along the path around the back pasture so she could watch them in case they take off in a gallop again. Even though she is making good progress a week and two days after her knee replacement surgery, she isn’t ready to walk the uneven surfaces of our property yet.

Her first physical therapy appointment was last Tuesday and the therapist gave her permission to take a stroll outdoors on our driveway with her walker as soon as the weather takes a turn toward warm and dry. It was a pretty safe grant to make since Cyndie is healing well and the weather shows little sign of improving for quite some time.

She’s going to get a little hangry herself, waiting to get out of her post-surgery confinement so she can walk outdoors again.

Soon, I say.

Relatively, that is.

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Written by johnwhays

April 28, 2022 at 6:00 am

Spontaneous Trip

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With only the briefest of forethought, yesterday afternoon I decided to drive up to the lake with the fire-pit benches I built last fall. It was windy and a little wet at home, but I didn’t give much consideration to how different it might be a hundred miles north. I drove right into some serious falling snow that occasionally dropped visibility to nothing but the car in front of me.

In addition to the wild weather, I rolled up to a road closure that offered very poor signage about a detour option. A simple trip to the lake place became an adventure I hadn’t anticipated.

Ultimately, I made it to the intended destination safe and sound, but as I traveled up the gravel entrance toward the house there were branches down everywhere on the ground. Then, limbs. Then, trees! There must have been quite a wind event up here recently.

Between the snow and branches, I decided not to bother immediately placing the benches I brought. They can stay in the garage for now, if  I can even get them out of the car. It took me four tries to reverse Jenga® them far enough inside that the hatch could close.

They were built for the fire pit, not to nest inside of each other cleanly. The increasing width of the legs combined with the lower cross supports makes navigating the opening an exercise in advanced geometric problem-solving.

Or, in my case, trial and error.

It worked to get them in there. It’ll work to get ’em out again. No matter how many tries it takes me.

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Written by johnwhays

April 15, 2022 at 6:00 am

Perfect Delivery

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Surely, we are not unique in mentally steeling ourselves for the typical hassles related to scheduled deliveries. Way back in January, Cyndie was told she could expect our washer and dryer delivery near the end of March. We both took that prediction with a healthy dose of pessimism.

Amid the continued supply chain disruptions and ongoing pandemic, an upright freezer we bought was delayed month after month for nearly a year. We had little reason to trust the washer/dryer would be any different.

Alas, we were pleasantly wrong.

Cyndie periodically received messages alerting delivery progress, culminating with notice of an 8 to noon block on Wednesday morning. Then she got a call that they were 30 minutes out. They arrived right on time.

The question remained, did they have the installation accessories Cyndie ordered to convert the dryer for propane gas? Yes, they did.

As noted in the delivery confirmation message, the delivery crew could not install the propane fitting. Having prepared for this, Cyndie had contacted our local plumber to make, and guarantee, all the propane connections. They predicted he would be able to stop by before the end of the day.

The delivery crew loaded up our old appliances and took away all the packaging trash from the new ones. They made all the water connections and ran the washer to verify everything was in order.

A short time later, the plumber showed up and completed the dryer installation, letting it run long enough to confirm there were no gas leaks.

From beginning to end, everything transpired as perfectly as we could possibly imagine.

Color us very happy to discover our fears of a more troublesome outcome were entirely unwarranted.

The new washing machine will have a chance to prove its mettle very soon given the muddy conditions we continue to face outside.

In the last two days, we have received periods of heavy rain, including some lightning and thunder, followed by moments of sleet and slushy snow. The temperature has been hovering at the freezing point, and the water dripping off the fence wires was beginning to form cute little icicles.

When even the slightest breeze moved the tops of trees, similar frozen drips came clattering down.

I’m looking forward to a perfect delivery of some warm, sunny spring days very soon. Is that asking too much?

I hope not.

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Written by johnwhays

March 31, 2022 at 6:00 am

Time Ravaged

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More than I can remember in my lifetime, we have been cycling above and below the freezing point this winter, taxing everything exposed to the extremes. As I’ve written many times before, everything moves, including what is often referred to as “solid ground.”

Terra firma is not so firm a.

This is the current state of a base I installed for an outdoor sink on the backside of the barn.

It used to be level.

In some places, the ground sinks. In others, it rises up. And it changes back and forth about as often as the freezing and thawing cycle is playing out. Of course, the base in the image above never happens to return to level. Oh, no.

I have no idea what happened in our pile of limestone screenings. It looks a little like maybe it regurgitated all over itself.

A while back, Cyndie posted a bunch of our furniture for sale on the local neighborhood app. Quite a lot of furniture, actually. The app offered a suggestion that she could also post it on another app to be seen by more than just our neighbors. All it took was the push of a button. So she did.

Soon we had people from far and wide contacting us to ask if everything was okay. Why was she unloading all this furniture?

It’s nice to know concerned friends will check on us if we start showing signs of distress.

The reason Cyndie is looking to jettison our old furniture is that her mother is moving from the family home of many years into a smaller unit in a senior living community. We will be taking some of the precious furnishings that didn’t make the cut for her mom’s new home.

In preparation, we have already started to move things around in our house. We took possession of the old flat-screen TV that had been in her mom’s basement and put it up in our loft, replacing the smaller one we’ve had since it was our main television mounted on the wall in our Eden Prairie home.

Here in Beldenville, the old television was in a stand on a table. In a classic domino effect of one change leading to another, we decided to relocate that TV to the bedroom to replace a smaller one in that room. There, it will be able to be mounted on the wall again. That means I needed to find the old wall mount bracket.

I didn’t know if we’d even kept it, but Cyndie remembered seeing it on the top shelf in our storage room. With her direction, I found two of the three primary pieces. The ravages of time have taken a toll on my memory and I couldn’t recall if we’d detached the base plate from the wall when we moved out of the old house.

I actually started researching online to see if I could replace just the base plate before one last double-check in the storage room, where I was actually checking old packaging for information on the name of the wall mount manufacturer. That’s when I spotted a tiny corner of the base plate on a different shelf.

As far as I can tell, we actually do have everything needed to proceed.

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Written by johnwhays

March 9, 2022 at 7:00 am

Glazy Morning

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Wet precipitation when the temperature hovers around the freezing point is a perfect recipe for hazardous footing. This morning we woke to ice covering everything and faced a slippery challenge walking Delilah and making our way down to feed the horses.

To our surprise, the horses were navigating the crazy conditions with relative ease. I suspect the advantage of having four points of contact with the ground and being almost ten times our weight allows them to deal with the slippery footing better than we do.

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They were judicious about moving around and calmly settled into enjoying the feed served up in their pans on the ground. I get a sense that their ability to cope with the situation better than us is a function of their living outside in the elements. They were experiencing it as it was happening throughout the night and adjusting to conditions as they changed.

In contrast, we arose from our warm, snuggly bed and stepped out of our comfortable house into the shocking iciness that threatened to slam us to the ground with each slippery step.

I tried to prepare Delilah for the craziness on the front steps but she pretty much had to figure it out for herself when the pads of her paws couldn’t get a grip on the surface.

The outlook for the rest of the day is the opposite of sunny. There is more rain expected, possibly even thunderstorms this afternoon, but with a little warmer temperatures so maybe not as much ice.

We aren’t sure about how the horses will deal with heavier precipitation. They have shown significant anxiety about being confined to stalls in the barn so we are inclined to leave them out until they get uncomfortable enough to need a break from the weather. Maybe then they will be more interested in the indoor option.

In preparation for the possibility, we added pads to the floor of Mix’s stall after she carved up the soil something awful with pawing and kicking last time, when she kicked boards down in a tantrum. In addition to the dust storm that must have resulted, she excavated a few large stones with her aggressive gyrations in there.

Tonight might end up being a chance to test that new floor.

As always, the weather will dictate our decisions.

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Written by johnwhays

March 5, 2022 at 10:41 am

More Melting

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A local meteorologist on the radio pointed out the previous two days were our first pair of consecutive days of temperatures in the 40s (F) since December when we experienced a tornado in the area. Two days of melting is visibly changing our snowscape.

As we made our way around the north loop trail yesterday, I found it interesting that no old footprints were apparent along the pathway, yet the trail we repeatedly walk was clearly outlined.

I suspect that blowing snow had filled the path while we were up at the lake over the weekend and now it’s all being glazed level with the surrounding snowpack. We trudged through it seconds after I took that picture, taking the first steps toward reestablishing our typical packed trail.

The first week of March is predicted to bring us melting temperatures during the days and several chances for a mix of precipitation.

We noticed yesterday afternoon that the horses are starting to shed a little bit of their winter coat. The prospect of wet precipitation and near-freezing temperatures is an unwelcome combination when it comes to horses. As is our normal practice, we have closed some gates to separate the herd into two groups of two so there will be less competition over access to the protection of the barn overhang.

After the anxiety they showed the last time we moved them into stalls in the barn, I am not as quick to choose that option for keeping them dry. We are going to make the overhang as available as possible and leave it up to them to take advantage of it, or not.

You know the old saying… “You can provide a horse some shelter from the rain, but you can’t make him (or her, or them) use it.”

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Written by johnwhays

March 2, 2022 at 7:00 am

Wind Blown

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If this weren’t a time when the obvious effects of global warming were well known I might think the local weather was some sort of plot by the universe to drive me insane. The dramatic swings between too warm and bitterly cold in a matter of hours every other day is crazy making.

After a biting cold 0°F start to the day, yesterday’s high temperature climbed to 36°F under a hazy sky, but the short-lived meltdown was obscured by the sudden arrival of gale force winds that audibly flexed the integrity of our log home. The gusts whipped in a hasty change of temperature that dropped us to 7 degrees below zero this morning.

Thankfully, the wind has stopped, for now, and the sun is out, bathing the horses in its relative warmth. The forecast for tonight suggests a return of breezy conditions and tomorrow, a high of 43°F.

Freezing and thawing at this rate at this point in winter is harsh.

During the morning feeding yesterday, I heard a strange noise all of a sudden on the roof of the barn. Looking out the door revealed a downburst of what I call “Dippin’ Dots®” snow, which seemed unlikely at the cold temperature.

It looks similar to styrofoam.

The wind was sweeping off any flakes that hadn’t melted into the general mass of our snowpack and leaving much of the “dots” behind.

Coming out of the woods on our walk, Delilah and I stopped to watch the spectacle of dancing “snow-devils” gyrating in the distance across the hayfield where there was no shelter from the hurling wind.

After the evening feeding was complete and the sun was getting low in the sky, we were eager to get back to the house and out of the wind for the day.

Thankfully, Delilah is keen enough to not require a walk when it is time for a bedtime potty break. We stepped out the door, she squats to pee, and we are back inside before there is time to feel abused by the wind.

As the planet warms, the local weather seems to grow increasingly bizarre. It has me wondering what weirdness might be unleashed come spring.

Gale force winds, maybe?

I guess that wouldn’t be all that bizarre. Maybe it will be exceedingly perfect and usual. That would definitely seem strange.

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Written by johnwhays

February 19, 2022 at 11:05 am