Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Winter

Rusty Hue

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The changing season has taken a very noticeable shift in a short span of days, from brilliant to subdued, in terms of color palette. Last week, the color was electric, but yesterday the landscape looked like someone had unplugged the power and all the trees have begun to rust.

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Those pictures were taken just four days apart. Our forest is quickly becoming transparent, as you can see.

It kinda gives the impression that winter is on the way, which is mind-bending because yesterday the temperature was so summer-like. How it looked, and how it felt were not quite in alignment.

Naturally, I base my perception of what kind of weather to expect, on what I’ve experienced in the past, but the planet hasn’t been itself lately. With all that humans have done to muck up the natural order, we’ve made the art of prediction less predictable.

It has me trying to reclaim the naiveté of my youth, when I didn’t have a clue about weather and seasons. Each day was just something to be explored. I’m sure it was magical. I don’t actually recall. Though, of course, I didn’t need to plan and prepare for what would come next.

This has me longing for the benefits of childhood freedom from needing to be concerned about preparing property for the freeze and clearing snow, having enough fuel, getting vehicles winterized.

Oh, to just wake up one morning and exclaim, “Snow!” with pure joy about going outside to play in it.

That is, if it still gets cold enough for snow in coming days.

It’s getting hard to predict.

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Written by johnwhays

October 21, 2017 at 8:24 am

Adding Electricity

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Despite the sweltering heat and humidity bathing our first day of autumn, freezing temperatures are not too far off, so work has begun to add electricity to the chicken coop. With an outlet available, we will have the option to provide a waterer that won’t freeze and maybe a light or heat lamp, depending on the situation.

On my third attempt to drill through the floor and miss a stud or screw, we were able to pull wire up for an outlet box. Then we trenched.

 

The chickens seemed to take great interest in our progress. Maybe they sense this is for them?

We are over halfway to the barn circuit breaker box this morning, so I’m optimistic I can get it done by winter.

Maybe I have some skills in procrastination. Time will tell.

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Written by johnwhays

September 24, 2017 at 9:02 am

Quick Return

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It feels like spring! Seriously. A day after the snowstorm, our uncharacteristic weather has made a quick return. The clouds are gone, the sky deep blue, the sun shining bright, the air warm, and the snow, totally sticky and melting. It is something that can’t be controlled, so we just take what is delivered.

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The back yard is filled with evidence of visitors sledding and building snow sculptures. The snow is sliding off the metal roof of the shop.

I may look into a metal roof for the house when our shingles reach the end of their life. I would prefer to have the snow slide off the roof without my needing to pull it down using a rake on a very long pole handle.

I got a little tired toward the end of my efforts of pulling down snow from the roof on Saturday. On the last section, I hung the rake on the lip of the eave, just like I had done all the way around the rest of the house. But I let go of the handle with a careless lack of attention to detail.

It swung away from me with a little too much momentum. As I watched a fraction of a second last much longer than that in my mind, but quicker than my body could react to, the rake lost contact with the roof.

Why couldn’t it just fall harmlessly to the ground beside the house?

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Written by johnwhays

February 27, 2017 at 7:00 am

Modern Convenience

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It was sunny and 60-some degrees at our place yesterday. If it weren’t for the modern convenience of accurate weather forecasting giving us several days warning of an impending snowstorm, I would be completely clueless about what is headed our way. By Friday morning, the view of our property won’t look like this again for a while.

img_1941eI will not be surprised if the alignment of the storm moving in this evening brings us around a foot of snow, based on the models published by the weather services.

Such a significant contrast of weather in just over a day is something I would not be able to comprehend happening without the present day wisdom, and data gleaned from satellites and radar images. My intuitive senses for interpreting the weather are far too dull to perceive that the warm sunshine yesterday afternoon was so quickly going to become a distant memory.img_1925e

At the same time, it is still February, after all. It’s supposed to be wintery weather. So I am well prepared for whatever cold and blowing snow may arrive. I have my special leg warmer to keep me comfortable while chronicling the brutal challenges I face when plowing and shoveling the oodles of snowflakes inbound on our position.

Pequenita seems to like napping on my legs when I stretch out. It’s cute, but can’t be all that comfortable for her, and it tends to lock down my posture long enough that numbness sets in.

Maybe she is sensing the oncoming storm and wants to keep me safe and warm in preparation for doing battle when it comes time to dig out.

In the mean time, I hope to spend most of the day Friday in front of a warm fire, watching the flakes fly outside the windows.

See ya later, warm sunshine.

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Written by johnwhays

February 23, 2017 at 7:00 am

Next Phase

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dscn5840ePicking up where the tree trimmers left off, I pulled the tractor out of the garage yesterday and we started the process of turning the piles of branches into wood chips. With the temperatures pushing into warmth much more typical for May or June, the timing was perfect for having fresh ground cover over the now muddy path leading down toward the barn from the driveway.

I quickly relearned how much physical effort is involved in the process of repeatedly feeding the chipping monster. The variety of branches that came out of our trees made for a constant struggle to detangle, reorient, and guide into the chute.

The smallest ends of branches will catch and get hung up on the corners, which interrupts flow, and the big limbs tend to bounce and torque when first struck by the powerful spinning blades. My body and hands frequently get smacked by the kick-back of the bigger branches.

After a prolonged session of working to make a pile of branches disappear into a wonderful mound of precious wood chips, I feel like I’ve been a few rounds in a boxing match.

dscn5836eCyndie helped to bring branches from farther and farther, and worked to cut junctions that “Y” off too wide to fit the bottom of the narrowing chute. We parked the tractor on the solid pavement of the driveway to be out of the mud that is quickly becoming the prevailing footing during this unbelievable February melt down.

We took a little break for lunch and then when I came out for a few more rounds of battle, it was T-shirt weather. It is just plain sad to be living through the end of cold and snowy winters like the ones I enjoyed as a kid. I fear for the precious trees I have been focused on caring for these last few days, as they react to the warmth and prepare to sprout new buds.

If they sprout leaves too early, they risk an ugly death from freezing when a hint of real winter returns for a last gasp reminder of cold that usually happens this time of year.

When I turned the key to restart the tractor, nothing happened. Well, not nothing. The indicator lights lit up, but there was no hint of sound from the starter. I have experienced this before. It was how I was first introduced to this tractor. No matter what I did, I could not get it to start.

That first time, I ended up needing to have a service person come out. He accidentally figured out the safety interlock of the PTO lever wasn’t getting met. After chasing a different possibility for a time, I came around to the same conclusion. It was the PTO lever again.

I got the engine started, repositioned the tractor to a new spot and was ready to go. I picked a big old dead oak branch to start and quickly busted the shear pin of the chipper.

I took the hint and called it a day for chipping.

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Written by johnwhays

February 19, 2017 at 9:35 am

Traces

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Words on Images

Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

February 15, 2017 at 7:00 am

Tidying Up

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With temperatures climbing into the 40s yesterday, Cyndie and I saw an opportunity to do a little tidying up around the property. After the most recent bouts of quasi-winter rain-sleet-snow precipitation, an annoying icy, glazed mass of packed snow had become the surface of our driveway.dscn5785e

I took out an ice scraper and pushed away at the soft, wet edges of the ice pack in front of the house. The portion that will come up without resistance is visibly obvious. I focused on that, picking the low-hanging fruit. After working the edges and then pushing the crumble of snow and ice to the side with my shovel, I looked back to see there was already a whole new measure of visibly obvious portions that begged attention.

How could I not keep going? After three times around, I had the whole upper platform of our driveway clean to the pavement. The  melt was happening at an amazing rate.

Cyndie was down with the horses, planning to give each of them some individual attention and grooming. That was my next stop, thinking I could hang out with them and clean up manure while she brushed them out. Even though there was a cloud cover painting the day with a hue of gray, the air was absolutely calm, allowing the warm temperature to feel perfectly comfortable without getting hot.dscn5784e

Legacy’s tail has always grown long, but Cyndie noticed it had reached a point where he was stepping on it, so she decided to give it a trim.

After scooping fresh manure from under the overhang, I fanned out a little further around the paddock and picked up some of the newly exposed piles emerging from the melting snow. Like the last couple of winters, we have been dumping much of the season’s worth of manure right inside the paddock.

Since much of the manure is frozen by the time we get around to scooping it up, there isn’t much in the way of composting that goes on in the pile, so it just keeps getting bigger and bigger with every passing day.

dscn5782eContinuing with the theme of tidying up, I decided to try giving the giant mass a little more shape by cleaning up around the edges. I was surprised to discover over the last few winter seasons that despite the dark color of the pile, if it starts out frozen, if left alone, the center can stay frozen well into May or June.

We placed this pile at a spot that we would like to fill in effort to reduce the amount of slope, but it becomes a long slow process to move from an ugly pile of manure to an unnoticeable natural ground cover nicely filling a low spot.

All part of the ongoing process of running a neat and tidy ranch operation, regardless what the weather presents.

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Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2017 at 11:18 am