Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Winter

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

Looking Brown

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When I got home from work yesterday, I looked at the thermometer outside to find the high and low temperatures for the day. It ranged from the warmest being 32.9°(F) and the coldest, 32.0°. Yummy.

It’s going to be a struggle sweeping up the wet leaves from the grass if the winter weather that showed up this week decides to stay.

Most of the ground is still too warm for the snow to last. The image of our woods below provides a clear demonstration of the difference between the relative warmth of the ground, compared to the above-ground branches that are cold enough the snow doesn’t melt.

Supposedly, the ground will have a chance to freeze in the days ahead, as the forecast predicts a number of days in a row with high temperatures not making it above the freezing point.

Other than the disaster this will present for me with regard to leaves in the yard, it will be a welcome change from the current swampy conditions on our trails. We’ve got standing water in multiple places. The lime-screenings around the barn overhang are starting to become a mud fest from heavy hoof traffic.

I am ready for it all to become rock hard. The squishing is becoming tiresome.

Look at the color palette of these three pictures. Does anyone else associate November with the color brown?

Last night, I was listening to music on the radio in the house and more than once, Delilah reacted as if she heard something outside. At one point, she barked, like someone was here.

I shut off the radio and let her hear the quiet.

We went to the front door so I could show her there was nobody around. She then ran around to the door to the garage. I’ve seen this routine many times. She was looking for Cyndie to arrive home.

I opened the door to the garage to show her it was dark in there. I made the mistake of turning on the light, which allowed Delilah to see Cyndie’s car and get revved up over what that usually means.

How do I explain to Delilah that Cyndie got a ride to the airport and her car has been parked in the garage for the last eight days?

I guess enough days have passed since Delilah last saw Cyndie that she is beginning to figure mom must be coming home soon.

Just two more days!

That might be all the time needed for enough snow to fall that Cyndie will never know I didn’t get around to removing all the leaves.

Well, never, until next spring, that is.

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Quick Melt

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Yesterday was a day of blue sky and above freezing temperatures. The world around us responded emphatically.

It seems only fair. The winter storm that rolled over us last weekend came with its own significant emphasis. When I got to work on Monday, I was greeted by a three-foot drift that filled the sidewalk to our front door.

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I needed to shovel my way into work.

Yesterday’s swift melting was spring’s perfect response to the double-digit blast of snow.

The metal roof of the shop-garage is always a source of creative snow-melt. Before the large icicles had a chance to break off the edge of the roof, the entire mass of snow lost grip with the roof and slid down, curling as it rolled over the lip.

The sideways icicle made for a spectacular visual.

As the sun headed for the horizon, I spotted the withering snow mass covering the deck. I have no idea why the snow melted the way it did, but it became a blanket of patterned bumps that I have never seen before. Turn the image upside down and it could be a mammatus cloud formation.

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It didn’t feel possible last weekend, but I do believe spring is going to finally respond to the earth tilt that is lengthening our hours of sunlight.

Yep, we are finally getting a quick melt to this very long, slow winter. At this point, I’ll gladly take it.

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Written by johnwhays

April 18, 2018 at 6:00 am

Almost Spring

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We’ll get there eventually. In a spattering sleet yesterday, I finished toiling away on the giant winter’s-worth pile of manure in the paddock to stir some fresh oxygen into the middle where there are signs of productive microorganism activity. The chore has been on hold, awaiting enough of a thaw to make reasonable progress possible.

On Thursday, the temperature reached 50°(F) under a gray sky. It was almost enough to inspire hope, except the forecast threatening another serious blast of winter wind and snow loomed large enough hold us fast in the beat-down of prolonged Arctic conditions.

I took a picture out the front door on Thursday afternoon, then again on Friday morning in a downpour of graupel, and finally, an hour ago.

They tell us this is just the beginning. Oh, joy.

The calendar says spring, but the weather just laughs and says, “Whatever.”

I’ll say, “Almost.”

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Written by johnwhays

April 14, 2018 at 8:56 am

Changing, Again

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At the rate the transition from winter to spring has been playing out this year, this Words on Images post from April of 2013 resonates enough that I’ve decided to give it a fresh viewing. The prolonged cold and snow is getting mind numbing, but the change will eventually swing through to fruition. At least, that’s what we keep telling ourselves.

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

April 11, 2018 at 6:00 am

Feathered Friends

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The new chicks are growing into chickens already! They are sprouting feathers and flapping around in the brooder like the little adolescents they are. The downy, peeping hatchlings that arrived in the mail are gone but for the memories.

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If they keep up at this pace, and the weather continues to pretend it’s still winter, these guys are going to have a shocking move to the coop and the great outdoors. The landscape is under a two-and-a-half inch blanket of white stuff this morning. Based on the forecast I read for the coming week, with more snow and cold temperatures due, it’s as if spring has forgotten to sprung!

Yesterday, the three adult hens were busy aerating the forest floor.

Looks like they are going to have to put that project on hold for a while now.

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Written by johnwhays

March 31, 2018 at 8:59 am

Snow Going

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We dodged a spring snow storm overnight. That’s what it feels like, anyway. Obviously, we didn’t do any dodging. We stayed right where we are and didn’t flinch, while the white stuff slid past a little bit to the south of our region. Too bad for those folks.

I guess we all get a turn at weather adventure.

This leaves us with the adventures of watching snow melt. I am fascinated by the way anything of color absorbs the solar energy and melts a perfect pattern into the otherwise reflective snow.

Meanwhile, that reflective snow mass is radiating an amazing chill that offsets some of the best efforts of warm air to tip the balance. Taking a walk across the crusty surface in our open fields feels like a trip down the frozen foods aisle in the grocery store. The sun is shining warmth, but, brrrr, there’s a cold draft wafting up from everywhere!

We can now see where my winter plowing has torn great gouges of turf from the edges of the driveway and sprayed rocks in a wide array across the grass. New cracks in the old asphalt of our neglected driveway look another significant degree decayed.

I’m amazed anything survives unscathed. The concrete apron in front of the house garage looks to have moved its slope another degree in the wrong direction, inviting the snowmelt and rain runoff to drain toward the foundation instead of away.

And in terms of heaving earth, the waterer for the horses in the paddock has shifted dramatically off-kilter so that one side overflows and the high side holds inches less water.

Where is all the hope and renewal of spring?

It’s waiting. Biding its time beneath the surface. We must be patient. It will come.

The trillium we have transplanted will bloom again. Volunteer maple trees will sprout in mind-boggling numbers everywhere we turn.

The snow is going.

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Written by johnwhays

March 24, 2018 at 9:23 am