Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Winter

Another Saturday

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Another Saturday morning when I get to choose what will get my attention. It’s hard to ignore the most prominent fact imposing its way over almost everything we pick. Our weather has entered a cold spell. In our region, winter cold spells mean below zero Fahrenheit. Not quite polar region craziness of 70-below, but days of any number below-zero bitter cold might as well have the same impact.

Preparing to exit the home module for any length of time involves donning garb that rivals climbing into a spacesuit. If you don’t like wearing a facemask for protection from spreading the coronavirus, you won’t like going outside today.

Delilah paces semi-patiently at the front door while we methodically navigate the fine art of adding multiple layers of apparel and accessories in precise order. She takes several slurps from her water bowl in preparation for the impending outing.

It occurred to me this morning that, if we didn’t have a dog or chickens, we wouldn’t need to get out of bed and go outside when it is so wickedly cold. Some people don’t have to go outside if they don’t want to. I didn’t want to go outside, but I didn’t mind that we had to.

The snow squeaked under our boot steps. Eyelashes occasionally stick together as they frost up. Moving air starts to sting exposed flesh. Every few steps, Delilah will keep one paw up and hop once or twice to give that foot a break from contacting the snow. She emphatically rejected our several attempts in the past to offer her winter booties.

The chickens seemed nonplussed by the harsh conditions. We added some extra straw to the coop and installed a radiant heat source to ease their burden a little bit. They seemed to be demonstrating their winter hardiness, as advertised for our variety of breeds.

Accomplishing our goals with minimal distractions allowed us to promptly return to the safe warmth of our spaceship where Cyndie prepared an omelet for breakfast that rivaled a 3-star chef’s and I ignited an inspiring fire in the fireplace.

I am leaving the decision for later about whether I will interrupt my indoor endorphin-producing hobbies to go outside and finish clearing the snow off the deck that I pulled down off the roof eaves yesterday.

It’s Saturday. Morning cartoons, hot cocoa, snuggling under a blanket, giggling with family, listening to music, reading a book, writing inspirations, laughing at our foibles, assembling a puzzle, staring at the fire, it’s the best day of the week type of stuff.

Baby, it’s cold outside, but that is just the way things go sometimes.

There are plenty of ways to cope and we are going to employ several of them and enjoy this Saturday to the fullest. I invite you to do the same, whether you are experiencing a polar vortex or reside somewhere closer to the equator than we do.

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Grand Illusion

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The precursor to our cold snap was a brief but messy snow event yesterday. It snarled my morning commute by triggering a collision between a semi and a snowplow that closed the interstate. After I got around that, the rest of the drive both ways was uneventful, except when I slid past the entrance at work and barely navigated the unplowed township road just before home.

For added adventure, my low tire pressure light came on about 20-minutes into the morning jaunt.

Once home, I barely walked in the door and it was a quick change of clothes and immediately back outside to plow.

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Every time I put the ATV and plow attachment through their paces against the snow and ice without a mechanical failure, I breathe a sigh of relief. I only got stuck once. Cyndie came out to help by gently squeezing the throttle when I lifted and pushed to get the wheels back up on the pavement.

After the plowing was done, I moved my car from the house to the shop to put air in the low tire. As I was coiling the hose up after I was done, I popped out the quick-release chuck (which I always do because it leaks air) while also holding the pressure gauge.

So, at that moment, I had three things in my hands: hose, chuck, gauge.

I set the coiled hose over the compressor, placed the gauge under the handle where it always goes, and where is the chuck?

It’s gone. Disappeared. Vanished into thin air.

I assume I dropped it, but I never heard anything fall. I checked pockets. I checked the spot where I always put it on the compressor. I surveyed the shop floor and the ground around the car. I backed the car up scanned the plowed pavement in the vicinity.

That little piece was nowhere to be found.

I couldn’t pull off that sleight of hand trick intentionally if I tried. Sure wish I could watch a recording of that exercise to see where the chuck ended up. It was a grand illusion.

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Written by johnwhays

February 5, 2021 at 7:00 am

Well Warned

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Modern meteorology provides impressive advanced warning of serious weather coming our way, but knowing about it so far in advance and hearing about the impending extremes over and over for days in a row tends to inflate the impact beyond reality.

Sure, it’s going to get cold. Thanks for letting us know. Now talk about something else.

Cyndie ordered some fancy heaters for the chicken coop, hoping they arrive quick enough to take the edge of the bitter cold our birds will be subject to with nothing but their fluffed feathers to insulate them. One protection we read about involves covering their wattles and combs with petroleum jelly to stave off frostbite. We’d have to catch them, first.

Neither of us wanted to put the chickens (or ourselves) through the added stress of that escapade.

Yesterday it was above freezing here. By Sunday, they are telling us the high temperature for the day won’t make it out of the negative digits.

We appreciate the warning.

Now I’m going to think about something else.

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Written by johnwhays

February 4, 2021 at 7:00 am

Too Late

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By the time I got home from work to check for eggs yesterday, I was too late to do anything for this perfect specimen:

Warm when it was laid, the egg melted its way down into the ice on the path between the coop and the barn. After it cooled, it became locked in the resulting ice that surrounded it.

One of the hens just isn’t getting the hang of this egg-laying thing. At least, we hope it’s just one. This is the fourth egg laid out in the middle of nowhere. Somebody isn’t yet reading the signals in her body that trigger the others to head back to the coop for the nest boxes.

Meanwhile, two others did make use of the nest boxes and it appears we may have another one of those 1-in-a-thousand double-yoke eggs based on the size of one of those eggs.

Never a dull moment in the early egg-laying phase of raising chickens, especially when it happens to coincide with the harsher months of winter.

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Written by johnwhays

February 3, 2021 at 7:00 am

Complete Opposite

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As expected, we received new snow overnight. Not a lot. Around five inches have been added to our snowpack. The most noteworthy feature about this snowfall is how completely opposite it is in comparison to the previous snow that fell. The earlier event occurred with temperatures hovering around the freezing point and resulted in a heavy, soaking wet wallop of sticky snow. This latest precipitation is all dry powder snow.

There is an interesting result of the snow being such light powder that fell in tiny flakes visible beneath our deck railing.

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I am impressed with how the “shadow” effect shows up directly beneath the verticle slats in the railing.

Cyndie captured the moment of the sunrise this morning from the vicinity of the chicken coop.

She was, as always, very accommodating of the chickens and cleared the path to the barn overhang before opening the coop so the chickens could make their way to that sanctuary for their breakfast.

I will spend the day accommodating delivery drivers by plowing the driveway and clearing pathways. Given the light powder, it shouldn’t take much time. That will allow me to get back inside to spend time on a jigsaw puzzle and watch NFL playoff games in full rest and relaxation mode.

In a way, it’s the complete opposite of the stresses of the work week.

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Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2021 at 11:14 am

Still Gray

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Another day dawns under continued winter fog that is making the world feel small but making surfaces magically white. It’s not a bad thing, except in that it mirrors the sense lingering after the insanity that played out five days ago.

Now five deaths attributed to the insurrection at our nation’s capitol building. Days of shocked reaction have followed with innumerable calls for consequences, only some of which seem to actually be happening. Participants who have been positively identified are getting arrested. The primary media pathways for spreading falsehoods and calling for more unrest are being shut down.

That’s all well and good, but it still feels like we are thrashing around in the deep end of a pool on the brink of drowning and we can’t get to the edge to grasp some respite from the threat.

Calls for impeachment and/or removal by the 25th amendment seem like just words. Justice is understandably slow. The thing that leaves us feeling so helpless is the inability to immediately disarm the imminent threats. Calling people (politicians, police, extremists) out for their misdeeds as a way of maybe shaming them into suddenly having a change of heart and becoming reasonable, upstanding, well-meaning seekers of actual truth and justice doesn’t feel like a very effective plan.

So, we wait for the next calamity and for the most viable consequences to play out, greedily longing for a chance to get over to the edge of the pool so we can catch our breath.

It’s hard to argue the racial component overtly evident in the angst of Trump and his followers. My thoughts on that continue to align with the need for the rest of society to be the solution.

Edmund Burke —

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

If we neglect to acknowledge the racial injustices that have brought us to where we are and that continue to exist inherently in today’s society, we are doing nothing to foil the triumph of evil.

We reap what we sow here folks.

I gotta put my shoulder to the mechanism of sowing love and give an extra heave-ho today. Love will be my life-preserver on which to cling out here in the foggy, gray deep end.

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Dry Ground

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Slowly but surely, our chickens are showing signs of adjusting to the cold hard facts of winter around here. They have occasionally been venturing out of the coop and over the weekend even made their way the full distance to the barn where they can stand on dry ground beneath the overhang.

I stopped by to visit with them for a bit, tossing out a treat of cracked corn and mealworms for their enjoyment.

They were being rather chatty so I played along and mimicked their sounds, pretending they would magically then consider me a member of the flock. Mostly, they just gave me strange looks in the way chickens do, with a tilt of the sideways turned head.

At the same time, several of them came over and lingered close, giving me a chance to feel somewhat included. I think they just wanted to see if I had any more treats to offer.

The winter sunlight through gauzy clouds illuminated the depth of hues in the fabulous feathers of our Barnevelders.

It was nice to see the chickens taking advantage of the dry space under the overhang. Everywhere else was as white as could be.

I wonder how long it will take for this brood of chickens to find their way to the labyrinth. Something tells me it won’t be until long after the snow has melted and we have dry ground everywhere once again.

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Written by johnwhays

January 4, 2021 at 7:00 am

Winter Landscape

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It’s not as harsh as it sometimes looks. I don’t mean to be gatekeeping, but images of a winter landscape are viewed best with a reference of having walked in the pre-dawn quiet with the squeak of snow under boots being the only disruption of the brisk surroundings.

To know the difference between how below zero feels on the skin compared to a day when it gets above freezing.

To see the muted lighting first hand, in a way a camera will never equally convey.

To absorb the full expanse of the sky from one horizon to the next while feeling the icebox chill emanating from the snow cover below.

A winter landscape is so much more than a photograph is able to capture, but that never stops us from trying.

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Written by johnwhays

December 30, 2020 at 7:00 am

Contemplative Shuffling

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It appears that even deer recognize the benefits of walking the labyrinth path. Before we entered, Cyndie took a picture of the footprints on the path.

It looked impressive to see them so perfectly following the trail but after the first turn the deer tracks veered off across the paths and disappeared into the woods. I picked up from there and plodded along on snowshoes to lay down the proper series of turns and pass-throughs to reach the center.

By the time I finished, the overcast daylight was beginning to wane and the color of the image took on a different hue.

There were multiple turns where my double-stack of stones had toppled and were frozen to the ground in the middle of the pathway, but the primary route is now fully established in the base layer of snow. May it remain visible for the duration of snowfall through the end of the season.

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Written by johnwhays

December 27, 2020 at 11:00 am

Triple Jump

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The latest dozen chickens that arrived in July continue to mature and adjust to their first winter. They are showing a strong dislike for all this white stuff on the ground.

The morning after the big storm, I opened the coop and coaxed a few birds out to brave the deep snow. One of the dark Barnevelders boldly forged her way through undisturbed powder, despite my well-tread path already open to the barn. She only made it so far before regret seemed to set in.

After a brief pause, she let out a chicken version of a power yell and suddenly leaped with flapping wings to make a most spectacular triple (quadruple?) jump in order to reach the barn, where she stopped against the wall and stayed motionless for a disturbingly long time. I worried she may have pulled a “hammie” if chickens even have hamstrings.

I was in the process of shoveling a clearing for them beside the sunniest side of the barn that the previous brood always appreciated. Eventually, I made my way to the shell-shocked pullet and gently cleared the snow around her to provide unobstructed access around the wall to the area under the overhang where food and water awaited.

Somewhat reluctantly, she took advantage of the easy travel and joined the two-year-old Wyandotte who had already wisely strode up the easy footpath and walked right past the motionless triple jumper to get to breakfast.

We keep hoping the two remaining old birds will teach the next generation the tricks but it’s been going the other direction. The old Buff Orpington has gladly joined the young ones in staying in the coop like a bunch of chicken chickens.

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Written by johnwhays

December 26, 2020 at 11:15 am