Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘weather

Nature Wins

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This round goes to Mother Nature.

I’ve heard tell that our warmer climate allows the atmosphere to hold more moisture. With a pattern of increasing frequency, our anecdotal evidence of the years we have lived here is that downpours are increasingly bringing multi-inch totals that overwhelm the old drainage paths.

Overnight Wednesday we received over 2 inches, bringing the 24-hour total to more than 5.5 inches.

When I combine our experience and the recorded data of measurable climbing global temperatures, I get the impression we are seeing the beginning of downpour trend that will, at best, keep happening at this level, or worse, continue to grow more extreme.

This presents a daunting challenge for devising a plan to improve our drainage paths to a point they will be able to handle ever-increasing volumes of massive flow in a manner that avoids major washouts, if that is even possible.

Our attempt to stem the tide of topsoil flowing from the neighbor’s cornfield came up short of successful after not very many storms. I don’t know if there is a more industrial version of a silt fence or we just need to pull out and re-install the one we have, above the new ground level.

Ideally, we would like to enlist the assistance of the neighbor-farmer to get him to not plow the portions of that field where the runoff flows and instead, create a grassed-waterway.

Recent efforts to contact him have thus far failed. I have a sense that his not having already maintained a protective waterway reveals a certain lack of interest in having one, so I’m imagining I may need to be prepared to offer a convincing sales pitch.

I suppose I could pull out the corn plants that washed down from his field and are now growing on our property, and bring them over to his house to see if he wants them back.

If it wasn’t so much work, I’d love to also bring him a load of the mud that poured out of his field and now covers the grass of our walking trail.

Since the rain will likely keep dumping on us, maybe his field will just empty out and that problem will go away. I can switch my attention to marketing the sale of a large amount of sifted soil that magically became ours when it crossed the property line.

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Written by johnwhays

August 18, 2017 at 6:00 am

Oh My

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Anyone need some August rain? We have extra. I’d be happy to share.

Unfortunately, all that water fell in a very short amount of time yesterday morning, so the result was something of a flash-flood type of runoff.

Our silt fence along the northern border below our neighbor’s corn field was already filled with sandy topsoil that has flowed with every rainfall since we installed it. That led to an overflow which flattened some of our grass beneath an inch or two of silty muck.

Balancing that negative with a positive, the trail at the bottom of our hill in the woods, where I placed the pavers, is working perfectly. There is a small lake-like puddle where I spread the salvaged landscape rock, while the pavers are providing excellent (dry) footing across that rest of that section.

The amount that fell overnight will get tallied after the sun comes up today, but by the looks of the radar and sound on the roof and skylight last night, we got a lot more of the unneeded wet stuff than we wanted.

I sure wish I could transfer a large amount of it to the drought-stricken regions that need the water a lot more than we do.

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Written by johnwhays

August 17, 2017 at 6:00 am

Trusting Intuition

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Yesterday, I wrenched success from the jaws of failure after I reacted thoughtfully and purposefully to the engine failure of our lawn tractor in the middle of mowing the hill of our back yard. With barely a minute of pause to simply sit and contemplate the predicament, I decided to spring into action. I was racing the weather.

After a quick test to see if I could push the tractor uphill, I went to get the ATV and a nylon tow rope. It was possible that the mower was just low on gas, but it was way too soon to have used theĀ entire tank, based on previous experience. I was concerned that maybe the engine was working harder than usual and burning more fuel. That deserved attention.

There was evidence to support this possibility. You see, I was in a hurry to beat the coming rain, so I started early enough in the day that the dew had not dried off the grass. There were sticky wads of wet cuttings littering the lanes where the mower had already passed. It was likely the bottom of the deck had become caked with dirt and grass that was severely hampering the efficiency of the whole operation.

Despite the time pressure of impending precipitation, I disconnected the deck to pull it out and flip it over to clear the debris. Working quickly, I did a perfectly imperfect job of sufficiently completing that task. With the deck out, I wanted to grease the three spindles, but remembered I hadn’t reloaded the grease gun last time it sputtered out on me.

What better time than right then. Usually, for this kind of task that I rarely deal with, I struggle to recall how I did it last time, and make six mistakes before figuring out the simple technique. Yesterday, my intuition was strong, and I got it right, first try.

About then, Cyndie arrived to report the line on the power trimmer had run out. I popped off the spool for her, grabbed some remaining lengths of nylon line I’d been wanting to use up, and wound both the upper and lower spools without my usual mistake of starting with the wrong one first.

Since I had the nozzle on the compressor hose to blow off the mower deck, I also blew off the business end of the trimmer for Cyndie and sent her on her way before finishing the task of remountingĀ the deck under the tractor.

We were both back to work after minimal delay and the lawn tractor worked like almost new.

Honestly, the smooth sailing I experienced was in sharp contrast to the norm of multiple struggles to make minimal progress. Tasks certainly do get incrementally easier with repetition.

Despite the unplanned delay right in the middle of mowing, I squeaked out finishing the entire job just as the first drops of rain arrived.

Now, if only this run of success will carry on into figuring out why the pond pump doesn’t turn on again after Cyndie shut it off to clean the intake filter.

Come on intuition, stay with me…

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Written by johnwhays

August 14, 2017 at 6:00 am

Partial Trim

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The weather yesterday after work wasn’t conducive to getting a lot of mowing done with the tractor, as storms bobbed along in the thick atmosphere and brought frequent rain showers to the region. As a result, I opted to get out the trimmer to clean up some fence line because that tool is quick to start and easy to maneuver if/when precipitation arrives.

I barely made it through one tank of gas when rain clouds interrupted my progress, which left the back pasture fence line only half done.

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Getting caught up with all the mowing and trimming that needs to happen will occur in small steps this week, between occasional showers and thunderstorms. My plan is to take advantage of short blocks of time by doing a little bit of work whenever I can fit it in.

Oh, and to also stay home all weekend to maximize my availability for getting things done.

Even if it is only partial progress, it is better than none at all.

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Written by johnwhays

July 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

Distant Thunder

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We had plenty of warning last night that heavy weather was going to visit. The majority of thundering was happening well to our south for about an hour before it moved in and started dropping rain on us. The sun was just setting when the edge of the billowing tower of clouds became visible, giving them a foreboding glow.

It was a late night for me, as I crammed to get some manure management done before we head out of town for the weekend. It’s a job I have been neglecting for enough days that it was going to be a problem for our horse-sitter while we are gone if I didn’t do something before leaving.

And, we are leaving this afternoon. In fact, I am leaving from work. Our plan is to meet at the airport in Eden Prairie to fly to Barb and Mike’s lake place near Grand Rapids.

After completing my manure chores, I needed to haul some hay into the barn for the weekend. Then it was time to shower and pack. I struggle every night just figuring out what I will wear the next morning for work, and that got amplified last night by needing to also think through a weekend of possible needs.

Since we are flying four people in a small plane, the goal is to pack light.

It’s a great recipe for forgetting something, if you ask me.

I packed a swim suit, and my sunglasses, so I at least have the essentials if something else was overlooked.

Now we are just hoping there is no thunder happening along our flight path during the hours we hope to fly. If the weather isn’t friendly enough, we’ll simply drive up north instead. Which, in that case, would mean I could then haul up more than I need, like I usually tend to do.

Maybe I should toss all my heavy non-essential items in my car just in case. It usually turns out that if I bring extra stuff, I won’t have a need for it. The need only arises if I don’t bring something.

It’s like a law of physics or something. Probably a cousin of Murphy’s Law.

Wish us some flying luck! It’ll be pretty sweet if we are able to pull it off. Who wouldn’t want to cut the travel time to the lake in half?

Here’s hoping any thunder is REALLY distant during the appointed hours of our planned travel.

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Written by johnwhays

July 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

Silt Filtered

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The new silt fence installation mostly worked, but it wasn’t quite up to the task of yesterday morning’s deluge. We received 2-inches of rain in a span of about 20 minutes. I made a quick reconnaissance trek to assess the worthiness of our installation in the moments after the downpour and found this:

It was a little deflating, but not unexpected. Interesting to see how easily the water pressure pushed away the bales as it overflowed the plastic fabric barrier. The good news is that most of the silt did remain on the uphill side of the fence.

The water will not be denied. When I pushed the bales back in place and stopped the overflow, the soil beneath my feet simply bubbled up with flow out of the ground like a spring.

Five and a half years ago when we started this property adventure, I had no idea what I was in for in terms of actual land management. If I have learned anything in that time, it is that whatever the design might be that we conjure up to enhance this land, it better fully keep in mind and will be wholly subject to, the whims of the changing climate and the water behavior it will unleash, from drought, to frost heaves, to flash flood and everything in-between.

With reverent reference to the classic thriller, “Jaws” :

We’re gonna need a bigger fence.

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Written by johnwhays

June 12, 2017 at 6:00 am

Beating Heat

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Although Arabian horses were bred to perform under harsh desert conditions, the humidity that we get with our high heat is enough to make all species a little irritated. In the summer, we offer our horses a warm dusty breeze that moves enough air to toss their manes and chase off some flies.

It actually seems like little comfort, blowing hot, humid air, but Legacy has taken a particular liking to it.

Delilah prefers to lay on the cool tile in the house. Her fur coat doesn’t allow for wind to be much help. Luckily, she is a big fan of sprayed water from the hose, so we can shrink her coat dramatically by getting her wet.

We are arriving upon my last weekend before the annual June biking and camping week. I will be looking for a way to spend some time on the bike seat without putting myself at risk of heat stroke. It would be really helpful if I could rig up a mount on my tractor instead, so I could sit on my bike seat while mowing the lawn.

Speaking of mowing, I will be picking up the old Craftsman rider from the shop this morning. Now I can return the borrowed John Deere and get back to my own rig. I’ll be able to find out if it runs well under intense heat, that’s for sure.

The summer heat has brought out the lightning bugs. With the strawberry moon glowing brilliantly last night, the neon green flashes dancing above the tall grasses made for a glorious nighttime walk with Delilah as I rolled the trash and recycling bins down to the road.

George has come back for the weekend while he is serving his farrier clients in the region. I tended to the horses while he trimmed our herd after dinner. Cayenne is making good progress. He removed her shoes and left her bare foot again.

It may be hot, but things here are actually running pretty cool.

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Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2017 at 6:00 am