I'm sitting here at the keyboard at 6 a.m. trying to compose some kind of blog post. It's still dark outside by the way. Which was true as I typed that sentence. However, it did become light a short while later, somewhat after 0700. It was also snowing, so I did some snow management. Which is mostly about playing ball with Nona.
I did a tiny bit of actual snow moving, too. And some whining.
When I sat down this (Saturday, December 14, 2019, Go Navy Beat Army) morning my intent was to describe yesterday's weather, and the first word that popped into my mind was kaleidoscopic. One common definition of the word is "continually shifting from one set of relations to another, rapidly changing." That's a pretty good bare bones description of meteorological conditions in and around my neck of the woods yesterday.
At 6 a.m. yesterday it was calm, cool, and overcast. The wind was just a 3 mph puff out of the south. Air temperature was 29 F and the humidity was 93 percent, so when I carried out the trash on my first outside excursion of the day the air carried that special bone-chilling sting which is a feature of such conditions. Bracing on the one hand, but just a little bit miserable. The barometer had been down in the 29.60-29.70 range for a couple of days but was beginning to rise sharply. Which I knew before looking at a barometer as my more abused joints and old injury sites were aching a good bit.
The forecast warned that a weather front was going to move through the region bringing a chance of intermittent snow showers and a good deal of wind. So with morning house chores complete, coffee down my neck, and dressed appropriately for present and forecast conditions, Nona and I set forth. As we drove our way south out of town the wind was already picking up.
At the ranch I did chicken chores and switched dogs. Nona is my dog, or perhaps I am Nona's human. I live with her in my shack in town. Red is Mom's dog, or perhaps the ranch owner, and she lives there. Nona is strictly a ball-playing dog, and something of a philosopher, so she's got no interest in checking cows. Red, on the other hand, is strictly a cow dog, and as nominal ranch owner she has a responsibility to check cows, water, fences, grass, and every other aspect of her empire. So Nona stays behind to eat Red's dog food while Red has me drive her around to do her important ranch management work.
When Red and I arrived at the Cederburg pasture the wind was already whipping up, shifting from southerly to northwesterly and increasing velocity to 30 gusting 40 mph. Unlike the previous day, when there had been a cow out and a cluster of cows at the gate, there wasn't a cow in sight. Having a good deal of experience over time, Red and I knew with a fair bit of certainty where we would find the bovines.
We meandered a mile down the west fence line trail and turned on the well. I think I've described and demonstrated this before, but for the uninitiated and curious reader, a brief explanation of the water system is perhaps in order.
The south unit is separated from the home place by several miles and consists of a few square miles of native and reintroduced (formerly farmed) grassland, enclosed by a perimeter fence and further subdivided into separate pastures by internal fencing. Since the human purpose of this setup is to graze cattle through the various pastures in rotation, and since cattle need water, the south unit has an extensive water system consisting of a main well and pump, underground pipeline, and 10 pipeline fed stock tanks. There is also a single windmill which can and does when required feed three stock tanks, collocated at the windmill. At the well site there are a pair of underground valves which can be manipulated with a six-foot "T" handled wrench or "key." One valve controls water flow to the more extensive (eight stock tanks) southerly part of the unit, and one valve controls water flow to the less extensive (two stock tanks) northerly part, which we call the Cederburg pasture and is where the cows are presently domiciled. Also at the well site is a switch on a utility pole which controls electricity going to the submersible pump at the bottom of the well. Turn the switch on and the pump is enabled, turn the switch off and it is not enabled. The thing that controls the actual pumping is a pressure switch. Open a valve at any of the stock tanks and the switch senses a drop in pipeline pressure, which causes the switch to tell the pump to start pumping. Then hey presto, water flows. Therefore, the way the valves are set right now, whenever the cows drink and cause the water level to drop in either or both of the tanks in the Cederburg pasture, the float goes down with the water level, opening a valve at the bottom of the tank and allowing water to flow into the tank, filling it back up.
I hope all of that makes sense.
Anyway, at the well site I turned the water on, then we retraced our route back to a place we could get across the prominent north-south gully without getting stuck and proceeded to check cows and water. Everything was fine; there were no cow outages, the cows were grazing, the stock tanks were filling or full and with properly adjusted floats were not in danger of running over, fences were fine, etc. And the wind was beginning to howl.
Oh, it was starting to snow, too.
Directly after shooting the above video, as we were driving back toward the pasture gate, Red suddenly popped up and peered intently toward thew west. I followed her gaze and saw first of all an antelope gamboling about. But wait, it wasn't an antelope. It was a big dog. One that looked like a cross between a Great Dane and a Border Collie. Or something like that. A moment later I realized that there was a white Chevy pickup on the other side of the fence where the presently snow clogged and impassible trail road runs. My heart sank a bit as I envisioned having to help extricate some dumb-bunnies and their vehicle from a snow drift.
When I got closer I realized that the pickup wasn't stuck at all, and whoever was piloting the thing appeared to be piloting with a great deal of winter driving savvy and common sense. I stopped and met (for the first time) the brothers who are farming some of the ground to the west of our south unit. Nice guys. As we chatted the conditions went from miserable to intolerable. The wind really began blasting and in a short time it was driving heavy snow. So we shook hands all around and promised to have a nice gab when the weather changes for the better. Perhaps in July.
Then Red and I beat a hasty retreat to the more salubrious conditions of not outside.
The rest of the day was very much like that. The wind would pick up and drive snow, then things would calm down a bit and the sun would come out for a few moments or minutes. Then back to howling whiteout and misery. The air temperature yo-yo'ed from well below freezing to near-50 degrees and back. Many times. The wind went from calm to steady to blasting up to 60 mph. It was kaleidoscopic weather throughout the day.
Now that I covered yesterday, what about today?
It's much more calm, or at least less kaleidoscopic. Bit of light snow coming and going. Air temps in the low 30's. Winds southeasterly and light. Humidity still plus 90 percent so it's the stingingly damp kind of cold. The bottom fell off the barometer and it's all the way down to about 29.50. Achey. But essentially no wind.
Let's see if we can do some morning ride-along videos. Hope they aren't too awful but I suspect they are.
And that's how the early part of today went. Lots of stuff to wade through, eh?
Be well and enjoy the blessings of liberty.