Posted by: Lynne
Thoughts from Sunday:
There is no title for this entry, no real subject matter, so no title either. For two days we've been basically trapped inside these fours walls due to high wind, blowing snow and frigid temperatures. S'no fun folks. We had about 10 inches of fresh new snow on Thursday and a smidge on Friday. Since then the wind has been blowing pretty much non-stop. Not even the dogs want to to stay outside longer than to do their doggie business.
However ... I have to admit there is a different feel to the air, even though we've had frigid temps in the single and low double digits. What makes me say that given that I've just said the temps are frigid and the windchill is nil and below? Well, just things. I can't explain it really. Maybe it's the birds. We've started seeing different birds and they are singing when their feathers aren't being blown off their bodies. We now have pine siskins and juncos on a daily basis, and on a walk the other day (before the wind) we saw this little Horned Lark. We had to look him up as we didn't know what it was and it's behavior flying and on the ground was odd. He had Destin intrigued.
Maybe it's that scent of spring way off in the distance. Lord knows there is no scent of spring right now as we are still covered in a foot of snow + around the cabin. It was beginning to feel like all this winteriness was shaking loose just last week. But it's coming, I can feel it. Like I said, it's just a feeling in my bones and in the land around me. Winter just does not seem to have the icy grip it had back in January. Maybe it's just wishful thinking. Then again, maybe not.
Does this look like Spring to you?
The wind is not so bad if the temperatures are not in the single digits and teens. Last week we managed to take several nice long walks with the dogs even though the wind was pretty bad. Here Bella is an example of how hard the wind was blowing. Just look at her hair and the feathers on her legs, all being blown in the opposite direction! But, it was warm and therefore not all that bad to be out in. This is also an example of how much melting had occurred before this last storm.
But now the roads are closed once again and we can't get through unless we use the Ranger. At least we can get out but it makes trips into town so difficult by adding another 45 mintues to the trip, when just last week we were making the trip into town in 45 mintues total. Rick and our neighbor might be able to clear a path through "the trap" but when we took the Ranger out yesterday on a reconnaissance mission it did not look good. The wind really packs the snow down hard so it won't be easy to blow. Maybe they can move it with the tractor. Don't know.
We've had a Hairy Woodpecker pecking at our logs outside! From inside the cabin it sounds very strange. We keep chasing him away but he keeps coming back. So far no damage that we can see except some caulking between a couple of logs up close to the roof. Cheeky bird.
Thoughts on Tuesday:
Well....yesterday we had more snow. About six inches or so. Sigh. And to think that just last week we were able to sit out on the porch several times with a nice glass of wine with just a sweater on and the space heater running. It was wonderful!
Our driveway is blown in again too despite the snow fencing that Rick put up last week. It would have drifted worse if not for the fencing, but the wind came from a strange and not normal direction. Rick was not able to blow it out as soon as it fell because of the nasty wind. So it's packed in again and we aren't going to try and move it this time around since the winds are supposed to pick up again over the next few days to about 20 to 30mph. Mother Nature will move the snow for us, but not in any of the places we'd like her to put it. He would just be spinning the snowblower's wheels and wasting gas since it would just fill back in again. After all, our main goal was to get Lex out and he is, safe and sound at H's house.
At least Destin thinks the new snow is cool.
Rick and I have taken up a new hobby: weaving! We bought a rigid heddle Cricket Loom in town at Cowgirl Yarn and we've both finished a project scarf. Well, Rick has actually made two scarfs to my one. Here are pics of both scarves.
Rick's second scarf.
You can see we went for different patterns. Rick did stripes and I used a variegated yarn and didn't set the loom (warp actually) up for stripes. I want to make another scarf now just for practice as I need to work on getting my selvedges in better shape. It's easy and relaxing to do. There are so many possibilities with different yarns, textures and patterns. Rick wants to try making placemats for the new RV. When Spring finally does arrive we'll probably both take a few weaving classes in town. Cowgirl Yarn is heavily into weaving, lucky for us.
Looking outside right now at the snow covered trees and even deeper snow levels and drifts in places we've never had drifts before, I am now wondering where in the world I ever got the notion that Spring was headed our way.
Posted by: Rick
I guess it is pretty ironic that after working so hard to get the Expedition away from the cabin, see this post and this one too, that we recently spent a couple of days getting it back in. As you'll recall, we got past all the different segments of the trip down the hill except a few hundred yards of Hidden Meadows Lane which were plugged with several feet of hard-packed snow and ice. But, a few hours of work with a tractor, and we got that open.
Lynne, who has always wanted to drive heavy equipment, is doing a superb job of clearing the snow.
A pretty good load!
Making a snow fence of snow. These piles should help prevent the driveway from filling up during the next snow and blow.
So, now the Expedition is parked at the cabin site again, and we can go directly from the back door to the truck to check mail or get into town. All sections of the road are open, even those that we usually have to bypass with a route on back roads.
The road is open!
And, the Expedition is now parked at the cabin.
The forecast is for us to get snow and wind starting again next week. So, on Monday or Tuesday, we'll exchange the Expedition for the Suburban, parked at Mr. H's, and we'll park the Suburban at the top of the hill on our neighbor's property.
Posted by: Rick
I am starting to get a bit frustrated with snow management.
As I think everyone knows, we were lucky to get our Suburban parked at Mr. H's place at the state line. And, we can get to it via the Ranger with about a 45 minute trek, no matter what the weather conditions are or how much snow we have. So, we are not technically, "snowed in", and do have the ability to get off the mountain.
Still, I'd love to swap the Suburban with the Expedition, using the Expedition to get into town, and keeping the Suburban (with chains on) at our neighbor's place next to us. That way, if the roads are passable from here, we can take the Suburban to the state line. That means a faster trip and a lot more cargo space.
To get the Expedition out of here, we have several "segments" to complete. Segment #1 is just getting it out of the driveway. Our driveway is narrow, has a tricky curve in it, and also has an uphill grade to get to Hidden Meadows Lane.
Segment #2 is Hidden Meadows Lane from our driveway to Wapiti Way. That is tricky because there is a tree that creates a snow fence causing 3 foot drifts to accumulate on the road. It isn't a very long stretch, but we need to get past that.
This is the short segment of Hidden Meadows Ln that we need to cross to get to Wapiti Way. It was clear a few days ago, but has since blown in.
Segment #3 is from the Hidden Meadows / Wapiti intersection to the "top of the hill" where we meet up with our neighbor's efforts to get out. Getting to this point is nice because we now have two households working to get out.
This is segment #3, obviously taken on a different day. This is from Wapiti Way and Hidden Meadows Ln, looking up across the prairie to the "top of the hill".
Segment #4 is all of Wapiti Way to the County Road (89), and down the county road to where a ranch fence and gate causes two significant drifts in the road. Known locally as the "gate" and the "trap", these can be real problems because there is no way around them. Segment #4 can be "cheated" some, because we can drive off the road and on high points of the prairie where the wind has blown the snow clear. In other words, we can usually drive around any problem areas.
This photo is of most of segment 4, along Wapiti Way to the county road, where I'm standing to take this photo. So, this is looking back toward the cabin site rather than along the road toward the state line. You can see the road in the upper right third of the shot.
But, this is not true once you get to segment #5: the gate and the trap. These have no path around them and so must be cleared by hand.
The trap, segment #5, above.
The gate in segment #5.
Segment #6 is another relatively easy segment because it typically blows clear. It stretches from the "gate" to where Coyote Xing (sic) intersects with County Rd 89.
The above photo shows much of segment #6. You can get through most of this with chains on a 4WD truck.
The above is the end of segment #6 and the beginning of segment #7. While it is a bit clogged up this year at the intersection, once you are on Coyote Xing, it is pretty smooth sailing. I don't have photos of this segment of the trip because we don't go that way with the Ranger. We go over the snow on the road.
Segment #7 is Coyote Xing to Buffalo Run to Ferret Circle to Snow Pass which then joins County Rd 89 very close to the state line. Again, while complicated, this segment usually blows clear and is no problem to navigate. It is a necessary "long cut" around a stretch of County Rd 89 at the Wurl Homestead that is always deep in snow.
This shows where Snow Pass rejoins the Co Rd 89 (at the bottom of this hill) and the state line is at Chimney Rock. This is usually so passable, I don't even count it as a sement of the journey!
Back to my frustration. Two days ago, I had segment #1 and segment #2 open -- largely due to my neighbor clearing them with a tractor. However, we discovered we could not transit segment #3, so parked the Expedition back at the cabin. We've had a lot of wind the past few days, and sure enough, segment #1 and segment #2 blew full of snow. Very frustrating.
So, I spent half the day today, along with much help from Lynne, opening the driveway back up. It requires wresting the snow blower through dense, packed snow, often only possible by having shoveled the snow into chunks, to the top of the driveway. Once at the top, the snow blower does a pretty good job of cutting slices out of the remaining snow going downhill. When wide enough, I can then scrape it with the snow plow on the Ranger and create hedgerows of snow that the blower can handle with no problem.
Since that is such a chore, we've decided we may just not do it any more. Maybe we'll just let the driveway drift in and just drive over the top of the snow with the Ranger. And, we could get away with that because we moved the Expedition to the top of the driveway. Instead of waiting for all segments of the journey out to be open at the same time, we'll just tackle them one at a time. Like game pieces on a board game, we've moved the Expedition to the next space.
The Expedition, parked at the top of segment #1. About 300' of the journey is done. About 6 miles to go!
Of course, by not keeping the driveway clear (or any segment that we successfull, eventually transit with the truck), we won't have vehicle access to the cabin until May or June. But, we can probably get someone with a skid-steer equipped with an industrial snow blower to open it one final time in early May.
Posted by Rick on 02/03/2017 at 07:19 AM
Everyday Life •
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Posted by: Rick
In retirement, one needs something to do. A purpose. Since retiring, I've been working hard to adapt the cabin to full-time living, converting it from a weekend/vacation home to a place where we can comfortably live all year round. As that frenzy of activity slowed down, I turned my attention to becoming a hooker.
An old-fashioned Santa decoration, created using rug hooking techniques.
In 2015, Lynne and I were attending the annual Sheep and Wool Festival at the Duchess County (NY) fair grounds when we passed by a booth of hookers. It was shocking to hear the booth owner, quite loudly, expressing her joy to a customer saying something like "Oh, you are a hooker!"
It was a rug hooking booth, and many of the samples were very beautiful. I saw this old-fashioned Santa pattern and told Lynne that we should get it and that I'd hook us a Christmas decoration. The photo above is the result. It was originally meant to be hung on a door as a welcome decoration, but instead, I put some backing on it and slightly stuffed it with filling to make it more like a pillow.
I don't know how much more hooking I'll do. But, this venture was sure fun. Maybe I'll try hooking a Berner face next?
Posted by Rick on 12/24/2016 at 07:34 AM
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Posted by: Rick
Our Christmas gift to each other was a snow plow for the Polaris Ranger. We have a snow blower, and it will come in handy for deep snows and cleaning up after a big snow. But, having a plow makes quick work of the driveway, drifts at the exit of our property, the parking area at the cabin, and maybe even for the main road to the point it meets with our neighbors. It is especially helpful when we have only a few inches of snow--too much to just ignore but too little to warrant the work of the snow blower.
So, we called the Polaris dealer in Laramie and ordered what we needed. There were four items: a mount to go on the Ranger, the plow frame, a track extension to the plow frame, and the blade. We picked these up on Thursday, expecting a big snow on Saturday afternoon. Installation was supposed to take a couple of hours on Friday.
I put a portable propane heater in the shop side of the barn and warmed it up some. The plow frame and extension could be assembled in the warm, dry shop. I then attached these to the blade outdoors, and had the job mostly done. Only the mount for the Ranger was left, and this was advertised as a 45 minute job.
To mount the mount, I had to work outdoors where it was pretty cold. I put a large piece of 2" thick foam board on the ground and laid on that to do the job. My body heat was reflected and it was actually comfortable. As is typical for me, even after reading the instructions multiple times, there are terms I don't fully understand, I don't really have all the right tools, and I get ahead of myself sometimes requiring work that has been done to be undone and redone. But, after about an hour and a half, I had the mount mounted!
Now on to the big moment. I drove the Ranger up to the plow assembly and followed the mounting instructions. It just didn't work. Parts were not lining up where they were supposed to be. Although I saw that there was no way this plow assembly was going to mate to this mount, I kept at it for a while; scratching my head; trying this and trying that. I finally gave up.
Something is not right here.
On Saturday, I brought the assembly instructions inside and started going over them all again. Suddenly, I noticed that the mount was for a Glacier II plow system and I had ordered a Glacier Pro! I called the dealer in Laramie and had to get a bit testy with them to convince them they'd given me the wrong mount. Finally, the owner got on the phone and we figured out there was a printing error in their catalog. The two mounting systems, which are very different, had the same part number. Sure enough, I had laboriously, in freezing conditions, installed a mount that would never work.
Despite the threat of heavy snow in the afternoon, we drove into town and picked up the right mount. I picked up the tools I needed to make the job easier. We got home mid-afternoon.
I immediately began the process of uninstalling the wrong mount and reinstalling the right mount. Turns out the right mount was very easy to install. But, the wrong mount was hard to install and deinstall. It even had some electrical splicing that I had diligently done that was not needed. Saturday was warmer than Friday, but very windy. Still, using the wood shed as shelter, I got the swap done.
Now the big moment. I drove the ranger up to the plow. Inched forward. Click! I got out to see that everything lined up and clicked into place. I hooked the plow up to the winch on the Ranger and was able to raise and lower it easily. I even plowed the 2" of snow we had!
Everything is working now.
Good thing this got done, too. Overnight Saturday we got 5" of snow, maybe more in a few places. I had a great time plowing the driveway and parking area, and Hidden Meadows Ln down to Wapiti Way.
One has to be careful when plowing as opposed to blowing snow. Plowing creates piles of snow that can easily become snow fences and actually make future snow management more difficult or impossible. I work hard to keep the piles on the north and east sides of the road and driveway. We can get wind from those directions, but the dominant direction is from the south, southwest and west.
Sunday afternoon was pretty and sunny, although windy. At least the winds were from the "right" direction. I think Monday and Tuesday are going to be nice, too. But, then we are predicted to get snow again for the rest of the week. Our Christmas Gift Plow is likely to get a workout!
Here are a few shots of my work early on Monday morning:
Hidden Meadows Lane from the top of our driveway.
Forest Service Circle / Wapiti Way -- the way out toward town.
Posted by Rick on 12/11/2016 at 04:08 PM
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