Tuesday, January 15, 2008

random happenings

I must be suffering from Midwinter Blog Writing Freeze. I think the lack of sunlight affects my motivation and ability to compose a thoughtful, coherent post. But the sun is shining, and the south facing office is full of natural light, so I better seize the moment.

On Saturday I finally got the snow cleared off the pond for skating. Or, I should say, I removed about a two inch crust that was all that was left of the twenty inches of snow that had covered the pond since the weekend after Christmas. What happened to the rest of the snow?

When a heavy snowfall covers a layer of ice (assuming the ice is thick enough to support it), often the weight of the snow will push the ice down, forcing water up around the edges and through any cracks that may be in the ice. The thick blanket of snow insulates the water and keeps it from freezing solid. Dig or step down in the snow, and you will encounter a layer of slush between the snow and the ice. On large lakes where people are normally driving their vehicles on the ice this time of year to go ice fishing, the slushy conditions create a sometimes invisible safety hazard. On a small skating pond, it mostly creates a mess and dashes hopes for skating for the year.

However, it got cold enough, and the water seeped up enough to freeze solid beneath a snowy crust. It took a bit of physical force with the shovel sometimes to push through the crust, but I got the pond cleared. The ice is far from ideal for skating, but Mr. Attitude and I went out and made the most of it. It was Mr. Attitude's first time on skates, and he impressed me with his self confidence and ability to stay standing as he made skating-like motions.

I was already feeling the shoveling part that night when I could barely lift my arms. Ouch.

Our chickens (about a half dozen now) have been roosting outside the last couple of nights, even though this morning it was 18 below zero! What's up with that? Are the geese not sharing the space? Yesterday morning as I was racing to drive Calvin out to the bus, which was early, I nearly ran over a Rhode Island Red.

This morning on the way to work, I saw something large fly across the road ahead of me. It didn't have the speed of a goshawk; even though I was inside the car and could not hear anything outside, the flight struck me as being "silent", if that makes any sense. I immediately thought "owl". Since I was on a low traffic gravel road, and no one was behind me, I was able to stop and locate where the bird had landed in an aspen tree about 50 yards into the woods off the road. Barred owl! I managed to get a good look with the binoculars and tried to guide Mr. Attitude so he could see it too. I don't know if he ever found it, but I was happy that he seemed as excited as I was.


Sky said...

i have NEVER seen a pond iced over for skating! i have never been in weather as cold as yours. sounds idyllic, but i think about the bone-chilling cold would keep me inside most of the season. our lows are mid 20s but we hover around 32 most of the winter. when i was in atlanta it got into single digits every now and then for a few days. zero is the coldest temp i have ever encountered, and that was only once. the toilet water in the service station's restroom en route to my sister's was totally frozen!

Anonymous said...

Deb, My brother and I grew up skating on a pond. My parents would clean it off and we would invite the neighbor kids to come skate with us. Never very smooth, but it was our very own farm pond. The shoveling was good exercise. Glad you had a good time.

pablo said...

Yes, I've been skating on a pond, but the idea of driving a car onto the ice still strikes me as something people make up to fool outsiders.

Catty Ax Lady said...

I've been on a frozen pond once in my life, in Alaska, on snowshoes, and if my stomach hadn't decided to erupt about halfway around the lake, it would have been grand fun.

Now I have to go google Rhode Island Red to find out exactly what you nearly ran over :(

Floridacracker said...

Neat that Mr. Attitude is learning from your excitement.
Atta'boy Attitude!

Deb said...

Sky- I always get used to the cold in stages. When the temps first dip below freezing, I stay inside for a while. When the temps dip below zero, I crawl under a cozy blanket for a while...just kidding, almost. We're headed for a below zero cold snap here, so I'm getting my blanket ready!

Cindy- Have you heard of the farmer/author Gene Logsdon? He wrote wonderful things about his family farm pond and how hockey games were a tradition. We don't have a quorum around here for a hockey game, and I've never played hockey, but I can't help think it would be fun!

Pablo- Believe me, it's not made up. Although this winter has challenged local traditions.

Catty Ax Lady- It's a breed of chicken. And luckily that one is still alive, the hurry I was in! We've had a substitute bus driver the last couple of days, and she gets there early.

FC- Mr. Attitude's comment about the owl was: "He's probably trying to sleep!" Not a bad observation about a nocturnal creature at sunrise.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Deb,
All that work shoveling off the pond and now it's going to get too darn cold to even go out again for a few days. Stay warm this weekend.

Good news about the Barred Owl sighting! Do you ever hear them calling around your place?

Heidi said...

I can't imagine what's up with those chickens, but they're far braver than mine. My daughter opens their door most days, but I haven't seen them outside in over a month.

I just found your blog while Googling a description of what happens when you toss boiling water outside in sub-zero weather. It looks like we're neighbors! Very nice. I look forward to exploring your blogs and links. :-)

Deb said...

Heidi- Welcome, neighbor! I've been browsing your blog, and from a few various clues I think we probably live within a few miles of each other! Maybe we've even run into each other in town! This is AMAZING!

Our backyard bird lists are very similar. :)