Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Winter Finally Arrived!

Last week, we were working outside in tee shirts and my son was wearing shorts. Starting on Sunday, the 14th, that all started to change. An artic cold air mass came down the Rockies and streight across Texas, bringing much colder weather. El Nino in the Pacific is sending a stream of moist, warm air across Mexico. Guess where the collide? You got it! Right here over central Texas.

Sunday started with freezing rain and sleet. This continued throught Monday. Thank God Monday was a holiday! By Tuesday morning, the roads were barely passable in the morning. We did not venture out until about 13:30 to go to the store for a few supplies. Our children had their first "bad weather day" in the last few years. Here are a few pictures of the ranch on Tuesday:

This first image is a group of trees in our main pasture. Look at the ice coating! I am suprised that some of the limbs did not break! Here is another picture of a different part of that same group of trees.

Looking out into our east pasture, the ground and trees are also covered with ice.

One problem, the gate to the barn compound had frozen solid. We had to climb over the fence and get a small sledge hammer from the barn to break the ice and slide the latch to open the gate. The goats are all hiding in the barn - because it is very cold, about 28 degrees, they refuse to graze and are reluctant to come outside a few feet to the hayrack to get the hay we put out.

Overnight, the sleet and freezing rain continued. This morning, my wife reported one-half inch of ice on the windshields and the bar-be-que, along with one-quarter inch of SNOW. Our neighbor's daughter swears that it never snows in central Texas. I wonder what she thought when she took her dog out for a walk this morning! Today, the local school district decided to close the schools.

Here are a few picture my wife took about 11AM this morning. Notice that the images are darker than yesterday. No, this is not a camera or camera operator problem. The day is really that much darker. This first one is the view up our driveway from the street.

The next one is the street in front of our main gate. Again this is about 11AM. It looks like the only vehicle that passed by was the newspaper delivery!

The next picture shows a frozen watering bucket. Yes, that is a puppy standing on the ice!

The bucket is only rubber, and a little weight casued the ice to shift. Look at the thickness! On Tuesday, this was not frozen at all!

Tomarrow is expected to be warmer. The local school districts are planning to open about two hours late. I do not think this is a good idea. Maybe the roads in town are free of ice, but I doubt the rural roads will be safe for any vehicle in the morning.

The weather report says that another wave of winter weather can be expected to arrive tomarrow evening and last through Sunday. Oh, joy! Oh, joy!

The good news in all of this is that when the snow and ice melts, most of it should seep into the ground, and not run off. If we can get some real moisture into the ground, maybe we will have a green spring that lasts well into summer!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy New Year!!

Another year has come and gone. The drought, the war in Iraq and the national debt are still with us. Former President Gerald Ford and musician James Brown are no longer with us. Just to close out the year in a spiteful way, a few F2 tornados blew through central Texas in the last few days.

On New Year's Day, my children, my wife and I were out in the East Pasture in short sleeve shirts tossing a football around. When we sat down and relaxed for a few minutes, we could actually watch the grass, which has been brown due to the drought, actually start to turn green. New shoots are starting and some of the trees are starting to produce buds. This is supposed to be winter!

Of course, it could still get cold... If you read the news reports, the Europen ski resorts are hurting because they have no snow and it is too warm to make snow. Canada reports that some of the ancient Artic ice shelf is melting. The mid-west is getting snow, but it is a very wet snow - perfect for freezing on power and telephone cables and breaking them. Some parts of Kansas and Oklshoma may be without power for days.

Any way, have a happy New Year!!!