Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ice Ice Baby!

No, I'm not singing that 80's hit, I'm referring to the hard substance that we don't see too much here in central Texas (at least outside of our freezer). Well, we certainly saw our share last weekend when that particularly strong cold front blew through here. News reports indicated it got as cold as 19 degrees in our area, but I had friends and family report thermometer readings as low as 13 degrees. Whoa! We are simply not cut out for that kind of cold weather. Our cold weather fighting methods consist of setting up heat lamps and wrapping pipes with socks. Beyond that, we're completely lost. What's really entertaining is talking to my colleagues that are from up north. They get a kick out of watching us southerners scramble around and fret about these "cold snaps". For example, earlier this winter we dropped below the freezing mark and actually had some snow flurries...again, very exciting. This was happening during work, so a few co-workers went out on the balcony and starting taking pictures of the snow with their phones. I was walking by with a friend from Nebraska, who immediately took out his phone and started taking pictures of the people taking pictures. He said his friends back home would love this. I digress. What I really wanted to report on, with regards to the sub-freezing weather, was the nice surprises we found when tending to our various animals. It started in the morning with the chickens. To be honest, we weren't sure how many un-frozen chickens we were going to have in the morning since most of them continued to sleep on top of the coop in the elements. Jenna set out a shop lamp on top of the coop with them, but with the minimal heat of the lamp simply escaping into the air instead of being captured in some enclosed room, this was an effort in futility and was really to make Jenna feel like she tried. Regardless, we were pleasantly surprised when all 9 chickens were running around the yard in the morning. They were being especially loud which normally indicates they are out of food or something. Well, it turns out they weren't out of food, but they were out of liquid water. The baby pool we use had a solid inch of ice on top. I was really surprised to see how thick of a layer had formed. So, Jenna heated up some water and grabbed a big stick and went to town. Unfortunately, we had to keep going out about every hour to re-break up the ice.

A little bit later that morning, we headed out to the land to meet with a contractor to start getting estimates on how much it was going to cost to prep the building site. So, armed with every jacket we owned and multiple pairs of gloves/hats/long underwears, we headed east. We met with the contractor and discussed some figures. When they left, we did our usual tour of the place and headed down to the pond to enjoy the morning tranquility. When we got to the pond, I was quite surprised to see the top of the water glistening. There was ice on the pond, too.

I really thought a larger body like that wouldn't start to freeze after 12 hours below freezing, but I was wrong. There was about 1/2" - 3/4" layer. I was relegated to the shoreline because of my bulk, but Jenna was able to walk out a little bit (in the very shallow areas). It was a very unique experience.

We spent the next 20 minutes forgetting how cold we were and regressed to our inner 12 year old selves. We started throwing rocks and sticks, with each toss eliciting a "whoa" and "cool" and "did you see that?". Yes, we're simple people. We went back home to warm up and came back out later that day to actually be productive. At that point, the pond had mostly thawed. Overall, it was a pretty exciting day for a couple of native Texans.

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