Snow and ice at Flying Hat

White-crowned Sparrows, Flying Hat, Texas, February 2011

Two nights ago, early Tuesday morning at 12:30 a.m., a rain storm followed by sleet and snow descended on our ranch. The wind blew, gusts to 50 m.p.h., and the temperature reached 10 degrees this morning.  Yesterday, I used the Case Farmall DX-55 tractor to pull our F-250 out of the lane that intersects County Road 114.  Beneath a snow of four inches, two inches of ice held fast to the ground and the F-250, being a two-wheeled drive, could not gain traction in the lane.  Brenda backed up the F-250 while I pulled with the Farmall.  We parked the pickup close enough to the electrical circuit at the house so that if necessary we could warm the engine with its electrical plug.

Yesterday, our rural mail carrier, Jeannie Chisolm, posted mail throughout her route using a four-wheeled drive Jeep.  I called her this morning for road conditions and she told me she became stuck one time yesterday as she delivered the last three mailboxes on her route.  She made it back to her home at 8:00 p.m. last night.  The road between Flying Hat and Interstate 20 is only passable with four-wheel vehicles or those with chains.

Star munches on hay and grain in the stable and I crunched some horse feed and threw it on the ground so White-crowned Sparrows could peck and fill themselves.

The State of Texas has declared a power emergency and seven-million people will begin to experience rolling blackouts to prevent an overload of the grid.  We have experienced no blackouts, but our Internet Provider, centered in Fort Worth, Texas, goes down infrequently.

Weather forecasts indicate below freezing temperatures through Friday at noon.  We have lowered our thermostat to 65 degrees and switched unnecessary electrical appliances to the OFF position.  We have a week’s supply of firewood stacked in the shed and oakwood windfall in the grove.

* * *

Additional comment:  We had a blackout at 11:25 a.m. for about forty minutes.

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19 Comments

Filed under Adventure, Flying Hat Ranch

19 responses to “Snow and ice at Flying Hat

  1. Randall Tate

    We are having rolling blackouts in Galveston county/ It seems like as people’s alarms goes off, then we had them at 6:00, lights back on at at 6:15, off at 7:00, back on at 7:20, off at 7:30 till 10:00 . Its 22 here with 25 mph wind and 98% humidity.

  2. Those are pretty severe conditions for your area! I hope most folks there are as well prepared as you! Electrical power outages during cold weather can be so serious: we have become so dependent on electricity and folks who depend on it for heat are really vulnerable.

    I got a little chuckle about the F-250: I have one too and despite the fact that mine is a 4X4 it doesn’t have much at all for traction unless I have at least a ton of weight in the back.

    I hope you can stay warm and safe!

    • Montucky, I’ve gotta put two bales of hay in the back of the truck and wet it down. It will freeze and bring weight down on the back. I think I am going to get another source of power — propane.

  3. Thanks for the report – you and Brenda make a good team.

    Such dedication from your postal carrier – 8 pm end to her work day!

    In Albuquerque, we have had two snow days with the public schools, which means the Museum has been closed too – thus we can stay home and keep everything warm. It reached 6 degrees here at midnight last night. Only just now at 10:30 a.m. has the accumulation of snow on the roof started to melt (tho it’s not above freezing yet – don’t understand that …). Interesting to know how Texas deals with electricity … best of luck to you all.

    • Six degrees is bad. Good for the snow days. We now have three in a row and the weather forecast has changed. We will be below freezing until Saturday and snow tomorrow evening. I know you are used to colder weather over there than we are. Stay warm, Cirrelda.

  4. Kittie Howard

    These are pretty tough weather conditions, Jack. The photos speak volumnes. I hope others are as prepared as you and Brenda are. Rolling blackouts are one of those necessities one endures *sighs*. That was nice of you to sprinkle kibbles for the sparrow. And you have a wonderful postal carrier.

    Stay warm; stay safe!

    • Yes, Kittie, must be endured. I’m not used to them. Never experienced them until today and forty-five minutes is long enough — just one time. The postal carrier also manages our place when we are gone.

  5. Crystal

    My blackout lasted about an hour. I had many layers of clothing on by the time the heat returned! It has been an adventure. Glad to hear you and Brenda are hanging in there!

    • Yes, an adventure. Brenda has not been out today and a while ago she said she was stir crazy. I replied that if she had been out as much in the ice and snow as I had today, she would lose stir crazy. She promised to help me tomorrow in the barn despite the sub-twenties and wind. She knows that stir crazy will then go away.

  6. Those are pretty trying winter conditions for your parts. It’s one thing if you are used to it and have prepared for it, it’s quite another when it’s an unusual event.

    I’m curious about the rolling blackouts. It seems as if the electric grid has not been able to make enough power in your area to meet the needs of the public in cold weather. Isn’t there high electric usage when it’s terribly hot?

    Your conservation efforts have not gone unnoticed by me. Good for you for making a positive contribution in a near crisis. I know you are self-sufficient and will stay warm and happy. Good luck until this retreats. Here we have had storm after storm after storm. It seems like I spend half of my waking hours plowing snow. Not a good year to have a bad back, thank God my wife is tough!

    • As I wrote the post, Bill, I thought of your adaptation up there in New England. This storm is about as fierce as any I’ve seen down here in Texas, certainly the last twenty years. We use natural gas for heating, propane, electricity, but not heating oil. We have rolling blackouts in the large cities very infrequently in the summer down here in Texas, but none out here in the country. The hot summers really deplete the energy. This is an unusual weather system we are having right now.

      Yes, thank God for tough wives.

  7. Erin R.

    Have you seen any larger wildlife out and about because of the snow and cold Dr. Matthews? It has really brought out the deer and cardinals here at our place. Cardinals in the snow are breathtakingly beautiful.

    • The White-crowned Sparrows are feeding in the stables, but I’ve seen no deer. I’ve heard the coyote — the lone one as well as two packs. “Cardinals in the snow” — the title of your novel, Erin.

  8. Take care, I wish I could send some of our California warmth your way.

  9. Jack,

    Here in Bernalillo, NM, we have had no gas since 9:00 this morning and they can not tell us when we will. Besides me being cold I worry about my water pipes busting. The temperatures have been in the minus degres and if we do not get heat tonight I am going to be one frozen Popsicle.

    • I have been getting tweets from Taos about the natural gas being shut down. You all are in more of a crisis than us. We had one blackout, but out here the propane dealer has run out of fuel. That’s not a big deal since we use electricity, but folks are suffering.

  10. Pingback: Lilly’s Mound: early Winter morning | Sage to Meadow

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