The Wind is Not My Friend

The view is serene. The winds you cannot see here were anything but.

I purposefully took this photo yesterday during the peak of some high winds we have been receiving here at our little ranch house. The scene in the picture is very deceiving as the wind was fierce despite how calm it looks. In fact, for the last two days, we have been taking a pounding by stronger-than-normal winds:

Ambient Weather station wind charting today in mph from our home weather station.

I tried to step outside onto our back deck through a sliding patio door to take the above photo of the western view. On inching the door open it was clear by the roar of the winds that I was about to see all of my worldly possessions go scattering across the floor, so I quickly shut it. The photo was instead taken through a window.

Now that’s wind, friend.

And it really is getting difficult to live with. Powerful winds once in a while is one thing. But this week’s our top gusts have hit over 87mph. That kind of wind makes one’s mind go a little stir crazy when it keeps going.

As I type this post, my house is vibrating. I use a small Dell XPS laptop and the screen is actually shaking here on my dining table where I am seated. As are the floors, the furniture and if I stare at my windows long enough, I can see them flexing and vibrating as well.

Now, is it always this windy? No. But it regularly is over the 50mph+ range and the descriptions above still occur even if not quite at the intensity we are at this holiday weekend here in the US.

Just the act of bringing in the groceries from our detached garage becomes a physical feat of prowess to not lose everything to the wind. I’ve learned to use zipper grocery bags as if the bag is open it’s likely something is flying out.

I’ve lost my sunglasses off the top of my head once (found them later).

I nearly injured my wrists trying to wrangle fly-away pegboard sections when having to face the wrong direction of the wind.

Even today, my husband had to run across the prairie land to chase down a runaway METAL BARREL that had been upended from inside a fenced in loafing shed. As in he had placed inside of a wooden fence and somehow, the winds today took it up and over. Granted it was empty, but still!

There is no choice in what waste container you use out here – everyone uses heavy metal dumpsters. But why in the name of all that is smart in this world are the lids plastic? We keep trying to get one with a heavy metal lid but so far no luck. Currently we use sandbags to hold down our dumpster lids but the wind still blows the lids off and back.

Let’s think about that one: We sandbag our trash dumpster. And it doesn’t hold.

And the house. We have one of those two-sided propane fireplaces which is really quite pretty to see it run. But on these windy days, the entire inside of the chimney right down to the logs becomes its own wind instrument with loud bass tones you can hear from every place in the house. How we haven’t broken some part of it yet mystifies me.

I sleep listening to music and audiobooks every night (a habit I had before we moved here). I use what I like to think are pretty nice earbuds with noise-cancelling features. And yet the wind still wakes me up a lot of nights.

By now if you’ve made it this far in the blog post, you are probably wondering – why did you buy this house then, if the wind is so bad? Well dear reader, this is because there was no wind when we found the house and toured it. Not one gust or any indication of what was to come in the winter months. Just a lovely little current that softly blew through the house in the remaining weeks of August and September when we toured and made our offer. We thought it was quite nice, actually.

Oh had we known.

The next time we look to purchase a home in a rural setting, we’re checking local weather trends and history. I will be asking our realtor for a PowerPoint presentation, thank you.

For the foreseeable future though, you’ll find us holding firm here on our little ranch against the legendary southeastern Wyoming winds. And here is hoping that this is really just seasonal and we get to enjoy a calmer spring, summer and autumn soon!

Cat Nap Nooks & Crannies

Fury finds the warmest little nooks and crannies to curl up in and catch a cat nap no matter where she is. Yesterday I found her trying to nose into the opening of a insulated grocery bag so I took her cone off and let her enjoy nearly an hour of supervised “no-cone time” in the bag.

It makes complete sense: It is small, enclosed and warm. Not to mention it gives a crinkly sound and feeling to her little black beans when she walks on it. (Fury LOVES things like this – tissue paper, packing paper…anything that crinkles).

Photographing Fury can be difficult in shadows as with all black cats, unless she is in direct light, she is her own little black hole that all light and contrast disappears into.

But difficult photographs and all, she’s our little cutie and we adore her for the sweet love she brings to our family every day.

A Majestic Avian Encounter

A few times since we have been living on our little ranch atop this knoll/plateau (I have no idea what the appropriate geologic term would be for where we are), I have thought I glimpsed a pair of golden eagles. There have been 2 huge birds of prey that briefly soared by our back deck and it has been an uncertainty for quite a while as to what I saw.

Today found my husband and I sitting in our family room with very gray and overcast skies when he startled me by saying “Look!” and indicating out the large windows overlooking our valley. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I realized just what glided by our porch railing. There was no mistaking this winged visitor.

For the very first time in my life I was in the presence of a real bald eagle.

By the time I had jumped to my feet, grabbed my camera from the side table and taken a few steps to the window it was already hundreds of feet higher than our deck.

Unfortunately, no detailed or close-up shots this time. It was only luck and a 200mm lens that got these “barely there” pictures. These are edited, cropped within an inch of their life and zoomed in as far as I could reasonably go.

But what a treat to see this majestic bird in person for the first time. Strong and solitary, it glided up the air currents of our hills and valley as if it had been flying here since the beginning of time.

After I snapped as many pictures as I felt worth trying for, I stood barefoot on our porch stairs with temperatures in the thirties taking in the moment. Who knows, it could be years again until I see another one.

Maybe never.

What an encounter. I hope it returns someday and I can record this beautiful creature with the kind of visual representation the emblem of our country should have.

Local Antelope

Part of our local herd of antelope heading up one of the hills below our home.

We often seen antelope that come through our property and the adjacent state land (aka “BLM” or Bureau of Land Management land). I took the photo above on my way back to our house as they were heading up the hill to our back yard.

They are quite skittish and mostly keep to the wide open spaces. It’s a sight to see them run. As our fastest land mammal, they can clock upwards of 55mph. (My husband refers to them as speed goats). I’ve spooked them near our home before and they are amazing sprinters and will zig zag to avoid predators.

Grazing most of our front yard.

Lo and behold, once I parked my vehicle in the garage and allowed the yard to return to quiet again, they began hopping over and stepping through our wire fences to graze our land.

Grazing near our loafing sheds.

This was just a few antelope of the overall herd that often wonders through. The vast majority of them stayed off our place but this group must have felt a bit more brave in wanting to explore the remaining patches of prairie grass we still have here in winter. While the natural grasses here look yellow and dead, they are very much still alive.

The antelope moved here and there across our front yard and then began to head back towards the sunny plains beyond the shadow of the hills.

Back into the sun and more grass to graze.

They finally joined the rest of their herd which was already wandering off to the south. In no hurry, they meandered along their journey of grazing and avoiding people and cars.