Monday, April 30, 2012

Beating the Wind

Between June of 2008 and August of last year, I rode every day that I could, and always before 8:30 a.m. I learned relatively early on in my years here at the Farm that the weather is generally most stable from 7-9 in the morning and about the same hours (maybe a bit earlier) in the evening.  After 11 a.m. for certain, the winds pick up, and conditions change rapidly thereafter, not usually settling down again until after the sun has been past its zenith for several hours.

This weather pattern is shaped entirely by geography. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my memory are the 9th grade Earth Science terms to describe what we experience, but I can't quite bring them up, though I know I learned them.  Basically, the Farm sits on a wide, flat expanse between the river flats at 600' above sea level and a 1600' hill to the west. When the sun has been up for a few hours, and has heated up the earth here at bottom of the hill, the warmed air above the Farm starts to rise.  As this air rises, cold air from the mountain elevations sweeps down across the Farm, creating a pretty steady breeze from west to east.  This happens regularly, independent of any larger weather patterns sweeping through the region.  Add any upper-level disturbances or moving fronts, and things get wooly around here!
Google topo map.  Note the steep eastern face of the hill 200 meters to our west.

So, the only way to be certain of getting a ride in, even in quiet weather, is to do it early in the morning before the localized geographic weather situation starts rolling.  For a variety of reasons through the fall of last year and into the spring of 2012, I'd let myself forget about this.  I took that extra 30 minutes of sack time and dozed through Morning Edition until it was really time to get up and start the day.  I've been doing horse chores and school work and other silly things in the mornings, thinking I'd get some work in later in the day.

And I've been rained out/winded out/pooped out a good 87% of the time.

But this morning I hauled my buns out of bed and into the shower at 5:30, had my breakfast, did some stretching for my 40-something body, and got myself down to the barn at 7:00.  I was on Celby and enjoying the fantastic early sunshine and crisp, frosty footing in a quiet, non-windy atmosphere by 7:45.  It was heavenly from beginning to end, a perfect morning for a ride.  By 10:30, after I'd cleaned stalls and while I was filling pasture troughs, the wind was whipping, the sky clouding up with evaporated moisture from the warming Earth, and we were clearly losing the best part of the day.

I'm still planning to try to get Sherm longed later this afternoon, after some school work and other silly things, but I am so, so glad to have beaten the winds by working first thing.

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