When the rest of Columbia County was dealing with freezing rain and sleet at the end of January, Barney Morris and his grandson were playing in the snow - and not the kind provided by Mother Nature.
Morris, of Belglade Road near Grovetown, bought a snow-making machine after Christmas for the purpose of making snow for his 3-year-old grandson, Blake Bell, to play in.
"He said he wanted some snow to play in, and I said OK," Morris said.
He spent $400 on the machine at www.snowathome.com, a Web site that not only sells snow-making equipment but also includes the science of at-home snow-making; snow-making forecasts, including temperature and humidity predictions; and a wet-bulb chart showing when snow-making is possible.
So far, Morris said, he's used the machine to coat his front yard with snow four times: just after Christmas, Jan. 26, Jan. 30 and Feb. 6.
"The first time I made it, that was ice, really," Morris said.
He starts making snow at about 4 a.m. during the coldest temperatures.
"I have learned something new every time I do it. I learn better and easier things to do," he said.
Snow can't be made by simply spraying water into the air on a freezing day. Snow-making begins with the machine, hooked to a pressure washer, spraying two mists of cold water high into the air.
A lower nozzle points a water stream down, where 90 pounds of air pressure from an air compressor fan it out. When the water mist hits the water from the lower nozzle, the water changes to snow.
"It is so neat to watch," Morris' wife, Sue, said of watching the flurry of fine snow coat her yard.
Morris said his best snow-making effort was Jan. 26, when he coated his entire yard with three inches of fine, but wet, snow.
Passers-by, including school buses, often stop to marvel at the snow-covered yard in the middle of a neighborhood filled with the brown grass of winter lawns.
Blake didn't really know what to do with the snow at first, but once he and his grandmother built a snowman, he got the hang of it, she said. Morris, who had knee surgery Jan. 25, said watching from the porch was enough for him.
"Watching him is all I need," he said.
Blake, who lives nearby, gets dropped off at his grandparents' house between 7 and 8 a.m. to play in the snow for a while before heading off to day care.
"He tells the kids at school he played in the snow this morning. They laugh at him," Morris said.
Blake simply responds that his Papa made it.
Morris said he hopes to be able to make snow at least a few more times before spring arrives. He said snow would be the perfect addition to the family's already huge annual Christmas light display that folks line up to view.
"I really want it at Christmastime," he said.
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