Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

All There

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It’s all there. The good and the bad. Really, it’s always been that way. Disasters and human rights abuses are scattered throughout history, right along with the victories and accomplishments.

We can choose which of these we allow our attention to focus.

Wars take lives, medical advances save lives. Weather disasters destroy, ingenuity builds.

In my old life, the negative held an illogical amount of my attention. I aligned with the adage of Murphy’s Law, “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

When a hard day at work feels like things went wrong just because they could, it is too easy for me to slip into a dreary doldrums of woe. It is the natural direction my mind, and subsequently my body, would tend to go. It takes a conscious effort to think otherwise.

Luckily, after receiving a diagnosis of depression and being offered treatment with education, medication, and talk therapy, I learned both the ease and the benefit of choosing to think differently.

Bad things still happen, just like they always have.

Yesterday, at work, I decided to start a new adage. My natural inclination to be pessimistic shows through a little bit, but you can see my intentions are noble.

“Anything that can go wrong, might not.”

See what I did there?

Thinking positive!



Written by johnwhays

April 25, 2018 at 6:00 am

Hearty Impression

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What might the message be from this tree with an old wound that it is growing around in the shape of a heart?

I don’t know, but I’d like to think it is something heartwarming.

When we were cleaning out the landscaping around the back side of the house over the weekend, I discovered that a tie holding a maple sapling to a support stake was too tight and had begun constricting the tree’s growth. What a sorry sight to stumble upon; an occasion where my efforts to help a tree had ended up hurting it.

Trees seem to grow slowly, in general, but at the same time, there is a dramatic amount of activity happening in relatively short time spans. I think the trunk of that sapling has doubled in size since it was tied. I would have liked to see a time-lapse of that progress.

Just a week ago we were digging out from beneath a huge snow storm, and yesterday, on my drive home from work, I could already see the tops of tree clusters developing a green tinge from sprouting new buds. It warms my heart to know the leaves will soon be making an appearance.

Ever wonder how many leaves grow on the branches of mature trees? There are a lot of variables, but an oft-repeated average seen in the results of a Google search is around 200,000. That number makes my heart flutter like the quaking leaves of our poplar trees.

At the extension class we took last month to learn tricks of identifying trees, (did I already write about this?) we found out the thing that makes some leaves oscillate in the wind is the square shape of the leaf stem. It isn’t round, it has four flat sides.

Fun facts for people who love trees. Hopefully, that includes everyone. How could anyone with a heart, not love a tree?



Written by johnwhays

April 24, 2018 at 6:00 am

Nice Out

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It seems like I have fallen into a heavy rotation of posts about the weather, or at least, heavier than what I’ve normally referenced since starting this blog so many years ago. Living in the country with acres to tend and animals to care for has a way of amplifying the significance of the weather, particularly when the conditions are extreme or out of the ordinary.

As we enter the last week of April, finally having warm sunshine be the order of the day is unleashing a sense of urgency for getting into the outdoor spring chores. We started first thing in the morning yesterday, building a fire outside to burn combustibles from Friday’s garage clean-up that didn’t fit in our trash bin.

While we were out on that side of the house, we also moved all our outdoor furniture back on the deck, trimmed shrubs, and raked around the landscaping.

The afternoon was focused on the labyrinth. Cyndie did some plant pruning and raking, while I busied myself with reorienting and balancing rocks that had been felled by the long winter.

I was in the woods, digging up some additional rocks, I felt something on my eyebrow that I thought was debris that had kicked up, but when it didn’t just brush away with the back of my gloved hand, I paused. Removing my glove to better reach behind my sunglasses, my bare fingers were able to extricate a tiny tick. Most likely, a deer tick.

Happy spring!

At least it’s finally nice outside.



Written by johnwhays

April 23, 2018 at 6:00 am

Deeply Sleepy

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I mentioned in yesterday’s post about my turning the compost pile in the paddock while Cyndie brushed the horses, but I completely forgot to describe the startling incident we witnessed while there.

While we silently toiled amid the unparalleled calm of a windless spring sunny day, Dezirea was wafting off to sleep. I wasn’t paying direct attention to her as I huffed over heavy pitchfork lifting, but that changed when she suddenly jerked.

“Did you see that?” I asked Cyndie.

She had.

Dezirea was standing on the slope just beyond the overhang, facing downhill. In the warmth and serenity of the morning, she fell into a deep enough sleep that her front legs buckled. In the same way I do when my head jerks in inadvertent loss of consciousness when unplanned sleep surprises me, she startled herself back to alert.

Sort of alert, that is.

Seconds later, she did it again, except this time, she actually dropped all the ways to her knees. We both tried to encourage her to simply lay down for a serious nap.

In our thinking, we could be trusted to watch over the herd while she slept. But I can understand her hesitance. My attention was not as aware of our surroundings as it was on what I was working on directly in front of me.

Struggling to get back on her feet, instead of going down the rest of the way to the ground, Dezirea made her way around so that she was facing uphill, where she resumed the usual upright nap that horses deftly accomplish.

I didn’t take any pictures during this drama, but I do have a series of images to share. I was intending to get a shot of Hunter’s mane, which he somehow finds ways to crop short, but he picked up his head and provided these views of his munching hay, instead.


Bon Apetit!



Written by johnwhays

April 22, 2018 at 9:43 am

Clutter Rearranging

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With the weather finally making a turn for the better, yesterday Cyndie spoke about possibly cleaning up in the garage to find gardening tools. The May labyrinth Peace Walk is only two weeks away, and she wants to trim back the winter-kill on the plants before the big day.

I spent the morning rearranging the gigantic winter manure pile in the paddock, while she brushed the shedding horses as they munched hay. They are definitely ready to be done with their winter coats.

I hope that means they know the cold temperatures are done for the season.

After lunch, we started poking around in the garage. One thing led to another and pretty soon we found ourselves into a full-fledged spring cleaning effort. The kind that uncovers boxes of things that haven’t been touched since we moved in.

I finally got around to sweeping sawdust off the yard tools stand which had been there since 2014 when we had carpenters build the storage room in our basement. That’s four years of not bothering, for those keeping score.

They did the majority of sawing in the garage, and everything got covered in dust, but that tool stand was right in the line of fire and was buried. With all the rakes, shovels, pruners, loppers, and brushes hanging on the portable stand, the sawdust was deemed harmless and not worth the time.

My Achilles heel of order happens to be flat surfaces. After much of the garage clutter had been pulled out and sorted, Cyndie took advantage of our momentum and went after the workbench in the back corner that is a catch-all to a monumental degree.

Old fluorescent light bulbs, some associated fixtures, screws and brackets left over from purchased assemblies, a broken staple gun, boxes, bags, gloves, old shoes, metal rulers I didn’t know I had, an electronic work light I don’t remember.

It’s great to dig into all of this stuff, but the questions that lead to things landing on that flat surface in the first place still remain. Do we throw away or keep? If we keep, where to put it that will be of any value to us in the future? If we throw, how to dispose of the electronic or hazardous items than can’t go in our weekly trash bin?

Unfortunately, way too much of the stuff that we cleaned out of the garage yesterday made its way down to the shop, where the flat surfaces are now doubly cluttered.

The house garage now looks pretty nice, but it wasn’t really a great clutter busting effort in the end.

It was clutter rearranging.

But it’s a start.

We need to go prune some plants in the labyrinth. The shop clean up will be a project for another day, hopefully sooner than in four years.



Bigger Digs

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The chickens are out of the brooder and into the coop! They seemed pretty happy with all the new space, if a little bit confused over the unfamiliar surroundings.









Our weather has turned the corner finally, and the warmth of April sunshine is making a big difference. Time for me to stop whining about the suffering we’ve endured in the face of the extended winter that has blanketed our region.

Look at that.

I don’t have anything to whine about, and I can’t think of anything else to write.

It’ll probably be too hot outside today.


Written by johnwhays

April 20, 2018 at 6:00 am

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Let’s Move

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When they started out in the brooder five weeks ago, our chicks had plenty of room. They are now getting a little testy with each other over their lack of space.

It’s time to move to the coop.

We probably would have already moved them, except it’s been so cold and snowy.

Now we are expecting a run of warmer weather and they are going to be movin’ on up.

You can see in the photo that they are sprouting enough feathers to reveal their eventual colors. The Golden Laced Wyandottes are showing that golden lacing nicely. They all have a long way to go before maturing into their wattles and combs.

By that time, we will need to have decided whether to let them roam free or keep them confined to protect them from predators. For a while there we felt okay with last year’s experiment, but with the rash of springtime attacks polishing off the last of that brood, it doesn’t feel quite right to not try something different.

We’ll move on that decision when they start to out-grow the coop in a month or two.



Written by johnwhays

April 19, 2018 at 6:00 am