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

Archive for August 9th, 2014

Things Change

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CAM04245jkI suppose the transition will never be complete. Everything, including ourselves, is in constant transformation. In a couple of months we will have completed our second year living in a rural setting, now with 4 horses, a dog, and a cat. We moved from our home of 25 years in the suburban area where we had grown up, living those last few years with no pets at all. The transition has been monumental for us.

Since we arrived, I learned how to drive our diesel tractor (12 forward gears, 4 reverse). We adopted 2 cats, one of which has been returned. We found a fence contractor who helped us design a new layout, cleared scrub brush and trees, and installed paddock and hay-field fencing. We cut a new trail through our woods to finish a loop. We added a gravel driveway around a new hay shed we had built. We built a 70-foot diameter labyrinth garden, now officially named the Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth, after our dear friend, Ian Rowcliffe, who has influenced and inspired us immeasurably in this adventure. I built a wood shed and then dismantled it after it blew over in a storm.

We discovered a Belgian Tervuren dog breeder not too far away and brought home beautiful Delilah, a 9-month-old puppy. After bolstering the stables and barn walls with new planks of wood, we eventually got around to adding horses; 4 beautiful Arabians. The dream for this property, and for the modifications to it, have all been centered around the plan to have these horses, even though at the start, we weren’t sure from where the horses would come.

DSC03241eThis summer I found myself pulling a hay rake behind my tractor and helping my neighbor to bale our hay and it felt like the transformation had reached a real milestone. This was almost like being a real farmer. I’ve certainly spent enough time digging around in our manure pile to at least feel like a rancher. I’ve planted, transplanted, fed, watered, and also cut down, split and chipped enough trees to feel like a lumberjack.

In July of this year, Cyndie started a new job which triggered the decision to have me stop working in the Twin Cities and stay home full-time to manage the property and animals.

There are still some significant projects pending which are looming large. We need to get drain tile and landscaping done to improve drainage around the paddocks, and we are adding the next phase of fencing to enclose a grazing pasture.

Our transition is nowhere near complete, but as we approach the accomplishment of our second year here, we are seeing the benefits of the changes we have made and noticing a feeling of significance for where we are now, in light of where we have been. We find ourselves pausing more often, to sit in our rocking chairs on the hill overlooking our back yard and take it all in.

Delilah, born about the time we bought this place and so also approaching two years old, now sits with us by the rockers, instead of running around chewing on everything. A very welcome change, among many.

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Written by johnwhays

August 9, 2014 at 9:40 am