Relative Something

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

Archive for April 2016

Making Space

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Just in case we actually do get some chickens, yesterday I spent some time clearing out the area where we would like to put a coop. The spot is conveniently located close to the paddock, the back pasture, and the space where we compost manure. It is pretty well sheltered from wind, and a convenient distance from the house and barn.

There were quite a few dead butternut trees in the vicinity that I have been wanting to cut down since we arrived here. This gave me an opportunity to stop neglecting the chore.

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I don’t know how things will turn out, but even if we don’t end up putting up a chicken coop here, I’m happy to have the dead trees finally cut down. We’ve got another big stack of branches to chip into mulch for our trails, and next winter, I’ll be pleased to have the wood split and stacked in the shed for fires.

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Written by johnwhays

April 30, 2016 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Many Thoughts

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I’ve got a lot of ideas running through my head for projects we are currently considering. I’m contemplating a variety of ways we could add a shade sail in the back pasture for the horses on hot sunny days, for weather that will hopefully be arriving to our region soon.

Once again, we are thinking about ways we could teach Delilah to live with free roaming chickens on our property. We really want to add the birds as a natural predator to the unwanted flies and ticks around here. This leads to several issues to be sorted out, like what we would do for a chicken coop, and will we finally get a shock collar to assist with dog training.

We are surrounded by so many people for whom these issues are old hat. It serves as both an inspiration and a frustration. It is inspiring to have people with experience answer our queries in ways that make things sound simple and easy. At the same time, my little brain has a tendency to get bogged down with trying to figure out details they seem to gloss over when they are in the mode of simplifying for me.

Something tells me I should just take the plunge, and learn by trial and error. There’s a resonance here to the story of us repeatedly not planting asparagus because, every time we talk about it, the fact that it takes years to get established deters us from just doing it. —By the way, we finally did get a couple plants in the ground. Check back with me in a couple of years to see how that turns out for us.

Last night we had dinner at George’s and met new friends. It was inspiring and enjoyable.

Sadly, George reported he lost a ewe that left an orphaned lamb. Cyndie got excited when he said it would need to be bottle fed.

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There are no plans for us to be adding sheep in the future. That is not one of the things on my mind.

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Written by johnwhays

April 29, 2016 at 6:00 am

Feels Like

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I don’t know if it is universal around the globe, but our weather reports include a “feels like” temperature along with the actual air temperature readings. Most people don’t need to be told what it feels like. We know when it feels like the gales of November even though the calendar indicates we are in the last week of April.

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There have been enough days of increased daylight, and a few early days of spring when the temperature climbed above normal, that plants and grasses have kicked off their growth. On Tuesday, when I got home from work, I mowed about 3/4s of our grass areas. It was so chilly outside that I needed a sweatshirt, but the growth of grass down by the road was enough that I didn’t want to wait.

I figured I would finish getting the remaining portions of yard cut when I got home yesterday, if it wasn’t raining. That didn’t turn out to be the case. There were a few random spatters on my windshield during the drive, and as I neared home, I could see the falling rain in the sky to the south.

DSCN4704eCHThe cool temperatures and falling rain were enough reason to let the horses have a night indoors. Cyndie headed out into the chill to prepare their stalls. When she invited them inside, she described Legacy, the herd leader, started toward her and then paused.

She said it was as if he was uncertain whether he was getting an afternoon chance for grazing the new green grass out in the pasture, or was just being offered shelter from the elements.

The other three horses needed to halt their advance while he sorted this out. Cyndie said they weren’t being very patient about it, circling around in anticipation of continuing on to the barn, but also trying to respect Legacy’s not yet authorizing the choice.

Cyndie described Hunter eventually showing a look indicating he was done waiting. He and Cayenne came up to the gate to get inside. Responding to Hunter’s initiative, Cyndie let him come inside first. Once inside and alone, Hunter called out over being separated from his mates. Cyndie said that Legacy immediately responded with an acknowledging whinny.

She brought Legs next, followed by Dezirea, and then Cayenne.

Back in the house, we sat in front of the fire and listened to the ferocious sound of wind and rain, pleased that the horses weren’t stuck outside where they could find out what the weather actually felt like.

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Written by johnwhays

April 28, 2016 at 6:00 am

Leaping

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Leaping

Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

April 27, 2016 at 6:00 am

Springing Along

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DSCN4686eThe season of spring is springing along nicely at Wintervale. The leaves have started making an appearance on a variety of shrubs and saplings. The raspberry bushes in particular have shown dramatic development in the last few days. It is hard to tell whether the recent rains triggered this, or it was just coincidental timing, and would have happened at this time, anyway.

It amazes me how quickly the initial sprouts of foliage obscure the view into our woods. Very soon, there will be so many green leaves, we won’t be able to see more than the outer surfaces.

I’m wishing I could remember this moment long-term in order to hold it as a reference for comparison with the other extremes of  the stark bare branches of winter and the view-obscuring green leaves of summer. Every season seems to last just long enough that I mentally fall into a trap of perceiving views as if a present state is the only way it could ever be.DSCN4688e

When the forest is fully leafed out, I find it hard to comprehend that just months earlier, it was the complete opposite.

Though most areas of our yard have yet to be mowed, I already needed to cut one section a second time.

I sense that summer is just a short blink away from replacing spring, and the expanding leaves on trees and bushes will be leading the charge in the days ahead.

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Written by johnwhays

April 26, 2016 at 6:00 am

Growing Accustomed

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I had a moment over the weekend when I became aware of just how much comfort I am developing with many of the things that were beyond my sphere of exposure just a few years ago. That’s not entirely a surprise. I expected to get the hang of things in time. But, there is relief in being able to notice the progress.

I changed the oil and replaced the mower blades on the lawn tractor on Saturday. Detaching and sliding out the mower deck has become so simple and routine for me that I laughed to myself over the change of perspective about the task.

When we got the horses, I didn’t have any experience caring for a horse. It was a daunting feeling to be responsible for their well-being when knowing so little about them. I’ve grown a lot more comfortable reading their general health in the ensuing years.

I have been composting the horse manure long enough now that I am getting much better at recognizing progress, both when it’s happening, and when it’s not. It was interesting yesterday to discover that I needed to add water to piles I was turning, even though we had been receiving rain showers throughout the preceding 18 hours.

IMG_iP1340eThe micro organisms that generate intense heat while breaking down the manure, do an amazing job of drying out the material at the same time. If I neglect to turn the pile often enough, the composting process doesn’t transpire nearly as efficiently as it otherwise would.

Luckily, I’ve grown accustomed to having manure management be a significant part of my contribution here.

What can I say? I’m good at shoveling it.

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Written by johnwhays

April 25, 2016 at 6:00 am

Quick Transformation

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DSCN4680eI am so pleased with our decision to get a wood chipper attachment for our tractor. We have an unending supply of branches available for chipping and we have a need for wood chips on our trails.

In a rewardingly short amount of time, we were able to convert an unwanted pile of collected branches on the edge of a trail, into conveniently placed mounds of raw material for “paving” the paths.

It really feels like double dipping. Like having our cake and eating it, too.

There is even an added bonus of saving us from needing a gym membership to get exercise. Last night I could really feel the body fatigue from the constant motion of bending and lifting, done at an accelerated pace to keep the chipper fed while the diesel engine races along at optimal revolutions.

So, it has actually proved to be a 3-in-1 device! It’s a perfect model of efficiency.

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Written by johnwhays

April 24, 2016 at 6:00 am