Relative Something

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

Archive for July 2017

Eleanor

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Words on Images

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Getting Trim

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We made visible progress on the grounds yesterday by finally cutting the middle section of pasture that hadn’t been mowed all summer.

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We haven’t even installed the tarp cover of the gazebo next to the round pen yet, which reveals the lack of workshop activity in the early season of 2017.

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That is changing now. We are cranking up preparations for a shot at accomplishing a summer’s worth of workshops in the final month. The horses have been patiently waiting. I think they are getting excited seeing the increase in maintenance of the grounds.

They can tell it’s soon time to do what they do best.

Now all we need is people interested in discovering what the horses have to offer.

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Multiple Gifts

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It may seem like backward logic, but we really view guests visiting Wintervale as a gift to us, in contrast to visitor’s thinking of it as a gift to them to be able to immerse themselves in the peaceful aura of our forest, fields, flowers and animals. We all win!

Preparing the grounds to accommodate a stroll, otherwise known as “mowing the grass,” is something that needs to be done anyway, but it is a little more fun to do when I know someone is coming soon. It is way too easy to let things slide if Cyndie and I are the only ones who are going to see it. So, expecting guests is a form of inspiration.

Of course, the other incentive is that there is so much to be done that I don’t dare neglect any one thing for too long or the whole operation would get away from us.

We have other gifts to be thankful for today. We are enjoying the gift of healing as Cyndie continues to make progress recovering function after her shoulder surgery, and I am enjoying the gift of her being able to once again handle the power trimmer.

She took it upon herself yesterday, while I was out on the lawn tractor, to start the engine and get the trimmer over her head and onto her good shoulder. I asked how she got it started.

“It was hard. I had to stand on it and pull the cord with my left hand.”

Once she has it running and in position, holding the handlebar and swaying the business end to and fro actually puts very little stress on her weak shoulder.

We will be picking up momentum now in a push to conquer the relentless growth of summer and get the property ready for a busy month of Wintervale workshops. With Dunia Morales graciously offering to come from Guatemala to help lead sessions with Cyndie, we are looking to recover some business from the shortened summer of shoulder repair.

What a gift!

We are lucky to have so many.

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Written by johnwhays

July 29, 2017 at 9:51 am

Near Miss

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Are you as amazed as I am that our three chickens continue to survive ranging freely around our property, despite our having done nothing different to protect them in the time since some predator decimated the flock of nine birds?

It almost seems counter-intuitive that something would attack the large group of birds, but now no critter has bothered with the three that remain. Maybe with such low numbers, it isn’t worth the trouble of stalking them compared to the easier pickings of attacking a large flock.

None of this factored into Delilah’s thinking yesterday.

While Cyndie and I were unloading bales of hay from the pickup and stacking them in the shed, we let Delilah hang out with us to watch. Cyndie had hooked the leash to the front of the truck.

Meanwhile, the three chickens wandered over to peck at the mess of hay shrapnel that falls from the bales. I’m guessing they were growing used to seeing the leashed dog and didn’t feel particularly threatened.

Everyone seemed to be getting along just fine, until Cyndie decided the charade had gone on long enough. She told me that she meant to shoo the chickens away and was planning to remove Delilah from the captive spot to take her for a walk and get her away from the constant tease of free roaming chickens, which surely was tempting fate.

Except that the moment Cyndie processed that thought, (when I think she may have indeed made some sound toward the chickens to back them off) Delilah exploded against her restraint and ruptured the webbing of the harness that held the ring to which her leash was hooked.

Delilah chased, the birds panicked, and Cyndie and I both screamed at the dog with all our energy. The chickens ducked the fence into the paddock, which slowed Delilah a bit, and by the time I got down off the stacked hay in the shed, the dog had paused her pursuit a short distance beyond that fence.

Was she really listening to us? Cyndie thinks so. She declared it a partial victory, because Delilah did choose to stop the chase and did, hesitatingly, come back to us. We were able to hook the leash to a different ring on her harness and Cyndie walked her to the house to confine her until she calmed down.

Disaster averted, but not for lack of trying.

Those three birds must have some special luck that they escaped unharmed again. Or maybe they have a cat’s nine lives. Yesterday seemed like the kind of ruckus that probably used up a life for a couple of our surviving birds.

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Written by johnwhays

July 28, 2017 at 6:00 am

Up North

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Written by johnwhays

July 27, 2017 at 6:00 am

Partial Trim

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The weather yesterday after work wasn’t conducive to getting a lot of mowing done with the tractor, as storms bobbed along in the thick atmosphere and brought frequent rain showers to the region. As a result, I opted to get out the trimmer to clean up some fence line because that tool is quick to start and easy to maneuver if/when precipitation arrives.

I barely made it through one tank of gas when rain clouds interrupted my progress, which left the back pasture fence line only half done.

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Getting caught up with all the mowing and trimming that needs to happen will occur in small steps this week, between occasional showers and thunderstorms. My plan is to take advantage of short blocks of time by doing a little bit of work whenever I can fit it in.

Oh, and to also stay home all weekend to maximize my availability for getting things done.

Even if it is only partial progress, it is better than none at all.

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Written by johnwhays

July 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

Growing Hope

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Our hope is growing for the maple tree we transplanted to the center of the labyrinth. If you are keeping score, this is the 4th time we have tried to move a maple sapling from beneath one of the character-filled old giants lining the driving path along the back pasture fence line.

This tree is currently holding its leaves longer into the summer than any of the previous attempts did. Between our extra effort and the favorable weather conditions this year, I’m finally allowing myself to hope this one will take, maybe even flourish!

It’s funny how much I want certain things to grow, while at the same time wishing others wouldn’t. It would be just great if the weeds currently sprouting in the hay-field would just take the rest of the summer off. I’d love it if the tree-climbing vines would cease and desist. And the poison ivy that is thriving here could make me very happy if it would just shrivel up and die.

Maybe I should try to transplant the things I don’t want. I could do a mediocre job and watch them wilt away.

Do plants fall for reverse psychology?

The growth along the fence lines has been neglected for too long and has become both a nuisance and an eyesore. Cyndie, back when she had the use of both arms, was doing a heroic job of landscape maintenance using the Stihl power trimmer. In her absence, the fence lines have been ignored, as I’ve been putting my focus on the lawn and the main part of the fields.

As it is, I haven’t even kept up with the fields. There is still one section of pasture that I haven’t cut all summer, and it has gotten about as overgrown as possible.

Even though I am behind on the mowing, it occurred to me last night that we shouldn’t feel too bad about the state of things. Over the last two weekends, we have given up over 4 days to entertainment activities which borrowed entirely from time I would have been tackling chores on the property.

It appears that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to interfering with my ability to get things done. I better review Wintervale’s time-off policy and see if there has been a violation of the guidelines.

Now, if I could only figure out where the HR department is around here…

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Written by johnwhays

July 25, 2017 at 6:00 am

Enough That

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That’ll be enough of that. I’ve changed the login password so the animals won’t be able to babble on here again for as long as I can avoid it. I’m grateful for their help and everything, but I think it is best delivered in small doses with long intervals between.

We had new help tending to the ranch while we were gone and they did a spectacular job of caring for animals and property. It makes our time away that much more enjoyable. Our fun was guilt-free.

Flying to Barb and Mike’s lake place worked out fabulously. In just a blink of an hour we were there. It was a wonderful weekend of palling around with treasured friends, eating out, shopping, playing games, boating, swimming, hiking, visiting, cooking/eating/cleaning, taking in a movie, sharing stories and laughter.

Happily, the weather cooperated in allowing us to fly home on schedule, without conflict.

It was a priceless weekend. Thanks, Mike and Barb!

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Written by johnwhays

July 24, 2017 at 6:00 am

Three Chicks

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With John and Cyndie still up north, the chickens will take their turn at guest-blogging for a day. Hold your applause until you’ve actually read their scratching.

Still Surviving

Barred.1: Is this thing on?

Buff: We are typing this out silly, not clucking.

Barred.2: Run away!

Barred.2: Oh. Never mind. Thought I saw the dog.

Barred.1: Please don’t keep doing that. You trigger memories of the massacre.

Buff: Do John’s blog readers know about six/sixteen? Oh how we miss our lost sisters.

Barred.1 & 2 at the same time: [unintelligible]

Buff: But we still have each other.

Barred.2: And we have our safe tree over John’s compost piles, despite their efforts to convince us otherwise.

Barred.1: Why won’t they let us roost there over night? It saved me back on six/sixteen!

Buff: I think they are afraid that snazzy coop John built might go to waste if we don’t sleep in it overnight.

Barred.2: Seems like as soon as you convinced me to join you in that tree they started knocking us out of it with brooms.

Buff: I heard John and Cyndie talking about getting more chickens. I’m not sure what I think about that. She raised us since we were a day old. How do we just accept a flock of strangers into our space?

Barred.1: But maybe they will know how to lay eggs. Then maybe Cyndie would take out those neon plastic ones from the nest boxes that she thought would help us figure it out.

Barred.2: Eggs! Do we have to? I thought we were just supposed to eat bugs. Lord knows, they have enough of them.

Buff: OMG. I can’t eat enough to give those horses a break. The biting flies were harassing them something awful the other day. Legacy almost squished me when he was stomping to shake them loose.

Barred.2: Well, Cyndie has been trying to coax us to the coop at dusk with so many raspberries, I worry about my figure if eat insects all day too.

Barred.1: [squawk!] Hah! I know! But she’s so cute with her sweet little-girl cooing voice, I can’t resist.

Buff: Were we supposed to be writing something for the blog?

Barred.1: What’s a blog?

Barred.2: Some relative thing John does in his spare time, I think.

Buff: They are supposed to be home tonight. We can ask him then.

Barred.2: Can you wait until Cyndie serves up  bedtime treats before you ask?

Barred.1: You’re such a chicken.

Barred.2: Takes one to know one.

Buff: [buc booaaaack!]

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Written by johnwhays

July 23, 2017 at 6:00 am

Dog Speak

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John is out of town for the weekend and has asked the animals to fill in for him for a few days. Today, Delilah gets a chance to “bark,” and to do so without John or Cyndie hollering, “NO!” at her every time she does.

I Didn’t Mean To…

First, I just need to say, that joke about, “Squirrel!!,” …it’s really getting old. I’m sorry if we canines have a heightened sense of chase instinct. Other than that, hello! and consider this my face-wash of a happy dog greeting! There is so much to tell you about now that John has given me this unprecedented access to his blog thingie.

Did you know he asked the cat, Pequenita, to write for today before he asked me? I think he was just trying to be nice to her, because he sees how smitten she is with him. He absolutely knows I totally own her. That’s why he always feeds her first, trying to show me how high and mighty the little meow machine is around here. I see right through him. I can drape my paw over her back any time I want to and she just sits there with a stupid cat expression on her face.

She thinks she’s all that because she gets to roam free all night when I am imprisoned in my crate. Whatever.

What can I say? Dogs and cats. We are what we are.

Now, dogs and chickens… That’s another thing altogether. I didn’t mean to end that chicken’s life when I raced up and grabbed her with the soft grip I’m so practiced at using. When I do that to the baby rabbits around here, they never seem to have a problem with it.

I think the bird probably had a weak heart and couldn’t survive the excitement of seeing me up close. I’m a lot to handle, I know. I get that.

Hold on a second, I need to go bark at the window again. There’s nothing out there, but I still need to do this regularly to make a good impression. I mean, what if there was a rabbit/bird/squirrel/deer/cat/another rabbit/raccoon in the yard and I missed it? What would that do to my reputation?

I’m sorry if I’m panting too much. It gets to be a habit in the summer, between this thick coat I wear all the time and the pent up energy from confinement. Yeah, I brought that full-time leash rule on myself. I admit it.

A girl’s gotta run, you know. And when you’ve got legs like these… combined with my nose! Oy! I don’t blame John & Cyndie for their precaution. <yawn>

Squirrel!!

Dammit. Pretend you didn’t just see that.

I was doing so good for a while there, too. You should know, it’s taken all I can muster to paw out these human-like word sentence things and not just type, “Are they home yet, are they home yet, are they home yet…”

It’s a dog’s life, I tell ya. <bark! bark, bark!>

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Written by johnwhays

July 22, 2017 at 6:00 am