Relative Something

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

Archive for April 2019


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Written by johnwhays

April 30, 2019 at 6:00 am

Little Help

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We moved a lot of hay bales over the weekend, but in so doing, came upon a little surprise. Unexpected company had taken up residence in the hay shed.

What I thought to be the squealing of baby bunnies turned out to be raccoons. One of our customers spotted the mama moving around after we took the bales from over her nest site. We decided to seek assistance from a wildlife removal professional.

By the time the pest control guy arrived, all was quiet in the shed. We had no proof that the critters were still in there, but he said they had probably just gone back to sleep.

There was no sign of them in the spot where we first heard them, but I knew where to look next, because Delilah had showed me. Earlier, when the mama must have moved her babies, they resumed their squeaking frustration. Delilah and I just happened to be walking up the driveway at that time and she heard their cries through the back wall of the shed.

The intensity of her response to the sounds included her attempting to dig through rocks after them. That provided a precise location to present to our new wildlife assistant.

He was so close to a textbook capture. Inches. One inch, actually. I saw it. There was the tiniest hitch as our guy tried to pull the snare loop closed around the mama raccoon, and that’s all she needed to step all the way through it. Then the game was on.

She climbed up to the rafters. She skittered back and forth. Eventually, she made a huge airborne leap to escape the shed. Too bad for her, she chose to seek cover in the immediately adjacent culvert. Her options shifted entirely in our favor.

With a cage trap on one end of the culvert, we used a little water pressure from the other end to inspire her to move into it. The babies were a little easier to contain, although they were much older that expected, all five of them.

The pest control service comes with a guarantee they will relocate the evicted wildlife over 25 miles away.

Problem solved, …thanks to a little help.



Written by johnwhays

April 29, 2019 at 6:00 am

Sad Laughter

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It wasn’t funny, but we found ourselves laughing over the absurdity. I feel a need to rationalize this tale of Cyndie’s-and-my-collective-failure, with more detail than is probably necessary. For those who prefer a “too-long; didn’t read” synopsis: Cyndie sold our ATV trailer, but I had no intention of letting it go.

The confusion between us goes back in two phases: to last year, when I sold our old lawn tractor, and to our current “passing in the night” level of connection lately.

I will give her credit for remembering that there was a trailer I told her we didn’t need anymore. That would have been last fall, when I sold it, along with the old Craftsman lawn tractor. Unfortunately, last week, when she was preparing to sell anything that wasn’t permanently affixed to the barn, she came upon the ATV trailer.

She thought it was the one I didn’t need.

I wrote that she converted the barn into an equine boutique, but among all the horse care products, saddles, and tack, there was fencing equipment, pitch forks, a 100 gallon stock tank, …and a trailer. I didn’t notice it at first.

So, the day after she gets the barn all set up, she flies to Dallas for a conference, notifying me that I had two appointments to cover, for people interested in our sale. I described this at work: My wife went out-of-town, leaving me home alone, and scheduled two appointments for women to come over and give me money.

The response was, “Isn’t that illegal?”

The first customer arrived Thursday night and spotted the trailer that I hadn’t even noticed was there. I told them that wasn’t for sale, and we joked about my wife selling things out from under me. Later, while pouring through multiple printouts of items and prices that Cyndie put together, I found that she did  list the trailer for sale. I was flabbergasted.

She got home in the middle of the night, Friday, and as I wrote yesterday, the morning was all about the weirdness of the fraudulently purchased packages. (One more arrived in the mail yesterday.) While Cyndie was in the middle of frying eggs for breakfast, there was a knock at the door. It was a shopper for horse stuff.

I stayed in the house, grateful to no longer be responsible for trying to price Cyndie’s sale for friendly strangers who want a better deal. A short time later, Cyndie returned and I good-naturedly asked if she sold anything.

There it was.

She sold the trailer, among other things.


I blame myself for not moving it out of the barn immediately when I discovered it. But, it was wedged behind a table of items and I didn’t want to mess up her wonderfully arranged displays. I should have put a sign on it that said, “Sold.”

I should have brought this up for discussion the moment she got home. While we cursed, whimpered, and laughed over what had just happened, I could see the moment she figured out the trailer I didn’t want was the other one. Understandably, she feels just awful now.

That trailer would have come in handy for a couple of chores I did yesterday.

We’ll probably use some money from her horse stuff sale to buy a replacement for the trailer she sold.

I’m trying to laugh about it, …to keep from crying. Sometimes, life imitates sitcoms.



Written by johnwhays

April 28, 2019 at 6:00 am

First Flowers

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That didn’t take long. A day after the new green of freshly sprouting leaves appeared on the raspberry bushes, the first flowers of the season blossomed on the forest floor.









I don’t actually know what kind of flowers they are. Searching flower images brought me to Wood Anemone as a close possibility, yet I never found results that definitively matched ours.

Cyndie is home again this morning. She arrived to a stack of packages and mail that arrived while she was away. Her rummaging around last night after midnight woke me up. Those packages? She whispered that she hadn’t ordered any of them.

A week earlier, while she was in Florida with her parents, she received notice from her credit card company, checking on purchases. Cyndie still had possession of her card, but hadn’t used it while in Florida. The fraudulent purchases were being made over the internet. So, how does credit card fraud work when you order online? Couldn’t authorities just check where the packages are sent?

Well, not in this case. The fraudster had the items sent to our address.


The last place Cyndie had used the card was at the airport parking lot. Getting out again was a trick, because she had canceled the card earlier in the week, as soon as they notified her of the unauthorized purchases. How do you get your car out of the ramp a week later?

Apparently they have a plan for that. Must happen often enough. There is a button you can push for help. The voice told Cyndie that, since she still had possession of the card, she could swipe it to get the amount owed, and then use a second card to pay.

What is making much less sense to us is, the credit card company’s response about our receiving the packages from the fraudulent purchases. An agent told Cyndie, “This happens all the time” in reference to purchasing goods and having them sent to the card holder address. I’m guessing she misunderstood what Cyndie was asking.

I know fraud happens all the time. I don’t see why thieves would frequently order goods they don’t receive.

Cyndie was told she needed to return the items, or would be charged, but the agent didn’t have a good answer about how we get the return shipping paid for by someone other than us. At this point, even the conversation with the VISA agent was sounding shady.

Cyndie had immediately reported the activity as fraud and canceled the card. Seems to me that nothing after that point should be her responsibility.

I suppose the whole charade could simply be a way to prank someone. Three identical, extra-large hoodie sweatshirts. Makeup. Perfume. Shoes. A dress.

We’re not laughing.



Written by johnwhays

April 27, 2019 at 9:59 am

First Green

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It feels like our growing plants are kicking into high gear now that snow has melted away. The first bushes to develop a green crown are the raspberries.

The grass is showing signs it will need to be mowed before too long. That is, if it doesn’t all get killed by the army of tunneling vermin whose population appears to have mushroomed exponentially around here. The footing is treacherous at every turn.

It sure would be nice if a natural predator would materialize to control their numbers so we wouldn’t have to do something about it ourselves. We’ve tried ignoring them, but that has proved to be a futile strategy.

I read that stinky castor oil will rid our yard of moles and voles. It said not to apply before it rains. Yeah, like we know when that is going to happen. The most predictable thing about our weather is that it is very unpredictable.

One thing I am confident predicting is, it is going to get very green around here in the near future.

Tree leaves are coming soon. Yahoo!



Written by johnwhays

April 26, 2019 at 6:00 am

Sale On

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What’d I tell you? That girl doesn’t do things halfway. In a single day, Cyndie transformed our barn into a spectacular equine boutique. Then she fled town and left me to handle the first two customer appointments on my own.

There is a conference of some sort in Dallas that has been on her calendar for some time, but she found a way to do a couple of weeks worth of work in two days before leaving, so that she would be ready to capture this weekend’s target audience of horse folks headed to the Minnesota Horse Expo at the state fair grounds in St. Paul.

It feels strange to no longer have horses living with us.

It is so bittersweet. It’s what we wanted, while also being not at all what we wanted. Obviously, we can’t have it both ways, so it is time to reconcile the reality of our here and now.

We are giving new life to perfectly good equipment so it can serve the purposes for which it was created, as well as bringing pleasure to folks who will find beneficial treasures for their horse activities at reasonable prices.

I’ll be trying to keep that in my mind, but I gotta admit, this all feels rather disorienting for me.

I must be adjusting some already though, because I’ve noticed several instances lately of flashing back to not all that long ago when I had absolutely no horse experience whatsoever.

I guess it would come as no surprise that I had a dream a couple of nights ago that was set in our old Eden Prairie home.

It makes me chuckle to look back at my old self there in the suburbs and contemplate how oblivious I was about where I would end up in the twenty-teens.

Horses? Uh uh.

Not until I visited Ian in Portugal.

I’ve come a long way since then.



Written by johnwhays

April 25, 2019 at 6:00 am

Everything Goes

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I remember this energy from the days after we first moved here. When Cyndie puts her attention to a specific project, she gets down to action and does it big. I am more inclined to wade in slowly, spending a lot more time contemplating and plotting, before breaking a sweat on the labor.

In 2013, I understood we were about to get horses, but it didn’t occur to me that we would need almost everything horse-related that Fleet Farm sold.

Now we have returned the horses to their old herd. When I got home from work yesterday, I came upon a startling sight. It looked as if the barn had regurgitated its entire contents out of both ends.

Everything must go! Buckets, mats, blankets, fans, ropes, brushes, fencing, toys, books.

I’m wondering if Cyndie is trying to eliminate anything that reminds her of our days owning horses.

She has cleaned and catalogued everything, posted flyers with photos and prices, and included her phone number. The calls making claims on the goods are underway.

It reminds me of the beginning, just flipped and going in the other direction.

Everything goes, on a massive scale.



Written by johnwhays

April 24, 2019 at 6:00 am