Relative Something

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

Archive for August 2020

Maturing Wonderfully

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The chicks have grown into pullets as they enter their seventh week and have completely mastered a routine of roosting in the coop overnight and romping in the fenced front yard all day long.

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Over the weekend, I found myself drawn to wander down to visit them on two separate occasions to just lay outside the fence and hang out. They have already devoured all the greenery that previously existed inside the fence so I’ve become a source of treats, dropping blades of fresh green grass inside for them.

When they pick up a blade, it often sets off a frenzy of thievery as nearby chicks move in with attempts to steal it away for their own.

By supplying these snacks I appear to be cementing my reputation as a friend-not-foe because they already come running excitedly when I announce my arrival with my best falsetto-voiced chicken greetings.

They are doing so well thus far we are wishing we could just skip ahead to merging with the adults and letting them free-range right now. Luckily, the adults made a few threatening gestures yesterday along the fence line to help me see the value of waiting until they are much closer in size.

It is good to see they are growing in familiarity with the antics of the twelve new chicks. That’s the whole point of the netting, giving them a chance to see, smell, and hear each other, but with a barrier for protection from aggression.

What’s not to love? I think they will get along famously when the time comes. The four new breeds are just so adorable!

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Written by johnwhays

August 31, 2020 at 6:00 am

Garden Lesson

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Of all the things we have learned in our first year of growing a produce garden, one discovery is standing out larger than all the others, literally.

Cyndie was thinking of the reputation zucchini has for growing like crazy and producing more squash than home gardeners can find uses for. Instead, she naively opted for an alternative that sounded more petite: Cupcake squash.

OOPS!

There is nothing petite about the beast that we ended up with. It quickly climbed up and over her perimeter fencing and continues to sprawl unconstrained with some of the largest leaves we’ve ever seen. At first, all this incredible growth wasn’t producing any squash, so Cyndie did some research and discovered she needed to pollinate them herself. The bees weren’t getting it done naturally. After reading how to identify the male and female flowers, she armed herself with a cotton swab and set about giving nature an assist.

The results were soon evident.

They may be small like cupcakes, but it appears this alternate squash can be just as prolific as the prodigious abundance of the more common zucchini.

Cyndie’s looking up a recipe for cupcake squash bread right now.

I’m looking forward to her taming this cupcake monster that is taking over such a large swath of our garden and surroundings.

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Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2020 at 9:36 am

Even Jim

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I don’t know how obvious it comes across to those of you who regularly stop by my daily dose of “things and experiences” but it is generally my habit to avoid overtly naming targets of my discontent. That is primarily a result of my house of glass being particularly vulnerable to thrown stones. Not that I ever strive to completely conceal my true opinion, however.

I tend to avoid getting into a fray that involves two directly opposing views whose participants are unlikely to waver from each of their own stances. Few, if any, issues are clearly and precisely “either one or the other” due to the reality that inequality and the reserve energy stored within is naturally inclined to move toward equilibrium and a static state.

The world is much more a mixture than it is a stash of separated ingredients.

Still, there are people who want not to perceive it as a mixture. They find ways to cope with the hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance of their views in ways I struggle to comprehend.

In the United States of America, too many have allowed themselves to accept outlandish, bizarre manipulations of reality by Donald Trump and the mysterious cadre of sycophants who enable his narcissistic kleptocracy that is wreaking havoc on this nation.

For four years I have wondered who could stop this. Each protection woven into the threads of our democracy appeared to unravel as abuses were pressed into it. At one time in my life, I perceived impeachment as an incredibly significant event. These days, it seems like a discarded tissue after wiping a nose.

Now it has come to this. Even famously apolitical comedian Jim Gaffigan has thrown in the towel on appearing immune to the spectacle of destruction. He tweeted the f-word!

If Jim can take the risk to stand up against the idiocracy, I can, too.

People responded to Jim’s outburst, complaining that as a comedian, he shouldn’t be making a statement about politics. But the same people want a failed businessman who hosted a reality tv show where he fired people to be their political leader.

Some Trump supporters defend their choice as a quest for morality and law and order. How do they fail to see the dissonance between their goals and the person they elected to get them there? How’s that working for them? Do they believe any of the lies spoken by their President?

Enough is enough, I say. Too much, even.

I’m with Jim.

One responder to Jim’s tweeted rant commented, “…couldn’t disagree with you more. Wish you saw the truth.”

In the face of two such completely opposing views of what constitutes truth, me thinks someone is failing to mix all the ingredients.

Personally, I see Donald Trump as a blatant liar.

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Quick Learners

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Tuesday night, Cyndie was crawling in the dirt and chicken shit underneath the coop to wrangle chickens back into the coop after their second day romping in their fenced front yard.

Last evening, I couldn’t leave the bedtime chore exclusively to her for the third night in a row, so I volunteered my help. When we arrived, Cyndie assumed they were all cuddled in the darkness beneath the coop. I stooped for a closer look and couldn’t find a single bird.

After only their third day out of the coop, they let their instinct guide them to return to their house as darkness approached. All twelve had put themselves to bed.

I picked the right day to offer my help.

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Written by johnwhays

August 28, 2020 at 6:00 am

Visual Textures

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Wood and stone as captured at the lake last weekend. I have this urge for my eyes to absorb the views in a tactile manner, not just gaze upon them. Staring longingly will have to do.

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Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2020 at 6:00 am

Timid Start

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Given how bold the chicks seemed to have become since gaining familiarity with their coop, we half expected them to leap at the chance to escape and explore once we opened the door for them.

They “chickened” out. Despite plenty of gentle coaxing from their chick-momma, it took manual transferring to finally get their feet on real ground.

Even with that, we only got 10-of-12 to come out and explore the fenced run we installed for them. That was good enough for us on their first day under the open sky.

More time was actually spent under the safe cover of the coop itself. The three adult hens wandered nearby, showing occasional mild interest in the new feathered chirpers. I got an impression from the Australorp that she was looking for an opportunity to give a few of them a piece of her mind, as she stalked in close a couple of times to see what the young ones were up to on the other side of the netting.

One of the Light Brahmas decided to sprint back up the ramp shortly after the excursion began, but other than that, just as I suspected, none of the others made it easy to get them to return indoors for the night.

We’ll increase the time they can be outside a little each day for a few days to a point where the door can stay open during daylight hours and they can come and go as they please. Based on how voraciously they chomped grass blades and green leaves in the short time they were out, I suspect they will eliminate anything growing green within the run in a matter of a few days.

I don’t expect they will be timid about coming out of the coop for more than another day or two.

I’m as eager as ever to get them melded as equals with the three adults so we can remove the barriers splitting the coop and give them the full space to share. It will make a lot of things easier about cleaning and feeding when we get back to our normal way of doing things. But with an interest in avoiding a failed attempt, we are going to be very patient about waiting for obvious signs the time has arrived.

It’s still our first time dealing will all the intricacies of introducing new chicks to existing adult hens and we want to give all parties involved the best chance of having the introductions proceed without any “unnecessary-roughness” penalties needing to be flagged.

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Written by johnwhays

August 26, 2020 at 6:00 am

Summer Growth

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We’ve got beans and peppers coming in from Cyndie’s first produce garden ever!

Last night for dinner we ate cauliflower from the garden, too. We’ve eaten some beets, potatoes, and carrots. Cyndie has used celery from her garden in a stir-fry and sandwich spreads.

We are enjoying bountiful summer growth.

Meanwhile, the fledgling chickens are growing into their half of the coop with ease. They wasted no time making their way to the two main roost branches where they happily perch on the same level with the three adult hens who come inside every night.

Last night we finished securing a fenced run that will allow the younger chickens to venture outside for the first time. This afternoon we will begin the exercise of establishing their pattern of being outside during the day and returning to the coop at dusk.

Based on previous experience, it involves a fair amount of chicken-wrangling the first few times that I’m not very excited about. Here’s hoping they figure out the drill as quickly and easily as they have mastered everything they’ve achieved thus far.

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Written by johnwhays

August 25, 2020 at 6:00 am

Two Shots

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Two views of wildflowers to compare and contrast.

It happens.

I captured these two shots on the hill behind the beach up at the lake. The combination speaks to me of the impending end of the summer season.

Or, of someone pulling petals to recite, “loves me, loves me not.”

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Written by johnwhays

August 24, 2020 at 6:00 am

Happy Place

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We’ve had a pretty good few days of lake-place pleasure, despite yesterday’s doses of thunderstorms that disrupted most activities except for the napping. Unfortunately, on this most gorgeous of mornings with a promising-looking day of lake weather ahead, we are going to venture home to tend to the landscaping chores there before the work-week begins again.

Grass and garden are growing wild. The lawn is tall and tomato plants are heavy with fruit. Our getaway weekends need to be brief. (In case you didn’t notice, I took an extra day off work last week and we hustled up here on Thursday, so ignore my comment about it having been “brief.”)

I strolled down to the beach moments ago to absorb a good dose of the lake view in the early light and found a squirrel busy in the oak tree branches overhead, trimming and nibbling acorns that were then unceremoniously raining down on the sand.

We may be leaving, but I have soaked up the view to take with me for a balm against the onslaught of the daily grind that lies ahead.

It’s our happy place.

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Written by johnwhays

August 23, 2020 at 8:27 am

Not Suffering

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Just a little rain up here at the lake yesterday afternoon, but we are living the life of luxury, regardless.

Breakfast on the deck.

But earning it by taking care of that too-long neglected task of tending to the gutters on the backside of the house. Out of sight, out of mind, you know.

After I dug for long enough, I actually found a gutter underneath all that mess.

More family arrived yesterday afternoon and we dined like royalty and stayed up too late playing cards.

It’s another classic summer weekend ‘at the lake.’

Aahhhhh.

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Written by johnwhays

August 22, 2020 at 8:15 am