Relative Something

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

Archive for September 2020

Rocky Crowing

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I haven’t heard it in person yet but by Cyndie’s description, our little cockerel is working on his crowing. Yesterday, while I was at work, she texted to report “Rocky the Roo crowed three times”! At that point, I had yet to receive the sound file she included, so I simply relied on her words.

While reviewing my messages last night, in search of another of her fabulous photos to include here, I saw the recording had loaded. I don’t have the up-to-date know-how that would allow me to add the actual sound bite to this post, but I expect I will be able to share a recording eventually. Certainly, as Rocky gains mastery and consistency, I plan to capture some video of his skills, but for now, you’ll have to settle for my description.

His little learning crow was cuuu-uute! In fact, it was tri-syllables that phonetically sounded like: Err-a-errrrr.

Now, just combine that sound with the vision in this image and you get a fine taste of the idyllic life we are enjoying lately at our little paradise.

Yep, that’s Delilah lying in a “socially distanced” position away from the chicken coop.

This all serves as a welcome cleanser of my brain after having witnessed a few too many minutes of the Presidential debate last night that was far from anything resembling presidential.

Err-a-errrrr!

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Written by johnwhays

September 30, 2020 at 6:00 am

Two Angles

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Cyndie has become quite the photojournalist of late, supplying the majority of images I have been using in my posts. Here are two from differing angles capturing the early fall color we are enjoying this year.

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Taken over the last two days, you can see how just a little direct sun really amps up the boldness of color in the leaves.

I recently saw maps showing the percentage of peak color for Minnesota and western Wisconsin that indicated the county where we live was ahead of the surrounding area. We aligned more with the amount of color seen up north early on.

It’s a wonderful perk, except that it likely means we will lose leaves sooner and extend the monochromatic months of bare branches.

How’s that for two angles of looking at a situation?

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Written by johnwhays

September 29, 2020 at 6:00 am

More Clearing

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On Saturday, we worked on the north side of our property. Yesterday, we directed our attention to the south. It has been several years since I properly worked to clear the drainage ditch that runs along most of the southern border of our property.

The first winter we were here I saw how the accumulated snow piled up against the neglected growth of brush and small trees in the drainage path. It acted as a dam and caused water to overflow the ditch during the spring melt. I remedied that for the next season by cutting out the trees and mowing the length of the ditch.

Lucky for us, the overflow poured into the neighbor’s field that year, not ours. He never said anything about it, but I’m sure he is happy seeing the attention I have given toward keeping the ditch clear since then.

I was complacent last year and skipped doing any cutting, so the random volunteer trees were able to establish themselves a little more significantly than I’d prefer.

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After first clearing each end of the ditch with the power trimmer, the rest was a cinch with the brush cutter on the diesel tractor. Well, that is, after pruning some branches that interfered with the upper portions of the tractor. Once we trimmed those, I just backed my way the length of the ditch and returned.

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Voilà.

Let the water flow.

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Written by johnwhays

September 28, 2020 at 6:00 am

Pondering Still

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In a simple reflection of the stressful current events that hardly need listing, my days are splattered with competing demands commanding my attention. I’m growing weary of the constant exercise of redirecting my energy from the angst-inducing to the peaceful loving focus I prefer.

I should be rewarded by the project of clearing brush we worked on yesterday in the uncharacteristic high humidity, but the slow progress was overshadowed by the pall of troublesome political, societal, and environmental issues simmering in a brew of the coronavirus pandemic stew.

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The front (or eastern) half of the northern border of our property has a natural fence of uncontrolled growth that I have long sought to turn into a wall by trimming it like a hedge. A year or so after we moved here, I made a first swipe along the span, cutting back the existing growth. In the ensuing years, I have gained enough confidence to cut the “hedge” much closer to the very old and mostly buried barbed wire fence that long ago defined the property line.

Yesterday’s effort was nice to accomplish, but it was a sweaty struggle against the frustrating strength of entangled vines that fought back unendingly against our every attempt to clear branches. The grey clouds hung low and the high dew point temperature gave the September air an odd thickness that was the opposite of inspiring freshness.

For all the progress we made, stepping back to look at the distance that still remained to be cleared revealed how little had actually been gained. It felt all too similar to the issues of social justice that are far from being accomplished.

The world at large does influence each of our own individual environments. If anyone is suffering, we all suffer.

A new Minnesota poll just released highlighted a variety of details related to the pending U.S. Presidential election. One that resonated in particular for me was how the level of education reflected the differing amount of support for the two main candidates. I think that speaks volumes.

Don’t ever vote stupid. Get educated on our democracy. Become smart enough to recognize integrity.

Imagine if we could vote in a government that would work to protect citizens from stupid ideas. Oh to have a Federal Government that would swiftly and intelligently address the pandemic. Oh to have leaders who would uphold the intent of our protections against harming the environment. Oh to have leaders who could enforce financial ethics guidelines.

Oh to have the entire length of our “hedge” shaped by the time next spring’s growth begins to expand it once again.

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Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2020 at 10:32 am

Wandering Ponders

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There are times when putting on music that inspires my personal tastes, music which soars to the greatest depths of my vibrational energy and reaches the core of my being, brings on a rush like a drug.

I love that.

I have come to understand the belief that we make our own luck. Both good and bad. I also believe there are powers beyond our knowing that seek to cheer us on and want the best for us. I believe this more than I think there are powers that work against us.

There are enough circumstances, and our own shortsightedness, to balance that scale against our ultimate success.

I am dismayed over a sensation about the human race too often falling victim to the selfish greed and power worship of our nature. Despite the incredible number of people striving to do good for others, seeking true justice, full equality, better futures, a greater understanding of complex thought exercises that could lead to problem-solving advances, it too often appears as productive as pissing into the wind.

Even if one were to hold the key to fixing some current calamity, it would run smack dab into a wall of resistance and litigation to squash the solution in its infancy.

We have met the enemy. It is us.

By Ruth Bader Ginsberg achieving all that she did, we know what is possible. She didn’t do so invisibly. Obviously, she climbed to new heights on the shoulders of impressive women who came before her. It stands to reason to expect there are others currently striving to build on her legacy.

They are toiling this very minute. May they waste nary a second to launch together in pairs, in study groups, by the dozens, hundreds even, rising up to be heard, to grab positions of power, to lead in ways that would make The Notorious RBG vibrate with glee.

Something is tragically wrong when the police in a democracy get permission to barge into a home in the middle of the night without warning, triggering a defensive response that allows them to use deadly force with abandon and when citizens protest our objections, the perpetrators are held at fault only for the bullets that went astray of the innocent resident in her bed.

So many brilliant people have expressed the dysfunction of allowing corporations to call the shots. It is obvious that excessive salaries for top executives combined with insufficient pay for most everyone beneath them is an untenable situation.

Seems too obvious to deny or defend. As does doing harm to the environment. As does killing others for religious or ideological reasons.

It was said, “Never again.”

I wish.

I love when the good side triumphs. I can’t wait until we all can read about women who have achieved twice what RBG did.

I hope none of them delay for one day their rightful claims to places in history.

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Written by johnwhays

September 26, 2020 at 9:15 am

Evading Capture

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The mind moves so much faster than words. Thoughts are like delicate athletic dances as compared to the awkward stumbling of sentences and paragraphs. In the blink of my right eye, indescribable realizations swirl through my head, launching emotions and chemical responses throughout my body in immeasurable doses before a single word begins to form in my mind.

Conversely, at the times when my busy brain is babbling on with endless mindless verbiage, the words appear from an absence of actual thought. There are no images playing. The screen is simply blank. Words are heard, not seen.

As I write this, there are delectable aromas of home-baked apple crisp wafting from the kitchen. It’s distracting. The scrumptiousness defies description, but my mind knows how to interpret it and launches into one of those delicate dances. It’s a joyful dance.

It’s a dance my sugar addiction is very fond of.

My taste buds have no complaints about it, either.

Before I finished writing this post, Cyndie presented a sample, hot out of the oven. `A la mode.

This batch tasted even better than it smelled. I’d describe it to you, but, well… you know.

Think about love. Let that ethereal concept dance through your mind and you will have a vague sense of my apple crisp and ice cream experience.

Mmmm. See if that evades your capture.

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Written by johnwhays

September 25, 2020 at 6:00 am

Magnificent Days

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We are enjoying magnificent weather this week for the month of September, although in the back of my mind the very summery temperatures echo too well some of the anticipated ramifications of the warming planet.

No floods or fires in our region at the moment. Just high heat (80°F!) and evolving colors in the tree leaves.

Wandering down the backyard hill toward the opening to the labyrinth, the leaves are still primarily green. Beyond that, there are brilliant splashes of gold, orange, and red showing up with surprising speed.

Our growing season seems to be ever-lengthening, but the end of this summer’s agricultural period is undoubtedly near. The declining hours of daylight aren’t being altered by the changing climate and plants don’t grow so well in the dark.

On the bright side, I think my lawn mowing might be done for the year.

Yesterday morning at work I received a sweet text from Cyndie letting me know that she heard “Rocky the Roo'” making progress on learning how to crow. She said his call had a definite sing-song inflection that was recognizable as the vague hint toward the ultimate “cock-a-doodle-doo.”

I wonder if the magnificent weather days will be just as mesmerizing with non-stop echos of rooster crowing reverberating across our valley. We didn’t check with any of our neighbors about how they might feel about the prospect. At the same time, none of them have ever asked us if their gunshots, barking dogs, hollering for missing cats, or high RPM farm machinery soundtracks have been any problem for us.

I think it a feature, not a bug, of living in the country.

Where pretty much every day is magnificent, no matter what the sounds.

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Accidental Gamble

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Yesterday, Cyndie shared a story that required an admission she didn’t want to make. Before I expose the drastic oversight, let me just express how challenging it can be to take care of vulnerable chickens day in and day out. They are completely at our mercy to tend to their needs and watch over them.

Our methods are not foolproof, but as I drove past the barn yesterday when I got home from work, I saw our three hens calmly puttering about and looking healthy as ever. It was a reassuring postscript to the tale Cyndie had woven over the phone a little earlier during my commute.

As she described it, the first hint that something was amiss occurred as she approached the coop in the morning. There was no sound from the hens who would normally be making a ruckus to be let out by the time Cyndie normally arrives. Moving past the coop with Delilah, she headed to the barn to secure the dog and prepare servings of chicken food before coming back to open the doors.

That’s when she noticed some movement in the trees. She didn’t believe her eyes at first, and ran through several possibilities in her mind.

Those were some big birds.

Are they chickens? Could they be from a neighboring property?

No. Those were our three hens. How did they get out of the coop already!?

Cyndie worried that some critter might have compromised the door. She fretted for the health and safety of the pullets housed in the other half of the coop.

Upon arriving to find the locking bar was safely placed on the ledge above the hatch where she normally stores it during the day, she came to the ultimate conclusion that the chicken door on the back side of the coop had been left open all night long. When Cyndie had closed the front door to secure the pullets on Monday night, she had forgotten to close the little sliding door on the backside.

To our great relief, no marauding predators took advantage of her having forgotten one essential step in securing the coop for the night.

I’m pretty sure that’s a gamble she won’t accidentally take again for quite some time.

The process of closing the coop will involve some double-checks from now on, I suspect. Not unlike the step we long ago added, where we open the side hatch every night to confirm no uninvited critters are hiding inside when we close things up.

You might call that one the “possum rule.”

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Written by johnwhays

September 23, 2020 at 6:00 am

Autumn Arrives

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The autumnal equinox arrives locally at 8:30 a.m. CDT today. Despite enjoying fabulous summerlike temperatures this week, it is truly beginning to feel like fall. For one thing, the ground is dry. I think the ground has dried out only two times in the almost 8-years we have lived here. This has had a big impact on the way our woods look.

The green vegetation is much thinner than usual. The first colorful leaves are just starting to carpet the forest floor. Soon it will be impossible to see the ground and walking will become a crunching rustle of leaves with every step.

With that feature comes the unmistakable aroma of autumn.

Last night, Cyndie had a little scare when arriving at the coop around dusk to close things up after all the chickens were inside. The net fencing where she has the access point to climb inside showed signs of being monkeyed with by some unauthorized character.

Ol’ Rocky the Rooster might need to grow up real fast in order to protect his brood before they all reach adulthood.

Maybe he already did. Cyndie reported all chickens accounted for, safe on the roosts.

The amount of cover in the wooded acres surrounding the coop is quickly disappearing. That gives the free-ranging hens fewer places to hide, but it also gives any potential predators less cover for sneaking up on the girls.

I spotted a stray cat prowling in our small paddock on Sunday in broad daylight while I was walking Delilah. Our silly dog never saw the cat, but the cat saw us and made a hasty exit, stage left, where it ran up our North Loop trail out of sight.

I walked Delilah toward that direction and watched her pick up the scent and go nuts, wanting to follow the trail. I pulled rank and made her come my way, back to the house.

The Light Brahma pullet seems to be reflecting the seriousness of so much drama happening as the change of seasons launches a new batch of adventures. Their nights are getting longer and the air will soon be getting colder.

In the meantime, we are going to enjoy this agreeable autumn to the fullest.

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Written by johnwhays

September 22, 2020 at 6:00 am

Framing

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

September 21, 2020 at 6:00 am