Relative Something

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

Archive for the ‘Chronicle’ Category

Different Problem

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Well, the horses didn’t eat through the bales in the slow feeder boxes in one day, but they seemed to have a different problem with one of the boxes. This is what I found when I got home from work on Monday:

I wish I could have seen how they went about tipping this onto its side because it isn’t just pulled over forward. It’s too close to the wall. It is possible they pushed it backward after tipping it, except there were no drag marks anywhere. It looked like the box had been picked up, tipped forward, and then set down on its side after moving a little back toward the wall.

I reoriented the box and there’s no evidence either box has been messed with since. The one on the other side had been emptied by the end of the day on Tuesday and this one was empty when I got home from work yesterday. It doesn’t seem as though they are having any difficulty eating through the metal grate as the hay disappears all the way down to the bottom of the boxes.

Speaking of different problems, Light has a very annoying habit of stepping on the side of her feed pan and dumping the contents onto the sandy limestone screenings below. It’s not good for them to eat their feed off the sand. Ingestion of sand can build up in their intestines and cause problems.

We’ve tried putting a mat beneath her pan, but she does a pretty good job of kicking that around, too.

The other day, I sat nearby and kept a hand on her pan when she started feeding, moving it each time she picked up a leg to step onto it. I think she then just started stepping more to make a game of it.

It was a bit of a game actually because the horses are constantly flinching and moving legs in response to irritating flies. Sometimes she was stepping to shoo flies and other times she wanted to stomp on her pan.

I eventually tired of my role and left her on her own after she’d eaten more than half the serving.

As I was scooping poop in the paddock I glanced up to find she had moved over to Mia’s pan and had made quick work of flipping that one completely over.

Of course, she then set about eating any leftover pellets out of the sand.

It’s unfortunate that a little nuisance of bad habits could lead to a different problem that harms their health and well-being later on.

When Cyndie gets home, we may take our mitigation efforts to the next level and mount a feeder for Light that won’t be so easy to spill.

“Just wait until your mother gets home!”

Yeah, I’ve been using that line with all the animals for most of the week.

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Written by johnwhays

September 16, 2021 at 6:00 am

Spider’s Nest?

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There is a corner of our large paddock where the grass has grown pretty tall that I wander by frequently when pushing the wheelbarrow during manure management duty. I recently came upon what looked like a well-shaped hole formed out of the surrounding grass, almost like some burrowing animal was making a nest.

Being a person with no interest in getting surprised by a snake, I am hesitant to make close inspections in areas of tall grass. I didn’t see anything obvious at the bottom of that hole in the grass from my safe distance of slightly leaning forward.

A couple of days later, the hole seemed even more well-defined, and this time, there was an obvious occupant present.

Looks like a garden spider to me.

Does anybody know if the spider might have created that “hole” or is it more probable she was simply taking advantage of an excellent location somebody else had already made?

If it wasn’t the spider that made that nicely rounded nest in the grass, was it a bird or maybe a rabbit? Seems like all the birds around here prefer to make their nests in and around the barn ceiling and eaves. If we still had chickens, I’d expect to see that hole filling up with precious eggs, based on past experience.

I think it was the spider, but I have no idea if that is even possible.

Anyone out there have knowledge of the capabilities of Argiope aurantia?

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Written by johnwhays

September 15, 2021 at 6:00 am

Temporary Truce

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It doesn’t happen often, so I hastily grabbed my phone to capture the moment yesterday afternoon when cat and dog weren’t behaving like cantankerous siblings. Who swapped our pets for well-behaved lookalikes?

They are probably commiserating with each other over Cyndie’s disappearance from their lives. It’s certainly not my doing. Maybe they are compensating for my increasingly grumpy countenance.

I’d like the day-job and our customers to offer up a truce but that won’t happen this week. We are a person down due to a vacation and there aren’t enough hours in a day for me to accomplish both my tasks and theirs. I added yesterday back in as an on-site day, but I can’t work late at all this week because I need to get home to tend to our animals each day.

Delilah and Pequenita seem to be picking up on my grouchiness and are making a concerted effort to not let me influence them negatively.

Luckily, there is plenty of beauty to absorb around our house that boosts my spirits. I can never remember what plant is on our trellis, but this swirly growth sprouting from it is fascinating:

We received a little thundery rain last night. I think the drought may have accepted a truce of its own.

I just don’t want more precipitation to trigger massive grass growth. I’m already grumpy enough for the time being.

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Written by johnwhays

September 14, 2021 at 6:00 am

Getting Bolder

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Even though the number of trees around us that are starting to show some colors of autumn is few, a couple took a jump yesterday toward premium brilliance. Those spots of bold color are particularly eye-catching.

That dot of redness stands out distinctly against the green around it. When this happens, I imagine what that tree would look like if all the leaves changed to the same degree at the same time.

Around the corner from that area is a maple tree turning orange.

I hope this is an indication of fall color intensity we can look forward to seeing more of as the month progresses.

I heard that the ever-changing sunrise and sunset times are moving 3-minutes per day about now. That’s a loss of 21-minutes of daylight this week. Could less sunlight mean slower grass growth finally?

I’m ready to be done mowing for the season. I suspect we still have a ways to go until I can park the mower for the winter.

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Written by johnwhays

September 13, 2021 at 6:00 am

Incidental Accents

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I suffer to imagine how plain my world might become if I lived alone. Once again, I am tending to the day-to-day alone while Cyndie is away from home. My meals have become embarrassingly simplified. I don’t change sheets, I wash the ones I just slept in and put them right back on the bed. I move from one chore to the next methodically, practically.

Too often, I take for granted the myriad enhancements Cyndie bestows upon our surroundings. Incidental accents that subtly enrich my environment, not only visually, but energetically, too.

As much as I like having alone time, the void created by Cyndie’s absence greatly impacts the cost/benefit ratio.

Where do the magical flower blossoms come from that are scattered along our pathways? I don’t have anything to do with them. That’s all Cyndie’s effort.

I usually walk past all the places she stashes them without noticing, but the other day, I spotted this one that looked like it was reflecting the expanse of starry space, light-years beyond our planet.

That priceless morsel wouldn’t be here if it were left up to me at this point in my life.

I might fail to pay worthy attention to the flowers, but I will never fail to appreciate that the compliment of Cyndie’s and my way of doing things is so much more than just the sum of two parts.

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Written by johnwhays

September 12, 2021 at 10:03 am

September Eleven

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Twenty years later, I’m pausing to remember my trauma of that day, witnessing so many other peoples’ trauma over the unimaginable death and destruction unleashed by fanatical terrorists hijacking commercial jets containing passengers to use them as explosive missiles.

I spent the first moments, and then the unfolding hours, trying to grasp the reality that such things could be happening. We didn’t learn of the events after the fact. We witnessed much of it as it was happening. I’ve never really liked hearing the sound of a commercial jet flying overhead after that day twenty years ago.

This morning, I turned on some of the television coverage of memorial events being held at the three locations where the planes crashed. In Minnesota, they read the names of people from the state who were killed that day, as well as Minnesota members of the military who died in the wars since.

Thinking of John Lennon’s lyric “Imagine there’s no countries…,” how many more names would need to be recited if loved ones from Afghanistan were to read the names of all who died in the twenty years since.

Meanwhile, in the idyllic surroundings of our home on this beautifully warm September day, we are living life in peace. The first hints of color continue to slowly transition in the panorama of trees along the edges of our woods.

On this third day of being the only person feeding our animals, they are all settling into my way of doing things. On Thursday evening, the horses demonstrated a fair amount of uncertainty navigating the feeding routine, but as I have adjusted my methods and they’ve responded willingly, this morning was as serene as ever.

Having watched Swings lose as many pellets out of her mouth as she consumes, I’ve started soaking her servings in a little water first and that seems to be making it easier for her. We had hoped having their teeth floated would help her more than it appears to have done.

This morning I decided to try again to use the hay boxes I built. They were powering through a single bale so fast the last time we tried using these that we switched to providing the net feeders from which they were used to eating.

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If they make it through a bale too fast today, I’ll plot a modification to the grate that might slow it down to something comparable to grass-grazing speed, if I can guess what that actually is.

It seems illogical to me that they would prefer dry hay bales over the two large fields of fresh grass that we provide them full access to day and night, but I’m not a horse. I trust they know why they make the choices about what to eat.

As rescued thoroughbreds, they know about memories of trauma.

Today we are soaking up the peacefulness we have been afforded and adding another day of distance from the source of our past traumas.

We will never forget, but we will always seek that world where we all be as one.

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Written by johnwhays

September 11, 2021 at 10:01 am

Fateful Ignorance

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Twenty years ago today we didn’t conceive how everything would change on the following day. Nineteen hijackers knew what they were going to do the next day. The first had arrived in the United States almost two years earlier and the others gradually showed up throughout the following months.

They lived among us. Some underwent flight training in Florida. We didn’t have a clue.

Brings to mind my similar naiveté on January 5th this year. I didn’t conceive that the fanatics who believed the lies they were being fed about a stolen election would attack police and storm our nation’s capital in an attempted insurrection. They all knew what was going to happen the next day. Pipe bombs were planted, equipment gathered, transportation arranged.

For the last twenty years, we have been hearing threats of other possible attacks from foreign terrorists. In the months since the January 6th uprising, we have heard warnings about more attacks on our democracy that continue to loom.

After a while, we tend to grow numb to the alerts. I’d like to hope the FBI and CIA are on top of all the pertinent details so I don’t need to live on permanent alert, but history reveals that didn’t work for 9/11 or 1/6.

If I let myself think too much about it, my mind questions whether some group with ill intentions is busy today making their preparations unnoticed while we go about our daily business in cluelessness.

One way to offset that horror is to focus on what happened 50-years ago yesterday. John Lennon’s “Imagine” was released on September 9, 1971. Yesterday, the lyrics to the song were projected onto iconic buildings and landmarks around the world.

NPR included a segment about the song in their Morning Edition. I urge you to listen: NPR: John Lennon released ‘Imagine.’

It provides priceless context and analysis.

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Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

No religion, too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace…

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Written by johnwhays

September 10, 2021 at 6:00 am

Wild Sky

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The sky was alive with energy last night when I took Delilah out for her evening walk.

It feels like that energy is going every which way.

Delilah’s energy was a little off-kilter when I decided to take her out. Cyndie left yesterday for a trip with her mother to visit Barry and Carlos in Boston and Maine for a week. Cyndie had been gone for under a couple of hours when Delilah started waiting at the door to the garage for her return.

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It’s going to be a long week if she keeps up with this perseveration.

Of course, after about six days, I will be joining her at the door, similarly pining for Cyndie’s eventual return.

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Written by johnwhays

September 9, 2021 at 6:00 am

Mighty Oaks

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Today I am celebrating the mighty oak trees outside our door with a brief photo montage of three particular aspects that appeal to me: acorns, leaves, and the canopy of leaves.

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They fall to the foot of the tree and, with the help of squirrels, find their way far and wide, sprouting in so many unexpected locations.

Leaves also fall to the foot of the tree with surprising regularity throughout the summer. I’ve come to the realization that trees shed little branches like humans shed strands of hair.

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I love looking up at the canopy of leaves overhead. We have learned from our local DNR Forester that oak trees will sacrifice their lower branches when other trees grow up from below and begin to crowd the space and make contact with the oak branches. We are slowly working on an ongoing process of freeing our prized oak trees of competition from below.

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Written by johnwhays

September 8, 2021 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Local Drama

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While I was mowing down by the road yesterday, an Ellsworth police vehicle pulled over to speak with me. He got out of his SUV and walked toward me, so I shut off the lawn tractor engine. He asked me to assist in watching for a missing 16-year-old girl walking on the road. After he provided a description of what she might be wearing, I asked if she wanted to be found.

He said, “No, she doesn’t want to be found.”

If I spotted her, he just wanted me to call the non-emergency number to report it and hopefully keep an eye on where she goes.

The next few times I was in a position to view the road from my seat on the lawn tractor, I saw no walkers, but I did notice several vehicles moving very slowly along the road and the police SUV making a return pass from the opposite direction.

While I was showering before dinner, Cyndie reported there was a man in our yard asking if we’d seen his daughter. Cyndie said he had come out of our neighbor’s woods and was disoriented. He didn’t add much detail to indulge our curiosity except for the fact she had been missing for three days, plus the interesting morsel that there were about 30 volunteers currently searching the woods who may also pop out onto our property.

A short time later, a couple who live up the road showed up at our house with a little more detail. The girl had been reported in a camping trailer on the property of the neighbor whose woods border our land on two sides.

The police showed up and saw her run off into the woods.

That is why all the attention is in the woods around us.

The neighbor couple urged us to secure our outbuildings. Cyndie locked our shop but not the barn.

I don’t know what to think. I feel for both the girl and her family, but not knowing anything about the circumstances, it’s difficult to frame how I want to respond if she turned up on our property.

We now have both the father’s contact information as well as the police.

If this girl decides to hide somewhere on our property, I’m pretty sure Delilah will sniff her out long before we would notice. We will be paying more attention than usual for a while to all the times Delilah starts barking for reasons that evade our perceptions.

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Written by johnwhays

September 7, 2021 at 6:00 am