Relative Something

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

Archive for the ‘Chronicle’ Category

Eggs Soon?

leave a comment »

Lately, we’ve been wondering how close our chickens are getting to their egg laying stage. One of the signs is when the wattle and comb develop and reach full color. Ours are growing at various rates.

Even among the single Buff Orpington breed, there is a range of maturity.

I checked my blog posts from last year to see when the first egg showed up. It was August 8. This year’s batch were all born a week earlier, so if their growth is similar, the beginning of next month could be the start of the daily egg gathering adventures.

I sure hope the predators around here stay focused on wild game for a good long time.

The other day I noticed these twelve have taken an interest in dismantling my woven stick ramp into the coop.

I’ve patched it up a few times, but they always go back to pulling out sticks. If they keep it up, it’s going to be a BIG step to get in to roost at night.

Maybe they know something I don’t. How big a gap would it take to discourage snakes from wandering up to get inside?

Just because they are chickens doesn’t mean they aren’t able to make an occasional intelligent decision, don’t you know!



Written by johnwhays

July 21, 2018 at 6:00 am

Relishing Serendipity

leave a comment »

Maybe it was related to our pending departure to the lake with our precious friends, Barb and Mike, that had me feeling particularly giddy, but when additional serendipity iced my cake, I was moved to relish it to the fullest.

Several times this week, we were striving to match schedules with the auto body shop to apply some last touches to conclude, once and for all, the repairs related to my deer incident. It took three more tries than it should have, but yesterday they completed the task and I was on my way to pick it up.

On the drive, I received a call from the hardware store surprising me with news that our trimmer repair was already completed. I would be able to pick it up on my way back home, saving an extra trip.

That eliminated the immediate concern over deciding whether to buy a second trimmer, or not. Another occasion to add to my history of delaying decisions long enough that an answer ends up materializing all on its own.

Now, if all has gone according to plan, this morning we are up at the lake for the weekend again. After the last two visits, when the internet connection was unusually dubious, I have chosen to fall back on my old vacation mode of scheduling a few “Relative Something” posts in advance.

My car is done, the trimmer is repaired, the hay-field is getting cut, and we are off with friends for the weekend.

I am relishing the blessings and last evening’s serendipity to the fullest.

Here’s to practicing the art of soaking up the joys available in the everyday.



Written by johnwhays

July 20, 2018 at 6:00 am

Incremental Headway

leave a comment »

Baby steps.

With visual progress toward our goal of getting our hay-field cut underway, we are experiencing a noticeable easing of stress carried in our bodies and on our minds. I wish it were enough to offset the ongoing feelings of dread over the bizarre happenings lately with the leader of our country bashing our allies and being overly friendly with despots.

Our Homeland Security touts the mantra that if we see something, we should say something. Um, we are all seeing it, and plenty of people are saying something. Why can’t anyone stop this ongoing governmental train wreck underway?

I try to compartmentalize, in order to carry on with my immediate world of influence without being entirely distracted by the national despondency, but I’m not fooling many people with my feeble attempts.

Seeing the three measly cut rows of our field being baled was a sweet minor victory for us. It looks so much better than the weedy field it was becoming.

Then we walked back up to the house and I spotted this:

The siding is sagging on our bird house.

I kind of like the look. It gives it added character.

But, in that moment, it felt like the teeter-totter of our experiences had just flipped from hopeful to gloomy in way too short a time.

Really? Even the bird house is falling apart?

I blame it on the sorry state of our government.



Written by johnwhays

July 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

Making Decisions

leave a comment »

With everything around here growing at warp speed, now would be a really bad time to lose the services of our Stihl power trimmer. Isn’t there a law of probability about this?

While Cyndie was making headway against the grass jungle taking over the gazebo on Monday, the trimmer became “wobbly.” She discovered the main drive shaft tube had suffered a metal-fatigue fracture.

That’s not good.

I dropped it off for repair in the evening, but their backlog of work is running at two weeks. It’s scary to imagine not being able to trim for that many days.

Cyndie thinks we should buy another one, and I am hard pressed to argue. There have been many times when we both could be trimming at the same time.

Pondering this. Something about it doesn’t feel right. I’m driven to balance the logic of a cost-benefit analysis, a crystal ball vision of what our future is here, and that unsettling gut feeling about the expense. Then I need to deal with the fact there is no right or wrong answer in the end.

You know me and decision-making. It’s not my favorite thing to manage.

One thing that I’m glad that we weren’t relying on me to decide, yesterday we got the details from our neighbor about his plan for the hay-field. It makes total sense to me now.

While he was cutting on Monday night, he was listening to the weather forecast. The outlook for rain all day Thursday was holding strong, so he smartly stopped cutting any more than he thought he could get dried and baled by the end of today.

We received encouraging news from him about our fields. He said the grass is real thick underneath, likely due to the mowing we did all last summer. In addition, he clarified that the tall grass going to seed was not Foxtail, as Cyndie feared (which is not good for our horses’ mouths), but the premium horse hay staple, Timothy.

We still have a long way to go in our transition from suburbanites to Ag-wise country folk.

(Brings to mind my stuttering pause into the phone when I was asked what kind of cows were trampling our property a couple of weeks ago. Um, big ones?)

Amidst the angst of dealing with equipment failures, it is refreshing to learn some good news about the outcome of our efforts to improve the quality of what is growing in our hay-field and pastures.

Despite all the challenges that continue to arise (and decisions thus required), Wintervale continues to evolve in an encouraging way for us.




Barely Started

with 2 comments

I don’t know why I would expect this year’s weather to be any better for getting our hay-field cut and baled in a timely manner compared to the previous five summers. It’s past the middle of July and we are still waiting on the neighbor who volunteered to tackle the job for us.

All the mowing I did last year to discourage weeds and give the grass a boost looks to be marginalized by the vast number of new weeds reaching maturity out there today.

I had hoped the field would get cut in June while I was on my bike trip, but Cyndie reported rain almost every day I was gone. Then there was the 4th of July holiday week, followed by more days of rain. The window of dry weather this week is very short, but Cyndie spoke with our neighbor and he confirmed our field is still in his plans.

I expect he needs to get his fields cut first. When I got home yesterday, I spotted him cutting a field on the corner.

Finally, last night we heard the tractor in our field. By the time I got out there to witness the scene, he had cut three passes inside the fence and was driving away down the road.

Did something fail on his equipment? Did he just run out of time? We’re hoping to talk with him later this morning to learn his status.

From the looks of the forecast, more rain is expected on Thursday. This doesn’t leave much time for drying, based on my understanding of the process. At least we have a spell of dry Canadian air over us currently. That goes a long way in determining how quickly the cut grass will dry.

Last week’s mid-70° dew point temperatures weren’t doing much toward helping anything to dry out.

Meanwhile, we have already purchased and stored enough hay for the year, so we don’t actually need this as much as we simply want the field cut, and are hoping someone could use the bales.

While walking the three freshly cut rows last night, Delilah was in her glory to investigate the scene. In no time at all, she had sniffed out the body of a decent sized rodent and consumed it faster than either Cyndie or I could react to dissuade her.

That’s really queasy-making, I tell ya.

Here’s hoping our neighbor’s barely getting started cutting last night will change over to completely finished by the end of today.




Written by johnwhays

July 17, 2018 at 6:00 am

Pushing Back

with 2 comments

Cyndie put in a heroic effort yesterday to win back our river stone patio on the side of our house. The ground cover growth had overtaken the surface with such gusto that it looked like our property had been abandoned.

Our summer weather has been very friendly to growing plants this year, both the wanted and the unwanted.

I pulled in the driveway after work one day last week and came upon a curious row of garbage bags filled with plant remains. My first thought was, now what?

Earlier in the summer, after our visit from the regional DNR Forester who taught us about the importance of controlling the invasive garlic mustard, Cyndie did a super job of focussed eradication. He emphasized the requirement of bagging and discarding the plants that have been pulled from the ground, because if you leave them lay, they will simply put down roots and regenerate. So bag them, she did.

I was going to be shocked if this large new collection of bagged detritus lined up on our driveway was from a previously undiscovered patch of garlic mustard.

Upon my inquiry, Cyndie described thinking she was just going to pull out some wayward unwanted growth under the pine trees in our front yard. Turned out to be a massive woven web that went on and on and became a full-fledged landscaping project in its own right.

To be safe, based on what we learned about the garlic mustard, she decided to bag it, just in case.

Yesterday’s growth wasn’t so threatening, just prolific in an open area of river stones.

Luckily, the recent heavy rain (3-inches on Thursday) has softened the soil to ease the extraction of unwanted growth. Cyndie produced impressive results reclaiming our patio area in the high heat of a classic July day yesterday.



Written by johnwhays

July 15, 2018 at 9:56 am

Sibling Dinner

leave a comment »

My Hays siblings don’t gather often, but whenever we are all able to be in one place at the same time, it’s a real treat. Last night, we met at Elliott and Wendy’s house in Richfield for dinner.

The weather was HOT and HUMID at the beginning of the evening, but just as the grill was getting ready for cooking, heavy rain began to fall and that cooled things off a little. Elliott braved the downpour, beneath his hanging umbrella over the grill, and prepared chicken and burgers. The rest of us were to bring the sides.

The delicious coleslaw and a spicy white corn concoction that Judy and Mary brought were dwarfed by the massive collection of desserts that they and Cyndie laid out on the table.

It ended up being a little dinner, and a LOT of dessert.

I particularly enjoyed some of the reminiscing about the different memories of mealtimes when we were young. I asked if there was pressure to clean our plates, because I don’t remember any, yet have always tended toward that behavior. Apparently, there was some history there. Mary recalled Auntie Kay was one source of that message.

I remember our father at mealtimes asking if there was a fire, or “Where’s the fire?” in the sideways manner of getting us to notice how fast we were eating. Elliott said that eating fast offered the best chance of getting any seconds.

It’s been a heck of a lot of years since we were all kids eating around the same table, but for a few minutes last night, I enjoyed a glimmer of some of those times with my brothers and sisters.

I feel very lucky to have such wonderful siblings.

What’s not to like? They remind me, in so many ways, of me.



Written by johnwhays

July 13, 2018 at 6:00 am