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

Archive for the ‘Chronicle’ Category

Thriving Eight

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Despite the risk of jinxing the prosperity that our eight chickens have been enjoying all summer, I can’t help myself flaunting their surprising continued free-range survival on these unprotected acres.

Two Black Australorps, three Golden Laced Wyandottes, and three Buff Orpingtons continue to thrive. They’ve had pasty butts, gotten broody, chosen “unauthorized” nesting sites, and survived last year’s harsh winter and this summer’s heavy thunderstorms. They lost a sibling to a devious possum and dodged an eagle that I saw swooping through the trees in a failed attempt to grab one of them.

That last fact now triggers a new level of anxiety whenever we spot one of the many bald eagles in the area circling low overhead, which I have witnessed them doing twice recently.

Still, our chickens hang together for the most part and seem genuinely happy about their lives.

I did find a “soft” shelled egg in one of the nest boxes yesterday, so one of the hens might be dealing with some new anomaly.


Is This Possible?

From the potentially too-good-to-be-true files, yesterday I heard tell of an entity that pays decent money for space to place unwanted horses. A salesman who stopped by to deliver a quote on replacing the boards on our deck told wonderful stories about his days as a racehorse owner.

He described an acquaintance who couldn’t afford her property and was planning to move, until some company contacted her and offered to pay a reasonable amount to use her barn and fields to keep their unwanted/rescued horses.

“Heck, yeah, I’m interested!”

He promised to look into it and forward a name and/or number we could contact. Can’t hurt to inquire. If they supply the hay and pay to use the barn and pastures, I would be happy to accommodate them.

My inner skeptic is not quite as inspired as the rest of me, but I won’t let that prevent my creative imagination from visualizing unbelievable possibilities.


Month’s Worth?

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Many times I have wondered what it must have been like to live before there was a national weather service and electronic communication to spread forecasts for days ahead. If that were the case today, I’d have no idea there might be a lot of rain on the way this week.

The prediction suggests a possibility of receiving a month’s worth of rain by the end of the week.

Yesterday afternoon, I emptied a half-inch from the rain gauge at the top of our hill and a full inch from the one by the labyrinth. If the graphic on the right proves accurate, we could receive 3 to 4 more inches, or beyond.

Our home is located just above and between the words Red Wing where the graphic shows the darker red color marked by the yellow cloud as “Locally Higher Amounts.”

Higher than three or four inches? Oh, joy.

It is just a forecast, though, and doesn’t come with a guarantee of that amount of rain actually falling here.

The land is already wet, so any amount of rain will add a level of significance to this. All I can do is watch what happens and respond as issues arise.

We are approaching a time when it won’t be possible to use a measure like “month’s worth.” We won’t know what constitutes a month’s worth of rain when the pace of change in our planet’s climate starts to run away exponentially.

There are countless reports that such a result lies ahead in our future. We just don’t have a firm universal prediction pinning down the timing of how soon it might occur.

I have a sneaking suspicion it could end up being within my lifetime.

I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.



Written by johnwhays

September 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

Sports Binge

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I went on a day-long TV spectator sports binge yesterday, in large part because, well… I could. At home, the only television signal we have is our antenna for free broadcasts from the Twin Cities. At Cyndie’s parents’ house, there were satellite channels for more sports than I could count.

This allowed me to catch the Golden Gophers college football game and the men’s US Open tennis final that wouldn’t have been available to me at home. Luckily, Fred was wise enough to record the Gopher game, as they were playing at Fresno State on the west coast and the game didn’t start until late Saturday night.

That meant we didn’t watch it until yesterday morning. I had peeked at the result already, so I knew the game was worth seeing. What a fantastic finish with the highlight-reel catch in the deepest possible corner of the endzone on 4th and 13 to tie the game with less than a minute left, and then the surprising interception in the second overtime to claim the win.

We followed that excitement with the NFL Vikings strong win over the Falcons in the opening game of the season. I’ll take it.

Next, there was a quick check of the MLB Twins to find they were trailing Cleveland. That game was usurped by the championship tennis match on ESPN.

Rafael Nadal outlasted a strong challenge from Daniil Medvedev in an epic four-hour-fifty-one-minute 5-set match. Those guys battled for almost five hours, one on one, no substitutions. No wonder Rafa collapsed after the final point.

I was ready to collapse. By the end of the day, I had watched so many athletes exhaust themselves, it wore me out.

Bingeing (I had to check that spelling) is not as easy as one might assume.

It will be good for me to get back home later today after work and return to my (almost) usual routine. This week will be another one spent without Cyndie at home. She is flying to Florida this morning to spend time with Dunia, who will be visiting from Guatemala.

I’ll go back to reading about sports outcomes in the paper, a day after they happen, for my fix of athletic adventures.

It’s kind of a “slow binge” on spectator sports, don’tcha know.



Written by johnwhays

September 9, 2019 at 6:00 am

Friendly Fun

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Yesterday, we joined our friends, Mike and Barb for a range of adventures around town, highlighted by a stop to see their grandchildren play the classic little kids “magnet ball” soccer.

After lining up and doing some individual drills, the teams took the field for a 4v4 game that ends up looking like the ball is magnetic and pulls all eight players into a tight group around it. I remember those days with our kids, but that was a long time ago.

Between matches for the two kids, we had time to stroll the main drag of Excelsior and grab a sandwich for lunch. That brought back memories of the year I worked in an office there with my friend David Keiski to publish “City’s TONE” monthly magazine.

Our walk extended to the municipal pier from the opposite end of town and back again.

The latter part of the afternoon found us strolling again, this time in Edina, exploring the “Fall into the Arts Festival” at their Centennial Lakes Park.










The art was gorgeous but exceeded my financial resources. We fulfilled my fix for fried cheese curds while we were there, though, so now I don’t feel bad at all that I didn’t go to the state fair this year.

Our day was loads of fun with friends that filled a particularly fall-ish day with very fashionable frivolity.



Written by johnwhays

September 8, 2019 at 8:47 am

Picture Stories

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How much of the story can a picture convey? That depends on many things, but in this case, I have to say this image fails to depict all of the pertinent details.

I expect it is obvious that some painting occurred here. The deck of Cyndie’s parents’ house was redone recently and as a finishing touch (which wasn’t in the job plan) the contractor added a new baseboard. The guy made a run to a lumber retailer to purchase the wood, installed it, and left the task of painting it to the homeowners.

Cyndie and I are spending the weekend here so Cyndie could accompany her mom to an outpatient appointment, and then battle mightily to persuade Marie to convalesce long enough for an incision to heal. There was no sign of any slowing down upon their arrival home yesterday. Her mom was lifting things and bending over to reach into low cupboards as if nothing was out of the ordinary.

For my part, and relating more to the image above, I was able to contribute by tending to this minor nuisance of unfinished wood. I learned about the project at breakfast, when Fred checked on my availability and announced he had masking tape and the spray paint at the ready.

I’m not really a spray paint guy, but how hard can it be? I ruffled through the bag of meager clothing I’d packed for the weekend to find a shirt I wouldn’t mind getting paint on and opted for shorts and bare feet to tackle the job. Unfortunately, I failed to consider that the composite boards would get as hot as beach sand in the beating sun while I was out there.

I thought it would be a nice “present” for Marie if the job happened while she was unaware, so I started as soon as possible after they departed for her appointment and strove to push my pace in hopes of making quick work of the job. Despite the occasional breeze. While keeping one eye on the day-job email account. Stopping to take a call from the pest control guy who was searching for our window well back home.

After I gave out a credit card number authorizing the plan to trap a suspected woodchuck in Beldenville, it was time to commit myself to my own entrapment on the deck. The new baseboard ran beneath the sliding door to the house, so when I applied tape and paper across that opening, I was stuck until the paint was applied.

About that point, my back muscles started to twinge. Then, my feet and knees started to burn. Then, the spray paint started to drip around the nozzle. I’d not prepared properly for dripping from the can. All I had available was some of the used newspaper to try wiping up.

I didn’t think about what accumulating paint around the nozzle would do when following the instructions to continually shake the can throughout the painting.

I didn’t know it would be hot enough that I would start dripping sweat.

Alas, I survived, everything was cleaned up before Marie and Cyndie arrived home, and the deck looks appropriately finished.

There are pertinent details which that image above definitely does not convey.



Written by johnwhays

September 7, 2019 at 8:14 am

Making Plans

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We are not going to the lake this weekend, but we do have Anna coming to stay at our house to take care of Delilah, Pequenita, and the chickens for a few days. Our plans are more along the lines of the stay-cation in the cities with family and friends variety. That involved a fair amount of pre-planning for my little brain last night.

We will be staying at Cyndie’s parents’ house, which facilitates my heading there directly from work this afternoon and remaining there through Sunday night to go back to work again on Monday morning. That was a lot of days to think through in advance. Makes it feel a little more like a vacation, so that’s fun.

Too bad I don’t enjoy packing for vacations. Somehow, I find a way to get over it.

I’m feeling fussy over other plans we are concurrently trying to form, having to do with needed upkeep of the logs of our home, the consideration of quotes arriving for re-doing our deck, and now our need for some assistance with wild animal control services.

Early returns indicate the costs of each are running in the neighborhood of 2-3 times the price of our desired budget. One, or more, will likely have to wait, and logic tells me it won’t be the animal control.

I’m thinking I may end up honing my [lack of] carpentry abilities and replace the deck boards myself. The logs will likely wait until next year, and we could very well end up applying the recommended two coats of wood protection ourselves to avoid the huge expense quoted yesterday.

For a person who doesn’t like making plans or even decisions, for that matter, these issues coming up all at once are a dreary burden of responsibility. It makes me long to be 5 or 6 years old again.

Those were blissful days…



Written by johnwhays

September 5, 2019 at 6:00 am

Wild Interlopers

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Lately, for some yet-to-be-determined reason, we have been experiencing a distinct increase in uninvited wild visitors, some of whom seem interested in establishing residency. Some of them are cute and for the most part harmless, like the five young deer Cyndie spotted grazing in the back pasture last night.

Some are, unfortunately, all too familiar, like the mice and bats that Pequenita seems to view as mere house playmates for her ongoing enjoyment.

There are, as noted in two other recent posts, a family of raccoons and a suspected woodchuck making their presence known in broad daylight on separate occasions.

Yesterday morning, Cyndie sent me a picture looking out the egress window of the basement bedroom revealing a large mound of soil tossed up by one of several possible burrowing pests.

I’m leaning toward the woodchuck, based on the size of the excavation.

When I got home to see for myself, there were two frogs peering in the window from the top of the pile, and a mole napping off to the side.

My adventurous spirit is at a low ebb and I am struggling to muster any interest whatsoever in addressing even one of these wild animal pests, let alone all of them. Sadly, neglecting to deal with them now offers nothing but greater complications later. I’d rather not admit that it crossed my mind that we could simply sell the place, as is, and let the buyers deal with the pests.

Or, we could throw money at the problem and hopefully find a professional who is genuinely interested in tackling the challenges. I wonder if it would be possible to trap both a woodchuck and some raccoons at the same time?

I will happily watch the critters be driven down our driveway and off into the sunset for relocation at some magical forest that is over 25 miles away from everywhere, where all pest control companies release their captives to live out pesky lives in blissful harmony.



Written by johnwhays

September 4, 2019 at 6:00 am