Relative Something

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

Archive for the ‘Wintervale Ranch’ Category

Not Easy

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It’s not easy to write about moving our horses… There are a lot of emotions built up regarding the next change in store. After weeks of consideration, Cyndie and I recently decided we need to find another home for Dezirea, Cayenne, and Hunter.

Last week, we learned that the previous owners of the herd are willing to accept the horses back, and we have now begun the process of detailing the specifics involved. Although an actual date of transfer is yet to be determined, just verbalizing the idea, and now having the outcome decided, has already triggered powerful emotions for both of us.

The horses are such an integral part of our lives that we struggle to imagine what it will be like after they are gone. We are each looking forward to regaining a little of our independence again, but it remains to be seen whether we will stay on this property for long without them.

I’ve been mentally revisiting the day the horses arrived here back in September of 2013. That was a pinnacle of thrills that barely compares with any other in my life, except maybe the day Cyndie and I got married. The ensuing years have included more incredible experiences than I can count, having gone from zero experience owning horses, to developing intimate knowledge of our herd.

They have definitely provided me with plenty of things to write about over the years.

Yesterday, while I was tending to the cleanup detail near their evening feeding time, Dezirea suddenly laid down and rolled around in her blanket. By the time I got around to thinking it would have been a good photo, she was already back on her feet.

Then Hunter walked over to the same spot and started pawing the ground. I knew he was going to lay down as well, so this time I scrambled to dig out my pocket camera. In my haste to capture him while he was upside down, I accidentally pushed the power button to turn the camera off again.

By the time I got it back on, he was upright.

It is going to be incredibly difficult to adjust to no longer having them live with us.

Horses have a powerful energy, and I don’t think we will ever be able to replace it.

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Written by johnwhays

March 7, 2019 at 7:00 am

From Wintervale

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ThanksgivingFromWintervale.

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Written by johnwhays

November 26, 2015 at 7:00 am

Melt Begins

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In a short few days we have moved from below-zero bone chilling cold to above freezing high temperatures. On Friday I removed the blankets from our horses and brushed out their shedding coats. The prediction is for a string of days with high temps in the 50’s° (F) this week. For each day that new bare ground becomes exposed due to loss of snow cover, the odds improve for the air temperature to increase.

That snow on the ground acts as a natural cooler, so even though the sun shines bright, the breeze flowing across the white landscape remains chilly. Once the snow is gone, the ground warms significantly and the air then follows suit.

DSCN2934eThe horses were quick to soak up the direct rays after their blankets came off, which put them in serious napping mode. I think Hunter was planning on getting a drink, but then just fell asleep when he got to the waterer.

Our friends, Barb and Mike arrived Friday afternoon for a sleepover visit, making the weekend feel like a holiday to us. We consumed massive amounts of all too sweet calories (think, Cyndie’s gooey caramel rolls and puppy dog tails, along with some birthday cake and chocolate covered strawberries), walked the labyrinth and wooded trails in the moonlight, communed with the horses, and enjoyed an extended visit with neighbor, George Walker.

We wanted to connect George with Mike so they could talk “flight-speak.” George is working on getting his pilot’s license, when not trimming horse’s hooves or tending to their CSA farm. To the rest of us, much of their conversation sounded like a foreign language with the acronyms and specific phraseology.

DSC03573eI was able to enlist Mike’s adventurous energy to help work on cutting down a long-dead tree limb that was hung up in the “Y” of an adjacent tree. We got most of the easier portions down, but the main trunk turned out to be too much for the rope-saw I was trying to use.

When George heard about our plan, he suggested we borrow his friend’s “state-fair chainsaw.”

Huh?

He said it is a “chainsaw on a stick.”

We couldn’t get the rope-saw to orient over the trunk correctly, teeth down, and in our unsuccessful effort to forge ahead with hope it would eventually get a bite and right itself, the connecting cord between the chain and the one handle began to fray. All we did to the tree was rub the bark off that spot.

I went to get my pole-saw and we took down the smaller branches we could reach, leaving the main trunk for another time. Probably a time when I talk to George about borrowing that state-fair chainsaw.

Today we are off to visit Elysa’s house to help with a bit of spring cleaning. I won’t be around to witness how the second day of big melting progresses. I expect to be shocked at how much ground becomes exposed, though that will be thrilling, too. I need the ground to warm enough to thaw out the drain tile we had buried last fall.

That has my full attention this spring, in hopes of learning whether we will achieve the improvements we seek.

Happy (grumble, grumble) Daylight Saving Time day.

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Written by johnwhays

March 8, 2015 at 8:48 am

Goodbye February

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Regardless my wonderfully slow-paced daily routine on the ranch, I cannot keep up with the days flying by that become months sailing away. February just started and now it is over. Humans may not have invented a time machine yet, but who needs it? We are living in one.

DSCN2918eWe have been experiencing a string of below zero (F) overnight lows the last few days, but since it wasn’t windy, we left the horses outside to deal with it. Cayenne was able to show off her awesome eyelashes with an icy white highlight in the morning during breakfast.

I have been working to prepare for the possibility that someone other than me would be doing the animal chores around here, on the chance that Cyndie would successfully find enough animal sitters to allow me to join her on a visit to our friends in Guatemala.

The person that did the job for us over New Year’s weekend was no longer available. Thursday night, with our children’s precious acceptance to figure out a way to fill the few holes in coverage that remained, we made a commitment and purchased airplane tickets.

Look out, Dunia and family, here we come!

So, I’m hoping to make it as easy as possible for our animal sitters to maintain some semblance of cleanliness in the paddocks. It is not easy to pick up manure that first melts, and then re-freezes into the frozen snow and ice packed on the ground everyday. After the struggle to get it up, hauling it to the compost pile is another battle. I have started to create piles within the paddock where it can be temporarily stored.

I brought Delilah with me yesterday to work on the project. She is still confined to a leash when I am unable to give her my constant attention, so I tethered her to a hook on the outside of the paddock fence. There she is able to squeeze under the lowest board and feel like she is not entirely excluded from the action.

Unfortunately, she can’t restrain herself from periodic antagonistic barking and snarling fits at the horses when they are close. For their part, the horses seem entirely nonplussed by the big show she puts on, but are complicit in their repeated decision to wander over close to her if she has been calm and quiet for too long.

I really delight in seeing them serenely coexisting, which happens for brief glimpses, so in contrast, her sudden outbursts are a jarring disruption to the tranquility. While I was raking away, I glanced up to see what looked like a zen exercise Legacy was employing to convince Delilah to mellow out.

DSCN2921eLegacy looked like he was sleeping, except that he was also very subtly decreasing the space between them. I think Delilah was feeling the closing proximity and would make her own adjustments of position. The problem with this game was that Delilah was tethered and was moving further into the paddock to the end of the reach of her leash. Legacy, whether intentional, or not, was closing in on her escape route.

To her credit, Delilah didn’t give in and erupt on her own. It took me becoming alarmed and hustling over to set her off to barking at him. I was continuing to rake while keeping and eye on them, until Legacy got close enough to reach her leash and got it in his mouth.

I figured nothing good could come of this and dropped the rake to hustle over there and intervene. Delilah barked, Legacy startled, and the game was over.

Hopefully, prior to all the excitement, Delilah absorbed enough of Legacy’s zen-like message to practice staying calm when the horses wander over to say hello.

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Written by johnwhays

February 28, 2015 at 10:14 am

Steaming Cold

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DSCN2866eYesterday morning we awoke to double-digit below-zero temperatures. It was probably the coldest night we have left the horses outside to endure. They did have their blankets on, and despite significant frost on their faces from their breath and some nasty snow/ice buildup on the bottoms of their hooves, they seemed to have handled it fine.

I experienced another first when I decided to see if I could to anything to help Legacy with the excessive buildup under his front hooves. After locating a hoof pick in Cyndie’s tray of tools, I stepped up and invited him to lift his foot for me.

Based on my vague memory of watching our farrier, George Walker, I maneuvered to hold Legacy’s leg between my knees. He seemed to welcome my efforts and was very accommodating of my untrained technique. It is probably best to have another person to handle the horse for this procedure, but he and I were the only ones available. We made due.

The whole chunk wouldn’t pop off like I’d hoped, so I scraped and scratched as best I was able to grind it down to a less severe knob. Legacy stood stationary after I finished that first hoof, so I took that as a sign of approval and walked around to repeat my performance on the other side. Other than his leaning excessively to the point of scaring me he was going to topple over, it went about the same as the first one. He seemed satisfied with the partial progress.

DSCN2860eOn a whim, I tried to see if I could get any good pictures of the ice crystal formations that grew on piles of manure. I thought the juxtaposition of the two might produce and interesting result.

It was steaming hot for a little while.

Surprisingly, the extreme cold doesn’t stop the biological processes at work in the compost pile, so the crystal growth gets a lot more substantial. That small mountain of manure is cooking and the steam rises all night long.

I was hoping to get a good image from the main pile, but it was probably too cold overnight and the ice accumulation grew so thick it got beyond the delicate beauty I was wanting to capture. Of course, that didn’t stop me from trying.

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When all the morning chores were done and Delilah and I had finished our breakfast, I made an extra trip back down to check on the horses. I had spoken with George about the ice buildup and confirmed I was doing the right thing. Emboldened, I wanted to see if I could help any of the other horses.

DSCN2901eThey were all napping in the sun. I sat on the ground with them for about a half an hour, soaking up the cold sunshine and enjoying the serenity with them. They didn’t need any further intervention from me.

By the afternoon, it looked like they had all successfully shed the accumulation that was stuck to them in the morning. A much better solution than my trying to do it for them.

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Written by johnwhays

February 20, 2015 at 7:00 am

Thinking Back

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Yesterday we spent a little more time thinking ahead to what comes next around here and what steps we need to take to actually hold some training seminars. I shared a monthly expense worksheet I created a while back, and we were able to identify some critical items to add that I had overlooked.

Little doses of financial reality do wonders to moderate unbridled optimism, but our situation is not so far out of balance that we feel any reason to seriously doubt the possibilities of achieving our dream, eventually.

This morning I feel myself looking back to the day the horses arrived here. It was September 25th, in 2013. I posted my description of the occasion on the 26th, and you can read about it in the Relative Something archives by selecting the month in the drop down menu in the margin on the right.

No matter what we ultimately accomplish here, the experience of that day will be hard to match.

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September 2013

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February 2015

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Written by johnwhays

February 8, 2015 at 9:08 am