Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘adventure

New Data

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Upon further review, judges have amended the egg count total for Tuesday. Yesterday, I reported that Cyndie found six eggs. Last night she updated the count.

Turns out, Jackie had collected 2 eggs herself that day. The total has increased to 8!

So, there.

With all the news frantically shouting about the hurricane bearing down on the US east coast, those of us in the middle of the continent are enjoying very summer-like conditions. My drive home yesterday brought me through fields that are changing from the deep green of summer to hues of yellow and gold.

Navigating my way around the house in the mornings before work has returned to the dark ages, and the hour of closing the chicken coop at night has moved up to around 7:30 p.m., about an hour and a half earlier than just a short while ago.

Last night, a pack of coyotes whooped it up somewhere within hearing distance of our windows. It sounded very similar to the group yelping we heard the first year we moved here, after which we discovered the carcass of the 8-point buck in our woods.

The change of seasons makes life feel more adventurous. It’s adventure that I greatly prefer, compared to an ominous threat of once-in-a-lifetime, climate-change-amplified hurricanes looming large.

Counting my blessings while I have the luxury, and sending love to those facing the challenges of preparations for evacuations, wind damage, and flooding.

Hold on to your hats.

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Written by johnwhays

September 13, 2018 at 6:00 am

Hail No!

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We got pounded yesterday! It seemed to just come out of nowhere. I was out in the shop when Cyndie stopped by to mention she could hear thunder in the distance. I didn’t even realize precipitation was expected in the middle of the day. It was sunny when I had left the house a short time earlier.

That changed pretty quick. There was a moment when I became aware of a roar that turned out to be rain on the metal roof of the shop. Then came a single “CRACK!” that I recognized right away.

I stepped to the door to watch for more.

Sure enough, there was a slow and steady increase in sharp bangs on the roof. Pieces of white ice started to bounce on the pavement of the driveway. I began to realize that I couldn’t tell how big they were because the hail stones were shattering when they hit the hard surface, but the intensity was increasing enough that I wasn’t about to step out from the protection of the roof to collect them from the yard.

As the duration extended and the intensity increased, it occurred to me to record video of the spectacle. Now you can see and hear what we experienced for yourself:

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After it had calmed to only occasional rare strikes of hail, I rushed out to check on Cyndie and the house, pausing to collect some of the larger stones along the way.

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I was worried about the two skylight windows on the roof of our house. No cracks evident, much to my surprise. I haven’t looked closely, but even the shingles seemed fine, viewed at an angle from the ground.

There were a fair number of leaves pummeled from the trees, but no other obvious damage.

Then I thought about the animals. I have no idea how they reacted to the calamity while the worst of it was underway. I know the noise of it on the metal barn roof must have been pretty disturbing.

I found the horses standing together out in the paddock, looking a little shocked, but otherwise unharmed. They have a pretty thick hide, but strikes from those stones must really sting! How can they not?

Just as I emerged from the trail to check on the horses, the ten chickens trotted out of the trees to greet me, looking as if nothing spectacular had happened for them. I expect the thicket where they can hide was under enough tree cover that falling balls of rocketing ice slowed to relatively harmless speeds.

So, all in all, it was mostly noise that disturbed an otherwise beautiful Friday morning. I suppose the tree leaves would offer a harsher view of the event. Our truck is already so beat and battered that damage from hail strikes is difficult to discern.

We lucked out, beyond a bit of a scare.

Hail makes a really wicked sound as it smashes into everything around.

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Written by johnwhays

September 1, 2018 at 9:14 am

Never Dull

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There is rarely a dull moment in our lives with acres and animals. Yesterday was a particularly full day. Before I get to that however, I really must post more pictures from our great cow adventure last Friday. These belong with Saturday’s post, but I was up at the lake, and just didn’t have the bandwidth to support my intentions.

Here is my view of the main herd as their curiosity brought them over to see what we were up to at the fence:

I didn’t want them to get any ideas about joining the remaining escapees, so I worked to convince them they’d be happier going the other direction.

This is Cyndie, holding the opening as wide as possible while cooing sweet nothings to woo the last stragglers back into their pasture:

It was a hard sell. The second wire from the top was the only broken one, but holding them open provided plenty of clearance, if only the overly cautious (now they decided to be cautious!) bovine would step through.

After a busy morning at the lake yesterday, tending to minor chores before heading home, we traveled in Cyndie’s car with the top down in the beautiful sunshine, joining a LOT of other vacationers for the trek home.

It was as if our full day had barely gotten started. I was able to connect with our next-door neighbor to borrow his large trailer for hauling hay. Our first source of bales reported a shortage of availability, due to a new client who required 4000 bales. Five minutes after that sorry news, he called back to say his brother had bales we could buy, but needed to get them out of the wagon by the end of the day.

Cyndie whipped up an early dinner and then we set off to begin this summer’s hay bale escapades, the first of multiple expected trips.

Thankfully, due to our previous experience, the loading and transport went smoothly, and we got the load stowed in the shed while there was still daylight.

As the last light faded, I found Cyndie out picking black raspberries because there are still so many berries ripening.

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From inside the house, I heard branches breaking in the woods. I called out the window to Cyndie and she said she was hearing it, too, but didn’t see anything. She prolonged her berry picking to see if that last stray cow from Friday still might be roaming around, but neither a deer nor a cow materialized before she quit to go secure the chicken coop for the night.

We are happy to report, all twelve birds were safely inside.

Honestly, the fullness of our day was the epitome of the saying, “never a dull moment.”

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Written by johnwhays

July 9, 2018 at 6:00 am

Venturesome Cows

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We had never imagined this day. It wasn’t unprecedented that Delilah would serve as our alarming alarm clock, with her loud barking outburst at the screen door of our bedroom to disturb the quiet early morning solemnity.

I astutely commented to Cyndie that I was surprised that I wasn’t hearing the usual dog in the distance that typically sets Delilah off.

After the second outburst in quick succession, Cyndie gave up trying to snatch a few extra minutes of lingering in bed and got up.

“There are cows outside our window!”

Oh? I sprung up to witness the spectacle for myself. Yes, indeed. No question about what Delilah was trying to tell us. I spotted three cows standing in the most unlikely place I could think of.

They were by the wood shed, at the top of the big hill trail coming out of our woods.

I sleepily stumbled after my camera, which was on the far side of the house. When I returned to the bedroom, there were no cows in sight. Ghost cows?

Cyndie invited me to get dressed and join her in morning chores, wherein we could also investigate that bizarre sleepy visual we had just witnessed.

Unsurprisingly, from the top of our back yard hill, we could see the rare sight of white animals down by the labyrinth. By the time we got down there, the shifty cattle were gone again, though not out of earshot. The sound of their navigation through our forest can best be compared to a herd of bulls wandering the aisles of a china shop.

Branches snapping left and right, a bovine face appeared out of the trees. Then another, and another. We counted ten at one point, though it was never clear we were seeing the whole picture.

While Cyndie tried to shoosh them out of her garden labyrinth, I set out to see if I could tell where they had come from. Tracking them wasn’t hard, as the 40 heavy hooves left a trail that looked like a rototiller had rolled along our soft wooded trails.

They had tromped everywhere! It made it difficult to determine where they had busted out of a neighbor’s fence, because they had moved to and fro in every direction.

We tried coaxing them into our back pasture to contain them, but the boring grass offerings there must have paled in comparison to the adventure and foliage they were finding throughout the forest. They bushwhacked toward the most difficult wooded passages in lieu of our pasture gate.

Eventually, while trying to get back with the main herd, they busted a strand of wire in the fence and very slowly, one at a time, most of them figured out their own way through. When we found them trying, Cyndie stepped on the bottom wires and lifted the top one, cooing to the stragglers to take that last step.

I tried coaxing them with a branch of leaves. That brought the main herd toward us, which was the opposite of what we wished to happen. I tried my best at novice cow whispering and turned the herd around, bringing two of the last escapees back into the fold.

For some reason, the last cow either panicked or just decided it was never going back. It turned and disappeared deep into the woods.

Unable to find the loner cow, Cyndie and I decided to reattach the broken fence wire (I had learned the neighbor was gone on a motorcycle trip in Iowa) and called an end to the big distraction of our day.

We were hours beyond our planned departure for the lake place.

With a note to Jackie about the possibility of an odd cow showing up while we were gone, we hit the road.

That was one very strange day at Wintervale.

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Written by johnwhays

July 7, 2018 at 8:41 am

Next Act?

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Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat. Nothin’ up my sleeve… Presto! It’s definitely time to get a new hat.

I’m back at the day-job today, after a week of vacation. It’s both soothing in its normalcy, and dreadful for… well, returning to work after vacation. Despite the excitement of a couple more birthday celebrations this week and the coming Independence Day holiday, I’m feeling as though there is a certain lack of the next big thing planned on our horizon.

During last week’s cycling and camping adventures, I had an opportunity to meet and greet a lot of first-timers to the Tour of Minnesota. Never being one to make a long story short, I found myself frequently offering a wide range of the tales which have provided most of Relative Something’s content over the last nine years.

What is this blog about?

I started it when my big trek in the Himalayas was about to occur. Shortly after that, Cyndie and I set out to visit Ian in Portugal. That seeded everything that eventually led to where we are today, providing stories about Cyndie working in Boston for a year, my getting the Eden Prairie house ready to sell, moving to Beldenville, WI, getting a dog, connecting with ourĀ friends, the Morales family in Guatemala, bringing horses onto the property, starting up Wintervale operations, building a labyrinth garden, and most recently, our antics with raising free-range chickens.

The cast of characters in my stories evolves, but the basic storyline of what makes the “pages” here rarely strays very far from what is going on in my mind at any given moment. It energizes my mental health to share my experiences with discovering and treating my depression, as well as my tales of identifying my addiction to sugar and the challenges of working that ongoing recovery program.

Currently, my health is good, both mentally and physically (despite an ongoing angst over the fiasco that is the US Government), my car is back from the body shop and looks brand new again, the horses look noticeably thinner after my week away from them, all twelve chickens appear to be thriving, and both dog and cat welcomed me home with loads of sweet attention.

Actually, the horses were pretty affectionate, as well. Elysa captured this shot of me giving Hunter a good scratch around his ears. All three horses lingered for some uncharacteristic extended face-time with me as I offered to scratch whatever itches they presented.

So, what’s next? What do I have up my sleeve for the next act?

I don’t know.

But trust me, you’ll find out as soon as I do.

What else would I do but write about it here?

The next adventure is out there somewhere down the trail. Until then, I expect our animals will continue to provide their usual fodder for lessons in life on the ranch.

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Written by johnwhays

June 25, 2018 at 6:00 am

Trip Photos

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The 2018 Tour of Minnesota is in the books. It is not unreasonable to say that everyone who participated had as many unique experiences as we did shared ones. We all come to this ride from different perspectives. There is a wide mix of experience. Some have never ridden a multi-day tip before, and some haven’t ever ridden with a large group.

Many riders on the Tour of Minnesota have done this ride together for decades. My perspective about this ride comes from having done it around twenty times, but is limited to having no other multi-day group ride to which I can compare.

I figured out this year that we could use negatives to describe it thusly: The Tour of MN is not TRAM, not BAM, not RAGBRAI, etc. It also occurred to me that we could flaunt the ride as an eco-friendly vacation, in that, we (most of us) park our cars for a week and human-power our way around the state.

At the end of the ride, participants are invited to submit up to three photos from the week for a contest. I picked three from my collection, but quickly realized there were many other shots deserving attention, so I am tossing them out for you to judge.

I hope they help you imagine what my week was like…

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I am always amazed by the visual of our onslaught of bicycles showing up in unexpected locations where riders seek out any-and-every vertical surface to support our machines while we pause to eat.

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This image of Steve is one of my submissions to the contest. I doubt it’s chances in the judging, since it reveals one of the sloppy, wet realities of needing to reach destinations, regardless the weather.

The reflection on the new wet pavement was too irresistible to pass up. I pulled out my camera, despite the odds it would get splattered by the rooster tail spray shooting up off his tires.

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The covered bridge on the Lake Wobegon trail at Holdingford, MN was a real treat.

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I love the expression spontaneously captured by my reach-around snap of the riders behind me on this stretch of road.

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The Penn Cycle “ambulance” was manned by staff new to our ride this year, and they said they had a good enough time to want to return again next year.

I’m pretty sure we appreciated them even more than they did us.

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Written by johnwhays

June 24, 2018 at 10:31 am

Recovery Mode

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The week of vacation is over and it feels like I have PVED: Post-Vacation Exhaustion Disorder. I need to take a vacation from my vacation. Recovery mode involves sleeping late in my own bed, not riding my bike today, trying to get back to reasonably portioned meals, not eating ice cream treats at every turn, and perching on my easy chair to watch some World Cup games.

The 2018 Tour of Minnesota was a mix of riding roads and trails in both good and bad weather.

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As my recovery progresses, I expect to get my camping gear dried out, do an assessment of the Wintervale chores looking for attention, and most of all today, enjoy a celebration of Elysa’s birthday. She and Cyndie are in the kitchen preparing a large variety of delicacies for a gathering of many expected guests.

I expect there will be tales of the bike week and more stories to come in the days ahead. Stay tuned…

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Written by johnwhays

June 23, 2018 at 9:29 am