Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘animal sitters

Divided Passions

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I am torn between two worlds this morning. As thrilled as I am to be able to spend the next four days up at the lake for the Memorial Day weekend, I’m struggling over a great desire to remain home to tend the property, grow our bonds with the horses, and work on transitioning our chicks from the brooder to the coop.

When I got home from work yesterday, we decided to take advantage of the wet weather to transplant another pine tree. This one had sprouted just beyond the deck in a spot where there was little room for future growth. While we were pulling up the roots, Cyndie also extracted a fair-sized maple sapling, so we transplanted that, as well.

They are both visible in the image above, despite also being mostly obscured by a similar colored background. Our spontaneous decision to jump into the unplanned project swallowed up over an hour of time that felt like mere minutes had passed. Completing the transplants fueled a strong urge to get right back outside managing the explosion of growth everywhere on our property.

It will need to wait for another day. We are headed north this morning. Lake place, here we come! It’s been far too long between visits.

I hope the chicks won’t miss us too much.

We looked in on the Rockettes last night before bed and found them looking hale and hearty. Their wing feathers are coming along nicely. They are doing a fair amount of my favorite chick leg-stretch/wing-stretch maneuvers that look so yoga-like. Cyndie added a cover grate to their tub to keep the little test-flyers within the confines of the bin.

We want to move them to the big brooder in the barn as soon as we can move the Buffalo Gals to the coop. I expect that will be a project for when we get home on Monday.

Our current animal-sitter, Anna, a student in her last year at UW River Falls, will be tending to animals while we are gone.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be gung-ho about being away as soon as we hit the road, but I am definitely torn about wanting to be in both places at the same time. Too bad we can’t bring some chicks with us to the lake.

They’re just so cyoooooouute!

Go to the lake, John.

Okay, okay. B’bye!

Oh, and bring back more trillium when you return…



Written by johnwhays

May 28, 2021 at 6:00 am

She Knows

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I walked into the kitchen and said to Cyndie, “She knows.”

Cyndie instantly agreed, “Oh, she totally knows.”

Our departure for a 9-day getaway to visit Cyndie’s parents in Florida was still a day away last night, but both of us picked up a powerful vibe that Delilah was already beginning to mope as a result of our telltale activity.

She laid under the table and watched us with her eyes, without picking up her head. Suitcases had been brought out of storage. Cyndie was kicking into high house-cleaning gear, and both of us were mentally grinding through virtual lists of tasks to be done, items to be packed, “i”s to dot and “t”s to cross.

Delilah has witnessed this scene before.

One of our newer house and animal sitters, Anna, will be taking care of our place while we are away this time. I’m hoping the weather will be uneventful and the predators all stay away while she is on duty. Wouldn’t it be a shame if we lose a hen (or hens) during her stay?

I’ve tried to point out to her that it can happen at any time, hoping she won’t suffer too much if a loss occurs on her watch.

We drive to the airport this afternoon for a flight out around the dinner hour, departing just as a mass of colder air with a chance of some snow is expected to pay a visit. Guess it’s not the worst time to be escaping to Florida.

I’ve been pondering what I might choose to do for blog posts while we are away. One possibility that keeps tugging at me is the challenge of choosing one photo per day to convey what we are experiencing. At the same time, I assume a week of leisure might free me up to do more writing than usual, so maybe I don’t want to restrict myself to a single picture.

Either I’ll write more, or I’ll take a break and write less. We’ll just have to wait and see what captures my fancy, after I settle in to that eastern time zone with the warm, humid air.

One way or another, you can rest assured that, for the next week, I will somehow be sharing the most delectable morsels of our adventures in Florida, visiting Cyndie’s mom and dad.



Written by johnwhays

January 18, 2019 at 7:00 am

New Family

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Since the day our friends George and Anneliese moved out to a new home they built in Princeton, MN, our basement “apartment” has been mostly unoccupied. Meanwhile, we have been searching for new sitters to care for our animals and house (needing to replace the services of both McKenna and Shelby, who have each moved away to their next life opportunities) to provide cover for times we escape to the lake place or embark on other exotic travels.

Cyndie advertised our search in two primary locations: our veterinary office in Stillwater, and the University of WI, River Falls Ag programs.

I did occasional scans of Craig’s List for pet sitters, and thought I struck gold when a perfect sounding post showed up just an hour prior to one of my visits. She didn’t want to travel very far, though, and told us we were out of her Hudson, WI range of service.

Then Jackie called. She was in school at River Falls and was hoping to find a room for the summer. Jackie has the horse skills we required and boards her own horse just six miles to the east, in El Paso, WI.

In a cosmic twist we never saw coming, when she stopped by to meet us the very first time, Cyndie recognized her date who got out of the car with her. Marcus is the new farrier who has been caring for our horses in the time since George moved.

When Jackie mentioned to Marcus that she was going to visit Beldenville to meet Cyndie, he responded that he knew a Cyndie in Beldenville. They quickly realized she was the same person, and Marcus came along for the introduction.

Some wonderful synchronicity there.

Cyndie and Jackie worked out terms and a rough schedule, and now we have a new housemate added to our cast of characters.

It has been rewarding to watch Delilah and Jackie’s relationship develop as they spend more time together.

In a very short number of days, Jackie has become the latest new member of our ever-expanding family. It’s a bonus that Marcus knows her, too.

We feel lucky to have met them both, and to have their help caring for our horses. And, in Jackie’s case, our home and other animals, too!



Written by johnwhays

May 23, 2018 at 6:00 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.












Written by johnwhays

February 28, 2015 at 10:14 am