Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘back to grazing

Perfect Execution

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After feeding horses and before heading in for our dinner last night, we spent a little time mingling with the chickens as they foraged the shaded grass between their coop and the barn. Cyndie brought out some chicken treats and worked an exercise of calling for them to come to her as she offers to feed them from her hand.

They haven’t received as much of this training as earlier batches we have raised, and it shows. The reactions were delayed and there was a noticeable lack of total buy-in from the group as a whole. With a bit more practice, it won’t be long until Cyndie frequently finds herself with a trail of birds following behind her as she strolls anywhere near where they happen to be hanging out.

While we were lounging in their presence, practicing trying to account for them by breed as a method of quickly identifying if anyone is missing, we enjoyed the thrill of witnessing a perfectly executed emergency response drill.

Maybe it wasn’t even a drill, but we weren’t able to scope out a possible threat they sensed.

At the sound of one unique call, without hesitation, the twenty-some mix of pullets and cockerels made a mass exodus from the open mowed grass into the thick cover of growth just to the right in the image below.

One second they were all roaming around in the open and in a flash they became instantly invisible.

It is a fascinating thing to watch. We wondered which one made the call, as it wasn’t obvious to us, but whatever was said, it made an immediate impression on all of them.

Probably half a minute later, one bold girl wandered out to reclaim the spot she previously held, and soon after the rest did the same as if nothing had happened.

It all echoed nicely the practice we’ve witnessed many times with horses where they execute an alarming rush to escape the immediate vicinity and a minute later go back to grazing as calmly as ever.

I’m happy our chickens are demonstrating this skill so well, given they are going to need it for the balance of their free-ranging days with us.



Written by johnwhays

July 13, 2021 at 6:00 am

Alternative Route

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I don’t know how long it will last, but on Monday I stumbled upon an alternate route to the “classic editor” I prefer and have used successfully for years prior to the so-called great [cough] “block editor” that became the WordPress default as of October.

Aah, the good old days.

This week we are enjoying an alternative October in the form of very summer-like high temperatures outside. It is strange to have the hours of daylight rapidly changing when the weather is so warm. The two phenomena don’t usually happen together to this extreme. Isn’t it odd to have weather behaving wacky at this point in the history of the planet?

Oh, I guess it’s not odd at all. Scientists have been predicting this for decades. Gee, if we don’t make significant changes in our reliance on fossil fuels, icebergs in the polar regions will melt, weather patterns of storms, droughts, floods, fires, and temperatures will become more extreme, and geographies and economies will be at risk.

Throw in a model of a global virus pandemic at the same time and you have the makings for a real stomach churner.

I suppose the insidious rise of extreme ideologies in multiple nations around the world touting white supremacy or fear of any diversity at all could be the icing on this growing mess of craziness.

The scourge of social media platforms enhancing the idiocy and ignorance could be viewed as the sprinkles on that icing.

Might there be an alternative route to love and enlightenment awaiting discovery by a collective of seekers?

It seems to me that a fair number of individuals find ways to grasp that golden ring, but can diverse populations of multiple nations ever make the bold leap en masse?

Cyndie and I practice an art of recovery from angst-producing situations that our horses helped to teach us by their ability to swiftly return to grazing calmly after a disturbance. When things appear to be spinning out of control, the vocalized phrase, “get back to grazing” helps us to put things in a healthier perspective.

It’s a way of paying heed to the bigger picture. Playing the long game.

Things might be out of control right now, but we don’t need to dwell in the worst of it all.

What I am wrestling with lately is the challenge of claiming my peace of mind in an immediate moment when so many others are enduring terrible suffering.

One alternate solution I experiment with is to fully embrace my good fortune of knowing infinite love, mindfully doing so in proxy for those who are not able.

To the innocents who have been unjustly confined, to those who have become prisoners of their own hate, to people who are victims of every manner of social injustices, I send love into the world in your honor.

It’s an alternate route that I dream someday might grow to become the main highway for all people of the world.



So This

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I admit, I have never done this before. I have never been as old as I am today and faced everything that November 2017 is presenting. Is that why this season’s onset of freezing temperatures feels more jarring than ever before? My blood is definitely not winter-thick yet.

Maybe I’m off my game because of how unsettling the last year under the current U.S. leadership has been. The increasing turmoil of extreme storms from the warming planet has definitely contributed.

Sometimes, looking back for reference provides some insight on present day issues, but there are so many unique technologies now woven into our lives, it feels difficult to compare events from decades ago. This weekend, our Netflix queue offered up a documentary DVD about the Freedom Riders of 1961.

I was two years old at the time of those civil rights dramas playing out in the deep south. I suppose the white supremacists at that time were terrified their racist version of society was being threatened.

It has me trying to fathom how history might perceive people and events of 2017 some fifty or a hundred years from now.

The next movie that showed up was a documentary about the Rwandan cycling team that rose from the ashes of genocide that country experienced in 1994. Nineteen Ninety Four. I wish such human carnage wasn’t something that still occurs.

It all serves to put my travails in perspective. Feeling weak against the cold air? I’ll get over it.

I can go out and hug our horses, absorb some of their warmth, and see if I can pick up some of their energy and perspective on the present moment.

They can help me to breathe and get back to grazing.



Written by johnwhays

November 20, 2017 at 7:00 am

Grazing Again

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There is a jarring amount of stupid that is getting mixed in with the amazing and sacred energy to which we have access these days. It all flows right over the top of us. We dash headstrong into it. It sashays past when we aren’t paying attention. Sometimes it just lays there and waits to be noticed.

The brilliant, the inspiring, the spectacular light of pure love, and then some dingy gunk getting smeared around with reckless abandon.

Have you ever noticed how some people are able to move through the gunk without allowing it to leave a mark, while others end up covered with it? There are some from the latter distinction who even thrive on the mess and seek out more.

All this energy, the good and the other, is like the air we breath. Many people don’t ever think about breathing, and similarly, many people don’t pay attention to the energy, both from within as well as from other sources.

It is very helpful to notice energy if you are interested in becoming teflon to the gunk.

However, it usually takes more than just noticing. I recently enjoyed some success using what we learned from our horses, along the lines of getting “back to grazing.”

After any of our horse’s many instances of practicing critical evacuation maneuvers when they run emergency response drills, they have a remarkable ability to quickly return to grazing, as if nothing dramatic had just occurred. It’s a skill that I have come to cherish.

It’s a skill I would like to master for myself.

I’ve been practicing, and when I am successful, it works wonders. Consciously choosing to instantly give up whatever just triggered a critical response, and becoming fully aware of my breathing and energy –to return to love and a healthy mindset– is truly life-changing.

Yeah, teflon to the gunk.



Written by johnwhays

November 17, 2017 at 7:00 am

Self Inflicted

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I’ve had a good, long span of time since one of my degenerating discs unleashed its contents to press against a nerve. I have not taken that for granted. Yesterday, pain made itself familiar to me once again. Today, my movements are reduced to wincing hesitations.

One thing after another seemed to fail for us yesterday, deflating our high hopes and dragging them in directions we didn’t intend. The universe laughs at our feeble plans. The truck failed to start again, despite the new battery and other work that Cyndie paid a local repair shop to do. She postponed her plan to drive into town and buy feed for the horses.

On our walk down to check on the truck, we were startled to find such a large amount of metal shrapnel left in the snow on the driveway from the recent gutter work. In their rushed attempt to complete this job by the end of their day on Friday (which they didn’t actually achieve, since there are still some finishing details that will require a return visit sometime in the future), I think they neglected to give a thorough enough effort toward cleaning the ground beneath where they worked.

It became my job to clear our walkway and upper driveway of dropped screws mixed with slivers and shards of cut metal. I had been hoping to have a warm day when I could use the new ice breaking tool I recently bought to scrape the compacted snow off the asphalt of the driveway by the house. Not only was yesterday lacking in warmth and sunshine, we were getting a gentle sprinkle of snowflakes that were just enough to camouflage the debris on the surface, such that my best option appeared to be scraping everything down to the pavement, regardless the conditions.

I think one thing that causes our efforts to bring pain to our bodies is when we are not happy to be doing the work. I was off to a bad start.

Cyndie walked past on her redirected plan to now clean some manure from the area beneath the overhang of the barn, checking on my progress. I reported my arms were complaining about the effort. In a short time, she returned from her project, pain evident in her whole body, angry over her inability to navigate the snow between the paddock and our manure pile.

I realized that I had neglected to clear that route adequately after the last big snowfall. I went from the unhappy struggle to scrape the driveway, to the necessary task of clearing snow for a path to the manure pile, now feeling some guilt over my negligence. Cyndie was not going to let me suffer alone, having readjusted her attitude, and showed up to work on it, too. She is better at “getting back to grazing,” a reference to how horses process things without dwelling on issues. Unfortunately, it was too much for our ailing bodies to shovel, so I needed to get our ATV, “Griz.”

I swiftly got it stuck. In frustration, I made sure to get it really stuck, forcing it forward and back until I was good and mad and the snow beneath it was packed tight. Then I went to get the shovel so I could angrily fight against the snow I had packed, working in contorted positions that eventually gave me the secondary result that I seemed to be after: back pain.

Regardless the physical discomfort we are both dealing with today, yesterday turned out to be a successful day. One major victory for us was that we avoided totally feeding off of each other’s angst. We eventually made good progress in teaming up to clean the area near the barn more thoroughly than it has been for a couple of months. Afterward, we settled in by the fire to enjoy a pleasant evening, eating a fun pizza dinner, with Cyndie’s fresh-baked ginger cookies to sweeten the deal.

We both recognize there were lessons for us in the difficulties we experienced yesterday.

Now, to figure out how to let my degenerating disc know that I recognize and understand my lesson, and it doesn’t need to continue hurting. I’m inviting it to go back to grazing.

It works for us.