Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘barn

Cold Again

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We didn’t end up receiving the amount of snow that looked like a good possibility on the prediction charts provided by the weather service in the final hours before yesterday’s storm rolled across the region. It’s difficult to get a read on the actual amount because there was enough wind to keep most of the deck clear down to the boards, and in areas where it piled up, the drifts are all exaggerations of what officially fell out of the sky.

My commute both to and from work was generally uneventful, but complicated too frequently by overly cautious drivers who ended up blocking the passing lane.

It took me over twice as long as normal to get home. After an hour and a half, I decided to stop to get gas, just so I could use the bathroom.

The highlight of the day was that George and Annaliese arrived for a visit. Our horses needed a trim, and George offered his farrier services in exchange for room and board for a few days while he is back to service a batch of his old clients.

We shared a fine meal and sat by the fire for an ice cream and brownie dessert, chatting the night away in a throwback to the many wonderful days we shared in similar fashion last year when they lived with us while in transition between homes.

The horses were granted the protection of the barn overnight, so they didn’t have to tolerate the windchill. They are pretty transparent about how much they like being able to come in when the weather gets nasty.

It’s cold again outside, but we have all the warmth we need inside to rally our energies for doing battle against the winter elements for the chores that demand attention.

Something tells me that my indoor chores, like napping, just might be the primary thing demanding attention from me for the rest of this day.

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Written by johnwhays

January 12, 2018 at 7:00 am

We’re Nesting

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The due date is upon us. Baby chicks are scheduled to ship today and we are preparing for delivery at Wintervale Ranch. Cyndie even bought a stuffed chicken with real feathers that she hoped to use in training Delilah about the soon-to-be-expanding clan we want her to accept as one of our pack. Didn’t really work because she isn’t the least bit interested in it.

We decided to use one of our existing troughs as the brooder, hoping to devise a mount for the heat lamp that will avoid the melting of whatever non-metal material it is.

Over the weekend, I fabricated a mesh cover for it from a roll left over from one of my attempts to protect the trees in the paddock. At first, I thought it was a hassle that it wanted to roll back up and not stay flat, but once I got the dowels attached, that turned out to be a feature, not a bug.

It tends to “grab” the lip of the tub for a nice firm fit.

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I was wrestling with bending the branches I wanted for the radius at each end when I remembered the cuts in the tree stump that Cyndie had photographed, which I recently featured in a post. I made a little slice part way through the branches which facilitated the bend just enough.

You never know from where inspiration might eventually arrive.

We are going to take a shot at raising them in the barn. I’m trying to figure out where I will end up putting a bed out there for Cyndie, since I expect she won’t be able to leave them untended out there for any length of time.

I sure hope these birds will have big appetites for bugs.

If all goes well, I have a feeling we are going to need a bigger coop.

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Written by johnwhays

March 21, 2017 at 6:00 am

Bath Day

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We’ve had a really fine few days of summer weather this weekend. Cyndie decided it would be a good day to give the horses a bath. I showed up in time to find Legacy luxuriating in front of the fan to dry.

DSCN5018eLooking out the door of the barn, I found Hunter in process.

DSCN5015eWhen Cyndie made her way back to the house after tending to all 4 horses, she reported that Cayenne was the surprise of the four, being the one to immediately roll in the dust when let back into the paddock.

IMG_iP1586eCHI would have put my money on Hunter.

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Written by johnwhays

August 8, 2016 at 6:00 am

Storm Preparations

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On Saturday morning, when we realized we should delay our scheduled appointment to pickup hay due to the looming storm, I hung around the barn and hay shed to finish preparing space to stack the new bales. Of course, that is when I made a wonderful arrangement of bales on pallets in the barn, which would eventually need to be tossed aside in a panic to allow the trailer to fit.

As the front edge of the thunderstorm slowly approached, I stepped out under the overhang to check on the horses. Spotting plenty of manure, I decided to go out and clean it up before it got rained on. Methodically toiling away as the heavy weather arrived provided a unique opportunity to witness the horses behavior under the threatening conditions.

In addition to scooping poop, I decided to move fans inside and close the barn door to shut out some of the racket made by the rain on the metal roof. While I worked, the horses randomly wandered down toward the willow tree, out from under the overhang, and then Hunter came back up again.

IMG_iP1473eI should point out that we generally find the horses huddled together in a low spot at the far side of the paddock whenever it is raining heavily. I had yet to witness the actual exercise of them getting there.

It makes sense that they might find the roar of the rain on the roof to be too much, but I keep hoping the opportunity to stay dry might provide inspiration to overcome the noise issue.

Then I spotted Legacy coming up to get Hunter out with the rest of them. The first drops were starting to fall and the initial burst of wind was kicking up. It was quickening my pulse.

I don’t know what the trigger was, but all at once they seemed to realize it was time to go, and together they hustled out toward the bottom of the big paddock. There was a little jostling for position, and then some romping around, but the drill ended in classic form with their butts to the wind and their heads down as the clouds let loose and the barn roof roared.

IMG_iP1479eThey made it look so routine, despite the unpredictable drama of wicked weather.

Many hours later, after I had successfully backed the trailer of hay into the barn while the second cloudburst of the day was underway, I stepped out to check on the horses and found them taking advantage of the overhang. And they were doing this despite the clamor of the drops pounding the roof over their heads, just as I’d hoped.

Well, mostly, anyway. Dezirea will often appear indecisive about things and was standing half under shelter, as if she couldn’t make up her mind.

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Written by johnwhays

July 25, 2016 at 6:00 am

Bird Pests

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June seems to be the time of year when the birds really make pests of themselves down at the barn. They are becoming pests because they are making nests. There is a starling that has taken a real liking to one of the downspouts from the gutter, plugging a short horizontal section between two elbows.

DSCN4801eI tried to flush it out last night while trying to take apart the sections so I could remove the nest. I didn’t really want to be up on the ladder when the section popped open with a protective momma bird suddenly exposed. The fact that it wouldn’t try to get away from all the banging and shaking I was doing made me think all the more there might be eggs present.

I finally bit the bullet and yanked it apart. The bird still didn’t fly away. From the looks of things, it was caught on something between the bottom cutout in the horizontal gutter and the first elbow. The poor thing couldn’t free itself even if it wanted to.

I suddenly felt guilty for all that banging I had done to scare it away.

In hopes of avoiding any aggression from the exposed side, I climbed into the paddock and from that position, removed the last screw keeping the elbow connected to the gutter. The starling was gone in a split second, flying off in a direction I couldn’t see.

A custom gutter-downspout-shaped nest

A custom gutter-downspout-shaped nest

Poor Delilah was beside herself with urgent desire for a chance to “assist” me with extricating the bird. I had her leashed to a fence post nearby while I worked. I feel like she gives me such a look of disappointment when I just let creatures go free like I did with this bird.

I can perceive her saying, “What are you doing! You let it get away!” with extreme incredulity.

She seemed to know it was trapped and so fervently wanted to just run up the ladder and offer it a helping paw. More likely, a not so helpful jaw, in all honesty.

Now it’s time to up my level of intensity in the project of bird-proofing the downspout. The plastic netting I tried last year turned out to be woefully inadequate. Next up, a plastic wedge-shaped screen that boasts “Revolutionary Patented Design Eliminates Downspout Clogs!

Cyndie picked it up for me from a home improvement store on her way home from an event because I had texted her about the previously-unplanned-but-now-urgent need.

Meanwhile, something that looks like a pigeon keeps making a nest over the large sliding doors. That one’s a lot easier to dispatch. Seems like every time we open the doors, a couple of eggs drop to the ground.

I figure the birds think we are the ones that become pests at this time of year.

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Written by johnwhays

June 1, 2016 at 6:00 am

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Feels Like

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I don’t know if it is universal around the globe, but our weather reports include a “feels like” temperature along with the actual air temperature readings. Most people don’t need to be told what it feels like. We know when it feels like the gales of November even though the calendar indicates we are in the last week of April.

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There have been enough days of increased daylight, and a few early days of spring when the temperature climbed above normal, that plants and grasses have kicked off their growth. On Tuesday, when I got home from work, I mowed about 3/4s of our grass areas. It was so chilly outside that I needed a sweatshirt, but the growth of grass down by the road was enough that I didn’t want to wait.

I figured I would finish getting the remaining portions of yard cut when I got home yesterday, if it wasn’t raining. That didn’t turn out to be the case. There were a few random spatters on my windshield during the drive, and as I neared home, I could see the falling rain in the sky to the south.

DSCN4704eCHThe cool temperatures and falling rain were enough reason to let the horses have a night indoors. Cyndie headed out into the chill to prepare their stalls. When she invited them inside, she described Legacy, the herd leader, started toward her and then paused.

She said it was as if he was uncertain whether he was getting an afternoon chance for grazing the new green grass out in the pasture, or was just being offered shelter from the elements.

The other three horses needed to halt their advance while he sorted this out. Cyndie said they weren’t being very patient about it, circling around in anticipation of continuing on to the barn, but also trying to respect Legacy’s not yet authorizing the choice.

Cyndie described Hunter eventually showing a look indicating he was done waiting. He and Cayenne came up to the gate to get inside. Responding to Hunter’s initiative, Cyndie let him come inside first. Once inside and alone, Hunter called out over being separated from his mates. Cyndie said that Legacy immediately responded with an acknowledging whinny.

She brought Legs next, followed by Dezirea, and then Cayenne.

Back in the house, we sat in front of the fire and listened to the ferocious sound of wind and rain, pleased that the horses weren’t stuck outside where they could find out what the weather actually felt like.

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Written by johnwhays

April 28, 2016 at 6:00 am

Horses Sense

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The weather has been a little cantankerous lately, dishing out some horizontal precipitation in strong winds, with temperatures hovering uncomfortable close to the cold freeze-point. The kind of weather that a horse might not particularly appreciate.

I drove home from work on Thursday at a time between showers. The pavement was dry and the overcast sky looked less glum than the rest of the week. When I came over the hill to the first view of our place, there was no one in sight. Over the first rise of our driveway I discovered a distinct absence of horses.

Hmm. I whimsically asked myself if maybe Cyndie had sold them.

Why would they be inside the barn at this hour?

Sometimes the weather at home and the weather at work can be dramatically different, but all indications showed it to be equally dry. It occurred to me that the horses might be making up for the fact we had left them out the night before, when enough windy precipitation showed up that it exceeded their level of tolerance.

We had put them in the barn two nights ago, due to a cold rain, but Wednesday evening they were dry and seemed content with things, so I left them out. My sleep was disturbed later that night by the sound of blustery precipitation —I couldn’t tell if it was rain, sleet, or ice balls— hitting the bedroom window. My first thought was of the poor horses out there with their heads down, enduring the insult.

I asked Cyndie how they were in the morning and she reported a fairly normal routine and appearance. She said they weren’t necessarily dry, but they weren’t chilled-to-the-bone dripping wet, either.

At the same time, Cyndie did have a fascinating report to offer from that afternoon. She had left Delilah in the house and wandered down to be with the horses for the specific intent of listening to what they might have to offer. With a lot of concerns  on her mind lately, she wanted to stand among the herd with no other cleaning or feeding agenda as distraction.

It was early in the afternoon, and like I described, not a bad day outside compared to the rest of the week. The message she got from the horses was insistent and unmistakable. They wanted to go inside their stalls. Now.

DSCN4526eBy the time I arrived home, it looked like nobody lived there. Cyndie was surprised they would ask to be inside so early, but gave them what they wanted.

A short time after I got home, the snow started flying. Sloppy, wet flakes that painted the deck with moisture. The kind of precipitation that a horse would probably be tired of enduring this week.

The kind of weather a horse would have enough sense to get out of if it had a barn for shelter.

All ours had to do was ask.

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Written by johnwhays

March 19, 2016 at 8:58 am