Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘barn

Fine Love

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I was clinging to life yesterday, what with an intermittent drippy nose and a congestion headache invading my otherwise stellar health, and from beneath my snuggly blanket, I kept hearing lyrics from a John Hiatt song, over and over in my head.

I’ve seen an angel or two before
but I never asked one to be my wife

Cyndie and I have taken turns caring for each other over the years, and when it’s my turn to be the patient, Cyndie becomes an angel of mercy for me.

She took this picture yesterday morning that gives the impression of some kind of energy emanating from our barn. I expect it is a couple of dissolving jet contrails that painted the morning sky in such dramatic fashion, but I’m happy to imagine that it means something about our place.

Love is one of the pillars by which we live our lives, and it continues to inspire our imaginings of what might be possible on our precious property in the rural countryside. The last few years have been a struggle, in a variety of unrelated ways, not the least of which was the passing of our herd-leading horse, Legacy.

The ongoing painful dysfunction of our government that for over two years has been providing a daily scourge of depressing results hasn’t helped, either.

Cyndie and I are in a bit of a holding pattern as to what comes next. It was a response to her discoveries working with horses, and our time spent with Ian in Portugal that brought us to this property. I was happy to join her in this adventure to unknown possibilities.

Back to John Hiatt’s song…

I left my map way back there baby
I don’t know where we are
But I’m gonna pull my pony up
Hitch my wagon to your star

“Real Fine Love” Written by: JOHN HIATT Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

 

I’m not sure what comes next, but it seems to me that it would likely have a focus that emanates from that barn.

Whatever it is, it will be infused with a real fine love.

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Written by johnwhays

January 5, 2019 at 9:52 am

Lone Straggler

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Apparently, a pattern is developing with one of our Buff Orpingtons, that she lags behind the group when it comes time to return to the coop for the night. Cyndie describes a funny scene that happened the other night when she was feeding and cleaning up after the horses.

The chickens tend to congregate under the overhang at times, but we don’t want them in the barn, so it becomes an added hassle to navigate the door while going in and out during chores when they are present. Cyndie had shooshed them out, but one Buff stayed after the others wandered off toward the coop.

After the sun had disappeared below the horizon, that Buff showed signs of wanting to return to the coop, but acted rather timid about trekking through the snow to get there. She would get only so far and turn and run back to the preferred confines with the horses under the overhang… several times.

Cyndie finally made the trip herself, and had to coax the hen to follow her the whole way.

Silly bird.

Last night, I went down to shut the chicken door for the evening, and when I got there in the dim light of dusk, it was all quiet, but for occasional sleepy cooing from inside. I spent an extra minute or two clearing the track for the door so it would slide all the way, and that was enough time to give me the feeling all was settled in there for the night.

It was a pleasantly quiet time and the fading gradient of orange glow transitioning to blue-black of night on the horizon was gorgeous. I was just about to head back to the house when my conscience urged me to truly confirm all were present and accounted for before leaving.

Thank goodness for that.

I opened the big door to peek in and counted eight bundles of feathers. Luckily, in the low light remaining, I could tell it was a Buff that was missing. Not thinking of Cyndie’s recent tale, I feared the worst. I had already lingered long enough to know she wasn’t anywhere near the coop. 

Where would I look for her body, I wondered.

I stepped away from the coop, toward the barn, and what do I find?

That lone straggler timidly trying to decide if she wanted to walk all the way back to the coop all by herself. Silly bird.

I can’t help thinking how sad it would have been for her to finally make it all the way, only to find the door sealed for the night, if I had dashed back to the house without looking inside to count them first.

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Written by johnwhays

December 8, 2018 at 9:40 am

No Idea

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It’s a complete mystery to us, and an entirely unexpected circumstance for the demise of another chicken. I fully expected it would be a predator killing and running off with our next victim.

Jackie found an ominous scattering of black chicken feathers inside the barn yesterday afternoon when she arrived to tend to the horses.

We leave the bottom half of the split doors closed all day to dissuade the chickens from getting inside and leaving their calling cards all over the barn. They are certainly capable of hoisting themselves high enough to get up and over the half doors, but we have yet to catch them doing so.

Our first question is, then how did she get inside? Did she come in of her own accord?

The scattering of feathers were generally confined to two separate spots. What caused the loss of feathers?

Eventually, the trail of feathers led to the discovery of a body, curled up like a little napping kitty, back behind a stack of rakes and shovels leaning against the wall. The deceased hen was completely intact, with no visible wounds.

What was the cause of death?

We have no idea.

Did it get inside on its own and then have a panic attack? Did a predator chase it inside? Carry it inside?

Would a potential predator leap over the door? A cat would.

Did the chicken come inside and then surprise a predator inside? Most likely guess would be a neighbor cat that was trespassing in our barn.

This would have happened sometime in the middle of the warm sunny day yesterday. Cyndie and Jackie said it was really windy around here during the day. Did that have anything to do with how or why the chicken ended up in the barn?

No idea.

We are now down to 9 chickens, three each of the three breeds we purchased. In fact, we only paid for nine. We received 1 extra chick for each breed back in March. This marks the end of the spares provided to cover for possible loss due to any hardships for day-old chicks traveling through the US Postal service.

We received other news from Jackie last night. After a couple of weeks back in classes at UW River Falls, she has decided she needs to move back on campus. Our live-in helping hand will no longer be available to provide the coverage for us like she did through the summer. Jackie has allowed us a good number more weekends away than we’ve been able to achieve previous years.

Our basement “apartment” may be back on the market for someone who knows and loves horses. Also being able to handle a diva of a Belgian Shepherd would be an added plus.

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Written by johnwhays

September 14, 2018 at 6:00 am

Horses Endure

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Our horses seemed about as pleased with the monumental April weekend of snow as we were. Despite the weeks of being confined to stalls at the beginning of the year, the relentless onslaught of blowing snow had them eager to get back indoors again.

In the picture above, you can see that Cayenne seems to have stepped up to the front position, which hints at her moving into the leadership void that was left by Legacy’s departure. We’ve noticed several instances lately where this new hierarchy appears to be normalizing. Dezirea, the senior mare, looks to be comfortable maintaining her usual position as the assistant manager, overseeing things from the back of the line.

There was a fair amount of urgency in their attitudes when it came time to bring them in each afternoon. Once inside, out of the wind and wet, the horses calmed significantly.

In the mornings, they willingly step out again for some fresh air, but after a few hours in the storm, they start to look for signs we are preparing to bring them back in.

When we didn’t get to it as quickly as they wished on Sunday when the snow was falling fast and furious, we started to hear a fair amount of vocalizations from them, expressing rather clearly that they felt they had endured enough of the harsh conditions.

It’s going to be a muddy mess out in the paddocks for a while now, but I think the arrival of some sunshine today, and again later in the week, will go a long way toward soothing their recent frustrations.

As it will for us all, I’m sure.

I can’t wait for April weather to actually get here for real.

As for this “Apruary,” we’ve had enough.

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Written by johnwhays

April 17, 2018 at 6:00 am

Wind Wins

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There is no question about who has the upper hand in our never-ending battle against the wind. I figure we are running about 2-to-1 against, between us and the wind in the years we’ve been here.

One of the more spectacular fails we experienced happened in 2014 when my first version of our wood shed was tossed over by a particularly blustery thunderstorm.

We have lost more trees and limbs to wind than I can count.

The winter wind has created havoc on our driveway numerous times, filling it with drifted snow that piles up multiple times the amount that actually falls out of the sky.

Monday’s blizzard of snow and wind racked up another victory over our feeble attempts to protect ourselves and our animals from the ravages of the gusts.

Cyndie reported that upon opening one of the doors to the barn yesterday morning, she needed to shovel a drift… on the inside.

The chicken coop suffered a more evenly distributed coating of snow on the inside. My ingenious design of the mesh ceiling beneath the roof panels was no match for blowing snow at the angle and rate mother nature dished out for hours on end.

I asked Cyndie what the chickens thought about the situation.

She reported a cacophony of upset hens.

I guess I understand their angst, after our forcibly removing them from the expansive barn (despite the one drift) to the extremely permeable confines of their small coop.

I bow to the prowess of the wind.

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Written by johnwhays

March 7, 2018 at 7:00 am

‘Nother Day

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It’s a gorgeous Saturday morning here on the ranch, with snowflakes flying and a fire dancing in the fireplace. Wish you could be here to take it all in with me, but since you are not, I’ll try to enjoy it enough for all of us.

I’m afraid Hunter is going to see this as another day of imprisonment. Despite our belief in an equine sense of the world that is heightened beyond our perceptions, I all too often fall back into a common thinking that we are outsmarting him.

The doctor’s orders are for full-time confinement in the stall with extra bedding for at least a week, plus daily doses of an anti-inflammatory. Whether or not Hunter recognizes our efforts are aimed at relieving his pain, he is not accepting the regiment willingly.

The way Cyndie describes the relative futility of injecting medicine into the mouth of a horse who doesn’t want it reminds me of raising kids. However, there is a big difference between imposing your will on a helpless little baby and a 1000-pound horse.

Watching Hunter battle his forced confinement by biting on the top board of his stall that is just barely out of reach for him breaks my heart when comparing this option to the acres of rolling open fields he is longing to gaze upon.

Our exercise becomes one of searching out a flavoring agent that might loosen his clenched teeth when medicine is delivered, and testing all manner of gimmicks for him to “play” with that will pass his time within the four walls.

We bought a two-burner heat fixture that is mounted atop a small propane tank in hopes of throwing a little heat into the barn during the veterinarian’s visit. Only one of the burners worked. The valve on the second one wouldn’t feed gas unless the starting button was held in.

The instructions said to hold it for 30 seconds. I tried, 3o, 40, a minute, two minutes. Yeah, I’m that patient.

No, it wouldn’t work.

At least the below zero cold is on hold for the days this week, and we are at a balmy 15°(F) with all this snow flying today.

We don’t need no stinkin’ heater.

Luckily, Hunter has received a room upgrade at the inn. Due to a recent vacancy, he has moved from a stall with no window to one on a corner that has two windows.

Here’s hoping he is enjoying the view of the current snow-globe landscape and not wasting his energy gnawing on the top board.

Send our sorry pal your love!

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Written by johnwhays

February 3, 2018 at 10:33 am

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