Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘barn

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

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