Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Belgian Tervuren Shepherd

Best Part

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I might be putting my “great-north-winter-lover” membership in jeopardy, but the best part of my day yesterday was the six minutes when it almost stopped snowing. That pressing feeling of concern over whether the roof tops of all our buildings will cope, how we will ever get our paths cleared again, and if the Grizzly ATV and its aging plow blade will endure the abuse I’ve been putting them through, lifted just long enough to allow some precious moments of relief.

Then it was back to the harsh reality of plowing and shoveling snow up against piles that are already so tall that we are barely able to add to them, while new flakes quickly covered up the progress being made.

Walking Delilah anywhere other than on the driveway now requires snowshoes. Even then, the blowing snow has filled in many of our previous paths to the point of oblivion, and I had to abort a plan of trekking around the outside of the hayfield, because it was too much work fording the deep snow.

Since Delilah breaks trail out in front of me, she was more than happy with my call to bring her back to retrace our steps toward the house. At one point, she picked up a scent of interest just off to the side, and I paused to see what she would do.

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One step into the depths was as far as she got. Apparently the smell wasn’t worth further effort.

It’s official. This is now the snowiest February since the weather watchers started keeping records. Why stop here? Might as well make a run at most snow in any month. We are told there is another snow system taking aim for us this weekend.

I can’t imagine what we are going to get when March arrives. Historically, that is when the biggest snow dumps used to occur. Maybe the shifting global climate has moved that phenomena up a month.

We can only hope.

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Written by johnwhays

February 21, 2019 at 7:00 am

Finally, Snow

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So, if you are going to return north from a week in Florida, in January, you might as well dive head first into the coldest and snowiest days all winter, to make sure you will absolutely and thoroughly miss where you’ve just been.

Luckily for us, our animals so completely missed us that the love and attention they have showered over us has gone a long way to offset the angst of the painfully adult dose of winter that has greeted our return. (We still have all 9 chickens! Although, they weren’t all that fired up to show us any love. They may be hardy winter birds, but they don’t seem hardy enough to want to venture out of the coop when it is really cold, or the ground is covered with new snow.)

Instead of driving to the day-job, I stayed home and plowed snow drifts yesterday. It is hard to tell how much snow fell around here, because the depth ranges from about an inch in some places, to two feet in others.

I took a picture with Delilah in it, but I was focused on showing the fine pathway I cleared around the back pasture fence line.

Then I noticed that interesting cloud bank in the sky.

That was some pretty distinct delineation of cloud and clear sky right there. Nature sure makes cool stuff.

As Delilah and I walked the path around the pasture, I noticed the horses had made cute little circle tracks in the fresh snow, leaving little visible spots of where they foraged grass to graze.

It almost looks like they were on cross-country skis, as they moseyed along.

Speaking of tracks in the snow, as Delilah and I started our walk from the house, breaking trail in the new snow, we came to the spot where our trail cam captured a view of the fox last year. Something had just entered our property there within the hours since this overnight snowfall.

I decided to let Delilah follow the trail into the neighbor’s woods, in case we might find where the fox has a den. She was thrilled to have been granted access to this forbidden land and leaped through the snow to explore where the tracks led.

Well, even though it had been less than twelve hours since the majority of the snow fell, there were already a dizzying web of trails crisscrossing the wooded slopes. The snow was fresh and just deep enough that identification was difficult, but there were so many different pathways that I soon realized the chance we were following one fox had become very unlikely.

We reached a spot where tracks were everywhere, and the leaves beneath the snow were turned up in a wide variety of places. For a second, I wondered if it was a pack of coyotes, but then I deduced it was much more likely to be a flock of turkeys.

No wonder Delilah was so excited over that particular location.

I convinced her to reroute our exploration back toward our property and gave up on hunting for a fox den.

At least we finally have a snow cover that offers better footing than the icy glazing we had battled the previous month.

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Written by johnwhays

January 29, 2019 at 7:00 am

Cyndie’s Shots

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Cyndie has always been incredibly generous about allowing me to post photos she has taken. Lest there ever be doubt, I add her name to the bottom right corner of images of hers that I use.

On my way home from work yesterday, I received a series of images texted from Cyndie that reflect scenes she had captured during the day.

“Why, yes, I’d love to use them!”

First off, this fascinating shot reveals that a couple of deer decided to lay down in the middle of a trail, for a long enough time that they melted the snow all the way down to the ground.

 

That’s a first. With all the excellent cover available, these two chose a large clearing for their naps. Must be feeling plenty safe on our property.

Notice what a difference a few days makes with regard to the snow sticking to the trees. Scroll down a couple of posts and compare this shot with the two I posted a couple of days ago.

There is still plenty of snow out in the fields. Cyndie framed up this gorgeous view of snow drifting around a culvert.

Delilah looks so stoic as an accent to the shadow and shapes below her. I love the perspective of different elevation this provides.

Finally, there is this beautiful sunset.

If you can make out the chicken coop in the distance, the low sun is shining through it such that it looks like a light is on in there.

It’s fair to say that Cyndie has probably contributed more pictures to this blog in the last year than I have.

For that, I am extremely grateful. Thank you, C!

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Written by johnwhays

December 7, 2018 at 7:00 am

Growing Crystals

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It is wet, and the temperature drops below freezing at night, so morning walks offer views of the overnight ice crystal growth. Photo op!

We are enjoying a couple of days with daytime temps climbing above freezing, so our snow cover is dwindling. Walking Delilah along the perimeter trails yesterday, I discovered tire tracks that revealed someone had left the road and driven into the ditch by our property.

Roads in the area are still slippery.

Delilah made a surprise discovery while we were making our way through our woods after I got home from work yesterday. (Interesting coincidence: Ward and I were just exchanging comments related to this subject on my Tuesday post, Feeling Wintery.)

Like she almost always does, she was paying frequent attention toward the center of our woods, obviously picking up the scent of something that interested her. She generally walks a short distance, then stops to look left and sniff at the air, before continuing on for a ways and stopping again.

Sometimes, she picks up a scent on the ground and tries to follow it a few steps off the trail. I tend to pull her back quickly to get her back on task of walking our regular patrol around the property.

All of a sudden yesterday, she bolted to the left as if she was immediately on the tail of some critter, circling around a large tree trunk beside the trail before I could put the brake on her leash. I spotted the pile of fur just as she struck it with a massive bite.

She then let go just about as fast as she had attacked. Uncharacteristically, she didn’t resist one bit when I put tension on her leash to bring her back to the trail.

We walked a short distance and I hooked her to a tree so I could go back alone to see what it was that she had bitten. It was an opossum. I didn’t bother to check for any other detail, choosing to let nature take its course, and us to finish our walk.

If that had been one of our chickens, they wouldn’t have stood a chance.

Even though we keep Delilah on a leash, we also need to pay attention to her at all times.

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Written by johnwhays

November 15, 2018 at 7:00 am

Double Coverage

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This morning, on our return from the morning chores of feeding and cleaning up after horses and chickens, I asked Delilah to pause a moment to allow me a chance to capture the image of the sloppy snow starting to coat our house and yard.

It occurred to me that the leaves covering our grass were getting covered by snow. Double coverage!

A couple of days ago, the temperature was cold, but it was dry. I photographed some leaves that were decorating the frosty glass table on our deck.

Is it possible that I have waited too long to sweep up the leaves from the lawn? It seems as though snow and cold are nipping at our heels.

Last night the time changed from Daylight Saving Time back to Standard. We moved our clocks back one hour. For the record, animals do not recognize this artificial frame of reference. Delilah did not know that she was waking up earlier than our clocks indicated she should.

It’s only one hour, but it tends to have an impact that feels more significant that sixty simple minutes.

Speaking of double coverage, I end up trying to meld my adjustment to the new time designations with the animals’ oblivion over the change.

Today’s wet snow provided a distraction from what time breakfast was being served for our animals. The falling flakes also make a point that winter weather is nigh.

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Written by johnwhays

November 4, 2018 at 10:58 am

I’m Told

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I didn’t go home last night. I’m told there were six eggs collected from the nest boxes yesterday. Sounds reasonable.

My schedule is a little askew. I shifted my hours at the day-job yesterday to work around a couple of appointments, which had me on the clock until almost bedtime last night. Instead of driving all the way home for an hour, I spent the night at the in-laws’ place.

After a few hours of sleep, I’m heading right back to the day-job to pick up where I left off. Covering for sick or vacationing staff is starting to feel like normal operating mode lately. I don’t remember what it feels like to focus on one task at a time anymore.

I missed a little excitement on the ranch yesterday evening. I’m told Cyndie and Delilah spotted a red fox on one of our trails. When it saw them, it turned around and headed back into the woods.

We know there are predators out there, but actually seeing them roaming the grounds brings on a little extra anxiety over our lack of a workable plan to keep them at bay.

Cyndie let Delilah hustle up the trail to where they had seen the fox, but in that amount of time, there was no longer anything to see. Still, maybe there is a chance the sight of Delilah alerting to the fox caused it enough stress that it will see our property as threatening.

No, I don’t actually believe that. I’m just practicing wishful thinking.

I’m also told that Delilah is looking all fit and trim after a visit to the groomer yesterday. Hopefully that doesn’t make her look less intimidating to unwelcome predators lingering on our grounds.

As tough as it was witnessing Delilah gobble up that little stunned songbird last week, I’d be just fine watching her put some teeth to a prowling fox to make a point.

Foxes not welcome! Fox sightings lead to fox bitings!

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Written by johnwhays

September 12, 2018 at 6:00 am

Split Second

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I thought Delilah had tripped. She appeared to stumble as one of her paws slid out from under her on the landing in front of the door to the house.

We had just returned from tending to the horses for the afternoon feeding where Delilah had uncovered one of her prized possessions: hoof trimmings. She had retrieved it from a hiding spot and was clenching the precious find in her teeth as we walked straight back to the house.

There are no detours at this point, because Delilah knows that the next order of business involves serving her dinner. I’m sure the cut of hoof was intended for dessert.

I guess she wasn’t expecting there would be appetizers, too.

As I was sweetly questioned Delilah about what had just happened, using a soft, comforting, albeit confused tone, the wingtip of a songbird appeared out of the side of the dog’s mouth.

I stuttered in surprise for a second and before I could utter a command for her to drop it, the bird let out a little tweet. This brought about two reactions.

I switched to my loud voice to demand that she drop it, and Delilah quickly began chomping.

Sorry about the image that may create, but keep in mind, I had to see and hear it first-hand. You get off easy.

All it takes is a split second.

Then, in one complete second, Delilah swallows and bends down to pick up her piece of hoof. She looks up at the door handle, and then me, ready to go in for dinner.

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I’d lost my appetite, but it didn’t slow her down one bit. For my part, I cut back her portion of canned food in her serving. She just had her protein.

If you could use some consolation, there was a mark on the glass of the storm door that revealed a reason for a bird to be laying on the front step. It might not have been dead when Delilah snatched it, but its demise may have already been determined.

I’m sure Delilah’s intentions were entirely directed by compassion.

Mmm hmmm.

She’s such a dog.

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Written by johnwhays

September 2, 2018 at 9:47 am