Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘decision making

In Motion

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In a matter of just a few days, a decision to take the next step toward inquiring on the possibility of offering our fields to a horse rescue organization set in motion a series of steps that has us surprisingly close to having horses back on our Wintervale pastures much sooner than we imagined possible. They are very interested in adding us to their existing locations providing summer grazing space for their rescues.

It is happening so fast that Cyndie and I are finding ourselves dizzied over the mixture of glee and cautiousness washing over us all at once. We are thrilled over the vision of horses grazing our land again, but we need to get ahold of our renter and alert him of the loss of access to our fields for his hay. There are gates to reinstall and the automatic waterer needs to be turned back on and checked out. The electric fence hasn’t been turned on in a couple of years and will need some maintenance to restore proper operation.

I know what I will be working on this weekend.

We have already been given a preview of four Thoroughbreds that are being considered for transfer to our place. They are all mares that range in age from 15 to 26. Interestingly, they all have a hint of familiarity with the four Arabians that were our first Wintervale herd that came to us in the fall of 2013.

I’m obviously holding back on announcing this as official and providing a proper full introduction, but it’s such powerful news that I couldn’t stop myself from sharing at least this sneak preview rumor.

Now you will have read it on the internet, so it must be true.

I’ll share more detail as the situation develops. Probably tomorrow. How will I be able to write about anything else while this excitement is unfolding right before our eyes?

Where did I leave my compost-turning pitchfork?

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Written by johnwhays

March 24, 2021 at 6:00 am

Cute Nuisances

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They sure look cute. All three of them, according to Cyndie’s eyewitness account, peering down at her from the great oak tree right outside our front door. I only count two in this photo she sent me yesterday while I was too far away at work to do anything about them.

I suppose I could have thrown a shoe up toward their general direction.

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If there are three young ones up there, logic suggests there is at least one parent also loitering in the vicinity. I’m happy to have so much wildlife wandering around, but we’d rather not have them choosing to reside so close to our home.

The way people around here deal with this kind of thing usually involves firearms, which we are more comfortable not keeping and bearing, regardless of any amendments.

Next choice, live trap, which involves transporting to a distance from which they won’t return at a location they are welcome.

Last choice, which we used when a mama raccoon had babies in the hay shed, pay painfully large sums of our hard-earned dollars to have someone solve the problem for us.

Out of sight, out of mind, out of cash.

As of this morning, I (we) have gone with my tried and true method of making no decision yet, while allowing time to provide a shove toward some solution the universe prefers. We left home and drove up to the lake for Labor Day weekend, taking Delilah with us.

Maddie, our most recent summer animal-care provider, is stopping by to tend to chickens and feed Pequenita while we are away.

Cyndie warned her to close the coop promptly at dusk and keep an eye out for the little masked bandits.

We’ll see what time brings.

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Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2019 at 7:58 am

Rural Pleasures

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We had the wonderful opportunity to drive through the cities to the rich countryside of Wayzata yesterday for the unfortunate occasion of a memorial service. Some of that time in the car spawned discussion about what might be next for us now that we no longer have horses. It is a complicated dilemma, although dilemma is too extreme a word.

It’s really just a question, one that could be simplified to the alternatives of continuing to live here, or selling the property and moving somewhere else. One of the first complications is that there is nowhere else I would prefer to be. We have become very accustomed to the space our little sanctuary provides.

Back home in the afternoon, Cyndie hung up the authentic Guatemalan hammock that our friends the Morales family gifted to us. In the shade beneath giant oak trees, I joined Cyndie to luxuriate in the open privacy of our little nature preserve. Then Delilah decided to join us, too.

We are truly blessed to live here. It is a real struggle to even conceive of leaving for something else.

Discussions have continued on the neighborhood group about our recent close encounter with a mysterious wild visitor. The fisher is too rare an occurrence for some to accept, so the opinion has shifted to a woodchuck.

That’s good news for us, as that would be much less threatening for our chickens.

Those hens seem to be luxuriating in the rural pleasures themselves. It’s pure luck that no predator has disrupted their ranks all summer and it seems to have inspired a dangerous, comfortable confidence in them.

One of them has decided she doesn’t need to use the nest boxes in the coop to lay her eggs.

This morning, Cyndie noticed a newborn cow in the neighbor’s pasture. Last week, she reported a group of five eagles soaring together, high in our sky. Delilah picked up a feather left on one of our trails by a wild turkey and carried it like a precious treasure for several minutes, ultimately dropping it with a vividly contrasting lack of interest.

Today, it is beyond my comprehension that there is any other place where I will be as happy living as our rolling hills in the rural countryside of west-central Wisconsin.

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Written by johnwhays

August 18, 2019 at 9:39 am

Making Decisions

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With everything around here growing at warp speed, now would be a really bad time to lose the services of our Stihl power trimmer. Isn’t there a law of probability about this?

While Cyndie was making headway against the grass jungle taking over the gazebo on Monday, the trimmer became “wobbly.” She discovered the main drive shaft tube had suffered a metal-fatigue fracture.

That’s not good.

I dropped it off for repair in the evening, but their backlog of work is running at two weeks. It’s scary to imagine not being able to trim for that many days.

Cyndie thinks we should buy another one, and I am hard pressed to argue. There have been many times when we both could be trimming at the same time.

Pondering this. Something about it doesn’t feel right. I’m driven to balance the logic of a cost-benefit analysis, a crystal ball vision of what our future is here, and that unsettling gut feeling about the expense. Then I need to deal with the fact there is no right or wrong answer in the end.

You know me and decision-making. It’s not my favorite thing to manage.

One thing that I’m glad that we weren’t relying on me to decide, yesterday we got the details from our neighbor about his plan for the hay-field. It makes total sense to me now.

While he was cutting on Monday night, he was listening to the weather forecast. The outlook for rain all day Thursday was holding strong, so he smartly stopped cutting any more than he thought he could get dried and baled by the end of today.

We received encouraging news from him about our fields. He said the grass is real thick underneath, likely due to the mowing we did all last summer. In addition, he clarified that the tall grass going to seed was not Foxtail, as Cyndie feared (which is not good for our horses’ mouths), but the premium horse hay staple, Timothy.

We still have a long way to go in our transition from suburbanites to Ag-wise country folk.

(Brings to mind my stuttering pause into the phone when I was asked what kind of cows were trampling our property a couple of weeks ago. Um, big ones?)

Amidst the angst of dealing with equipment failures, it is refreshing to learn some good news about the outcome of our efforts to improve the quality of what is growing in our hay-field and pastures.

Despite all the challenges that continue to arise (and decisions thus required), Wintervale continues to evolve in an encouraging way for us.

Hurrah!

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Clutter Rearranging

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With the weather finally making a turn for the better, yesterday Cyndie spoke about possibly cleaning up in the garage to find gardening tools. The May labyrinth Peace Walk is only two weeks away, and she wants to trim back the winter-kill on the plants before the big day.

I spent the morning rearranging the gigantic winter manure pile in the paddock, while she brushed the shedding horses as they munched hay. They are definitely ready to be done with their winter coats.

I hope that means they know the cold temperatures are done for the season.

After lunch, we started poking around in the garage. One thing led to another and pretty soon we found ourselves into a full-fledged spring cleaning effort. The kind that uncovers boxes of things that haven’t been touched since we moved in.

I finally got around to sweeping sawdust off the yard tools stand which had been there since 2014 when we had carpenters build the storage room in our basement. That’s four years of not bothering, for those keeping score.

They did the majority of sawing in the garage, and everything got covered in dust, but that tool stand was right in the line of fire and was buried. With all the rakes, shovels, pruners, loppers, and brushes hanging on the portable stand, the sawdust was deemed harmless and not worth the time.

My Achilles heel of order happens to be flat surfaces. After much of the garage clutter had been pulled out and sorted, Cyndie took advantage of our momentum and went after the workbench in the back corner that is a catch-all to a monumental degree.

Old fluorescent light bulbs, some associated fixtures, screws and brackets left over from purchased assemblies, a broken staple gun, boxes, bags, gloves, old shoes, metal rulers I didn’t know I had, an electronic work light I don’t remember.

It’s great to dig into all of this stuff, but the questions that lead to things landing on that flat surface in the first place still remain. Do we throw away or keep? If we keep, where to put it that will be of any value to us in the future? If we throw, how to dispose of the electronic or hazardous items than can’t go in our weekly trash bin?

Unfortunately, way too much of the stuff that we cleaned out of the garage yesterday made its way down to the shop, where the flat surfaces are now doubly cluttered.

The house garage now looks pretty nice, but it wasn’t really a great clutter busting effort in the end.

It was clutter rearranging.

But it’s a start.

We need to go prune some plants in the labyrinth. The shop clean up will be a project for another day, hopefully sooner than in four years.

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Different Bad

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We thought Sunday morning was bad, what with its dose of a slippery ice-glaze over every surface turning navigation from the house to the barn into a risky balance-testing feat.

Yesterday’s winter storm was very different. School districts around the region started announcing closures before bedtime on Sunday night! Since we were watching the Academy Awards show, it was impossible to miss the added drama of concern about the weather, as it constantly rolled across the bottom of the screen.

The number of school districts grew with each pass of the alphabetically sorted scroll. When the names of the biggest districts in the state showed up, it lent significant credence toward the probability I should plan to avoid trying to travel to work.

I hemmed and hawed over my options, ultimately making the decision before going to sleep. I would stay home.

After sleeping past my normal alarm time for a work day, I woke to discover I could have made the drive in if I’d gotten up like usual. I knew that was a possible result when I decided the night before to stay home, so I wasn’t too frustrated with myself at that point. The real concern was going to be the drive home.

Since I didn’t drive in, the plan was that I wouldn’t need to worry about the drive home.

Except, the real onset of the accumulating snow ended up happening late enough in the day that I could have worked a full shift, after all. I would have been home before things really began to get hazardous.

It was odd having stayed home from work all day when the view out the window looked so harmless. Postings on the local Live Weather Updates site of our public radio network kept warning that the onset was still coming, just delayed a bit from original guesses.

Their warnings ultimately proved totally justified.

Before the precipitation, the wind was gusting to startling degrees. Cyndie reported hearing a tree falling, but wasn’t sure about the location. I was a little nervous about venturing through the woods to look for it while the gusts were still raging.

The snow finally showed up for us around 3:30, and by 4:00, it was already hard to see beyond our property borders. We were suddenly isolated from the world, and being battered by unrelenting swarms of stabbing snowflake blades.

I succeeded in making it to the mailbox and back with Delilah, but she looked like she thought the expedition was a ridiculous idea, gladly retreating indoors when we made it back to the house. Cyndie was tending to the horses and chickens, and I figured she would be in shortly behind us.

Ten minutes later, I looked up from what I was doing and realized the visibility outside had dropped down to almost zero. The snow was coming so thick and wind-blown, I became concerned about how Cyndie was coping. I decided to gear up and go check. This wasn’t just bad weather, this was wicked!

Careful not to blindly pass her, in case she came up a different route than I went down, I squinted for signs of her outline. She was at the chicken coop. The hens had jumped one of the half doors into the barn and didn’t want to return to the coop. Who could blame them? She was hand carrying them back.

I helped to get the last two and we closed up the coop and then the barn doors.

Had I driven to work, I was planning to stay overnight at her parent’s house. Given how crazy, and sometimes even a bit scary it got yesterday afternoon and evening, I’m glad I stayed home.

Regardless how bad it wasn’t earlier in the day, it was worth it so that Cyndie didn’t have to face all this bad weather drama alone.

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Unexpected Result

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DSCN4541eI suppose you could say this about most any day, but yesterday did not turn out anything like I thought it would when I woke up in the morning. One thing just led to the next and I ended up driving home in a new car. I credit the wise advice of my sister, Mary, who found several opportunities to urge me toward taking action, combined with Cyndie’s unwavering support.

The ultimate decision happens to be a sure-fire way to fix the check engine light that kept coming on in the old WRX.

The curious trigger that set the whole unplanned chain of events in motion was an exploding tire on the wheelbarrow we use more than any other tool. It is the key weapon in our arsenal for managing manure.

I was turning and reshaping one of the compost piles when Cyndie arrived with a fresh contribution. I took the wheelbarrow from her to dump it on the pile and she noticed one of the tires looked curious. She asked if it might be flat, so I reached down to check it with a squeeze. It burst!

Boom! It was flat now. Guess I don’t know my own strength.

That was going to need repair without delay and forced an unplanned shopping trip. After a brief debate over eating lunch first or heading out immediately, we settled on the fateful decision to eat at home. During that pause, I received a call from my auto repair shop confirming the new exhaust sound I reported on the WRX was because the catalytic converter had busted.

That news quickly confirmed it was time to take action on a plan I had mulled over for months. We altered our destination for finding a replacement tire for the wheelbarrow to a store in the same town as our safe deposit box, so I could get the title of the WRX. That car is now for sale.

It just so happened that I had applied for an auto loan at our bank a few hours earlier in the day, to see how much new car I could comfortably afford. I talked Cyndie into driving a bit beyond the bank and Tractor Supply store, so we could test drive the next Subaru I was considering buying.

DSCN4543eAt the end of the day, I was driving home in a current model Crosstrek. It has been over 2 decades since I had that new car smell.

For a guy who drags his feet making decisions, that was a flurry of significant ones in a single day, one after another. If it weren’t for that exploding tire on the wheelbarrow, I would have likely spent the day wondering what to do about that WRX.

Now that problem will become someone else’s opportunity. I’ve moved to higher ground clearance, so I won’t be busting a performance bumper on critters that jump in front of me at highway speeds, and I won’t be dragging my undercarriage on snow as often, when I leave in the mornings before roads get plowed.

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Written by johnwhays

March 26, 2016 at 6:00 am

Decision Averse

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Starting with my recent unsuccessful battle to solve a problem with my car that has the “Check Engine” light repeatedly coming on, I have developed a nagging urge to update my transportation. This is no simple thing. There is a reason I have only owned 2 cars in the last 25 years.

I don’t like the process of buying them.

Even the shopping portion of the overall ordeal is a burden for me, and that should be the easy part. I am known to be decision-averse. Shopping brings up nothing but choices which complicate my decision-making process.

My current car is getting on in years, and it is decidedly lacking in features that have now become pretty standard technology. I would appreciate having extras like a backup camera, controls on the steering wheel, connections for mobile devices like my phone or iPod, and most importantly, higher mileage. But, I have lived without those long enough now to be satisfied that I can get along just fine without them.

How do I decide a change is justified? And not just any change, but a very expensive one. And one which will require loan payments like I haven’t had for a long, long time.

Whatever it ends up costing to solve the current issue that is triggering my “Check Engine” light, it will be a lot less than what I am contemplating spending on an upgrade.

I struggle deciding because there is no obvious right or wrong answer. It’s all possibilities, feelings, and wants. It is possible the current car will not cost a lot to maintain after this current problem gets solved, or something else on it could succumb to age and drain even more dollars out of my pocket. It’s hard to say.

A little research revealed my car is worth a lot less in trade or direct sale than I imagined at this point in its life, so that makes me think I should just keep driving it as is. There is more value in keeping it than trading it away. I’ve come this far with it, why give up now?

DSCN4420eDSCN4419e.

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The old beast is a sad sight under the constant spray of chemicals coming off our treated winter highways. After only 2 days of driving to work and back, that is the coating that results, giving my car a two-tone look. It’s disgusting.

I wouldn’t want to subject a new car to such abuse. I should keep this car and avoid the need for a loan.

See how this works? A great way to help the decision-averse process things is to have them write out the pros and cons of the issue at hand. I find myself contemplating the importance or weakness of details I am writing out, as if playing the role of a reader who would be a devil’s advocate, offering an opposing view.

It often helps me write my way out of a stalemate of indecision.

I wonder what it will take to resolve my persistent “Check Engine” light. It appears the fuel filter was not the final fix, after all.

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Written by johnwhays

February 10, 2016 at 7:00 am