Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘deer

Quiet Evening

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After dinner last night, I stepped out to spend some time on one of the zero-gravity chairs Cyndie left on the deck. She pulled them out on Sunday to watch the Perseid meteor shower in the wee hours of Monday morning. I opted to sleep and missed that show.

Last night, the air outside was absolutely still. The sky was muted by a white-washed backdrop that held just a few discernible cloud shapes floating in front of it.

The temperature and humidity had eased to a perfectly comfortable warmth for the end of a hot August day. As I lay back in total relaxation, I tried to absorb the moment to the depth of my bones, for use as a reference in six months, when everything outdoors will be completely opposite.

It was so quiet, I could hear the acorns getting dropped to the ground when a bird hopped in the branches of a tall oak tree. The culprit was also adding to the soundscape with an occasional simple one-note, even-pitched tone. That was in stark contrast to the songbird who arrived in a tree behind me to show off a dramatic and richly complex repeating series of staccato chirps, tweets, and climbing trills.

I spotted a dragonfly high above me, near the top of the trees, and followed its aeronautical acrobatics of instant right-angle and logic defying immediate one-hundred-eighty degree turns in what I assumed must have been a feeding frenzy. It kept at it for a surprisingly long time.

The bliss of the moment served as a good remedy for my lake hangover. There might not be a gorgeous lake rippling in our back yard, but we do have plenty of nature in which to submerse ourselves, as an alternative.

Later, back in the house, I caught a glimpse of the doe and two fawns who hang out here regularly enough that we consider them family. They were loitering near the truck before disappearing down the trail toward the chicken coop.

I suggested to Cyndie that she should be extra quiet when she headed down to close the chicken door for the night, and maybe she would be able to mingle with the deer.

Delilah didn’t really know what I was watching out the back window, but she instantly spotted the flash of brown bodies and white tails when they darted out of the trees and crossed the yard to where the trail enters the woods on the other side.

Cyndie didn’t get to do any mingling.

She did find all ten chickens safely roosting in the coop for another day. I took the deer sighting as a sign there wasn’t any immediate threat in the area, implying our animals all enjoyed a quiet evening, too.

Egg production continues to pick up. Yesterday was the first time there were three eggs in a single day. I take that as another sign they are happy and healthy.

It all has me wanting to achieve an unprecedented level of full appreciation for the blessings we are currently enjoying, especially the simple ones like yesterday’s calm and quiet night.

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Written by johnwhays

August 15, 2018 at 6:00 am

Training Pause

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From the “no good deed goes unpunished” file, my zealous efforts of Friday produced a reward in the form of a strained muscle on the left side of my lower back. It doesn’t take much brilliance to figure out the wielding of a heavy pole saw with an engine on the low end and a spinning chain blade on the top turned out to be too much for my limited strength.

It has forced a pause in my biking and plank exercises that has altered a plan to maximize my conditioning prior to the start of The Tour of Minnesota biking and camping trip in June. Maybe it was fortuitous, because the weather has taken a harsh turn to oppressively HOT!

I am resting my painful muscle in the shade of the house. In a meager effort to be conscientious about the use of energy, I struggled to keep the house comfortable yesterday by managing open windows and closed shades. It was almost successful.

This morning, I have already closed the house up and turned on the AC. If I am going to get anything done outside today, as I slowly try to regain function, being able to return to a comfortable house will be very valuable.

I am home alone for a spell as Cyndie went to the lake place for a couple of days to contribute to the opening work-weekend. Jackie had a trip out-of-town planned before she moved in with us, so I am minding the ranch.

Delilah has been a sweetheart, allowing me to rest without constantly begging for attention. I think maybe she notices how crazy hot it is outside and her fur coat doesn’t like being out in the blazing sunshine on days like this.

Walking does seem to be good therapy for my sore muscle however, so we have made the rounds, staying in the shade of the woods as much as possible. This morning, we were rewarded with deer hoof prints on our trail that revealed the presence of a brand new fawn, based on the teeny-weeny size.

I tried to capture an accurate depiction of how tiny the little prints were, but even that doesn’t do justice to how surprisingly small they really look.

After we looped around on another trail, Delilah almost pulled my arm off when she struggled to chase some deer cutting into the woods by the labyrinth. The only view I could get was of a tail. No babies in sight.

Our next stop was the barn, to feed and clean up after horses. While we were in there, both Delilah and I noticed some shadows moving outside the front door. It was the chickens! They are expanding their territory nicely.

I’m impressed.

I’m also anxiously counting their numbers every time I come upon them. Still twelve.

Here’s hoping baby deer and baby chickens all find a way to achieve a healthy first year, and my strained muscle finds a way to heal fast enough that I can get back to biking, despite the heat.

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Written by johnwhays

May 27, 2018 at 10:40 am

Deer Me

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Seriously? Just hours after posting about things that could go wrong, but might not?

Yeah.

I was barreling along at the posted speed limit on the state highway between Beldenville and River Falls in the pre-dawn darkness around 5:20 a.m. yesterday, when a deer ran right into the side of my car door. BAM!

Little did I know, a different deer running across the road in front of me just after I pulled out of our driveway ten minutes earlier, could have served as a warning. I hadn’t seen any deer on my morning commute for months before this.

After passing plenty of fields and wooded areas where deer sightings could be expected, I reached the outskirts of River Falls, where there was a steel business on the right and a cul-de-sac of houses on the left. I wasn’t expecting this activity as the road made a slight bend to the right, distracting advance visibility. A deer suddenly appeared in my headlights from the left and I reacted by pulling my foot off the accelerator pedal.

Before I could move for the brake, a second deer blasted into the door beside me with impressive force.

That was a fine ‘how do you do?’

The shock left me numb for a second and I coasted a little ways before deciding I should pull over and inspect the result of the impact. I don’t know if there were any others trailing along behind the one that hit me, but I didn’t see any more deer than the first two, and they were now out of sight.

I suspect the deer swung around after the initial contact and then smacked the back bumper for good measure. My door was covered with a fair amount of hair. Shedding season, you know.

Fortunately, no glass was shattered, and the function and seal of the door are still good. It’s going to be almost a month before my body shop can get to me. They are still backed up with appointments from ice and snowstorm damaged vehicles from the winter that didn’t want to end.

The estimator said mine was the first of the spring deer damage incidents they’ve seen this year.

Aren’t I the lucky one?

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Written by johnwhays

April 26, 2018 at 6:00 am

Brief Respite

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The air doesn’t have that same bite this morning. The temperature didn’t drop below zero last night. When I opened the chicken door of the coop today, the two Barred Plymouth Rock hens wasted no time in running to their favorite hangout spot with the horses under the barn overhang.

Missing this morning is the bright sunshine of the cold, clear air that slapped us in the face yesterday. That sunrise cast a long shadow as it climbed over the horizon.

Today, we have grayness dominating dawn’s first light. That didn’t provide the cover I expect the deer in our woods was counting on as it rested a few yards off the trail as Delilah and I wandered by. I probably would have missed seeing it if we hadn’t just explored the deer trails off our paths yesterday afternoon.

As a treat for our hyper-curious dog, I decided to give her a chance to follow the hoof prints wherever they led, through many a tangle of branches that challenged my ability to navigate. With her still on leash, we have to do some negotiating as she frantically searches for morsels of deer droppings.

Sometimes, I contort to get under a low branch, or switch the leash from hand to hand to get around trees. Other times, I make her stop and figure out she needs to come back and go around an obstacle to continue in line with me.

We found a surprising number of melted hollows where deer had been laying. That is what informed my ability to spot the one just off the trail this morning.

Delilah had checked the scent of tracks that left our main trail and then picked up her nose to sniff the air of the woods, just like she always does. This time, I paid enough attention to actually see what she was sensing.

The deer was looking right at us, laying down with its head up, but not moving a muscle. I offered a greeting as I directed Delilah to stay on our path for the duration of the walk.

As pleasant as this break from extreme cold is, the forecast indicates it won’t continue for long. Temperatures could rise above freezing on Tuesday and Wednesday, but then the precipitation that arrives could fall as rain before turning to ice and then snow, after which the overnight low will drop back below zero again.

That’s a fine how-do-you-do.

The sick thing is, that’s also one of the reasons I like living here. Am I a glutton for punishment? Maybe we just like having something to complain about in the weather.

Weather provides adventure that I don’t need to travel to experience. It comes to me.

Meanwhile, I know how to enjoy the occasional brief respite.

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Written by johnwhays

January 7, 2018 at 10:51 am

Shared Pain

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It’s the time of year when the bucks traversing our woods are leaving plenty of calling cards. I always wonder if we are seeing marks from just one, or if there are competitors making their presence known.

Cyndie came upon this spot of cleared leaves beside the trail yesterday morning.

Just a short distance away, I found a tree with bark scraped off.

Delilah took particular interest in scents along the path, so I expect there is a lot of aroma communication going on out there.

It is much nicer experiencing the deer activity in our forest than it is dodging them on the road. There have been an unsettling number of deer hit by traffic and staining the road surface on my route to the day-job this year.

If one of the local hunters don’t take down the buck that is visiting our property, I’m hoping I might get a chance for a shed antler.

It will be an opportunity to scour our woods, off-trail with Delilah after the hunting season is over. I just need her health to improve enough that we can ease her activity restrictions.

She had a second treatment from a dog chiropractor last night, where Cyndie learned of a massage technique we are hoping will continue to relieve Delilah of her pain.

The dog and I are on parallel paths of recovery. I’m not using massage to calm my troublesome back, but have returned to my regimen of exercises and stretches to strengthen my core and improve flexibility.

It doesn’t seem like it should work as well has it has for me, but in a rather short amount of time I have regained a remarkable amount of mobility and am enjoying much less pain. The lingering symptom is a constant dull reminder of not-quite-pain in the lumbar region of my spine that occasionally warns me with brief increases of sensation a couple of notches down from the real thing.

Little hints that I’m not all good, even though I’m not feeling all that bad.

I understand exactly what Delilah is going through.

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Written by johnwhays

November 15, 2017 at 7:00 am

How’s Everybody?

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Basically, we are all good, but there are some health concerns that continue to linger for some of the Wintervale crew. Time has not healed all wounds.

After the most recent hoof trimming, Cayenne’s showing a tiny bit of improvement. What we cling to there is that she is, at the very least, not worse. She still shows a fair amount of hesitation on her movements, but she doesn’t appear to be in extreme pain.

It’s possible she may have developed a habit of anticipating pain, and she still limps because that is what she has grown used to doing. It sometimes looks like she steps gingerly to protect herself, not because it hurts too much to walk normal.

Now, Delilah, on the other hand, is behaving quite the opposite. She keeps trying to act like she is fine, but continues to have moments of extreme pain. On Tuesday, we resorted to ordering x-rays of her spine and a more thorough blood analysis.

The results of her blood work are not in yet, but the x-ray showed a minor compression between discs 3 and 4. We were told there also appeared to be some abnormal marks or possible lesions on those vertebrae, which the vet is hoping the blood analysis will inform.

We have returned to restricting her movements to a bare minimum. Regardless, she continues to maintain a pretty happy attitude between moments of looking like she’d prefer to do nothing more than lay down and convalesce.

It’s been a long summer of rehabilitation for Cyndie’s shoulder, but it’s not over yet. She continues to have regular physical therapy appointments to improve range of motion. The good news after her most recent follow-up with the surgeon was that he deemed it unnecessary to put her under and break the scar tissue by force. The bad news was the alternative being extended PT with painful aggressive measures to do the same thing.

The therapist used the infamous “cupping therapy” to stretch the scarred tissue across the grain. Makes sense to us, despite a broad belief that cupping is pseudo-science and any benefits are from a placebo effect. Cyndie is growing tired of the pain from her exercises and the ongoing need to push her limits of stretching and rotation.

At the same time, she continues to find ways to function in her daily activities with only minor limitations.

The rest of us are enjoying a grace period of good health. The chickens will be seeing snow for the first time in their lives. Pequenita is happy to be an indoor cat. We brought the horses in out of the windy wet precipitation last night, but we’ll give them a short shift outside for some fresh air before letting them back into their stalls again tonight.

I avoided hitting any deer on my commutes this week. Yesterday morning, I was lucky to not be a part of a 10-car chain reaction crash,  –nor get caught in the significant backup of traffic behind it– when a vehicle hit a deer on I94, right at the bridge between Wisconsin and Minnesota. I had already passed that spot and was well on my way to work by then.

Everyday I don’t hit a deer in October and November is a successful day.

That’s my update on how everybody is doing today. We are thankful for all our good fortune.

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Written by johnwhays

October 27, 2017 at 6:00 am

Frequent Downpours

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I hope this isn’t an omen. This coming Friday and Saturday we have scheduled a custom event at Wintervale for close friends that is intended to serve as a warmup to the annual Tour of Minnesota bike and camping week in the middle of June. I didn’t mean it to become a conditioning exercise for nasty weather.

I don’t want the weather we are currently burdened with to be representative of what we can expect in a month’s time. The good news is that the last few days have provided several quiet moments of time when it is not raining, between the cataclysmic outbursts of over an inch-per-hour gully-washers festooned with spectacular flashes of lightning and heavy rumbling thunder that roll overhead in gargantuan waves.

The forecast for Saturday: ** Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. High near 56. East wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three-quarters of an inch possible. **

A temperature of 56° with 100% chance of precipitation is not the kind of weather in which I want to ride.

Our rain gauges are getting a good workout, needing to be frequently dumped of the inches accumulating by the hour. It’s crazy making.

Meanwhile, animals just seem to deal with it. Our horses usually choose to stand out in the rain, but occasionally they will stay under the overhang. I wonder if it might be that they are growing used to the roar from the metal roof.

The wild animals are usually hunkered down far from sight, but yesterday Cyndie came across this beautiful fawn curled up on the edge of our north trail.

She reported that Delilah had completely missed sensing the little one and walked right past, oblivious. The momma must have done an excellent job of cleaning the newborn to minimize any scent.

There was no sign of the mother, but she was probably nearby, observing.

When I got home from work, Cyndie took me out to see if the fawn was still there. She held back with Delilah as I moved ahead and scanned the trail. I kept asking her if we had reached the spot yet, because I wasn’t seeing anything. We figured it had probably moved on.

Just as I was about to head back, my eye caught a glimpse of the brown color. It had definitely moved, but not very far at all. The fawn had settled in a new spot, a little off the trail, so that it was better surrounded by the tall grass.

I reached out to snap a shot looking down from overhead and then we stepped away. We didn’t have much time to tend to the horses before the next deluge.

As the rain pounded down with dramatic intensity, I wondered about that fawn folded up in a tight little ball among the tall grass. I was hoping the momma had showed up and guided a route to the woods for better cover.

Or at the very least, higher ground.

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Written by johnwhays

May 18, 2017 at 6:00 am