Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘deer

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

Not Quite

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First of all, I have good news and bad news to report on Dezirea’s progress. The good news is that she is showing interest in eating and behaving much less depressed. The bad news is that she is showing very little, if any progress toward returning to normal manure production. She remains under close supervision, but we have decided on a path of minimal intervention for now.

I caught several frames of activity on the trail cam a couple of nights ago, but the best way I can describe what appeared in the series of images is, the camera captured Predator in invisible stealth mode. It was actually kinda creepy.

It doesn’t show up in a single image, but when a series of multiple images is toggled, the blur of translucent motion is detectable. One possibility is that a deer was moving too fast for the camera speed. I suspect deer because a minute later, the view picked up an extreme closeup of a fraction of the rear flank of what can only have been a deer passing directly in front of the camera.

There aren’t any other animals that size, except for maybe the Predator.

It’s not quite warm enough for the chickens to be given full access to their little courtyard, but in the days ahead, the forecast looks promising. The birds are showing great interest. Cyndie snapped a shot of two of them enjoying the view out their picture window.

Delilah seems even more anxious for them to come out than they are. Lately, there is nothing about her behavior that assures me she understands their protected status in the hierarchy of our domestic animals.

I’m pretty sure she is not quite there.

Just like Dezirea is not quite back to normal health.

We are standing by expectantly, sending love to all our critters for good health and mutual respect.

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Written by johnwhays

May 4, 2017 at 6:00 am

Safe Visitor

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The month of May arrives for the year 2017 and we are here to greet it with bells on. Well, with something on. I’m just not sure what.

On a bright side, ever since I moved the trail cam back for a wider view of the coop, the number of images captured revealing potential predators roaming around has been minimal.

Most recent, a captured image showed an appearance by a visitor we dearly love having around.

Seeing a deer wandering by seems like a message that there aren’t any scary beasts in the vicinity. How long do you think this will be the norm?

Meanwhile, this morning we reach 72 hours since Dezirea’s symptoms appeared. As of last night, she had not wavered very far either direction toward better or worse.

Cyndie and I spent a little time talking through the situation before turning in for bed. We want to remain open to whatever lesson this presents for us. We can only treat her through options within our means. Whether she recovers, or this becomes an end of life event, we must accept the outcome. We would like to achieve the peace that Dezirea is projecting.

We will continue to do everything possible to provide comfort to Dezirea while helping her get better if she can. She’s in charge of the rest..

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Written by johnwhays

May 1, 2017 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Vacation Disorientation

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It’s a bit dizzying to compound my vacation escape from routine by also burying myself in a memoir while simultaneously binge-watching a spy thriller 6-episode series. What day is it today? Where am I again? Who am I?

I’m certainly not at Wintervale anymore.

dscn5650eWe are up in the woods of northwest Wisconsin. Yesterday morning, as I was comfortably lingering in bed after waking up, I spotted a deer moving through the trees outside our window. Then there was another, moving slowly across my view, pawing and sniffing at the ground as they went.

As I watched, the first one suddenly laid down for a rest. A while later, more deer moved into view, and one by one, they curled up in the snow by the first deer. Eventually there were five of them, and they ended up spending most of the day there, despite a small bit of activity in and out of the front door of the cabin as the hours passed.

I like that our little nook is a spot they find to be comfortable for spending their day.

Meanwhile, I’m reading Robbie Robertson’s “Testimony” and finding my mind ensconced in the 1960s music scene that he describes. Between chapters, Cyndie’s parents have us watching the short series, “The Night Manager,” which involves lavish views of exotic places where thrilling intrigue is at play.

Of course, I submerge myself in the identity of each leading character, so by the end of the day, I have lost myself to being a mixed up compilation of people who are definitely not me.

It feels a little bit like being on vacation.

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Written by johnwhays

December 30, 2016 at 7:00 am