Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Delilah

Endless Loop

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Our weather is like a broken record, in the sense of a vinyl record, where the needle gets stuck, jumping back to play the same sound over and over. I almost titled this post, “Broken Record,” but I figured most people younger than me might miss the connotation.

“Needle gets stuck?!”

Our weather is like an endless loop of snow and cold, with barely a break between.

Delilah is showing increasing weariness over the deep snow and brutally cold temperatures. I had to cut short our afternoon walk on Sunday because her feet were bothering her. She would walk a short distance and then lay down to tend to her paws while I waited.

It became very clear that she was happy with my decision to reverse direction and head straight back to the house.

She allowed me to pause for a picture of the labyrinth, covered in an unblemished winter blanket. The path is impossible to discern.

Even though it hadn’t snowed all day yesterday, as I approached home on my commute from work, there seemed to be a surprising amount of snow in the air.

The wind was blowing last Friday’s fresh powder aloft. Is that a big deal? It was when I reached our driveway. A drift was forming on a large portion of the southern banks of the already narrow opening.

Reminds me of the predicament I was managing last week in the wee hours of the morning.

It’s an endless loop.

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Written by johnwhays

March 5, 2019 at 7:00 am

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

Definitely Cold

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This polar vortex is one heck of a weather event, but we are enduring the harshness with general acceptance. I am always amazed that anything still functions at extremely cold temperatures like -31°(F), but at oh-dark-thirty yesterday morning my garage door opener jumped to life at the push of the button, and my car started without complaint, to roll out into the frigid darkness on its rock-hard tires.

As dramatic as the media are being about the danger of this cold wave, many implying that people shouldn’t spend extended time outside or they will die, I hearken back to stories from the 1986 Steger International Polar Expedition. They spent day and night out in temperatures that reached -70°F at times.

We should be able to handle a couple of days of 30-below.

When I got home from work yesterday, the horses were peacefully standing out in the paddock, soaking up the sunshine through their blankets. They are spending nights inside during the super-chill. Cyndie said they now all walk in on their own, one after the other, making their way into their appropriate stalls.

The chickens showed no interest in coming out after the snow last Sunday, so, now that it’s also wicked cold, we don’t even open their door. Yesterday, Cyndie found one beautiful egg in the nest boxes, unfortunately, cracked and frozen.

Cyndie dug out booties for Delilah’s paws, which we haven’t tried since the first attempt was met with total rejection years ago. The results were no different this time. She didn’t like them, but allowed Cyndie to put them all on. A few steps out the door and black boots were kicked in every direction.

It appears the wild rabbits in our vicinity are using activity to keep warm, as their footprints are pounding well-worn paths in the snow. I found a not-so-subtle entrance to a den dug into the snow beside the shop.

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As fast as this vortex from the pole has settled upon us, it will also recede. In its place, the forecast for the coming weekend offers a difference of 70 degrees, with Sunday’s high reaching the mid 40s.

That will definitely feel warm.

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Written by johnwhays

January 31, 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

She Knows

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I walked into the kitchen and said to Cyndie, “She knows.”

Cyndie instantly agreed, “Oh, she totally knows.”

Our departure for a 9-day getaway to visit Cyndie’s parents in Florida was still a day away last night, but both of us picked up a powerful vibe that Delilah was already beginning to mope as a result of our telltale activity.

She laid under the table and watched us with her eyes, without picking up her head. Suitcases had been brought out of storage. Cyndie was kicking into high house-cleaning gear, and both of us were mentally grinding through virtual lists of tasks to be done, items to be packed, “i”s to dot and “t”s to cross.

Delilah has witnessed this scene before.

One of our newer house and animal sitters, Anna, will be taking care of our place while we are away this time. I’m hoping the weather will be uneventful and the predators all stay away while she is on duty. Wouldn’t it be a shame if we lose a hen (or hens) during her stay?

I’ve tried to point out to her that it can happen at any time, hoping she won’t suffer too much if a loss occurs on her watch.

We drive to the airport this afternoon for a flight out around the dinner hour, departing just as a mass of colder air with a chance of some snow is expected to pay a visit. Guess it’s not the worst time to be escaping to Florida.

I’ve been pondering what I might choose to do for blog posts while we are away. One possibility that keeps tugging at me is the challenge of choosing one photo per day to convey what we are experiencing. At the same time, I assume a week of leisure might free me up to do more writing than usual, so maybe I don’t want to restrict myself to a single picture.

Either I’ll write more, or I’ll take a break and write less. We’ll just have to wait and see what captures my fancy, after I settle in to that eastern time zone with the warm, humid air.

One way or another, you can rest assured that, for the next week, I will somehow be sharing the most delectable morsels of our adventures in Florida, visiting Cyndie’s mom and dad.

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Written by johnwhays

January 18, 2019 at 7:00 am

So Christmassy!

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Christmas morning with Cyndie’s family is all breakfast and presents, on a grand scale, both. After getting lavishly fed, we headed downstairs to find 23 people’s-worth of presents around the tree.

It doesn’t take too long for Santa’s little helpers to distribute the packages around the room.

Then begins a cacophony of ripping paper, saving bows, exclamations of surprise/love/and delight, and many voices talking all at once.

As quickly as possible after everything was opened, I needed to slip out for a return trip to the ranch, where Delilah was patiently awaiting some attention. She was very grateful to have a chance to get outside to do her business. I granted her as much time and freedom as possible, trying to make up for the many hours she has been left alone in the last few days.

She seemed to think it made for good opportunity to hunt critters that live in the grass beneath the snow.

“Wha-aat?” she says after we get back inside. “I’m a good girl!”

After I got her fed, and darkness moved the chickens into the coop, it was time for my second drive of the day to Edina.

The Christmas feast which included salmon and beef tenderloin, easily justified the added driving.

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Cyndie stayed at her parent’s house overnight Monday and all day yesterday to help with preparations.

Christmas 2018 was definitely a day that felt wonderfully Christmassy in our family! The added blessings of having Norwegian relatives joining in the festivities was icing on our cake.

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Written by johnwhays

December 26, 2018 at 7:00 am

Well, Hello

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Here’s the thing, I was home alone last night, tending to chores while Cyndie was out. I had finished feeding and cleaning up after the horses, and walked Delilah, but the chickens weren’t quite ready to turn in for the night. It was another beautiful evening, so I suppose they were taking full advantage of it.

After killing a few minutes back in the house with dog and cat, I noticed it was probably dark enough to go close the chicken door. It is such a brief trip, I chose to leave Delilah inside, but did tuck my headlamp in a pocket, just in case it was too dark inside the coop to easily do a head count.

It wasn’t too dark, and I could see that the one Wyandotte that chose to perch against the wall above the window (well above all the others on the roost) just so happened to be the hen missing head feathers. A possible clue that something is setting her apart from the others. Whether it’s her choice or theirs, we don’t yet know.

Anyway, this is beside the point. I didn’t need the headlamp. Well, not until later. After dinner, I wanted to work on one of my creative projects, and noticed my headlamp wasn’t in the drawer where I keep it.

Who took my headlamp?

Oh, yeah, that was me. I had put it in my pocket when I went out to close the coop. But then, why wasn’t it still in my pocket?

This time, I decided to let Delilah come with me. I was guessing the lamp had fallen out of my pocket on the run down to the coop. With a different flashlight in hand, we set out to backtrack my route.

While Delilah mostly obscured my view of the trail, I staggered to keep up with her while scanning the path as best I could. As we got close to the coop, it became obvious that Delilah wasn’t just in her normal rush, she was frantically straining against the leash to get at something.

When I looked up to see what she was after, two little red dots were reflecting the beam of my flashlight right back at me.

Delilah was right in front of it at this point, and I suddenly had to juggle the dang flashlight and her leash to reel her back toward me. The critter just sat, staring. It looked to be about cat-sized, but it seemed odd to me that it hadn’t executed a mad dash in the face of Delilah’s rather threatening level of interest.

Despite our canine’s freaky level of urgency to be granted access, I successfully clipped the locked leash to a tree so that I could make a solo approach for identification.

Well, hello possum.

It stared intensely at Delilah, not up toward me as I stood right in front of it, beside the front door of the chicken coop.

It likely showed up to scrounge the bounty of chicken food off the ground that the hens kick out of the pan we set out during the day.

I got all growly and menacing and the pest finally turned and skittered into the underbrush.

Shortly afterward, I located my headlamp in the snow and everyone lived happily throughout the rest of the night.

No pics of the adventures in the darkness, but this is the lovely face of our wee one who joined me when I crawled into bed at my bewitching hour:

Well, hello there Pequenita!

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Written by johnwhays

December 18, 2018 at 7:00 am