Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘dogs

Not Silent

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When Delilah suddenly barked at the door to the deck, Cyndie asked me if I had heard what set her off. I missed it completely. She said it was howling of some dogs or coyotes.

Nope. Didn’t hear that.

It’s not rare for Delilah to jump up and bark at some distant sound. Honestly, more often than not, I don’t hear what initially sets her off. When thunderstorms are on their way toward us, Delilah provides an alert well before I perceive the first rumbles. When it’s not thunder, it’s usually gun shots or barking dogs.

She is always quick to add her statement to the chorus. It is a general robust report of a bark, or sometimes several. When we don’t react to her concern, she often loses interest in short order.

Later, Delilah suddenly erupted with a distinctly different explosion of barking. It was pretty obvious that this time she had actually seen something that was setting her off. Cyndie went to the door to have a look for herself and Delilah almost pushed her over in frenzy of reaction over whatever was out there.

The last time I saw something similar from her, I discovered several deer standing right outside the front windows, almost as if they were teasing her by not panicking over her outburst.

Whatever she saw last night must have vanished immediately. Cyndie couldn’t get Delilah to settle down, so she walked her out of the bedroom. I decided to step out onto the deck. With no critters in sight, I wanted to listen for something that might explain the doggie dramatics.

I spoke loudly to be heard through the closed-door, telling Cyndie I’d seen nothing and it was silent out.

Except it wasn’t.

As I paused with hope of detecting some sign of an animal invader, it struck me how not silent it actually was.

Off by the barn, or maybe around toward the front yard, there was some repeating shrill chirp or tweet at a steady rate loudly making itself known. The silence I was interpreting was with regard to barking, howling, rifle reports, or grumbling thunder. There was none of that.

However, once I recalibrated my listening threshold, I became aware of a multitude of additional sounds. By this time, I was well past finding anything to explain Delilah’s flip-out, but I was wonderfully entertained by the growing number of sounds I was beginning to notice.

There was an obvious large truck taking up more bandwidth than was pleasant. Several other small bird calls were suddenly adding warbles to the audio track. Somewhere in the vicinity of where I was standing, a small critter sounded to be picking at some tree bark, but my eyes failed to locate it.

I suddenly stomped on the deck, hoping to startle a potential stowaway. Tuesday night/Wednesday morning there was a raccoon on the deck that had Pequenita smashing into the glass door somewhere around oh-dark-thirty. Our kitty was showing some territorial concern, but the ‘coon almost looked as if it had amorous intentions.

Nothing reacted to my stomp.

The night went back to being silent, except for all the ways that it was not.

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Written by johnwhays

April 12, 2018 at 6:00 am

Little Details

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In the slogging day to day of experiences that are hardly noteworthy, little details can become a surprise of noteworthiness. You can’t plan it. Things just happen. The greatest value is in simply noticing when happenings happen.

Yesterday, I was walking Delilah along one of our oft treaded trails when I suddenly felt this child-like urge to toy with her as obsessively fixated on some scent. I dropped to my knees in the snow and put my head next to her, excitedly asking her what she was smelling.

She seemed a little taken aback by my odd behavior, but carried on sniffing when she saw I was just joining her in the action. I zeroed in and put my nose right at the slightly discolored spot she had been checking.

Nothing, nothing, nothing, OH MY!

Skunk!

I smelled a faint, but very identifiable scent of a skunk.

Maybe if I would put my nose to the ground in the same manner that dogs do, I would gain a much greater understanding of why she reacts the way she does on our daily treks around our land.

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Written by johnwhays

February 18, 2018 at 10:44 am

She Survives

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Much to our surprise, our Buff Orpington appears to be functioning normally after enduring a dangerous encounter which drew blood on Saturday in a fracas with our Belgian Tervuren Shepherd, Delilah.

Yesterday afternoon, Cyndie witnessed the hen drinking water and eating food in the coop, and when I peeked in on the chickens, our hero was in one of the nesting boxes, cooing.

I don’t know how she does it.

Looking back over the whole experience of deciding to make the blind leap into having chickens, despite knowing we had a dog who would do everything in her power to foil our plan, I am in awe of these three survivors who have endured every calamity of our inaugural year.

We thought it would be good to have chickens to help control flies, but we didn’t have a coop. So, I built a chicken coop. Then we just needed to get chickens. Cyndie ordered three each of three breeds from an online site.

Therein started our crash course in caring for chickens. Absolutely every challenge that arose was a first for us. Cyndie learned how to clean baby chicken butts when several of them developed problems.

We gambled on moving them to the coop before the weather had really warmed up consistently. We basically guessed our way through training them to free range, yet return to the coop. Finally, we left them completely on their own to avoid any number of potential passing predators.

Unfortunately, the losses started with Delilah, who ended up producing our first fatality when she broke free and grabbed a Rhode Island Red by the neck. Then in June, we lost six birds all in one horrible evening to an unseen attacker.

Somehow, the three that have survived all the challenges are closing in on their first birthday next month. I feel like they are doing it almost in spite of us.

After what the Buff has just been through, she has earned the bragging rights as toughest of them all.

Here’s hoping they all channel the survival skills gained in their first year into long and prosperous lives, and more importantly, that they might teach any new chicks that happen to show up, how to do the same.

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Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2018 at 7:00 am

Please No

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Not again. This morning, we are wondering what we will find when the door to the chicken coop is opened. Yesterday, Delilah once again broke a hook holding her leash and this time attacked the Buff Orpington hen.

I was up on the other side of the house splitting wood when my phone rang. Cyndie’s voice immediately revealed something was wrong.

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Intent on making my way through the entire pile of logs stacked at the base of the big oak tree, which first required sledge-hammering them out of the frozen block they had become, I had already fought off several urges to take a break and do something else.

I couldn’t deny the urgency implied by Cyndie’s call.

Rushing down to the sunny southern end of the barn, I found Cyndie standing with the chicken in her arms. She wanted me to hold the bird so she could search for visible injury that would explain the blood on the ground. Finding nothing, she took the Buff back and asked me to look.

I suggested she give the hen a chance to stand on her own and we could watch her. The Buff stood just fine, but that is when I noticed blood on the beak. It appears the injury was internal.

We are hoping maybe she just bit her tongue. She was breathing and swallowing, with some effort, and the bleeding did not appear to be continuing more than the initial small amount.

If she survived the night, the next goal will be to witness her drinking water and eventually eating food.

As soon as Cyndie had reached the dog and saved the chicken, she marched Delilah up to the house and shut her inside. When we came in for lunch, it was pretty clear the fiercely carnivorous canine was aware she had displeased her master. Her body language was all about remorse.

It was hard to not continue being extremely mad with Delilah for hurting the chicken, but that moment was now in the past.

I decided to take her out for a heavy-duty workout. Strapping on snowshoes, I headed off to pack down a path on our trails that hadn’t received much attention since the last few snowfall events.

Since Delilah has a compulsion to be out in front and pull, that meant she was breaking trail most of the way and expending more energy than normal, which worked right into my plan.

Much to Delilah’s surprise, I also had a plan to double back in the direction from which we had just come, giving me a chance to pack several of our paths a second time.

Each time that happened, Delilah would race to come back toward me and then pass by to get out in front again, pulling against the leash to which I gladly added drag.

I’m pretty sure any energy she got from engaging in the attack was long gone after her unusually intense afternoon walkabout, but I doubt she fully grasps that our earlier displeasure was because the chickens hold protected status.

We’re not confident, but we hope we’ll still have three chickens to continue teaching Delilah to leave alone, despite her irresistible canine instincts.

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Written by johnwhays

February 11, 2018 at 7:00 am

Mostly Healthy

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Other than choosing to regurgitate the entire undigested contents of her stomach on our bed the other day, Pequenita is leading our animals in staying healthy.

The good news about the others is that all are showing promising signs of improvement.

Delilah had a quick relapse to yelping in pain after her promising signs of normalcy a week or two ago. Happily, that regression was short-lived and she has re-emerged with more of her old vim and vigor once again. We remain cautious about encouraging too much rambunctiousness, lest she experience another similar setback.

She has a second visit to the doggie chiropractor scheduled for next week. We are trying to constrain her activity a reasonable amount until then.

Cayenne’s swollen eye has settled down nicely, but shows signs of still being irritated. Cyndie washed it out again yesterday. Since all the horses were due for a fall visit from the veterinarian, we will have a chance for her eye to be seen this morning when the Doc comes to give all of them some attention.

I’m doing my best to keep up with everybody else’s progress and enjoying increased mobility and reduced pain with every passing day. ‘Nita does her best to keep my legs stretched out and warm for me. I think my tight hamstrings do me no favors at avoiding problems with my lumbar discs.

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I have been grossly negligent about stretching and exercising for best back health, but as soon as the trouble showed up last week, I became a planking maniac again. The problem with that was that the muscles of my torso became incredibly stiff and didn’t want to take on the load my ailing back wished they would.

Stretching like a yoga master became the third option.

 

Written by johnwhays

November 10, 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

Rain Results

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We are back home on the ranch and I am walking Delilah across the slippery, crusty snow on our trails again. It is interesting to see how the water from the rain on Christmas day continued to flow beneath the snow on a journey to lower terrain. There was enough pressure behind the draining water to push it up over places where water before it had reached open air and froze, thus creating slippery mounds of ice across trails in several places.dscn5660e

It appears that the majority of the rain water that pooled up in our drainage swale and the lower areas of our back pasture and front hay-field has frozen in place.

Looks like I could create a little skating rink of my own right here at home.

While the trails in the woods have now frozen pretty solid, there are many spots where it is easy to see the remaining evidence of the layer of water that was underneath the snow.

My foot prints from tromping through the mess last week are now frozen proof.

dscn5664eIt’s going to take a significant snowfall to fill the hollows of my boot prints and cover the slippery hard packed pathways left behind after that unseasonal Christmas thunderstorm.

Unfortunately, that kind of weather event isn’t showing up as likely in the weather forecast for the week ahead. That means the footing will remain treacherous for walking the dog.

Maybe I should look into a sled I could sit on so she can pull me around on her walks. It would be a good distraction for her to have a purpose other than sniffing every molecule of evidence left by critters who have shared the trails with her in the recent past.

It is pretty obvious by her behaviors that there are many of them and they are leaving their scent on branches as well as in the tracks they leave behind.

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Written by johnwhays

January 2, 2017 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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