Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘dogs

Stealthy Visitors

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We had a light coating of snow overnight Sunday night and that made for great tracks viewing yesterday. Cyndie spotted footprints that didn’t come from our chickens.

Based on recent sightings, we both believe it was a pheasant that we’ve seen hanging around recently. These tracks were made between the time Cyndie and Delilah headed out on a walk and returned a short while later. They never saw the bird that walked by.

There were also paw prints from a critter large enough to take interest in chickens.

 

In fact, Cyndie followed the trail of these tracks right to the coop, where she found the chickens all perched up on the roost as if seeking refuge as far above the ground as possible.

No harm done. Not this time, anyway.

Just some footprints in the snow from stealthy visitors in the broad daylight.

Maybe the visitors didn’t have enough time to linger longer because Cyndie and Delilah were making rounds. In the case of our chickens, this is probably a very good thing.

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Written by johnwhays

January 14, 2020 at 7:00 am

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New Chaos

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We almost made it through two days of calm respite at the lake before the universe dished out a new dose of chaotic drama. My sense of orderliness is getting plenty of exercise, whether I want it, or not.

The idyllic afternoon in the water slowly eased into a delicious dinner of charcoal-grilled burgers with fresh corn-on-the-cob. Stories and laughter around the table topped off dinner and lasted until a call to join others by the lodge.

It was dark outside. There were a lot of people gathering on the deck next door. A bunch more were sitting around the fire at the lodge. Cyndie had Delilah on a leash. I was carrying my travel guitar in its case and arrived on the deck, having just walked up from the fire pit. The neighbors have a white dog that looks like one of the miniature mix breeds. Cyndie had been told the little dog was inside their cabin.

It all coalesced into a split-second explosion of dog conflict that revealed Gracie wasn’t inside. I turned to witness the fracas and ended up using my guitar case as a lever against Delilah as people scrambled to separate them.

Gracie was surprisingly calm, but inspection revealed she was bleeding from a puncture wound. The decision was made to bandage her up for the night and seek veterinarian advice today.

Cyndie and I are frustrated by Delilah’s quick transformations from calm to aggressive, but this degree of conflict is a new level that has us crushed.

The night was already laced with heaviness by reports of a community member in the last hours of life after years of cancer treatments.

I was on a quest for a break from life’s pressures, but the reality of new challenges occurring every day is helping me to adjust my focus toward the art of nurturing an intentional peacefulness that surfs above the turbulence which circumstances perpetually roil.

This morning I am conjuring extra love for people and animals and sending it to all the world. New love to sooth new chaos.

Peace.

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Written by johnwhays

August 11, 2019 at 8:27 am

Weekend Alone

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Cyndie is out of town with her parents this holiday weekend, so I am the sole pet guardian. Was this supposed to be easier after we no longer had horses? A certain high-energy dog has shown no problem filling in the space. The invisible protective border we need to maintain between her jaws and our flock of free-ranging chickens complicates my including Delilah as a companion for many of my projects around the property.

I let her tag along when venturing to the far side of our land with a wheelbarrow (we haven’t replaced the ATV trailer yet) to fetch some black dirt from a pile left over from the first year we moved here and had fence work done. I have been mixing dirt with composted manure to fill some holes in the yard. One was started by burrowing rodents and the other by spinning wheels of the New Holland tractor, both voids then expanded by rainstorm flowing runoff.

I need to leave Delilah behind when collecting compost because that task is a chicken magnet. They love helping when worms and other crawly critters might be involved.

Heading deep into the western woods is far enough from chicken territory that I’m comfortable hitching Delilah’s leash to the wheelbarrow, half hoping she might consider helping to pull in the desired direction. We hauled more pavers to the ever-expanding length of our trail that is messy mud.

Originally, I laid it out with a wider spread, but after walking on it and navigating the ATV on the trail, I’ve changed to more of a single file pattern. Simple stepping stones is all that’s needed in keeping up out of the sloppy muck.

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Do you see how nicely the moss adorns blocks that have been there a while?

All these small projects were diversions from mowing grass, hoping that waiting a day might allow a small fraction of drying to occur. That is despite my knowing from experience that it takes more than two days for the slow flow of excess groundwater to trickle down and out of here.

The sun can be shining bright for two days after a spell of rain and that’s when the low areas will be at their wettest. If we are lucky enough to have two more dry days, the footing starts to firm up again. Too bad that won’t be the case this week.

Delilah will be stuck in the kennel again. I gotta mow today.

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Written by johnwhays

May 26, 2019 at 8:28 am

Lucky Eight

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It is such a treat to open the access door to the nest boxes in the afternoon and find fresh eggs. Our lucky eight surviving hens seem as happy as can be with the hints of spring that have flashed for brief moments between blasts of foul weather. Yesterday, they rewarded us for their good fortune by providing the maximum eight eggs.

The chickens are a far cry from having horses, but they are now the primary distraction filling the horse-energy void. The warm, sunny day yesterday had them actively scouring the grounds in a circuitous, wide-ranging meander.

I generally walk Delilah in a direction away from where the hens happen to be hanging out, but it gets harder to do when they are moving around to so many places, in so quick a span of time.

The dog and I made our way to the high spot by the driveway and messed around in some of the last remaining dirty snow.

She likes to rub the sides of her snout in the snow to scratch a nagging itch. The cold temperature is probably soothing, as well.

We are headed for a run of days with temperatures above freezing, so the rain moving in will likely finish off the dwindling patches of snow that have lingered. Hopefully, Delilah won’t switch to rubbing her face in the mud.

Cyndie is flying to Florida for a few days again this week, so it falls on me if Delilah needs extra grooming. My methods tend to involve avoidance of hazardous areas, to ward off the need for putting in any extra clean up effort.

Our walks yesterday were strictly confined to areas where mud was at a minimum, but that worked because there happened to be a few areas that weren’t soaking wet. That ends as soon as the rain arrives.

She may end up confined to the driveway pavement for the next few days.

At the same time, since it’s not supposed to be freezing overnights, I could always pull out the kiddie pool. Yet, I’m just a little hesitant about testing fate like that, because with my luck, that might trigger another spring snow storm.

You know, I think the chickens are actually easier to tend to than our dog.

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Written by johnwhays

April 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

Growing Crystals

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It is wet, and the temperature drops below freezing at night, so morning walks offer views of the overnight ice crystal growth. Photo op!

We are enjoying a couple of days with daytime temps climbing above freezing, so our snow cover is dwindling. Walking Delilah along the perimeter trails yesterday, I discovered tire tracks that revealed someone had left the road and driven into the ditch by our property.

Roads in the area are still slippery.

Delilah made a surprise discovery while we were making our way through our woods after I got home from work yesterday. (Interesting coincidence: Ward and I were just exchanging comments related to this subject on my Tuesday post, Feeling Wintery.)

Like she almost always does, she was paying frequent attention toward the center of our woods, obviously picking up the scent of something that interested her. She generally walks a short distance, then stops to look left and sniff at the air, before continuing on for a ways and stopping again.

Sometimes, she picks up a scent on the ground and tries to follow it a few steps off the trail. I tend to pull her back quickly to get her back on task of walking our regular patrol around the property.

All of a sudden yesterday, she bolted to the left as if she was immediately on the tail of some critter, circling around a large tree trunk beside the trail before I could put the brake on her leash. I spotted the pile of fur just as she struck it with a massive bite.

She then let go just about as fast as she had attacked. Uncharacteristically, she didn’t resist one bit when I put tension on her leash to bring her back to the trail.

We walked a short distance and I hooked her to a tree so I could go back alone to see what it was that she had bitten. It was an opossum. I didn’t bother to check for any other detail, choosing to let nature take its course, and us to finish our walk.

If that had been one of our chickens, they wouldn’t have stood a chance.

Even though we keep Delilah on a leash, we also need to pay attention to her at all times.

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Written by johnwhays

November 15, 2018 at 7:00 am

Woods Changing

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Fall has arrived and it sure feels like it outside this morning. There is a distinct chill in the air, despite the ongoing global warmup occurring.

Well before the fall landscape color palette changes from green to red/orange/yellow, an inside view reveals the impending change.

There aren’t a lot of leaves on the ground yet, but there is a definite thinning of foliage going on. Delilah and I were traipsing along the soggy trail yesterday when I took the above picture. Times like this bring great appreciation for the “boardwalk” we envisioned in one of the swampy spots of our trails. It is an ongoing installation of blocks I remove from shipping pallets I salvage from the day-job.

Once again, it is getting easier to leave the trail and bushwhack through our woods to explore rarely visited spaces. I think this may subtly contribute to a universal attraction people share for fall, along with the obvious colorization and comfortable dew point temperatures. The woods open up and provide easy accessibility.

Friday night the easy access seemed to invite a noisy visitor to the grove of trees just beyond our house. Delilah spends many precious minutes every day barking in response to the sound of neighboring dogs miles away. Friday, that neighboring bark came from darkness just beyond the reach of our flood light.

Oddly, Delilah felt no need to respond, although she took great interest in our sudden fascination with the mysterious trespasser outside the back door. My guess was the stray visitor had treed a raccoon, or squirrel, or turkey and was “shouting” at it.

Last evening, during our last big walk of the day, I let Delilah’s nose direct us off-trail through the woods along the many odd paths frequently traveled by a variety of resident critters.

I also put fresh batteries in the trail camera to resume monitoring the night life visiting the chicken coop.

It was a very quiet night there last night. No motion until almost 6:00 this morning, when a cat wandered past.

We took down the netting around the coop yesterday, making it easy again to clean the poop board, so maybe traffic will pick up with time. Not that we wish for that. I just see it as inevitable.

Inevitable like the end of summer growing season, which is marked by the first real overnight freeze. I’m in no particular rush for that, other than a desire to be done mowing the grass for another year.

With the woods changing noticeably, and the noted chill greeting us this morning, we sense the big freeze isn’t far off.

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Written by johnwhays

September 23, 2018 at 9:38 am

Split Second

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I thought Delilah had tripped. She appeared to stumble as one of her paws slid out from under her on the landing in front of the door to the house.

We had just returned from tending to the horses for the afternoon feeding where Delilah had uncovered one of her prized possessions: hoof trimmings. She had retrieved it from a hiding spot and was clenching the precious find in her teeth as we walked straight back to the house.

There are no detours at this point, because Delilah knows that the next order of business involves serving her dinner. I’m sure the cut of hoof was intended for dessert.

I guess she wasn’t expecting there would be appetizers, too.

As I was sweetly questioned Delilah about what had just happened, using a soft, comforting, albeit confused tone, the wingtip of a songbird appeared out of the side of the dog’s mouth.

I stuttered in surprise for a second and before I could utter a command for her to drop it, the bird let out a little tweet. This brought about two reactions.

I switched to my loud voice to demand that she drop it, and Delilah quickly began chomping.

Sorry about the image that may create, but keep in mind, I had to see and hear it first-hand. You get off easy.

All it takes is a split second.

Then, in one complete second, Delilah swallows and bends down to pick up her piece of hoof. She looks up at the door handle, and then me, ready to go in for dinner.

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I’d lost my appetite, but it didn’t slow her down one bit. For my part, I cut back her portion of canned food in her serving. She just had her protein.

If you could use some consolation, there was a mark on the glass of the storm door that revealed a reason for a bird to be laying on the front step. It might not have been dead when Delilah snatched it, but its demise may have already been determined.

I’m sure Delilah’s intentions were entirely directed by compassion.

Mmm hmmm.

She’s such a dog.

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Written by johnwhays

September 2, 2018 at 9:47 am

Getting Along

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It has become a daily occurrence to randomly hear a startling eruption of Delilah suddenly darting after Pequenita and chasing her down the hall in a race to our bedroom. Our first inclination is to holler at Delilah about the altercations, but there has been plenty of evidence implicating ‘Nita as the occasional instigator.

We try to pass it off as sibling rivalry, but I suspect the infamous history of perceived animosity between their species is the real culprit. Delilah wants to play like a dog and Pequenita seems to think that is a ridiculously un-feline way to behave.

There is no doubt that Delilah flaunts her size advantage. On more than one occasion, I have seen Delilah simply walk over and stand above Pequenita. Sometimes she will try to augment that with a single paw draped over ‘Nita’s back.

Pequenita’s response depends on her mood. She always seems wary of the possibility things could escalate to a hazardous level, but primarily chooses to be patient and wait out the disturbance in her finest queen-of-the-world repose.

When the canine gets distracted for a second –a guaranteed occurrence, every time– the feline will make her escape. That is the moment the unexpected race to the bedroom suddenly shatters the serenity we might otherwise be enjoying.

Sometimes, when I reach down to pet Pequenita, her back feels wet. I always hope it was just a gentle grooming she received from Delilah’s tongue, and not an attempted “tasting.” We have seen Delilah hold her mouth open, combing Pequenita’s back and tail with her teeth as the cat walks away.

Then we get that look from the dog.

“What? I was just standing here, breathing when she walked by!”

Our house pets are doing nothing to refute the perception that dogs and cats can share living quarters, but it’s mostly a function of barely tolerating each other in the face of a constant preference to rather be with their own kind.

Sounds like a couple of political parties I’ve read about.

Hmm. One method of helping dogs and cats get along well with each other is to socialize them when they are little puppies and kitties.

I wonder if we can devise a way to eventually improve government function by intentionally striving to get play dates between children whose parents hold opposing political views.

I’m not confident the planet will remain habitable long enough to see if that could work.

Living in a house with a couple of pets who are constantly practicing the art of tolerating each other has me frequently thinking about how nice it is when we all just get along.

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Written by johnwhays

August 18, 2018 at 9:22 am

Star Spangled

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Cyndie cooked up some star-spangled black cap jam yesterday! It all started with some pre-canning berry picking when Elysa and Ande arrived to join in the fun. Made from real fresh berries.

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Then the cooking magic in the kitchen commenced, using more sugar than I am allowed to be in the same room with, leading to jars upon jars of the precious dark jam.

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And a filled kitchen sink.

Just to top off the busy afternoon over the stove, Cyndie baked two loaves of bread so we could test out the jam while it was still warm. The flavor treat set off fireworks in my taste buds!

Speaking of fireworks, one of my trusted news sources (who shall go unnamed to protect their reputation) let me down royally with a timely story offering four tips to help dog owners ease the stress of frightened pets during the sunset hours of exploding ordinance this time of year.

One: Don’t take your pet to the fireworks show.

Really?

Two: Keep your pet safe at home.

Isn’t that the same thing as not taking them to the show?

Three: Try over the counter remedies.

Oh, why didn’t I think of that before?

Four: Make sure your pet is microchipped.

July 4 is the number one day dogs and cats get lost, it says.

Well, that is not a tip that will ease my dog’s stress, so that was only three morsels of expert advice.

Color me thoroughly disappointed in that “helpful” tidbit of intrepid journalistic expertise.

We ushered Delilah into her “den” for the night, and she was able to quietly ignore the repeating echoes of small arms fire sounds percolating well past my bedtime. Delilah sleeps in a crate with a cover draped over it, which seems to provide her with enough comfort that she will generally ignore most activity overnight.

Last night, I could have used a sound proof cover over my bed. Regardless, once I got to sleep, it was dreamy visions of star-spangled black cap jam dancing in my head all night long.

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Written by johnwhays

July 5, 2018 at 6:00 am

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