Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘drama

Race Drama

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I need to be careful what I wish for. Yesterday, I tossed out the hope that it might be rainy here at the lake so I wouldn’t feel bad sitting inside to watch the second-to-last mountain stage of the Tour de France. Well, it was storming so bad for a while, there was no signal to the satellite dish for us to receive the telecast of the beginning kilometers.

Luckily, things settled down in time to see much of the excitement. In a dramatic surprise, yellow jersey contender, Thibaut Pinot had to abandon due to a knee injury, but that was greatly overshadowed when the stage was stopped prematurely, mid-descent, due to an epic hail-storm. Times were taken at the top of the previous big climb and resulted in a change in leadership.

Columbian Egan Bernal is now in yellow!

Now the weather here at the lake is gorgeous and I am going to sit inside regardless, to see what drama might top that of yesterday.

It doesn’t solve any problems in the world, but the distraction of a great athletic endeavor for entertainment certainly serves to energize.

Race on!

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Written by johnwhays

July 27, 2019 at 7:34 am

No Mercy

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Graphic Content Warning of Life and Death on a Farm…

It was a gloomy and foggy morning. I offered to build a fire in the fireplace while Cyndie went out to do morning chores, tending to our animals. When I stepped out on the slippery deck in my house slippers to gather kindling, I picked up the unnerving sobs of pain and sorrow wafting within the soup of grayness that covered our land.

I called out to the fog, not having any idea which way the sound was coming from.

“Cyndie?!”

No reply.

I moved around on the deck, trying to get a sense of which direction her cries were coming from. It changed from right to left. I called again and again, but she didn’t reply. I grew angry because I wanted to know if she was injured and what I needed to do in response, standing now on the icy driveway in my slippers.

She was walking upright, and carrying something, so I guessed she was alright. The most likely problem was a dead chicken.

Finally, I demanded a response and she angrily growled that she had killed a possum that had gotten in the chicken coop and killed one of our Australorps.

How did it get in? Cyndie didn’t know. There was no indication of disruption around any of the doorways or windows.

The logical deduction: the critter had already snuck inside when the chicken door was closed last night.

Never underestimate the wrath of a mother reacting to harm of her precious brood. With lethal vengeance, Cyndie unleashed her grievance with a shovel, destroying my custom ramp in the process.

She admitted that any neighbors outside at the time probably heard an earful of expletives howled along with swings of the shovel.

There are now eight surviving hens and they seem very happy to be out of the coop, soaking up the above-freezing temperatures that are the source of all this fog.

The temperature climbed 75 degrees from Thursday morning’s -36°F to yesterday afternoon’s +39°F. Our thermometer reveals it didn’t drop back down below freezing overnight here, so the melting and thawing is in full swing.

The horses seem pretty pleased with the change, too. Free of their blankets, they were romping all over the paddock yesterday, running and kicking with gleeful energy.

This morning, Cyndie and I aren’t really feeling as much glee.

We are left wondering if recent events mean we will need to institute a full nook & cranny search of the coop every night from now on when we close the chicken access door at dusk.

I guess it beats the alternative we faced this morning.

 

Written by johnwhays

February 3, 2019 at 10:59 am

Hail No!

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We got pounded yesterday! It seemed to just come out of nowhere. I was out in the shop when Cyndie stopped by to mention she could hear thunder in the distance. I didn’t even realize precipitation was expected in the middle of the day. It was sunny when I had left the house a short time earlier.

That changed pretty quick. There was a moment when I became aware of a roar that turned out to be rain on the metal roof of the shop. Then came a single “CRACK!” that I recognized right away.

I stepped to the door to watch for more.

Sure enough, there was a slow and steady increase in sharp bangs on the roof. Pieces of white ice started to bounce on the pavement of the driveway. I began to realize that I couldn’t tell how big they were because the hail stones were shattering when they hit the hard surface, but the intensity was increasing enough that I wasn’t about to step out from the protection of the roof to collect them from the yard.

As the duration extended and the intensity increased, it occurred to me to record video of the spectacle. Now you can see and hear what we experienced for yourself:

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After it had calmed to only occasional rare strikes of hail, I rushed out to check on Cyndie and the house, pausing to collect some of the larger stones along the way.

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I was worried about the two skylight windows on the roof of our house. No cracks evident, much to my surprise. I haven’t looked closely, but even the shingles seemed fine, viewed at an angle from the ground.

There were a fair number of leaves pummeled from the trees, but no other obvious damage.

Then I thought about the animals. I have no idea how they reacted to the calamity while the worst of it was underway. I know the noise of it on the metal barn roof must have been pretty disturbing.

I found the horses standing together out in the paddock, looking a little shocked, but otherwise unharmed. They have a pretty thick hide, but strikes from those stones must really sting! How can they not?

Just as I emerged from the trail to check on the horses, the ten chickens trotted out of the trees to greet me, looking as if nothing spectacular had happened for them. I expect the thicket where they can hide was under enough tree cover that falling balls of rocketing ice slowed to relatively harmless speeds.

So, all in all, it was mostly noise that disturbed an otherwise beautiful Friday morning. I suppose the tree leaves would offer a harsher view of the event. Our truck is already so beat and battered that damage from hail strikes is difficult to discern.

We lucked out, beyond a bit of a scare.

Hail makes a really wicked sound as it smashes into everything around.

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Written by johnwhays

September 1, 2018 at 9:14 am

Different Bad

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We thought Sunday morning was bad, what with its dose of a slippery ice-glaze over every surface turning navigation from the house to the barn into a risky balance-testing feat.

Yesterday’s winter storm was very different. School districts around the region started announcing closures before bedtime on Sunday night! Since we were watching the Academy Awards show, it was impossible to miss the added drama of concern about the weather, as it constantly rolled across the bottom of the screen.

The number of school districts grew with each pass of the alphabetically sorted scroll. When the names of the biggest districts in the state showed up, it lent significant credence toward the probability I should plan to avoid trying to travel to work.

I hemmed and hawed over my options, ultimately making the decision before going to sleep. I would stay home.

After sleeping past my normal alarm time for a work day, I woke to discover I could have made the drive in if I’d gotten up like usual. I knew that was a possible result when I decided the night before to stay home, so I wasn’t too frustrated with myself at that point. The real concern was going to be the drive home.

Since I didn’t drive in, the plan was that I wouldn’t need to worry about the drive home.

Except, the real onset of the accumulating snow ended up happening late enough in the day that I could have worked a full shift, after all. I would have been home before things really began to get hazardous.

It was odd having stayed home from work all day when the view out the window looked so harmless. Postings on the local Live Weather Updates site of our public radio network kept warning that the onset was still coming, just delayed a bit from original guesses.

Their warnings ultimately proved totally justified.

Before the precipitation, the wind was gusting to startling degrees. Cyndie reported hearing a tree falling, but wasn’t sure about the location. I was a little nervous about venturing through the woods to look for it while the gusts were still raging.

The snow finally showed up for us around 3:30, and by 4:00, it was already hard to see beyond our property borders. We were suddenly isolated from the world, and being battered by unrelenting swarms of stabbing snowflake blades.

I succeeded in making it to the mailbox and back with Delilah, but she looked like she thought the expedition was a ridiculous idea, gladly retreating indoors when we made it back to the house. Cyndie was tending to the horses and chickens, and I figured she would be in shortly behind us.

Ten minutes later, I looked up from what I was doing and realized the visibility outside had dropped down to almost zero. The snow was coming so thick and wind-blown, I became concerned about how Cyndie was coping. I decided to gear up and go check. This wasn’t just bad weather, this was wicked!

Careful not to blindly pass her, in case she came up a different route than I went down, I squinted for signs of her outline. She was at the chicken coop. The hens had jumped one of the half doors into the barn and didn’t want to return to the coop. Who could blame them? She was hand carrying them back.

I helped to get the last two and we closed up the coop and then the barn doors.

Had I driven to work, I was planning to stay overnight at her parent’s house. Given how crazy, and sometimes even a bit scary it got yesterday afternoon and evening, I’m glad I stayed home.

Regardless how bad it wasn’t earlier in the day, it was worth it so that Cyndie didn’t have to face all this bad weather drama alone.

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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

Grazing Again

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There is a jarring amount of stupid that is getting mixed in with the amazing and sacred energy to which we have access these days. It all flows right over the top of us. We dash headstrong into it. It sashays past when we aren’t paying attention. Sometimes it just lays there and waits to be noticed.

The brilliant, the inspiring, the spectacular light of pure love, and then some dingy gunk getting smeared around with reckless abandon.

Have you ever noticed how some people are able to move through the gunk without allowing it to leave a mark, while others end up covered with it? There are some from the latter distinction who even thrive on the mess and seek out more.

All this energy, the good and the other, is like the air we breath. Many people don’t ever think about breathing, and similarly, many people don’t pay attention to the energy, both from within as well as from other sources.

It is very helpful to notice energy if you are interested in becoming teflon to the gunk.

However, it usually takes more than just noticing. I recently enjoyed some success using what we learned from our horses, along the lines of getting “back to grazing.”

After any of our horse’s many instances of practicing critical evacuation maneuvers when they run emergency response drills, they have a remarkable ability to quickly return to grazing, as if nothing dramatic had just occurred. It’s a skill that I have come to cherish.

It’s a skill I would like to master for myself.

I’ve been practicing, and when I am successful, it works wonders. Consciously choosing to instantly give up whatever just triggered a critical response, and becoming fully aware of my breathing and energy –to return to love and a healthy mindset– is truly life-changing.

Yeah, teflon to the gunk.

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Written by johnwhays

November 17, 2017 at 7:00 am

Near Miss

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Are you as amazed as I am that our three chickens continue to survive ranging freely around our property, despite our having done nothing different to protect them in the time since some predator decimated the flock of nine birds?

It almost seems counter-intuitive that something would attack the large group of birds, but now no critter has bothered with the three that remain. Maybe with such low numbers, it isn’t worth the trouble of stalking them compared to the easier pickings of attacking a large flock.

None of this factored into Delilah’s thinking yesterday.

While Cyndie and I were unloading bales of hay from the pickup and stacking them in the shed, we let Delilah hang out with us to watch. Cyndie had hooked the leash to the front of the truck.

Meanwhile, the three chickens wandered over to peck at the mess of hay shrapnel that falls from the bales. I’m guessing they were growing used to seeing the leashed dog and didn’t feel particularly threatened.

Everyone seemed to be getting along just fine, until Cyndie decided the charade had gone on long enough. She told me that she meant to shoo the chickens away and was planning to remove Delilah from the captive spot to take her for a walk and get her away from the constant tease of free roaming chickens, which surely was tempting fate.

Except that the moment Cyndie processed that thought, (when I think she may have indeed made some sound toward the chickens to back them off) Delilah exploded against her restraint and ruptured the webbing of the harness that held the ring to which her leash was hooked.

Delilah chased, the birds panicked, and Cyndie and I both screamed at the dog with all our energy. The chickens ducked the fence into the paddock, which slowed Delilah a bit, and by the time I got down off the stacked hay in the shed, the dog had paused her pursuit a short distance beyond that fence.

Was she really listening to us? Cyndie thinks so. She declared it a partial victory, because Delilah did choose to stop the chase and did, hesitatingly, come back to us. We were able to hook the leash to a different ring on her harness and Cyndie walked her to the house to confine her until she calmed down.

Disaster averted, but not for lack of trying.

Those three birds must have some special luck that they escaped unharmed again. Or maybe they have a cat’s nine lives. Yesterday seemed like the kind of ruckus that probably used up a life for a couple of our surviving birds.

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Written by johnwhays

July 28, 2017 at 6:00 am

Many Thanks

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DSCN4129eOn this eve of our Thanksgiving holiday, I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to you, my readers, for venturing into my world and joining in my adventures and explorations of Somethings occasionally Relative. You may have arrived to view my stories of a Himalayan trek, our visit to Portugal, my annual bike trips, pictures, poetry, Words on Images, or tales of a transition from the suburbs to our Wintervale Ranch paradise. You may be family, friends, coworkers, fellow WordPress bloggers, poets, photographers, wordsmiths, or happenstance searching link-clickers.

You are my audience, and I thank you for your participation, silent or otherwise.

I hope that regular followers have grown familiar with the usual cast of characters that populate the content of late. A certain dog seems to get the most mention. Long ago I began a move toward dropping constant use of orienting descriptions for people and animals that show up in my tales of adventure and woe, hoping that they were becoming established and familiar to readers over time.

We are many chapters into a book that you are reading as it is being written. What will happen next? I can’t make it up. The drama plays out with little concern about how I might be able to narrate it.

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I purchased a replacement GFCI breaker for power to the waterer in the paddock. It failed, too. My “spidey” sense tells me there is leakage current, after all. Removing the access panel on the waterer revealed an incredible amount of moisture present. No wonder. I saw a statistic that we are currently running in 7th place for wettest November on record.

In the previous two years of having that waterer during the winter, we’ve never faced needing to have the heater on when it was so wet.

I’m temporarily bypassing the GFI safety feature to keep the ice off the water source for our horses. Cyndie had a heck of a time breaking off the ice for them yesterday morning, after I tried a night with no power at all.

IMG_iP0964eIt appears the solar-powered battery supplying electricity to our arena fence is successfully keeping the horses from wreaking havoc on the barrier.

I found a picture I had taken with the intent of showing how wet the ground was, and discovered it caught Legacy in the distance, mouthing the fence. Busted!

Don’t forget, you can click on the smaller images to bring up the full-size view for closer inspection.

Our house is already filled with the aroma of traditional holiday feasting fare. Cyndie has been busy cooking and cleaning in preparation of hosting Thanksgiving dinner here tomorrow. Family that are planning to come should consider bringing mud-boots.

The weather shows signs of possible precipitation, in addition to the water already saturating our grounds. I’m hoping we don’t all end up stuck indoors watching parades and football games, and eating way more than we should as a result of more rain. It would be a shame to miss out on walks in our woods, exercising Delilah to tire her out, walking the labyrinth, and visiting the horses.

I’m guessing we won’t let a little rain stop us from getting out for a little bit.

Thank you for reading!

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Written by johnwhays

November 25, 2015 at 7:00 am

Will They?

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IMG_3567eOne of our current spring dramas is whether our pine trees will recover from the stress they have endured from our dry fall that was followed by the most extreme winter we’ve had in 35 years. I’ve not consulted with an arborist yet, but our trees are definitely browning from the bottom up and the inside out. This doesn’t match the descriptions I find of how winter injury or pine wilt symptoms appear. Whatever it is that is causing the problem, it’s not affecting every single pine, but it is widespread throughout our property and not confined to one spot. We are hoping for the best, but I’m inclined to believe the prognosis is not good. The die-back on many of them is over half the tree.

That isn’t our only drama this spring. We are also anxious to learn whether the maple tree we transplanted to the labyrinth last fall survived the obvious shock it endured from its being uprooted and relocated. If we witness signs of life from that tree in the days ahead, my spirit will soar and we will have much cause for celebration.

There is also concern for the number of plants Cyndie worked so hard to get established in the rest of the labyrinth. This winter was hard on everything, so even if the plants survived the onslaught of snow and long periods of extreme cold, they will now face risks from animals that are trying to eat anything and everything available to recover from their own season-long deprivation. I don’t intend to erect a 10-foot-high fence around the garden to keep deer away, but I fear that is about what it would take to dissuade them from bellying up to our conveniently situated buffet down there.

IMG_3584eWe could ask Delilah to patrol the area for us, as she would be thrilled at an invitation to chase deer, but she would likely wreak her own havoc on plants, as she demonstrates amazing reckless disregard for all living things in her excitement to chase and dig.

One last drama we came face to face with yesterday is the question of whether we will be able to continue allowing Delilah to be both an indoor and an outdoor pet. This is the first spring that she has lived with us, so we haven’t previously needed to deal with managing both spring mud and a dog before.

When we step in the door, we can simply remove our muddy boots. I wish it were that simple for her. Yesterday, a day when the temperature was below freezing, but the sunshine was still melting exposed ground, she got legs and belly covered with mud and manure-cicles. When we came inside, Delilah was rubbed down with a towel in a cursory attempt to dry her off. Later, when we had time, she would get bathed to remove the residual grime.

So much for waiting. Soon we were seeing dark spots all over the floor. The mud and manure frozen to her underside, and which toweling did not remove, was now melting at a rapid pace. Everywhere she walked in our house was becoming a bio-hazard site. Poor dog was unceremoniously evicted and sent to her kennel outside do be dealt with later.

If I thought it stood a chance of working, I’d look into mud boots for her. I wonder if she’d let me wrap her torso with stretch-wrap to keep her belly fur dry.

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Written by johnwhays

March 23, 2014 at 9:31 am

Dramatic Tension

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The stories of our adventures creating Wintervale would get boring if there wasn’t a little drama involved. Last week we experienced the kind of drama that I could do without.

After we received the latest invoice for the ongoing projects, the dose of reality reverberated with a negative ripple effect. “What-ifs” started to run free for both Cyndie and me, and we are way too inclined toward feeding off of each others’ dark moods. It was as if each thing we were hoping to accomplish was crashing down in a succession of lost momentum. I think there was a moment for each of us where our thoughts were headed toward giving up on the whole long-term wild bunch of ideas we have about this place.

At first, I was surprised by the level of emotion that Cyndie was trying to manage, but eventually I came to understand the reason for her extreme reaction. There is an event in the Twin Cities in two weeks, associated with the program where she just completed her apprenticeship. She wanted to already have horses here and our operation functional enough to allow her to market her training sessions to the gathering of people who will be the perfect target audience for what she plans to offer.

When we first learned our offer on this place had been accepted, I suggested we live here for a year, and work on the infrastructure before actually bringing horses into our daily lives. Cyndie had a different timeline in mind, and we were trying to accomplish her more aggressive goal, but the weather has been a primary hindrance for that.

Only recently did we get registered with the state as a business, and we have yet to complete a lot of the administrative steps that we have in mind. It’s all work we can do (unlike some of the farm tasks that neither of us are interested in tackling, like managing a sprayer and hazardous chemicals to apply weed killer to the hay-field like everyone is informing us we need to do), but it doesn’t lend itself to being done all at once.

With that target date that Cyndie was eyeing, we were finding ourselves forced to try to do just that: all at once. And, to do so while trying to train our new puppy dog. See why I was feeling ready to throw in the towel?

I still am not sure what will happen. We obviously won’t be as ready as she wants, but as she slowly recovers from the feelings of giving up entirely, I think she is formulating a way to be just enough partially ready that she can still get her name out there, and collect names of others who have interest in what she plans to offer.

IMG_2510eOne of the things looming on the list of “needs-to-be-done” is smoothing out some of the rough terrain and getting a pasture mix of grass seed planted to improve our hay and grazing. Just when we were thinking we’d never get it all done, an angel appears to help. Our next door neighbor made a surprise visit yesterday. While we were talking, he suggested he could smooth out that area for us if we wanted.

It wouldn’t have felt right to ask, but there he was, volunteering for the very thing we would love to have him do. I found that to be a pretty dramatic moment. And that’s the kind of drama that I more than welcome.

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Written by johnwhays

August 5, 2013 at 7:00 am