Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘drama

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