Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘farm

Not Static

leave a comment »

Nothing is as static as my mind tends to imagine it to be. The constant changes and endless activity I have witnessed on our property in the past 3 years are convincing me that my general impression of the world has been a gross oversimplification of reality.

I think I’ve already written about my amazement over how relatively fluid the “solid ground” actually is. I know that farmers who need to pick rocks out of their tilled fields year after year are well aware of this ‘fluidity.’

DSCN4325eYesterday, a day that was about as plain as an uneventful winter day can be, I was trudging up one of my shortcut paths through the trees between our barn and the house when I suddenly became aware of all the debris collecting on the snow covering the ground.

It is a blaring announcement about how much activity is actually occurring in the seemingly static days that have followed last week’s snow storm. I’m guessing that squirrels are responsible for much of the shrapnel that has fallen from the trees, but I expect there are plenty of other less visible actors in the constant change taking place.

I need only look to the manure pile to witness evidence of the microscopic players at work in a feat of perpetual transition. Even though growing things all appear to be in a winter state of dead or dormant, the manure pile continues to cook at 140° F. There is an amazing amount of activity going on in the center of that pile.

I used to think there were two states of a mouse trap: tripped, or not. Now I know there is a third one. It is called, gone. I have lost too many mouse traps to count. Before we went out of town last Thursday, I added new peanut butter bait to the two traps in the garage. It had been too many days in a row without any evidence of activity, and I knew better. The mice had definitely lost interest in the traps.

The tally upon our return was, one trap with a mouse in it, and one trap gone. I don’t know if a mouse got caught in the trap and something else hauled it off somewhere, or the trap snapped on a mouse that could still run away, dragging the trap with it.

My response to all this is that I am not going to devise any single solution to situations that arise. I will endeavor to change the way I deal with things just as often as the challenges morph in new and different ways.

It’s not any spectacular new innovation. I’d say it’s pretty much how things have been throughout time. I’m just coming to a realization that I can choose to frame my perspective differently.

You could say I am planning to observe and respond to situations with more fluidity.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

January 4, 2016 at 7:00 am

Again, Anticipate

leave a comment »

I’m thoroughly under the weight of the oppressive symptoms of a cold, and have grabbed an old “Words on Images” for today in place of boring you with the gory details of my day in bed. Here’s to better days ahead…

Anticipate.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 6, 2015 at 7:00 am

Contagious Contentment

leave a comment »

There is no way to adequately describe how amazing the ambiance can be here on a calm and sunny morning. Last Saturday, I wandered toward the barn and found the horses luxuriating in the warm October morning sunshine. Their contentment was mesmerizing and contagious.

I stopped and gazed at them for a good long while. There were no sounds from automobiles passing or from farm work around us. Occasionally the sound of a bird accented the otherwise silent atmosphere.

It was priceless. And I was there to experience it.

This is what I saw…

DSCN4051e.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 21, 2015 at 6:00 am

Disappearing Delilah

leave a comment »

My inability to master the art of dog training is revealed in our lovely canine’s increasing confidence in behaving any way she pleases. Just two days ago, I was lamenting our failure thus far to stop Delilah’s behavior of jumping up on people engaged in hugs during greetings or departures.

She just wants to participate in the hugs, of course, but her nails on unprepared backsides are not something we feel our guests should have to deal with when they are otherwise occupied. Both Cyndie and I recognize that we have failed to gain the upper hand on demanding compliance with our instructions. The formula of training by way of rewarding good behavior, as opposed to a focus on punishing bad behavior, evades us when it comes to the current challenges.DSCN4015e

Cyndie has been doing a heroic effort of conditioning Delilah to stay close to us when we allow her the freedom of being off-leash, frequently calling her back for check-ins and rewarding her with treats when she promptly complies. It had been working well for quite some time, until I distracted Cyndie in the barn yesterday when I sought her assistance installing my first half-sized slow-feeder box in Cayenne’s stall.

That brief period of our distraction from Delilah’s whereabouts led to the hunter girl wandering off in search of irresistible prey beyond the borders of our property. Cyndie didn’t want to give up without a fight and scoured our trails, blowing her whistle and calling Delilah’s name.

She even drove the truck in a search of the roadways immediately surrounding us. The only thing that came out of that effort was a texted greeting from George, after he saw her drive past their place. Once again, Delilah was in the “dog house” with us. From past experience, I knew our dog would eventually show up at one of the doors, happy as could be, covered in burrs, and clueless to the level of transgression she had pulled off.

After a long spell, just as I expected, Delilah did return home. We treated her matter of factly, allowing her a long drink at her water bowl, after which, Cyndie took her outside to remove the burrs.

DSCN4020eDSCN4024e.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

I don’t know how, but she seemed to recognize our displeasure. Her behavior for the rest of the day and evening was akin to her having put herself on a “time-out” all on her own. She didn’t demonstrate any of her usual playful behaviors, repeatedly seeking attention by bringing a ball or other toy to us, or simply walking up and putting her head in our laps.

She demurely laid low the whole time. I can only hope she was using that time to think about what she had done wrong, and was feeling entirely remorseful. Sadly, the other possibility is that she was just so exhausted from having had such a fantastic getaway that she needed the rest and was saving up her energy for the next opportunity to do it over again.

Trust me, she is back on full-time leash protocol again, and will be for the foreseeable future, whether she understands the correlation, or not.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 5, 2015 at 6:00 am

Random Miscellany

leave a comment »

My writing may not seem very well thought-out plenty of times, but composing a post with some manner of a theme or point does involve a fair amount of mental exercise for me on a regular basis. Let’s see if there is any difference in the result if I purposefully neglect any planning whatsoever for today’s post, and allow myself freedom to spout off on whatever comes to mind.

Trust me, there is a part of me that genuinely fears the possibility there will be no noticeable difference.

It is normal for me to oscillate between doubting everything we have decided to do here since our move from the suburbs, and feeling like the last 3 years are a destiny that we couldn’t have avoided if we tried. That’s probably not an uncommon thought process for a person to experience. It does tend to make me feel a bit schizophrenic on occasion.

For me, it is easiest to just continue to plod along in the general forward direction during the periods of doubt and confusion, so there isn’t much worry that I will panic and bail out all of a sudden.

Sometimes it helps to have Cyndie support my decision, or encourage me when I hesitate to come to the conclusion myself, to give in and call a professional on tasks that frustrate me. I am relieved we have elected to seek out a plumber to look at a leaky frost-free hydrant on the house. It enables me to have our whole-house filter installation verified, because it appears to be in backwards to me and has always bothered my sensibilities.

Another task that is frustrating me is getting our hay-field cut and baled. We have been relying on the generosity of our neighbor, George, for the most part in the past, but that’s not reliable because his availability is limited. It stresses me to not have control over the harvesting of our field, but I haven’t reached a point of finding a solution, so I plod along with that on-going stress simmering in the back of my mind.

DSCN3993eOnce again, Cyndie comes to the rescue with a wonderful gesture(s) of supporting my interest in being mindful of eating a healthy recommended amount of sugar in my daily calories. Last night she baked a banana bread after researching recipes that had low glycemic index numbers. It tasted great to me.

Too bad I won’t get any of it tonight, because the day-job is so busy I will work late today and spend the night in town at her parent’s house, instead of driving the long commute home.

I noticed Cyndie checking out a mail-order catalog last night, and it struck me how much life has changed for us lately. Now she stays home to manage the ranch and scans the FarmTek “wishbook” that arrives in our mailbox, and I spend too many hours distracted with demands of the day-job.

It is lucky that I paused my drive up the driveway yesterday afternoon, to drop off a few  supplies I picked up on my way home. Opened the door to the shop and was met with the distinct odor of dead rodent. There was a drowned chipmunk in the water trap that would have been extremely unpleasant by the time I get back home on Wednesday.

It definitely feels like I’m not in Kansas (*Eden Prairie*) anymore.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 29, 2015 at 6:00 am

Gorgeous Here

leave a comment »

It is absolutely gorgeous here right now. Among the reasons we chose September for our wedding, the biggest one for me is, it is my favorite time of year. The humid heat of summer is breaking, and the air is crisp, with cool nights and warm days. When the sky is clear, the blueness is exquisite and it’s no longer so necessary to avoid the toasty sunshine. In fact, it practically begs a person to pause and soak it all in.DSCN3968e

The challenge is, there is barely a moment for pause. The daylight grows short and preparation for winter weather requires new projects be added to the list of others already underway or planned. This year, I am feeling as though the growing grass didn’t get the memo about the arrival of September.

It is hard to get ready for winter when summer won’t back off and make room for fall.

I spent most of the afternoon mowing lawn yesterday, after filling that dang right front tire on the tractor with a green slime leak sealant.

Today I face the need to work the power trimmer to knock down the robust growth along edges and fence lines. It’s a chore that resonates of mid-summer responsibilities, with one improvement:

That crisp and gorgeous September air doesn’t cause it to be such a sweaty, sticky job.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 20, 2015 at 9:10 am

Double Double

leave a comment »

I am doing double, double-duty this week: at home, I am covering for Cyndie while she is visiting the west coast with friends, and at the day-job, I am filling in for a vacationing employee. What an unfortunate coincidental timing for these two situations to occur.

I am taxed with not being able to leave home before rush-hour traffic builds, because I need to tend to our daily morning animal-care routine first, while at the same time, I have twice the work facing me at the day-job, which realistically requires I spend extra time there. Not gonna happen. I need to get home early to rescue Delilah from the confines of her outdoor kennel and then feed the horses their afternoon nutrition.

Somethings gotta give, and I’m afraid it’s going to be service to our customers for a few days. Maybe they won’t notice.

At home, I fear the never-ending grass growth is likely to be my ongoing nemesis. It needs mowing again already! I didn’t have time yesterday after work. Between needing to give Delilah a healthy amount of attention and cleaning up a day’s worth of manure, the ever-shorter evening daylight hours were easily consumed.

DSCN3967eNow that I am checking the temperature of the composting manure pile every day, I am finding that I need to turn it over with the pitch fork much more often that I had been doing.

I took a picture of the thermometer displaying that it was over 160° (F) again, after I had just mixed it around on Sunday. What a fascinating phenomenon that heat generation is.

Speaking of heat, we are enjoying a spectacular rendition of warm September days this week. Yesterday felt like warmth of a summer day, but there is no mistaking the subtle clues that frame it as autumnal.

I expect that the changing angle of the sun contributes greatly, but the actuality of that is not entirely obvious. Around our place, we’ve already got enough crunchy leaves over our trails that they are contributing a distinct fall-like aroma to go along with the auditory serenade that happens beneath footsteps.

We are in a period of high winds, as well, and something about the way the rushing warm air felt on my skin last night gave me a feeling that this is something special to be appreciated. It was hot, without being hot. Seriously. That may not make sense to you, but it explains the impression that warm September air can produce.

I am challenged with needing to luxuriate in this brilliantly spectacular weather for more than just myself, but for Cyndie, too, since I’m absorbing her share of bliss while she’s gone. It’s the least I could do.

It wouldn’t make much sense to only take on the burdens her absence presents, would it?

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 16, 2015 at 6:00 am

What For

with 2 comments

I don’t always know the reason something catches my eye for a photo, but similar to the way I assemble words in a poem just because they come to me, whether I understand or not, I tend to take pictures on a whim. I have no idea whether the resulting image will appeal or mean anything to others, I just do it because a scene catches my attention.

Here is one that I took while at George and Rachael’s on Tuesday. Does it trigger anything for you?

IMG_iP0889e.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 13, 2015 at 6:00 am

Mutual Support

leave a comment »

We have received a lot of support from our neighbors, George and Rachael Walker in the time we have been here. They have provided us with meat and eggs from a share in their CSA farm, cut and baled our hay, George trims our horse’s hooves, and Rachael has provided riding lessons. We welcomed an opportunity to finally offer support to them in return.

Yesterday, we went over to learn the details of feeding their variety of horses so that we can “farm-sit” while they are away for a few days over the weekend. Most of their animals will be set up with enough food for all three days, so it is just horses that will be our primary responsibility. Still, I found the process of feeding some of the other animals equally fascinating.IMG_iP0888e

The pigs eat anything and everything. Rachael found a stash of eggs that had been secreted away in some nook, so she tossed them to the pigs. Mixed in with the pulverized corn that had already been served, it looked like a baking accident had spilled in there. The pigs took to it like… pigs.

I didn’t see the ducks getting fed, but they put on a nice show of their dark colors, strutting their stuff in the yard. It had me wondering how we might ever condition our dog, Delilah to accept the presence of poultry on our property without assuming they were put there for her to eat.

IMG_iP0884eI’d like to have some ducks and chickens as assistants in controlling the fly populations around here.

After animals were all fed, and George finished cutting one of their hay fields, we joined them for dinner at the nearby El Paso Bar & Grill. I ate fried cheese curds, and other ill-advised choices at an unusually late hour, and stayed out way past my bedtime. It was wonderful.

George and Rachael are a joy to be with, and we feel ever more connected to community as we grow more familiar. Being able to offer them some support contributes greatly to that feeling of connection.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 12, 2015 at 6:00 am

Good Progress

leave a comment »

I’m not quite done with everything I dreamed of doing over the weekend, but I certainly made good progress toward that goal. I would like to finish trimming the weeds along the wood fence of the paddock, and then I’m satisfied that the most visible areas of the ranch look pretty well maintained.

Why do I want it to look good? We’ve got company coming! Our friends from Guatemala, the Morales family, will be arriving around midnight tonight. Then, on the following Saturday, we are hosting a rockin’ party, with an open invite to friends, family, co-workers, and varying levels of acquaintances to come celebrate summer with us and meet our guests.

A number of those who have indicated they plan to come will be seeing our place for the first time. We want it to look nice!

DSCN3726eYesterday, I finished spreading the remainder of the pile of lime screenings, using the bucket on the tractor. It just reached the point where I had done all the tricky parts by hand and needed to finish quickly in order to move on to the next job. The tractor worked well for me this time. I left the horses in the paddock and they patiently tolerated the racket of my back and forth effort on the machine.

While I had the big tractor out, I used the brush mower to knock down some excessive weed growth that the horses have been avoiding in the space between their paddock and the arena area.

I also did some trimming with the power trimmer, tightened all the wires on our fences, cleaned the entry to my shop, swept up the grass clippings on the lawn using the grass catcher pulled behind our lawn tractor, and tended to the daily manure management chore.

In the middle of the day, Julian arrived to help me record a vocal track for a project to which I had been recruited. His mad skills on the recording software allowed us to quickly create a version that was very well received by the person who requested it of me.

It was a long day for me. In order to get it all done, I got up early and then worked through the dinner hour. Getting back to the day-job today will feel like a day of rest, even if it is busy there.

Busy at the office is nothing like busy on the ranch, you know.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 3, 2015 at 6:00 am