Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘fence

Two Perspectives

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This weekend’s snowfall was certainly a pretty one. There was an interesting combination of stickiness and blowing. The tops of the trees didn’t hold the snow, but the lower trunks and branches sure did.

If you’ve watched my photographic tendencies for a few years, you are probably familiar with my penchant for close, full-frame images, as well as my pattern of including one feature for accent.

Especially, leaves.

This little specimen was irresistible for the fabulous character of the fancy edges.

That wonderful leaf caught my attention because of the way it blew across the top of the snow and then just settled down in this spot, as if it was waiting for me to take the picture.

Thankfully, it stayed around long enough for me to capture it from a second perspective, which brings those fancy edges to life with added dimension.

I don’t think these two should ever be displayed one without the other. Two wonderful perspectives on one fancy leaf.

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Written by johnwhays

December 3, 2018 at 7:00 am

Venturesome Cows

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We had never imagined this day. It wasn’t unprecedented that Delilah would serve as our alarming alarm clock, with her loud barking outburst at the screen door of our bedroom to disturb the quiet early morning solemnity.

I astutely commented to Cyndie that I was surprised that I wasn’t hearing the usual dog in the distance that typically sets Delilah off.

After the second outburst in quick succession, Cyndie gave up trying to snatch a few extra minutes of lingering in bed and got up.

“There are cows outside our window!”

Oh? I sprung up to witness the spectacle for myself. Yes, indeed. No question about what Delilah was trying to tell us. I spotted three cows standing in the most unlikely place I could think of.

They were by the wood shed, at the top of the big hill trail coming out of our woods.

I sleepily stumbled after my camera, which was on the far side of the house. When I returned to the bedroom, there were no cows in sight. Ghost cows?

Cyndie invited me to get dressed and join her in morning chores, wherein we could also investigate that bizarre sleepy visual we had just witnessed.

Unsurprisingly, from the top of our back yard hill, we could see the rare sight of white animals down by the labyrinth. By the time we got down there, the shifty cattle were gone again, though not out of earshot. The sound of their navigation through our forest can best be compared to a herd of bulls wandering the aisles of a china shop.

Branches snapping left and right, a bovine face appeared out of the trees. Then another, and another. We counted ten at one point, though it was never clear we were seeing the whole picture.

While Cyndie tried to shoosh them out of her garden labyrinth, I set out to see if I could tell where they had come from. Tracking them wasn’t hard, as the 40 heavy hooves left a trail that looked like a rototiller had rolled along our soft wooded trails.

They had tromped everywhere! It made it difficult to determine where they had busted out of a neighbor’s fence, because they had moved to and fro in every direction.

We tried coaxing them into our back pasture to contain them, but the boring grass offerings there must have paled in comparison to the adventure and foliage they were finding throughout the forest. They bushwhacked toward the most difficult wooded passages in lieu of our pasture gate.

Eventually, while trying to get back with the main herd, they busted a strand of wire in the fence and very slowly, one at a time, most of them figured out their own way through. When we found them trying, Cyndie stepped on the bottom wires and lifted the top one, cooing to the stragglers to take that last step.

I tried coaxing them with a branch of leaves. That brought the main herd toward us, which was the opposite of what we wished to happen. I tried my best at novice cow whispering and turned the herd around, bringing two of the last escapees back into the fold.

For some reason, the last cow either panicked or just decided it was never going back. It turned and disappeared deep into the woods.

Unable to find the loner cow, Cyndie and I decided to reattach the broken fence wire (I had learned the neighbor was gone on a motorcycle trip in Iowa) and called an end to the big distraction of our day.

We were hours beyond our planned departure for the lake place.

With a note to Jackie about the possibility of an odd cow showing up while we were gone, we hit the road.

That was one very strange day at Wintervale.

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Written by johnwhays

July 7, 2018 at 8:41 am

Avoiding Failure

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We are wet today, but before the precipitation arrived yesterday, I had a chance to dig the back-blade out of the depths of the shop garage and play around in scraping the paddocks. The blade was parked all the way in the back of the garage because I haven’t used it since the first couple of years here to clear snow.

It dawned on me that I should be making better use of the equipment we have, instead of just storing it. I’m not strongly skilled with the blade, so I haven’t been inclined to hook it up and do anything with it. I must have felt adventurous yesterday, because I didn’t really have a master plan about what I was hoping to achieve.

Things went so surprisingly well, rearranging equipment so I could get at the blade in the first place, and managing all the 3-point hitch connections so I could then maneuver around obstacles to get out of the garage, it inspired my further earth-grading experimentations.

Starting with the gravel driveway around the barn, I made a few practice pulls, dragging the surface to pull settled material back uphill. That went well enough, I felt confident to try doing some of the same inside the paddock fence.

I was on a roll. As long as that was progressing nicely, I temporarily changed focus and worked on pressing down on fence posts with the loader bucket to push them back to the level they originally were, before the freeze/thaw cycles pushed them six or eight inches up.

That’s a delicate process of working in increments across a series of many posts.

All along the way there are opportunities for epic failure. On this day, I succeeding in avoiding all of them.

The fence is still standing, with all boards attached, and looking like its old self again. The paddock is also in pretty good shape now. I even took an extra step and scooped some new lyme screenings onto the round high spot we are building in the large paddock.

Before I could get everything smoothed out, the rain started, so it looks a little like a project half-finished, but I’m okay with that.

We have received a steady rain for about 20 hours. Steady is good, because we don’t get it all at once and suffer all the problems of instant rivers of runoff, but the freshly moved lyme screenings are like wet cement. If the horses walk on it now, it will make a big mess.

If they will stay off it until it dries, it can get almost as hard as concrete.

I wonder if they will pick up on my momentum of avoiding failure…

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Partial Trim

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The weather yesterday after work wasn’t conducive to getting a lot of mowing done with the tractor, as storms bobbed along in the thick atmosphere and brought frequent rain showers to the region. As a result, I opted to get out the trimmer to clean up some fence line because that tool is quick to start and easy to maneuver if/when precipitation arrives.

I barely made it through one tank of gas when rain clouds interrupted my progress, which left the back pasture fence line only half done.

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Getting caught up with all the mowing and trimming that needs to happen will occur in small steps this week, between occasional showers and thunderstorms. My plan is to take advantage of short blocks of time by doing a little bit of work whenever I can fit it in.

Oh, and to also stay home all weekend to maximize my availability for getting things done.

Even if it is only partial progress, it is better than none at all.

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Written by johnwhays

July 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

Welcomed Home

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Despite some fleeting moments of inclement weather early in the morning (after a really nice little thunderstorm in the middle of the night) our flight home was on-time and without incident. That part about no incidents is a little surprising because of the number of babies and infants on board.

I spotted the youngster sitting closest to us was under headphones and being mesmerized by programs on a tablet for much of the 3-hour flight. What a great invention when it comes to really, really wanting a child to be occupied for an extended time. Too bad that advantage gets offset by the greater number of times when parents would like their kids to be present and engaged with others in a moment when they instead choose the oblivion of a tablet.

When we landed in Minneapolis, instead of having George and Anneliese pick us up, we took a taxi to Cyndie’s parent’s house in Edina to borrow her mom’s car while mine is in the body shop for repairs. That had us on the road for home at about the same time I would normally be driving home from work on a Monday.

That’s one way to quickly put an accent on the fact we are not on vacation any longer.img_ip1904e

We were met at the door by a very friendly dog who seemed very happy to see us again. Before unpacking a thing, we changed into work clothes and headed out to walk Delilah and tend to the horses. Cyndie decided to put her recent gains in mobility to the test and grabbed ski poles to support her first foray into the snow and uneven ground of our trails. She had done some good walking on multiple surfaces and outdoors while we were in Florida.

We made our way to the horses and got right back in the swing of the usual routine.

Anneliese made a wonderful dinner, followed by a card game at the table, making us feel completely and warmly welcomed back to our home.

Just to get myself fully back into things at Wintervale, I did a little repair work on a problem spot on the electric fence. It was arcing something fierce at the insulator that Legacy had pulled off the t-post. Turns out he cracked it. It was a quick fix of swapping out the bad one with a replacement stolen off a post that wasn’t currently being used.

With that task accomplished, I felt like things were well in order after 5-days away.

Now we have new snow expected tonight and tomorrow, which will serve as a final punctuation mark to our welcome home.

No doubt about it, we are no longer in Florida.

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Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2017 at 7:00 am

Not Electrified

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With horses, if you happen to leave the power off the electric fence, they will eventually mess with it. In our case that trait is usually demonstrated by Legacy. If he gets bored, something is going to get chewed. If the fence isn’t electrified, it becomes a prime target.

Over the weekend I noticed one of our web fence lines was loose. Leaving the plowed pathway, I climbed through un-energized fence wires to get to the source of the problem. Somebody had busted the plastic mount holding the web anchor. img_ip1881e

Why do we turn off the electric fence? Sometimes it is simply because company is visiting and we don’t want anyone to accidentally get jolted. Other times, it is due to excessive arcing occurring for a variety of reasons where circuit isolation has been compromised. Most recently, it was because of an overall load pulling the voltage down to a level where it wasn’t really effective.

I’ve been hoping to get through the winter before really diving into the problem spots to fix whatever needs fixing.

Legacy is letting me know I probably shouldn’t wait that long.

img_ip1882eWhen I stopped by to replace the broken anchor yesterday afternoon, the horses were on the far side of the paddock, loitering around the watering hole. Despite the distance, Legacy decided he wanted in on whatever I was up to and came over to help.

He seemed to take great interest in what I was doing. Probably because he could see I was messing with something that he had just “fixed.” He didn’t want the new anchor re-attaching this fence he’d just gotten rid of.

When I finished installing the replacement, I wanted to turn it on to see what the voltage was —as well as give Legacy a little surprise, should he continue to mess with it— but I needed to clean up under the overhang and feed the crew first.

When I got up to the house after feeding the horses, I realized I’d forgotten to test the electricity on the fences.

I sure hope the new bracket is still intact by the time I get back down there to power the fence for a test later today.

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Written by johnwhays

January 17, 2017 at 7:00 am

Winter Muckxtravaganza

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The daytime temperature yesterday climbed well above freezing and turned that beautiful snow we received over the weekend into a soaking slop that the horses converted into a regrettable mucky mess.

As I pulled in the driveway after work, I spotted the horses in a tizzy over a loose ribbon of fence that was blowing in the wind. It was at a spot we had barricaded last spring to separate the hay-field from the drainage alley. The horses have been showing us they want to cross at that point instead of through the usual open gate because of how wet it is.

On Sunday I had hastily opened a section for them to get through, but I didn’t permanently tie off the ribbons I had pulled back. When I arrived yesterday, two of the horses were across that opening and two were still out in the hay-field, frantically trying to pass through but turned back by the scary flailing ribbons that had come loose in the strengthening wind.

I quickly realized I should have pulled all four of the t-posts on Sunday and been done with this. With temperatures expected to drop significantly in the days ahead, I decided to pull the posts while I still could and open this whole avenue to the herd for the rest of the winter.

img_ip1858eOf course, in no time I was out of daylight and fumbling around in the dark to finish the task. While Delilah stood by patiently, I rolled up the length of ribbon fence and muscled out the posts. I hooked her leash to my pants and gathered posts and ribbon, setting off in the darkness to cross the mucky hoof-marked turf of the field and paddocks.

The footing out there is just plain miserable right now. When it freezes solid in the next day or two it will become a treacherous ankle-twisting obstacle course. It will also become much harder to keep clean with our usual routine of frequent manure scooping.

This is the point where I want a lot of snow to fall. A good 6-inches would cover everything nicely and smooth it out quite a bit.

As of last night, it was nothing but mudzilla. Mucktastrophe. Swampageddon. Mudsaster. It was a real muckxtravaganza.

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Written by johnwhays

December 6, 2016 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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