Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘fence

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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Springing Considerably

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DSCN4685eThe forest floor is sprouting forth with an abundance of white trout lilies this week. It made me curious about the trillium that we transplanted from our lake place last year. I should have marked them better, because the complete transformation of the woods in a year’s time has me confused now over where I put them.

I planted the “borrowed” trillium in several small groups in a section of woods just below the house. Surveying the area late yesterday, it seemed like the only growth was trout lilies, but I eventually spotted a grouping of the distinctly different leaves.

In a few weeks, flowers will make the trillium much easier to spot.

DSCN4681eUp north, it is obvious how prolific trillium is in naturally propagating to carpet the woods and create a dramatic visual. We are hoping to seed our spaces with enough starters to enable the natural process to do the rest.

After some passing gentle rain showers on Thursday, the pasture that I mowed last weekend is greening up nicely. I strung the webbing between posts yesterday to complete the divider fence that will allow us to rotationally graze the horses on that precious field.

The point where I connected the new webbing to electricity is right at the paddock, and the horses took great interest in what I was doing. I had the charger turned off to work, and while I experimented with several methods of connection, Legacy and Cayenne took turns putting their noses right into the business at hand.DSCN4669e

I sure hope they are keen enough to sense the hazard of doing that when the electricity is on.

Even though they already had a stint on the alley grass earlier in the day, Cyndie talked me into letting them come out on the pasture with the new divider for a short nibble after so patiently watching me fix it up all afternoon.

I can’t really say whether they even noticed the new divider, because their attention was exclusively focused on the succulent green blades immediately available just steps beyond the opened gate.

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Written by johnwhays

April 23, 2016 at 8:24 am

Green Alley

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I didn’t start the day Sunday with a plan to spend the entire day reworking the fencing around our arena space, but that is pretty much how it played out. We thought we were going to make a run to purchase parts that would allow us to finish the new divider fence in the back pasture. After that, we hoped to take a crack at turning some brush piles into wood chips for our trails.

Instead, I started fixing the sad-looking step-in posts we had used to mark out space for an arena, most of which were heavily battered by wind and soft spring soil. That spawned an idea to also put up the short barriers to the hay-field. This creates an alley between the paddock and the arena space, which we can then give the horses access to, saving me the chore of needing to mow it.

The grass in that space is actually further along than in the back pasture, so we adjusted plans and focussed on getting that space ready first. While I toiled away on details to electrify all the new fence webbing, Cyndie made the run for parts that would allow us to finish both the pasture divider and the arena area.

DSCN4665eWhen she got back and I had the barriers done on each end of the alley, we decided to give the horses their first few minutes on fresh grass right then and there, while we finished up a few details on the arena fence. They stepped through the gate in a very mannerly way, spending a few minutes nibbling the first blades available. In no time, they were wandering well into the space, Legacy hanging close to us, and the three chestnuts moving the other direction.

We needed to limit their time on the grass, which involves the challenge of asking them to go back into the paddock. That’s not always easy, but they demonstrated impeccable self-control last night and headed back inside of their own accord, when Cyndie was preparing to set out their evening feed.

Of course, they subsequently showed great interest in both of the main gates we tend to leave open for them later in the season. They were cooperative about coming in, but they were obviously interested in getting back out again soon. They’ll get that chance today, and for twice the time. We add 15-minutes a day during their transition times onto spring grass, up to about 4-hours. At that point, we can leave the gates open all the time, allowing them free choice all day and night.

Lucky for them, the alley grass is plenty green and growing fast, so they have that to start with while we wait for the back pasture to catch up.

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Written by johnwhays

April 18, 2016 at 6:00 am