Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘fence

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

Anxiously Waiting

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We knocked off a good number of satisfying chores yesterday, taking full advantage of perfectly summer-like weather. In fact, it was so summery, I found myself mowing grass. We also put fence posts in to split our back pasture, so we will be able to rotate the horses back and forth, allowing us to provide the turf occasional rest from the voracious foursome.

The herd spent most of the day lined up at the gate, anxiously awaiting access to the new green smorgasbord that is sprouting beyond the confines of their paddock. Cyndie captured a wonderful shot of them eyeing her as she walked past, sending their message of bewilderment over being neglected all this time.

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They won’t have too much longer to wait. We have shut them in for a few weeks to give the grass a head start, protecting it from both their heavy hooves while it’s wet, and their devouring ways.

While I was getting machines prepared for the day’s work, Cyndie drove the truck down to one of the older rock piles at the edge of our woods and selected perfect specimens to create a border for a new native wild flower garden that she is creating in the spot where we recently removed all the old barbed wire, stump, and brush.DSCN4651eCH

Visitors will be greeted by a colorful splendor as it comes into view over the crest of the first rise in our driveway.

Cyndie has some of her own anxious waiting to do, for her vision of new growing flowers to become established and in full bloom on this wonderful spot she is creating.

It seemed like more additional work than I saw a need for, but once again, her ability to make things happen is bringing about another enhancement to Wintervale that will add even more charm to an already precious place.

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Written by johnwhays

April 17, 2016 at 7:57 am

Decidedly Different

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From balmy Sunday to blustery Monday we experienced an almost 40° (F) temperature swing, factoring in the “windchill” reading that resulted from the strong northwest gusting wind. Nothing says October like a cold, cloudy, windy day.

IMG_iP0924eI took Delilah out for a short trek around the property when I got home from work, during which we fed the horses and then wandered a few trails in the woods to check for downed branches.

At one point, even though I didn’t feel as though I was seeing anything, I sensed there was motion occurring through the trees, and I kept my eyes glued in that direction in hopes of picking up some confirmation.

Was it a bird? Likely possibilities included grouse, pheasant, or even wild turkey. Something led me to believe it was big. Something else gave me the impression it was right in front of my eyes, but I was not seeing it. Honestly, what came to mind was the movie effect of “Predator” in camouflage mode.

All these mental gymnastics happened in a fraction of a second. Putting it all together, I discerned the white I thought I had seen was, in fact, the tail of a deer.

We had just come down that hill a short time before, and ended up circling back on our path in a way that may have surprised the keen senses of the shy animal. I was energized to find it had stopped its movement at a place that gave me a clear view of the head and face, as the deer looked directly back at me from an incredibly short distance away.

It was probably the closest I have been to a live, wild deer in years. I glanced down at Delilah, who was nose-to-the-ground busy, following the myriad smells that surely exist on our well-used trails, but she showed no evidence of detecting how close we were to something that would no-doubt thrill her to the extreme to pursue.

When I looked back for the deer, I realized how difficult it was to detect it through the trees while it stood motionless. I started to walk again, coming around the corner to climb the hill where Cyndie and I had just been working on the fence, hoping to get a better perspective on where the deer was standing. I was also scanning in hopes of finding others, under the assumption deer are usually in a herd.

What I discovered was that my movement was enough to drive the deer off and I had been unable to detect its departure. Delilah didn’t show any sign of sensing the scent of immediately fresh traffic across our trail. I wondered if the deer had been surprised by the recent appearance of the fence we just put up over the weekend.

There were no other deer in sight as we climbed the hill toward the house, and toward the respite from the wind it would provide. Had I not picked up the fleeting images of that whiteness and the almost imperceptible motion of the body through the trees, I would have missed it altogether.

Allows me to imagine how often I have probably done just that on these trails in the last few years, and been within similarly close proximity to wildlife, while being entirely unaware.

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Written by johnwhays

October 13, 2015 at 6:00 am

Future Fence

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Long ago —two years, in fact— I started a project to put up fencing just inside the old rusty barbed wire fence that defines our property border along the perimeter trail through the woods. The bulk of my effort at that time was getting posts in place. I did try hanging some plastic snow fence on a short section of posts as a temporary measure, but the ultimate goal was to re-purpose rolls of woven wire fence which were pulled out during early renovations to create our paddocks and pastures.

In the ensuing two years, that snow fence was revealed to be less than adequate. It failed under the abuse of weather and animals, as it stretched and sagged under the forces of wind and snow, and was chewed through by critters that refused to alter their favored route of travel.

DSCN4026eFinally, yesterday, Cyndie and I took a shot at seeing how difficult it would be to move, unroll, lift into position, and then attach the old metal fence to the posts. It went better than I feared it might and served to provide a more robust support for the snow fence that we put back up to make the barrier more visible for our horses.

Beyond the obvious financial incentive to put this fence up ourselves, what drives us even more is the fact we are willing to put this up without clearing out every growing thing within 10 feet of either side.

There is no questioning the reasons fencing professionals don’t want trees near their work. We are willing to sacrifice the ultimate quality of our finished fence to preserve as many precious trees as possible.

Of course, we only have this one property to maintain. The professionals are responsible for an always growing number of fence lines. I totally understand their motivation.

We have visions of continuing this re-purposed fence along key sections of our property line where the trails come close to the old barbed wire. These areas also happen to have enough trees that we would like to keep, that the project will not be a quick one. It’s likely that it will remain a “future” fence for a long time, but at least we have the first section in place to give us hope that our vision is possible.

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Written by johnwhays

October 11, 2015 at 9:36 am

Gorgeous Here

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

September 20, 2015 at 9:10 am