Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘fence

Work Resumes

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It was back to work for all of us yesterday, after our glorious weekend away. I returned to the day-job and Cyndie picked up where she left off with Hunter. My Monday in the mine was already complete and I had just arrived home when Rachael and Cyndie were heading down to put Hunter through some exercises.

DSCN3885eI was able to observe some of the process from where I was picking up the days-worth of manure that had accumulated under the overhang. It was fascinating.

Turns out that Hunter is a bit of a perfectionist. He is also very sensitive. Rachael could see that he really wants to do things right the first time. She was directing him with only the slightest of movements. If she simply shifted her weight, as if to take a step, Hunter responded.

After Rachael’s demonstration, Cyndie took a turn at giving him directions with the lunge line. I could see that it is very much a joint exercise for the two of them. Cyndie’s lessons will be toward gaining clarity of message with her movements and Hunter will hopefully learn to respond appropriately.

DSCN3892eWe think he has potential to become a star in our herd of facilitators when it comes to communication.

September has arrived, which is the month when the horses were delivered to us, two years ago. I think they have adjusted well to the changes that have been presented to them in that time.

I expect it is fair to say that we have adjusted pretty well ourselves over that same period. In October, we will mark our third year of living on these 20 acres of fields and forested hills in western Wisconsin.

It feels like we are starting to get the hang of it.

Last Thursday, while mowing as fast as I could around the perimeter of the back pasture, I felt a sense of appreciation for the design and installation of all our fencing. During a pause to put gas in the lawn tractor, I made a point to call Tom and Sue Sherry of Best Built Fence.

I wanted to take the opportunity to reach out (for once) at a time when there was nothing I needed from them. I just wanted to say thank you and tell them what a great job they did for us. They showed up when we were as green as could be and helped guide us to a plan that was what we wanted but beyond our ability to envision.

I always felt Tom knew better than us what it was we were trying to accomplish. It was refreshing to be able to tell them so, when they least expected to hear it.

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Written by johnwhays

September 1, 2015 at 6:00 am

Fabulous Time

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What is the deal? Is my camera broken or something? I haven’t taken any pictures for two days, so I can offer no visual proof that our friends, the Morales family, have arrived, or that we have already had so much fun being with them again that little else is receiving our attention.

The one exception turns out to be my stealing any spare second to get after the never-ending task of mowing or trimming grass. I now have just one section of fence left to be mowed before having that whole job complete. I’m planning to sneak that in early this morning before packing up to head to the lake for a couple of days.

We decided to drive two of our cars up there to give me the option of returning earlier than others on Friday to enable me to —can you imagine this?— mow all the lawn grass in preparation for the big knock down, drag out shebang we have scheduled for Saturday night.

Pier 500Some years the grass growth slows around here in late July and August so I don’t have to mow as frequently, but this year I’m finding that it looks like I need to mow again after just a couple of days. When I wait a whole week, enough grass clippings are created to make me think I should have George bring over his baler.

We are having a fabulous time with our precious friends. Despite their late arrival on Monday night, which had us getting to bed around 3:00 in the morning yesterday, we made it to Hudson in the afternoon for a brief moment of shopping, and a fine patio lunch overlooking the St. Croix river at Pier Five Hundred restaurant.

Later, after a stint of grass trimming, both along the fence and in the labyrinth, George and Rachel Walker joined us for dinner. Marco graciously accepted Cyndie’s invitation to grill steaks, which turned out perfectly delicious. Poor Delilah doesn’t have a clue what happened to her usual sleeping routine the last two nights, as we lingered around the table after the meal, sharing stories and laughter well-past her usual bedtime.

Today, we leave her behind to be cared for by friends for a couple days while we will all be visiting with Cyndie’s parents up at the lake place in Hayward. With any luck, I’ll remember to take a few pictures of the frivolity expected to ensue.

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Written by johnwhays

August 5, 2015 at 6:00 am

Many Projects

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It was getting to be about lunch time yesterday when Cyndie disappeared to get some refreshments. I continued to work in the hot sunshine of the paddock, once again choosing to use hand tools and a wheelbarrow to do a job that deserved the tractor. I get rewarded for that because I enjoy the manual process and I get better results than when working a machine.

Not that I don’t sometimes give in and let our machines do some of the work. After lunch, I cranked up the Grizzly ATV and filled the trailer with assorted tools for some trail maintenance in the woods. I used the chainsaw to cut up a fallen tree on one of our trails, and I revved up the power trimmer to clear the rest of that trail.

DSCN3736eCyndie returned with a picnic lunch which we ate beneath the shade of the gazebo, overlooking the newly sanded round pen, to christen the new viewing station. It will work well for the training Cyndie plans to do there. It is rewarding to finally have arrived at the physical reality of something we have been talking about and envisioning for years.

It was Cyndie’s brilliant lunch-time suggestion that moved our attention to the trail in the woods, in order to get a break from the heavy sweating effort we had been putting in to spread the second pile of lime screenings in the bright sunlight.

I finally broke open the plastic cover on a new pole saw and branch trimmer that I bought for some perceived frantic need a month or two ago. The only use I had put it to up until this day was as a tool to remove a fast-growing wasps nest. It worked well for that, too.

DSCN3737eWith the new branch trimmer I was able to make that trail into a thing of beauty. I have learned that a simple trick to give the trail a superb visual appearance is to trim the branches that lean across the trail, as high up as I can reach. When I finished, it looked like a hallway in a cathedral.

Next, I was back on the power trimmer and cleaning along the fence line. It became apparent to me that we have more than enough forage for our 4 horses to graze. They aren’t keeping up on their portion of the mowing. I am going to need to cut parts of the pasture again because they aren’t eating enough of it.

After I emptied a second tank of fuel on the trimmer, I switched projects again, and DSCN3739emoved back to the pile of lime screenings. It was in the shade at that point, and I wanted to get that pile out of the way for the horses. They don’t actually seem to mind it during the day, and someone has been putting hoof prints all over it when we aren’t around, so it seems to me they see it as some kind of jungle gym.

It’s day-2 of the weekend, and we will pick up where we left off last night. More spreading lime screenings, and more fence line trimming. Who knows, maybe even another picnic lunch under the shade canopy.

Happy August, everyone! One day late.

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Written by johnwhays

August 2, 2015 at 6:00 am

Tractor Time

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Yesterday I put in a double shift, first working the day-job and then immediately after getting home, hopping on the tractor to knock down weeds in our north pasture with the brush cutter. No rest for the weary.

IMG_iP0874eFortunately, time on the tractor can be meditative, especially if I am on a task that doesn’t require my full attention. Unfortunately, yesterday’s task was not one of those times. The fence around the north pasture is a temporary one of t-posts with webbed poly-tape fencing strung between them. It is not something I want to touch with the tractor or mower.

I made contact twice. Oops. Luckily, only minor, repairable damage. The second time, though, I needed to stop and climb down to pull the post out of the way so I could get moving again, without doing further damage.

In addition to needing to be careful of the fence, I also had to navigate a significant slope next to the driveway, as well as many pine trees throughout the field.

I honestly didn’t get much in the way of meditating done during yesterday’s tractor time. At least the field looks much better now without all the giant weed growth sprouting every which way.

I took Delilah for a walk in the field after I was done and in no time she located a small critter that had lost its hiding place. Speaking of hiding places, there were a couple of flattened spots that looked like a few deer had been napping near the middle of the field. With how tall the grass and weeds had grown, I’m sure the deer were well hidden while they were doing some meditations of their own.

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Written by johnwhays

July 22, 2015 at 6:00 am

Animal Antics

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I’ve been working a few days a week again at the old day-job, at a time when there is much that needs attention at home. The grass seems to double in height every 2 or 3 days in some places. I swear I could mow somewhere every single day and never run out of things to cut.

I finished clearing the lines of electric fence yesterday, but it took jumping into grubby clothes the instant I got home and leaving Delilah in her kennel a little longer than I like. I worked until I used up the gas in the tank and then headed up to rescue the dog and we went to the barn to feed the horses.

DSCN3475eNormally, we pick up their feed pans as soon as they finish, but I just left them and walked Delilah out into the pasture. After unclipping her leash to let her explore freely, I stepped out of a gate and restarted the brush cutter. My progress was slowed a bit by trying to frequently locate Delilah and assure myself she was behaving well.

I was trying to accomplish two things simultaneously, having her get some time running freely to burn off her energy, while also working to finish the trimming. She did a great job of entertaining herself. I noticed that she had made her way back into the paddock area, where the horses were calmly idling.

Delilah grabbed one of her favorite horse toys, an inflated heavy rubber ball with a big handle, and began running around shaking it like she does when I am there attempting to pull it away. The next time I glanced up, I couldn’t immediately spot her. Just as I began to fear she may have crawled under a fence and run off, I realized she was close to one of the horses. From my distance, I couldn’t tell which of the chestnuts it was, but probably either Hunter or Cayenne.

I kept my eyes on them, with Delilah mostly obscured by the wood rails of the fence, concerned that either of them might act out unfavorably. Suddenly Delilah was trotting away, shaking the ball. It looked to me like she was trying to get the horse to play with her in the way that I do. It was pretty cute, but the horse chose not to engage.

As the sun slid behind some low hanging clouds and evening settled in, I successfully finished trimming the last of the electric fence. During one of the several refueling stops that were needed, I had run Delilah up to the house and put out dinner for her and Pequenita. I was able to finish with Delilah in the house, which sped things back up a bit.

As I was dragging myself back to the shop with my arms aching under the load of the trimmer and gas tank, I spotted Dezirea oddly walking through a small batch of young trees near the far fence line. My first thought was to question the strange route, but instantly I got the impression she was using them to scratch her itches.

Then a branch cracked and Cayenne leaped into a panic gallop to get away. Our horses really seem to startle over the sound of a stick breaking. Her reaction spooked Dezirea, who then bolted out from the trees. That got Legacy’s attention, and he galloped after them.

Just as quickly, they all stopped, satisfied they had successfully averted a potential predator, and went back to grazing. I felt like I had pulled a double shift, but having the animals as entertainment while I worked went a long way toward offsetting my day’s-worth of fatigue.

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Written by johnwhays

June 3, 2015 at 6:00 am

Risky Behavior

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I engaged in some risky behavior yesterday, and it was thoroughly pleasing. Regardless the likelihood of exposing myself to the dreaded oil of the poison ivy plant, I did some heavy trimming with our Stihl brush cutter. There is something incredibly satisfying about accomplishing the clean and trimmed look that this tool enables. All those edges that I can’t reach when mowing with our lawn tractor are so quickly dispatched.

Ian will know just what I’m talking about. It was when Cyndie and I were visiting him in Portugal that I discovered what can be accomplished with a brush cutter. There is immediate visual reward for the work and it creates a wonderfully clean landscape.

I needed to get after several areas, but I was primarily needing to clear our fence lines. When things grow tall enough to make contact with our electric fence, they start to put a load on it and that brings the voltage down. I didn’t have enough time to finish the whole chore, but at least I took care of the most visible portions first, so our place looks freshly maintained.

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Still plenty left to do

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Looks great when it’s done!

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There were only a few times when I thought I spotted what could possibly have been poison ivy, but I was shredding away and chose not to stop and try to confirm. Forging ahead, I just made a point to be very careful about what I touched while I worked. When I stopped and came in for lunch, I brushed off as best possible with my gloves, and then washed my arms and hands thoroughly with cold water.

I’ll know in a day or two if I was exposed.

After lunch, at the high point of sunshine for the day, I got up close and personal with one of our very visible known patches of poison ivy, and sprayed it with a new organic weed killer that I had ordered online. Just like the description I received from someone who recommended this brand, the leaves began to wilt within hours. So far, it appears to be working dramatically well.

DSCN3522e

I felt a bit embarrassed over how much pleasure I was getting out of seeing that the weed killer was working so well and the plants were suffering, but the risk of being embarrassed is something I am more than willing to accept.

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Written by johnwhays

June 2, 2015 at 6:00 am

Evening Quiet

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As Cyndie stepped out the door last night for Delilah’s last walk of the evening, I heard her telling me it was really nice outside. How could I resist? I hurried into my boots to join them for a stroll.

The warmth of the sunny afternoon was just beginning to slip away and darkness was making progress toward cloaking visibility. Looking back over our house to the west, the waxing crescent moon looked picture-post-card-perfect, complimented by the striking brightness of celestial bodies Venus and Jupiter, evoking a magical feeling in the moment.

It was mostly quiet, except for the odd sound that may have been a raccoon letting its presence be known. It didn’t seem to distract Delilah one bit from the rabbit scent she was ravenously exploring. The thick smoke from the neighbor’s wood burning furnace was creating a thin line in both directions, hanging low in a thermal inversion of the valley air a mile away.

I had in mind to get the gate to the arena space closed, to keep the horses out of the confined alleyways overnight. As I made my way into the paddock, Cyndie gently called Legacy to bring the herd back inside. All 4 horses obliged, with the closest two, Cayenne and Hunter, coming in to meet me before I even reached the gate I was about to close.

Legacy and Dezirea turned to come in the paddock, but Legs stopped right in the opening. Both Cyndie and I were sweet talking them with encouragement to keep them coming in our desired direction. I was trying to convey my intention to close the gate, and began moving it in that direction. Legacy took the hint and stepped far enough in to clear, and Dezirea took advantage of that opening to walk right up to me and leaned into the gate.

DSCN3416e

Dezirea in a recent daytime shot

She wanted me to scratch her itches. I wanted to grant her wish, but after I got the gate hitched. Her forwardness set me to giggling as she insistingly stood up against me in the way of my closing the gate.

I pretty much had to push her hindquarters out of the way, and there she stood, awaiting my return. With the chain clipped, I turned around and dragged my fingernails through her dusty, waxy, shedding coat.

After my week of healing from poison ivy, I know all too well of that orgasmic feeling of having itches scratched. The horses stiffen their necks and bob their heads while making funny expressions with their lips. She was loving it.

I tired quickly and glanced around at the other horses, wondering if I had started something that I wasn’t entirely prepared to fulfill. Luckily, the late hour and encroaching darkness seemed to put them all in a sleepy calm that allowed me to saunter off toward Cyndie and Delilah outside the paddock without needing to give each one a fair turn.

It was the kind of beautiful evening that had us overflowing with gratefulness for our animals and this beautiful place where we live.

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Written by johnwhays

May 22, 2015 at 6:00 am