Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘grazing

Cayenne’s Magic

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One of the truest sayings is that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. For some reason the last couple of days for Cayenne, it had become downright irresistible.

On Thursday evening, after we had walked the trash bin down to the end of the driveway with Delilah, Cyndie decided to open one of the paddock gates to the hay-field for the horses. They are well-familiar with the timing of being given access to the grass after the sun gets low, and calmly joined her as she neared the gate.

I stood on the driveway with Delilah and watched as the horses stepped out. Cayenne immediately walked up to the arena web fence, almost as if she was going to go right through it, then stopped and leaned over in attempt to graze.

I chuckled and commented over the obvious display of her interest. We know they like the short grass, and we keep the arena space closely cropped, but with the entire hay-field –now also cut short and open to their access– one would think they would be satisfied with the availability of the wide open acreage.

Regardless, Cayenne kept her focus on the arena grass. The other horses seemed satisfied with the grass right beneath their feet in the alleyway, but Cayenne moved along the web, continuing to seek access to the shortest grass.

I saw trouble coming the instant she put her head between the two lines of web and warned Cyndie, who was already trying to get around the other horses to redirect Cayenne’s attention. Before Cyndie arrived to back her up, Cayenne managed to make a mess of things, bending a step-in post and popping the web off in a mini-panic to extricate herself.

It was safest at this point to let her proceed forward, instead of getting her to back out. Of course, now the rest of the horses wanted in, so when Cyndie opened the access point to move Cayenne out, they all pushed in to join the fun. After some grumbly coercion, Cyndie got them all out and fixed up the fence.

We thought that was that on the issue, …until yesterday morning.

After breakfast, as we wandered down the driveway toward our first project of the day, we found Cayenne all by herself in the middle of the arena, looking guilty as hell while trying to project an aura of innocence. What was most shocking about it was that the web fence was perfectly intact and the access closed.

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Did she jump over to get in? Did she figure out how to step her four feet over without snagging the web? We have no idea.

The mystery will go down as simply being Cayenne’s magic.

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Written by johnwhays

September 23, 2017 at 8:46 am

Field Open

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The weather forecast for our area indicates we are in a stretch of dry, sunny days that could last a week. If we had hay to cut and bale, this would be a good time. Instead, we have a freshly mowed field that, yesterday, we opened to the horses for grazing.

For all the times they indicated a strong interest in getting out on that grass, I had visions of them racing out into the big space, jumping and kicking with glee. Cyndie asked me if I wanted to film the moment, but I seemed to know better.

I murmured that the horses would probably step out of the paddock gate and stand right there to munch.

Lo, and behold, they did pretty much that. I encouraged Hunter to join me in a run out into the wide open space, but he didn’t take the bait.

They stood in what we call the alley way, the space between the paddocks and the arena, and meandered aimlessly while chomping away. I moved a wheelbarrow around the paddock and cleaned up manure while they grazed. Eventually, I spotted Dezirea and Hunter had made their way just beyond the previous border, but they had turned to face in toward me and the other horses, appearing to intentionally turn their backs on the promised land.

You can lead horses to the open field they so badly craved, but they will decide when to take advantage of it.

When Cyndie went out this morning to serve up their tiny portions of nutrition feed, she said there was no manure under the overhang. They stayed out in the field all night long.

They got what they wanted, just on their own time.

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Written by johnwhays

September 9, 2017 at 8:43 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Horse Love

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It’s time our horses get a little love from the Relative Something blog, don’t you think? They’ve been a little short-changed here because energy for them has been directed toward the Facebook page of late. The lines get a little blurry sometimes, and I forget which hat I am wearing, blogger or Wintervale post-er.

I’ve got a fix for that today. To see this fun snippet of the herd nom-nom munching on the high grass of the middle pasture, I’m linking back to the Wintervale FB page.

If you don’t have time for the video, I’m including two snapshots of our crew in graze-mode for your enrichment. Enjoy!

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They are getting along well as the summer slowly winds down for them. We’ve noticed they have grown comfortable enough with being under the barn overhang now that even when rain roars on the metal roof, they stay beneath it and keep dry.

I like that better than when they preferred to stand as far as possible from the cover it offered, choosing instead to droop their heads down and get soaking wet, looking like sorry sad sacks.

Their health has been stable and good, although Cayenne still is working on growing out her hooves after a bout of laminitis. George has been kind enough to provide her an extra session of trimming between the normal span of time for the rest of the herd, which is helping to hasten a return to a desired hoof shape and less painful weight-bearing.

Shelby has been exercising the horses once a day, continuing a process that she started after Cyndie’s shoulder surgery in June. It has been a great help toward getting the horses ready for the workshops underway while Dunia is here.

One other thing the horses have adjusted nicely to this summer is the presence of three very friendly chickens who demonstrate a frequent preference to share the cozy space under the overhang, even though it sometimes means their meager ration of twice-daily nutrition pellets gets poached by the greedy birds.

Doesn’t seem to matter. The horses know they are still the stars of our show.

Makes me love them all the more.

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Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2017 at 6:00 am

Fiery Sky

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The horses were heavily harassed by biting flies yesterday, which made my session of scooping manure a lively affair. The biggest hazard, beyond unpredictable flailing hooves as they fling a leg out in response to a bite, is the nasty snap of their tails. They could take an eye out with that whipping action. At the very least, it stings when they get you.

I’ve noticed they will frequently align themselves to purposely have their heads in the wash of someone else’s tail for added fly management. There is no doubt they are thicker skinned than we are. I wouldn’t be able to endure the beating.

I worked well past the dinner hour last night, after a full shift at the day-job, to create added open space in the compost area for my approaching week-long absence from home. The effort now should pay off when I return, so I won’t come home to a disaster of overflowing piles.

Manure management is one of those jobs that is made easy by frequent attention. Let it go for a day or two between scooping and it can become an exponentially more significant project.

Last night, I opened up a gate to a section of pasture that still has long grass, to allow the herd a brief session of grazing. The first thing three of them did was pee. The second thing they took turns doing was laying down and rolling around.

When I looked their direction to see they finally got around to seriously grazing, the setting sun was illuminating the clouds to create the impression of a great conflagration. Photo Op!

One last day at the day-job today before vacation. I hope to try mowing the yard tonight and maybe doing a little laundry so I can pack clean clothes for the bike trip.

If I pack warm clothes and rain gear, maybe I won’t need them. We all know that if I don’t pack those things, it would guarantee that the week would turn out cold and wet.

If we see fiery clouds in the evenings during the bike trip, I hope it will mean, “sailor’s delight.”

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2017 at 6:00 am

Coming Together

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I was keeping Delilah tied close to me while cleaning up around the paddock, partly to keep her out of trouble with the horses, but also because I don’t want her venturing to the full reach of the leash, scouting chickens. She seems to understand the drill.

After retrieving her from the kennel located behind the house, we walked along the back pasture fence line toward the chicken coop. I had already checked on the chicks earlier, so knew where to expect them. Keeping myself between the chicks and Delilah, we strode parallel to the coop where I stopped to put the memory card in the trail cam for the night.

She was appropriately curious, but not frantic over the presence of the birds. I doubt she will ever reach a point where she would let one of the birds walk into her space without attempting to grab it, but it feels nice to have her practicing a respectable level of calmness with them in view.

In the paddock, I had my attention on the task at hand, letting Delilah explore the immediate vicinity around me. When she stopped and stared, I looked up to find the chicks making their way over from the coop to join the horses for some short grass grazing.

Although separated by safe distances with Delilah restrained on the leash, it felt good to have us all coming together in the paddock. It was a hint of the ideal we wish could somehow come to be.

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Written by johnwhays

May 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

Herd Reunited

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I am very happy to be able to report that Dezirea has made enough progress toward good health that Cyndie decided to allow her back with our other horses. In fact, to celebrate the milestone, Cyndie let all 4 of them step out onto the green grass for their first brief taste of the spring.

We have now arrived at the difficult period when we meter out their minutes of grazing on the lush spring growth. In years past, the strict constraints on the time we allowed them were merely applied to ease their digestive systems into the change. Then we came to realize that they don’t work hard enough to justify the rich diet full-time.

We have to limit their grazing most of the year in order to keep them from becoming overweight.

Cyndie has purchased some muzzles in hope of giving the horses a chance to roam the pasture without over-eating. They can eat through the muzzle, but it takes a bit more time and effort. It will slow down their intake.

Since they are not out on the pasture full-time, they’ve been eating hay longer into the warm months. Last night we visited a new local source of small bales that Cyndie found through an ad. We filled the back of the pickup with as much as it would hold and hustled back to the ranch, quickly serving up a few test bites to the horses.

They loved it! That was a relief.

Hauling hay at the end of the day was a lot of work, because we were already fatigued from continued sprucing of the labyrinth, mowing the lawn, re-hanging the vines across the path out of the back yard, spending time with chickens out of the coop, and turning the composting manure piles.

Today will be a much more leisurely day. It’s World Labyrinth Day! We are expecting visitors around noon, so after a few small chores of preparation in the morning, we will be lounging, snacking, visiting, and walking for peace throughout the afternoon.

I’m looking forward to having the afternoon off.

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Autumn Ambiance

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dscn5204eI stepped outside to search for some fall scenery to photograph after I got home from work yesterday and was rewarded well beyond my expectations. It helps to never grow too accustomed to the beautiful surroundings we enjoy here.

It would be a shame to ever take this gorgeous place for granted.

The key factor yesterday was that it wasn’t raining. There was actually some blue sky visible. With a high pressure system moving in, we are hoping to for several dry days in a row. It is likely to deliver a dose of our best of autumn weather.

dscn5208eMany of our trails are developing a carpet of fallen leaves that provide a crunch when you walk. More importantly, they are filling the air with the unmistakable scent of the season. When I walk toward the pastures and pop out of the trees, the horses show signs of wondering what huge creature is making all that racket.

Just this huge creature, is all.

When I got down to our Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth, the sunlight was getting low. Cyndie had recently mowed and weeded the labyrinth, which gave it a well-tended glow anyway.

I walked to the far side and paused to stare at the beauty all around me. I was looking away from the entrance for the shortest of moments, and when I turned back around I was startled by the sudden silent presence of a lone young deer happily standing nearby.

It was as if it had magically materialized in the spot. I realized right away that it was totally unaware of me standing there. When it stepped through our fence and walked into the pasture to graze, I stealthily moved to a rock nearby and lifted my camera to capture the scene in video…

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Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2016 at 6:00 am