Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘hay

Clearing Snow

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It’s all my fault. That additional 1-inch of snow being forecast to fall overnight tonight is, I’m sure, a result of my completely finishing the job of plowing and shoveling our driveway, as well as the gravel drive around the barn, the path to the compost area, the roadway around the pasture fence, and finally, the deck of the house.

I even made a little path for the chickens to get to the barn overhang where Cyndie has placed a heated water supply for them.

Not that they are using it all that much. The Buff never made it as far as the barn, choosing to stay nestled in the woods just beyond their coop.

It’s time to rearrange things in the coop to create space for the heated waterer in there, so we can finally make use of the electric outlet we worked so hard to install over the summer.

I’ll have plenty of time to do that today, since I did two-days-worth of chores yesterday. After clearing snow, I loaded the barn with enough hay to feed the horses for a week. With doors on the hay shed now, and to reduce time for Cyndie working out in the cold, it’s just that much more convenient to have bales available in the barn.

We don’t store hay there permanently, because it’s too dusty an environment. Small amounts, for a short span of days, works well enough. While hauling bales yesterday, I was enjoying the fact that this year we aren’t dealing with any hay the horses don’t like. We are down to bales from two different suppliers, both of which the herd willingly consumes.

It’s a much more satisfying experience.

Today, I will savor the freshly cleared grounds before the next nuisance accumulation of snow arrives to mess things up. Maybe I should look into a broom attachment to use whenever there isn’t enough snow to justify plowing.

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It’s not so much that I fear the light coatings are hazardous, though it can become so. The first significant snowfall this year occurred as a mixture of rain turning to snow, a situation that is not that uncommon. Unfortunately, it freezes a crusty layer to surfaces that is very resistant to removal, and sometimes slippery.

Basically, for me, leaving fallen snow on walking or driving surfaces is just bad Feng Shui. It radiates an aura of neglect that eats at my sense of order.

The best solution is to have it fall in greater amounts. If it is going to snow, then let’s get a good few inches at a time, in the very least.

I tell ya, if I ran the world…

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Written by johnwhays

December 10, 2017 at 8:42 am

More Pics

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Our Saturday afternoon with Mike and Barb’s grandkids was so much fun, Cyndie and I keep finding ourselves bringing up memories of the day. There were so many wonderful moments, the photos spill over from yesterday’s post to today.

Thank you to Mike for sending us these precious images to share!

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Written by johnwhays

October 23, 2017 at 6:00 am

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Small Happenings

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There are days when the projects at Wintervale are a little less spectacular than others. On Friday, our order for a truck-load of gravel was delivered and I used the blade behind the tractor to spread it out. The results are subtle, but to my eye, it is a major improvement.

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It doesn’t make a huge functional change to life around here, but it bolsters the foundation of the rest of our operation. Infrastructure, baby!

The pile visible in the photo on the right isn’t more gravel. It’s the lime screenings that we distribute in the paddocks to improve the footing for the horses by reducing areas of mud. After heavy downpours, we use screenings from the pile to fill in the rills that may have formed.

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We had some other small happenings around here yesterday, and it made for a spectacular occasion. Our dear friends, Mike and Barb were able to bring their grandchildren, Jackson and Allie for a visit. It was a last-minute addition, and when the “surprise” opportunity was suggested to the kids, Jack’s response was, “Is it about a horse?”

By coincidence, young Jackson has a thing for horses. He also seems to have a strong intuitive sense, as well.

When they all arrived, the first order of business was to head straight to the barn from the car, instead of stopping inside the house. After a brief initial, and very cute, attention to the chickens, the horses pretty much ruled the day.

The kids took turns grooming and riding on Legacy, fed all the horses apple slices for a treat, helped with chores and feeding, and ultimately settled on reading some of the driest academic books from Cyndie’s library.

Despite Cyndie offering other options of kid books from the shelves, Jackson honed in on that section of horse books. When Cyndie was guiding them through one of the books, scanning the pictures and skimming the words, Jack wanted to know if she was “really” reading it, and where she was in the text about anatomy and physiology.

I’m not sure who had the better time, the kids, or the adults getting to witness their thrills.

Oh, there was also a dinner of some world-class grilled steaks. Thank you, for that, Mike!

No small happening, there.

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Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2017 at 10:29 am

Exhausting Effort

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Yesterday was an unplanned effort that turned into an all-day haul. This is how it came about…

We were looking to double the amount of hay we have stored for the winter in our hay shed. Using just our pickup truck to move 41 bales at a time over the summer, we had accumulated under half of what we are comfortable having for the winter months.

It made most sense that we should find a trailer to haul more bales per trip, so Cyndie contacted our neighbor.

His immediate response was, “Not right now.”

He had a car loaded on the trailer and didn’t want to take it off. Maybe next week, he said. Okay, we can live with that. Then a day later, after I had spent half a day covered in spider webs and dryer lint (the hose venting to outside needed replacing) and half a day mowing and cleaning the mower deck of moldy grass clippings, I was desperately looking forward to a long soaking shower.

The second I turned on the water, Cyndie said our neighbor just arrived to drop off his trailer and wanted to show me some details of the hookup. Surprise! She told him I had just stepped in the shower and he said he would be waiting down by the trailer.

I barely got wet, then dried off and jumped into clothes so I could hustle down to greet him.

He generously provided his ball mount attachment to fit the coupler and guided me through all the safety connections. We are so very lucky to have him for a neighbor.

With trailer in hand, we suddenly had a different itinerary for our Saturday. We ended up making two trips to transfer a total of 240 bales of hay for the day. That involves stacking 120 on the trailer, strapping them down, anxiously driving to our place, unloading 120 bales, lifting 120 into place inside our shed, and then driving back to do it all again, a second time.

Keep in mind, the bales appear to get heavier with time, as our bodies fatigue. The second batch of bales are harder to lift, and I need to climb higher in the shed to stack them on top of the first load.

Since we were trying to fit our two loads into the hours our hay seller was available –basically, the hours in a day– this effort came with nary a break. As I finished stacking the first load, Cyndie hustled up to the house to put together sandwiches for a lunch we could eat in the truck at 1:00 p.m. while driving back to pick up the second load.

After a non-stop day awash in dusty, scratchy hay, I was looking forward, even more than the day before, to that long soaking shower to calm my itchy skin.

It was a soothing finish to a full day of exhausting effort.

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Written by johnwhays

October 1, 2017 at 8:27 am

Adding Bales

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We made a run to our favorite hay supplier after I got home from work yesterday in the high heat of the day.

Our little truck fits 41 small squares per trip, which isn’t much, but turns out to be a good quantity for ease of loading and unloading.

We recently discovered that the bottom bales that we place on pallets in the shed are getting moldy from moisture that comes up from the ground. Since we still have a batch of old bales that the horses don’t like and that were bleached dry by the sun, we decided to use those for a base layer on the pallets for now.

I did an accounting of inventory and discovered we don’t have as many on hand as I assumed, which I guess is what happens when you only buy them in small pickup loads per time.

Somehow, the horses keep eating, so that ongoing issue of the constant drain on inventory needs to be considered, too.

No matter how many bales we have, it always feels rewarding to finish the task of putting up new bales in storage.

Especially when the old truck survives another load without any problems. That poor beast has its best days behind it now. The rust is making inroads on multiple fronts, which always has us wondering what piece might fall off next.

Now it’s not just bales I worry about losing each trip on the way home.

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Written by johnwhays

September 14, 2017 at 6:00 am

Near Miss

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Are you as amazed as I am that our three chickens continue to survive ranging freely around our property, despite our having done nothing different to protect them in the time since some predator decimated the flock of nine birds?

It almost seems counter-intuitive that something would attack the large group of birds, but now no critter has bothered with the three that remain. Maybe with such low numbers, it isn’t worth the trouble of stalking them compared to the easier pickings of attacking a large flock.

None of this factored into Delilah’s thinking yesterday.

While Cyndie and I were unloading bales of hay from the pickup and stacking them in the shed, we let Delilah hang out with us to watch. Cyndie had hooked the leash to the front of the truck.

Meanwhile, the three chickens wandered over to peck at the mess of hay shrapnel that falls from the bales. I’m guessing they were growing used to seeing the leashed dog and didn’t feel particularly threatened.

Everyone seemed to be getting along just fine, until Cyndie decided the charade had gone on long enough. She told me that she meant to shoo the chickens away and was planning to remove Delilah from the captive spot to take her for a walk and get her away from the constant tease of free roaming chickens, which surely was tempting fate.

Except that the moment Cyndie processed that thought, (when I think she may have indeed made some sound toward the chickens to back them off) Delilah exploded against her restraint and ruptured the webbing of the harness that held the ring to which her leash was hooked.

Delilah chased, the birds panicked, and Cyndie and I both screamed at the dog with all our energy. The chickens ducked the fence into the paddock, which slowed Delilah a bit, and by the time I got down off the stacked hay in the shed, the dog had paused her pursuit a short distance beyond that fence.

Was she really listening to us? Cyndie thinks so. She declared it a partial victory, because Delilah did choose to stop the chase and did, hesitatingly, come back to us. We were able to hook the leash to a different ring on her harness and Cyndie walked her to the house to confine her until she calmed down.

Disaster averted, but not for lack of trying.

Those three birds must have some special luck that they escaped unharmed again. Or maybe they have a cat’s nine lives. Yesterday seemed like the kind of ruckus that probably used up a life for a couple of our surviving birds.

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Written by johnwhays

July 28, 2017 at 6:00 am

Adding Hay

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Our original local hay source is back. Tom was the first reliable local provider of small bales from whom we purchased hay 3 years ago. At that time, we over-bought and ended up not needing more bales from him the following year. Then there was a wet year where he didn’t have any second-cut grass bales that met our needs.

We ended up shopping around.

This year conditions have been good for hay and he called to see if we were interested. Last night we hustled over to see what he was offering and ended up bringing home a truck-full. His bales include a larger percentage of stemmy content than our most recent supplier who Cyndie found through a local ad, but Tom is located half the distance away.

If our horses don’t reject Tom’s hay outright, we’ll probably put in a reservation for another 160 bales or so from him. We expect to be bringing in hay from three different sources this year, and would like to avoid coming up short before the winter season is over.

I think determining the correct number of bales needed for a year is more of an art than a science. We haven’t quite mastered the craft yet, but each year we seem to be gaining skills. It would help if the horses wouldn’t be so picky about eating what is served.

It doesn’t do a lot of good to have the hay shed filled with bales that the horses won’t eat. I’m told they’ll be less picky if they get hungry enough, but we haven’t seen that happen here yet.

We are offering the horses some test servings of the hay varieties we are putting up this summer to bolster our confidence on the new bales before committing with money and stacking muscle on further truckloads.

It’s a manner of practicing our artistic skills.

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Written by johnwhays

July 18, 2017 at 6:00 am