Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘horses

RS Interview 2

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The Relative Something interview with *The* John W. Hays ventured onto the subject of animals…

RS: Have you appreciated living out in the country during the virus outbreak?

JWH: Immensely!

RS: Why wouldn’t you!

JWH: This month marks 8-years that we’ve been here. The time passes in a blink, yet feels like ancient history when we dredge up memories of our first days back in 2012. We recently looked through pictures of what it was like when we first arrived before we made changes to the landscape and had the paddock fencing installed. The differences seem rather dramatic. We’d totally forgotten how it looked back then.

RS: You prepared the place for horses and now there are none.

JWH: You noticed. We have yet to finish reconciling that. We’ve teased with the idea of hosting rescues during the summer months but so far it’s been just talk. We remain hopeful that it still could happen in the future. I keep imagining the time will come. This place is made for horses. Nothing can replace the precious years we had with our herd of four.

RS: Your place is also made for chickens.

JWH: Well, yeah, them too.

RS: How’s the flock merge progressing?

JWH: Pretty good, I think. We may take the step of removing the barrier dividing the coop this weekend. Cyndie has been letting the pullets and Rocky roam free all day long to deal with the three hens whenever they show up to establish their dominance. As I have pulled in the driveway after work all week, I have spotted the white feathers of the Light Bintrahmas from a distance, moving farther from the coop each day. The rest of them blend in too well with the background to be visible from far away.
Cyndie reported the trespassing pale orange cat was again lingering menacingly close the other day. We are contemplating setting a trap to catch the prowler and turn him or her in to our neighbors, in case any of them want to claim responsibility. Not sure what we’d do if nobody recognizes the troublemaker.

RS: Have you seen any evidence of other predators snooping around?

JWH: Not during daylight. The motion light outside the bedroom comes on a lot at night, so we know the raccoons and deer are wandering around, but our chickens are locked up tight in the safety of the coop at that point. Every day we make it without the free-ranging flock being attacked becomes a little victory. We know the fox, possums, and coyotes are out there. Cyndie also heard the noticeable sound of a hawk the other morning. She left them under the netting with their breakfast for a little longer than usual that day.

RS: Where is your dog all this time?

JWH: Delilah has become accustomed to life on a leash and seems all too happy to spend the majority of her days indoors where she can harass the cat, Pequenita and get underfoot in the kitchen when Cyndie is baking. She displays an untrustworthy curiosity in the chickens and is rarely given an opportunity to be near them. Delilah tends to redirect her Belgian Tervuren Shepherd energy into trying to claw her way through glass windows to get after the taunting squirrels out in the yard acting as if they own the place.
She does welcome any excursion outside for projects where she can pretend to be helping while we work. When the jobs don’t involve gas-powered engines or proximity to chickens, we gladly include her.
In our house, dog and cat are pretty much like rival political parties. They aren’t buyin’ what the other is selling and they tend to profess a different version of reality. We’re never sure who is more guilty of instigating when differences of opinion flare up and hissing ensues.

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Written by johnwhays

October 16, 2020 at 6:00 am

Surprise Visit

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It wasn’t until we were on the road yesterday, driving to Mound for a visit with Barb and Mike Wilkus, that I mentioned we would be in the vicinity of our horses. The plan was to go for a hike and then have lunch on their deck.

Mike offered to drive us all to do our hiking in nearby Carver Park. While navigating the back roads from their house to the park, we circled a roundabout that Cyndie recognized as being a short distance from where the horses now live. Since we were that close…

The herd was on the upper portion of their pasture and spotted us as we drove up. The only trick of greeting them inside the fence would be the need to manage several other horses in the group who were as curious about us, as we were eager to be with our three.

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Even though less experienced with horses, Barb and Mike met the challenge of occupying much of the attention from the others, while also taking photos for us, as we snuck in brief greetings with our old friends. Dezirea was less able to open much distance away from one possessive companion, so our time with her was even shorter than our moments with Hunter and Cayenne.

I was teary with emotion at the opportunity to share breaths again and give deep neck scratches like days gone by.

Having lunch and catching up with Barb and Mike was a wonderful treat, but my unexpected visit with our horses after such a long time since I’d last had that opportunity, …that really made my day.

It was a fresh reminder of how much I’ve missed them. Chickens don’t quite compare.

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Written by johnwhays

October 12, 2020 at 6:00 am

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Old Friends

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Yesterday, Cyndie was in the vicinity enabling her to pay a visit to our horses at their current home a couple hours west of us. I am living the experience vicariously, aided by pictures.

That’s Cayenne and Dezirea who were in a corral of their own for some respite from harassing suitors seeking to be primary keepers. These ladies can definitely fend for themselves, but a little break from others is something we could all use from time to time.

At the time, Cyndie didn’t spot Hunter, but learned later he was off in one of the much larger pastures.

They looked great. Cyndie was able to untangle Dezi’s perpetual snarl in her mane.

I can tell it was a little heartbreaking for Cyndie, but still energizing to be with them again. Coincidentally, I found myself pausing in a walk with Delilah at about the same time Cyndie was with the horses, stooping to pull thistles that were overgrowing an old pile of manure in the large paddock.

I must have been feeling the reconnect they were enjoying and was drawn to the place they formerly occupied here.

Love those horses.

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Written by johnwhays

September 5, 2020 at 10:05 am

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Recent Past

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While I was working on a project that had me perusing some of my old photos from the last decade, I developed a yearning for the good ol’ days of about 4 years ago. (That’s the time period I was viewing when the nostalgia hit.) It has me missing our horses anew.

That was back before we added doors to the hay shed. I don’t miss the years of sun-bleached hay reserves. Of course, I don’t miss needing to put up a winter’s worth of hay anymore, either.

Our lives and focus of attention in 2015 seem so far removed now, yet at the same time, pretty recent compared to all the years even farther back in our history. I suppose I’m experiencing something of a near-term nostalgia.

I can’t help but think it might also be related to wanting to be back in a time when US politics weren’t a worldwide embarrassment.

I was so much younger then, four years ago. Delilah was, too. In that series of pictures I was reviewing, there were many where I was putting dog and horses in particularly close proximities, hoping to develop a safe and friendly bond between them. They never became close pals, but the horses offered a gracious acceptance of Delilah’s tendencies to nip at their heals or bark vociferously around feeding time if the horses got rambunctious.

Then, there are pictures of me throwing discs for Delilah to chase off-leash in the fields. That was B.C. (Before Chickens). Unfortunately, we can no longer trust the dog to spend any time off-leash, as she has no impulse control over her urge to follow her carnivorous canine instincts.

Ahh, those were the days, four years ago. Remembering those times feels like wrapping myself in a snuggly blanket on a cold day.

I’ve learned a lot in the years since, though (and Delilah, too, I think), so as 2019 closes in on its final weeks, I’m feeling good with our lives. I just need to remind myself to avoid the constant barrage of horrendous news and put my energy toward sowing seeds of love to all.

That will become a memory I would like to look back on in a few years to remember fondly.

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Written by johnwhays

December 5, 2019 at 7:00 am

Say Hi

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Good morning. Say hello to our chickens and Pequenita.

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One of the Golden Laced Wyandottes appears to be molting. Poor thing looks a mess.

Pequenita was doing her best queen bee daytime recline on Cyndie’s pillows. Of course, Cyndie is the one who is more allergic to cats between the two of us. Figures.

Delilah hasn’t been feeling her best and missed out on the photo sessions. She seems to be suffering a skin disturbance that has left her belly raw. The vet reports a large number of dogs have been experiencing similar afflictions. We are hoping the hard freeze will eliminate some possible allergens that could be causing the trouble.

This week, Cyndie paid a visit to a horse rescue place near Hastings to donate some left-over tack and supplies that didn’t sell in her boutique last spring. We are investigating the possibility of making our pastures available to them for summer grazing.

Could be a way for us to have horses around again, but without much of the expense.

It would be nice to be able to say “Hi” to horses again. Would only be a summertime visit, so we won’t know until next year if the possibility will work out or not.

I don’t mind waiting. Winter horse care can be stressful.

I would like to say “Hi” to days with reduced stress. Maybe I’ll be able to do that from our deck soon. Today we are going to take a crack at replacing the steps and railing tops.

I’m looking forward to saying “Goodbye” to the power tools Mike loaned us. That will be the exclamation mark on our completion of the DIY project. Then I will say “Hello” to all the money we saved.

Say goodbye, John.

Goodbye.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2019 at 6:00 am

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Thriving Eight

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Despite the risk of jinxing the prosperity that our eight chickens have been enjoying all summer, I can’t help myself flaunting their surprising continued free-range survival on these unprotected acres.

Two Black Australorps, three Golden Laced Wyandottes, and three Buff Orpingtons continue to thrive. They’ve had pasty butts, gotten broody, chosen “unauthorized” nesting sites, and survived last year’s harsh winter and this summer’s heavy thunderstorms. They lost a sibling to a devious possum and dodged an eagle that I saw swooping through the trees in a failed attempt to grab one of them.

That last fact now triggers a new level of anxiety whenever we spot one of the many bald eagles in the area circling low overhead, which I have witnessed them doing twice recently.

Still, our chickens hang together for the most part and seem genuinely happy about their lives.

I did find a “soft” shelled egg in one of the nest boxes yesterday, so one of the hens might be dealing with some new anomaly.

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Is This Possible?

From the potentially too-good-to-be-true files, yesterday I heard tell of an entity that pays decent money for space to place unwanted horses. A salesman who stopped by to deliver a quote on replacing the boards on our deck told wonderful stories about his days as a racehorse owner.

He described an acquaintance who couldn’t afford her property and was planning to move, until some company contacted her and offered to pay a reasonable amount to use her barn and fields to keep their unwanted/rescued horses.

“Heck, yeah, I’m interested!”

He promised to look into it and forward a name and/or number we could contact. Can’t hurt to inquire. If they supply the hay and pay to use the barn and pastures, I would be happy to accommodate them.

My inner skeptic is not quite as inspired as the rest of me, but I won’t let that prevent my creative imagination from visualizing unbelievable possibilities.

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Double Visits

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Yesterday, we had a precious opportunity to visit our horses because we were invited to lunch with friends on the lakeshore at Gary Larson’s home, and the two destinations are in close proximity to each other. Our double accomplishment came at a cost of limited time at each location, but the blessing of any amount of time with a treasured group of really great friends and a hands-on visit with our horses fills our hearts and energizes our souls.

After a luscious lunch (Thank you, Gary!) and a quick dip in Christmas Lake, I switched into long pants and boots and Cyndie and I drove a little further west to spend a few minutes with Dezirea, Cayenne, Hunter, and their old (re-newed) herd-mates.

When we arrived, the horses were out of sight, down the hill from our point of entrance. A short walk in and we spotted them before they sensed us. It was calls of alert overhead from ospreys nesting on a platform by the car that caused the horses to take notice of someone inside the fence.

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They all moved to the base of the incline and peered up at us with great interest, but came no closer. We slowly walked down to meet them.

The interactions with the large herd are a little complicated by us having a close relationship with three of the horses but barely familiar with the others. It was difficult at first to have focused time with our horses while surrounded by the heightened curiosity from the others over the strangers in their midst.

I was allowed to have a brief connection with Dezirea before her new gang of worshippers interrupted, probably trying to figure out what she was getting that they might be missing.

Eventually, we had a chance to spend quality time with each of our three horses. Cyndie pictured with Cayenne above, me with Hunter below.

Hunter appears to have adjusted well in his return to the old herd that formerly held him toward the bottom of the pecking order. At one point, when I was standing with Cayenne and him, I heard one of the other horses in the vicinity give a little shout and the group of three who had strayed a little too close suddenly hustled away. I didn’t see what he did, but Hunter clearly claimed our space and the others definitely got the message to leave us alone.

All too soon we needed to start the drive back to tend to Delilah at home alone all day. Cayenne and Hunter insisted on a long Minnesota goodbye and stepped after us as we tried to break contact to leave.

When we looked back from the top of the hill, those two were still alone together in the spot where we left them, as if lingering in the in-between of time with us and returning to the herd.

In the car on the drive home, Cyndie and I smelled like horses. The rest of the day we lingered in the in-between of time with them and returning to the rest of our real world.

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Written by johnwhays

August 25, 2019 at 6:00 am

Still Missing

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Not a day goes by that we aren’t still missing our horses. Yesterday, I spent a little time tending to residual piles of manure. The urgency to deal with it every single day is gone since there is no longer a need to make space for more. I also find myself avoiding dealing with it because it so obviously reminds me of the absence of our equine partners.

There was quite a large accumulation inside the paddock left over from winter that I was planning to convert into a high spot over a drain tile that I didn’t want the horses to collapse from walking over it when the ground was soft. The chickens are doing their darndest to spread it flat, so I have given up on maintaining a pile that will “cook” to compost and am just spreading it out to dry.

There were some huge grub worms in there that the chickens gladly feasted on while I was raking it out. They only last so long out in the bright sunshine before suddenly sprinting off to the wooded shade for a break. After they cool off a bit, they come out for another round of ugly looking grubs, then run off again.

Eventually, I took the hint and moved to reshape some of the leftover composting manure under the shade for them. They appreciated the wealth of smaller worms and centipedes to be found in the piles I moved there.

Standing out in the vacant paddocks now is disconcerting. The encroachment of weeds and tall grass gives an impression of neglect that seems so very out of place. I suppose I will mow it down eventually.

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We are still really, really missing our horses.

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Written by johnwhays

July 13, 2019 at 9:09 am

Sale On

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What’d I tell you? That girl doesn’t do things halfway. In a single day, Cyndie transformed our barn into a spectacular equine boutique. Then she fled town and left me to handle the first two customer appointments on my own.

There is a conference of some sort in Dallas that has been on her calendar for some time, but she found a way to do a couple of weeks worth of work in two days before leaving, so that she would be ready to capture this weekend’s target audience of horse folks headed to the Minnesota Horse Expo at the state fair grounds in St. Paul.

It feels strange to no longer have horses living with us.

It is so bittersweet. It’s what we wanted, while also being not at all what we wanted. Obviously, we can’t have it both ways, so it is time to reconcile the reality of our here and now.

We are giving new life to perfectly good equipment so it can serve the purposes for which it was created, as well as bringing pleasure to folks who will find beneficial treasures for their horse activities at reasonable prices.

I’ll be trying to keep that in my mind, but I gotta admit, this all feels rather disorienting for me.

I must be adjusting some already though, because I’ve noticed several instances lately of flashing back to not all that long ago when I had absolutely no horse experience whatsoever.

I guess it would come as no surprise that I had a dream a couple of nights ago that was set in our old Eden Prairie home.

It makes me chuckle to look back at my old self there in the suburbs and contemplate how oblivious I was about where I would end up in the twenty-teens.

Horses? Uh uh.

Not until I visited Ian in Portugal.

I’ve come a long way since then.

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Written by johnwhays

April 25, 2019 at 6:00 am

Everything Goes

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I remember this energy from the days after we first moved here. When Cyndie puts her attention to a specific project, she gets down to action and does it big. I am more inclined to wade in slowly, spending a lot more time contemplating and plotting, before breaking a sweat on the labor.

In 2013, I understood we were about to get horses, but it didn’t occur to me that we would need almost everything horse-related that Fleet Farm sold.

Now we have returned the horses to their old herd. When I got home from work yesterday, I came upon a startling sight. It looked as if the barn had regurgitated its entire contents out of both ends.

Everything must go! Buckets, mats, blankets, fans, ropes, brushes, fencing, toys, books.

I’m wondering if Cyndie is trying to eliminate anything that reminds her of our days owning horses.

She has cleaned and catalogued everything, posted flyers with photos and prices, and included her phone number. The calls making claims on the goods are underway.

It reminds me of the beginning, just flipped and going in the other direction.

Everything goes, on a massive scale.

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Written by johnwhays

April 24, 2019 at 6:00 am