Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘horses

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

Muted Brilliance

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Most of the glory for fall colors goes to the trees, but I would say that the essential component for spectacular explosions of brilliant color happens to be the sunshine which illuminates the foliage. Our landscape of turning leaves is so incredibly less vibrant when the day is cloudy gray.

However, even muted, the place is starting to look pretty fall-festive.

Imagine what that would look like under bright sunlight shining from a deep blue sky.

Next chance to see the real thing is expected to be Sunday. For those keeping track, that will be the second Sunday of October. It should be a gorgeous day for a hike down a wooded trail or a pause around the campfire.

The second Sundays of each month make for an excellent excuse to take a little drive in the country and stop by Wintervale Ranch to explore and experience our paradise first-hand.

There’s never a bad month to visit this place, but this time of year is quite possibly the best.

Especially on a sunny day.

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Written by johnwhays

October 6, 2017 at 6:00 am

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

It’s Curious

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For as much of my life as is now committed to caring for our property and animals, I find it curious that I can still have a series of days with very little contact to them. Yesterday, in celebration of our anniversary, we went out to dinner in Hudson after I got home from work.

When we returned after dark, I dropped Cyndie off at the barn so she could make her way to the chicken coop to close their access door for the night. I parked the car in the garage and headed inside to start my evening routine.

Tonight, I will be meeting the family at a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis to celebrate Julian’s birthday. This will lead to another night of arriving home after dark, not even seeing either the horses or chickens.

During my work weeks, it can happen that I’m completely disconnected from the activities of our ranch for a few days. It’s a little disorienting for me.

Especially since the most orienting thing of all for me is when I am able to spend time with our animals.

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Written by johnwhays

September 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

Long Goodbye

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We are thoroughly enjoying what is turning out to be a superb stretch of end-of-summer weather this week. It makes me realize how many times earlier in the season we were subject to rainy days that interfered with our plans. Summer is showing us some mercy and executing a precious long goodbye with warm sunshine bathing the leaves that are transitioning to their brilliant fall colors.

Now if we only had some big plans scheduled for these gorgeous days. Instead, our next event is happening this coming Saturday, when the forecast changes from all sunshine to chances of rain. Timing is everything.

In the mean time, we are soaking up the beauty and relishing the picture-perfect summery-ness of these waning days.

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Doesn’t this just make you want to sit a spell?

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Written by johnwhays

September 12, 2017 at 6:00 am

Preferred Space

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Watching how our three surviving chickens explore the world beneath the horses, it surprises me they have yet to be squished beneath a hoof. For as much as our horses have taken a liking to the space beneath the overhang of the barn, the chickens seem to like it even more.

Maybe it is because the chickens are so darn social, preferring to be hang out wherever there is the most company. Luckily, the horses showed no animosity toward the new inhabitants, accepting their presence without complaint.

We’ve chosen not to fight their interest. In fact, we’ve added some amenities to accommodate them. To keep them from poaching pellets from the feed the horses get twice a day, we set out a pan of their own feed to hold their attention.

Since they have food, Cyndie decided to set out some water, too.

With plenty of sand to bathe in, and a roof to protect from rain or sun, the chickens have all the makings of a great hangout spot.

I don’t blame them a bit. Hanging out with the horses has become one of my favorite places to be, too.

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Written by johnwhays

September 11, 2017 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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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

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