Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘horses

Aw Heck

leave a comment »

Two chickens missing at bed check last night. No evidence visible in the low light of evening to account for their absence.

We knew this was likely to occur eventually, but, of course, that doesn’t make it any easier to accept. Cyndie’s audit identified the missing birds as a buff orpington and a golden laced wyandotte.

A survey for any sign of feathers dropped will commence after daylight this morning.

It’s enough to make you shake your head, going bonkers…

Hunter knows how to do it. That’s his cow face.

I think he was shaking off flies when I happened to snap that photo.

Those pesky flies love the eyes.

I bet the horses know what happened to the two missing chickens. I haven’t mastered the level of communication with them that would enable me to hear their version of the story.

Well after dark last night, I thought I might have heard coyotes in the distance. Maybe it was just my mind’s effort to provide an explanation for the unknown. Coyotes would seem a logical possibility, although, a certain fox would be an even more plausible alternative.

There was no memory card in the trail cam at the time, so the culprit(s) will probably remain unidentified.

For the immediate future, the plan for the 10 chickens still with us is to confine them to their coop. There’s no reason to believe this will solve anything, but it just feels better to take some kind of action against an unknown foe.

Maybe this will spur the hens on to make full use of those fabulous nest boxes in there. We’ve still only found 4 of the small eggs associated with the start of their laying career. That leaves six who have yet to reach this milestone of maturity.

We are even more vested now in hoping the rest will live long enough to get there.

.

.

 

Written by johnwhays

August 8, 2018 at 6:00 am

Family Visits

with 2 comments

In my rush out-of-town for the weekend, I skipped over the adventure we enjoyed on Friday with visiting family. Three generations! My great-niece, Brooke, and great-nephew, Drew, each brought a friend, arriving with my niece, Tricia and my sister, Judy.

Friday morning started with significant thunderstorm, but by afternoon, the weather was pleasant for hanging out with the chickens and doing some exercises with the horses.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Cyndie spent the rainy morning in the kitchen, baking fresh buns and some chocolate chip cookies. Combined with the snacks Judy and Tricia brought, and some brats Cyndie had grilled the day before, we had plenty of fuel for the adventures.

Hunter was the star horse of the day, seen above making faces with Drew and participating in some communication connections in the round pen with Brooke. It is thrilling to witness the horse-human interactions as they play out. I think I get as much pleasure watching as the people who are engaged in the activity.

It looked like Hunter was getting a fair share of pleasure out of it, too.

The chickens were pretty happy to have a lot of hands feeding them fruit scraps from Cyndie’s morning kitchen projects. That’s a much better way to dispose of food scraps that are otherwise commonly ground up in sink disposals and flushed into municipal waste water systems. Since we don’t have a kitchen disposal, if our food scraps don’t go to the chickens, they end up in the compost bin.

Shortly after getting a bite to eat, I dashed off for the lake place, but I did hear the kids trying to negotiate their way into an overnight. There was too much fun to be had and not enough time to fit it all in.

Their glee was so inspiring, it renewed my appreciation for everything our place has to offer. Living it day after day changes the perspective. It was refreshing to have their invigorating, contagious energy knock me from taking the adventure of this life for granted.

I always say, this place never reaches its full potential until company shows up for a visit.

Especially when they are able to stay long enough to try out an exercise in the round pen with one of the horses.

Thanks for making the trip over on Friday, Judy, Tricia, and kids! It was a blast having you here!

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 6, 2018 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , , , , ,

Our Debuggers

leave a comment »

The main reason we wanted to get chickens was as a means of reducing the number of flies that show up when you have horses. Even more so when we heard they eat ticks, as well.

I had no clue how much fun they would also be as social pets. Of course, there is the added benefit of eggs, too. That’s a feature that I have come to value much more highly than I ever imagined I would.

Our flock continues to number twelve birds, which is really rewarding, but tends to make the inevitable threat of future loss more ominous, at the same time.

Lately, we’ve seen the chickens exploring ever greater distances away from the area around the coop and barn, which I am hoping means they are eating more and more bugs.

.

Otherwise, they tend to spend the bulk of their time under the thick cover of the trees between the house and the fields. When we walk past, it is common to hear their 24 feet clawing the leaves that cover the ground, as they search for bugs to eat.

My piles of composting manure no longer hold the shape I build up, as the chicken’s busy feet quickly wreak havoc in their search for precious morsels.

It’s a disruption to my sense of order which I gladly tolerate.

Despite all the bugs our chickens can eat, there remain plenty of flies that pester the horses. We put masks over the horses’ eyes, and this summer we are trying wraps on their legs.

Horses will often stomp their feet to knock loose the biting flies and that repeated concussion takes a toll on their feet and hooves.

Cyndie gave them some time on the short arena grass at dusk yesterday, where they can get some reward that helps distract them from the relentless harassment of the flies.

After that, Cyndie made a pass by the chicken coop to check for eggs and was rewarded with TWO eggs at the same time.

Now we know there are two hens laying. The rest won’t be far behind.

They might be our debuggers, but their eggs really are the crowning glory of our wonderful chickens.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 1, 2018 at 6:00 am

Hay’s In

leave a comment »

This year we accomplished our goal in three days. The hay is in. I’m ready for winter.

On the left side of that image, in the front you can see remaining bales from last year. Behind it are the new grass bales just stacked. On the right are the new bales we stacked on Sunday and Monday, from a second source. Those bales have a rougher mixture of stemmed grasses, which our horses showed strong interest for last year.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Working early in the morning yesterday presented a nice change to throwing bales at the end of the day. Stacking to the top of the shed however, ended up being just as hot and sweaty as doing it in the late afternoon on the two previous days.

We hadn’t opened the chicken door on the coop yet, so Delilah was able to hang out with us while we worked. When the chickens are roaming about, we don’t leave Delilah unsupervised, as she has a history of breaking her leash to reach the irresistible teasers.

If our full attention isn’t directly on her, she has a tendency to violate her restraining order.

We collect all the sweepings that fall from the bales to provide the horses a taste test of the menu they will be served for the next year.

I’m told there were no complaints.

That means a lot to us after the year our horses resolutely refused to eat bales we bought from a third source.

Imagine how it feels to have food we offer rejected after the strenuous effort to transport and stack a season’s worth in the high heat and humidity of summer.

Today, we are breathing a sigh of relief over having the hardest part of this chore behind us for another year.

Now, how long ’til it starts to snow?

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 11, 2018 at 6:00 am

Double Day

leave a comment »

When it’s hay season and you own horses, filling your shed with bales claims a big chunk of time and attention. After a full shift at the day-job yesterday, our priority quickly reoriented to the physically taxing effort of picking up hay bales from two of our main suppliers, one right after the other.

On Sunday evening, we hauled and then stacked a hundred bales from our first source. Yesterday, we started the last half of our “work” day with a trip to our second source to pick up one hundred of his bales. As soon as we had unloaded and stacked that batch in our shed, we headed out again to revisit our first source for one hundred more.

Once we reached home with that load, we took a short break to eat dinner. Cyndie’s brilliant preplanning to fill the slow cooker with chicken cacciatore in the morning, allowed us to enjoy an instant meal with little in the way of immediate preparation.

After some food, it was time to unload and stack the final hundred.

It was hot, sweaty, exhausting work. The hay shrapnel ends up everywhere, especially stuck to sweating skin. The dust triggers Cyndie’s allergic reactions.

The fatigue increases and the stack of bales gets higher to climb, both at the same time.

The joy of completing the task is amplified by the visual of now having enough food for the horses to last most of the year. There’s just one more load needed, and based on the time our supplier was available, we are setting out first thing this morning to do another hundred bales.

I’m not tired. You’re tired.

Last night, after we finished, Cayenne came over to offer me a nuzzle of thanks for our efforts.

The horses seem as happy as we are, seeing all these bales showing up to fill the hay shed.

Cyndie and I will be happier still, when the intense effort is behind us and we can return to our more typical leisurely pace around here.

That’s “leisure,” in a relative sense, of course.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 10, 2018 at 6:00 am

Brief Treat

with 6 comments

Just before sunset last night, we let the horses have a few minutes to graze on the mowed arena space. They were thrilled with the opportunity.

It is so precious for us to see them grazing on the grass outside their paddock. Be it ever so brief, it provided a compound reward.

The chickens seemed pretty excited over the activity and came running to join in the fun.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Do they look like they are getting bigger? They are.

After we returned to the paddock, I crouched down to visit with the chickens, but it was Hunter and Cayenne who moved in to love me up.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Apparently, they wanted to offer me a brief treat of my very own.

Love, gratefully accepted.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 26, 2018 at 6:00 am

Next Act?

with 2 comments

Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat. Nothin’ up my sleeve… Presto! It’s definitely time to get a new hat.

I’m back at the day-job today, after a week of vacation. It’s both soothing in its normalcy, and dreadful for… well, returning to work after vacation. Despite the excitement of a couple more birthday celebrations this week and the coming Independence Day holiday, I’m feeling as though there is a certain lack of the next big thing planned on our horizon.

During last week’s cycling and camping adventures, I had an opportunity to meet and greet a lot of first-timers to the Tour of Minnesota. Never being one to make a long story short, I found myself frequently offering a wide range of the tales which have provided most of Relative Something’s content over the last nine years.

What is this blog about?

I started it when my big trek in the Himalayas was about to occur. Shortly after that, Cyndie and I set out to visit Ian in Portugal. That seeded everything that eventually led to where we are today, providing stories about Cyndie working in Boston for a year, my getting the Eden Prairie house ready to sell, moving to Beldenville, WI, getting a dog, connecting with our friends, the Morales family in Guatemala, bringing horses onto the property, starting up Wintervale operations, building a labyrinth garden, and most recently, our antics with raising free-range chickens.

The cast of characters in my stories evolves, but the basic storyline of what makes the “pages” here rarely strays very far from what is going on in my mind at any given moment. It energizes my mental health to share my experiences with discovering and treating my depression, as well as my tales of identifying my addiction to sugar and the challenges of working that ongoing recovery program.

Currently, my health is good, both mentally and physically (despite an ongoing angst over the fiasco that is the US Government), my car is back from the body shop and looks brand new again, the horses look noticeably thinner after my week away from them, all twelve chickens appear to be thriving, and both dog and cat welcomed me home with loads of sweet attention.

Actually, the horses were pretty affectionate, as well. Elysa captured this shot of me giving Hunter a good scratch around his ears. All three horses lingered for some uncharacteristic extended face-time with me as I offered to scratch whatever itches they presented.

So, what’s next? What do I have up my sleeve for the next act?

I don’t know.

But trust me, you’ll find out as soon as I do.

What else would I do but write about it here?

The next adventure is out there somewhere down the trail. Until then, I expect our animals will continue to provide their usual fodder for lessons in life on the ranch.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 25, 2018 at 6:00 am