Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘hot weather

Sweaty Horses

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We are on our umpteenth day in a row of high-heat weather and the stress on growing plants is getting visible. Overnight Tuesday we were awoken by a brilliant flash of lightning with its associated crack of thunder that one would assume to equal rainfall. We received no noticeable moisture from the atmosphere.

Where we haven’t kept up with watering, our plants are suffering.

Our animals all seem to be tolerating the heat, but the horses are a sweaty mess. They almost look like they’ve just finished running a race. [slight exaggeration] To add a little flamboyance to their appearance, they take turns rolling in the dusty dirt to create a little mud pack that seems to provide some protection from the hot sun and biting flies.

The chicks don’t seem to care about the heat because they have those fabulous grassy courtyards covered by shade where they can romp all day long. We are in the phase of chick-rearing that requires forcing them back into the coop by hand because they haven’t properly developed that natural instinct of going inside on their own for the night.

Chick wrangling is not one of my favorite tasks. They don’t make it easy.

When we finally got to the last couple of the older bunch, they actually chose to run up the ramp themselves instead of succumbing to the grasp of our scary hands. It inspired me to next time devise a method of corralling them into an ever-shrinking space that funnels directly to the ramp so they can practice getting back inside without being grabbed.

By the time all the chick chasing was done, it was the humans who were sweaty.

We chose to pass on the rolling in the dirt thing.

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Written by johnwhays

June 10, 2021 at 6:00 am

Heat Advisory

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With the pressure of multiple days of excessive heat driving our concerns, Cyndie and I put in extra hours yesterday to complete the two separated fenced-in courtyards outside the coop for the two batches of chicks. Late in the afternoon, our chicks were scratching dirt for the first time in their lives.

While we worked, we opened their access doors, allowing them to tentatively investigate the strange new opportunity in their own time.

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I appreciate their caution. Being cautious might protect them from risks they will face when ultimately allowed to free-range our fields and forest.

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Getting the chicks out of the coop and onto the shady ground dropped the temperature of their environment significantly. Keeping their water sources filled requires extra vigilance in the heat as those little beaks drink a surprising amount much quicker than expected.

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In no time, I witnessed insects being hunted and devoured. It’s interesting to watch the instinctual behavior of scratching the ground beneath them and then stepping back to peck at whatever might have been revealed. I saw a little beetle rushing to move from one spot to another and wondered how that might play out. The keen eye of one of the chicks spotted that movement and raced over to scoop it up in one smooth move.

Then the great hunter needed to fend off the immediate attention of several other chicks who desperately wanted what she had.

If ever there was a version of “eat and run,” the competition of other chicks defines the phrase when it comes to finding the perfect morsel.

It won’t take long for those birds to change their limited landscapes from green to nothing but bare ground.

At the rate things seem to be advancing, they will be ranging free in a blink. The next big hurdle will likely be figuring out how and when we can take out the barriers isolating the two age groups. I expect it will come after the point of development where it becomes much more obvious which of the Rockettes are noticeably roosters.

Let’s hope high heat pressure will have taken a welcome break long before that milestone arrives.

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Written by johnwhays

June 6, 2021 at 9:35 am

Rocky’s Progeny

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The 13 chicks that hatched from eggs fertilized by our late New Hampshire Red rooster, Rocky, have now developed enough features to better guess at which breed their mothers were. The batch we’ve referred to as the “Rockettes” will be subdivided to break out six pullets who will eventually be “Baxterettes,” reflecting a plan to share them with my brother’s family in the Brainerd area of Minnesota.

That surprise rooster we were blessed to receive unexpectedly in a batch of egg-layers we ordered online during the pandemic will have quite a legacy from his cut-way-too-short life.

The twenty-five chicks currently sharing the “twin-home” coop divided in half by a plastic netting are all doing well during this span of time when they are confined to quarters. We are currently working to prepare the boundaries of two separate courtyards –one front, one in back– where they will be allowed daytime excursions on real dirt with actual green growth to destroy.

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We aren’t sure yet about how many of the 13 Rockettes are roosters in the making, but we are confident it is more than zero. Looking at the images above, we believe we have the following numbers of breeds:

Quantity 6 Barnevelders; two with darker coloring on head and neck (a difference of gender maybe?). One each of these can be seen on the far left and far right of the image on the left.

Quantity 2 Light Brahmas; mostly yellow with white wing feathers and a hint of feathers growing on feet, seen second from left.

Quantity 4 yellow-headed chicks with reddish-brown feathers that look a mix of New Hampshire Red/Barnevelder, third from left.

Quantity 1 Dominique; easily identified for being black head to toe and almost disappears in the image on the right.

Cyndie has reported seeing pairs of the Rockette chicks chest-bumping already but I saw nothing but happy romping siblings in my extended watching yesterday.

We housed the Buffalo Gals on the backside of the coop where the chicken access door is located, but that lacked ventilation in this record-setting hot weather. I rigged a way to temporarily cover the opening with 1/4″ mesh hardware cloth so we could leave the door open during the day.

The high heat will inspire us to hasten preparations to get their courtyards secure so we can let them out into more open air.

The wild pigeons choosing to nest in our barn lost about a half-dozen chicks yesterday that we found sprawled out on the ground in multiple places, so this heat needs to be taken seriously.

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Written by johnwhays

June 5, 2021 at 9:35 am

Great Indoors

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You know the saying. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. I don’t know what phenomena might be pushing the local dew point temperatures to extremely tropical levels, but it is driving our heat index into the triple digits again. I’m not a fan.

At the same time, I really don’t have much to gripe about. The workplace indoor temperatures are air-conditioned down to a level that keeps my arms cold all day in a short-sleeved shirt. From there, I step out to my car and turn on the AC for the long drive home. Our house is perfectly comfortable with the geothermal system making great use of that constant underground temperature in the upper 50s(F).

Of course, this works because I’m done with the time sensitive chores outside, enabling me to pick and choose whether I’ll go out and deal with the immediate elements, or avoid them.

It makes it difficult to pay true attention to the present moment. I’m off in some other world, down a maze of insignificant Reddit posts like hatted cats pawing attention-getting bells to trigger repeated delivery of a treat, or highlight videos of soccer players tangling for a header where one uprights the other and then guides his flip to a full rotation that lands the opponent upright again before ever crashing to the ground.

Cute, but basically mindless, compared with what is available in and around the space where I’m breathing.

Yesterday evening, I was describing my June week of biking and camping to a visitor and reminded myself of how in-the-moment that activity can be. We are out in the elements all day, sleeping on the ground in tents all night. Breathing the air, inhaling the scents, hearing the birds and freight trains.

We notice everything about the wind.

When I’m not biking, I pay no attention to what direction the wind is blowing. Why do I neglect to notice?

My habit of not truly being fully present in a moment allows for obliviousness to that kind of detail. My mind can wander to expectations of watching the World Cup final on Sunday, or mulling over imagined reasons why our 4 acres of hay-field have yet to be cut by the neighbor who, back in the beginning of June, volunteered so to do.

In my comfortable car during the long commute, lately I’ve been listening to deep cuts from my library of music, allowing it to carry me off to distant rekindled memories or fantasies of mastering my own version of various enticing songs.

I’m thankful I don’t have to be out in the heat, but at the same time, I regret how my avoidance accommodates a distancing from the realities of the present moment.

I take some solace in having just sweated through every layer of several sets of grubby clothes over the recent three days of heaving hundreds of hay bales. We were reasonably enmeshed in the moment for those hours of each day.

There is some balance there… and, always an opportunity to strive for better attention to the immediate pleasures of the artificial environment of a comfortably conditioned “great indoors.”

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Training Pause

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From the “no good deed goes unpunished” file, my zealous efforts of Friday produced a reward in the form of a strained muscle on the left side of my lower back. It doesn’t take much brilliance to figure out the wielding of a heavy pole saw with an engine on the low end and a spinning chain blade on the top turned out to be too much for my limited strength.

It has forced a pause in my biking and plank exercises that has altered a plan to maximize my conditioning prior to the start of The Tour of Minnesota biking and camping trip in June. Maybe it was fortuitous, because the weather has taken a harsh turn to oppressively HOT!

I am resting my painful muscle in the shade of the house. In a meager effort to be conscientious about the use of energy, I struggled to keep the house comfortable yesterday by managing open windows and closed shades. It was almost successful.

This morning, I have already closed the house up and turned on the AC. If I am going to get anything done outside today, as I slowly try to regain function, being able to return to a comfortable house will be very valuable.

I am home alone for a spell as Cyndie went to the lake place for a couple of days to contribute to the opening work-weekend. Jackie had a trip out-of-town planned before she moved in with us, so I am minding the ranch.

Delilah has been a sweetheart, allowing me to rest without constantly begging for attention. I think maybe she notices how crazy hot it is outside and her fur coat doesn’t like being out in the blazing sunshine on days like this.

Walking does seem to be good therapy for my sore muscle however, so we have made the rounds, staying in the shade of the woods as much as possible. This morning, we were rewarded with deer hoof prints on our trail that revealed the presence of a brand new fawn, based on the teeny-weeny size.

I tried to capture an accurate depiction of how tiny the little prints were, but even that doesn’t do justice to how surprisingly small they really look.

After we looped around on another trail, Delilah almost pulled my arm off when she struggled to chase some deer cutting into the woods by the labyrinth. The only view I could get was of a tail. No babies in sight.

Our next stop was the barn, to feed and clean up after horses. While we were in there, both Delilah and I noticed some shadows moving outside the front door. It was the chickens! They are expanding their territory nicely.

I’m impressed.

I’m also anxiously counting their numbers every time I come upon them. Still twelve.

Here’s hoping baby deer and baby chickens all find a way to achieve a healthy first year, and my strained muscle finds a way to heal fast enough that I can get back to biking, despite the heat.

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Written by johnwhays

May 27, 2018 at 10:40 am