Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘landscape pond

Full Afternoon

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When we reached the driveway yesterday after a couple of errands in the Cities, I stopped the car to check for mail and let Cyndie move over to the driver’s seat. Her new right knee was no trouble for her as she tested a quick stop and then piloted the vehicle up to the house and into the garage.

She just keeps checking off new firsts every day. After resting with the leg raised and wrapped with the cooling/compression machine while we had some lunch, she made her way out to assist me in getting our landscape pond cleaned up and the pump pushing water over the falls again.

That’s a milestone we were overdue to accomplish. It feels super to have that off our list and even better to again hear the soothing sounds of the splashing water.

Speaking of milestones, yesterday also marked the day Cyndie stopped using a cane when walking.

Activity moved from the pond to the paddocks and Cyndie walked all the way to the barn and back to the house after spending time with each horse and offering to brush them.

I went from the barn to the shop garage where I successfully fired up the lawn tractor for the first time this season. There will be no such thing as “no mow May” at our place. I mowed the two spots around the paddocks where the grass grows fastest.

Two of the more urgent projects on our spring to-do list have been checked off and both happened on the same afternoon. When spring growth finally kicks off, it doesn’t pause to wait for anyone who meant to get some things done before the leaves pop open.

I am thrilled to be able to move on to the next big thing. Friday, weather permitting, we are scheduled to receive a visit from the tree service. That’s another task I am hoping will happen before the leaves all fully open. As it is, that project is already about a week late in terms of the buds popping on branches.

Spring is springing out all over the place, and delayed though the warmth and sunshine may be, higher heat than my body is adjusted to is now showing up in force. I forgot what it was like to move hay around while working with sweaty bare arms.

I was very ready for a shower after the full afternoon of spring projects we successfully handled yesterday.

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Written by johnwhays

May 11, 2022 at 6:00 am

So Happy

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We were only away a few days but Pequenita seemed extra happy over our return yesterday. It seems as though she understands the routine of our leaving for days at a time and so maybe the occasion of our return is becoming something of an increased expectation for her.

She was rather comically clingy for the first part of the afternoon and then again when I sat on our bed and opened up my laptop.

I don’t mind giving her extended scratches when she shows so much appreciation for the touch, despite the limitations it creates for getting any real writing done.

The horses weren’t what I would describe as clingy when we showed up at the barn. Mix was in “bossy-mare” mode and preferred to pay amped-up attention to the two chestnuts, Mia and Light. They all looked noticeably more shaggy as their winter growth is filling in nicely.

Our weather is holding in “uneventful” mode while vast swaths of the country are experiencing events. The precipitation spinning around the low-pressure center in the middle states is staying just to our south. This buys us time to continue the process of winterizing Wintervale.

Today we plan to pull the pump from our landscape pond and cover the water with netting to capture leaves during the off-season. We also will remove the plastic awnings over the windows of the chicken coop and place solid plastic panels over the screens. Even though there won’t be any birds in there, we still want to keep it from filling up with snow.

We pulled in our plastic rain gauge to keep it from getting cracked when water freezes in it. We’ll be in the “in-between” season for a while, where precip can fall as rain and snow on any given day.

I’ll be happy to stay inside and give Pequenita scratches during weather like that, thank you very much.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2021 at 6:00 am

Several Things

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First of all, while I was on the bike trip, Cyndie contacted pest removal professionals to get rid of the raccoons that have made themselves so at home around here lately. Thus far, three have been captured and two remain at large.

Traps are set and baited in hope of getting the last of them.

Yesterday morning, while Cyndie was tending to the chicks, one of the Rockettes got outside of the fencing. In its tizzy to get back on the safe side of the netting, it found an opening that the raccoons had made the night before. The thing was, though, the opening was to the Buffalo gals/guy side of our divider.

Cyndie decided that was enough excuse to open the barrier and merge the two broods a little sooner than we had planned.

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It ended up being a kerfuffle-free mixer-upper. The older Buffalo brood had already scoured their courtyard free of any green growth but the Rockettes hadn’t, so the big draw was grass. There were some occasional knowing rearrangements and relocations of proximity by each group that showed they are keenly aware of who is or isn’t a member of each brood, but just as many moments when they behaved with obliviousness about each other.

Later in the day, I was trying to get the grass cut before predicted afternoon rain showers showed up. Just as I was nearing the usual point where I stop and refuel, there was a new gust of wind that ushered in much cooler air. Dark clouds were rolling in and some sprinkles started to fall.

I needed to park the lawn tractor in the shop garage with haste so I could hustle over to the deck on the backside of the house to fetch my tent before it got soaked by real raindrops. I had set it up there to sweep it clean and let it dry in the sun.

This is what I found when I arrived:

Oops. That gust I felt had picked up the tent and tossed it over the grill and dropped it upside down into the landscape pond. So much for drying it out.

Now the tent is airing out in the garage at the house.

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Written by johnwhays

June 29, 2021 at 6:00 am

Interesting Perch

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Does anything stand out to you in this rocky photo of our pond that I captured yesterday?

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Yes, that’s our permanent resident metal frog on one of the rocks with an intrepid visiting frog perched on its back.

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Perfect.

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Written by johnwhays

July 4, 2020 at 8:24 am

Flowing Again

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Problem solved. A full day in operation and the water level is holding. It was indeed the orientation of the waterfall that was contributing to the surprising loss of water every day.

The peaceful meditations of splashing water have returned to grace our idyllic surroundings once again.

Pretty good timing, given the visceral angst boiling over in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in the middle of a global pandemic that had seriously derailed the economy while killing vulnerable people with abandon.

With such a wallop of bad vibes unceasingly resonating far and wide, people understandingly are reacting with a protective perspective of wondering what more awful situation could be around the next corner. If we expect the worst, maybe it won’t hurt so much when it arrives. I remember that mindset from my years of depression.

Thinking like that may come across as protective on the surface, but it doesn’t actually work as well as the alternative. We can hold space for best possibilities.

Neither method can entirely control outcomes, but it is hard to argue that they don’t have some influence. Consider how strongly people feel about the power of prayer.

I no longer brace myself for the next possible calamity to befall us. I have grown more inclined to visualize the best possible outcome humankind can achieve. It is easier for me now that I have narrowed my focus to the power of love. Love is the answer. Love can heal all wounds.

It is time to get love flowing again, equally among all races, all income levels, all orientations.

Let the love flow and splash down over everything and everyone.

Amen.

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Pond Inspection

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While much of the country and the world are inspecting police abuses of people in custody, largely against people of color, we took a break from the protests to inspect the lining of our landscape pond. It is ridiculous how many of the battalions of riot police responding to the civil disobedience gatherings in protest of police brutality are responding with brutality. Talking about proving the point.

I’m hoping that Cyndie and I have proved a point that our pond losing water is not a result of a problem with the lining, much to my relief. I did not want to do the work of removing all the rocks and replacing the entire lining.

What I did learn was the exact level where water could flow over the top and out of the pond. Clearly seeing the structure beneath the large rocks decorating the boundaries of the pond helped me to improve the orientation of the waterfall feature. It is possible that the position of the overflowing pail was allowing some water to fall where it might run out, instead of back into the pool.

Some police forces may have a problem changing their heavy-handed tactics to a less brutal response but I have no trouble adjusting our waterfall further inside the edge of the pond.

In a few minutes, I will begin the test. We let the water stand all night to verify the level didn’t change. Today we will watch to see if the level holds when the waterfall is flowing. By the end of the day, we should have an answer.

It will take much longer to find out if the movement to accomplish equal respect for all races by the public servants entrusted to protect and to serve us will achieve its goal.

We’ve entered a moment of heightened inspection and greater recognition. May this time be different –in a good way– than all the times we’ve been here before.

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Big Difference

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Last night I noticed that Cyndie was adding water to our landscape pond. I asked her if it has been needing as much water as the last few years. She told me that it didn’t, and that was a bit of a surprise. However, it leads me to believe that the changes we have made are likely responsible for the difference.

Since we moved here, each year the pond has needed more and more water added to maintain the level. We imagined there might be a leak, but we could never find any evidence of one. Then one day, I had an insight. Each year, the plants in the pond got thicker and thicker.

It seemed a surprising amount of water, but it occurred to me that the plants could be drinking it all up.

They were taking over, so we started pruning. We did a lot of pruning.

On top of that, we came across a valuable tip on keeping the pond clean over the offseason. We covered the surface with bird netting that caught all the debris of fall and winter. When we were ready to put the pump in this spring, all we needed to do was roll up the net. We were rewarded with a pond bottom of clean rocks, in place of the usual matt of rotting leaves.

Soon, the bundles of reeds that survived our pruning will start to sprout and we’ll see if the water level starts dropping at an increased rate.

I don’t mind so much that we have to add water, now that we’ve figured out it’s not simply pouring out some leak in the bottom. It’s just a little mind-boggling to see how much water the pond plants can actually consume if that is what’s actually happening.

I don’t know the actual science, but our anecdotal evidence about the big difference allows me to believe.

Especially given that I just really, really don’t want there to be a leak.

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Written by johnwhays

May 14, 2019 at 6:00 am

Downright Summery

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Warm, sunny days have been few and far between this spring, which makes yesterday special, relative to the competition. It was almost hot, at times, and there was enough sunshine to get burned, which I did a little bit, after sitting on the deck with our visiting friends, Jeff and Renee. We celebrated Jeff’s birthday with some berries over Cyndie’s homemade pound cake slices, and a lesson in the cribbage board-game, “CrossCrib®.”

Out of respect for those who were on the wrong end of an overwhelming scoring feat of 31-0, I’ll let the losers remain anonymous, but Jeff got a sweet birthday present in the win and I enjoyed the perk of being his partner.

Seeing our guests roll down the driveway on their motorcycles was inspiration for Cyndie to pull her convertible out for a thorough polishing, while I assembled and installed the pump and filter in our landscape pond.

I found Cyndie very agreeable when I suggested we celebrate my waterfall accomplishment with a convertible ride to the nearest Dairy Queen for a treat.

The buds on trees are hinting that leaves aren’t far off now, and we drove past several lawns being mowed for the first time, marking visible milestones in this year’s hesitant transition out of winter. Walking Delilah across the hill of our back yard, I quickly discovered our grass is definitely in need of a trim, too.

After a melty ice cream treat, Cyndie got us home just in time to turn on the 145th Kentucky Derby horse race and see a historic ending. In a first for the Derby, the first horse to cross the line in the muddy slop was not the official winner.

After race stewards reviewed the running, they disqualified Maximum Security for interference, bestowing the victory on 65-1 long shot runner-up, Country House.

The first leg of the Triple Crown is in the books. Can summer be far behind?

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Written by johnwhays

May 5, 2019 at 8:40 am

Soothing Interlude

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For your viewing pleasure, here is a thirty second distraction from your usual daily grind, courtesy our freshly tended landscape pond waterfall.

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Enjoy!
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Written by johnwhays

May 8, 2018 at 6:00 am

Pond Day

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We’ve put off tending to our little landscape pond this spring for longer than we probably should. Part of that is because it was still frozen solid just a couple of weekends ago. The reality is, we would have been a lot better off if we had given the pond more attention way back last fall.

I failed to take a picture of the pond before starting, and thus missed a wonderful opportunity for the classic “before/after” comparison, so you’ll just have to take my word for how neglected it looked. The primary plant already growing in the pond before we arrived here was variegated sweet flag.

It has shown itself to be very happy with our location, expanding its reach in the last few years to an amazing degree. The old shoots were a dreary mess, along with a thick carpet of dead leaves and pine needles.

We spent most of the afternoon yesterday pulling dead and decaying organic matter out of the pond, along with all the swampy odors that come with that.

Cyndie heroically wrestled to prune out the unrestrained expansion of the sweet flag in hopes of being able to see more water than grass this summer.

I gathered the pump and filter paraphernalia from the garage shelf and got it reassembled and reinstalled. We rearranged rocks, trimmed tree branches overhead, and by dinner time, achieved a much less neglected looking pond.

The serenade of falling water has returned to compliment the constant chirping of night frogs for our evening soundtracks.

It seemed like a lot of work for one little pond, but given that it was done in a day and now looks ready for the summer, we decided it was a reasonable effort to put forth.

In a few weeks, we should be able to see new sprigs of variegated sweet flag poking up out of the water from what remains of the big cut back yesterday. Based on our experience here, I’m pretty sure we won’t wait so long next time to prune back the prolific advance of these happy plants.

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Written by johnwhays

May 7, 2018 at 6:00 am