Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘lawn grass

Another First

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It’s been a while since we tried something for the first time at Wintervale, so I guess we were due. Last night we started the 21-day incubation period toward hatching our own chicks. I never had this one on my list of things I wanted to try.

We have set our expectations low, but are striving to meet the specific parameters laid out [hee… laid] in the instructions as closely as possible to improve our odds. Since we weren’t planning ahead for this, some of the eggs spent time in refrigeration, which isn’t recommended.

If any of them hatch, we’ll have even more appreciation for what Rock contributed in his short time with us.

Candling to see if they are viable is scheduled to occur in seven days.

Yesterday, Cyndie gave the horses a new first by opening the gate to the front hayfield for them to explore. The four of them have already chomped the back pasture grass down so much we need to give it a rest.

Looking at how crazy-fast the lawn grass is growing around here during the latest series of rainy days, I expect regrowth in the back pasture shouldn’t take long. The first lawn mowing of the season is definitely imminent, pending the next dry, sunny day.

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Written by johnwhays

April 28, 2021 at 6:00 am

Yard Pests

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As the saying goes, “this is why we can’t have nice things.” Sure I’d like to have a smooth green carpet of inviting lawn grass to run my toes through as I frolic in the yard with our dog or play croquet and bocce ball, but no, I don’t want to exterminate a throng of burrowing pest to achieve it.

We pick our battles and this is one I don’t want to fight, so we live with the ongoing dirt mounds and raised tunnels of destruction scattered widely across all of our mowed areas.

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With so much real estate available for the critters to thrive, we willed the marauders to move on to open fields by stomping their tunnels and mounds in our yard last year, but as the snow receded and the topsoil begins to thaw, the evidence appears as if their numbers have tripled.

They aren’t getting the message.

The wind is blowing warm air our way today and bringing with it fire warnings because the ground is very dry this spring. Almost all of the snow has melted and we don’t have any muddy areas along our trails. The drainage ditches had water flowing in them only two times this year. It is surprisingly uncharacteristic compared to the previous 8 spring seasons we’ve lived here.

If we observe the yard at a distance, it looks just fine. There remains one dwindling pile of snow near the front door, but that’s about it. Today is officially the first day of spring.

Warm sunshine will beckon for us to romp in the yard and toss the old horse toys for Delilah to chase.

The season of mowing draws nigh, but we are going to need some rain or I’ll be able to trim the lawn with a pair of scissors.

Although, that might just be enough to drive the yard pests back toward the open fields. Either way, it seems we don’t get to have nice lawns.

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Written by johnwhays

March 20, 2021 at 9:54 am

Battling Growth

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Sometimes it does feel a little like a battle against a siege of growing greenery. The lawn grass that I cut with the borrowed mower the other day now looks like I’ve neglected it for a couple of weeks. Now imagine what the areas that haven’t been cut at all look like.

The two pastures we refer to as “back” and “north,” are over two feet tall. I was just starting to mow the back pasture last Saturday when the sound from the brush cutter caused me to stop and check on the gear box. There’s some serious mowing left to be done back there still.

Yesterday afternoon, Cyndie laid down some pool noodles in the arena space to do an exercise with the horses. She said it didn’t work very well because the grass was too tall and it was hard to see the noodles. I decided to get that cut before resuming work with the brush cutter.

First, I needed to sharpen and adjust the blades on the reel mower for Cyndie so she could use it on the labyrinth. Seriously, there is nowhere that doesn’t need mowing right now, pretty much on an every-other-day basis.

We try to keep the arena grass as short as possible, usually mowing it with the rider. I ventured in there after dinner last night with the borrowed tractor and quickly discovered the grass had grown a lot longer than was noticeable from a distance.

It was so long and thick in places that I needed to make a first pass at a high setting, to enable mowing it a second time at the lowest one.

While I did laps on the rider, Cyndie worked the fence line with the power trimmer.

A couple of soldiers fighting the good fight for order and scenic well-being against the growing chaos and unwelcome infestations.

Seriously, it’s like landscape warfare.

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Written by johnwhays

June 7, 2017 at 6:00 am

Short Week

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DSCN4793eMay comes to a close today on the first day of a shortened work week. We rolled into the driveway yesterday from the lake in decent time, successfully avoiding getting swept up by a speed trap in the middle of a passing zone.

Peeve: When drivers speed up as they reach a passing zone, and then slow down again at the end of it. Their slow speed is frustrating for me, but their fast speed in the passing zone forces me to really exceed the limit if I hope to get around them. The added factor of being policed for speed in the short sections with an extra passing lane further inhibits my ability to squeak past the slower-downers.

Before we left the lake, I dug up about 15 trillium plants to bring home with us. Upon arriving to Wintervale, our agenda was to get the transplants in the ground as quickly as possible. Our plan went off without a hitch. Now all we need to do is wait about a year to find out if they are survivors or not.DSCN4792e

One flowering plant that looks to be doing very well at home right now is the clematis vine that is on one of our trellis arches by the back deck. It is very photogenic when it is in bloom.

Our animals seemed very glad to see us again and gave us a good amount of affectionate attention. The lawn already needs mowing again and the pine trees are starting to show some significant new growth sprouts.

It feels very much like everything is ready for the arrival of the month of June. It’s the birthday month around here, as everyone but Julian turns another year older in the 6th month.

Makes it feel like more than a short week. It feels like it’s been a short year!

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Written by johnwhays

May 31, 2016 at 6:00 am

Mixed Signals

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I am flabbergasted with the amount of grass growth on our property that is happening in September. It’s confusing my sense of time and place. Cyndie mowed last Saturday, and in less than a week, it already desperately needed to be cut again!

DSCN3912eWe have received regular rainfall that rivals a typical June, even as the days shorten, the temperature is dropping, and leaves are falling. I mowed yesterday and rolled through standing water in several spots. This time of year is usually dry and growth slows down. It didn’t seem like September at all to me as I started trying to knock down the crop of grass.

A couple of hours later, I was feeling the chill of a cool fall evening as the sun dropped low. It is mind-boggling to have these mixed signals informing my senses.

Good thing I’ve decided to work on learning to embrace change and celebrate aberrations.

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Written by johnwhays

September 11, 2015 at 6:00 am

Almost Frozen

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Spring has yet to deliver a truly warm day. Just the opposite, in fact, as we are getting some very cold mornings the last two days, pert-near down to freezing again. I sure hope the plants that are down in the labyrinth won’t be harmed.

I have mowed the labyrinth one time since the snow disappeared. The growth between the paths is already tall enough to cover some of the rocks, giving it a very green look.

IMG_3800eThe next area that is in desperate need of mowing is the hill below the house, which I think of as our back yard. It has turned into a patchwork of spots that include grass growing fast and tall, contrasted with areas of little-to-no growth at all. In between, there are sections that have little wildflowers growing beside scattered weeds that look like they mean business. It doesn’t look much like a lawn at all right now, and will be well served by a first close-cut of the season.

Won’t happen today. I’m off to Rich’s for a day of biking, followed by a barbecue. There is so much work to be done on the ranch right now that the only way to get myself to do some cycling in preparation for the Tour of Minnesota ride in the middle of June is by making a commitment to join friends in some location far away from home.

Today’s ride is expected to enjoy some sun and nicer weather, which is a welcome change from two weeks ago, when the gathering was initially scheduled to occur. I’ll take it. It will give the paddocks another day of drying while I’m away, helping decrease the amount of mud to be dealt with when I get back in there to do some much-needed cleanup.

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Written by johnwhays

May 17, 2014 at 6:00 am

Shifting Priorities

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I have not attempted to do anything with the remains of the woodshed yet. Since it wasn’t raining yesterday afternoon, I stepped out to take some more pictures.

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It is too heavy to lift on my own, so I will either need a lot of helpers to pick it back up or use the power of our diesel tractor. The problem with relying on the tractor is that I can’t drive it back there until the ground dries up enough to support it. Not that it’s really a problem. I have plenty of other things to work on while I wait to be able to drive the tractor around on our property.

I have noticed a strong desire to get back to clearing the south drainage ditch, but the lawn grass that we try to keep mowed around the driveway and township road is growing so fast I was forced to make that the next priority. It is a rather challenging task right now because of how wet it is. I tried to stay off the worst areas, but still found myself getting stuck a few times, and leaving muddy tire tracks in my wake. Regardless, it looks better mowed with a few tracks, than it does not-mowed at all.

Clearing the south ditch is not the only thing clamoring for my attention, either. Over the weekend I started creating a spot by our labyrinth to use for storing compost that we plan to feed the growing things we have planted. I have been ever-so-slowly replacing the concrete landscaping blocks Cyndie bought for marking the first layout of the labyrinth, with stones we have been collecting from around our property. I am going to build a 3-walled nook using the landscape blocks pulled from the labyrinth, to contain the compost.

Of course, to haul manure back there I will need the ATV and trailer, but I can’t get in the paddocks with that equipment until it dries up some and Cyndie gets off crutches to open gates and manage horses while I drive in and out.

That’ll probably happen about the time I will need to switch priorities again to mow the rapidly growing lawn grass everywhere. It’s a great exercise for the part of me that wants to do everything in a sequence. I get to flex my flexibility skills, instead.

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Written by johnwhays

May 14, 2014 at 6:00 am

Grass Babies

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A new crop of grass has sprouted on the bank where Cyndie was battling Delilah to get her off the new seed. We have been blessed with some rain in the last few days, which is a big sigh of relief, but far from enough water to end the stress our trees are suffering for the second year in a row. The grass seed is able to drink it up because it is so close to the surface. It is really nice to be growing something other than weeds around here for a change.

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Speaking of babies, twenty-five years ago today, our youngest was born on the day of our 7th wedding anniversary. September 19th is a special day for us. Thirty-two years ago, the number had no particular significance beyond being the Saturday far enough in September to hopefully have some fall color, yet early enough to hold a fair chance of being pleasant weather for an outdoor ceremony. It was both. In 1988, our day became doubly special with the arrival of our son, Julian.

Happy Birthday, Julo, our other jwh!

Written by johnwhays

September 19, 2013 at 7:00 am

More Rain

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IMG_2325eThis morning, it is raining, …again. But that is okay. We got smart. We figured out a way to appreciate the excessive wetness. Yesterday we planted grass on the two scars left by the recent work in our yards. On the back hill, we are covering the dirt left from the geothermal project, and in the front, it was the septic drain lines that were dug up and repaired.

Let it rain.

It doesn’t seem to make any difference to the area down by the barn, because it has just stayed wet, no matter what. If it is already wet, I am losing my ability to care if it gets any wetter. For as soggy as it remains down there, I’m thinking we won’t be able to have the fence work done until fall. I honestly don’t know what to expect. Yesterday, before the current precipitation moved in, there was still standing water on the driveway in front of the barn.

The fence crew cannot bring in their equipment to do the work without creating a disaster of mud and ruts. We’ve already got enough of those ruts. We will wait. What else can we do?

6913radarThe only problem with today’s band of precipitation moving across the state is that it is soaking and chilling my friends on the bike ride. This is obviously not the reason I didn’t go on the ride this year, but I will admit that it is one aspect of that adventure that I am very happy to be missing.

My friends have been generous in sharing photos from the trip, giving me the opportunity to see some of the smiling faces of a few of the wonderful people who I only get to see this one time of year. They are looking great, and it gives me good energy to see them, even if only through pictures.

They ride north out of Ashby, MN, this morning, pedaling through the rain to Frazee, which isn’t far from Detroit Lakes, MN, just east of Fargo, ND.

Since the precipitation appears to be moving from south-to-north, maybe the wind is at their backs.

Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2013 at 9:07 am

Intermediate States

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We have arrived at the U.S. holiday weekend of “Memorial Day.” For us, this usually means a trip to the vacation getaway of Cyndie’s family, in Hayward, WI, for “Work Weekend.” This is the time when the property gets a major cleaning, the beach gets raked, toys and floatation devices pulled from storage, and boats get scrubbed and hauled down to the lake. The work culminates in a spectacular community feast at the main lodge.

We aren’t there this year. It feels strange.

We have our new property to tend to this spring, and have been granted a pass from contributing our labor to the lake place.

It feels as though everything at our place is hanging in an intermediate state right now. The two biggest projects, the hay shed and paddock fencing, have been stuck in limbo for weeks, waiting for conditions to dry.

I think the geothermal furnace installation looks complete, but I don’t know the status of whether or not it is fully operational. Almost all the work of installation occurred while we weren’t home. Each day last week, I would check progress when I arrived home from the day-job, trying to discern what had been done, and why, and how. As of last night, it looks like everything is wired and plumbed, but we found no indication of the status, nor instructions on operation. They did leave manuals out. I suppose I could do some reading.

IMG_2299eWe finished digging up the drain line from the septic tank. It looks like the distribution box is disintegrating. It also looks like there are a lot of illogical twists and turns in the plumbing. I have no idea why they originally chose to do it the way they did, but it did work fine, as far as we can tell, for almost 25 years, so we won’t redo the whole thing. The septic professional I have been consulting has located a replacement distribution box, and will also replace the section of cast iron pipe originally used. It being a holiday weekend, that work will not happen until next week some time, weather permitting.

We need to do a lot of cutting of grass, as the growth is so rapid this time of year, it gets long on one end of the property before you finish cutting the other. Julian helped us greatly last weekend, by doing the first cut of the season, but he wasn’t able to mow the back hill, due to geothermal installation that was in process. It had time to grow doubly long, and we knew rain was coming, so we jumped on that chore late yesterday, before it could get any worse. I am happy to report that Cyndie was eager to have a lesson on the operation of the tractor, and then looked to be having so much fun, I might get away with doing a lot less of the grass cutting around here than I previously anticipated.IMG_2303e

In a classic demonstration of our different modes of operation, Cyndie took off with glee, mowing around a tree and then wheeling off in any direction, haphazardly picking off areas of long grass wherever it appeared in her view. I am inclined to mow in a line, back and forth, very methodically. I am a bit more timid. She boldly devoured areas that deserved to be cut, but that I would have been hesitant to try with that mower. I was thinking it would require the brush hog attached to the large tractor. She demonstrated otherwise.

IMG_2302eCyndie and I are a great combination. She spotted some mushrooms growing under a dead pine tree in our front yard. I told her they tasted funny and she got all riled up, exclaiming that I shouldn’t eat them until I know what they are. I was teasing her, of course. Comparing images we found online, we are very confident that these are the very popular and definitely edible morel mushrooms.

We started tending to our little landscape pond with waterfall, but finally came to the full realization that they didn’t leave a pump behind when they moved out, so that project is awaiting a purchase. One more thing hanging in limbo. We also may try to test drive a pickup truck this weekend, a task we have been talking about accomplishing for months.

One last thing that has us feeling unsettled is how much we miss our friends, Alane, Dunia, and Marco. Cyndie has been working with Alane and Dunia for much of her Epona apprenticeship training. I met them and Marco last weekend, and in that short time, developed a deep feeling of connection with all of them. We feel a deep longing to have them here with us, and, in turn, they have indicated a desire to have us visit them in Guatemala and Australia. Long distance relationships can be hard, but we truly hope to make these connections flourish.

Our projects may hang in an intermediate state, but our friendships are definitely established.

 

Written by johnwhays

May 25, 2013 at 9:40 am