Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘leaves

Eventual Success

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We finally got the break in our weather that allowed us to deal with all the leaves on the front lawn yesterday. How many weeks have I been whining about this issue?

You don’t have to answer that. It was a rhetorical question.

I am well aware of how long this dilemma has been dragging on. I have been looking at it every day since the big oak tree over the driveway suddenly let go of more leaves all at once than in all the previous years that we’ve lived here.

It was a big year for acorns, so maybe the two things are related. The tree put so much energy into growing acorns that it let go of the leaves in greater volume than usual? Yeah, that’s stated as a question. I have no actual knowledge on the subject.

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We had some help on the project yesterday. The chickens were very interested in all this scratchin’ that was going on and came up to check things out. If I wasn’t working fast enough for them, they would step into the leaves and start clawing away themselves to get at the goods.

It looked to me as though they just peck at the ground after invisible nothings, but pausing to crouch down and get up close and personal with one of the Australorps, I was surprised to see it pick up a big fat green caterpillar that I had no idea was there.

I sure hope all the pecking they are doing is reducing the tick and fly population that would otherwise emerge to trouble us next spring. The current brood of nine are covering a surprising range of territory with impressive thoroughness, based on the cute little scratching circles they leave behind throughout our forest floor.

The weather finally warmed above freezing enough that the ground surface was just pliable enough to give up the leaves, but the annoying push-up tunnels of moles and voles were still solid. It made for some all-terrain raking complications.

Unfortunately, some precipitation moved in with the warmth, so after we barely finished with the front yard, it started to rain. Now the ground is frozen beneath a thin slippery wet layer to give us something else to chirp about.

Will I ever be content with the way things are? Eventually.

Beyond the surface of petty complaints I am so deft at plying, I am more content than ever. Just yesterday I was pointing out how much simple joy the chickens bring every day. I had no idea how much pleasure they would provide.

Regarding the art of reframing all my petty whining, I am visualizing eventual success.

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Written by johnwhays

November 24, 2018 at 11:01 am

Totally Busted

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My ruse of relying on snow cover to distract Cyndie from noticing the grass was still carpeted by leaves when she returned home from Guatemala has already been dispelled.

On Saturday, the sun came out for a little while and began to shrink the 3-to-4 inches of snow we received, down to about half that depth. Yesterday, she and Delilah were playing a little leashed version of “fetch the stick” out front and the truth was sadly revealed.

It was interesting. The leaves so thoroughly covered the ground that the grass and soil beneath look unaffected by the snow. I think, if we raked up the leaves today, we’d have an amazing visual of a completely snow-free green lawn, while everywhere else would be snowy.

The chickens would sure appreciate that. This was the first significant snowfall in their lives and they were not at all interested in venturing out from the coop Saturday morning to walk in it.

By yesterday, they were already overcoming their hesitancy to tread on the white stuff and revisiting some of their usual favorite spaces. They do so at their own risk.

While we were out walking Delilah in the afternoon, I spotted an unidentified bird of prey circling the tree tops around the coop. It didn’t have the classic white tail of the previous eagle that swooped through our trees, but it could simply have been a youngster or even a golden, let alone any other variety of larger hawk.

We split up and Cyndie circled back to directly check on the chickens, while I continued around the perimeter with Delilah. The hunting predator glided up and away almost immediately.

I’m so pleased to have remembered to tell Cyndie that I had turned the electric fence back on while she was away. The horses were growing too comfortable with nibbling on parts of the wire insulation and nearby wood. If the fence had still been off, Cyndie would have ducked between wires and been able to walk straight toward the coop.

While I was cleaning up under the overhang a day or two after turning the electricity back on again, Cayenne took a startling snap to the nose. Mission accomplished. The horses were lolling around idly while I worked and she stretched toward one of the very spots I wanted to stop them from biting.

The horses generally notice from a distance that the fence is energized, so they very rarely get shocked. Maybe we left it off for too much of the summer, and they had grown complacent. I’m willing to bet they have already re-learned the necessary respect that will break any habit of chewing on the wires.

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Written by johnwhays

November 12, 2018 at 7:00 am

Looking Brown

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When I got home from work yesterday, I looked at the thermometer outside to find the high and low temperatures for the day. It ranged from the warmest being 32.9°(F) and the coldest, 32.0°. Yummy.

It’s going to be a struggle sweeping up the wet leaves from the grass if the winter weather that showed up this week decides to stay.

Most of the ground is still too warm for the snow to last. The image of our woods below provides a clear demonstration of the difference between the relative warmth of the ground, compared to the above-ground branches that are cold enough the snow doesn’t melt.

Supposedly, the ground will have a chance to freeze in the days ahead, as the forecast predicts a number of days in a row with high temperatures not making it above the freezing point.

Other than the disaster this will present for me with regard to leaves in the yard, it will be a welcome change from the current swampy conditions on our trails. We’ve got standing water in multiple places. The lime-screenings around the barn overhang are starting to become a mud fest from heavy hoof traffic.

I am ready for it all to become rock hard. The squishing is becoming tiresome.

Look at the color palette of these three pictures. Does anyone else associate November with the color brown?

Last night, I was listening to music on the radio in the house and more than once, Delilah reacted as if she heard something outside. At one point, she barked, like someone was here.

I shut off the radio and let her hear the quiet.

We went to the front door so I could show her there was nobody around. She then ran around to the door to the garage. I’ve seen this routine many times. She was looking for Cyndie to arrive home.

I opened the door to the garage to show her it was dark in there. I made the mistake of turning on the light, which allowed Delilah to see Cyndie’s car and get revved up over what that usually means.

How do I explain to Delilah that Cyndie got a ride to the airport and her car has been parked in the garage for the last eight days?

I guess enough days have passed since Delilah last saw Cyndie that she is beginning to figure mom must be coming home soon.

Just two more days!

That might be all the time needed for enough snow to fall that Cyndie will never know I didn’t get around to removing all the leaves.

Well, never, until next spring, that is.

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Double Coverage

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This morning, on our return from the morning chores of feeding and cleaning up after horses and chickens, I asked Delilah to pause a moment to allow me a chance to capture the image of the sloppy snow starting to coat our house and yard.

It occurred to me that the leaves covering our grass were getting covered by snow. Double coverage!

A couple of days ago, the temperature was cold, but it was dry. I photographed some leaves that were decorating the frosty glass table on our deck.

Is it possible that I have waited too long to sweep up the leaves from the lawn? It seems as though snow and cold are nipping at our heels.

Last night the time changed from Daylight Saving Time back to Standard. We moved our clocks back one hour. For the record, animals do not recognize this artificial frame of reference. Delilah did not know that she was waking up earlier than our clocks indicated she should.

It’s only one hour, but it tends to have an impact that feels more significant that sixty simple minutes.

Speaking of double coverage, I end up trying to meld my adjustment to the new time designations with the animals’ oblivion over the change.

Today’s wet snow provided a distraction from what time breakfast was being served for our animals. The falling flakes also make a point that winter weather is nigh.

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Written by johnwhays

November 4, 2018 at 10:58 am

Basically Leafless

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By the time November arrives, our forest is basically leafless. There are always oak trees that hold onto a portion of their leaves all winter long, but for the most part, the rest of the canopy now rests as a glorious carpet gracing our forest floor.

Seems just a blink ago that I was showing off the fall color starting in the trees behind the barn.

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I tried matching the picture yesterday without having first looked back at the original image to see that I had stood back far enough to include the hay-field fence in the first view. Some deft cropping provides a pretty close comparison, regardless.

We lucked out yesterday with sunshine all day long, which allowed Delilah and I to pick off a variety of small projects. With her tethered to the loop in my Carhartt pants, or sometimes to a nearby tree, she shows every sign of believing herself an integral partner in accomplishing my goals.

If she only knew.

Ah, but the added hassles it creates for me is a small price to pay for the look in her eyes and spring in her step as she checks with me to determine which direction we go next.

Having a dog attached by leash when doing chores provides unique perspective highlighting how often I tend to double back for some added tool or forgotten task. I can almost hear her thinking, “We just came from here a second ago!?”

Back and forth, I go, crunching through the deep carpet of fallen leaves.

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Written by johnwhays

November 3, 2018 at 9:38 am

Leaf Decay

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There is a unique beauty of decay revealed in the end days of a leaf’s life cycle that is easy to miss. Here are a few views my camera preserved from last week.

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Written by johnwhays

October 29, 2018 at 6:00 am

Six Years

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Somehow, six years have passed since we moved from our home of twenty-five years in a suburb of the Twin Cities to this amazing property in western Wisconsin.

Happy 6th Anniversary, Wintervale!

What an amazing time we’ve had figuring out a completely different life from the one we had previously known.

Looking back on our arrival here, we now laugh about the week-long struggle we endured to accomplish the actual closing on the property, while being granted access anyway by the sellers and moving our furniture in as if it was already officially ours.

We put our trust in a local fencing company to help design a layout for our paddocks and pasture fences and were rewarded with a much-loved result. They also helped us accomplish the addition of the hay shed, overcoming repeated weather delays caused by one of the wettest springs locals had experienced.

Five years ago September, our horses arrived and really brought this place to life. That started an ongoing lesson in the art of composting manure, among many other more romantic attractions of owning horses.

This time of year, we are probably composting as many leaves as we are manure.

We are in our second year of having chickens around to control flies and ticks, while also enjoying the secondary benefit of unbelievably great eggs.

We have learned a lot about baled hay and forest management.

We dabbled a little in trying to launch a business.

We’ve stumbled through trying to train our first dog, while simultaneously working on keeping one of two house cats we adopted from a rescue organization.

Every time the leaves fall from our trees and cover the trails six inches deep, it throws me back to that first year when we arrived.

That leads to thoughts about all the things I’ve listed above and gives me an opportunity to acknowledge the number of things we have accomplished since moving here.

I also have a tendency to contemplate what life might have been like had we not made this move. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be in as good of shape as I am now. Caring for animals and managing many acres of hilly fields and forest has a way of keeping a person off the couch for long stretches of time.

I wouldn’t trade this for anything. It’s been a great six years.

Here’s to diving into our seventh with wonder and glee over whatever adventures it may bring!

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Written by johnwhays

October 24, 2018 at 6:00 am