Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Legacy

Different Behavior

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Yesterday was the second time in two weeks that I noticed something uncharacteristic about Legacy’s behavior. I’m not a guy with any history of horse experience, but after living with our herd for the last 4 years, I am able to perceive when their behavior changes.

Not knowing enough to make an educated guess, all I have to rely on is my intuition.

Last week, I came upon the three chestnuts grazing and lounging out in the hay-field, without their herd leader. Where was he?

Standing up under the barn overhang.

It was odd. I got the impression that he just didn’t want to walk all that way. Or, he’d rather stay out of the sun. I got the sense maybe he was feeling old.

It might be a reflection of my own issues, I’ll admit, but he is getting on in years. Not crazy old, but old enough that his arthritis might be sapping his interest in staying connected with the rest of the herd non-stop when they choose to venture so far away.

Yesterday, the oddity was more profound.

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I came out with a wheelbarrow full of hay to fill the box where Legacy always stands. I usually have to shoosh him away while I work, and he always starts eating before I can finish latching the chain over the grate. This time, I was surprised to find him down by the waterer, just standing, as if lost in thought.

My presence, with a fresh load of hay, didn’t engage his attention whatsoever.

Desirea almost didn’t know what to do with first access. She usually has to wait until he lets her in.

Legacy’s aloof behavior was so uncharacteristic, it startled me into taking pictures of the occasion.

I’m hoping Cyndie will be able to spend some quality time with the herd this week to see what she senses. Maybe she will be able to learn what is on Legacy’s mind.

It would be great if he would just tell her.

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Written by johnwhays

December 11, 2017 at 7:00 am

Epic Normal

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Some days are just days. The simple steps of tending to basic maintenance and chores that happen every day can become so routine they fade to obscurity.

Yet, living it feels anything but obscure. Each simple accomplishment brings huge satisfaction.

This weekend, having our son, Julian, visit to pick up a package that Fed-Ex delivered here, and recruiting his help with some compost distribution and wood splitting, were particularly rewarding.

We used the Grizzly to pull trailer loads of wood, and with him driving, I gained a perspective of the squeaky brakes that helped to push me toward finally taking it in to professionals for service. Julian helped me get the ATV secured in the bed of our truck and I dropped it off in River Falls.

It could be several weeks until I see it again, so we are hoping there won’t be significant need for clearing the driveway of snow until well after that.

Maybe in a sympathetic response to Delilah’s painful condition, I experienced a return of degenerating disc symptoms as I leaned forward to pick up a piece of firewood, which brought a quick end to the delightful progress we were accomplishing. I’m on limited duty once again.

Luckily, that presented no disruption to a planned visit from a co-worker and her husband. She wanted to surprise him with the trip because he has a big appreciation for the majesty of horses, despite little access to them. Cyndie was wise enough to guide some time inside the fence for them, a step that is reserved for very few visitors.

As always, Legacy proved the consummate companion for the interaction with his herd-leading confident calmness. Dezirea couldn’t spare but a moment to accommodate us, as her attention was otherwise fixed on something in the distance that I couldn’t see.

Regardless the obscuring nature of the inherent normal-ness of the weekend, it all felt perfectly epic.

Given the right perspective, living in the moment can provide that result.

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Written by johnwhays

November 5, 2017 at 10:43 am

Snow Arrived

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As expected, snow showers blew in yesterday. Windy, wet, sticky snow battered the ranch for most of the day. For the most part, we were prepared. The rain gauge wasn’t doing us much good anymore, so I brought that in, after the fact. There are plenty of leaves on the grass that I would have preferred to have removed in advance, but that’s a trivial concern.

It was certainly beautiful to look at. Conditions varied from blowing tiny flaked drizzle to snow-globe gorgeous throughout the afternoon.

After Cyndie let the horses out of the barn, they stayed hunkered down under the overhang, except for individual brief sorties down to the waterer and back. When I was mucking out their stalls in the middle of the day, I would take breaks and lean on the half-door to watch them. I caught Legacy standing in a spot where his head was out from beneath the protection of the overhang. It looked like he was trying to wash his head and mane.

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Before heading back into the house, I walked the driveway and took a bunch of pictures as the flakes flew. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that one of the wet globs stuck to the camera lens, creating a blur in the middle of most of the shots.

The snow added a nice accent to our Halloween decoration near the front door of the house. Some people put up fake spider webs to make things look spooky. We have the real thing.

 

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Written by johnwhays

October 28, 2017 at 8:40 am

Small Happenings

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There are days when the projects at Wintervale are a little less spectacular than others. On Friday, our order for a truck-load of gravel was delivered and I used the blade behind the tractor to spread it out. The results are subtle, but to my eye, it is a major improvement.

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It doesn’t make a huge functional change to life around here, but it bolsters the foundation of the rest of our operation. Infrastructure, baby!

The pile visible in the photo on the right isn’t more gravel. It’s the lime screenings that we distribute in the paddocks to improve the footing for the horses by reducing areas of mud. After heavy downpours, we use screenings from the pile to fill in the rills that may have formed.

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We had some other small happenings around here yesterday, and it made for a spectacular occasion. Our dear friends, Mike and Barb were able to bring their grandchildren, Jackson and Allie for a visit. It was a last-minute addition, and when the “surprise” opportunity was suggested to the kids, Jack’s response was, “Is it about a horse?”

By coincidence, young Jackson has a thing for horses. He also seems to have a strong intuitive sense, as well.

When they all arrived, the first order of business was to head straight to the barn from the car, instead of stopping inside the house. After a brief initial, and very cute, attention to the chickens, the horses pretty much ruled the day.

The kids took turns grooming and riding on Legacy, fed all the horses apple slices for a treat, helped with chores and feeding, and ultimately settled on reading some of the driest academic books from Cyndie’s library.

Despite Cyndie offering other options of kid books from the shelves, Jackson honed in on that section of horse books. When Cyndie was guiding them through one of the books, scanning the pictures and skimming the words, Jack wanted to know if she was “really” reading it, and where she was in the text about anatomy and physiology.

I’m not sure who had the better time, the kids, or the adults getting to witness their thrills.

Oh, there was also a dinner of some world-class grilled steaks. Thank you, for that, Mike!

No small happening, there.

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Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2017 at 10:29 am

Beating Heat

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Although Arabian horses were bred to perform under harsh desert conditions, the humidity that we get with our high heat is enough to make all species a little irritated. In the summer, we offer our horses a warm dusty breeze that moves enough air to toss their manes and chase off some flies.

It actually seems like little comfort, blowing hot, humid air, but Legacy has taken a particular liking to it.

Delilah prefers to lay on the cool tile in the house. Her fur coat doesn’t allow for wind to be much help. Luckily, she is a big fan of sprayed water from the hose, so we can shrink her coat dramatically by getting her wet.

We are arriving upon my last weekend before the annual June biking and camping week. I will be looking for a way to spend some time on the bike seat without putting myself at risk of heat stroke. It would be really helpful if I could rig up a mount on my tractor instead, so I could sit on my bike seat while mowing the lawn.

Speaking of mowing, I will be picking up the old Craftsman rider from the shop this morning. Now I can return the borrowed John Deere and get back to my own rig. I’ll be able to find out if it runs well under intense heat, that’s for sure.

The summer heat has brought out the lightning bugs. With the strawberry moon glowing brilliantly last night, the neon green flashes dancing above the tall grasses made for a glorious nighttime walk with Delilah as I rolled the trash and recycling bins down to the road.

George has come back for the weekend while he is serving his farrier clients in the region. I tended to the horses while he trimmed our herd after dinner. Cayenne is making good progress. He removed her shoes and left her bare foot again.

It may be hot, but things here are actually running pretty cool.

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Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2017 at 6:00 am

Tidying Up

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With temperatures climbing into the 40s yesterday, Cyndie and I saw an opportunity to do a little tidying up around the property. After the most recent bouts of quasi-winter rain-sleet-snow precipitation, an annoying icy, glazed mass of packed snow had become the surface of our driveway.dscn5785e

I took out an ice scraper and pushed away at the soft, wet edges of the ice pack in front of the house. The portion that will come up without resistance is visibly obvious. I focused on that, picking the low-hanging fruit. After working the edges and then pushing the crumble of snow and ice to the side with my shovel, I looked back to see there was already a whole new measure of visibly obvious portions that begged attention.

How could I not keep going? After three times around, I had the whole upper platform of our driveway clean to the pavement. The  melt was happening at an amazing rate.

Cyndie was down with the horses, planning to give each of them some individual attention and grooming. That was my next stop, thinking I could hang out with them and clean up manure while she brushed them out. Even though there was a cloud cover painting the day with a hue of gray, the air was absolutely calm, allowing the warm temperature to feel perfectly comfortable without getting hot.dscn5784e

Legacy’s tail has always grown long, but Cyndie noticed it had reached a point where he was stepping on it, so she decided to give it a trim.

After scooping fresh manure from under the overhang, I fanned out a little further around the paddock and picked up some of the newly exposed piles emerging from the melting snow. Like the last couple of winters, we have been dumping much of the season’s worth of manure right inside the paddock.

Since much of the manure is frozen by the time we get around to scooping it up, there isn’t much in the way of composting that goes on in the pile, so it just keeps getting bigger and bigger with every passing day.

dscn5782eContinuing with the theme of tidying up, I decided to try giving the giant mass a little more shape by cleaning up around the edges. I was surprised to discover over the last few winter seasons that despite the dark color of the pile, if it starts out frozen, if left alone, the center can stay frozen well into May or June.

We placed this pile at a spot that we would like to fill in effort to reduce the amount of slope, but it becomes a long slow process to move from an ugly pile of manure to an unnoticeable natural ground cover nicely filling a low spot.

All part of the ongoing process of running a neat and tidy ranch operation, regardless what the weather presents.

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Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2017 at 11:18 am

Sticky Mess

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Sure, it’s beautiful, but it was a sticky, wet mess of a snowfall yesterday. Today’s episode of the ongoing saga that is our adventures on the ranch involves wet horses, warm winter precipitation, Christmas preparations, and knee replacement recovery.

Who could this be?

dscn5628eWhy, it’s none other than our stoic herd leader, Legacy. The wet snow had given his long winter coat a curly design that called out to me for a close-up photograph. I find it interesting that so many of his little ringlets contain a strand of color.

A first impression generally perceives him as a white horse, but he does have a subtle distribution of color to him.

I was walking Delilah around the perimeter of the hay-field fence and the horses were out standing in the wet precipitation in the far distance of the field. The horses are well familiar with our routine of trekking this path and most days pay us little attention. Yesterday, at a moment of pause for Delilah to bury her nose in the snow in search of some potential snack, I noticed Cayenne’s energy kick up a bit toward us.

dscn5626eI stepped up to the fence and invited them over, and to my surprise, they came! It is funny how Legacy reacts to these situations, as Cayenne was definitely the instigator and leading the way, but he makes sure to get right on her flank as leader and protector.

When they have closed the distance, he takes command and steps up to make first contact. The other three obediently concede his authority and stay back a length or two.

We visited for a bit and I took pictures of them. Then it was time to move on with Delilah and the herd responded immediately to my movement by turning and running off through the snow back to the fence line in the distance from which they had come. It was a gorgeous visual, their playful equine energy gallivanting away through the falling wet flakes.

They knew what was on the other end of Delilah’s and my little walk. We completed our loop and made our way back to the barn to do the daily afternoon housekeeping, serve up pans of feed, and refill the hay boxes.

I decided to wait out the falling wet snow before starting the plowing and shoveling routine, so spent the afternoon wrapping Christmas gifts and doing laundry. Cyndie had her last in-home physical therapy session and achieved the milestone of reaching 120° bend on the leg with the new knee. She has completely ditched the walker and is getting around with just a cane.

She went on her first outing last night to a Christmas party of the Wildwood Lodge Club clan, the community of families with vacation homes on Big Round Lake near Hayward, WI.

I can see some light at the end of the tunnel of full responsibility for chores around here, and none too soon. I am exhausted. I think the horses miss seeing Cyndie, and I have to admit, I’m growing tired of being their primary caregiver. It’s a bit much when I am also working full-time an hour’s drive away. Add in the requirement of walking Delilah several times a day and my candle is burning at all three ends.

Happily, Cyndie is active again in the kitchen, so at least I’m no longer needing to pretend I have skills there. The next two days will be a whirlwind of driving to and fro from the ranch to Cyndie’s parents’ house for Christmas events.

I hope I can stay awake behind the wheel.

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Written by johnwhays

December 24, 2016 at 8:08 am