Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘looking back

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

Past Blast

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Yesterday, a co-worker pointed out that it reached 80° in March six years ago. I had no recollection whatsoever about what I was doing in March of 2012, but I pointed out that I have this handy-dandy online journal that allows me to easily check.

The blast from my past that appeared on my screen was very interesting to read, in relation to some of the current challenges and discussions Cyndie and I have been having lately regarding what lies in store for us and Wintervale Ranch.

I am moved to re-post what I wrote for March 29, 2012:

Dream Hesitation

What the heck do I know about owning a horse farm? With the brains of this organization off gallivanting around Boston right now, it is I, your humble correspondent, who am on the front line of decision making. Yesterday, we received the first batch of properties from the realtor we met with a month ago, and I noticed some things about the listings that triggered a little apprehension in me.

“Do we know what we want to spend?” she wrote. Um… no. Well, that’s not true. We would like to spend nothing, but I assume that is not going to bring the results we are hoping for.

Private sewer? This property has a private sewer. Oh, just what I always wanted, a sewer of my own.

One property had a lot of acreage, but within a flood plain. Do I want to open that box?

Then, there are all the improvements we did to our home of 25 years. Looking at this first list of potential properties, I see all the things we’ve already done here, needing to be done all over again. Oy. Siding, insulation, gas fireplace insert, gutters, windows, garage door and floor, new driveway, landscaping, kitchen remodel, bathroom upgrades. Did I mention siding?

And, of course, now we are going to have all the walls and ceilings here repaired, freshly painted, and new carpet installed! How many of you can see John deciding to stay here and rent a stall in a stable nearby for Cyndie to have a horse?

Cyndie is the true dreamer of our team. I’m just a tag-along. I fill in some of the creative blanks, but I also tend to drag in a bit more realism (read “pessimism”) than she wants to hear. I guess we are a good balance, eh?

It doesn’t feel right trying to do this without her around.

But, hey, don’t let me get you down. This is just a normal phase of my processing things. I’ll get over it. Seriously. And, Cyndie visits again in about 3-weeks. In just a few minutes of arriving, she’ll have me back up on our dream cloud and we’ll be designing our little paradise together as if it is what my whole life groomed me to be doing.

Meanwhile, maybe I should sneak out to visit the horses she tends to here, on my own, and just stand near them… see if I can hear what they have to say. I could use a dose of their wisdom.

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It is so interesting for me to read that, especially the end. I had zero experience with horses at that time.

We did end up designing a little paradise together, and it has felt like what my life groomed me to be doing. At the same time, it feels jarring to read my pondering about staying put in our old house and renting a stall for keeping a horse when questions have been popping up recently about the viability of our current situation.

The past really does provide an interesting reference for the present.

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Written by johnwhays

March 8, 2018 at 7:00 am

Four Years

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I was reviewing the “Previous Somethings” archive for some posts that I published four years ago and came upon a picture that means so much to me. During our very first visit in 2012 to see this property with our realtor, I was so overwhelmed by the experience that I hardly took any pictures.

This is one of the few I had for remembering what we had seen, to help me describe the place to family and friends. We had walked a short loop of the trails and I dropped behind Cyndie and Patti while dizzily trying to comprehend what I was experiencing. The place was beyond my wildest imaginings for us.

I came to my senses for a moment and remembered my camera. I captured Cyndie and Patti walking in the distance on a mowed path through one of the fields.

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They are walking in a spot that today is about where the entrance to the labyrinth garden is, on their left. The tall weeds on the right are now what we call the Back Pasture, surrounded by a fence.

These are some recent shots of how that spot looks now.

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I get a shiver thinking about that first impression and our visions of the possibilities, combined with the realization of all that has come to be in the four years since.

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Intriguing Find

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While searching through old images recently, Cyndie and I uncovered many wonderful memories, and discovered some particularly precious pictures of our horses. These images were snapped before we had any idea the horses would end up living with us.

Years ago we were visiting the horses at their previous home because Cyndie spent time working there with several of the herd which totaled around 35. She had even ridden Legacy in the past.

I accompanied her on a few visits to see the large collection of horses, and always brought my camera. Looking back on the pictures now, with the added knowledge of all that has transpired, has a bit of a mystical feel to it. At the time these images were captured, we had no clue whatsoever that these beautiful animals were in our future.

Seeing these images again, and thinking about our being unaware of what was to come, provides a tingly sensation for us today.

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Pulling burrs from Legacy’s mane

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Dezirea approaching to say hello

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Hunter (right) listening in on conversation

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Since we didn’t spot any shots that included Cayenne, I’ll throw in a couple of bonus items that we received in the mail a short time ago. The previous owners found some pictures of Cayenne when she was a mere hint of what she would become. What a hoot!

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Written by johnwhays

March 2, 2016 at 7:00 am