Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘loss

Somehow Nothing

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Somehow, I have nothing to report in terms of storm related damage to our property. We survived relatively unscathed beyond the quick return of runoff rills in the paddock lime screenings. After having just bladed and filled the rills last weekend, the chore now needs to be done all over again.

As tornadic weather goes, the impact can be very localized. We were lucky. Jackie reported that the property where she boards her horse, just a few miles down the road, suffered a much sadder fate. Two sheds were blown over, one of which killed a horse.

Our trees wiggled a little bit, but we hardly lost leaves or branches.

The soil is now like a soaked sponge, so I chose to stay off it with any wheeled vehicles. I’m gloating over having gotten the main drainage ditch mowed last week when it was good and dry, providing a clear path for the flash flood runoff from Thursday’s storm.

Instead of driving tractors around, I occupied my time cleaning up the old lawn tractor and accessories and taking pictures to advertise them for sale on Craigslist.

It feels really good to have this finally done, because I have been neglecting it since last November when I bought the new replacement. Now, if I could just reach the desired fruition of someone seeing the ad and giving us some money to haul it away, I’ll be overjoyed.

I will appreciate the space it will free up in the garage, on top of the decluttering sensations of ridding ourselves of unused equipment that is just sitting idle.

If I actually end up with financial compensation, that will be icing on the cake!

The post was published last night and soon after I received the first text query asking if it was still available. I was tickled by the attention happening so quick and gleefully responded in the affirmative.

The response… somehow, nothing.

Really? Why wouldn’t they follow-up after finding out it was still available?

This is not my favorite phase of the process of selling things we no longer want or need.

I am going to focus my visualizations on the moment when the lawn tractor is loaded and rolling down our driveway and then on down the road. Hopefully, it will happen sooner than later.

 

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Written by johnwhays

September 22, 2018 at 9:20 am

No Idea

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It’s a complete mystery to us, and an entirely unexpected circumstance for the demise of another chicken. I fully expected it would be a predator killing and running off with our next victim.

Jackie found an ominous scattering of black chicken feathers inside the barn yesterday afternoon when she arrived to tend to the horses.

We leave the bottom half of the split doors closed all day to dissuade the chickens from getting inside and leaving their calling cards all over the barn. They are certainly capable of hoisting themselves high enough to get up and over the half doors, but we have yet to catch them doing so.

Our first question is, then how did she get inside? Did she come in of her own accord?

The scattering of feathers were generally confined to two separate spots. What caused the loss of feathers?

Eventually, the trail of feathers led to the discovery of a body, curled up like a little napping kitty, back behind a stack of rakes and shovels leaning against the wall. The deceased hen was completely intact, with no visible wounds.

What was the cause of death?

We have no idea.

Did it get inside on its own and then have a panic attack? Did a predator chase it inside? Carry it inside?

Would a potential predator leap over the door? A cat would.

Did the chicken come inside and then surprise a predator inside? Most likely guess would be a neighbor cat that was trespassing in our barn.

This would have happened sometime in the middle of the warm sunny day yesterday. Cyndie and Jackie said it was really windy around here during the day. Did that have anything to do with how or why the chicken ended up in the barn?

No idea.

We are now down to 9 chickens, three each of the three breeds we purchased. In fact, we only paid for nine. We received 1 extra chick for each breed back in March. This marks the end of the spares provided to cover for possible loss due to any hardships for day-old chicks traveling through the US Postal service.

We received other news from Jackie last night. After a couple of weeks back in classes at UW River Falls, she has decided she needs to move back on campus. Our live-in helping hand will no longer be available to provide the coverage for us like she did through the summer. Jackie has allowed us a good number more weekends away than we’ve been able to achieve previous years.

Our basement “apartment” may be back on the market for someone who knows and loves horses. Also being able to handle a diva of a Belgian Shepherd would be an added plus.

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Written by johnwhays

September 14, 2018 at 6:00 am

Quick Fox

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That didn’t take long.

From the looks of the feathers that flew, the Buff put up a fight yesterday morning.

Cyndie found the lifeless body beyond the hay shed, not far from our property border to the north. That is a long way from where the trail camera captured the fox crossing our trail in the woods, but it is in the same general northerly direction. We think we have a pretty good idea about what direction from which the threat originates.

Meanwhile, my relocation of the trail cam did not produce the hoped for results. I’m guessing the motion of moving branches was triggering the captures. I scanned 722 images and found one with a nice face shot of a squirrel and one blur of a smaller squirrel leaping through the air. Nothing else, beyond wiggling branches.

Having read about the superb cunning of fox behavior, and their ability to learn patterns of our movement, I’m even more impressed over the great snapshot we have from the morning last week when the two Barred Plymouth Rock hens were dispatched.

It is not lost on us that the elusiveness of this predator has kept us entirely blind to its presence, beyond the one picture. Even though it has obviously been active during the day when we are out and about, neither of us has ever seen it with our own eyes.

Foxy, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

April 9, 2018 at 6:00 am

Last One

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And then there was one. Cyndie came inside from feeding the horses yesterday around dinner time and reported that the Buff Orpington was the only chicken under the barn overhang.

The chickens are usually eager for her afternoon chores because they get a fresh serving of treats to eat. It was uncharacteristic for the two Barred Plymouth Rock hens to not show up. In addition, it was snowing like crazy, so it seemed odd that they would be off gallivanting around the property without the Buff.

That pointed to nothing good.

I put on my winter gear and joined Cyndie and Delilah in a scouting mission around the grounds. We circled past the trail cam, and I grabbed the memory card from it.

Cyndie had picked up three eggs from the coop in the afternoon, but our search didn’t come across any tracks revealing recent activity in the vicinity.

We headed inside with a sinking feeling of more loss.

For all the multitude of empty scenes that regularly show up on the trail cam, this time we landed one positive ID out of the nine images on the card.

That little fox walking toward the fence was ten minutes ahead of Cyndie and Delilah walking down that trail on their noon trek. They never saw it, but I bet Delilah smelled the scent.

We took a tiny bit of solace in the fact there was no chicken in the fox’s mouth in the image.

At dusk, with a looming trepidation, Cyndie went down to close the coop. The Buff was in there all by herself. With Delilah, Cyndie walked one more loop around the back pasture for any sign of what may have happened.

It was Delilah who took noticeable interest in a dark spot inside the fence. Cyndie tied Delilah outside and climbed through the wires and found the proof of our worst fear.

Now we are wondering if we will be able to accelerate the introduction of our new chicks to the lone surviving chicken from last year’s flock. The poor girl must have been cold and lonely all alone last night in the coop.

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Written by johnwhays

April 3, 2018 at 6:00 am

What Led?

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The weeks that have followed the unexpected death of Legacy, our Arabian gray who was the herd leader of three chestnuts, have been made even more difficult by some extreme winter weather, the death of a colleague and friend whom Cyndie worked with during her years as Principal of Eden Prairie High School, and now signs of some laminitis lameness in Hunter.

Among the many contributing factors listed for laminitis, we found that hormonal imbalance caused by stress of moving a horse or the loss of a field companion spoke directly to the situation effecting our remaining three. Sadly, this recent heavy snow accumulation, followed by the dramatic thaw, has added another risk by making the uneven frozen footing in the paddocks hazardous for bruising or mechanical damage to the cellular bond between sensitive laminae and the hoof wall.

On top of these issues, this weekend Cyndie and I were smacked with the reality that her car is in need of cost prohibitive repairs. Logic indicates it is time to shop for a different vehicle for her.

Roll all these issues together and our grieving minds both came to a similar thought: has our dream of making Wintervale Ranch into a functioning business met with defeat?

Life was a heck of a lot less complicated for me when I lived in the suburbs and only had to deal with maintaining the house and our tiny lot. I hate to admit there are aspects of that which look desirable in comparison to our current situation.

Our unpredictable and decidedly inadequate combined incomes do not make shopping for a replacement vehicle as simple as it once was for us. Right now, shopping for a different car seems to be a tipping point for our analysis of this whole crazy move to the country to build a self-sustaining retreat and learning center.

What led us here in the first place?

We found ourselves revisiting the series of inspirational events that sequentially fueled our passion and groomed our decisions. From the magical trip to spend two weeks with Ian Rowcliffe in Portugal, to Cyndie’s apprenticeship in Linda Kohanov’s Eponaquest workshops, to our discovery of this gorgeous property and log home in west-central Wisconsin, the mid-life transition we embarked on seemed supernaturally ordained.

Where is that inspiration now?

Instead of the surprisingly achievable answers and solutions that have blessed us in response to all the incredible challenges that arose throughout the early years of this adventure, we are increasingly noticing a lack of income-generating response to our offerings and an increase in stressful difficulties with our animal partners.

Obviously, the most dramatic stressor being Legacy’s sudden death.

Just like all that has come before, we know there is a lesson for us in this. Even though he is gone, Legacy still has something to teach us.

At the center of it all is, love.

We grieve because we love and experienced a loss, but loving is how we got where we are today.

We believe it is possible to rediscover the love and inspiration that guided us here and we are seeking to re-attune ourselves to more of the surprisingly achievable answers and solutions that have graced our journey thus far.

What led us here is exactly the same as what will lead us to what happens next.

Please keep your seat belts fastened and your arms and hands inside at all times for the remainder of this wild ride.

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Relative Sadness

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There is an aspect of grief that I visualize as wrestling an octopus. You can be engaged in the action for an immeasurable amount of time without ever having a clue if you’ve come close to pinning his shoulders to the mat.

Where the heck are octopus shoulders, anyway?

I’d love for nothing more than to have an official slapping their hand down to declare the match complete, or at least to call time on the end of a round. The clock never runs out though, and the round goes on endlessly while grief and I just keep wrestling and wrestling.

It occurred to me yesterday that I was somewhat unconsciously avoiding going out to the barn since last Sunday when Legacy’s life ended there. It’s a struggle, because I normally find great comfort in standing among the horses, but there is currently a profound disturbance of energy here. I’m feeling little capacity toward consoling our other horses and even less confidence in my ability to contain my own sorrow while in their midst.

Between the understandable waves of tearful sadness, there remain the troughs of intangible gloom. I recognize that space well.

It defined the bulk of my adolescent and early adult life, which was shrouded by dysthymia.

At least now I am armed with much greater knowledge and understanding of the dynamics of these mental squalls, and I recognize the current grief casting a pall over our lives is completely situational. There is unending love cradling our sorrow and it is nurturing our healing and growth.

After Cyndie and I walked Delilah around the property yesterday afternoon, we all ventured to the barn to look in on the horses.

I worry they might be feeling neglected after the intense attention paid to Legacy, and then his sudden departure followed by this incredible void.

They seem to me to be in a state of shock. All we can do for each other is vibrate our energy of sorrow and loss.

I’m not crying; you’re crying.

Dezirea actually stepped away from me, as if she couldn’t handle my grief. Hunter and Cayenne tolerated my attempts to give them some loving scratches, but I didn’t get a sense that either of the three of us felt much solace out of the exchange.

Cyndie spent a little more time with Dezirea. I think Dezi seems particularly sad. I am wondering if she is feeling some stress over the possibility she will inherit the ultimate responsibility of a leadership role, being the elder mare. It could just as easily be filled by any one of them, or maybe they will devise a perfect balance of power across all three.

It’s just that the four horses that were organized into a little herd over five years ago worked out so tremendously. They were a band. An ever-shifting combination of two sets of two. It was incredibly, preciously perfect.

Beyond our ability to fully appreciate when they first arrived.

Now they’ll never be able to get the band back together again…

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Aww, here comes another slippery hold from that octopus, dagnabbit.

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Written by johnwhays

January 20, 2018 at 7:00 am

Doesn’t Compute

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I don’t get it. How is it that a dog will eat vomit, feces of other animals, entrails, dog food, and a mummified carcass of a cat that was buried in manure that had been spread on a neighbor’s farm, but she refuses to ingest her prescribed antibiotic meds because they taste bad?

It doesn’t compute for me.

Cyndie tried hiding it in chicken, hamburger, peanut butter, cheese, cat food, all of which Delilah rejected with emphasis. Ultimately, Cyndie succeeded by slipping it inside a pasta noodle that was then covered by some other enticement.

Wednesday night was another difficult one, and by the middle of the day yesterday, Cyndie needed to take Delilah to the vet. She was getting dehydrated. They verified that some bacteria appears to have knocked her digestive system completely out of whack.

Treatment included re-hydration and meds that taste bad. Really? Did somebody there actually taste them to find out? What the heck could taste bad to a dog? Apparently, antibiotic pills.

Meanwhile, the chickens appear to be perfectly healthy and Legacy is taking full advantage of the black mud in the paddock to practice looking like a cow.

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I was all prepared to discover that one or more of our new chicks weren’t able to survive the barely controlled environment of the brooder that we set up in the barn. Each passing day that first week was a grand success, with the chicks growing more robust and looking increasingly comfortable and confident.

It has me thinking that it feels as though the very likely —if not inevitable— scenario of losing a bird to some illness or predator grows more significant with each passing day as well. The longer time they spend with us, the harder it will be on us to lose them, I’m sure.

So, the stakes on taking good care of our chickens go up every day. The more success we have, the more important it becomes that we continue to succeed. At least until the first loss occurs. After we have to deal with that reality of raising chickens a few times, I expect we’ll figure out a way to cope. It seems like all the people we have heard from or read about who raise chickens have gotten to a place of acceptance with the harsh reality of such losses.

It’s a reality that I can comprehend, which contrasts directly with the incomprehensible thought that anything could taste bad to a dog, after the things I have seen them eat.

That just doesn’t compute.

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Written by johnwhays

April 7, 2017 at 6:00 am