Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘loss

Different Sense

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I suppose this is related to the concept of “opposites attracting,” but living with someone who perceives the world differently from you has a way of complicating otherwise straightforward coexistence. Several times in the last week, Cyndie’s and my dramatically different abilities to sense smells has been made vividly obvious.

She brought a horse blanket into the house to be mended the other day. When I stepped inside after a day of work, I immediately commented, “It smells like a barn in here!”

She didn’t notice it.

Friday night, she put a pork roast in the slow cooker before going to bed, to let it simmer while we slept. The longer it cooked, the more intense was the appetite-triggering aroma that filled our home. When my slumber was interrupted by a full bladder in the wee hours of the morning, getting back to sleep amid that incredible smell, was like trying to go to sleep while someone continuously knocks on your door.

I couldn’t do it. Cyndie barely sensed the aroma.

There are other differences –or opposites– that tend to have greater significance. The way we process grief, and the intensity with which we experience it, is a particularly hefty one of late. The horses aren’t even gone yet, but the mental anguish over rehoming them started way back when the idea of doing so was first brought up.

The torment over their departure is deeper than just coming to grips with them no longer being here, it delves into the original vision that brought us to this land in the first place.

The difference in the way Cyndie and I perceive this whole development, and the varying degrees of processing our personal grief over it, can make for a difficult… life together.

It would be great for me if I could just deal with all of this my way, but then I would miss out on life lessons that are the gift of living in relationship with another person.

Cyndie and I got to where we are today, together. We intend to get to where we are going next, the very same way.

We’ll discover it together, even though she doesn’t smell half the things I do.

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Not Easy

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It’s not easy to write about moving our horses… There are a lot of emotions built up regarding the next change in store. After weeks of consideration, Cyndie and I recently decided we need to find another home for Dezirea, Cayenne, and Hunter.

Last week, we learned that the previous owners of the herd are willing to accept the horses back, and we have now begun the process of detailing the specifics involved. Although an actual date of transfer is yet to be determined, just verbalizing the idea, and now having the outcome decided, has already triggered powerful emotions for both of us.

The horses are such an integral part of our lives that we struggle to imagine what it will be like after they are gone. We are each looking forward to regaining a little of our independence again, but it remains to be seen whether we will stay on this property for long without them.

I’ve been mentally revisiting the day the horses arrived here back in September of 2013. That was a pinnacle of thrills that barely compares with any other in my life, except maybe the day Cyndie and I got married. The ensuing years have included more incredible experiences than I can count, having gone from zero experience owning horses, to developing intimate knowledge of our herd.

They have definitely provided me with plenty of things to write about over the years.

Yesterday, while I was tending to the cleanup detail near their evening feeding time, Dezirea suddenly laid down and rolled around in her blanket. By the time I got around to thinking it would have been a good photo, she was already back on her feet.

Then Hunter walked over to the same spot and started pawing the ground. I knew he was going to lay down as well, so this time I scrambled to dig out my pocket camera. In my haste to capture him while he was upside down, I accidentally pushed the power button to turn the camera off again.

By the time I got it back on, he was upright.

It is going to be incredibly difficult to adjust to no longer having them live with us.

Horses have a powerful energy, and I don’t think we will ever be able to replace it.

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Written by johnwhays

March 7, 2019 at 7:00 am

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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