Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘mowing

Restorative Return

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We slept in our own bed again last night. It had been almost a week since Delilah had seen Cyndie and the reunion aligned entirely with the hypothesis that dogs perceive absence to be the equivalent of death and if a pack-mate returns, it is a miracle.

Cyndie reported that her gardens looked so thirsty for water that a few plants appeared within inches of demise. The labyrinth is a jungle. That will be our first project this morning. It deserves a double-team effort. I hope to get the rest of the grass mowed before predicted afternoon thunderstorms.

One highlight of yesterday was a call from our log home company announcing their plan to arrive tomorrow to begin preparing to reseal our logs.

Thank goodness.

We have seized the moment to eat breakfast in bed, catch up with our online accounts, and take in some favorite Sunday morning TV before setting out on our labors of the day.

Both the obituary and feature article for Cyndie’s dad made it into the Sunday StarTribune newspaper and she and her brothers continue their efforts to fill in the pages of the memorial website for Fred.

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The beginning of life-after-Fred is unfolding with not-unexpected fits and starts, but we are underway as best as we are able. Not doing too bad, if I do say so myself.

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Written by johnwhays

June 28, 2020 at 9:17 am

Small Projects

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The weekend just passed consisted of many small tasks chipped off the ol’ to-do list, primarily addressing the first-impression appearance of the place. After getting the grass mowed and the landscape pond fixed my attention shifted to whatever miscellaneous project caught my eye, particularly if they had been staring me in the face for more than a year.

I finally got up on the roof to address the wind vane that came apart so long ago I’ve forgotten when. I ended up removing the base entirely to see if repairs on the ground are possible. I may, or may not, put it back up someday.

The kids stopped by on Saturday and Julian helped me quickly dispatch a dead pine tree located right in front of the approach to the house garage doors. Yesterday, I pulled out the chainsaw again and removed dead limbs from the next tree over, some version of a flowering decorative. I think that one is a form of lilac, but seems to have climbed to heights that exceed my perceptions of lilac.

While the chainsaw was out, I hoofed my way down to the woods behind the labyrinth to cut up a dead tree that fell across one of our small side trails. At the labyrinth, I removed the stakes that secured the transplanted maple now that it seems to have established itself. There, I discovered the deer have been feasting on the hostas by the peace pole.

I hope they had a very peaceful meal there while the angel’s back was turned.

The driveway got some attention in the form of lime screenings packed into a low dip that was becoming quite a bump in the road. The last time a UPS truck delivered a package, I heard everything bounce in his truck when passing over that spot a little too quickly.

Julian and I started removing anything attached to the side of the house in preparation for a resealing of the logs that will hopefully happen sooner than later. We have enlisted the services of professionals and they have teased us that we are next in line when they finish the current customer.

That’s another one of those weather-dependent projects that end up being hard to plan start and finish dates.

That brings to mind the hay fields. Things are growing so fast right now that our fields look ripe for the mowing. I don’t know what the farmer who is renting our fields this summer is planning, but I hope he is able to get enough dry days in a row to be successful this year.

The only thing I didn’t get to before time ran out last night was in fulfilling Cyndie’s wish to get the hammocks up.

That’s a good task to look forward to for starting my next spurt of knocking off small projects, whenever that moment comes.

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Written by johnwhays

June 8, 2020 at 6:00 am

Different Tracks

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Our grass is growing fast and the ground is saturated from recent rains so I decided to use the power trimmer to mow areas with standing water to avoid creating muddy tire tracks. While focused on the grass in front of me, I was oblivious to what was happening behind me.

As I shuffled along at a slow pace, I was leaving muddy tracks behind me. Ha ha! Oh well.

I trimmed along the paddock fence from the outside and then stepped inside to clean up around the overhang. With no horses grazing the paddocks, the grass in there is growing pretty tall.

It feels very satisfying to transform the place from looking abandoned to freshly trimmed. It’s only partially abandoned.

This morning we are abandoning the property for a few hours to attend a socially distanced graduation ceremony for Cyndie’s niece, Althea, on her family’s driveway in Edina.

I appreciate the attempt to accomplish some traditions amid the upside-down turmoil of a global pandemic and civil unrest.

In the middle of my afternoon of mowing yesterday, I claimed a block of time to watch coverage of the launch of the manned Dragon capsule as it happened. In the evening, I watched the news broadcasts of police and national guard soldiers arresting violators of the curfew put in place to quell the looting and riots that have unfolded amid the protesters who are fed up with police abuse and unchecked murder of black citizens.

Remember when kneeling during the national anthem was the attempt to express protest over police misconduct?

While I am making different tracks in our wet areas, protesters are seeing a need to use different tactics to bring a change in the unacceptable status quo of equality being professed but not enacted.

We shall overcome, someday.

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Written by johnwhays

May 31, 2020 at 8:00 am

Rain Ready

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It feels rather unusual to be saying we are ready for rain to fall after so many spring months through the years where we have battled managing too much rain. It could be because I finally built that footbridge over the drainage ravine that we have a dry spring. All our drainage swales are bone dry.

The exercise of mowing the grass yesterday was an exceptionally dusty one.

Our forecast paints a picture of soaking rain due to arrive later today and lasting through tomorrow. We could get up to two inches according to the weather folks. This morning will be a rush of completing as many outdoor chores as possible before confining ourselves indoors where Cyndie has plans to sew more masks. The face coverings have become a necessary accessory for being out and about in public spaces.

The inverted stump planter has a combination of geranium, lantana bandana, vinca vine, and potato vine installed and ready for watering. She transplanted some catmint from the labyrinth to surround the stump. They can spread out in the new location, where they were expanding problematically into the pathway in the labyrinth.

After felling all those trees under the two big oaks, one of which is in the background of the image above, we have two big stacks of wood to be converted to chips that Cyndie intends to use around all her new plantings. I may try to begin that process before lunch today, but from the looks of the sky already, I may run into a rain delay.

That won’t bother me at all.

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Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2020 at 8:28 am

First Cut

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For some reason, surrounded by more simultaneous projects than I can keep track of, yesterday I decided to do something that wasn’t on the list: mow some grass. It was earlier in the year than I usually choose to mow, but it was something I could just get done while quickly making the place look better. Cleaned up the leaves nicely.

That’s just a way to not say that I’m bugged by an inability to finish taking out all the trees that have been marked for removal by the DNR forester so long ago I’ve lost track. That whole project is conflicting because I’d rather be planting trees than cutting them down. It is also daunting due to the large number of trees in multiple locations with red dots painted on them.

Compared to that extensive lumberjacking exercise, sitting on the lawn tractor while spiffing up a few of our lawn grass areas was easy picking.

Unfortunately, I allowed myself to get sidetracked after the mowing by attempting to remove several of the last piles of downed wood from Saturday’s effort, which ultimately usurped plans to make big headway on the produce garden terracing.

The intended quick effort to remove two of the heaviest sections of downed tree trunk ended up killing valuable time while I fought a losing battle with the winch cable on the ATV. I allowed the cable to unspool too far and it came off the winch. Unfortunately, I had upsized that cable because the previous cable kept breaking when used with the snowplow blade.

The bigger diameter cable doesn’t fit well in the hole of the winch spool hub, so my hasty attempts to re-secure it were repeatedly foiled. In the end, I temporarily rigged it to accomplish the immediate task after multiple iterations and we were able to move that wood into the barn. I’d like to let those pieces dry out for use in undetermined future sculpting projects.

It just took three times as long as it should have.

We think the tree was an American Hornbeam or Hop Hornbeam and may have some burl adding bulges to the otherwise muscle-looking features of the trunk.

I think it will present some interesting visuals when carved and sanded.

I’ll have a hard time figuring out where to make a first cut on that beauty when the time comes after a year of seasoning.

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Written by johnwhays

April 27, 2020 at 6:00 am

Mixed Up

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Yesterday afternoon we had plenty of sunshine that enabled me to get out and mow some grass, not because I wanted to, but because it needed to be cut so bad I didn’t dare wait for another chance. Our grass had grown so much since the last time I mowed, it looked like a June afternoon around here on October 7th.

On top of that, the recent pounding of rain we have been receiving has our property as wet as a spring day. It was rather disorienting to need to mow around certain areas where there was standing water. That is something that used to happen at the beginning of the mowing season. In my lifetime of living in this region, October was not a month where mowing thick grass needed to happen.

This is not the climate of my youth.

Meanwhile, this June-type of lawn growth is days away from meeting up with its first dose of snow for the coming season.

It’s a mixed-up world.

Someone posted in our neighborhood app asking people to be on the lookout for a pink-faced calf that ran off into the woods. I’m not sure if the pink face was natural or the result of some special effects. The calf had been tied in the yard for a “cownicorn” birthday party.

The drama didn’t last long, because they found the calf just a short time later. It may not be all that mixed up for this rural community, but it was unusual enough to contribute more strangeness to the already crazy thick growing grass in October.

I accept that nothing is actually static, so unusual occurrences are always unfolding, regardless of how we perceive and frame our world. It inspires me to strive for resilience in the face of whatever new mix-ups might be around the next corner.

It’s hard to imagine what to expect, other than the obvious fact something new will show up as being totally mixed up.

Unless it doesn’t. But then, would that just seem mixed up, too?

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Written by johnwhays

October 8, 2019 at 6:00 am

Wild Turkeys

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Something tells me the local flock of turkeys has expanded in size since I last saw them. It’s been a while. I’m guessing there is an added generation running with them at this point. Yesterday, while mowing the lawn, I spotted over 15 of them strolling through the labyrinth. I couldn’t count them all.

I was a bit surprised they didn’t startle over the loud roar of the mower when I approached. They simply walked, pretty much in single file, into the shadows of the trees.

We frequently find dropped feathers and plenty of footprints, but more often than not, they keep themselves out of sight.

It’s exciting to be able to see them looking so comfortable on our property. Thinking about it, maybe the good fortune we’ve had with our 8 chickens surviving all summer is reflected in the large number of wild turkeys also surviving. The predators must be finding other sources of sustenance.

I don’t know what the coyotes in the area have been eating, but they’ve been rather vocal in the wee hours of darkness recently. Apparently, it’s not turkeys sleeping up in the trees at night.

Maybe the coyotes will help me out and eliminate that nuisance woodchuck that has been burrowing around here lately.

It’s wild out there!

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Written by johnwhays

September 24, 2019 at 6:00 am

Tree Cleared

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We took full advantage of being home on Labor Day and put in some hard labor on one of our trails in the woods yesterday. Standard procedure on a day I intend to mow involves finding something to do for a few hours in the morning while the dew dries off the grass. In this instance, it was time to remove the big tree that still hung across one of our trails.

The project required a lot of preliminary trimming of several other trees that had tipped over on our neighbor’s property. There was quite a tangled mess of branches.

At one point, when I allowed the saw blade to get pinched, Cyndie took advantage of her super-human strength to free it. While I stood grumbling and contemplating what ingenious method I was going to employ to get enough leverage to force open the cut I had started, Cyndie volunteered to push up on the horizontal tree trunk.

I told her she was welcome to try, but that it was probably a couple of hundred pounds more than we could lift. Luckily, she had no clue how heavy it would be, so she had no sense that it wouldn’t be worth a try. I was sure it weighed more than I could lift, so I didn’t even make an attempt.

Cyndie pushed on the trunk and it shifted just enough that I was able to pull the saw free.

It seems to me that I could probably benefit from being a little less certain about what I think I already know.

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By noon we had the trail cleared and I was able to move on to mowing grass. I wish I could say that would be the last time I mowed the lawn this season, but I fully expect growth to continue throughout the month. Maybe, at the very least, the amount of time between mowings will expand so I don’t have to deal with it every seven days.

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Written by johnwhays

September 3, 2019 at 6:00 am

Alternative Location

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I mowed the paddocks on Sunday. Knowing the kids were coming mid-morning, I headed out to the shop garage to move equipment around for access to the brush mower and watch for their arrival. I didn’t see Elysa’s car drive past, but looked up and noticed it parked by the house all of a sudden. A second later, I looked up to find Julian’s Jeep parked there, too. How they both got past me without my seeing them drive by is a complete mystery.

So much for that plan.

After chasing Julian around on his Onewheel, I left him to do more practice laps and hopped on the tractor. Elysa opened gates for me and stood on the lookout for wandering chickens.

I didn’t realize that Cyndie had reported a headcount of only seven hens located and I sent Elysa off to can pickles after I’d made a few passes around the perimeter. It seemed to me that I would be able to spot chickens if they showed up.

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When I got closer to the middle of the paddock, the grass was so tall and thick that it was impossible to see what I was mowing over. I looked up after navigating a tight circle around one of the high spots and I caught sight of one Golden Laced Wyandotte slowly and calmly walking away from the grass toward the paddock fence.

Had she been hiding in the tall grass, just as I feared possible? I wasn’t entirely sure, but the thought was unsettling.

The paddocks looked pretty good when I was finished. After six years of successful close maneuvering, I finally broke my first fence board when I miscalculated while backing up to turn around. Curses!

Cyndie took Delilah for a walk through the newly mowed grass and the dog sniffed out where the Wyandotte had been.

It looked like my tractor tire rolled over about ten eggs in the hen’s alternative to our nest boxes.

We are hoping the loss of cover will help convince the vagabond bird to return her laying habit to the coop.

Is it possible to teach old hens new tricks?

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Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2019 at 6:00 am

Impressive Specimen

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Last weekend, while I was up at the lake biking, Cyndie sent me a picture of a spider she was startled by in her garden. I don’t mind at all that I was not home to see it in person. The image alone revealed an impressive specimen of a black and yellow garden spider.

It’s about sixteen times bigger than spiders I’m not bothered by. I glanced toward the garden from the safe distance of my lawn tractor seat as I mowed around the perimeter, but didn’t spot the gargantuan arachnid. Thank goodness.

Despite the possibility of thunderstorms yesterday afternoon, I got out to finish the last of the mowing. Now I am ready to head back up to the lake for the weekend. Cyndie is due to return this afternoon, and as I understand it, the plan is that we will take Delilah with us. Maddie will still stop by to tend to the chickens while we are away.

Speaking of impressive specimens, this beautiful cumulonimbus cloud sprouted overhead just as I was preparing to start mowing.

Based on that beast and several others developing close by, I was prepared for my plan to be foiled soon after I started. Alas, that never happened. They moved off to the east and a fresh dose of dry air flowed in behind them.

The yard looks nicely manicured and gives the impression someone actually lives here. That is, until one approaches the overgrown paddocks in front of the barn.

I guess you could say we have an impressive specimen of tall grass going to seed out there.

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Written by johnwhays

August 8, 2019 at 6:00 am