Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘neighbors

Reclaiming Peace

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The days following a disruptive weather event can be a confusing mix, emotionally. The threat has lifted and calm ensues, but the anxiety adrenaline hangover lingers. We are lucky to have dodged any significant damage or loss of power, but the multiple inches of dirty snow/slush, speckled with innumerable broken branches, delay the feeling of relief we seek.

Thank goodness for our hills and valleys that break up the wind around here.

The open terrain to the west didn’t protect the overexposed, iced up power poles lining roadways.

We don’t have anything near that level of clean up facing us. That must have been a real shocker to come upon.

Some of the local hunters stopped by for permission to cross our property with their dogs in search of coyotes. A short time later, gunshots rang out.

I had watched as the group of hounds calmly traveled out of the neighboring corn field and into the woods, with a single hunter walking behind them. After they disappeared into the ravine beyond our property, we never saw another glimpse of them.

One of these days, I’m going to ask if I can tag along. It occurred to me yesterday, that in all our years here, I have never actually seen a coyote. I’m curious about the logistics of how they finally get proximity to shoot, and then how they find their way out of the woods while carrying their kill.

In less than three weeks, our annual participation in the World Labyrinth Day peace walk will be upon us. We are finding it difficult to envision how we might be ready.

It’s not just the peace pole that can’t stand up in the soft earth. The stones balanced at each turn spend more time toppled that upright with all the freezing and thawing going on.

Our exercise may just be to claim our peace with accepting things just as they are.

Windy, calm; wet, or dry.

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Written by johnwhays

April 14, 2019 at 9:37 am

Cold Lonesome

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It’s not feeling very springlike this morning. It dropped well below freezing last night and today dawned frozen like a rock. Cyndie is gone to visit her parents in Florida, so Delilah and I are in charge of caring for the chickens and Pequenita. Since Delilah is no help with either, I am pretty much on my own there.

The paddocks have become a lonesome place to pass. There are still a few piles of horse “apples” yet to be collected out in the farther reaches, but that will wait for some magical moment when it isn’t frozen solid, or so wet and muddy it’s impossible to navigate.

A neighbor posted a request for used T-post fence posts on our local online site, and we have some to spare, so Delilah and I spent time in the barn yesterday sorting out the ones missing anchor plates from those that have them, as well as culling a few that lack the quality of straightness.

Now they are laid out all over the floor in piles of five, something that we would not do if the horses were still here. It is freeing, but weird.

I also took advantage of having my music playing while I worked. We chose to avoid exposing our horses to the sounds of recorded music, so it was a novelty to be working in the barn with tunes on.

While we were tending to fence posts, I decided to begin dismantling the border that defined our arena space in a corner of the hay-field. Most of the posts are still frozen in the ground, but the webbing could come down.

It was beautifully sunny, but also cold and windy. Much of the work had me pulling my hands out of my gloves and soon my fingers grew so cold I started to lose dexterity.

Also, the plastic insulators weren’t very agreeable to being flexed open, so that didn’t help my cold hands any.

This morning, Delilah and I walked through the back pasture and reached the round pen, with its sloppy sand currently frozen, preserving the footprints of chickens. Only chickens.

It served to prod my lonesomeness for our horses.

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Written by johnwhays

March 31, 2019 at 10:17 am

Surviving Halloween

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Today is the first day of November, so that means last night was candy-stravaganza! It also means the next week or so will consist of people trying to unload leftover treats.

All holidays are challenging for those of us striving to conquer cravings for sweets, but Halloween is particularly ominous. There tends to be an overwhelming amount of bite-size treats in seductively colored wrappers well within reach at every turn.

I have been enjoying uncharacteristic success with my self-control in the days leading up to last night. I celebrated by raiding Cyndie’s secret stash of Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups hidden in a drawer. I ate exactly one and was just fine with that.

I think I’m getting the hang of this routine. The longer I go without consuming more sugar than is healthy each day, the less my body craves.

On the way to the airport on Tuesday morning, I mentioned that I would be home alone on Halloween and Cyndie told me where I could find candy if anyone decided to venture up our long driveway and knock on the door. No one did.

In the six years we have been here, we have received a total of two visits on Halloween night. Both were by the same family that lives around the corner –a couple of miles away– on two successive years. It’s the only time we have ever talked with them.

I’m guessing their son is old enough now that he doesn’t want to be dragged to all these strangers houses by his parents, just to listen to them gab for 20 minutes at each stop. It wasn’t as much trick or treating as it was social networking.

Now, after the sun comes up, if there is no toilet paper hanging in our tree branches, and no egg stains on any of our structures, that will be the true, full measure of surviving Halloween.

The next thing I need to do is survive the days after. In the end, that’s possibly the bigger challenge.

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Written by johnwhays

November 1, 2018 at 6:00 am

Still Learning

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It’s been five years of horse ownership for us now, and we are still coming upon situations that baffle us. Yesterday, it was a fresh wound on Dezirea’s flank near the point of her hip. There was a dramatic vertical incision, and then a broad area on either side where the hair looks cleanly shaved.

I can’t imagine what it must have looked like when she got cut. Best guess is that she was rubbing up against something with a long, sharp edge. It’s possible that it was even something in the ground and she was rolling around and came in contact with the sharp edge.

We have yet to identify anything that looks like it might be the cause.

I would guess it probably gave her a bit of a jolt when she got cut. It seems likely to me that she would have recoiled or startled in some manner. Must have been a scene in the moment, but by the time we discovered it, she was as calm as if nothing was amiss.

Except for that gaping wound on her side.

We spent most of the day inside, out of the non-stop wetness around here. Dew point and air temperature have been hovering close together and the moisture doesn’t so much fall as rain as it just hovers in the air in a perfect mist.

The ground is thoroughly soaked. Our neighbor and part-time mail carrier told Cyndie that he was still planning to do a second cut and baling of our hay-field, but that was before this very persistent wet weather pattern settled over us. Next week is looking like repeating days of more rain, so I don’t expect there’ll be any activity in the fields for quite some time.

Since we chose to remain indoors, the opportunity to continue our momentum on decluttering was well served. Cyndie had already been through her closet, so I dug in on mine to catch up with her, and then we both went through dresser drawers.

Time to release some perfectly useable clothing back out into the world for the purpose it was designed to fulfill. I’m done storing these shirts and pants for years on end.

It is truly an exercise that rewards doubly. Our drawers and shelves change from over-stuffed to a much more functional order, and we give others an opportunity to actually wear this clothing again.

So, not only are we continuing to learn what is involved with owning horses, we are also still learning how rewarding it is to live intentionally aware of our surroundings and how rewarding it is to practice the art of reducing clutter.

You could call it the very definition of a continuing education.

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More Bales

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With all those fat windrows laying in our fields, there was more than enough for us to take a wagon load of bales for ourselves. It took a little creative arranging to fit them in the shed, with our recently purchased bales already stacked to the ceiling, but we found a way to make them fit.

Jody successfully completed baling the last of the windrows, leaving our fields with the clean look of being freshly cut.

Cyndie climbed the mountain of bales in the wagon and heaved them out for me to stack.

We won’t need to go to a gym to get a workout, that’s for sure.

There’s nothing like putting in a full day of work and then following that up with an intense effort of throwing more than a hundred bales in the July heat.

Since we wanted to keep bales from our back pasture, I had some time to kill while Jody finished filling one wagon with bales from the hay-field. I took advantage of the time to turn and rearrange our composting manure piles.

While I was nearing completion of that task, Cyndie called me to meet a neighbor who volunteered to take our miscellaneous metal scrap that was slowly accumulating. That was a wonderful happenstance, allowing me to clean out a pile of ugly metal trash that we’d piled up over the five years we’ve been here.

It was a rewarding three-for-one night of accomplishments that left little time for much else.

Dinner didn’t happen until 8:30 p.m., and bedtime was a little later than usual, but we were buoyed by the satisfying accomplishments we’d achieved.

Once again, we are feeling happy to be done with stacking bales for a while. This time, that joy should last for a much longer span of weeks.

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Written by johnwhays

July 25, 2018 at 6:00 am

Making Decisions

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With everything around here growing at warp speed, now would be a really bad time to lose the services of our Stihl power trimmer. Isn’t there a law of probability about this?

While Cyndie was making headway against the grass jungle taking over the gazebo on Monday, the trimmer became “wobbly.” She discovered the main drive shaft tube had suffered a metal-fatigue fracture.

That’s not good.

I dropped it off for repair in the evening, but their backlog of work is running at two weeks. It’s scary to imagine not being able to trim for that many days.

Cyndie thinks we should buy another one, and I am hard pressed to argue. There have been many times when we both could be trimming at the same time.

Pondering this. Something about it doesn’t feel right. I’m driven to balance the logic of a cost-benefit analysis, a crystal ball vision of what our future is here, and that unsettling gut feeling about the expense. Then I need to deal with the fact there is no right or wrong answer in the end.

You know me and decision-making. It’s not my favorite thing to manage.

One thing that I’m glad that we weren’t relying on me to decide, yesterday we got the details from our neighbor about his plan for the hay-field. It makes total sense to me now.

While he was cutting on Monday night, he was listening to the weather forecast. The outlook for rain all day Thursday was holding strong, so he smartly stopped cutting any more than he thought he could get dried and baled by the end of today.

We received encouraging news from him about our fields. He said the grass is real thick underneath, likely due to the mowing we did all last summer. In addition, he clarified that the tall grass going to seed was not Foxtail, as Cyndie feared (which is not good for our horses’ mouths), but the premium horse hay staple, Timothy.

We still have a long way to go in our transition from suburbanites to Ag-wise country folk.

(Brings to mind my stuttering pause into the phone when I was asked what kind of cows were trampling our property a couple of weeks ago. Um, big ones?)

Amidst the angst of dealing with equipment failures, it is refreshing to learn some good news about the outcome of our efforts to improve the quality of what is growing in our hay-field and pastures.

Despite all the challenges that continue to arise (and decisions thus required), Wintervale continues to evolve in an encouraging way for us.

Hurrah!

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Barely Started

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I don’t know why I would expect this year’s weather to be any better for getting our hay-field cut and baled in a timely manner compared to the previous five summers. It’s past the middle of July and we are still waiting on the neighbor who volunteered to tackle the job for us.

All the mowing I did last year to discourage weeds and give the grass a boost looks to be marginalized by the vast number of new weeds reaching maturity out there today.

I had hoped the field would get cut in June while I was on my bike trip, but Cyndie reported rain almost every day I was gone. Then there was the 4th of July holiday week, followed by more days of rain. The window of dry weather this week is very short, but Cyndie spoke with our neighbor and he confirmed our field is still in his plans.

I expect he needs to get his fields cut first. When I got home yesterday, I spotted him cutting a field on the corner.

Finally, last night we heard the tractor in our field. By the time I got out there to witness the scene, he had cut three passes inside the fence and was driving away down the road.

Did something fail on his equipment? Did he just run out of time? We’re hoping to talk with him later this morning to learn his status.

From the looks of the forecast, more rain is expected on Thursday. This doesn’t leave much time for drying, based on my understanding of the process. At least we have a spell of dry Canadian air over us currently. That goes a long way in determining how quickly the cut grass will dry.

Last week’s mid-70° dew point temperatures weren’t doing much toward helping anything to dry out.

Meanwhile, we have already purchased and stored enough hay for the year, so we don’t actually need this as much as we simply want the field cut, and are hoping someone could use the bales.

While walking the three freshly cut rows last night, Delilah was in her glory to investigate the scene. In no time at all, she had sniffed out the body of a decent sized rodent and consumed it faster than either Cyndie or I could react to dissuade her.

That’s really queasy-making, I tell ya.

Here’s hoping our neighbor’s barely getting started cutting last night will change over to completely finished by the end of today.

 

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Written by johnwhays

July 17, 2018 at 6:00 am