Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘neighbors

Looking Around

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Our neighbors appeared to be having a pretty big barbecue last night. It was curious because we couldn’t see or hear any human activity around the vicinity of that rather large bonfire. Thankfully, the gale force springtime breezes of the previous few days had calmed significantly.

Between sessions of pounding down fence posts yesterday, I tinkered around with the Ritchie® waterer in the paddocks to see if the last few days of dry weather had dropped the groundwater level below the valve lever. I haven’t been able to turn the water back on and I suspect the valve is seized in the closed position by corrosion.

The problem with solving this conundrum is that the valve is below and behind so many obstructions that it involves a blind reach that would be best facilitated by having one or two additional joints between my wrist and my elbow. When I finally achieve a grip on the lever, the fact that it doesn’t easily turn leaves me frustratedly defeated.

Yesterday, I took a fresh look with a bright flashlight to see if I could figure out a different way to approach the challenge. What the flashlight revealed was that my previous attempts had sheered the line off just above the valve. At this point, I’m really glad I wasn’t able to open the valve the last time I tried.

Time to have the original installer visit with his tools and we will lift the upper portion off the base and repair the valve and water line when it will be easy to reach.

As Cyndie approached the house last night after closing the coop and barn doors, the dark silhouette of the house was nicely complimented by the fading color in the evening sky.

 

I was already inside, watching a bit of NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball. How ’bout that Minnesota kid, Jalen Suggs’ overtime buzzer beater 3-point desperation shot for the win last night! Spectacular.

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Written by johnwhays

April 4, 2021 at 9:38 am

Hunting Hounds

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On a thickly gray Saturday morning, we stepped out of the house behind Delilah and quickly noticed a sharp sound in the distance. Swallowed by the crunch of our boots on the snowy path, the muffle of hats over ears, and the sound of our own voices as we chatted about some minutia, we had to stop in our tracks to identify what we were hearing.

There was a helicopter far in the distance, but that sound just faded. After a moment of no sounds, there was the bark of a dog. Then, several more. The hunting hounds were out early.

We resumed our trek down the trail, but not for long. The echoing bellows were only getting louder, so we reversed direction and headed back toward the house, through the back yard, and on to the barn. Delilah was delighted with the added excitement and romped her way along with us, reversing direction only several times to see if we couldn’t just check on the vocal hounds in the woods.

I wondered if we might suddenly see coyotes sprinting past us in a run for their lives.

With Delilah secured in the barn, Cyndie and I tended to the tasks of setting out food for the chickens and opening the coop. I could see the trucks of hunters slowing moving by on the road while we mingled with the chickens and I cleaned off the poop board. Rocky made a failed attempt to mount one of the Domestiques. We took solace in his acceptance of her objections.

Cyndie continues to offer feed from her bare hand in effort to condition the flock to always accept humans as safe and valuable companions. With respect to the New Hampshire pullet, Cyndie got nipped as the overzealous girl went after a mole on her thumb.

Can’t fault that as malicious, but geez. That hurt.

Returning to the barn, Delilah bursts forth with excitement at this moment because she knows the next phase of this daily routine is to take her up to the house where she will receive her morning meal. We exit the barn door and while I am closing the door behind us I notice Cyndie struggling with everything she’s got to hold the leash.

Delilah is trying to drag Cyndie up to the driveway to where a cute looking hunting beagle is standing all alone.

We decide to let Cyndie take Delilah back into the barn for a bit while I see if I can coax the beagle to get back on the job and find the rest of his pack or the scent of a coyote.

Knowing the hunters were driving nearby, I walked with the happy radio-collared beagle toward the road. A truck pulled up just as we arrived. The hunter said she was one of two that had gone astray.

Meanwhile, Cyndie took the opportunity to pop out of the barn and head up to the house with Delilah on a short leash. They quickly were surprised by the other stray. This time, Delilah was in reach to make contact, and luckily, with wagging tails the dogs met gently, nose to nose.

Cyndie said she offered Delilah the deal of continuing up to the house for her breakfast, and the two dogs trotted together for a bit and then parted without incident as they reached the door.

The hunter I spoke with at the road said our neighbor had alerted them to a sighting of coyotes early this morning, so they were hopefully tracking a fresh scent. By the time we were having our breakfast, nothing but quiet had settled in around us. I’m guessing the trail was lost.

Subsequent calm and quiet was a welcome outcome after the adventurous start to our Saturday.

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Written by johnwhays

January 9, 2021 at 11:12 am

Dramatic Difference

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Despite those who continue to cling to a belief that the global COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax dreamed up to make the outgoing President of the United States look bad, the amount of impact on the world is unsettling. In our little valley in Wisconsin, U.S.A., I have yet to hear about anyone who has tested positive.

Of course, due to social distancing, I’ve not seen or spoken to our neighbors for about ten months. They could be sick and I’d never know.

For the first, oh… seven months of the pandemic, I didn’t learn about anyone I knew who had tested positive. In the last month, that number has jumped up to around ten. I’ve heard about two coronavirus associated deaths from people I know, but otherwise, the reports have all involved minor symptoms.

The dramatic difference in impact swinging from asymptomatic to causing death is perplexing. For the many cases of obvious underlying risks bringing about the fatal outcomes and the healthy people barely suffering, there are smatterings of too many descriptions of unexpected miserable results.

When my turn eventually comes, how will it affect me?

I may have written about the story that startled me from a doctor, when asked by NPR to share a personal example of one case that had a profound impact on him, in which he talked of preparing to discharge a patient who had recovered enough to go home but before they processed him out, his symptoms returned and he ended up dying before the end of that day.

Sure, a large percentage of deaths are occurring in elderly people in group care facilities, but kids and healthy adults are dying, too. Other healthy adults who survive are being walloped by weird and prolonged complications.

Meanwhile, most people I know take it easy for two or three days and then get on with their activities with no ill after-effects.

I’d prefer to be one of the latter, thank you very much.

I guess this dramatic difference will be one of the main memories I will carry from this pandemic. Particularly because the economic impact of the outbreak looks to be similarly disparate. While many have lost jobs and are facing incredibly difficult financial challenges, others have actually profited and are in a stronger position than if the pandemic hadn’t happened.

A global pandemic is one thing, but its impact is innumerable.

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Written by johnwhays

December 2, 2020 at 7:00 am

Peeping Kitty

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Monday afternoon, leaning back in my favorite recliner, my eye sensed movement out on our deck. Was that a very large squirrel that just went past the glass door? Nope. Soon, a cute little kitten was peeping in at us with a look that strongly hinted at coming from one who preferred the indoors to the wintery temperatures this October has been serving up.

Cyndie stepped out on the deck to do a little grilling and soon showed up outside the door with that bundle of cute curled up in her hands.

It quickly turned into a rescue operation. Now we have a converted chick brooder tub housing the adorable visitor under temporary quarantine in the somewhat heated shop outbuilding.

According to Cyndie’s reports, the little bugger displayed a voracious appetite for foodstuffs offered. A post with photo was created for the online neighborhood group in search of a possible owner. Phone calls to immediately adjacent properties brought no positive identifications. It’s hard to picture this little one traveling over the large rural expanses beyond visible neighbors to reach our door, but we are guessing that is the situation.

Last night we received a reply from the wider online neighborhood saying, “Let me know if she needs a home,” so we have that solution awaiting the possibility nobody else shows up to report having lost her.

Meanwhile, although she says she is putting in a bold effort to not fall in love, I sense Cyndie is already past that point.

Pretty much saw it when she arrived at the deck door with the kitty curled up in her hands.

The resolution of this peeping kitty unexpectedly sheltering with us is unscripted. Feel free to place your bets on the eventual outcome.

I’ll provide follow-up details as the adventure unfolds.

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Written by johnwhays

October 28, 2020 at 6:00 am

File Transfered

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Without further delay, I now present the first recorded audio of one of Rocky’s early crowing practices:

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Cyndie reported that this was his third of three calls he made on Tuesday morning.

You gotta agree, that sounds pretty cute, eh?

It’s going to be interesting getting used to having a rooster for the first time. Seems like not a day goes by that we don’t learn something new living in the country.

Yesterday, Cyndie reported that she hand-delivered our completed ballots for the November election to our town clerk at her home. We have successfully voted! Glad to have that civic duty completed early. In so doing, Cyndie met our town clerk for the first time. It’s only been 8-years since we moved here.

I guess it could be seen in a good light that we haven’t had much need to be interacting with local officials for any reasons.

With the pandemic looming large throughout the entire summer, we have seen very little of any nearby neighbors.

Wintervale Ranch may not be receiving a lot of visitors lately but soon the neighbors will be hearing a lot of crowing coming from our little patch of paradise.

I look forward to learning what winter has in store for us. I suspect many hours will be spent sheltering in place.

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Written by johnwhays

October 1, 2020 at 6:00 am

Cloudless Sky

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Yesterday was one of the great ones when it comes to sunny summer days. The neighboring cattle are definitely being grass-fed and made for excellent subjects as I paused to capture some shots of that cloudless sky.

Apparently, some of the grass looked greener on the other side of that fence.

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Written by johnwhays

August 19, 2020 at 6:00 am

Tables Turned

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First of all, let me say that Delilah is experiencing some discomfort but we expect she will heal and be back to her old self soon. At the same time, the details of her latest incident of ‘dog bites dog’ involve a bit of poetic justice when considering her history of being the attacker in a previous fracas up at the lake.

This time, our heroine was the victim. The versions I have gleaned from Cyndie boil down to an unleashed dog sprinting up and landing a chomp of fangs into Delilah’s hindquarter as Cyndie and Delilah attempted to make haste for the relative safety of the main cabin.

The intriguing aspect of the attack is that the aggressor is essentially an out-of-town cousin of the dog who Delilah bit one year ago. Was this a dose of revenge? Does the dog world work that way?

It’s unlikely, but it fits too many movie scripts for the actions of human gangs that it flows naturally to correlate it with possible canine pack behavior.

Who can know what the conversations of remote barking might have been between all parties involved during the day, or two, running up to the “hit.”

[Barking] “I know who you are.”

“You’re not so tough!”

“This is for Gracie.”

Since Delilah was in her harness and being pulled forward by Cyndie, the conflict was one-sided, which may be a good thing. Delilah yelped at the bite, the neighbor arrived to take command of his dog, and Cyndie and Delilah hustled back to the house.

There was some blood, but through Delilah’s thick coat it was hard to know the extent of injury. With time, her mobility declined and Cyndie decided to race home a day early to have her seen by our local vet.

Yesterday afternoon, the doc shaved that hip and inspected the area to find three deep puncture wounds. No nerve or organ damage suspected. Treatment is two versions of pain killer –pain being what was limiting Delilah’s mobility– an anti-inflammatory, and an antibiotic.

It’s hard to guess whether the long term outcome will change Delilah’s perspective one way or another. Will she be less prone to behaving with aggression after this humbling interaction or become more distrusting of other dogs?

I’m wondering if she will now associate going to the lake with having been bitten.

For the time being, she looks a little meaner with her punk hair styling. It’s offset a little by her loopy pain-free drug-induced stupor, but that should wear off before the hair all grows back.

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Written by johnwhays

August 8, 2020 at 9:30 am

Snow Coming

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I’m usually grateful to have advanced notice of coming weather, but sometimes I don’t like knowing we are about to receive large amounts of heavy, wet snow in April.

The snow is predicted to come in a narrow band, so it could shift a little, but we are located perilously close to the highest risk of seeing 6 or more inches of snowfall. Look to the right of the letter “e” in the word Moderate, just above Red Wing. Oh, joy.

I spent yesterday tinkering with the slowly developing berm we are constructing at the edge of our property where the neighboring cultivated farm field drains onto our land. It’s been 2-and-a-half years since we installed the latest version of erosion fencing and much of that has filled with so much topsoil the fabric is laying almost flat in some places.

Granted, the following photos were taken at different seasons, late summer vs. early spring, but the difference is rather striking.

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The bales obviously disintegrate. Progress that may not be evident can be found in the number of volunteer plants that have taken root and naturally help to hold soil in place. The thing is, though, that helps to hold our soil from eroding, but we still get large flows of the neighbor’s topsoil washing over our property.

If I can get the berm established enough to pool his runoff, it will serve as a natural replacement for the Polypropylene fabric and, most important to my sensibilities, be a less unsightly barrier.

I have found the use of gnarly dead branches that are too big for my chipper makes for great starter material in establishing a natural barrier. The highly fertilized runoff tends to fuel thick growth of tall grasses that ultimately create a tangled wall of live plants weaving through dead wood.

Looks like I’ll have a fresh opportunity Monday to see how my latest upgrade to the barrier yesterday will impact the drainage of many inches of melting snow.

Wouldn’t you know it, I changed the tires on the ATV yesterday to swap out the aggressive treaded winter tires for plowing snow, with the smoother treads of summer tires that are kinder to our land.

I could be in for a complex day tomorrow of clearing heavy, wet snow that will be a big problem for a day or two, and then melt. Then we can get on with spring, which is on the verge of swiftly getting sprung.

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Written by johnwhays

April 11, 2020 at 9:20 am

Seeing Orange

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This morning the firearm deer hunting season opened in Wisconsin. The entire month of November echos with gunshots as hunters engage in some preseason shooting practice and adjustments of their aiming sights. Those sounds rarely happen earlier than sunrise, nor all around us at the same time, so this morning is notably different.

Locally, the hunt legally commenced at ten minutes before 7:00. I heard the first shot at 6:55. The culling of our deer herds is underway. I’d like to imagine it as some of our neighbors now being blessed with food to survive the winter, but I know that isn’t the present reality.

Earlier this week, our neighbor whose family owned much of the land around us, including our twenty acres, called to ask permission to hunt on our property this year. He started by asking what we were doing up here without horses anymore. It occurred to me that he never specifically asked to hunt on our property when we had horses.

The very first time we met him after moving in, he opened the visit by asking in the form of a statement, “You aren’t going to post the property no hunting.” ?

Welcome, neighbor! That was a fine ‘how do you do?’ I remember needing to pause to determine he meant it as a question.

Luckily, both Cyndie and I have a pretty good sense of reading intent and suspended our first impressions, allowing him time to feel comfortable and to get to know us as non-threatening to his way of life. In the seven years since that day, we have had nothing but positive interactions with him. Despite his ever-present initial gruffness, he has always been incredibly generous with helping us in times of need.

There was no way I felt a need to deny him the chance to hunt where he always had before just because we now owned it. Such was the case this week when, knowing there were no horses to disturb, he asked permission to enter our land to hunt deer.

Orange clothes are the fashion fad of the day. Cyndie donned a bright orange vest and put one on Delilah for their morning walk, which was altered to avoid our woods. Down the driveway and around the field to the north and back to the barn to open the chicken door on the coop.

In that amount of time, they heard two gunshots from our neighbor to the south, followed by about eight other reports from the distance around us.

Moments ago, Delilah broke out in a flourish of alert barking at the window in the sunroom, which normally means a squirrel (or squirrels –the other day there were six hopping around in the grass just outside). This time it was a bright orange person walking through the woods owned by our neighbors to the north.

“Good dog!”

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Written by johnwhays

November 23, 2019 at 10:13 am

Second Cut

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It’s done now. Yesterday the neighbors rolled up some round bales out of the last cutting of our fields. After a long, wet summer, the harvest was finally completed over the opening weekend of November.

I’ll admit I had my doubts it would ever happen. The weather hasn’t offered much of a break for hay growers this year, so we are pleased to have our renters finally enjoying some last-minute success.

While they were doing that, we were preparing the diesel tractor for winter duty by reattaching weights to the rear wheels. That is not an easy task, as there are two weights for each wheel and each single weight is almost more than I can lift.

That’s probably part of what made it difficult. Since I am able to lift them, even though just barely, I decided to try doing as much of it as possible by hand. When I reached my limit, I coerced Cyndie to help me do battle. After a lot of grunting, huffing, and puffing, we got the weights secured in place with bolts.

It was a heroic effort that we had neglected to take before winter last year, which left the diesel tractor mostly useless during some of the late-season heavy snows. This year we intend to be better prepared.

Just maybe, it will result in us ultimately not needing to use the big tractor. Better safe than sorry.

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Written by johnwhays

November 4, 2019 at 7:00 am