Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘observing nature

Bold Color

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Yesterday was a comfortably quiet Sunday. I stole some time to nap in the hammock, but otherwise, my day was consumed by a small number of tasks in the incredible comfort of a gorgeous summer day. I took Delilah with me to trim a rash of willow tree sprouts starting to clutter the main drainage swale running the length of our southern property border.

She is back to her old bouncy self already, long before the shaved wounds have fully closed.

The beef cattle in the adjacent field took an interest in my activity and congregated along the fence. When a couple of them pushed their giant heads between two strands of the barbed wire to munch on the leaves of a tree I had just tossed aside, Delilah asserted herself enough to back them all off.

She appears to have a keen grasp of our property line.

We are back to full walks around the periphery trails, where we came upon one of nature’s brilliant displays of uncharacteristic color.

Looks like this could be where the idea for crunchy Cheetos® originated.

Delilah totally ignored it as she strolled past, but I stopped to give it my full attention. I decided against checking to see what it tasted like, though.

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Written by johnwhays

August 17, 2020 at 6:00 am

Fading

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the sound of a lone car driving a mile away
passed by at the same time as the moving image
rolled along the only road to the south
we are socially distancing in the rural countryside
the dog, the cat, the chickens and me
alone together in our middle of nowhere
I get perturbed about how much wildlife poop the dog is eating
she cherishes it as a precious morsel that highlights her day
probably just as safe
as the aged leg bones she scrounged and devoured
in the middle of the cut hay-field the other day
there is just enough wind breezing through the pines
to trigger a familiar song the needles are known to sing
it serves as a background track for the chaotic sampling
of trills, chirps, tweeting and cawing from too many birds to count
the hours of daylight are fading fast
they have to make contact before heading to their respective beds
but the spectacular sight of the setting sun is a no-show
blocked by the rainclouds looming and gloomy
preparing to claim their dominance
over my plans for the next day
me and the animals
sheltering in place
at our country paradise
alone

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Written by johnwhays

April 3, 2020 at 6:00 am

Precarious Perch

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I would love to have been watching the action when this unlikely balance resulted. We’ve got a new “situation” not far off-trail in our woods today.

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It is so high that I’d rather not mess with trying to bring it down. Imagine what must have happened when that snapped off, tipped into the adjacent branches and then dropped back onto the trunk from which it had come. Impressive.

I would prefer that we soon have another high-wind event to wiggle the trees enough to dislodge that precarious perch so we don’t have to do it ourselves.

We probably have enough rope to toss a line over to pull it down, but I’m not too keen about spending much time beneath it.

For all the “widow-maker” half-fallen trees we endlessly see in our small acreage of woods, this one is a rarity.

Maybe our forest bathing excursions should require hard hats.

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Written by johnwhays

November 16, 2019 at 9:49 am

Latest Observations

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Okay, I admit it. I am officially getting old. In the good ol’ days, my lovely wife luxuriated in the summer heat while I sweltered. We rarely turned the air conditioner on, preferring to let all but the most humid of summer days fill our living quarters for her comfort.

It’s no longer like that today.

I walked in the door yesterday and immediately sensed she had turned the air conditioner on again, after we had opened up the house on Sunday night. It was cold enough for me that I needed to put on long sleeves.

I am now the one who gets cold while Cyndie is too warm.

It reminds me of the decorative flowers Cyndie planted around the grounds. The petunias appear to be perfectly happy, but the marigolds haven’t changed since they were put in our soil. Maybe the marigolds were old.

Or maybe it’s just been too cold for them.

Last weekend was basically our first real heat of the summer. Progress for many of the growing plants around here is looking rather stunted, now that I think about it.

The old saying, “knee high by the fourth of July” is just not happening this year. Fields that did get planted are all maturing just about as fast as Cyndie’s marigolds.

Our wild raspberry bushes looked like they weren’t going to bear fruit at all until just recently. I haven’t seen it for myself yet, but Cyndie says they are just starting to blossom with hints that there might be a lot of berries. I love her optimism, but I fear the amount and size of berries are more likely to be less than impressive, given the stunted growing conditions.

Maybe I’m not getting old. It’s probably just the type of weather we’ve been having.

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Written by johnwhays

July 2, 2019 at 6:00 am

Pecking Order

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Oh, yes, there is a pecking order among the chickens. The horses, too, for that matter, although there isn’t so much pecking involved with those three. It’s more like a big bite.

Lately, Cyndie has noticed that Hunter is taking issue with Dezirea. The other day he kicked in her direction with both legs to make his point.

I got frustrated with the horses’ antics a few days ago while doing the regular “housekeeping” under the overhang, so I established a horse-free zone until I was finished. I pinned my ears back, figuratively, and ushered them all out with big energy.

There is no question about their understanding. After a few tries to return, which were met with my same high energy message, they resorted to pacing along the imaginary boundary I had established. Several times, when I turned to deposit a scoopful into the wheelbarrow, Hunter checked to see if the order was still in effect, by trying to step in behind me.

I simply turned back from my task to assure him I wasn’t done yet and the area was still closed to them.

After Cayenne’s little nip on my shoulder last week, they have been receiving fresh messages from me that I am above them in the pecking order around here, and demanding the respect that a herd leader deserves.

Yesterday afternoon, I puttered in the compost area with the chickens, moving piles around to create new space. Two chickens, in particular, a yellow Buff Orpington and black Australorp, appeared to be in some sort of contest to outdo each other to see who could eat the most of whatever the disturbed piles revealed.

It’s fascinating to watch the chickens work, actually. They have a very keen eye for the movement of crawling and wiggling creatures. When I slide the pitchfork into a pile and lift out a scoop, there can be quite a few worms or centipedes uncovered and the chickens pursue them with gusto.

At first, the birds are jumpy about my activity and they flinch and startle over my movements, but with each successive rotation of my coming in with the fork or scoop, and then pulling out to turn and dump it in a different spot, they show more confidence.

This allows them to remain close –I would even call it, in the way– so that they are in prime position to make the most of the easy pickings when my fork suddenly uncovers many different delicacies all at once.

I actually adjusted my task to accommodate them, splitting my attention between two piles to give the chickens full access to one whenever so many birds showed up at once to feast that I couldn’t dig around them.

I saw that same Buff Orpington and an Australorp pair get into a wrestling match over one morsel. Eventually, I noticed the Wyandottes get picked on and chased away by both other breeds. They seem to be the lowest in the pecking order.

This adds intrigue to the fact that one Wyandotte often chooses to perch on the tiny space of a cross stud against the wall above the window in the coop at night.

That spot is well above all the rest of the hens on the roost. Maybe she is making a statement to all the others by  spending the night alone up there.

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