Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘October

October Flowers

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It’s All Hallow’s Eve and we have still got some flowers blooming. Who’da thunk it?

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Today is the 25th anniversary of a blizzard that hit the Twin Cities in 1991. One of my memories of that event is of our next-door neighbor trying to navigate his car through the mess of deep snow and ice on the road and his not being able to get into his uncleared driveway. There was still a MN Twins flag attached to his car, a remnant of the 2nd World Series championship the team had just accomplished days before.

It seemed so surreal to me. Baseball. Halloween. Blizzard. It was rather odd.

It was actually morning of the next day and I was standing in our driveway, almost finished with shoveling the 2-feet of snow we had received. We mutually agreed he should park his car in our driveway until he got his cleared.

That storm now serves as a benchmark for me to always be aware that winter could arrive all at once, in one big storm that changes from a warm fall afternoon to snow that lasts a season, all in a matter of a few days. And it could happen in October.

Which is similar to the benchmark I now use for spring snowstorms. The first year we lived here, in May of 2013, we received 18 inches of snow. Who’da thunk it?

It could happen.

But it doesn’t look like we will have any worries of snow in October this year. More likely, we’ll have November flowers.

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Written by johnwhays

October 31, 2016 at 6:00 am

Startling Storm

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I had a ready-made excuse for not working on the chicken coop construction after work yesterday, because rain was falling from the sky. I drove through a couple of heavy downpours on my way home, but it wasn’t raining too hard when I pulled into our driveway.

I must have just missed it, though, because the drainage swale across our pastures was filled with rushing water. Cyndie reported we had received an inch in a very short span of time.

While having dinner with George and Anneliese, something caught my eye outside one of the high triangle windows beside our fireplace chimney. It appeared to be “snowing” leaves high in the sky. A combination of high wind and more rain was stripping the leaves en mass from our trees.

The sky grew dark and Cyndie said she thought it would hail.

“No, it’s not going to hail.” I said. “It’s just looks like this because it’s the middle of October and the sun is low.”

A minute or so after that, it started to hail.

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You’d think I would better know to heed her intuition by this point in our lives together.

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Written by johnwhays

October 18, 2016 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , , , , ,

Coop Framing

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We worked on framing the walls of our chicken coop yesterday under October conditions that changed from cold to warm and alternated between sunny and gray. Twice we received sprinkles of very light rain, yet at a time when there weren’t any clouds in sight that looked like they could possibly be the source.

The weather didn’t slow us down from the task at hand, though, as we designed on the fly to figure out a way to use on-hand 2x4s from a variety of salvaged day-job pallets to frame up the four walls.

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With the addition of a couple long boards I found stored in the rafters over the shop, we were able to come up with everything we needed.

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We are hoping to get away with using some plexiglass that has been lying around since we moved here, for windows to provide plenty of light. That will be augmented by translucent polycarbonate panels we purchased for the slanted roof.

The roof is today’s project. Then we need to figure out the ventilation openings that will be covered with hardware cloth to keep out unwanted critters. Siding will follow that. Somewhere in there will be the creation of 4 different hinged openings for access: to collect eggs, to pull out a poop board from under the roost for cleaning, and for chickens and humans to get in and out.

No problem. It only took me a few years to get this far. I’m sure I can have it ready for occupation by…

Never mind that. I’m living in this moment.

The future doesn’t need me trying to tell it what will be.

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Written by johnwhays

October 9, 2016 at 8:25 am

Cold Rain

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Okay. About that idea I wrote of yesterday that we might have a string of dry days to celebrate this week… Not exactly. I drove home from work in rain and by the time dinner was done last night, the temperature had dropped into the 40s (F).dscn5226e

Our furnace got turned on yesterday morning, and we lit a fire in the fireplace last night.

If it weren’t for the leftover leaves still attached to the tree branches, I’d think it was already October. Wet and cold. Cyndie made apple crisp which helped take some of the edge off.

The horses got a night in the barn because Cyndie was concerned about preventing their hooves from being wet all night.

Part of me wants to lament over the rapid disappearance of September, but I’m thinking I should avoid moping about it and put my sights on what lies ahead. I might as well start waxing my skis and getting the snow blade mounted on the ATV.

Winter is not far off. It’s a good thing it’s my favorite season of the year. Looking forward to it is so much more fun than dreading what is to come.

If it weren’t for all these constant distractions, I might make better progress at living fully in the present moment. The art of doing that continues to be something I struggle to accomplish.

It doesn’t help that lately the present moments so often involve rain around here. Who can be blamed for needing a break from that repetition?

I like to imagine what it would be like if our temperatures were already below freezing during these recent batches of precipitation. Speaking of which, I wonder where I put my igloo making fixture.

Of course, the next thought that comes to my mind when thinking about snow this year is, I should have purchased that fat bike I was looking at over the summer. coldrain

See how one thing leads to the next?

It’s the kind of mental exercise that one falls into when the weather outside gets cold and rainy.

Looks like Thursday through Sunday holds some promise for dry sunshine. That would go a long way toward helping me enjoy the last days of September to the fullest…

Completely, in each and every one of those moments.

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Written by johnwhays

September 28, 2016 at 6:00 am

Horses In

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Last night we brought the horses inside the barn overnight for the first time this fall. It was a decision we struggled with a couple times, because the conditions weren’t extreme enough to help make it an obvious choice. In the end, we tried giving the horses equal say in the decision, and their timely arrival and behavior at the door of the barn helped to seal the deal.

When Cyndie came back from turning them out this morning, her report cast some doubt over the satisfaction of at least the elder two horses about being confined all night long, regardless the chilly, blowing precipitation that fell.

Yesterday started with us moving the horses inside to their stalls first thing, before even serving them the morning feed, because they had a date with the veterinarian for their annual fall check up. It is a time when their teeth get filed, if needed, and the geldings receive some assistance with personal hygiene. Both procedures involve a bit of sedation to facilitate cooperation from the patients.

After enough time passed for the horses to recover their full senses, we put them back out in the elements. It wasn’t exactly cold out, but the thick grayness of the October sky and periods of rain and wind were enough to put a chill on Cyndie and me. It sapped most of our motivation to do anything constructive outside and tugged on my eyelids all afternoon, begging for a nap.

When darkness fell, it was 50/50 over bringing the horses indoors overnight, but Cyndie felt it was something the horses would want. We puttered in the barn under lights, to prepare for the possibility, and when the horses hustled up to the doorstep out of the damp darkness, we brought ’em in.

DSC06107eCHAt dawn this morning, Cyndie found the two younger chestnuts, Hunter and Cayenne, happy as could be. Legacy and Dezirea were another story.

The elder two showed every sign of wanting to be back outdoors immediately. Cyndie said that Dezirea almost ran her over in her haste to be out of that stall. No surprise though, as it sounded as if she had made a complete mess of her space.

The weather this morning isn’t any more inviting than yesterday was, but the forecast offers hope, and at least the temperature is well above the freezing point at the start.

We’ll be spending some extra time doing barn stall cleaning today, and I (and a couple of horses) will be gladly looking forward to having them stay outdoors overnight again, and hopefully for a long spell before the next dose of cold overnight rain.

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Written by johnwhays

October 24, 2015 at 9:38 am

Spooky Creepy

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Is October the spookiest month of the year? Possibly. Maybe it was in honor of that, that our September ended last night with a nauseating amount of creepiness.

Feel free to stop reading right here and save yourself from reliving our horrors.

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Couldn’t do it, huh? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

So, I was back at the ranch again last evening after work. Changed clothes and headed out to do some chores. First up, check the mouse traps that hadn’t been looked at for a day. The house garage was all clear. The shop still had a funky smell to it. The trap on the workbench was fine and the water bucket trap that had a chipmunk in it the other day was also untouched.

On my way back to the door, I smelled it. My brain flashed a memory of having placed an additional trap by the door! How many days had I been looking at the other two traps and completely forgetting about this one?

There was no question in my mind about there being something in the trap. It was behind a waste basket, on the floor beneath a small built-in bench. When I moved the basket, my eyes detected what looked like a wet spot around the trap. Yep, the rodent carcass was liquefying.

I carried the trap out toward the trees and tried to fling it as I squeezed the jaws of the trap open. It stuck in the trap. A second try got it to release, but it probably didn’t go as far as it should have. When I placed the trap back down on the floor to reset it, I spotted the pile of maggots on the wet spot.

The smell doesn’t really need description. Go ahead and imagine it yourself.

When Cyndie took Delilah out for a final walk of the evening, I headed downstairs to clean Pequenita’s litter boxes. We strain the litter and dump the scoop into a bag inside an empty plastic litter bucket. Once a week, we toss the collected waste. Last night the bucket was just one day short of full for the week.

As I was scooping, some movement in the bucket caught my eye. Yikes! It was the spookiest, nastiest, Halloween-end-of-October-looking spider I’ve ever seen indoors. It was the size and had the look of a kind of spider that I do not want to be anywhere near. With extremely impressive bravery, I snapped the lid tightly on the bucket, made kind of a whimpering squeaky sound, and dashed a hasty exit from the laundry room downstairs.

When I got upstairs, I found Cyndie had come back inside with Delilah. Cyndie was standing in the front sunroom with her hand over her nose and mouth, breathing funny. I paused, waiting for her to sneeze. The sneeze didn’t appear, and she held this pose and made that breathing sound long enough that I had to ask what was up.

She furtively was able to explain that she was trying not to throw up. Delilah had found something disgusting over by the shop.

Oops.

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Written by johnwhays

October 1, 2015 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , , , , ,

October Cold

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It doesn’t always work to compare one year with the next, and I was doing just that last week, as we approached the 1-year anniversary of moving to this fabulous property in Beldenville, WI. A few days after we arrived last year, the temperatures were warm and we cooked dinner outdoors over the fire, then went to sleep with our bedroom window open.

Yesterday, I went outside with my usual work gloves on and rather quickly discovered they were now insufficient. It is time for insulated gloves again. I assumed the air temperature would warm up as the day went on, but it seemed to just get colder. Clouds blocked the sun most of the time, giving the day a classic cold October look. I ended up involved in more outdoor activity than I really wanted, and my body started to absorb the chill as the hours accumulated. Snow fell on and off, occasionally dense enough to start to collect on surfaces.

There is something to the adjustment of our bodies to the environment, and in October, temperatures in the neighborhood of freezing feel painfully more cold than they do in March. Yesterday the outdoors were harsh and bitterly uncomfortable. In 5 months, the same temperatures will have us opening our coats and basking in the relief from the deep freeze.

IMG_3078eHunterMaskThe horses have started to grow out their thicker winter coat of hair, but it isn’t quite full yet, and the cold rain in October gets right through to their skin. We brought them into the barn on Sunday because they were shivering.

Last week, before the rain, Hunter showed up with a mud mask on. It looked like he was getting ready for Halloween at the end of the month. I wish I could have seen him in action when he did it. The finished product looks so perfectly applied that I’m thinking he had a mirror or something. Probably, he was trying to improve the insulating value on himself, in preparation for the October chill that felt so wicked out there yesterday.

Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2013 at 7:00 am