Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘paddock

First Sighting

leave a comment »

After all the years of hearing them and losing chickens to them, yesterday I finally saw my first coyote on our property. It was mid-morning and I had tethered Delilah to a small tree while I coaxed the horses back into the paddock from the pasture. Actually, Mix and Light were already in by the barn.

Swings was close to coming in but decided she still should kick into a big run, which helped energize Mia, who was much further out in the field, to also accelerate into a run. It saved me from needing to trudge all the way out there to get her. I hustled behind them to close the gate before they might decide to keep running and loop right back out again.

That’s when I noticed the odd-looking gangly juvenile coyote standing in the paddock near the waterer, all ears with spindly legs and an ugly long tail. It didn’t seem very jumpy but looked like the rush of horse energy showing up was enough to convince it to take a walk.

I tried to hurry my latching of the gate chain and rush back to get Delilah so we could add a little convincing of our own to show that intruder it shouldn’t be here. I’m sure that Delilah was clueless at that point, but she definitely picked up my urgency and gladly rushed off in pursuit of anything just as fast as she could drag me.

As we rounded the backside of the barn I caught a glimpse of the lone young coyote moving beyond the hay shed toward the north loop trail. Its pace wasn’t the least bit threatened which led me to feel it was acting with a rather cocky level of self-confidence. Too bad I couldn’t move fast enough to allow Delilah to close much distance on the trespasser.

When we reached the road, I saw the rather mangy-looking youngster trot across the neighbor’s lawn across the street. It looked back to check on our pursuit once before disappearing over the horizon.

I wish it hadn’t looked so comfortable in the paddock before leaving. I take some solace in knowing it won’t find any chicken dinners here for the time being.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 17, 2022 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , , , ,

Wanting Green

leave a comment »

The horses are starting to seem a little hangry with the amount of grass surrounding the paddock that is turning deliciously green.

I’m wondering if they will be so excited when we open the gate to the back pasture that they will take off running as if they were in a race like they did last year. The other option, which I’ve witnessed more often than not, is that they will take one step through the gate and start munching grass like they may never get another chance.

At present, they are twisting their necks to reach under the bottom boards of the fence to nibble any blades they can reach and then they look at me like I must be thick-headed not to understand they want out.

I tried cleaning up manure before the next series of predicted rainy days and made it about halfway through the paddock before the wheelbarrow was full and I was out of time. I see again more evidence proving an off-handed comment our fence installer made about the ground being high along old fence lines.

My mind tried to imagine why there would be a build-up of earth along a fence over the years but now, having heavy animals, I see they compress the dirt everywhere except under the fence, leaving that as the higher ground.

The horses pack the ground so densely that it’s hard for the grass to grow. Never mind that grass seems perfectly able to grow through our asphalt driveway.

Even when an odd tuft of grass does overcome the compacted soil and start to grow, the horses kill it by munching it down to a nub.

Given enough evolutionary time, I wonder if horses could learn to leave enough grass growth that it doesn’t all die so that they always have some fresh green blades to eat.

I suspect they’d prefer to not be confined to a paddock or any fenced boundaries so they wouldn’t have to worry about overeating in one limited space.

Won’t be too much longer before we can open up the pasture for them. I offered to drive Cyndie down along the path around the back pasture so she could watch them in case they take off in a gallop again. Even though she is making good progress a week and two days after her knee replacement surgery, she isn’t ready to walk the uneven surfaces of our property yet.

Her first physical therapy appointment was last Tuesday and the therapist gave her permission to take a stroll outdoors on our driveway with her walker as soon as the weather takes a turn toward warm and dry. It was a pretty safe grant to make since Cyndie is healing well and the weather shows little sign of improving for quite some time.

She’s going to get a little hangry herself, waiting to get out of her post-surgery confinement so she can walk outdoors again.

Soon, I say.

Relatively, that is.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

April 28, 2022 at 6:00 am

Spider’s Nest?

leave a comment »

There is a corner of our large paddock where the grass has grown pretty tall that I wander by frequently when pushing the wheelbarrow during manure management duty. I recently came upon what looked like a well-shaped hole formed out of the surrounding grass, almost like some burrowing animal was making a nest.

Being a person with no interest in getting surprised by a snake, I am hesitant to make close inspections in areas of tall grass. I didn’t see anything obvious at the bottom of that hole in the grass from my safe distance of slightly leaning forward.

A couple of days later, the hole seemed even more well-defined, and this time, there was an obvious occupant present.

Looks like a garden spider to me.

Does anybody know if the spider might have created that “hole” or is it more probable she was simply taking advantage of an excellent location somebody else had already made?

If it wasn’t the spider that made that nicely rounded nest in the grass, was it a bird or maybe a rabbit? Seems like all the birds around here prefer to make their nests in and around the barn ceiling and eaves. If we still had chickens, I’d expect to see that hole filling up with precious eggs, based on past experience.

I think it was the spider, but I have no idea if that is even possible.

Anyone out there have knowledge of the capabilities of Argiope aurantia?

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 15, 2021 at 6:00 am

Snag Down

leave a comment »

The inevitable has occurred and the snag we left standing inside the small paddock after cutting back the dead limbs almost five years ago has now fallen to the ground.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

It had a good run as a scratching post. After the recent discovery that it had been pushed into a noticeable lean by horses rubbing against it, I did some pushing of my own to assess the status of its integrity. It was still too solid for me to be able to push the rest of the way over, but it did move back into a fully upright position, so I left it.

Yesterday morning, Cyndie found it looking like this:

Over text messages, we discussed what to do with it. She said it is too heavy to move without dragging with the tractor or sawing into pieces. I suggested we could leave it in place for a while to provide a little intrigue for the horses to investigate.

We don’t know which horse might have been responsible for knocking it over or whether others were in the vicinity at the time. None of them showed any signs of having suffered a close encounter with falling tree trunks. I’m wondering if they might enjoy gnawing on it a little bit.

It looks kinda cool lying there. I like the thought of the horses adapting to something new happening in their midst, adjusting to the change, and hopefully exploring the interesting shaped object now on the ground.

Cyndie spotted Swings and Mix doing just that later in the day.

I did a visual scan for future comparison to observe whether they take an interest in chewing on it. If they soon appear to be ignoring it, we will likely cut it up and split the logs for firewood before the whole thing rots.

As my good friend, Steve Reynolds has been know to declare, standing dead trees are just verticle firewood storage. Now that it’s no longer standing, I best not neglect it for too long.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 18, 2021 at 6:00 am

Horse Time

leave a comment »

We arrived home yesterday afternoon to many examples of evidence that Wintervale had received a significant dousing of rain while we were away. The actual amount is unclear because the rain gauge at the top of the hill had water in it from the sprinkler for the vegetable garden. It was filled to over 4.5 inches.

The other gauge at the bottom of the hill near the labyrinth had tipped off its screws and was leaning over sideways, although it had about an inch of water in it. It’s likely our total was somewhere between those two amounts.

The tall grass in the drainage swales was laid flat by the pressure of rainwater leaving an obvious depiction of the volume that flowed over it.

The paddock was a little messy but the horses didn’t show much concern about how wet it had been. There was evidence that a couple of them had rolled in the dirt recently to coat their hides with a natural protection from biting flies.

They were standing around in their usual space under the overhang when Cyndie and I wandered out into the hayfield while coaxing them to join us. Mia quickly made her way after us but paused at the gate.

Soon after, all three of the others made their way down as well, but none of them chose to join us beyond the paddock fence. Not needing to fret their decision, we easily made our way back to join them for some horse time that seemed as welcome to them as it was to us.

It’s always wonderful to get away to the lake for a weekend, but it’s really, really nice to return home, as well.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 9, 2021 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , , , ,

Prepping Paddock

with 2 comments

My Friday started with a visit to the Pierce County Fair grounds in Ellsworth where I received my first vaccination shot against COVID-19. The county health department does a wiz-bang job processing people through at maximum speed. I was very impressed.

I experienced no noticeable effects from the shot and headed straight to Hudson for an annual eye exam. No problems found, I’m happy to report. Then, it was back home to work on sprucing up the paddocks in preparation for the pending arrival of horses.

First order of business was to push down fence posts that the frost has heaved up. I used the loader on the diesel tractor and succeeded in avoiding making things worse by breaking boards.

IMG_iP0669eCH  IMG_iP0672eCH.

It isn’t easy to see what is happening on the far side of the bucket from my vantage point behind the wheel, but with Cyndie spotting (and taking pictures), she helped keep me from any catastrophes.

Since I didn’t sink or get stuck in mud, we decided to try scooping up some lime screenings from our reserve pile to put a fresh layer down under the overhang.

IMG_iP0678eCH

After that, I got out the trimmer to knock down some of the old growth and give the new grass beneath a little more sunshine.

IMG_iP0681eCH

I was hoping to get the automatic waterer back in operation but the shutoff valve is in standing water beneath the unit and out of sight. I had to reach into the freezing cold water and blindly feel around to find it among a tangle of zip-ties and wires.

It took several tries to locate it, almost requiring more joints than I have in my wrist and elbow. Too bad it wouldn’t budge after I finally got my fingers around the handle. Since it has been under water for so long, I’m suspicious that it may be corroded.

It’d sure be nice if I could simply look at it to tell. If I had to guess about what my numb fingers were feeling, I’d say it feels corroded.

There will be time enough to contact the original installer and get his help before the horses arrive. He is going to stop by to quote excavating our old blacktop and preparing a new base for fresh asphalt. The decaying old driveway pavement is now causing increasing drainage problems.

By the end of the day, having succeeded in improving the wooden plank fences without destroying them was enough accomplishment to provide a feeling of satisfaction regardless of what else we achieved. The other paddock enhancements became something of a bonus.

Cleaning the barn and hay shed are next on the list of preparations for the return of horses.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 27, 2021 at 6:00 am

Just Wondering

leave a comment »

What would really happen if I didn’t listen to the sales pitch of every slick promotion? What if I didn’t have an answer for every question that I could possibly imagine? What if wearing a face mask in public was easy to do? Oh, wait. I know the answer to that one.

I wonder how many businesses, especially restaurants, will never reopen again after the shutdowns. Are we on the verge of economic calamity, or not? It’s hard to conceive of how much worse it will get before it starts to get better.

Does anyone really question the fact there are “haves” and “have nots?” In the face of that, think about how many times we can find ourselves a member of either one of those two designations for a variety of given situations.

Nothing is so simple that it can’t be seen in more than one way. There is nuance in everything.

I am pondering the possible difference in amount of work required if we would have cut the growth in our empty paddocks sooner and more often, versus waiting until now, when the growth is tall, thick, and laborious to bring down.

I am using the trimmer to provide plenty of clearance around our fences in order to simplify mowing the rest of it with the brush cutter behind the diesel tractor.

All the while, I am remembering how the horses were easily able to keep growth in these spaces reduced to almost nonexistent.

We could have horses and all the work that comes with caring for them or we have unbelievable growth of grass and weeds that I need to mow.

Honestly, we definitely prefer to have horses.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 12, 2020 at 9:55 am

Got Ribs?

leave a comment »

We have been unable to enlist the help of our tiny herd of horses with improving the regeneration of our grass fields this summer. They have been allowed very limited access to the rich green grass in order to control both weight and the younger two’s penchant for laminitic hoof problems.

Yesterday, Cyndie allowed the horses a little time on the grass beyond the barren paddock and we both made the same observation. All three have slimmed down enough that faint lines of their ribs are detectable, even seen through their new growth of shaggier winter coats.

They’ve got ribs!

They certainly aren’t skinny, but the hint of rib definition helps to convince us they aren’t as overweight as they had been previously. We’ve made progress.

To celebrate, they were allowed a few extra minutes of grazing.

Hopefully, they will put more of the fuel toward filling out their winter coats, and not so much to just storing fat around their rib cages.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 27, 2018 at 9:52 am

Brief Treat

with 6 comments

Just before sunset last night, we let the horses have a few minutes to graze on the mowed arena space. They were thrilled with the opportunity.

It is so precious for us to see them grazing on the grass outside their paddock. Be it ever so brief, it provided a compound reward.

The chickens seemed pretty excited over the activity and came running to join in the fun.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Do they look like they are getting bigger? They are.

After we returned to the paddock, I crouched down to visit with the chickens, but it was Hunter and Cayenne who moved in to love me up.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Apparently, they wanted to offer me a brief treat of my very own.

Love, gratefully accepted.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 26, 2018 at 6:00 am

Spontaneous Transplantation

leave a comment »

Last night presented one of those moments that would unfold without us having a clue where it would ultimately lead. Thankfully, due to Cyndie’s willingness to run with it, we took a step that was long overdue.

She transplanted some volunteer sprouts of oak and maple trees.

It started with her walking the dog and me doing some work in the shop. I had the door open and some music playing. Suddenly, Delilah popped in to say hello. Cyndie paused to trim some growth around the vicinity.

While pulling weeds, she discovered the saturated ground made it easy to pull out the new tree sprouts.

We’ve been talking about transplanting trees for weeks, but never really formulated a plan on where they would go when we finally take action. Since she now had a stack of multiple beauties fresh out of the ground, it presented an urgency to decide on a new location for them.

I honestly have no idea why I didn’t come up with this before, but it hit me in an instant that planting them just outside the paddock fence would someday offer a natural shade for the horses inside the fence.

So, that’s what Cyndie did.

It will require some care to give these babies a fair chance at survival, but given the vast number of new sprouts showing up every spring, we will always have plenty of opportunities to try again, in case of any failures.

This is another thing that I would love to have done years ago, to have already taken advantage of that time for growth. The shade I’m looking forward to could be a decade away, to get the trees tall enough and filled out enough to cast a useful shadow.

It’s like our story about growing our own asparagus. People told us that it takes at least three years after planting to start harvesting stalks. For some silly reason, that information repeatedly caused us to not take action. Inexplicably, our response to something that required waiting a significant amount of time for results was to do nothing. Over and over again.

After three years, I mentioned that if we had just planted some when we first talked about the possibility, we could be harvesting already.

Then Cyndie came across the brilliant idea of not planting from seed, but buying a 2-year-old plant and burying it in the ground.

We are learning to get out of our own way.

In this regard, the spontaneity becomes our secret weapon. We will always get more progress if we just do it, and not wait for the “perfect” plan. We need to not worry so much about the possibility of failure.

My old mode of thinking involved not wanting to work hard on planting trees if they are just going to die, but I’m getting over that now. Maybe the four tries to succeed in the center of our labyrinth have softened my resistance.

We transplanted this group yesterday without any planning or preparation.

I have no idea what the result will be, but at least we have taken the required first step, thanks to Cyndie’s adventurous spontaneous effort.

.

.