Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘pasture

Rock Up

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When I was mowing the back pasture a couple of days ago, I was startled by what almost sounded like a gunshot when the brush cutter struck I rock that I didn’t know was there. In pure reaction mode, my foot hits the clutch as my right-hand grabs the lever to lift the mower.

I hopped down off the tractor and checked everything over, then walked off to grab a step-in stake to mark the hazard. With the blades looking no worse for the wear, I resumed the pasture cutting and finished without further interruption.

Yesterday, I grabbed a shovel and a pry bar to bring the troublemaker up out of the ground, not yet knowing if it would even be possible. All that was visible was the freshly nicked tip of a proverbial iceberg. What could be lurking beneath the surface might be so large it would require a backhoe to dig out.

Luckily, that wasn’t the case and I was able to employ my solo technique of bringing large rocks up to the surface where I can scoop them up in the loader for relocation.

While the horses grazed nearby, I began probing to find the edges of the rock. Relieved that the borders seemed reasonable, I began shoveling scoopfuls around the perimeter until I got deep enough to use the pry bar to get some movement of the rock.

It’s a slow but completely effective process of tipping the rock enough to shove dirt under it. At first, it seems ineffective but after enough iterations, the progress speeds up. Alternating back and forth on opposite sides of the rock, I pry it up and shove the dirt previously removed to fill the small gaps that open up.

If I had a time-lapse recording it would look like the rock “rocks” back and forth, gaining a little height each time.

The white portion is what the brush cutter chipped off. The darker portion around it is the area that was above the surface. The rest was the mystery encased in dirt.

It looks suspiciously shaped as if it had been formed at some time for a particular purpose but I have no idea why it was buried out in the middle of an open field if that was the case.

Now I am left with a significant void on the surface of the pasture. Before I come out to retrieve the rock with the loader bucket on the tractor I will need to fill the bucket with some replacement soil. Now, where will I find some natural fill around this place?

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Written by johnwhays

September 17, 2022 at 7:00 am

Long Grass

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Five days away from home this time of year resulted in some really long grass waiting for us upon our return. Before I could start with mowing, we needed to plant some trillium that I had dug up in the woods of our lake place before we left.

After pulling out wildflowers and native growth from the pathway of our little labyrinth in the woods at the lake, I switched to digging batches of trillium for transplanting to home. We decided to plant them next to two existing groups of trillium that are looking very healthy after previous transplantations.

After that, it was time to mow. The job was made more complicated by the tall height of the grass and basically required an additional half pass for each full width of cut. Despite the extra work, I was able to complete the job by dinner time and made it look like someone lives here again.

The horses had been separated into groups of two while we were gone, making the job of feeding them a little simpler for our sitter. It was her first time staying in our house alone and caring for all the animals and she did a fabulous job during our extended weekend of over five days! We are very grateful to have found her.

While I mowed, Cyndie opened up all the gates so the four horses could romp together and wander anywhere they wanted to go. I enjoyed watching them move around together whenever I looked up from the ground in front of me. They moved around a lot and looked like they enjoyed the return to shared wide-open access to all the fields.

Everywhere they walked there was long grass surrounding them. In fact, the back pasture is in need of mowing because there is some thistle sprouting that we plan to eradicate by cutting. The really tall grass of the pasture will not be a problem for the diesel tractor pulling the big brush mower behind it.

At the same time, the grass along the fence lines also needs to be cut using the power trimmer.

It is definitely the long grass time of year.

Happy June 1st!

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Written by johnwhays

June 1, 2022 at 6:00 am

Guessing Game

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With our fields all freshly cut for hay, we have been inviting the horses out to graze in the pasture again. They have shown much less interest than I expected to see. I think they know how dry it all is and find it no better than what is available closer to the water and their preferred territory inside the paddocks.

Last night, Cyndie and I walked out into the back pasture to see if they would join us. Mia eventually made her way into the round pen.

Swings and Mix followed along after a bit, Swings stepping inside and Mix choosing to circle around outside.

Light chose to stay back under the overhang until much later. After we had exited the pasture and moved our focus to the chickens, Light showed up to graze just inside the pasture, parallel to the coop.

Can you tell the difference between the older Buffalo Gals and the younger Rockettes?

It’s difficult to tell unless we focus on the breed. Of course, with the mixed results of the chicks we hatched that Rocky the New Hampshire Red fertilized, the breeds are not entirely obvious. It’s still not obvious which of the Rockettes are roosters in hiding.

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Those two faces are looking much more rooster-like than the rest of the young ones, but they aren’t visibly bigger yet and their legs don’t stand out as distinctly thicker/longer.

With 25 birds constantly in motion, it’s hard to keep track of which one is which. I’m pretty sure I’ve counted the same one twice every time I’ve tried since we merged the two groups. Until the size becomes obvious or they grow rooster tails, it’s pretty much a guessing game about the ultimate outcome of our hatched chicks.

One thing is for sure, though. None of them look like chicks anymore.

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Written by johnwhays

July 8, 2021 at 6:00 am

Getting Trim

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We made visible progress on the grounds yesterday by finally cutting the middle section of pasture that hadn’t been mowed all summer.

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We haven’t even installed the tarp cover of the gazebo next to the round pen yet, which reveals the lack of workshop activity in the early season of 2017.

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That is changing now. We are cranking up preparations for a shot at accomplishing a summer’s worth of workshops in the final month. The horses have been patiently waiting. I think they are getting excited seeing the increase in maintenance of the grounds.

They can tell it’s soon time to do what they do best.

Now all we need is people interested in discovering what the horses have to offer.

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Battling Growth

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Sometimes it does feel a little like a battle against a siege of growing greenery. The lawn grass that I cut with the borrowed mower the other day now looks like I’ve neglected it for a couple of weeks. Now imagine what the areas that haven’t been cut at all look like.

The two pastures we refer to as “back” and “north,” are over two feet tall. I was just starting to mow the back pasture last Saturday when the sound from the brush cutter caused me to stop and check on the gear box. There’s some serious mowing left to be done back there still.

Yesterday afternoon, Cyndie laid down some pool noodles in the arena space to do an exercise with the horses. She said it didn’t work very well because the grass was too tall and it was hard to see the noodles. I decided to get that cut before resuming work with the brush cutter.

First, I needed to sharpen and adjust the blades on the reel mower for Cyndie so she could use it on the labyrinth. Seriously, there is nowhere that doesn’t need mowing right now, pretty much on an every-other-day basis.

We try to keep the arena grass as short as possible, usually mowing it with the rider. I ventured in there after dinner last night with the borrowed tractor and quickly discovered the grass had grown a lot longer than was noticeable from a distance.

It was so long and thick in places that I needed to make a first pass at a high setting, to enable mowing it a second time at the lowest one.

While I did laps on the rider, Cyndie worked the fence line with the power trimmer.

A couple of soldiers fighting the good fight for order and scenic well-being against the growing chaos and unwelcome infestations.

Seriously, it’s like landscape warfare.

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Written by johnwhays

June 7, 2017 at 6:00 am

Winter Like

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It is looking much more winter like around here this morning. I’d guess we received over twice the amount of snow overnight than had been predicted when I went to bed. It will be a nuisance to clear because the ground isn’t frozen yet. Plowing and shoveling require extra care to avoid digging up more than just snow when clearing pathways.

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Delilah made quick work of capturing a mole that thought it was safe relying on snow cover for concealment. Our dog smelled right through that blanket.

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The horses chose a perch out in the hay-field to experience the overnight accumulation. They looked so inviting that Delilah and I cut through the pasture to go out and stand with them for a bit.

When we headed for the barn to serve up the morning feed, the horses chose not to follow. If Cyndie wasn’t house-bound, I’d ask her to go ask them what was up. I have no idea what their motivation was in staying out of the paddock, where their water supply and shelter are available. img_1839e

I put out their pans of feed and the three chestnuts showed a lot of energy that led me to believe they might all head in, but Legacy never gave them the ‘okay’ to proceed. I walked down to the gate opening to the hay-field and invited them in, but to no avail.

Their choice. I left the pans out and cleared snow from the doorways and then headed in for breakfast. The chore list is looking very winter-like for the rest of the day. I’m going to need the fuel.

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Written by johnwhays

December 4, 2016 at 11:23 am

Four Years

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I was reviewing the “Previous Somethings” archive for some posts that I published four years ago and came upon a picture that means so much to me. During our very first visit in 2012 to see this property with our realtor, I was so overwhelmed by the experience that I hardly took any pictures.

This is one of the few I had for remembering what we had seen, to help me describe the place to family and friends. We had walked a short loop of the trails and I dropped behind Cyndie and Patti while dizzily trying to comprehend what I was experiencing. The place was beyond my wildest imaginings for us.

I came to my senses for a moment and remembered my camera. I captured Cyndie and Patti walking in the distance on a mowed path through one of the fields.

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They are walking in a spot that today is about where the entrance to the labyrinth garden is, on their left. The tall weeds on the right are now what we call the Back Pasture, surrounded by a fence.

These are some recent shots of how that spot looks now.

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I get a shiver thinking about that first impression and our visions of the possibilities, combined with the realization of all that has come to be in the four years since.

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Springing Considerably

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DSCN4685eThe forest floor is sprouting forth with an abundance of white trout lilies this week. It made me curious about the trillium that we transplanted from our lake place last year. I should have marked them better, because the complete transformation of the woods in a year’s time has me confused now over where I put them.

I planted the “borrowed” trillium in several small groups in a section of woods just below the house. Surveying the area late yesterday, it seemed like the only growth was trout lilies, but I eventually spotted a grouping of the distinctly different leaves.

In a few weeks, flowers will make the trillium much easier to spot.

DSCN4681eUp north, it is obvious how prolific trillium is in naturally propagating to carpet the woods and create a dramatic visual. We are hoping to seed our spaces with enough starters to enable the natural process to do the rest.

After some passing gentle rain showers on Thursday, the pasture that I mowed last weekend is greening up nicely. I strung the webbing between posts yesterday to complete the divider fence that will allow us to rotationally graze the horses on that precious field.

The point where I connected the new webbing to electricity is right at the paddock, and the horses took great interest in what I was doing. I had the charger turned off to work, and while I experimented with several methods of connection, Legacy and Cayenne took turns putting their noses right into the business at hand.DSCN4669e

I sure hope they are keen enough to sense the hazard of doing that when the electricity is on.

Even though they already had a stint on the alley grass earlier in the day, Cyndie talked me into letting them come out on the pasture with the new divider for a short nibble after so patiently watching me fix it up all afternoon.

I can’t really say whether they even noticed the new divider, because their attention was exclusively focused on the succulent green blades immediately available just steps beyond the opened gate.

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Written by johnwhays

April 23, 2016 at 8:24 am

Anxiously Waiting

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We knocked off a good number of satisfying chores yesterday, taking full advantage of perfectly summer-like weather. In fact, it was so summery, I found myself mowing grass. We also put fence posts in to split our back pasture, so we will be able to rotate the horses back and forth, allowing us to provide the turf occasional rest from the voracious foursome.

The herd spent most of the day lined up at the gate, anxiously awaiting access to the new green smorgasbord that is sprouting beyond the confines of their paddock. Cyndie captured a wonderful shot of them eyeing her as she walked past, sending their message of bewilderment over being neglected all this time.

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They won’t have too much longer to wait. We have shut them in for a few weeks to give the grass a head start, protecting it from both their heavy hooves while it’s wet, and their devouring ways.

While I was getting machines prepared for the day’s work, Cyndie drove the truck down to one of the older rock piles at the edge of our woods and selected perfect specimens to create a border for a new native wild flower garden that she is creating in the spot where we recently removed all the old barbed wire, stump, and brush.DSCN4651eCH

Visitors will be greeted by a colorful splendor as it comes into view over the crest of the first rise in our driveway.

Cyndie has some of her own anxious waiting to do, for her vision of new growing flowers to become established and in full bloom on this wonderful spot she is creating.

It seemed like more additional work than I saw a need for, but once again, her ability to make things happen is bringing about another enhancement to Wintervale that will add even more charm to an already precious place.

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Written by johnwhays

April 17, 2016 at 7:57 am

A Picture

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A portrait today, of our Hunter, on his own in the sun.

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Written by johnwhays

November 13, 2015 at 7:00 am