Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Pequenita

Just Starting

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We are just starting to find out how much work lies ahead to clean up all the downed trees left by the guys we hired to do all the cutting. After completing the willow, I set my sights on the next biggest mess of trees and branches just beside the labyrinth.

I cut and stacked the biggest chunks to be split for firewood.

I started a stack of branches that will be ideal for turning into chips.

The smallest branches will be hauled to our northern property line where we are making a “fence” by piling up brush.

After making just one trip with the ATV trailer filled to overflowing with branches, I’m thinking we may need to alter our plan. There is going to be a lot more brush to pile than there is space to pile it.

There is still a couple of days worth of clean-up to do in this spot.

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From here, I move on to roughly fifty more trees on the ground throughout our woods waiting to be processed. At least none of those will be as big as the two trees I’ve picked to do first. There’s a method to my madness. I hope it will keep getting easier as I work my way through our woods.

On a follow-up note about Pequenita’s diagnosis… We received confirmation on her hyperthyroidism and will treat her with medication. No other problems were detected in her blood analysis. She has lost five pounds since the last time she’d been in, which was a few years ago. Our wee one is living up to her name.

She is one tiny tortie.

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Written by johnwhays

May 25, 2022 at 6:00 am

More Trillium

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While exploring our woods away from the trails in search of tree-choking vines, we came upon two beautiful trillium blossoms that were not transplanted here by us. Making the moment even more exciting for us was the fact they each had a hint of purple coloring on the petals.

I don’t know if we will ever succeed in creating a large grove of trillium in our woods by way of our annual transfer of small batches from the lake place, but it doesn’t feel as essential that we do, now that we are finding more occasions where the flowers are sprouting naturally.

Yesterday morning, I claimed a couple of hours for a bike ride that took me down into the Rush River valley, and among the many gorgeous views, I spotted several large groups of trillium growing wild.

That was much more fun to come upon than the two times a dog ran a great distance to threaten me as I pedaled past their territory. The second one was a large German Shepherd that paid little heed to my stern commands to “Stop!” and “No!” Fortunately, it didn’t demonstrate much in the way of endurance and gave up quickly as I continued my pedaling pace beyond the farm.

While I worked on transporting water to our newly transplanted saplings in the afternoon, Cyndie took our cat, Pequenita, to the vet for a diagnosis that might explain her runaway appetite, oddly loud gut sounds, and surprising weight loss lately. She really didn’t have much weight to lose.

The vet suspects hyperthyroidism and ordered a blood chemistry panel for confirmation. We hope to learn the results later today.

At this point, we anticipate there will be medication prescribed for the rest of her life. Oy.

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Written by johnwhays

May 24, 2022 at 6:00 am

Hue Fatigue

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I’m growing weary of the many hues of brown that define the expanse of our outdoor views. Dark varieties of mud. Tans of the dry grasses. Graying shades of tree trunks and bare branches. Brown fence posts. Top them all off with the dullness of cloudy skies and the lifeless hues all combine to suck energy out of every breath.

This time of year we are happy to have the snow melt away but it comes with a visual cost until enough warmth and sunshine collaborate to launch the explosion of greenery we are longing to see again.

Alas, that is not fully living in the moment, is it? It’s April 1st today! No foolin’.

There are many treasures to be claimed in the current conditions, even if I find myself worn out by the same brown shades every single day that the sun is obscured from view.

The ever-changing status of the land as it weaves its way back and forth from winter’s hard freeze to fully thawed at every depth is like a carnival ride. In this indeterminate season the ground begins to thaw and then, nope, it’s frozen again and the air is warm, wait, no, it’s cold again, nope, bitter wind today, okay, tolerable this afternoon. It’s not too dry and not overly wet except that it is too dry in some places and a sloppy, muddy mess in others.

It’s enough to lead me toward a certain recliner where I can lounge and soak up the indoor shades of brown that like to snuggle.

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Yesterday was our annual geothermal furnace checkup and in its 9th year of service for us the numbers all read in the good or in one case, better than good. It will eventually switch from heating our home to cooling it during high heat periods of summer. Best decision we ever made, biting the bullet of high initial expense and replacing the 20-year-old original furnace in this house with the geothermal shortly after we arrived.

It’s funny that our seasons change every year, but right now I’m having difficulty remembering what that high heat of summer is like.

I do know that our world is a much deeper green when that happens. How come we never grow weary of those summertime hues?

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Chaos Ensued

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It wasn’t a stellar start of the day for my unnecessarily grumbly countenance yesterday morning. We are ensconced in a pattern of dry, cold winter days that can tend to chip away at a person’s stoicism against the elements. The temperature reading began with a minus sign once again and we steeled ourselves as usual for the “spacewalk” to exercise Delilah and feed the horses.

It was a wonderfully calm morning and the only sound from the trees was occasional cracking in response to the cycles of freezing and thawing we have had of late. My mood was perfectly balanced between not wanting to be out in the cold at the crack of dawn for another consecutive day and being thrilled to witness the beauty and wonder of a new and beautiful winter morning.

Under the barn overhang, I was met by evidence the horses had been under there all night. If they spend time out in the fields, I don’t scoop up the piles. Under the overhang, we try to remove their manure as fast as they produce it. Maybe it was because there was poop everywhere that one of them decided to do their business over one of the hay boxes.

Half-frozen to a wrought iron corner bracket, it defied convenient clean-up. While dealing with the mess I discovered the box has been kicked enough that it is barely holding together. It kind of took the wind out of my sail of cheerfulness.

Once back in the house, I recovered nicely with a spectacular breakfast of perfectly poached eggs on toast that Cyndie served and I was reclining under a lap blanket absorbing the stories in the daily newspaper. It was deliciously serene when Delilah leaned into my chair to request some scratches.

While I focused on what I was reading, Delilah would rotate her body to move my hand where she wanted me next.

Suddenly, she yelped and snapped at me when I inadvertently pinched her in my overzealous massaging/scratching. I jumped and professed my apologies.

Before we had barely begun to settle ourselves, Pequenita showed up out of nowhere, attacking Delilah with punches and swipes while hissing in anger. Delilah instantly responded in kind with growls and glaring canines. We bumped the side table next to me and knocked my full tumbler of ice water to the floor where the top blew off and cubes and water went everywhere.

Cyndie was on top of Delilah instantly to scold her to get off the cat. She pulled Delilah away and was making the dog lay down in submission and the cat showed up again in full fight mode of hissing and swinging paws at the poor pooch. I was yelling that it wasn’t Delilah’s fault and Cyndie was hollering at both pets.

We have never, ever seen this type of aggression from Pequenita. It seems most likely to us that she was reacting to defend me from Delilah’s reaction to my having pinched her.

It was unprecedented madness of a surprising degree.

Helped me totally get over the angst of the busted, pooped-on hay box.

I got the water and ice cubes cleaned up and both pets calmed down and found themselves separate corners.

Ultimately, our calm serenity was restored, but geesh! Took me a while to get my pulse back to restively reclining mode.

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Written by johnwhays

February 3, 2022 at 7:00 am

Frank Discussion

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Delilah: Wrrello, wrreveryone. Today, Pequenita-the-teaser-cat and I have grabbed the blog controls from He-who-succumbs-to-our-every-wish to share our observations of his mysterious change in behavior in the last 20 or so light and dark cycles.

Pequenita: Rrrreow come you get to go first, you tiresome bark-annoyance creature? I’m the one who sleeps in the crook of his knees and knows exactly when he gets up in the night and, well… does you know what.

D: Because I am taller than you, you wee little meowing machine.

P: Momma said you are supposed to treat me like I’m your sister, so be nice.

D: You started the name-calling, just like you usually start the chaos that gets me yelled at every time I respond to your goading from just out of their sight. You know I can’t resist my canine instincts to act like I’m going to eat you alive.

P: Oh, so it’s all about you. Everything is always about you. Meow me a river. We are supposed to be talking about the craziness around here since blog-man stopped driving off in his gas machine for hours on end every day allowing me to get decent sleep while the sun is up. Now I have to keep hopping up on the recliner to knead his belly multiple times an hour to see if he’s still alive.

D: Oh, yeah. Reading that electronic version of the good old newspaper that I never get a chance to chew on. Luckily, I don’t waste time chewing papers now that I can find a discarded deer leg or mystery scat surprises on the trails every day. For some reason, they are so much more enticing when they are frozen. Probably the crunching sound that makes it so appealing. That, and my uncontrollable instinct, I suppose.

P: It’s not like you don’t get fed twice each day without fail.

D: No different from you, salmon-breath.

P: At least I don’t eat my puke. Not that I’d have a chance, with you, in a frenzy, streaking in to happily enact “Cleanup in aisle 3!” before anyone gets a chance to blink.

D: What can I say? My nose knows… So, back to what’shisname, I gotta say this trend of acting like he’s taking me for a walk and then snapping my leash to the nearest hook while he marches back and forth to the shop and the barn or hay shed has me a little confused. They pack me up and drive me to holiday gatherings. They squeeze me beside luggage and drive to some snowy Arctic forest where I get to frolic like a puppy and then turn around and bring me right back home like nothing happened. Then he goes nowhere. Just hangs around all day like he owns the place.

P: Not even close. I totally own the place.

D: I think he might be confused. I bark and bark and bark to try to bring him to his senses but he acts like a squirrel is just no big thing.

P: I believe it is because he is tired again.

D: What do you mean?

P: I heard him tell someone he is re-tired. [prrrrrrr]

D: BARK! BARK-BARK!

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Written by johnwhays

January 12, 2022 at 7:00 am

Mouse House

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If you have ever heard anyone who owns a log home say their place is sealed tight against rodent intrusion, feel free to question their grip on reality. We could crawl around our foundation day and night, scale the walls to inspect every inch around the soffits, and climb to the peak of our stone chimney and still, I wouldn’t think we’d identified every teeny space of potential access.

We are well into the season of incoming mice and Pequenita is only doing her bare minimum to fatally “play” with the surprise toys. The other night it was hour after hour of romping around our bedroom floor, talking to her latest playmate while Cyndie and I feigned solid sleep in maximum avoidance mode. I was just sleepily aware enough in the morning to only step partway onto the cold, dead remains before catching myself and stopping.

Two nights ago, just after lights out in the bedroom, some busy rodent started making its presence known with repetitive scratching/chewing in the attic space above our ceiling.

Last night, as Cyndie was working on her laptop at the dining room table, something fell from one of the log beams in the ceiling by the front sunroom. It was a mouse.

From my position in the bathroom shower at the time, I heard muffled stomping and banging that instantly had me wondering what in the heck could be going on out there. Then, the sound of Cyndie saying something affectionate to Delilah. I assumed they were engaged in an energized activity to drain some dog energy before the end of the day.

Soon after, Cyndie pops in to announce, “I have a story for you.”

She grabbed a fly swatter and garbage bin that were right there and tried to capture the mouse. Delilah noticed what was going on and jumped up to help. It was Delilah who caught the mouse. Then, our canine carnivore wasted no time in consuming her prize before Cyndie had even a second to decide what to do about it.

I think that was the moment I heard Cyndie offering the dog a kind word.

After my shower, I came into the bedroom to find our cat contentedly curled up on the dog bed, clueless about being one-upped by the dog in the mouse control department.

Cyndie has contacted our pest control service again. “No, it’s not another woodchuck. Nope, not a nest of bees in the ground. Uh uh, not raccoons again. Not bats. Not this time, anyway. Now it’s just a plain old mouse problem.”

They won’t need directions to our house.

Is there such a thing as kevlar shrink wrap? If it came in a wood grain pattern, that would be cool. Just cover our whole house like the blue stuff they stretch over boats to winterize them.

You’d think the multiple prowling neighbor cats would do a better job of controlling the mouse population around here. Come to think of it, that could be increasing the incentive for mice to find new ways inside.

I’m sure pest control will be happy to invoice extensive time and effort to de-mouse our log house.

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Written by johnwhays

November 4, 2021 at 6:00 am

So Happy

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We were only away a few days but Pequenita seemed extra happy over our return yesterday. It seems as though she understands the routine of our leaving for days at a time and so maybe the occasion of our return is becoming something of an increased expectation for her.

She was rather comically clingy for the first part of the afternoon and then again when I sat on our bed and opened up my laptop.

I don’t mind giving her extended scratches when she shows so much appreciation for the touch, despite the limitations it creates for getting any real writing done.

The horses weren’t what I would describe as clingy when we showed up at the barn. Mix was in “bossy-mare” mode and preferred to pay amped-up attention to the two chestnuts, Mia and Light. They all looked noticeably more shaggy as their winter growth is filling in nicely.

Our weather is holding in “uneventful” mode while vast swaths of the country are experiencing events. The precipitation spinning around the low-pressure center in the middle states is staying just to our south. This buys us time to continue the process of winterizing Wintervale.

Today we plan to pull the pump from our landscape pond and cover the water with netting to capture leaves during the off-season. We also will remove the plastic awnings over the windows of the chicken coop and place solid plastic panels over the screens. Even though there won’t be any birds in there, we still want to keep it from filling up with snow.

We pulled in our plastic rain gauge to keep it from getting cracked when water freezes in it. We’ll be in the “in-between” season for a while, where precip can fall as rain and snow on any given day.

I’ll be happy to stay inside and give Pequenita scratches during weather like that, thank you very much.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2021 at 6:00 am

Temporary Truce

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It doesn’t happen often, so I hastily grabbed my phone to capture the moment yesterday afternoon when cat and dog weren’t behaving like cantankerous siblings. Who swapped our pets for well-behaved lookalikes?

They are probably commiserating with each other over Cyndie’s disappearance from their lives. It’s certainly not my doing. Maybe they are compensating for my increasingly grumpy countenance.

I’d like the day-job and our customers to offer up a truce but that won’t happen this week. We are a person down due to a vacation and there aren’t enough hours in a day for me to accomplish both my tasks and theirs. I added yesterday back in as an on-site day, but I can’t work late at all this week because I need to get home to tend to our animals each day.

Delilah and Pequenita seem to be picking up on my grouchiness and are making a concerted effort to not let me influence them negatively.

Luckily, there is plenty of beauty to absorb around our house that boosts my spirits. I can never remember what plant is on our trellis, but this swirly growth sprouting from it is fascinating:

We received a little thundery rain last night. I think the drought may have accepted a truce of its own.

I just don’t want more precipitation to trigger massive grass growth. I’m already grumpy enough for the time being.

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Written by johnwhays

September 14, 2021 at 6:00 am

Olympic Influence

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The 2020 Olympic summer games are over but after having watched daily competitions for over two weeks, the residual influence is strong. Yesterday afternoon, I was cutting the grass beneath our fenceline using the power trimmer. Beneath ear-muff hearing protection that also has a metal mesh face shield, my world gets reduced to the ground immediately in front of me and little else.

While trimming away, there was a moment where I thought I might have heard an uncharacteristic sound. I took a quick glance over my shoulder to see if there was anyone in sight and was immediately reminded of Olympic marathoners doing the same turn of their heads as they tried to check the competition behind them.

In the split second of feeling a connection to the competing Olympic runners, I had a thought that power trimming could become one of the new sports they add in the future.

There could be categories separating light trimming around features in a front yard –similar to short distance races– and thick field grass trimming under a fence –similar to running a marathon.

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Performance can be timed or judged, or probably both.

Points taken off if you nick the fence post or leave uncut tufts around them. That would be like when divers make a splash as they enter the water.

Why stop with just power trimming? All the property management chores could become Olympic competitions. Kicking manure piles in the field can be rather sporting. Changing engine oil in a lawn tractor. Sharpening a chainsaw blade. Repairing a busted fence. Oh, pounding down frost-heaved fence posts would be a good one.

Might as well expand the focus to include a competition of commuting an hour to a day job. Fastest time without speeding more than 9MPH over posted speed limits takes the gold. Must be accident-free and can receive bonus points if no other drivers are made angry throughout the entire drive.

I’m sure televised broadcasts of the competitions would inspire kids to want to become farm chore professionals when they grow up.

I wish I could take this thought exercise of Olympic comparison all the way to the part where the hard work only lasts for two weeks and then there is a great big party with fireworks and drone-shaped patterns in the sky.

Lots of laughter and selfies, maybe a few hugs from strangers.

It’s a nice distraction from reality. My reality early yesterday morning involved a certain cat who apparently missed me over the weekend. Pequenita made a point of walking up my body to head-butt my face and knead my chest starting at 3:30 a.m. and repeated the exercise again at 4:30, 5:00, 5:30, & 6:00.

I foiled her annoying shenanigans this morning by getting out of bed at 4:30 to do my planking and stretching routine before work.

Come to think of it, maybe Pequenita just forgot that I now work from home on Mondays and she thought I needed to get up that early.

She probably thinks she’s in some cat Olympics, competing in the “Manage Your Human” event.

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Written by johnwhays

August 10, 2021 at 6:00 am

Happy Animals

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Our kitty, Pequenita, was oh so happy to have me back home again to scratch her neck and belly every which way to and fro. We arrived home mid-afternoon and took Delilah for a walk to survey our property and check on the chicks and horses.

The grasses on either side of our mowed trails have gotten almost as tall as we are. The chicks have gotten almost as tall as each other. There is one exception. One of the Buffalo gals is taller than all the others. We are growing increasingly confident that we received a surprise cockerel in the batch Cyndie purchased from the Buffalo Country Store.

It appears we may have a Buffalo “guy.” In the image above, the obvious contrast in color can be seen for two of the Barred Rock chicks we received. The darker coloring is indicative of hens and the lighter white-with-black feathering more an attribute of roosters. The more advanced growth of his comb and the noticeable size advantage add logical evidence to support our suspicion.

We may keep him to protect his brood of 11 siblings and then let one of the Rockette roosters stay around to watch over whatever hens remain from our hatched group after distributing some to my brother and giving away any extra roosters. We have yet to feel confident identifying how many cockerels are in that hatched batch of thirteen.

I expect that another two or three weeks will make things much more obvious, along the lines of how obvious it has become among the two-week-older batch from Buffalo.

Thankfully, at this point, they are all getting along fine and appear happy and healthy. The Rockettes have enough feathers now and have grown enough in size that we are hoping to experiment with merging the two groups this week. That should be entertaining.

The horses were perfectly calm and appeared entirely satisfied with our return appearance. Last week they received a long-awaited hoof trimming and it has them looking particularly well kept.

Our animals seem almost as happy as Cyndie was when she finally was in the right place at the right time to view the resident snapping turtle that has frequented the lagoon and boat launch area of the lake up in Hayward for probably the last 50 years.

I snapped that photo of the lagoon because the reflection of the tree trunks was providing a wonderful backward K that was particularly eye-catching. Cyndie said that sighting the turtle had been on her bucket list for quite some time, which made it a significant thrill for her that endured well beyond the minutes the old beast lingered in view.

All in all, we’ve got happiness bursting out all over the place.

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Written by johnwhays

June 28, 2021 at 6:00 am