Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘pets

Chugging Along

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Like a freight train chugging along the tracks, we are slowly making our way toward an appointment tomorrow morning with a trauma surgeon for an assessment of Cyndie’s situation. Just about 24 hours to go. Of course, we had to suffer the curse of setting our clocks back one-hour last night to move out of daylight saving time, making this weekend an hour longer. What’s one more hour?

I don’t have as much time to write as I am usually granted, given that I am now thrust into the head cook and chief bottle washer duties in addition to the solo animal feeder. I noticed a shift in allegiance from Delilah. She is normally glued to Cyndie’s side but since I was the one slinging food around the kitchen, Delilah made sure to keep a close eye on my actions, leaving Cyndie alone in the bedroom.

I got the impression there might be a shifting of relationships among the herd of horses this morning, too. It seemed as though Light was making a play to put much more pressure on Swings’ herd-leader position, repeatedly and strongly commanding control of whichever feed pan from which Swings was trying to eat.

In an unusual pairing, this morning Mix easily volunteered to take up a position opposite Swings and Light, on the side with Mia. I was very happy to oblige because those two receive a similar, but larger serving of feed. Mia usually finishes sooner, but she won’t steal from Mix.

On the other side, Light and Swings each get a smaller serving portion so I don’t really care if they keep swapping pans.

Today I must do laundry and make a grocery run.

Chugging along down the tracks.



Written by johnwhays

November 6, 2022 at 11:16 am

Sad Goodbye

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We are sad to announce that yesterday afternoon, Pequenita departed this Earthly realm for kitty afterlife under the tender care of Dr. Jenni at Kinnic Veterinary Service in River Falls.

Pequenita, or “Nita” for short, remained a wee one throughout her very active eleven years. We’ve been medicating her for a thyroid condition for a few months but she really didn’t like the pills, regardless the multitude of methods we concocted to finagle her acceptance.

This week she stopped eating, drinking, or using the litter box, signaling that her little body was calling it quits.

We have nothing but wonderful memories about the ten years she allowed us to be her human companions. One of our favorite stories is the time Cyndie cooed from the darkness as we were about to fall asleep, that Nita was giving loves on her face.

“I was just going to say the same thing,” was my response, “because Nita’s face is right in mine.”

Cyndie quickly came to the realization that she was getting her loves from the butt end of the cat.

Pequenita is already missed and indoor life around here will never be the same. We are relishing all the fond memories of the years she preciously enriched our lives.



Written by johnwhays

October 14, 2022 at 6:00 am

Being Horses

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This morning I am feeling overwhelming awe over my opportunity to live in such a beautiful place and care for these four rescued thoroughbred mares. In a conscious effort to compartmentalize all the ills and angst-inducing news roiling our planet, I am focusing on the peace and tranquility of my immediate surroundings and soaking up the soul-nourishing thrill of it all.

Being home alone with our animals brings on plenty of opportunities for contemplation. Half of me is thinking about which of our unending projects I can tend to on my own –chainsaw use is not allowed when I am alone– and half is wallowing in the bliss of all the pleasantries of solitude.

Partial solitude, that is. Delilah frequently reminds me that I am not totally alone. She also influences which projects I choose to tackle and when because some tasks don’t lend themselves well to having a leashed dog along. I am extremely grateful for her patient tolerance of my extended lingering this morning after tending to the horses.

The completion of the morning routine at the barn is regularly the trigger for returning to the house to feed Delilah breakfast. That she would accept any delay in being fed is absolute generosity on her part.

While the horses were calmly consuming their morning feed servings today, I quietly made my way down to open the gates to the freshly cut hay field. I was dumping a wheelbarrow of manure onto the most active compost pile when the horses took advantage of the renewed opportunity to roam the front field. They were just making their way over the hill and out of sight when I returned to the barn.

Curious about what was drawing them to immediately head to the farthest reaches of the field, I convinced Delilah to walk away from the house toward the high spot in the driveway to see what the horses were doing down by the road.

They were munching on the grass along the fence line as if in a gesture to demonstrate that they could. It was as far from the barn as their confines allow. With Delilah’s generous patience providing me ample opportunity, I just stood and watched our herd of four gorgeous horses being horses. Mix turned first and began to make her way back up the rise in the big field.

She stood at the top for a moment and looked absolutely regal, then moved into a happy trot down to the gate into the paddocks. The other three walked along behind. They appeared to be reveling in the regained access to the full reaches of their current home.

It is such a rewarding honor to be able to give them as much autonomy as possible throughout each day.

Their happiness is contagious.



Written by johnwhays

July 3, 2022 at 10:21 am

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.



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]




Written by johnwhays

January 12, 2022 at 7:00 am

Blanketed Horses

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Blessed with excellent supporters to care for our horses while we are away, we arrived home yesterday afternoon to find everything perfectly in order at Wintervale. It was the first time we have seen the horses wearing blankets. That was accomplished by two people as the temperatures were about to drop to the depths.

When we showed up to feed them in the late afternoon, the straps on Mix’s blanket were dragging on the ground, but all the others were in good position on their backs with straps appropriately attached.

I calmly reached under Mix’s belly and pulled the two straps across to hook them up again and she didn’t even flinch.









It is a relief to find them coping so well with the extreme cold that gripped our region over the weekend.

After dinner, Delilah put herself to bed in her crate earlier than we would have dictated. I think she was worn out by all the adventures we enjoyed up north and the day of travel returning home.

Pequenita was very happy to have us around again, even though it appears she was receiving over double her usual ration of wet food servings from the stand-in caregiver who was feeding her while we were gone.

There is no denying that as much fun as it is to go away on adventures, it is always nice to return to the comforts and familiarity of home. Especially, when you find everything in perfect order upon settling back in.



Written by johnwhays

January 3, 2022 at 7:00 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.



Written by johnwhays

September 14, 2021 at 6:00 am

Warm Reception

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For the past four days, Delilah has been up at the lake with Cyndie. Yesterday, after work, Cyndie’s mom, Marie, met me at our house and I drove her car up to Wildwood. Based on the affection I received from Delilah upon our arrival, our dog must have really missed me.

I was a little surprised by how much she wanted to be in my space. When I got on the floor with her, she tried to sit on my lap. I may have to take back some of those mean things I’ve said about her now that she is showing me some love.

A little later in the evening, she showed she hasn’t lost her penchant for barking at the world around us. I can never tell if it is something she hears or something she smells that suddenly startles her up from a cozy curl-up on the floor with a flourish of energized barking toward whatever the trigger was.

Maybe her dog-shouting will dissuade the geese from perching and pooping on the floating platform in the water at our beach. Cyndie reports her experiment of a plastic owl perched on the raft already seems to be helping.

Some extra barking can’t hurt.

The geese don’t receive near the warmth of a reception I was awarded when we got here.

Speaking of awards, we polished off the evening with a viewing of the NBC prime-time feature of Olympic competitions. The USA women’s beach volleyball pair won gold just as we were all beginning to run on fumes, very ready to head for bed.

Delilah had already found her way to her “den” in a crate draped with a light blanket cover.

I would say that all of our beds offered us warm receptions when we finally got around to falling on them.



Written by johnwhays

August 6, 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.



Written by johnwhays

June 28, 2021 at 6:00 am

Another Saturday

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Another Saturday morning when I get to choose what will get my attention. It’s hard to ignore the most prominent fact imposing its way over almost everything we pick. Our weather has entered a cold spell. In our region, winter cold spells mean below zero Fahrenheit. Not quite polar region craziness of 70-below, but days of any number below-zero bitter cold might as well have the same impact.

Preparing to exit the home module for any length of time involves donning garb that rivals climbing into a spacesuit. If you don’t like wearing a facemask for protection from spreading the coronavirus, you won’t like going outside today.

Delilah paces semi-patiently at the front door while we methodically navigate the fine art of adding multiple layers of apparel and accessories in precise order. She takes several slurps from her water bowl in preparation for the impending outing.

It occurred to me this morning that, if we didn’t have a dog or chickens, we wouldn’t need to get out of bed and go outside when it is so wickedly cold. Some people don’t have to go outside if they don’t want to. I didn’t want to go outside, but I didn’t mind that we had to.

The snow squeaked under our boot steps. Eyelashes occasionally stick together as they frost up. Moving air starts to sting exposed flesh. Every few steps, Delilah will keep one paw up and hop once or twice to give that foot a break from contacting the snow. She emphatically rejected our several attempts in the past to offer her winter booties.

The chickens seemed nonplussed by the harsh conditions. We added some extra straw to the coop and installed a radiant heat source to ease their burden a little bit. They seemed to be demonstrating their winter hardiness, as advertised for our variety of breeds.

Accomplishing our goals with minimal distractions allowed us to promptly return to the safe warmth of our spaceship where Cyndie prepared an omelet for breakfast that rivaled a 3-star chef’s and I ignited an inspiring fire in the fireplace.

I am leaving the decision for later about whether I will interrupt my indoor endorphin-producing hobbies to go outside and finish clearing the snow off the deck that I pulled down off the roof eaves yesterday.

It’s Saturday. Morning cartoons, hot cocoa, snuggling under a blanket, giggling with family, listening to music, reading a book, writing inspirations, laughing at our foibles, assembling a puzzle, staring at the fire, it’s the best day of the week type of stuff.

Baby, it’s cold outside, but that is just the way things go sometimes.

There are plenty of ways to cope and we are going to employ several of them and enjoy this Saturday to the fullest. I invite you to do the same, whether you are experiencing a polar vortex or reside somewhere closer to the equator than we do.