Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘pets

Well, This

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So, I mentioned in Sunday’s post that it’s been many years since we had a real Christmas tree in the house. I guess we forgot to appropriately prepare for the interest our dog and cat might have in this incredibly natural smelling specimen suddenly appearing in their living space.

Cyndie was away for a few hours yesterday morning, and this is the scene to which she arrived upon her return home:

Oops.

Live tree went topsy-turvy.

I might need to rig some wiring to hold the trunk in a vertical orientation, regardless the added few pounds of feline that might be exploring the branches. Or the canine who would obviously be interested in shepherding the cat back down out of said tree by means that would likely exceed the simple norm of just barking incessantly.

Maybe, if wires are going to be required at all, I should just hoist it up in the air and let it hang from the rafters.

It is so strange to hear myself say this, but… I think I already miss the artificial tree.

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Written by johnwhays

November 27, 2018 at 7:00 am

In Charge

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So, I’m in charge of night-time chores for the next ten days. Well, nine days, because I completed last night’s tasks successfully already. I remembered to shut the chicken door at sunset! Actually, I showed up a little early. The hens were just thinking about heading in for the night.

It’s quite a process that they go through every night. I haven’t noticed if there is a lead decision maker or not, but as a general rule, the group shows little hesitation about gladly following somebody’s example.

As dusk begins, the flock subtly meanders to and fro in the near vicinity of the coop, pecking away at the ground. The first one or two that climb the ramp don’t cause the rest to suddenly stampede inside, but once the process starts, the last one to commit is probably less than a minute behind the first.

Then the fun starts on the roost, and the poop-board platform beneath it. They don’t appear to have a specific order, but something seems to matter to them because there is a lot of thumping and squawking as they jostle for position. I’ve noticed it can take multiple tries to successfully move from the board up to the roost for some of the hens. Their early attempts to squeeze in tight between two other birds are often rejected.

Eventually, calm settles in and the only sounds audible are some quiet contented coo-ings.

When I later took Delilah for her last walk before bedtime, I brought along a powerful flashlight to check out the woods in the total darkness. Right away I spotted at least two sets of eyes reflecting the light beam back to me. I’m guessing it was deer, but they were too far away for the light to illuminate their outlines.

It was just the little dots of my flashlight, reflecting  back toward me. The animals stayed in place while their gaze followed us as we rounded a corner and continued on away from them. Delilah gave no indication that she noticed they were there.

Her nose was frantically tracking something that must have recently wandered the path just ahead of us.

There are plenty of critters roaming about lately. There are a ton of hoof-prints, and some signs a buck has been rubbing trees and scratching the ground in our woods. My morning commute in the recent darkness has produced multiple skunk sightings, a raccoon, deer, and yesterday, an opossum.

I fully expect they are all including at least some of our trails on their regular nightly rounds.

I just hope there are no daytime incursions into chicken territory by any of these intruders while I’m in charge.

My goal is: everybody healthy and happy when Cyndie gets back in over a week.

Stay tuned to find out how my luck holds out.

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Written by johnwhays

October 31, 2018 at 6:00 am

Six Years

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Somehow, six years have passed since we moved from our home of twenty-five years in a suburb of the Twin Cities to this amazing property in western Wisconsin.

Happy 6th Anniversary, Wintervale!

What an amazing time we’ve had figuring out a completely different life from the one we had previously known.

Looking back on our arrival here, we now laugh about the week-long struggle we endured to accomplish the actual closing on the property, while being granted access anyway by the sellers and moving our furniture in as if it was already officially ours.

We put our trust in a local fencing company to help design a layout for our paddocks and pasture fences and were rewarded with a much-loved result. They also helped us accomplish the addition of the hay shed, overcoming repeated weather delays caused by one of the wettest springs locals had experienced.

Five years ago September, our horses arrived and really brought this place to life. That started an ongoing lesson in the art of composting manure, among many other more romantic attractions of owning horses.

This time of year, we are probably composting as many leaves as we are manure.

We are in our second year of having chickens around to control flies and ticks, while also enjoying the secondary benefit of unbelievably great eggs.

We have learned a lot about baled hay and forest management.

We dabbled a little in trying to launch a business.

We’ve stumbled through trying to train our first dog, while simultaneously working on keeping one of two house cats we adopted from a rescue organization.

Every time the leaves fall from our trees and cover the trails six inches deep, it throws me back to that first year when we arrived.

That leads to thoughts about all the things I’ve listed above and gives me an opportunity to acknowledge the number of things we have accomplished since moving here.

I also have a tendency to contemplate what life might have been like had we not made this move. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be in as good of shape as I am now. Caring for animals and managing many acres of hilly fields and forest has a way of keeping a person off the couch for long stretches of time.

I wouldn’t trade this for anything. It’s been a great six years.

Here’s to diving into our seventh with wonder and glee over whatever adventures it may bring!

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Written by johnwhays

October 24, 2018 at 6:00 am

Sharp Swing

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Pequenita finally nailed home her point. Tuesday night, Cyndie discovered that Delilah’s nose was bleeding from a strike by the cat. Suits her right. Delilah has been pouncing after ‘Nita with increasingly expressive dog energy of late, completely ignoring the pinned ears or occasional hissing signals that convey the cat’s disdain for the game.

It almost always culminates with a sprint to the bedroom where the cat leaps on the bed just out of reach of the dog’s chompers. Sometimes, Pequenita takes a swipe to back Delilah up.

I guess Delilah didn’t get out of the way quick enough on Tuesday.

Last night, after I finished my stretching and exercises, Delilah claimed the yoga mat for a turn of her own.

Her downward dog could use a little work.

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Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2018 at 6:00 am

Split Second

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I thought Delilah had tripped. She appeared to stumble as one of her paws slid out from under her on the landing in front of the door to the house.

We had just returned from tending to the horses for the afternoon feeding where Delilah had uncovered one of her prized possessions: hoof trimmings. She had retrieved it from a hiding spot and was clenching the precious find in her teeth as we walked straight back to the house.

There are no detours at this point, because Delilah knows that the next order of business involves serving her dinner. I’m sure the cut of hoof was intended for dessert.

I guess she wasn’t expecting there would be appetizers, too.

As I was sweetly questioned Delilah about what had just happened, using a soft, comforting, albeit confused tone, the wingtip of a songbird appeared out of the side of the dog’s mouth.

I stuttered in surprise for a second and before I could utter a command for her to drop it, the bird let out a little tweet. This brought about two reactions.

I switched to my loud voice to demand that she drop it, and Delilah quickly began chomping.

Sorry about the image that may create, but keep in mind, I had to see and hear it first-hand. You get off easy.

All it takes is a split second.

Then, in one complete second, Delilah swallows and bends down to pick up her piece of hoof. She looks up at the door handle, and then me, ready to go in for dinner.

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I’d lost my appetite, but it didn’t slow her down one bit. For my part, I cut back her portion of canned food in her serving. She just had her protein.

If you could use some consolation, there was a mark on the glass of the storm door that revealed a reason for a bird to be laying on the front step. It might not have been dead when Delilah snatched it, but its demise may have already been determined.

I’m sure Delilah’s intentions were entirely directed by compassion.

Mmm hmmm.

She’s such a dog.

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Written by johnwhays

September 2, 2018 at 9:47 am

Getting Along

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It has become a daily occurrence to randomly hear a startling eruption of Delilah suddenly darting after Pequenita and chasing her down the hall in a race to our bedroom. Our first inclination is to holler at Delilah about the altercations, but there has been plenty of evidence implicating ‘Nita as the occasional instigator.

We try to pass it off as sibling rivalry, but I suspect the infamous history of perceived animosity between their species is the real culprit. Delilah wants to play like a dog and Pequenita seems to think that is a ridiculously un-feline way to behave.

There is no doubt that Delilah flaunts her size advantage. On more than one occasion, I have seen Delilah simply walk over and stand above Pequenita. Sometimes she will try to augment that with a single paw draped over ‘Nita’s back.

Pequenita’s response depends on her mood. She always seems wary of the possibility things could escalate to a hazardous level, but primarily chooses to be patient and wait out the disturbance in her finest queen-of-the-world repose.

When the canine gets distracted for a second –a guaranteed occurrence, every time– the feline will make her escape. That is the moment the unexpected race to the bedroom suddenly shatters the serenity we might otherwise be enjoying.

Sometimes, when I reach down to pet Pequenita, her back feels wet. I always hope it was just a gentle grooming she received from Delilah’s tongue, and not an attempted “tasting.” We have seen Delilah hold her mouth open, combing Pequenita’s back and tail with her teeth as the cat walks away.

Then we get that look from the dog.

“What? I was just standing here, breathing when she walked by!”

Our house pets are doing nothing to refute the perception that dogs and cats can share living quarters, but it’s mostly a function of barely tolerating each other in the face of a constant preference to rather be with their own kind.

Sounds like a couple of political parties I’ve read about.

Hmm. One method of helping dogs and cats get along well with each other is to socialize them when they are little puppies and kitties.

I wonder if we can devise a way to eventually improve government function by intentionally striving to get play dates between children whose parents hold opposing political views.

I’m not confident the planet will remain habitable long enough to see if that could work.

Living in a house with a couple of pets who are constantly practicing the art of tolerating each other has me frequently thinking about how nice it is when we all just get along.

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Written by johnwhays

August 18, 2018 at 9:22 am

Star Spangled

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Cyndie cooked up some star-spangled black cap jam yesterday! It all started with some pre-canning berry picking when Elysa and Ande arrived to join in the fun. Made from real fresh berries.

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Then the cooking magic in the kitchen commenced, using more sugar than I am allowed to be in the same room with, leading to jars upon jars of the precious dark jam.

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And a filled kitchen sink.

Just to top off the busy afternoon over the stove, Cyndie baked two loaves of bread so we could test out the jam while it was still warm. The flavor treat set off fireworks in my taste buds!

Speaking of fireworks, one of my trusted news sources (who shall go unnamed to protect their reputation) let me down royally with a timely story offering four tips to help dog owners ease the stress of frightened pets during the sunset hours of exploding ordinance this time of year.

One: Don’t take your pet to the fireworks show.

Really?

Two: Keep your pet safe at home.

Isn’t that the same thing as not taking them to the show?

Three: Try over the counter remedies.

Oh, why didn’t I think of that before?

Four: Make sure your pet is microchipped.

July 4 is the number one day dogs and cats get lost, it says.

Well, that is not a tip that will ease my dog’s stress, so that was only three morsels of expert advice.

Color me thoroughly disappointed in that “helpful” tidbit of intrepid journalistic expertise.

We ushered Delilah into her “den” for the night, and she was able to quietly ignore the repeating echoes of small arms fire sounds percolating well past my bedtime. Delilah sleeps in a crate with a cover draped over it, which seems to provide her with enough comfort that she will generally ignore most activity overnight.

Last night, I could have used a sound proof cover over my bed. Regardless, once I got to sleep, it was dreamy visions of star-spangled black cap jam dancing in my head all night long.

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Written by johnwhays

July 5, 2018 at 6:00 am