Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘ranch

Going Slow

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We are in a bit of a rush this morning. After staying out late last night at Gary’s for dinner and music, we are hosting brunch for Cyndie’s family in a couple of hours. Although we started preparations early yesterday, there is much to be done right down to the last minute.

Care for our animals does not get postponed, so we end up feeling like we are trying to do two things at once. The natural result of that is, we try to rush everything we do.

I gotta say, rushing things tends not to be my favorite mode. I definitely prefer going slow, especially when it comes to being with our horses. Even when there is more to be done than there is time for, I can’t help pausing in the morning sun, breathing in the spring air, and just being quiet around the herd for a few moments.

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I ponder over the incredible saturation of soil we are currently in the middle of, amplified right now by the 4.5 inches of rain that has fallen over the last two days. I marvel at how quickly –overnight!– the rain greened up the grass. I smile at the new buds popping open throughout our woods.

It definitely feels like spring has sprung.

Growing things obviously aren’t going slow now, so my pauses to enjoy will become squeezed between frantic efforts to keep up with the mowing and trimming that is already on the verge of demanding attention in some spots.

Life can be a delicate balance of hurrying up and slowing down all at the same time.

See? Opposites attract!

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Written by johnwhays

April 16, 2017 at 10:02 am

Look Up

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Some very interesting images can be found by looking straight up. A few days ago, I posted a shot looking up a concrete utility pole in Florida. Here is another version of the same pole, after walking around to the other side.

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They probably deserve to be shown as a pair. I like the contrast of the opposing direction of the light source between the two.

Meanwhile, I’m back at the day-job, digging out from a backlog of work that piled up while I was away. I was so exhausted when I walked in the door after work yesterday, I laid down for a minute. Pequenita immediately took advantage of my presence and pummeled me with kneading and head-butting in a quest for attention.

I think she missed me.

In a blink, I was no longer blinking. My eye lids stayed down and my brain checked out. It just so happened, my labor wasn’t immediately needed outside. For the first time since Cyndie’s knee surgery on the last day of November, she handled the outdoor ranch duties!

I think the chance to do some extended walking while we were in Florida, away from the icy, snowy terrain, boosted her confidence. Monday night she walked Delilah while I cleaned up manure and filled hay boxes. Yesterday, she did morning and evening chores, drove to a physical therapy appointment, did exercises there, and then went grocery shopping.

Talk about getting back into action. Of course, after dinner it was quickly time to get horizontal for the rest of the night and ice the knee. Fair enough.

It feels like I have come out of the tunnel. Things are definitely looking up.

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Written by johnwhays

January 25, 2017 at 7:00 am

Shaping Terrain

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dscn5371eDespite the sprinkling rain that pestered most of the day yesterday, I decided to try moving some dirt and turf from the drainage ditch along our southern property line to the adjacent sloped path.

When the new fence was installed and the drainage ditch improved, there wasn’t much width remaining beside a little bend in the fence. It was an impediment to being able to use the tractor to mow that section of path around the outside of the hay-field fence.

Originally, I envisioned using the loader on the tractor to dig out the sediment that has been accumulating in the ditch, but it hasn’t been dry enough to do that for months.

Since I was already working along that fence line this weekend, I decided to see what I could accomplish using a shovel to dig it out by hand. It was a little messy, and a bit tedious, but it was probably a better method for then using the material removed to improve the path.

Using blocks of dirt and turf that I could barely lift with the shovel, I built up the low side until it was wide enough to fit at least the lawn tractor, for now. Might be dicey fitting the diesel around that bend.

The strip around the fence only received infrequent attention and would grow tall and thick, so I had been mowing navigable portions with the brush cutter. Now that I will be able to drive the lawn tractor around, it will be convenient enough that I can keep it cut short all the time.

Well, as short at the rest of the lawn, which all grows so fast that short is a relative term.

With that little narrow bend of path fixed, there was only one other barrier remaining to allow driving the full circumference of our horse-fenced fields. Back in the corner by the woods there is an old ravine that was created by years of water runoff. Previous owners had dumped a lot of old broken up concrete in it to slow the erosion.

We have created a better defined intentional swale a short distance above that directing the bulk of energized flow into the main drainage ditch. It crossed my mind to fill in the ravine, but some water still wants to follow the ease of that natural route and I’d rather not fight it.dscn5373e

Simple solution: a bridge. For now, nothing fancy. I used a few left over fence posts and then broke down and actually purchased additional lumber to make it wide enough to drive across.

I placed them across the washout yesterday in the rain, leaving the task of cutting a notch in the dirt on each side to level them for today.

Then I will be driving to the airport to pick up George and Anneliese. I’ve come to the end of my solo weekend on the ranch. They are going to return the favor of airport transport after midnight tonight when Cyndie arrives home from Guatemala, so I can get some sleep before the start of my work week.

I’m looking forward to having everyone home again.

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Written by johnwhays

October 30, 2016 at 9:15 am

Stopping Snapping

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IMG_iP0754eTo most of you who have known me for a long time, my transition to ranch hand and horse wrangler (I’ll hold off on claiming any prowess with a dog for now) over the last two years may seem a bit surprising.

Personally, I feel a bit more amazed than surprised, partly because it all has come rather easily to me. Yesterday, without a hitch, I breezed through a fence repair that had me marveling over how familiar it seemed, for someone having no fence experience whatsoever a short time ago.

With the temperature swings from hot to cold that we’ve experienced lately, our wire fences are looking a little less taut than usual. After long hours at the (now temporary) day-job, followed by a stop at our health clinic for a pre-international-travel checkup, I stepped out to feed the horses and found a wire tension ratchet arcing.

Snap! Snap! Snap!

I think it bugs the horses, so I try not to neglect tending to these when they begin to arc. Oftentimes, oddly enough, moisture seems to bring it on, but this case was caused when the tension reduced over time and the electrical connection from wire to metal ratchet degraded. That results in arcing with creates a build up of carbon, which then reduces the connection even more.

To fix it, I start by turning off the charger and then loosen the ratchet. That allows me to get access to the place where the coated wire runs through the hole in the ratchet. The original installer saved time by not removing the coating from the wire, but the downside of doing that is the likelihood of future arcing. I strip off the coating altogether, creating a connection that is bare wire to bare metal. Works like a charm.

When I finished yesterday’s repair and turned the charger on again, that junction was completely silent.

It was so quiet that it enabled me to then hear a different spot farther down the line doing a quieter version of the same snapping sound. I decided to wait on that one, since it was out on the hay-field where the horses don’t have access for the time being.

Maybe it will be one of those that goes away on its own.

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Written by johnwhays

March 19, 2015 at 6:00 am