Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘round pen

Workshops Happening

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It was a gorgeous day for hosting a workshop yesterday, and that’s exactly what happened while I was away at the day-job. The illustrious staff posed in their new shirts, wearing smiles of success after a full day of activity.

Shelby, Cyndie, and Dunia put on a Team Building workshop for a corporate client. From the banter of follow-up analysis that I overheard, it sounded like folks engaged well with the curriculum.

I was a little nervous early in the morning when I received a call from Cyndie asking what I use for a pin to attach the grader/rake to the ATV. The round pen sand did deserve attention, after the dowsing of rain in two significant batches on Monday, which left some spots a little soupy.

Piloting the Grizzly while pulling the grader inside the confines of the round pen, using only one good arm seemed like more stress than necessary in the waning minutes before people arrive.

She decided to make do with a hand rake.

I’m sure it wasn’t perfect, but it sounds like it worked well enough.

When I got home, I was happy to find the beautiful new flag we bought as an attention-getting marker was flowing perfectly at the driveway entrance.

It should be no question now that clients have found the right place when they reach our street and that flag is out.

Now if we could just arrange for the weather to be as nice for all the rest of the workshops in August and September as it was yesterday, we’d have it made. It’s sounding like we won’t be so lucky come this Saturday.

I told Cyndie we need to buy some Wintervale umbrellas.

The way things go, if we have umbrellas, we’ll never need to use them. Or so it often seems.

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Sand Play

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We had fun in our giant sand box yesterday. The round pen has not had consistent attention this summer which has given the grass a chance to become a little too prominent a feature. The horses get confused over whether they are supposed to be exercising or eating.

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The Grizzly and our snazzy ABI grader do a good job of converting the appearance from a look of neglect to one of groomed and ready to go.

Separating the uprooted grass bundles from the sand takes a little more manual effort. It’s the kind of activity that draws the attention of the chickens, who assume we must be scratching for insects they can eat. Cyndie tried to explain to them that the roots were not worms, but they just stared at her like a bunch of chickens, don’t you know.

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The gazebo is ready. The round pen is ready. We might as well hold some workshops, eh?

Might as well.

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Written by johnwhays

August 7, 2017 at 6:00 am

Dust Bathing

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While I was busy sprucing up the property, the chickens were sprucing up themselves with a rousing dust bath yesterday afternoon. Apparently, two of them had simultaneous interest in the exact same spot of sandy ground. If it hadn’t been for their two different colors, I wouldn’t have been able to tell where one left off and the other started.

The three of them were pretty cute in their companionship earlier in the day when I was turning the piles of compost. They would climb up on the pile I was working on, startling a little bit each time I tossed another scoop on the heap. Not intending to alarm them, I would switch to a different pile to work, after which they would migrate over to help me on that pile.

After a few hours of compost management, I pulled out the Grizzly with our towable grader/rake and did some laps in the round pen to disrupt the uninvited weedy grasses that love taking root in the sand. Maybe the chickens will take a liking to the newly raked sand over there.

Finally, I cranked up the lawn tractor to mow the yard and all the nooks and crannies from the house to the road.

I feel ready to return to the day-job. The next big task demanding attention is the labyrinth. With Cyndie reduced to one working arm, that garden has been mostly neglected. It is something I can probably do after work one of these nights, if I have any energy for the project. The grass and weeds have gotten tall and thick, so it won’t be a quick and easy job.

When that is completed, I need to get after the north pasture, where Cyndie has already removed the fence webbing. I want to pull the T-posts that remain standing and then knock down the shoulder-high growth with our brush cutter. That will be an adventure in mowing what you can’t see.

Sure hope the chickens stay out of that field.

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Definitely Wet

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Cyndie is leading a workshop session this weekend, which normally involves use of the round pen. Friday, in preparation, she spent some time pulling weeds from the sand because the wetness made the chore easy. After that, the plan was to drag the pen with the rake behind the ATV.dscn5164e

Unfortunately, it was too wet for the 4-wheeler. I waited until yesterday and then checked on whether I should try raking it by hand. It was even wetter than she had described.

That happens around here. After a day of sun, when you’d think the ground should be getting dryer, it actually gets wetter. It takes a day or two for the ground water to make its way through our property from land above ours.

Yesterday morning the round pen sand was like soup in places.

For some reason, that picture tends to look reversed to me upon first viewing, so that the footprints appear raised up above the background. Sometimes it is a struggle to get my brain to correct the perception, but when it suddenly does, I find it almost impossible to go back and see it as I previously had. An interesting optical illusion.

dscn5162eWhile I was raking the muddy slop, the horses meandered over to offer their moral support, grazing nearby.

I’ll check the sand again this morning, in case the low dew point temperature, sunshine, and breezes of yesterday helped dry things enough to make it useable, but I’ll be surprised if it did. I was mowing through standing water in a few places yesterday afternoon.

The grounds are definitely wet around here, top to bottom.

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Written by johnwhays

September 11, 2016 at 6:00 am

Cloudy Skies

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The weather did not cooperate with our desires to see the predicted spectacle of the Perseid meteor shower outburst Thursday and Friday nights. Cyndie held a workshop over the last two days that had been intentionally timed to coincide with the opportunity.

Our views were blocked by cloudy skies both nights.

The good news about that outcome is that I got to sleep through the wee hours of the mornings, instead of being outside star gazing or watching the NASA live stream broadcast of the events.

Workshop participants still had plenty of opportunities to enjoy all that Wintervale provides. Thursday evening was  beautiful for their walk in the labyrinth. The sky looked threatening on Friday during exercises with the horses, but those sessions were completed before raindrops started to fall.  That timed well for the final indoor expressive arts integration projects.

DSCN5038eIn my role as staff photographer, I showed up at the round pen when they were learning with Legacy. He was being very attentive to the preparations of this exercise.

I particularly enjoyed seeing how differently he responds to each individual who interacts with him. Part of me tends to assume the horses are just responding to a routine to which they are familiar, and that may be true to a degree, but the specifics are definitely unique.

That is the reason the exercises work the way they do, and why the horses provide these amazing opportunities for us to experience valuable insights.

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Legacy was definitely present in this moment.

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Accomplishment Burst

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After a few days of not doing anything productive, it didn’t take much yesterday to make me feel like I’d salvaged the weekend by accomplishing something beyond just feeling better. It helped that the weather was especially nice, despite starting out rather brisk in the early morning.

By the time I made it out of the house, the chill had been replaced by an increasingly comfortable November breeze. My first goal was to get the truck battery charging. For some reason we have yet to discern, every other time Cyndie uses it, there’s not enough battery to turn it over when we next try.

Logic would indicate she is leaving something on, or maybe not closing a door tight. I don’t know. We have yet to find any clear evidence of what it is, and the fact that it doesn’t happen every time complicates the mystery.

While the truck charged, I headed down to the round pen to help Cyndie rake out and distribute the sand that was added. We got the project down to a manageable-sized remaining pile after spreading an even new depth throughout the whole circle.IMG_iP0954e

On my way in for lunch, I paused at the garage to get the truck started and let it idle while winding up cords and putting away the charger. Then I checked and re-checked to make sure nothing was left on to put any drain on the battery. It better start when we test it again. Cyndie wasn’t anywhere near it when I did all this. 🙂

After lunch, I enlisted Cyndie’s help to tackle a chore I have neglected for over a year. This one means the most to me to have finally resolved.

Almost 2-years ago I had a little accident when trying to get the diesel tractor out of the shop garage to plow snow at a time when a storm had knocked out our power. The garage door did not stay up all the way and the roof of the tractor caught the weather-strip of the door and ripped it down. I saved the moderately bent up aluminum and rubber strip, but had no idea how it could go back on.

I neglected it for the entirety of last winter, studiously shoveling out all the snow that repeatedly blew under the door, instead of looking closer at the weather strip. Honestly, I had pretty much given up caring about the conspicuously absent finishing strip on the bottom of the huge door.

When I was building the last hay box in the barn stalls, I needed a board from my stash up in the rafters of the garage, and that meant I had to move the old weather strip out of the way. I decided to just take it down and lay it in front of the door, to make it easier to reattach than struggle to put back up on the rafters again.

The strategy worked! It took a little creative problem solving, but Cyndie and I figured out how to get the rubber to slide off the aluminum, so we could access the screws. With a few minor steps to add some screws in new locations, we got it reattached and were able to get the rubber back in place. We successfully recycled a part that would have otherwise been tossed.

No snow inside the garage this year!

IMG_iP0958eWith that success bolstering my confidence, I hopped on the lawn tractor and mowed the front yard. It struck me that I had been working in a short-sleeved T-shirt all day, and was mowing my lawn like a summer day, on the 8th of November. I’ve dealt with worse working conditions.

After that, I got the horses fed and cleaned up manure, before calling it a day and heading inside.

I think actions speak louder than words to reveal evidence that I am, indeed, feeling much better after several days of rest and Cyndie’s exceptional care.

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Written by johnwhays

November 9, 2015 at 7:00 am

Carpal Punishment

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After two days of wielding hand tools, I’m paying a price of numbness in my hands. Regardless the prescribed wearing of wrist braces while I sleep, the numbness that morphs into a pain that wakes me in the earliest hours of the morning broke up an otherwise fine sleep last night.

Takes a bit of a toll on the typing, too.

I pushed myself a little beyond my limit yesterday, because I was getting closer by the minute to completing the trench and berm around the round pen, and a storm was building fast on the horizon.

Holy cow, was that a lively thunder-boomer! Delilah was in a constant state of alarm over the flashing and crashing. Wind blew and rain poured, but we were spared the dangerously large hail listed as possible in the warning from the National Weather Service.

We figured it would be an excellent test of our efforts of the last two days, but had no idea whether we were going to be bombarded with epic amounts of water or something reasonable. It seemed last night like it was pouring pretty hard, so we prepared ourselves for any outcome.DSCN3811eCH

Turns out, we were spared any extremes and received a reasonable 1.25 inches overnight. Cyndie took a picture of the minor amount of residual standing water in my new trench outside the round pen. Other than that, things held pretty well.

Good for those things that held. I wish I could say the same for me. I’m finding it hard to hold much of anything today.

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Written by johnwhays

August 23, 2015 at 10:05 am