Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘spring

Full Afternoon

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When we reached the driveway yesterday after a couple of errands in the Cities, I stopped the car to check for mail and let Cyndie move over to the driver’s seat. Her new right knee was no trouble for her as she tested a quick stop and then piloted the vehicle up to the house and into the garage.

She just keeps checking off new firsts every day. After resting with the leg raised and wrapped with the cooling/compression machine while we had some lunch, she made her way out to assist me in getting our landscape pond cleaned up and the pump pushing water over the falls again.

That’s a milestone we were overdue to accomplish. It feels super to have that off our list and even better to again hear the soothing sounds of the splashing water.

Speaking of milestones, yesterday also marked the day Cyndie stopped using a cane when walking.

Activity moved from the pond to the paddocks and Cyndie walked all the way to the barn and back to the house after spending time with each horse and offering to brush them.

I went from the barn to the shop garage where I successfully fired up the lawn tractor for the first time this season. There will be no such thing as “no mow May” at our place. I mowed the two spots around the paddocks where the grass grows fastest.

Two of the more urgent projects on our spring to-do list have been checked off and both happened on the same afternoon. When spring growth finally kicks off, it doesn’t pause to wait for anyone who meant to get some things done before the leaves pop open.

I am thrilled to be able to move on to the next big thing. Friday, weather permitting, we are scheduled to receive a visit from the tree service. That’s another task I am hoping will happen before the leaves all fully open. As it is, that project is already about a week late in terms of the buds popping on branches.

Spring is springing out all over the place, and delayed though the warmth and sunshine may be, higher heat than my body is adjusted to is now showing up in force. I forgot what it was like to move hay around while working with sweaty bare arms.

I was very ready for a shower after the full afternoon of spring projects we successfully handled yesterday.

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Written by johnwhays

May 11, 2022 at 6:00 am

Broken News

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If every report is labeled “Breaking News!” it kinda dilutes the meaning of breaking, doesn’t it?. The breaking news from Wintervale is that Cyndie has switched from using a walker for getting around to walking with a cane. Tomorrow marks two weeks since the knee replacement surgery. She is making really good progress toward healing and recovering full function in the weeks ahead.

Already, I am enjoying the benefits of some assistance in the kitchen from her with meal prep.

Beyond that news, it feels like I would describe that it’s been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone. It’s muddier than ever after two more days of rain. I recently saw an amusing comment from a meteorologist distorting the old adage that April showers will bring May flowers. This year, he predicted, April showers will bring May showers. Oh, joy.

Honestly, as much as I am averse to suffering from drought, I think my attitude is more strongly opposed to the disgustingly muddy conditions brought on by endless rains. Too much, or too little has become the norm.

I sincerely hope all the underground roots are sucking up the maximum amount of hydration they can. A limited number of growing things are popping out some greenery regardless of the continued pattern of clouds, rain, and cooler than average temperatures. I trust there to be a spectacular burst of budding greens upon the next visit of warmth and prolonged sunshine.

I am growing increasingly weary of trying to keep the horses comfortable amid conditions that are anything but.

It’s an excellent opportunity to practice mind over matter and allow mental space for a positive spin on a grim spring weather pattern. I’ll get right on that.

Breaking News!: It’s still cold and wet outside today. Happy May Day everyone!

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Written by johnwhays

May 1, 2022 at 10:21 am

Wanting Green

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The horses are starting to seem a little hangry with the amount of grass surrounding the paddock that is turning deliciously green.

I’m wondering if they will be so excited when we open the gate to the back pasture that they will take off running as if they were in a race like they did last year. The other option, which I’ve witnessed more often than not, is that they will take one step through the gate and start munching grass like they may never get another chance.

At present, they are twisting their necks to reach under the bottom boards of the fence to nibble any blades they can reach and then they look at me like I must be thick-headed not to understand they want out.

I tried cleaning up manure before the next series of predicted rainy days and made it about halfway through the paddock before the wheelbarrow was full and I was out of time. I see again more evidence proving an off-handed comment our fence installer made about the ground being high along old fence lines.

My mind tried to imagine why there would be a build-up of earth along a fence over the years but now, having heavy animals, I see they compress the dirt everywhere except under the fence, leaving that as the higher ground.

The horses pack the ground so densely that it’s hard for the grass to grow. Never mind that grass seems perfectly able to grow through our asphalt driveway.

Even when an odd tuft of grass does overcome the compacted soil and start to grow, the horses kill it by munching it down to a nub.

Given enough evolutionary time, I wonder if horses could learn to leave enough grass growth that it doesn’t all die so that they always have some fresh green blades to eat.

I suspect they’d prefer to not be confined to a paddock or any fenced boundaries so they wouldn’t have to worry about overeating in one limited space.

Won’t be too much longer before we can open up the pasture for them. I offered to drive Cyndie down along the path around the back pasture so she could watch them in case they take off in a gallop again. Even though she is making good progress a week and two days after her knee replacement surgery, she isn’t ready to walk the uneven surfaces of our property yet.

Her first physical therapy appointment was last Tuesday and the therapist gave her permission to take a stroll outdoors on our driveway with her walker as soon as the weather takes a turn toward warm and dry. It was a pretty safe grant to make since Cyndie is healing well and the weather shows little sign of improving for quite some time.

She’s going to get a little hangry herself, waiting to get out of her post-surgery confinement so she can walk outdoors again.

Soon, I say.

Relatively, that is.

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Written by johnwhays

April 28, 2022 at 6:00 am

Spring Progress

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Or lack thereof… We are sorely lacking in the warmth and sunshine department but spring growth is beginning to emerge, not all of it desirable. We are already seeing a growing collection of sediment beginning to fill in where we dug out dirt last year to improve drainage in front of Cyndie’s perennial garden.

Two steps forward, one step back.  -_-

The water pressure in the saturated ground pushes up little geysers in random places and that flowing water is carrying topsoil from the farm field just uphill from us. Just lovely.

The forest floor is about to burst forth with trout lilies along our paths.

These are the earliest of the wild ground cover that carpets certain areas of our woods. Soon to be followed by bloodroot.

Delilah and I walked through the back pasture to get a closer look at the new grass sprouting. Cyndie wants me to wait for the blades to get more than six inches tall before beginning to slowly give the horses access to grazing green grass.

The only thing we are missing is heat and sun. I know it’s out there. We just need to be patient. There is a reason dull things get compared to watching grass grow but seeing the steady progress every day in the spring is joy to behold. A dull joy sometimes, but still… joyous. 🙂

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Written by johnwhays

April 26, 2022 at 6:00 am

Thinking Thinks

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Some thinks I was thinking while walking the dog recently.

  • Of all the great things in this world, think about a time when you blinked your eyes and they failed to open again for an awkwardly long time as sleep was trying hard to bring you under its spell. When this happens and you are free to give in without a care, it is just the absolute best. Let sleep win.
  • With the wind blowing rather fiercely as I walk along the slippery, muddy trail, my eyes are fixed on picking a place for each step. High above me, I could hear the dramatic clacking of branches smacking into each other out of my view. Unnerving, to say the least.
  • I have been seeing the tiniest hints of spring growth becoming evident throughout our forest. It seems like it takes a long, long time to reach this point, and then it seems like the growth explodes in a matter of days. That is the point when I wish I had accomplished more pruning in advance.
  • No matter how much control I think I have over managing our landscape, the natural world is infinitely more complicated in its functionings. I cut and prune and sometimes plant things anew, but everywhere trees and plants are growing and dying in innumerable ways beyond my comprehension. We have a variety of new mosses growing on our pathways this year.
  • I estimate we are just days away from being able to give the horses access to the back pasture and front hayfield for grazing. It’s a week later than we opened those gates last year. I wonder if the horses will run like they did that time.
  • I’m contemplating the “No Mow May” campaign to help pollinators coming out of hibernation but I can’t imagine how my mower will cope with how tall and thick the grass will be by June if I participate. I also wonder if I can stand the appearance of neglecting our property. I take pride in keeping things looking well kept.
  • It’s only been one week since Cyndie’s surgery but I’m deeply missing her company when walking Delilah. Cyndie would share her viewpoints on tending to property issues and possible improvements which helped direct our attention to what we should do next. I definitely miss splitting the jobs of feeding and cleaning up after the horses twice a day. I feel bad she doesn’t get to watch from up close the growth explosion of new buds and opening leaves. Our landscape will look so completely different by the time she starts walking outside again.
  • If it wasn’t for Cyndie’s surgery, I probably wouldn’t be having so many solo thinks while walking Delilah. I would have to come up with something else to write about. Hee!

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Written by johnwhays

April 25, 2022 at 6:00 am

Getting Swampy

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We haven’t put out our rain gauges yet because the nighttime temperatures have continued to drop below freezing with annoying regularity. As a result, I don’t know how many inches of rain have fallen in the last few days but Friday some of our drainage ditches were flowing incredibly high so we’ve received a significant amount.

In deference to the conditions we are experiencing, I fixed the Wintervale logo.

We might as well call the place, Wintervale Swamp.

There is even a new lake that formed in the small paddock. I don’t know if it will show up in the satellite view, but if the DNR allows it, I think we should call it “Willow Lake” for the tree under which it formed.

For as much of a disaster the excess moisture is for the paddocks, the lawn above it is looking mighty happy and has greened up noticeably in the last few days.

For the time being, we are keeping the horses off the pasture grass to give it a chance to recover from winter before facing the heavy pressures of their hooves and voracious grazing. They can see and smell the greening and the growing and I think it is making them increasingly tired of flakes of baled hay.

I certainly don’t want to have things dry up to a crisp and turn into a drought, but it sure would be nice to move things closer to a happy medium. Any name changes to “swamp” are meant to be very temporary.

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Written by johnwhays

April 24, 2022 at 8:30 am

Perfect Delivery

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Surely, we are not unique in mentally steeling ourselves for the typical hassles related to scheduled deliveries. Way back in January, Cyndie was told she could expect our washer and dryer delivery near the end of March. We both took that prediction with a healthy dose of pessimism.

Amid the continued supply chain disruptions and ongoing pandemic, an upright freezer we bought was delayed month after month for nearly a year. We had little reason to trust the washer/dryer would be any different.

Alas, we were pleasantly wrong.

Cyndie periodically received messages alerting delivery progress, culminating with notice of an 8 to noon block on Wednesday morning. Then she got a call that they were 30 minutes out. They arrived right on time.

The question remained, did they have the installation accessories Cyndie ordered to convert the dryer for propane gas? Yes, they did.

As noted in the delivery confirmation message, the delivery crew could not install the propane fitting. Having prepared for this, Cyndie had contacted our local plumber to make, and guarantee, all the propane connections. They predicted he would be able to stop by before the end of the day.

The delivery crew loaded up our old appliances and took away all the packaging trash from the new ones. They made all the water connections and ran the washer to verify everything was in order.

A short time later, the plumber showed up and completed the dryer installation, letting it run long enough to confirm there were no gas leaks.

From beginning to end, everything transpired as perfectly as we could possibly imagine.

Color us very happy to discover our fears of a more troublesome outcome were entirely unwarranted.

The new washing machine will have a chance to prove its mettle very soon given the muddy conditions we continue to face outside.

In the last two days, we have received periods of heavy rain, including some lightning and thunder, followed by moments of sleet and slushy snow. The temperature has been hovering at the freezing point, and the water dripping off the fence wires was beginning to form cute little icicles.

When even the slightest breeze moved the tops of trees, similar frozen drips came clattering down.

I’m looking forward to a perfect delivery of some warm, sunny spring days very soon. Is that asking too much?

I hope not.

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Written by johnwhays

March 31, 2022 at 6:00 am

Ridiculous Reality

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Reality can be downright absurd. Still, we take what we get and forge ahead because reality doesn’t go away no matter how much we sometimes pretend things are otherwise. Regardless of how many distractions we find to escape into fantasy, reality is always there, waiting for us to return.

Our reality this morning at Wintervale is a rock-hard freeze of 13°F (-10°C), locking the mishmash of mud in the paddocks into an almost unnavigable pockmarked surface. Too bad that didn’t prevent the two chestnuts, Mia and Light, from almost running me over in a panicked retreat from the aggressive posturing of Mix. She has an annoyingly consistent need to disrupt the bucolic serenity by encroaching on the feeding space of Mia and Light.

At least we were able to enjoy a quick return to calm after forcing Mix back to where we could close some gates and allow better-protected feed pan grazing to resume.

The clear blue sky and bright sunshine are beautiful, but the ridiculous winter temperature at this point of our early spring is a bit of a slap in our faces.

On a stroll yesterday afternoon we took a moment to cut some branches with a handsaw in completion of a mid-way walking route through our woods. We added the first half of this shortcut path last fall and have enjoyed walking it so much we were inspired to complete the last portion. It will be nice to have the route adequately established before all the greenery explodes that would otherwise obscure it.

When we reached the clearing of our perimeter trail, I took a moment to re-stack a couple columns of balanced rocks that winter toppled.

How long do you think it will be until those views turn green again?

It’s gonna take a lot warmer temperatures than we are enduring lately, I know that much. A few warm days in a row and green growth will start showing up everywhere.

It hasn’t arrived yet, but we can see the month of April from where we are standing. It makes it all the more ridiculous that it feels like January today.

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Written by johnwhays

March 27, 2022 at 10:19 am

Foot Work

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With a fresh glaze of wet snow covering the ground and mud reaching its peak on the trails and in the paddocks, yesterday the horses had an appointment with their farrier. Convincing the horses that they should accept a halter for a few hours even though they weren’t particularly interested in doing so became a challenging dance of slippery, muddy footsteps.

With the added help from two representatives of the rescue organization, This Old Horse, the process went just fine and the herd is good for another 8 weeks.

We already had the herd separated between the two paddocks so Cyndie just had to occupy one horse while another was getting trimmed.

The last few times these four horses have been trimmed, Light was the least cooperative about standing on three feet and only received partial service. Yesterday, she didn’t relax entirely, but she did hang in there long enough for the farrier to complete all four hooves.

I’d say they all look really great now, except for the fact it’s hard to notice because their feet are submerged in mud most of the time.

When we are done at the barn and ready to head back up to the house, it’s time for the boots on our feet to get some attention. The residual piles of plowed snow provide the perfect boot scrubber.

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Too bad the snow is disappearing so fast now that these few remaining piles will be gone long before the mud is.

The boot scrubbing brush outside our front door is an alternative, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as the old snow.

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Written by johnwhays

March 24, 2022 at 6:00 am

Words Emerge

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Spring has arrived on the calendar. Maybe that explains all this spring-like evidence unfolding before our eyes. Mud, primarily. Yesterday, I opened some gates for the horses that we have historically held open using step-in posts. Without thinking, I attempted to step them in and quickly met the resistance of frozen ground an inch or two below the surface.

It’s only spring on the surface thus far.

There is still snow in the woods, but it is shrinking by the minute.

The wooden blocks of the “boardwalk” we installed on a section of trail that gets the muddiest are beginning to reappear.

Cyndie has painted words of inspiration on some of them and it looks like those messages have survived the winter just fine.

Out on the open road I didn’t find any traces of snow while spending time on my new bicycle in the afternoon. I’m pretty confident I will never regret purchasing an e-bike. Having that motor assist took much of the stress out of my first real ride of the season.

Like the emerging words say, LOVE always. I expect I will be loving this bike for the rest of my life.

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Written by johnwhays

March 21, 2022 at 6:00 am