Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘surprise

No Idea

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It’s a complete mystery to us, and an entirely unexpected circumstance for the demise of another chicken. I fully expected it would be a predator killing and running off with our next victim.

Jackie found an ominous scattering of black chicken feathers inside the barn yesterday afternoon when she arrived to tend to the horses.

We leave the bottom half of the split doors closed all day to dissuade the chickens from getting inside and leaving their calling cards all over the barn. They are certainly capable of hoisting themselves high enough to get up and over the half doors, but we have yet to catch them doing so.

Our first question is, then how did she get inside? Did she come in of her own accord?

The scattering of feathers were generally confined to two separate spots. What caused the loss of feathers?

Eventually, the trail of feathers led to the discovery of a body, curled up like a little napping kitty, back behind a stack of rakes and shovels leaning against the wall. The deceased hen was completely intact, with no visible wounds.

What was the cause of death?

We have no idea.

Did it get inside on its own and then have a panic attack? Did a predator chase it inside? Carry it inside?

Would a potential predator leap over the door? A cat would.

Did the chicken come inside and then surprise a predator inside? Most likely guess would be a neighbor cat that was trespassing in our barn.

This would have happened sometime in the middle of the warm sunny day yesterday. Cyndie and Jackie said it was really windy around here during the day. Did that have anything to do with how or why the chicken ended up in the barn?

No idea.

We are now down to 9 chickens, three each of the three breeds we purchased. In fact, we only paid for nine. We received 1 extra chick for each breed back in March. This marks the end of the spares provided to cover for possible loss due to any hardships for day-old chicks traveling through the US Postal service.

We received other news from Jackie last night. After a couple of weeks back in classes at UW River Falls, she has decided she needs to move back on campus. Our live-in helping hand will no longer be available to provide the coverage for us like she did through the summer. Jackie has allowed us a good number more weekends away than we’ve been able to achieve previous years.

Our basement “apartment” may be back on the market for someone who knows and loves horses. Also being able to handle a diva of a Belgian Shepherd would be an added plus.

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Written by johnwhays

September 14, 2018 at 6:00 am

Damage Found

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We were pretty surprised that the dramatic hail storm we experienced last week didn’t result in any obvious damage. It took a few days, but Cyndie finally did notice some wounds to the chicken coop.

On Tuesday, as we sat down to dinner during the early stages of that night’s flooding rain storm, Cyndie remembered to tell me about her find. She showed me a picture on her phone that was taken so close I couldn’t completely discern the angle of what I was seeing.

She said there were holes in the plastic on the coop and my mind jumped immediately to the roof panels. I freaked. How could she be so calm when there were holes in the roof and it was raining like crazy?

She said she didn’t think it would be a problem. I couldn’t understand her reasoning and hopped up from dinner to run out in the rain and see for myself. I was thinking we had to, at the very least, try putting a tarp over the roof.

It wasn’t the roof.

It was the window cover.

They are much thinner plastic than the roof panels. Actually, I’m impressed that the roof panels withstood the beating by such large hail stones.

Since only that one window cover was damaged, we now have a pretty good idea of the angle from which the hail fell.

Cyndie was right. Those holes weren’t a problem during the overnight deluge.

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Written by johnwhays

September 7, 2018 at 6:00 am

Surprising Find

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Fresh lobster is the last thing we ever expected to harvest from our property. Tuesday night’s flash flood of rain must have washed more than just water through our drainage ditches.

Okay, it’s not a lobster. Research suggests it is likely a Red Swamp Crayfish.

Cyndie and Delilah happened upon this large surprise while walking along our pasture fence line. When Delilah challenged the strange creature, it snapped its claws at her. This critter was big enough that it looked a lot more like what we normally see as lobster than it did the small crayfish we are familiar with in local lakes.

Cyndie watched it climb along in the grass, wondering where it could have come from, and where it might be trying to go next. There aren’t really any water bodies nearby that we associate with crayfish habitat.

The ditch it was closest to certainly moves the most water around here after a storm, but for the majority of time throughout the year, it remains a dry bed.

I wonder if it would have found favor in our landscape pond.

Cyndie wasn’t interested in picking it up, so I guess we’ll likely never know.

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Written by johnwhays

September 6, 2018 at 6:00 am

Trail’s Open

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I have been waiting for the ground to thaw in order to clear the remaining sections of the downed tree laying across my new trail, but other things have commanded my attention. Each day, the project was on my agenda, but something else got first priority.

On Saturday, after I dragged my butt home from the bike ride, I refueled with some lunch with Cyndie. Rallying our energies after the midday meal, we set out to tackle separate chores. She was going to brush the horses, and I wanted to chainsaw a downed tree in our woods so I could continue chipping branches in that area. I also wanted to do some manure management and then take on the tree across the trail.

Cyndie suggested it sounded like I might be setting my goals a little high, especially after how drained I was when I got home.

She was dead on.

I barely summoned enough energy to finish chainsawing that downed tree. I was running on fumes as I lumbered around cleaning up and putting things away. Before calling it a day and heading in, I checked with Cyndie at the barn and offered to go get Delilah and take her for a walk.

Delilah had been on a “time out” inside all afternoon after running away from Cyndie into the woods while I was on my bike ride.

The dog and I headed out along my new trail. As we approached the downed tree, Delilah went around to the right and I hopped over toward the left. I landed on a piece that suddenly shifted. The ground had thawed enough to free the wood from its grip!

I couldn’t resist. The opportunity gave me renewed energy, so I hooked Delilah’s leash to a small tree and went to work on it. One after another the pieces of the tree came out of the ground and I was able to push them off the trail.

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I moved everything except the little piece that I determined was actually the stump of a small tree right in the way. That would require more attention than I was ready to give in that moment.

On Sunday, Mary and Tim stopped by for a short visit and on our way back from checking out our new chicks, I took them over to see my big accomplishment on the trail.

As I was telling them the story of that remaining stump, I kicked at it to demonstrate how solid it was.

It moved.

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Turned out it had just been frozen solid all along.

It was a little embarrassing, but that emotion was quickly overridden by the thrill of being able to simply move the obstruction aside.

The trail is now open for business.

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Written by johnwhays

April 4, 2017 at 6:00 am

Eight Weeks

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How long has it been since I wrote about the fish that appeared and then disappeared from our landscape pond in the span of one day? I checked last night and found it was almost 8 weeks ago. Why do I care now?

When we got home from our glorious celebratory weekend at the lake, I noticed the filter on the pond pump intake needed serious cleaning. The waterfall was down to a trickle and the overall water level was a little low. I got out the hose to clean the filter and add some water.

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I don’t see it.

While moving the pump in order to slide the filter back over the intake cage, I was startled by movement in the water from behind the pump. A somewhat lopsided, fat and ghostly goldfish made a surprise appearance from beneath the rocks behind the pump.

When I was done, it immediately darted back into hiding beneath the rocks at the edge of the water.

Really? All this time there has been a fish hiding in our pond and it has successfully remained out of sight until now?

Apparently so.

I wonder what it has been eating all this time.

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Written by johnwhays

July 6, 2016 at 6:00 am

An Addendum

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IMG_iP0990eLast Sunday was a beautiful warm sunny day, during which we were out and about, tending to a variety of chores. It was also the day when we received the second of our two visiting stray dogs of the weekend.

The dog was clearly interested in everything I did, spending most of the time that he was here, in close proximity to wherever I was working. My last project, prior to heading in to watch the end of the Vikings NFL game, involved the Grizzly ATV in front of the shop garage.

I remounted the plate which supports the back of the snowplow frame beneath the under carriage. I also spent time bolting the blade and associated parts to the plow frame, which had been removed for welding over the summer.

I had the first half of the football game on the radio, and both Delilah —on a leash— and the wayward visitor, milled close by as I puttered.

As Cyndie passed by after feeding the horses, she picked up Delilah and headed into the house, leaving me to finish while the stray longingly eyed me for attention. When I was finally ready to close up, I spotted the dog laying in leaves nearby. I closed the big garage door and then turned out lights and shut the shop door.

I recall purposely deciding to not head directly toward the house, thinking the stray dog would follow me to the door and make me feel bad about going inside without him. I chose instead, to head toward the barn first, and circled around toward the labyrinth, so I could get one last look at the new mowing I had done earlier in the day, widening the path along the back pasture fence line.

In doing so, I saw no sign of the black dog. Since I had wanted to lose him in the first place, I was okay with that, and climbed the hill up to the house, alone.

On Monday morning, I left for work in the early darkness and hoped to hear from Cyndie if the dog was still hanging around when she and Delilah got up. No news came. With no dog around, she had no reason to call the veterinarian to find out who owned it. We thought that was the end of it…

Until yesterday.

Just after lunch, I got a call from Cyndie with a big surprise. When she stepped out of the barn in the middle of the day after cleaning out the stalls, she heard a wailing sound and followed it up to the shop garage. She discovered that the stray had somehow made his way inside when I closed up on Sunday.

He had been locked in there for almost 2 days! I hadn’t made a visit to the shop on Monday after I got home from work and he didn’t make a sound any of the multiple times Cyndie and Delilah walked past, until she finally heard him yesterday afternoon.

It breaks my heart to know the poor guy was stuck in there that whole time. Cyndie gave him water and some food and he headed off on his own right away. Cyndie followed up with the vet and contacted the owner, who reported the dog had made his way home, but she was rather surprised he wasn’t soaking wet from all the rain that had fallen.

I’ll take consolation in that. At least he was warm and dry during his unintended 2-day imprisonment.

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Written by johnwhays

November 18, 2015 at 7:00 am