Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘transition

Manipulating Neurochemistry

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How are your stress levels today? Don’t think about the answer. Feel it.

Cyndie and I have faced some questions about how we are doing lately. It hasn’t been as easy to answer as usual for us. It was a tough winter, but listing our grievances doesn’t feel good to share. It doesn’t paint the picture as accurately as we know it to be.

Our move to the country and accumulation of animals for which we need to tend has put distance between us and our friends and family. Some connections with people and activities have broken, and only a fraction of new local connections have sprouted in their place.

We have gained a brilliant wealth of new relationships with our animals, and precious though they are, it is not the same.

Yesterday we had an opportunity to drive the suburban roads again that consumed our everyday back when we lived in Eden Prairie. The dramatic contrast to our present-day environment was revealing.

Is it worth it? The struggles to cope with the never-ending challenges of weather and the unrelenting daily routine of required chores to care for our horses, chickens, dog, and cat? Some days, more than others. It’s life. It’s something we chose. (By the way, that’s a luxury –having the choice– that is not lost on us.)

Our challenges can be framed as onerous and laborious; burdens that could be lifted by giving up our animals and moving back to the conveniences and camaraderie of our life-long friends and families in the suburbs.

The difficulties of the last few months, and the years of owning and caring for our animals can also be framed as invigorating, rejuvenating, inspiring, and fulfilling. It is adventure of a very high order.

When we choose to frame the ups and downs of life in the positive, we manipulate our neurochemistry in healthy ways. That is a choice we have power to control. I spent an unfortunate number of years manipulating my biochemistry in the opposite direction by mentally framing my life in the negative.

We won’t prevent harsh realities from challenging our decisions by simply thinking positive all the time, but we will be better served to meet those challenges when we give our brains the healthiest balance of on-going positive neurochemical support possible.

Life here is challenging, but we are doing well. Really well. Thanks for asking.

It feels right.

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Grand Transition

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It is beginning to feel like the transition from winter to spring is swinging significantly toward the latter under our present weather system of warm, sunny afternoons. The snow cover is receding with increasingly visible change apparent each time I travel up the driveway when arriving home from the day-job.

What a difference we are enjoying in comparison to the east coast where it must seem like spring is nowhere in sight, with their region getting pummeled by the third nor’easter in two weeks.

We are less than a week away from the March equinox marking the start of astronomical spring. Thus brings on the half-year of days longer than the nights for those of us in the northern hemisphere.

Already, our three existing chickens have returned to their daily production of eggs. The increasing daylight hours are working their magic.

The trees are even beginning to develop buds.

As exciting as that is, it brings on one of my great fears. The warming climate is extending the growing season beyond what was usual for the many years of my youth. Over the last five years of living here, we have seen too many occasions when the early warmth has triggered early growth on the trees that was subsequently obliterated by a brief return of an overnight freeze.

That doesn’t usually kill the tree, but it wreaks havoc on growth for that year. It’s something that breaks my heart to see. So, as happy as I am to see the leaves sprouting, I don’t breathe easy until the nighttime temperatures are convincingly done dropping into the 30s(F).

Getting to that point is definitely a grand part of the transition from winter to spring.

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Written by johnwhays

March 15, 2018 at 6:00 am

Hello Snow

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Well, that was fast. Monday was awkwardly warm for December, but we knew what was coming. After dark, it started to rain, so we headed down to the barn to bring the horses inside for the night.

We’d hardly shut out the lights for the night when the pinging on the bedroom window reflected an obvious transition from raindrops to ice crystals. By morning, the landscape had flipped to an unmistakable winter scene.

What’s not to love?

Cyndie captured some views on her walk with Delilah yesterday morning.


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Written by johnwhays

December 6, 2017 at 7:00 am

Herd Reunited

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I am very happy to be able to report that Dezirea has made enough progress toward good health that Cyndie decided to allow her back with our other horses. In fact, to celebrate the milestone, Cyndie let all 4 of them step out onto the green grass for their first brief taste of the spring.

We have now arrived at the difficult period when we meter out their minutes of grazing on the lush spring growth. In years past, the strict constraints on the time we allowed them were merely applied to ease their digestive systems into the change. Then we came to realize that they don’t work hard enough to justify the rich diet full-time.

We have to limit their grazing most of the year in order to keep them from becoming overweight.

Cyndie has purchased some muzzles in hope of giving the horses a chance to roam the pasture without over-eating. They can eat through the muzzle, but it takes a bit more time and effort. It will slow down their intake.

Since they are not out on the pasture full-time, they’ve been eating hay longer into the warm months. Last night we visited a new local source of small bales that Cyndie found through an ad. We filled the back of the pickup with as much as it would hold and hustled back to the ranch, quickly serving up a few test bites to the horses.

They loved it! That was a relief.

Hauling hay at the end of the day was a lot of work, because we were already fatigued from continued sprucing of the labyrinth, mowing the lawn, re-hanging the vines across the path out of the back yard, spending time with chickens out of the coop, and turning the composting manure piles.

Today will be a much more leisurely day. It’s World Labyrinth Day! We are expecting visitors around noon, so after a few small chores of preparation in the morning, we will be lounging, snacking, visiting, and walking for peace throughout the afternoon.

I’m looking forward to having the afternoon off.

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Mildly Hesitant

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I found myself mildly hesitant yesterday about writing of our having ordered chicks. I had it in my mind when building the coop last fall that we might be able to get our hands on some adult chickens for our starter flock. Instead, we are starting with chicks. That involves a bit more nurturing than I’d been contemplating.

I should be thankful. We could have gone all the way and opted to hatch them from eggs. With no previous experience in this realm of chicken raising, there is always a chance disaster could happen and we might make some fatal error that takes innocent lives.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to blog such a possible outcome and expose the personal failure. Then it occurred to me, that is what I do.

In discussing this topic with Katie at work, I became aware of a change that has transpired in the four-plus years Cyndie and I have been here. When we first arrived from our lifetimes in the suburbs, we were entirely naive about almost every situation we faced.

Long time readers might recall that we didn’t realize we already had a hitch installed on the old pickup truck we bought. I had no experience with a chainsaw. We didn’t know anything about growing hay. We’ve come a long way. I would even say I’ve had a few moments of feeling cocky about our accomplishments.

So, it dawned on me that cockiness was bringing me to a place where I felt less inclined to write about the things with which we still have no experience, like raising chickens.

I guess I’ve quickly worked through that hesitation I was feeling. This John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences currently involves our ongoing transition from a suburban lifestyle to a rural ranch, one experimental step at a time.

Hopefully, next year I will be reporting about how few flies and ticks we are bothered by after the addition of chickens to our menagerie. Maybe also, how the transplanted tree in the labyrinth is thriving.

If those things don’t happen, I’ll likely have chronicled about that, instead. Chronicling the whole range of adventures we are living, both the successes and failures, is what I do. Even if sometimes, with a little hesitation.

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Written by johnwhays

March 22, 2017 at 6:00 am

Going Public

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After trying to get permission to use copyrighted music prior to publicly posting my slideshow of the old farm property that my grandfather owned, Intervale Ranch, I have decided to accept the default automated claim that kicked in after I uploaded the video to YouTube over 10-months ago. I’m not allowed to monetize the video, which I never intended to do, and YouTube or the music license holder or both —I don’t know which— will be able to place ads on the video.

I hope I am correct that those will be the ones that viewers can click to remove as the video plays.

So, last evening, I changed the video from private to public. Feel free to kick off the rush that will send this gem viral. Might as well give the license holders their money’s worth.

Without further delay, I present, The Intervale Ranch Slideshow.

Question and answer session to follow. I invite those with inquisitive minds to post any questions the slideshow engenders by posting a comment to this post. I may use them to write a follow-up post that will fill out the detail glossed over by the sometimes cryptic collection of images.

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Written by johnwhays

August 24, 2016 at 6:00 am

Missed Chance

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Choreographing the transition from me being home full-time to manage the ranch, to it now being Cyndie, is proving to be a struggle for my inner control freak. Believe it or not, she doesn’t do things the way I do. If I want things to happen the way I would do them, I need to do it. The other option is that I relax my urge to have things run like I would do it, and let her do things any way she wants.

Yesterday provided a fine example, and I totally missed my chance to hand over management of composting manure. Cyndie had made a pass through the paddock with the wheelbarrow, cleaning up fresh droppings, and came to check with me on where in the compost area to dump the load.

There was my opportunity to invite her to do it any way she pleases, but I couldn’t help myself. I walked with her over to the piles and began to give instructions on how I do it. What was I thinking?

When she rolled the wheelbarrow up, she came in on the wrong end of the piles. It felt like a “Mr. Mom” moment when Micheal Keaton’s character, who had traded roles with his wife, drove the wrong way in the circle of cars taking kids to school.

In the middle of trying to describe the process I have developed and my methods, I realized the folly of my thinking. I could tell by her reaction that this wasn’t going to happen. The job would remain mine. She offered to scoop up manure and stage it for me in the wheelbarrow, but I would maintain ownership of doing the compost management.

I can be my own worst enemy.

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Written by johnwhays

July 9, 2015 at 6:00 am