Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘weather

Venturing Out

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Maybe it was the calmness of the morning, or the fact the temperature didn’t drop significantly overnight, but the chickens wasted little time in venturing out from the confines of the coop for me yesterday morning.

Midway through the day, I stopped back to check for eggs and found two of the hens, almost on top of each other, squished into one nesting box. I decided not to bother them, closing the side door and heading off to another project.

With Delilah leashed to the double swing nearby to supervise, I spent some quality time at the wood shed. First, I needed to re-stack the majority of the last row that had blown over in the recent high-wind event. With that under control, I started into splitting some of the newest wood from the tree cut down last weekend.

I think the fact the wood was now frozen helped the logs to snap in two with relative ease. When Delilah’s interest in watching me work came to its unsurprising end, I dropped her off in the house and headed back to the coop to pick eggs.

The Buff Orpington was still sitting in the nest box, but I invaded her space to grab three eggs she was resting on.

After lunch, I headed out to turn two different piles of compost that are still cooking nicely, despite the arrival of the frozen season.

It seems as though the animals have quickly adjusted to the return of “my” routine of care. Intensified time with Delilah and the horses brings me back to my year sabbatical from the day-job when I managed the ranch full-time while Cyndie was working the Anoka-Hennepin contract.

It’s a very fond memory. It’s satisfying to see how quickly the animals seem to recognize the methodical way I do things, easing into the orderly dance of meal time and clean up with me.

Today, the chores have increased in number, as an overnight snow dusting has added to the previous paltry amount, making it hardly worth a plowing, but a messy nuisance if I don’t.

At least I know Cyndie will be sympathetic. She went to D.C., where they’re getting their own dose of snowfall today.

Happy winter!

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Written by johnwhays

December 9, 2017 at 10:12 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

Lazy Day

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I don’t drink alcohol, so I’m guessing my hangover yesterday was from the excessive consumption of calories. The day was uncharacteristically warm, so I nudged myself out the door in hopes of accomplishing some grand feat of property management.

The project requiring the least amount of mental or physical preparation awaits just a short distance beyond our bedroom window. I look at it almost every day, but it has been behind schedule for quite some time. I would like to have the wood shed filled by now, but it is barely over halfway.

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I was out there only a minute or two when the chickens popped in to join me. The climbing sun had me quickly down to a short-sleeved T-shirt while I split and stacked firewood. It was wonderfully satisfying… for about 30 minutes.

Maybe my precarious lumbar discs were a convenient excuse to take a break, but the truth is, it was the whole of me that felt out of gas.

As I pondered the situation while gliding back and forth on the double swing, the view of our horses in the sunshine of the pasture captured my attention.

When all else fails, standing among the horses is one of my favorite options. Joining the horses when I have no agenda other than being with them is so very different from visits to care for them or invite their cooperation for some task. They have total control on what happens, whether they choose to include me, or not.

I wasn’t there very long when my phone rang. Cyndie was wondering where I was and gladly chose to join me in a session of weather worship in the paddock with the herd.

In short order, with the chickens joining the party, we were all quietly communing in the spectacularly lazy November sunshine.

When I first arrived, the horses were actually spread far and wide. Cayenne was out in the front hay-field, Hunter and Dezirea were spread far apart in the middle field, and Legacy was in the middle of the paddock, eyeing the waterer.

As it became increasingly evident I was just hanging around with no agenda, the horses began to migrate back to the paddock, taking turns to greet me as they arrived.

The top of the slope, with the barn for a backdrop, is a prime spot to soak up midday sun. I noticed the two mares had positioned themselves precisely to sneak in a little nap with full broadside exposure to soak up the solar energy without blocking each other.

That was the kind of day my body was up for yesterday.

Filling the wood shed is going to happen in stages this season, it seems.

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Written by johnwhays

November 25, 2017 at 10:31 am

Getting Home

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Our rushed onset of a snow season made my commute home yesterday a little more adventurous than I expected. There had been flurries throughout the day, but all that did was make things wet by the time I was ready to drive home.

The closer I got to Wisconsin, the more intense the falling snow became. A weather update on the radio mentioned increased chances for accumulation of 3-4 inches in our area.

I noticed a drop in visibility as the flakes intensified, but the road surface wasn’t presenting any problem. I hoped the heavy precipitation was keeping the deer bedded down, so I could have one less thing to worry about.

When I made the turn onto our street, the surface was more than just wet. It was starting to look a lot like winter.

Cyndie was already moving the horses into the barn for the night when I pulled up the driveway. She said the chickens showed no concern over staying out in the snow while there was still daylight, even though she took a shot at tempting them back into the coop early.

After parking my car and making my way inside, I set about preparing a reward for Cyndie to find when she returned from chores in the barn. Then I leaned back in the recliner and soaked up being home, safe and sound.

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Written by johnwhays

November 2, 2017 at 6:00 am

Sky Views

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The sky has been treating us to a nice variety of cloud edges recently. Here are three I was able to capture that represent the range of views we get to enjoy while toiling away on our chores.

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According to the weather forecast, our blue skies are about to change to snow clouds. Cold and wet is a condition for which we move horses indoors to the shelter of the barn and their stalls. Thus begins the season of wood shavings added to the compost heaps, which significantly increases the volume of space occupied.

It’s also the season of plowing and shoveling snow, hauling firewood, and eventually, building igloos. Snakes disappear. Mosquitoes disappear. What’s not to love? In a couple of months, it will even be winter.

A very fitting season for Wintervale Ranch.

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Written by johnwhays

October 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

Odd Behavior

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After setting out a pan of feed for each horse after work yesterday, I walked down to close the gate to the hayfield, passing by the raised circle I had covered with lime screenings just over two weeks before. It’s a little surprising to me that the horses had, for the most part, stayed off the new covering. There were just a couple of light hoof prints from one horse where it had tested a small portion that had been tamped down by my feet.

The majority of the circle had been left to cure naturally in the rain and sun, because I didn’t have the time to press the rest of the area out, one little boot print at a time. Suddenly, I felt moved to spontaneously pick up where I had left off.

While they munched on their feed under the overhang, I meticulously began a ridiculous dance of baby steps across the circle. Occasionally, I would resort to hopping up and down in order to put increased pressure on spots that seemed to need it.

Always curious about every project we get involved in, the three chickens quickly arrived to investigate the scene. The flat lime screenings didn’t appear to harbor any crawling creatures, so they busied themselves with the dirt around the perimeter.

A few blinks later, I gained an audience of horses, apparently just as curious with my mysterious project. Luckily, they also maintained a cautious step away from interfering with my gyrations. At about ten times my weight, they would easily cause more disruption than compaction to the relatively new surface.

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If they can stay off of it until the freshly pressed screenings have another chance to bake in the sun for a few days, there is a chance it will support them without getting all pockmarked. Actually, what would be really nice is, if they would lay down and roll around on it.

That’s not too far-fetched a possibility. I’m guessing it will look like an attractive option, once they are convinced it’s safe to walk on.

Eventually, the horses and chickens left me to my odd behavior. I hopped and baby-stepped until the entire circle had been compressed by what little force I could generate from my small frame.

A little victory in the grand scheme of things deserving attention.

Add to that, getting the windows re-installed on the chicken coop, and taking down the tarp that covered the gazebo, and we are starting to round the final turn in the slow race of preparation for winter.

For those keeping score, we are expecting some snow will be mixed in with rain that is due to visit us tomorrow and the next day.

Now that I think of it, I guess that circle won’t really be getting baked hard as cement any time soon.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2017 at 6:00 am

Autumn Sunshine

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This week, the weather forecast is ideal for sun and color. We are reaching the point where the tree-scape offers hardly any remaining green foliage. With evening’s arrival rapidly moving to an ever-earlier hour, the late afternoon sunshine is now putting its low spotlight on the peaking red/yellow/orange hues of autumn, illuminating them with a wonderfully amplified brilliance.

The grass isn’t showing much regard for the change of season. It is still growing like it’s early summer. Last time we had opportunity to mow, Cyndie took a crack at it, but wasn’t able to finish because the belt slipped off the pulleys.

After work yesterday, I picked up where she left off, and found the challenge of extra-long grass compounded by standing water in many places. The soaking rain we received on Saturday has yet to soak in.

A week of drying will be a timely blessing. One that comes with a bonus of some prime autumn viewing.

And for the record, the two shots above are different angle views of the same tree.

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Written by johnwhays

October 17, 2017 at 6:00 am