Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Wintervale Ranch

Five Years

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Happy Anniversary, Wintervale!

This week, five years ago, is when we made the big leap from the suburbs in Minnesota to the rolling countryside of west-central Wisconsin. We only moved about an hour east, but in many ways, we are a world away from our previous life.

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There is so much that I didn’t have a clue about in October of 2012 when we committed to this new adventure. Actually, that is one thing I was very certain about, …that I didn’t have any idea what would happen next.

In the five years since, we accomplished a remarkable number of things, most of them made up as we went along. There was no grand five-year plan, just a vague idea of what we thought we could do. It has really been more of a case of multiple one-year plans, each one blossoming into the next.

Honestly, we’ve had a remarkable number of successes that have fueled inspirations to take on whatever next possibility showed up in the light of each additional day.

The idea that we could even end up here in the first place was born even further back than five years ago, in September of 2010 when we traveled to Portugal to meet Ian Rowcliffe. Ian’s insights, wisdom, and initiative to nurture his Forest Garden Estate planted a seed in us that has blossomed into what Wintervale Ranch is today.

We also give a lot of credit to Tom and Sue Sherry, who helped design our layout and fencing, doing the work under their company, Best Built Fence, but becoming friends, as well. They deftly interpreted our dreams to devise a real world layout that suited us perfectly.

Honorable mention goes to nature, itself. The four seasons, the extremes of weather, and the march of time have done the most to shape this land since we arrived. From the onslaught of 18 inches of heavy, wet spring snow in the first days of May, 2013, to the flash-flooding rains of 2017, many changes are forced upon us whether we want them, or not.

The simple growth of trees becomes a striking reference of change through a span of five years.

I didn’t find an exact matching shot, but this recent picture of the mailbox with the Wintervale flag and signs caught a corner of one tree by the road that has tripled in size.

Can you spot it in the picture on the left above, to the right of the moving van backing up the driveway?

We’ve come a long way in five years, baby. Now, without a break, we are jumping into our sixth and everything is just going to keep on growing.

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Written by johnwhays

October 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

Muted Brilliance

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Most of the glory for fall colors goes to the trees, but I would say that the essential component for spectacular explosions of brilliant color happens to be the sunshine which illuminates the foliage. Our landscape of turning leaves is so incredibly less vibrant when the day is cloudy gray.

However, even muted, the place is starting to look pretty fall-festive.

Imagine what that would look like under bright sunlight shining from a deep blue sky.

Next chance to see the real thing is expected to be Sunday. For those keeping track, that will be the second Sunday of October. It should be a gorgeous day for a hike down a wooded trail or a pause around the campfire.

The second Sundays of each month make for an excellent excuse to take a little drive in the country and stop by Wintervale Ranch to explore and experience our paradise first-hand.

There’s never a bad month to visit this place, but this time of year is quite possibly the best.

Especially on a sunny day.

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Written by johnwhays

October 6, 2017 at 6:00 am

Horse Love

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It’s time our horses get a little love from the Relative Something blog, don’t you think? They’ve been a little short-changed here because energy for them has been directed toward the Facebook page of late. The lines get a little blurry sometimes, and I forget which hat I am wearing, blogger or Wintervale post-er.

I’ve got a fix for that today. To see this fun snippet of the herd nom-nom munching on the high grass of the middle pasture, I’m linking back to the Wintervale FB page.

If you don’t have time for the video, I’m including two snapshots of our crew in graze-mode for your enrichment. Enjoy!

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They are getting along well as the summer slowly winds down for them. We’ve noticed they have grown comfortable enough with being under the barn overhang now that even when rain roars on the metal roof, they stay beneath it and keep dry.

I like that better than when they preferred to stand as far as possible from the cover it offered, choosing instead to droop their heads down and get soaking wet, looking like sorry sad sacks.

Their health has been stable and good, although Cayenne still is working on growing out her hooves after a bout of laminitis. George has been kind enough to provide her an extra session of trimming between the normal span of time for the rest of the herd, which is helping to hasten a return to a desired hoof shape and less painful weight-bearing.

Shelby has been exercising the horses once a day, continuing a process that she started after Cyndie’s shoulder surgery in June. It has been a great help toward getting the horses ready for the workshops underway while Dunia is here.

One other thing the horses have adjusted nicely to this summer is the presence of three very friendly chickens who demonstrate a frequent preference to share the cozy space under the overhang, even though it sometimes means their meager ration of twice-daily nutrition pellets gets poached by the greedy birds.

Doesn’t seem to matter. The horses know they are still the stars of our show.

Makes me love them all the more.

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Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2017 at 6:00 am

Emotional Health

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It should come as no surprise that I am a person who sees love as the magic ingredient of our lives. Love is the simplest solution to every problem. Then why isn’t everything rainbows and unicorns? Well, just because we know something works, doesn’t automatically guarantee we will put it into healthy practice.

Why do people smoke when they know the physical consequences? Why do we make poor food choices or over-indulge in mind altering substances? Why do we stay up too late? Why do we sabotage our own intentions to become our best selves?

Nobody said it was easy. I do say it is simple, but that’s not the same thing.

There is one critical ingredient to the art of loving ourselves to the fullest, which enables us to then successfully wield love as the key method of reaching a healthy solution… with other people, with situations, business transactions, relationships, governments, and ultimately between nations of our world.

It is emotional health.

I have recently come upon a couple of articles I’d like to share that nicely frame key aspects of emotional well-being. They express opinions in common with my perspectives about emotional health and love.

The first, by John White, describes emotional intelligence as a skill that can be learned and developed.

“Some of the most admired people in the world have gotten to where they are due to their emotional intelligence.”

The second, is a three-question interview in September’s National Geographic magazine with U.S. former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, where he advocates for emotional well-being.

“I think of emotional well-being as a resource within each of us that allows us to do more and to perform better. That doesn’t mean just the absence of mental illness. It’s the presence of positive emotions that allows us to be resilient in the face of adversity.”

White describes emotional intelligence as having five components: Self Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skills, and then suggests skills a person can practice to enhance them.

Murthy says we can cultivate emotional well-being with simple tools like, sleep, physical activity, contemplative practices, and social interaction. In his third answer, his words fully resonated for me with his belief that there are two emotions that drive our decisions: love and fear.

I agree.

I hope you will follow the links of the images to read the full (brief) contents of their messages for yourself.

At Wintervale Ranch, we are all about the love, and Cyndie and Dunia offer several workshops that provide wonderful information and guidance about emotional intelligence.

Bolster emotional intelligence and unleash the power of love. The world will be a better place, and the people a happier human race.

That’s my sermon for today. Get out there and share the love!

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Feeling Sympathy

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This morning we are feeling sympathy for the people who are experiencing the full impact of hurricane Harvey along the Gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana.

At home, the welcome signs are out for another Wintervale workshop, but the weather is anything but welcoming. It is wet, wet, wet, with gray skies and soggy soil.

It is not conducive to our outdoor activities with the horses, but it is so far from the devastating situation unfolding to our south, that we feel no justification in moping about it.

May the people under the catastrophic flooding of Harvey experience peace amid the turmoil and relief, somehow, sooner than they expect.

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Written by johnwhays

August 26, 2017 at 9:37 am

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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More Family

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Yesterday we enjoyed a visit with more family when my sister, Judy, and her daughter, Tricia, and kids stopped by for a dose of Wintervale that delightfully just kept on going, despite their intention to make it brief.

I treasure the opportunity to share the preciousness of idle time among our animals and strolling around our grounds. When the participants are as thrilled by what they find here as Cyndie and I are, it is both energizing and confirming. 

The experience is what I believe it to be. Rejuvenating. Inspiring. Mesmerizing.

The kids didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t blame them one bit.

There are chickens! The horses! They walked/ran the labyrinth, laid on the hammocks, split wood for a fire, made s’mores. We ate fresh-picked sweet corn and cooked burgers over the fire. What’s not to like?

The best part for me was sharing some custom time among the herd, just standing or sitting near the horses while they munched on sweet clover in the arena space. We pulled out the giant soccer ball for the horses, but it held little appeal compared to the greens at their feet.

As we stood observing, the horses eventually oriented themselves right in front of us, chomping away about as close as they could get. Coming from our previous snack of corn on the cob, we recognized that they were gobbling the grass with very similar motions and zeal.

Quietly hanging out with the horses is time I am able to enjoy every day, but drop-in guests rarely get the opportunity, with the inherent hazards of unexpected horse reactions and unfamiliar humans creating unnecessary risk. Cyndie offered a crash-course of safety instruction and the group was able to enter the horses’ space for some unscripted interacting.

Hunter was particularly appreciative of all the attention being lavished and he soaked up the scratches for all he was worth. The picture Tricia captured of Brooke’s kiss while Hunter closed his eyes is a wonderful depiction of the sentiments.

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Written by johnwhays

August 12, 2017 at 9:42 am