Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Wintervale

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

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

Oh My

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Anyone need some August rain? We have extra. I’d be happy to share.

Unfortunately, all that water fell in a very short amount of time yesterday morning, so the result was something of a flash-flood type of runoff.

Our silt fence along the northern border below our neighbor’s corn field was already filled with sandy topsoil that has flowed with every rainfall since we installed it. That led to an overflow which flattened some of our grass beneath an inch or two of silty muck.

Balancing that negative with a positive, the trail at the bottom of our hill in the woods, where I placed the pavers, is working perfectly. There is a small lake-like puddle where I spread the salvaged landscape rock, while the pavers are providing excellent (dry) footing across that rest of that section.

The amount that fell overnight will get tallied after the sun comes up today, but by the looks of the radar and sound on the roof and skylight last night, we got a lot more of the unneeded wet stuff than we wanted.

I sure wish I could transfer a large amount of it to the drought-stricken regions that need the water a lot more than we do.

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Written by johnwhays

August 17, 2017 at 6:00 am

Tree Love

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It always seems to come back to the trees for me. Even though our horses are key to the whole operation, they don’t provide near the atmosphere here (literally) as do the trees.

Despite my love of trees, I find it unsatisfyingly easy to take them for granted. Today’s post is an effort to make up for that.

I discovered a long time ago that trees and I share a similar limit to high altitudes. Every time I get above the tree line in mountainous regions, I begin to feel ill. I guess, if they don’t have enough oxygen to thrive, I don’t either.

Wintervale has some nice grazing available on open fields, but as you can see in this image, our forest of trees tower right up to the back of the barn. Our log house is nestled, out of sight, behind the first few of those green monsters.

When the french doors to the deck are open, we are effectively forest bathing from within our living room, breathing in the aromatic phytoncides.

I love the shade our trees offer, the sounds they make in the wind, the changes they display through the seasons, and the wood they provide when they die.

I have never been responsible for as many acres of trees as we have now, and though the task is often daunting, I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity. Tending the forest isn’t as simple as mowing the fields, but I definitely prefer it.

The primary stepping off point for our adventure to seek out and eventually purchase this Wintervale paradise was our visit to Ian Rowcliffe in Portugal. It is wonderfully fitting that Ian and I first discovered each other in an online community discussion item on the subject of trees, about seven years earlier.

For some reason the other day, I cropped out the hammock in the image I posted on Sunday.

I think I like this one better. It tells more of the truth. Makes me feel like napping every time I look at it, though.

My life would be so much drearier without all the majestic maples, oak, poplar, pine, elm, ash, and butternut crowns forming a canopy over the back half of our precious plot. I absolutely love our trees.

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An addendum to yesterday’s post: In case you were curious, the intuition was fading, as it took me a couple tries to get to the bottom of the problem, but I eventually found the reason the pump wasn’t coming on was a tripped ground fault interrupt. Problem easily solved.

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Written by johnwhays

August 15, 2017 at 6:00 am

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

A Nutshell

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Have I already shared this? I don’t recall. In a nutshell, here is a synopsis of the Wintervale Ranch story, composed for our “About” page on the Wintervale website.

Wintervale Ranch is a one of a kind retreat center started by Cyndie and John Hays upon their relocation from the suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN in 2012. Inspired by their travels and life experiences, they began to explore the wonder of equine wisdom. Cyndie enrolled in an Epona apprenticeship program from which blossomed their life-changing move to a gorgeous paradise property in the rolling countryside of west-central Wisconsin.

With a wise herd of four Arabian horses and the beautiful setting not far from the Twin Cities metro area, Wintervale Ranch has become a destination for a variety of opportunities in personal and professional development, as well as rejuvenating health and wellness retreats. On twenty acres with forested trails, open pastures, an 11-circuit Chartes labyrinth, rolling hills with wild berries, perennials, flowers and towering trees, the setting provides an ideal atmosphere for quiet reflection, and opportunities for personal discovery and professional growth.

Wintervale Ranch is a perfect setting for individuals, teams, and small groups to explore possibilities beyond the usual limited focus of daily demands, while connecting with the wonderful wisdom of horses in a natural outdoor nurturing environment.

We invite you to inquire and begin your exploration of discovery. Find what dwells in your possibilities.

In the relatively short time that we have been striving to develop the vision we have for this place, it has become clear to us that our most rewarding outcomes result from the wonderful expressions of our guests, both their words and in the looks on their faces, as they take in the powerful ambiance of the overall setting. That type of reaction becomes magnified even more when the people spend time exploring the lessons and interacting with our horses during Cyndie’s workshops.

It is a thrill to witness learners discovering what dwells in their possibilities.

People visiting Wintervale bring this place to life, and at the same time, Wintervale reveals a broader depth of life to visiting people.

That’s it, in a nutshell!

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Marketing Crunch

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Here is a peek behind our Wintervale curtain. Cyndie’s two months of pent-up energy while out of commission with the bum shoulder has now exploded in a barrage of hyper-active efforts to do a year’s worth of planning and execution in a span of a few weeks.

In addition to our recently getting a Wintervale Ranch presence on Facebook and updating our website, Cyndie has now pumped out more than a half-dozen flyers promoting specific workshops with times, dates, and registration fees.

She has quickly made things real.

With our precious friend, Dunia, planning to come from her home in Guatemala to help, they have plotted an impressive series of workshops with a variety of areas of focus, planned one-after-the-other, for the last few weeks of August.

Now all they need to do is get the word out while also enticing some learners to leap at the chance. That effort started small, with some posts on the Wintervale Facebook page, but after it became obvious that choice provides a rather limited reach, the next logical step was, paid advertising.

Stop. Picture John and Cyndie suddenly switching hats to [untrained] Marketing Specialists in 2017. I have already submitted our business information and location to Google maps. I have also manually ventured to update search engine optimization for our website. Dipping toes into the world of social media paid advertising is a whole ‘nother thing.

It’s a jungle in there.

We not only need to increase the number of viewers, they need to be enticed to make some pretty prompt decisions about committing to participate. That’s a tall order.

Good thing Cyndie and Dunia like to dwell in positive possibilities. And, we are guaranteed nothing would happen if they didn’t at least try.

This week we are ordering new logo’d shirts for facilitators, and a flag for the end of the driveway.

We can lead people toward what we have to offer, but we can’t make them drink. Or something like that.

Give it a couple of weeks and I’ll let you know how things are turning out.

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Written by johnwhays

August 2, 2017 at 6:00 am