Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Wintervale

January Thaw

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I have lived near the Twin Cities for most of my life, but I never realized how consistently we experience a January thaw. From Meteorologist, Paul Huttner’s Updraft blog:

“A January thaw is defined as two or more consecutive days of high temperatures above 32 degrees. That happens in 93 percent of all years on record for the Twin Cities. In fact, a January thaw is more reliable than a white Christmas (72 percent) in the Twin Cities.”

Everyone at Wintervale is enjoying this little break from the ravages of the deep cold that has besieged us for the last few weeks.

The sunshine and warm Pacific breeze was just right for an afternoon sun bath.

The chickens are much quicker to come out of the coop with the warmer temperatures. The Buff Orpington spent a fair amount of time breaking up frozen sand so her bath could be a mixture of sun and soil.

When I noticed her kicking up a dust cloud storm and wallowing luxuriously in it, I pulled out my camera to record video of the spectacle.

I got two seconds of fluttering and a minute and a half of her sitting mostly still, occasionally pecking at the frozen sand. She was not interested in being the star of my movie.

The scene of Dezirea nodding off in the sun, with her tail flowing gracefully in the gentle breeze turned out to be the more rewarding video, even though it has about the same amount of action as the shot of the hen.

Legacy interrupted my video of Dezirea when he stepped forward to poke his head into the bright sunshine and blocked my view.

We have been trying to absorb this early January thaw for all it is worth, given the impending swing back to serious winter weather being forecast. Tomorrow could become a day of our greatest snow accumulation this season, and the thermometer is expected to sink back to sub-zero overnight temperatures.

Hello, again, winter.

It’s getting hard maintaining a charade of still being on a tropical vacation by simply revisiting our photo albums.

But that doesn’t prevent us from putting forth an effort.

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Written by johnwhays

January 10, 2018 at 7:00 am

Sunday Two

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Wintervale‘s November version of the Second Sunday event is coming up this weekend. The theme Cyndie has prepared involves “Gratefulness Collages.” In the month of giving thanks for our bounty, I expect the creative arts project will most likely be well augmented with bountiful offerings from her kitchen, too.

Materials are supplied, but if you’ve got any interesting old magazines lying around, feel free to donate them to the cause.

As of last night, the forecast for Sunday looked sunny, which would be nice for an afternoon stroll to see what inspiration the horses might offer. Of course, the chickens will be eager to say hello, too.

They love company as much as we do!

Make sure to let us know if you plan to stop in for a visit between noon and 3:00. Cyndie’s contact information can be found at the link for Second Sundays, above.

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Written by johnwhays

November 7, 2017 at 7:00 am

Small Happenings

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There are days when the projects at Wintervale are a little less spectacular than others. On Friday, our order for a truck-load of gravel was delivered and I used the blade behind the tractor to spread it out. The results are subtle, but to my eye, it is a major improvement.

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It doesn’t make a huge functional change to life around here, but it bolsters the foundation of the rest of our operation. Infrastructure, baby!

The pile visible in the photo on the right isn’t more gravel. It’s the lime screenings that we distribute in the paddocks to improve the footing for the horses by reducing areas of mud. After heavy downpours, we use screenings from the pile to fill in the rills that may have formed.

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We had some other small happenings around here yesterday, and it made for a spectacular occasion. Our dear friends, Mike and Barb were able to bring their grandchildren, Jackson and Allie for a visit. It was a last-minute addition, and when the “surprise” opportunity was suggested to the kids, Jack’s response was, “Is it about a horse?”

By coincidence, young Jackson has a thing for horses. He also seems to have a strong intuitive sense, as well.

When they all arrived, the first order of business was to head straight to the barn from the car, instead of stopping inside the house. After a brief initial, and very cute, attention to the chickens, the horses pretty much ruled the day.

The kids took turns grooming and riding on Legacy, fed all the horses apple slices for a treat, helped with chores and feeding, and ultimately settled on reading some of the driest academic books from Cyndie’s library.

Despite Cyndie offering other options of kid books from the shelves, Jackson honed in on that section of horse books. When Cyndie was guiding them through one of the books, scanning the pictures and skimming the words, Jack wanted to know if she was “really” reading it, and where she was in the text about anatomy and physiology.

I’m not sure who had the better time, the kids, or the adults getting to witness their thrills.

Oh, there was also a dinner of some world-class grilled steaks. Thank you, for that, Mike!

No small happening, there.

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Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2017 at 10:29 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

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