Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘wood shed

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Not again. This morning, we are wondering what we will find when the door to the chicken coop is opened. Yesterday, Delilah once again broke a hook holding her leash and this time attacked the Buff Orpington hen.

I was up on the other side of the house splitting wood when my phone rang. Cyndie’s voice immediately revealed something was wrong.

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Intent on making my way through the entire pile of logs stacked at the base of the big oak tree, which first required sledge-hammering them out of the frozen block they had become, I had already fought off several urges to take a break and do something else.

I couldn’t deny the urgency implied by Cyndie’s call.

Rushing down to the sunny southern end of the barn, I found Cyndie standing with the chicken in her arms. She wanted me to hold the bird so she could search for visible injury that would explain the blood on the ground. Finding nothing, she took the Buff back and asked me to look.

I suggested she give the hen a chance to stand on her own and we could watch her. The Buff stood just fine, but that is when I noticed blood on the beak. It appears the injury was internal.

We are hoping maybe she just bit her tongue. She was breathing and swallowing, with some effort, and the bleeding did not appear to be continuing more than the initial small amount.

If she survived the night, the next goal will be to witness her drinking water and eventually eating food.

As soon as Cyndie had reached the dog and saved the chicken, she marched Delilah up to the house and shut her inside. When we came in for lunch, it was pretty clear the fiercely carnivorous canine was aware she had displeased her master. Her body language was all about remorse.

It was hard to not continue being extremely mad with Delilah for hurting the chicken, but that moment was now in the past.

I decided to take her out for a heavy-duty workout. Strapping on snowshoes, I headed off to pack down a path on our trails that hadn’t received much attention since the last few snowfall events.

Since Delilah has a compulsion to be out in front and pull, that meant she was breaking trail most of the way and expending more energy than normal, which worked right into my plan.

Much to Delilah’s surprise, I also had a plan to double back in the direction from which we had just come, giving me a chance to pack several of our paths a second time.

Each time that happened, Delilah would race to come back toward me and then pass by to get out in front again, pulling against the leash to which I gladly added drag.

I’m pretty sure any energy she got from engaging in the attack was long gone after her unusually intense afternoon walkabout, but I doubt she fully grasps that our earlier displeasure was because the chickens hold protected status.

We’re not confident, but we hope we’ll still have three chickens to continue teaching Delilah to leave alone, despite her irresistible canine instincts.

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Written by johnwhays

February 11, 2018 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

Harsh Winds

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DSCN4556eIt didn’t rain last night and we got away with leaving the horses outside. That makes clean up much simpler. However, we didn’t expect the degree of wild weather we are getting in place of rain this morning.

Overnight we got snow, and then in the wee hours of the morning, the wind hit with a vengeance. It is a gusting wind, around 40 mph according to reports, making the house audibly stress at every joint. I discovered a stack of wood in the woodshed had toppled over, and in my dismay, I didn’t even consider the more significant fact that the shed itself is still standing.

Apparently the anchors work. It helped to have the hands-on assistance of my friend Mike Wilkus, who happens to be an architect, to rebuild the shed after winds toppled my first version. I had tightly packed this first stack of new wood in hopes of keeping the pile up until the next one over was finished, but the wood shrinks as it dries, and I’m sure the shed was flexing in these gusts, so it isn’t a big surprise things tumbled.

As we turned the corner toward the paddock from our walk through the woods with Delilah, we could see the horses were calm and collected in the relative protection from the worst gusts of wind. I am so happy for the wise placement of our barn. While the house sits on the high point of our land, where it suffers the brunt of the worst weather that arrives from the west and north, the barn is located below enough that it is generally spared.

DSCN4569eThe horses perked up when we arrived and got a bit rambunctious to warm themselves up before we served their morning feed. While we were cleaning up manure prior to putting the feed pans down, the horses did a few rounds of running, kicking, and flailing about.

Cyndie warned me that she was uncomfortable about my proximity to Legacy’s hind end, in case he decided to kick. It wasn’t him I was concerned about. The others are a lot less predictable. In fact, as Hunter approached in a frenzy, Legacy adjusted his position to protect me from the antics. What I didn’t expect was for Dezirea to decide to bustle through the narrow space between Legacy and me from the other side, because we were by the fence.DSCN4571e

She did it anyway and landed a glancing brush of her hoof on my side as she passed through. I’m hoping she kicked the shingles out of me.

Cyndie got her “told you so” moment, and I got my lesson without suffering seriously.

I endured a lot worse abuse when I walked Delilah down to the mailbox and had to face the wind over the first rise on the way back. I think I would rather have been kicked, than beat by these frigid gale force gusts.

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Written by johnwhays

April 2, 2016 at 9:35 am

Frozen Season

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DSCN4121eThe frozen season has finally arrived. It’s got me wanting to have a fire, and since we still aren’t able to have one indoors due to the cracks in the flue, I started one in our outdoor pit.

I was working nearby to change out the base of my Smart Splitter® log splitter. Having a fire nearby provided more than just a place to warm up, it created an ambiance of purpose and energy.

I get great pleasure from finally knocking off tasks that have lingered untended for far too long. The base of the splitter was a necessary project because the old one finally started to break up from the pounding that the old decaying wood was taking. In contrast, the task of adding boards to the pallets that form the floor of the wood shed was one of convenience which had been too easily postponed, again and again.DSCN4122e

Yesterday became the day.

First, I needed to dismantle more of the spare pallets I had collected from work, just as I had done to build hay boxes recently. In previous years, the pallets I brought home from work had a full surface of boards, but the supplier figured out they could accomplish the same goal with less lumber. Now they come with half as many boards.

In July when we were stacking hay, I needed to steal some pallets from the wood shed. They were the old ones with a full surface of boards.

The next pallets that became available when I was seeking replacements, ended up being the ones with every other board. That became a real ankle twister when I was trying to stack wood.

Yesterday, I dismantled new pallets to get boards that I could use to create a complete deck on the ones already in the wood shed. My ankles are saved! Now it’s time to take advantage of the below freezing temperatures and split some logs.

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Written by johnwhays

November 21, 2015 at 11:09 am

Side Yard

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I was out trimming the grass beneath our double swing yesterday and paused to absorb the special space that is our side yard on the opposite end of the house from our driveway. It’s peaceful here all right. That is, when Delilah isn’t barking at the squirrel she imagines is ALWAYS taunting her from the tree above her kennel.

This is Cyndie’s swing that she calls her “Gramma swing” because it reminds her of one her grandmother had that was much-loved.

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Just beside the swing is Delilah’s home away from home, where she stays when we are away from home (or I am working on a tractor and can’t be watching her every move).

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On the other side of the swing there is the wood shed, standing sturdy though several blustery storms since it was rebuilt.

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DSCN3630eLooking toward the bright, hazy white sunny sky to the house, where you can see our outdoor fire pit and other swinging bench. Every time I find the opportunity to linger in the spaces back here I am consumed with feeling overwhelmingly blessed to have such a peaceful and enriching place to live. It is part of the whole that is Wintervale, but at the same time, it can feel so completely remote to the other areas. I almost forget there are horses living beyond the trees on the other side of the house.

It’s a place I hope many others will find an opportunity to visit in the years to come.

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Written by johnwhays

July 5, 2015 at 9:48 am

Pesky Procrastination

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Yesterday we finally got a break from the bitter cold. For two nights in a row now, we have been able to leave the horses outside all night. That means, I didn’t need to clean out their stalls during the day. Yahoo! They seemed to accept the return to their previous routine without concern, and I gained some flexibility in choosing what to do with the middle of my day.

DSCN2698eI opted for splitting wood. I have been negligent in keeping after that chore. My goal was to have the wood shed filled to the brim this winter, but I’ve yet to make that happen. It’s just too easy to let it slide. Between the December and New Year holiday events, and the extreme cold, there have been plenty of reasons to delay working on it. Particularly, because the wood being stacked now is for burning next year and beyond. I probably already have more than enough for next winter, so some of what is stacked won’t get burned until a year after that.

It isn’t going to make a big difference whether I finish soon, or in another month or two. That is challenging for a person who is more than happy to procrastinate when opportunity allows.

DSCN2700eI clipped Delilah’s leash to one of our glider swings while I worked and after thoroughly scouting her perimeter, she settled down to keep an eye on the horses barely visible through the trees. If your eyesight is good, you just might be able to make out the silhouette of one of the blanketed chestnuts in that image. Delilah certainly had a bead on them.

I wonder if she was pondering why they get to free-graze out there while she is stuck tethered by a leash. She is still a flight risk. She recently failed two brief tests when given freedom to meander.

On Tuesday, while I was clearing the drifted snow off our deck, she got out of sight around the house and set me to whistling and hollering for her. Happily, she returned after not too long, but she had taken advantage of her brief freedom to go find the nastiest velcro-like burrs possible and made sure they got well tangled into her thickest fur beneath the outer hairs of her coat.

I spent much of the rest of that day in damage control, pushing the limits of her tolerance while trying to get them all out. Makes me wish I hadn’t procrastinated pulling up all the weeds that grow burrs last summer.

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Written by johnwhays

January 15, 2015 at 7:00 am

Going Right

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When things are going right for you, ya just gotta soak it up and enjoy it for all it’s worth. I’ve had a vision in my head since we moved here about how I might manage firewood. After a variety of stumbles in the time since, yesterday I made progress that went as smoothly as I could ever hope, in terms of the vision I had.

When we first arrived on this property, there was firewood stored under the overhang of the barn that the previous owners generously left for us. I had to move it up by the house, but it was more than enough to allow us to enjoy fires through that first winter.

When we had our fence contractor start clearing trees from the water drain path and pulling out old fencing, they created a hefty pile of cut logs that I needed to split to augment the dwindling stockpile that had been left for us. I needed to shop for a splitter. I found that ingenious Swedish manual splitter which works slick and will be perfect, once I am ahead and only splitting a small amount at a time.

The fence crew cut logs haphazardly and I found the lack of uniform length frustrating. It made it difficult to split, but that wood got us through the second year.

I found myself looking forward to eventually being able to cut my own wood so I could enact a little quality control. I figured out the chainsaw I wanted to have and made that purchase, but the quality control would take some time as I gained experience. Meanwhile, I still had a large backlog of already cut wood awaiting splitting, and that kept growing because of the new trees I was cutting down for this year’s fence project.

IMG_iP0700eWhen the woodshed I had built was knocked down in a storm last spring, I let the wood splitting slip while I figured out how to get the roof back up again. That has left us a little short of ready to burn firewood for this winter. All the splitting that my neighbor recently helped me with is for wood that will be burned next year.

Now with Cyndie home for weeks on end, recuperating from her hip transplant, we’ve been having fires almost every day and have quickly consumed much of the balance of dry wood. I need to take action on a plan to turn the many downed trees in our forest into firewood.

I’m hoping they have been dead long enough that we can burn it as is. I broke off a few small branches and mixed them in our fuel a few days ago with good success. Yesterday, I got out the chainsaw and cut the bigger branches into perfect-sized logs. Some of them getting big enough around that I felt I should take a crack at splitting them.

It’s an oak tree, and the manual splitter was popping them in two with surprising ease. I stacked them in the open space on the right side of the shed and quickly had a pile over two feet high. Everything was working just as I envisioned it could. This is the way I will be able to stay ahead of our needs by just doing a little at a time.

It was an incredibly rewarding exercise, made more so by the hassles I’ve dealt with prior, before finally getting to this point of things going so right.

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Written by johnwhays

December 2, 2014 at 7:00 am