Relative Something

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

Precious Getaway

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We are so lucky to have people who are willing and able to take care of our animals for enough time to allow us to get away to the lake place every so often. It is our Memorial holiday weekend in the U.S. and for the second time in three weeks, we are again up at the lake place.

This time, we are without Delilah. She stayed home to be with our very capable recent college graduate, McKenna. Two of Cyndie’s brothers are up here with kids, and her parents as well. We got the weekend off to a very festive start by venturing out to the Lost Land Lake Lodge for the Friday night fish fry.

The place was hopping and our server was a real charm. Food was perfect in every way and the family banter was wonderfully entertaining. It was almost enough to entirely purge the lingering mental distractions of the day-job, where business has gotten so good (busy) it’s getting annoying.

Before the night was over, I had already lost two completely different card games. It didn’t bother me one bit. The precious ambiance was all the victory I needed for putting me in my happiest of places.

A precious getaway is an amazingly priceless luxury. This one is certainly more than I deserve.

As it fills my cup to overflowing, I will send the extra love out to you and the world to distribute and amplify all that is good.

It’s the least one can do for a world that too often seems out of our reach to help.

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Coming Together

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I was keeping Delilah tied close to me while cleaning up around the paddock, partly to keep her out of trouble with the horses, but also because I don’t want her venturing to the full reach of the leash, scouting chickens. She seems to understand the drill.

After retrieving her from the kennel located behind the house, we walked along the back pasture fence line toward the chicken coop. I had already checked on the chicks earlier, so knew where to expect them. Keeping myself between the chicks and Delilah, we strode parallel to the coop where I stopped to put the memory card in the trail cam for the night.

She was appropriately curious, but not frantic over the presence of the birds. I doubt she will ever reach a point where she would let one of the birds walk into her space without attempting to grab it, but it feels nice to have her practicing a respectable level of calmness with them in view.

In the paddock, I had my attention on the task at hand, letting Delilah explore the immediate vicinity around me. When she stopped and stared, I looked up to find the chicks making their way over from the coop to join the horses for some short grass grazing.

Although separated by safe distances with Delilah restrained on the leash, it felt good to have us all coming together in the paddock. It was a hint of the ideal we wish could somehow come to be.

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Written by johnwhays

May 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

Generations

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

May 25, 2017 at 6:00 am

Joking’s Over

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Last weekend, while spending extended time with friends in our home, I came to realize from some comments that I tend to paint an unbalanced portrait of Delilah, which leans toward the harsh. As recently as two days ago I posted a picture that I intended as humorous, giving her a thought bubble that played on my tendency to trumpet her carnivorous nature.

By frequently referring to how ferocious she can be, I have been neglectful of her gentle side. Our little pooch presents with a happy-go-lucky gentleness more often than not. In fact, it is probably why I don’t tend to write much about it. Her good behavior is so common as to become overlooked. We take it for granted.

It’s the exceptional moments of craziness that grab all the headlines.

Well, it’s hard not to write about the exceptional moments.

Today, I am feeling some regret about my attempt at humor over Delilah’s interest in our chickens.

Yesterday morning, while Cyndie was cleaning up under the overhang of the barn, Delilah could hold back no longer. She lunged hard enough against her leash anchor to break the handle and bend the hook it was hanging on. The handle banged against the siding of the barn and caused the horses to jump, alerting Cyndie to go check on what happened.

In that flash of seconds, we lost our first chicken to a predator. A domestic predator.

We knew all along that having free-ranging chickens around Delilah was high risk, but we simply hoped for the best. It seemed that our gradual controlled exposure to their presence was being accepted with surprising calmness, between bouts of excessive interest.

We knew she wasn’t to be trusted yet, but there were enough moments when she was demonstrating appropriate acceptance of the chickens that we felt hopeful about the chances of further improvement.

We don’t fault her for acting on her natural instinct. Delilah has given us a chance to more closely consider the delicate balance of predator/prey relationships. She is also forcing us to renew our attention to directing her exactly in the manner we need her to behave.

It’s not the dog that needs the most training. It’s her handlers.

To her credit, Delilah’s choice of victim turned out to be the extra Rhode Island Red from the batch of 10 we received for our purchase of 9 chicks. We are now down to three each of the 3 breeds we ordered.

Maybe yesterday’s incident will help me to think twice about joking over Delilah’s carnivorous ways in the future, but I’m guessing my writing will still highlight more of her wild behaviors than her quiet moments. It’s the nature of this beast.

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Written by johnwhays

May 24, 2017 at 6:00 am

Working Through

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Some chores don’t wait for nice weather, so we ventured out into the constant drizzle on Sunday to open space in our compost area, despite the inconvenience. Cyndie had moved the horses indoors out of the wet on Saturday night, which resulted in soiled wood shavings in their stalls at a time when we didn’t have space in the compost area.

Luckily, there is a spot next to the barn where we’ve been using composted manure and old hay to fill in a drop in the landscape. The area had been a too convenient runway for water drainage that was problematic. Bringing it back to level with the surrounding area will spread and slow water flowing from above.

Out came the Grizzly, after putting air in the leaky front tire, and the metal grate trailer for an increasingly muddier series of loads from the compost area. Very similar to working on moving innumerable bales of hay, as time goes by, the loads seemed to get heavier and heavier and I started to move slower and slower. Cyndie pushed back against my increasing moments of pause, with a goal of getting the job done as quickly as possible so she could get in out of the cold and wet.

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When she proclaimed we were down to just two loads remaining, I corrected her with the estimation of four loads. After I tried to take out a small load to assure my estimation would win, she suggested we could toss some of the last bits into the woods around the compost area, leading to an outcome of three loads completing the task. It was declared a tie.

We were wet, it was muddy, but we had worked through the nasty weather to accomplish a necessary chore. We now have open space for composting again.

And not a moment too soon.

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Written by johnwhays

May 23, 2017 at 6:00 am

Chicks Exploring

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I have no idea whether the raccoon Delilah alerted us to outside our sunroom in broad daylight yesterday afternoon had anything to do with the new presence of our 8-week-old chicks roaming the property. It was certainly a surprising and uncharacteristic sighting.

Daily, our chicks have expanded their excursions from the coop, and yesterday achieved milestones that gave me great satisfaction. Cyndie found them marching along the edge of the woods toward the compost area where they quickly unleashed their best chicken behavior on the piles.

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Later, after running with Delilah to follow the scent of the raccoon, we moved behind the barn to check on the birds. When they spotted us, they scooted from the paddock over toward the coop. The paddock is the other spot I hoped the chickens would frequent. My two primary goals realized in the same day. Huzzah!

While I am grateful that Delilah is attentive enough to call out the presence of a raccoon threat in our yard, I’m not yet convinced her concern for the chicks is as altruistic as we would wish. While Cyndie was cleaning the barn, Delilah held an uncomfortably intense focus on the compost area.

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Written by johnwhays

May 22, 2017 at 6:00 am

Daylong Soaking

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In the hours that I had dreamed my friends and I would be enjoying the surrounding countryside from our bicycles, the atmosphere was crying cold tears. It was a cruel follow-up to the flash flooding we endured two days prior.

It rained and rained here yesterday. Sometimes waves of serious drops fell for a few minutes, but before and after them came a steady drool of H2O that mercilessly soaked an already over-saturated landscape.

Cyndie’s mud-swamped garden became more of a fountain of running water, moving her to proclaim the location a loss for her flowering vision.

We will contemplate a different spot for her dozens of perennial beauties, somewhere as eye-catching as that bend in the driveway, but not so directly in the line of drainage.

The afternoon lent itself to some serious power-lounging around the fireplace. I closed my eyes and happily entered dreamland on the couch, then woke up to do some virtual shopping and curious research on lawn tractors. I have found multiple ways to nurse along the used Craftsman tractor that we acquired with the purchase of this property four mowing seasons ago. I think it’s had enough.

I think the engine blew a gasket last Friday. Diagnosis and repair of this malady deserves someone more learned than me, and the time constraints I am facing. The grass cutting was only partially completed when the engine revved and the white smoke billowed. Growth is happening at maximum speed this time of year.

We’re gonna need a new mower fast. There is no shortage of water providing thirsty blades of grass with all they care to drink. The front end of our property needs mowing almost before I’ve finished the last rows at the back.

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