Relative Something

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

Archive for June 2017

Crazy

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yes
it feels crazy
like my storage is almost full
like my tires are getting thin
like grass growing faster than time
time that warps
unapologetically
the way water flows
unrelenting
the way love transcends
mysterious –yet not
not at all really
universal
like smiles
a language no one doesn’t understand
coming through loud and clear
without making
a single sound
unencumbered
by crass ulterior motives
seeking financial gain
just love
smiling
feeling
kind of
crazy

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Written by johnwhays

June 30, 2017 at 6:00 am

No Damage

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There was a close call with violent weather near our property yesterday afternoon, but we squeaked by with no obvious damage. We haven’t walked through all our woods yet, but the openly visible spaces look unharmed. The worst inconvenience we faced was flashing digital clocks that were the result of a brief power outage at the height of the storm.

I was in Hudson at an annual eye appointment when the sky darkened and windblown rain pummeled the building. By the time I was ready to drive home, the sun was coming out. I had no idea a tornado had formed just a few miles northeast of our home.

Pierce County Herald: Tornado Strikes Rural Pierce County

I heard mention on the radio of severe weather nearby during my drive. That didn’t surprise me, based on the ominous looking sky I was driving toward. Luckily, the threat was moving away from me the whole time.

Tornado Touches Down in Wisconsin’s Pierce County

I want to go out and hug my trees.

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Written by johnwhays

June 29, 2017 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Still There

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I’ve made it through two days back at work, but like many years before, my mind is still back on the week of biking and camping with friends. Those days are a powerful elixir that takes a while to wear off.

The Tour of Minnesota is holding a photo contest which provides me an opportunity to revisit the trip, with an expanded view from my own, by perusing the 200-plus submissions from fellow riders.

Here are a couple of my own shots that I liked well enough to toss into the fray…

 

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Written by johnwhays

June 28, 2017 at 6:00 am

Lonely Three

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We are really missing our lost chickens. The three that remain are doing a good job of carrying on, but we get a sense that they are still feeling ill at ease over the disruption and fatalities that befell the flock a week ago Friday. On the most recent Saturday and Sunday nights, when we arrived to close the door on the coop, they weren’t all inside.

Of course, that quickly brought on fears of another predator, but we found a favored tree branch over the compost piles has become a new alternative go-to spot.

Last night we saved ourselves the extra step of plucking them from the branch at bedtime by heading down a little early and serenading them toward the coop. A sprinkled treat of cracked corn, grains, and meal worms won their favor and lured them into the safety of their shelter.

We are contemplating a few options to fill the void and get the numbers back up. If we are lucky, the killer(s) that visited was/were not local and simply took advantage of the birds while passing through. The more ominous alternative is that it was a local predator that will return as long as we keep buying more chicks.

I need to refine my trail cam setup to improve my results of capturing uninvited intruders in the act.

Oh how I like to dream of being able to use Delilah to protect the chickens from all threats. In reality, she will never master the nuance of first protecting them from herself.

It sure is a treat to watch them pecking away at the compost pile. I like to think that each hit is one less fly tomorrow. Their efficiency may not be that high, but I’m happy to just go on thinking it is.

How would we ever know the difference?

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Written by johnwhays

June 27, 2017 at 6:00 am

New Doors

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Progress on the hay shed doors is coming along nicely. One of the guys installing them hollered to me while I was tending to the horses, reporting that the hay inside was looking better already.

Seriously, protecting the bales from the continued harsh exposure to the sun will go a long way to improve the nutritional quality from what we’ve been left with in the past.

These doors certainly weren’t the cheapest option, but having professionals do the work is worth every penny to me. Watching them figure out the nitty-gritty details for just a few minutes was enough to assure me I wouldn’t have come close to achieving the quality of work they are performing.

All that’s left now is to buy more hay.

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Written by johnwhays

June 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

Catching Up

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I’m in ‘catch-up’ mode this weekend, trying to do a week’s worth of chores around the property after my bicycling vacation. Tomorrow, it’s back to the grind of the day-job. Meanwhile, Cyndie remains tethered to one-arm limitations while her shoulder heals from the surgery.

I finished mowing and trimming the lawn grass areas yesterday, but that leaves quite a few acres of fields yet to be mowed with the big tractor and the brush cutter. It’s a jungle out there!

The horses happily volunteered to work on keeping the arena space short.

We enjoyed a pleasant surprise yesterday when a contractor knocked on our door to announce he was ready to start work on building doors for our hay shed. After a few years of watching the outside bales baked to a nutrition-less crisp of dried straw, we have settled on solid doors for a long-term solution.

The prospect of a curtain or hanging shade cloth would be a challenge to secure against the abuse of wind and sun. Rolling metal doors is our choice.

Speaking of wind, we lost two large tree branches to a gust yesterday after I mowed. I didn’t even notice the wind blowing, but the evidence is impossible to ignore in two completely different ends of our property.

Even after having the tree service trim out the risky dead wood from our large trees, there is always a threat of falling branches. Maybe we need to provide hard hats on windy days around here. Geesh.

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Written by johnwhays

June 25, 2017 at 10:32 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Tragedy Visited

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I’m home again and Cyndie has everything under control, despite trying to do everything with one arm. The only difference I notice between now and a week ago when I left is the grass is long again. No surprise there. My thanks go out to all the people who helped out around here while I was off biking and camping.

The news that I shared with my fellow riders all week long was about a tragedy that happened on the Friday night that was supposed to be my first night of camping. An as-of-yet unidentified intruder decimated our chicken flock.

These three are all that we have left.

I hadn’t planned on being home at the time, but I was. With the bike tour starting less than a half-hour away from our home this year, I was able to use most of the day to finish chores, but I didn’t plan on running out of gas. The amount of time I spent getting to town and back was enough to throw my grand plan all out of whack.

Plan B involved driving to the school where the Tour started so I could get registered, then continuing on to the next exit off the interstate, where I picked up a prescription for Cyndie. With that in hand, I needed to drive back home to deliver it to her, so I decided to just sleep there and return to the school in the morning.

My sister, Mary, was over for the weekend to assist Cyndie. As I focused on packing for my trip, they headed out to close the door on the chicken coop for the night. Uncharacteristically, they found one chicken was up on our driveway by the house.

Eventually, they discovered two lifeless bodies, one inside the paddock and one just outside that same fence. Cyndie found one of the Barred Plymouth Rocks walking near the coop and got it to go inside. The one up near the driveway, the surviving Buff Orpington, was hiding in the woods and and wouldn’t come out until the next day.

I had gone out to bury the two fatalities in a compost pile and discovered the other Barred Plymouth Rock up in a tree. I was able to grab her and return her to the coop to keep the other one company for the night.

Final tally of the nine we had: two confirmed dead, three survived, and four missing in action.

Cyndie and Mary scoured the property for signs, but found no evidence to clue us in to what might have become of the others. We lost all of the Rhode Island Reds, two Buff Orpingtons, and one Barred Plymouth Rock to an unknown predator or predators.

Never saw or heard a thing, before or since. Could have been a neighboring dog or cat, or any number of wild threats. It’s possible that the some of the four missing chickens just ran away and never made it back home. I doubt we’ll ever know for sure.

It’s a risk we take to have free ranging chickens.

This morning when I wheeled a load of manure out to dump on the pile, the three surviving chickens were doing their best to dig through the compost and eat as many bugs as they could.

We’re gonna need more chickens.

I need to go mow the lawn.

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Written by johnwhays

June 24, 2017 at 9:46 am