Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘chickens

It’s Curious

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For as much of my life as is now committed to caring for our property and animals, I find it curious that I can still have a series of days with very little contact to them. Yesterday, in celebration of our anniversary, we went out to dinner in Hudson after I got home from work.

When we returned after dark, I dropped Cyndie off at the barn so she could make her way to the chicken coop to close their access door for the night. I parked the car in the garage and headed inside to start my evening routine.

Tonight, I will be meeting the family at a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis to celebrate Julian’s birthday. This will lead to another night of arriving home after dark, not even seeing either the horses or chickens.

During my work weeks, it can happen that I’m completely disconnected from the activities of our ranch for a few days. It’s a little disorienting for me.

Especially since the most orienting thing of all for me is when I am able to spend time with our animals.

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Written by johnwhays

September 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

Preferred Space

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Watching how our three surviving chickens explore the world beneath the horses, it surprises me they have yet to be squished beneath a hoof. For as much as our horses have taken a liking to the space beneath the overhang of the barn, the chickens seem to like it even more.

Maybe it is because the chickens are so darn social, preferring to be hang out wherever there is the most company. Luckily, the horses showed no animosity toward the new inhabitants, accepting their presence without complaint.

We’ve chosen not to fight their interest. In fact, we’ve added some amenities to accommodate them. To keep them from poaching pellets from the feed the horses get twice a day, we set out a pan of their own feed to hold their attention.

Since they have food, Cyndie decided to set out some water, too.

With plenty of sand to bathe in, and a roof to protect from rain or sun, the chickens have all the makings of a great hangout spot.

I don’t blame them a bit. Hanging out with the horses has become one of my favorite places to be, too.

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Written by johnwhays

September 11, 2017 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Crazy Times

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Things have been a little crazy around here lately. I blame the hurricanes in the Atlantic. If a flapping butterfly wing can trigger a hurricane, what do three hurricanes to the south/southeast of our continent trigger way up here? Probably something crazy.

The other day, Cyndie reported stepping out of the house to check on the chickens when she heard all sorts of commotion and squawking going on nearby. She found them over in the neighbor’s woods, all up in tree branches. It occurred in the late morning hours, so there was no reason to think they were just up there settling in to roost for the night.

She said it was easy to coax them down and lead them back near our compost piles, where she tossed some cracked corn in hopes of keeping their attention focused on our land. 

There was no sign of what might’ve chased them up into the branches.

Elysa and Ande stopped by last weekend and found the chickens in a wonderfully social mood. The birds enjoyed some grapes for a treat and spent a little time hanging out with the lounging humans.

Luckily, the birds weren’t loitering nearby on Tuesday when Cyndie was walking Delilah and a rabbit triggered a response that cut too sharp around a fence post. The ring which the leash was clasped to ripped out of the harness.

The dog was off-leash!

…And ignoring all commands, while disappearing into the woods after the bunny. Cyndie hustled to secure the chickens and then hunted for about a half-hour, before finding the escapee laying at the bottom of the backyard hill, looking like she was waiting to be found.

Just enough crazy to feel like something isn’t right, though, gladly for us, nothing forcing us to evacuate from fires, floods, or Category 4 and 5 freight-train hurricane winds.

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Written by johnwhays

September 8, 2017 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Getting Orange

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Things are growing more orange around here. Yesterday at breakfast, Cyndie called me to come look at the difference in color of our eggs, compared to the ones purchased at the grocery store. Looks like the free-range diet of our three chickens is producing deep color in the yolks, seen on the right, below.

We spent the Labor Day holiday doing a lot of work, for a day off. Starting with a couple of hours cleaning out the compost area, using the loader bucket on the diesel tractor. There’s now plenty of room to store a winter’s worth of manure, just in case winter gets around to showing up.

Then we split up and Cyndie used the power trimmer in the labyrinth, while I entered a race against time to get the hayfield mowed before it rained.

Looking back toward the horses, I spotted another splash of orange color erupting from the green of our tree line.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like September.

At the end of a long day’s effort, we put our tools away and headed for the house under the drops of a perfect late-summer rain shower.

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Written by johnwhays

September 5, 2017 at 6:00 am

Brief Scare

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I didn’t get to hear about it until long after the fact yesterday, but for a moment in the morning, a chicken safety alarm was raised. Our trusty assistant, Shelby, was tending to the horses when a neighbor whom she didn’t know drove up our driveway exclaiming that a pair of wandering dogs had killed all her cats.

She suggested we protect our chickens, so Shelby ushered our three surviving birds back into their coop for the rest of the day.

When Cyndie told me this story, she said our neighbor described the dogs as a German Shepherd and a Chocolate Lab. That sounded familiar to me. A quick search of the trail cam files confirmed my suspicion.

These trouble makers were captured trespassing on our trail in the woods back in March of 2016. At the time, no harm had been done, so we didn’t bother seeking a verification of ownership.

Now, I’m thinking we might want to keep this photo handy on our phones for possible inquiries around the block. I will also look for a new vantage point from which to aim the trail cam again, in order to watch for possible new sightings of these two.

If they are still coming on our property, it troubles me a bit that they’ve been able to do it without ever being seen, beyond that time the camera caught them. With our frequent movement around the grounds every single day, it would mean they are pretty crafty in their stealth if they indeed have still been paying us visits unseen.

Even though it was just a brief scare yesterday, it has left us with a lingering feeling of unease.

Wonder if it will help to send these dogs love. If it doesn’t, I’d like to figure out a way to offer them some of Delilah’s sharp-toothed version of a greeting to discourage any future interest in choosing to cross our property lines.

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Written by johnwhays

September 1, 2017 at 6:00 am

First Aroma

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It was one week ago that I wrote about the waning days of summer and my noticing colored leaves in our grass beneath the tree that always turns early. Now, on the last day of August, it’s probably right on schedule that I noticed my first scent of dry leaves in our woods.

It doesn’t even look like there are enough leaves on the ground to be noticeable, but the smell is there.

I was doing some forest bathing with Delilah and breathing in the aroma as we walked the trail. It made me think of September, and then I realized that the month begins tomorrow.

The smell may not be early, but it seems like it is.

Last night was a gorgeous summer evening with a perfect temperature and fabulous sky when Delilah and I headed out later in the evening to tuck the chickens in their coop for the night. The horses had wandered through the open gate out onto the grass of the middle pasture again, and the scene was a perfect picture-postcard moment.

In sharp contrast to the travails of so many other people and places in the world, the sanctuary of our property is quite the healing balm for whatever assails my being.

The aroma of fallen leaves comes as a particularly precious added bonus.

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Written by johnwhays

August 31, 2017 at 6:00 am

Horse Love

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It’s time our horses get a little love from the Relative Something blog, don’t you think? They’ve been a little short-changed here because energy for them has been directed toward the Facebook page of late. The lines get a little blurry sometimes, and I forget which hat I am wearing, blogger or Wintervale post-er.

I’ve got a fix for that today. To see this fun snippet of the herd nom-nom munching on the high grass of the middle pasture, I’m linking back to the Wintervale FB page.

If you don’t have time for the video, I’m including two snapshots of our crew in graze-mode for your enrichment. Enjoy!

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They are getting along well as the summer slowly winds down for them. We’ve noticed they have grown comfortable enough with being under the barn overhang now that even when rain roars on the metal roof, they stay beneath it and keep dry.

I like that better than when they preferred to stand as far as possible from the cover it offered, choosing instead to droop their heads down and get soaking wet, looking like sorry sad sacks.

Their health has been stable and good, although Cayenne still is working on growing out her hooves after a bout of laminitis. George has been kind enough to provide her an extra session of trimming between the normal span of time for the rest of the herd, which is helping to hasten a return to a desired hoof shape and less painful weight-bearing.

Shelby has been exercising the horses once a day, continuing a process that she started after Cyndie’s shoulder surgery in June. It has been a great help toward getting the horses ready for the workshops underway while Dunia is here.

One other thing the horses have adjusted nicely to this summer is the presence of three very friendly chickens who demonstrate a frequent preference to share the cozy space under the overhang, even though it sometimes means their meager ration of twice-daily nutrition pellets gets poached by the greedy birds.

Doesn’t seem to matter. The horses know they are still the stars of our show.

Makes me love them all the more.

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Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2017 at 6:00 am