Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘dog

Beating Heat

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Although Arabian horses were bred to perform under harsh desert conditions, the humidity that we get with our high heat is enough to make all species a little irritated. In the summer, we offer our horses a warm dusty breeze that moves enough air to toss their manes and chase off some flies.

It actually seems like little comfort, blowing hot, humid air, but Legacy has taken a particular liking to it.

Delilah prefers to lay on the cool tile in the house. Her fur coat doesn’t allow for wind to be much help. Luckily, she is a big fan of sprayed water from the hose, so we can shrink her coat dramatically by getting her wet.

We are arriving upon my last weekend before the annual June biking and camping week. I will be looking for a way to spend some time on the bike seat without putting myself at risk of heat stroke. It would be really helpful if I could rig up a mount on my tractor instead, so I could sit on my bike seat while mowing the lawn.

Speaking of mowing, I will be picking up the old Craftsman rider from the shop this morning. Now I can return the borrowed John Deere and get back to my own rig. I’ll be able to find out if it runs well under intense heat, that’s for sure.

The summer heat has brought out the lightning bugs. With the strawberry moon glowing brilliantly last night, the neon green flashes dancing above the tall grasses made for a glorious nighttime walk with Delilah as I rolled the trash and recycling bins down to the road.

George has come back for the weekend while he is serving his farrier clients in the region. I tended to the horses while he trimmed our herd after dinner. Cayenne is making good progress. He removed her shoes and left her bare foot again.

It may be hot, but things here are actually running pretty cool.

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Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2017 at 6:00 am

Resume Ranching

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It was a pleasing relief to return home to find our ranch-sitter, McKenna, hadn’t needed to deal with any missing chickens over the holiday weekend. Delilah needed a prompt from her to get up and greet us, but Pequenita practically molested me with affection when I walked in the bedroom.

Cyndie gave the horses a few moments of massage and in a flash we were back in Wintervale Ranch mode.

Once again, before departing for home, we dug up a few trillium plants to be transplanted into our woods.

In the past, we spread them out to several different areas, planting in groups of three. Most of those seem to be surviving, but not necessarily thriving. Yesterday, Cyndie agreed with my idea to put all nine of this year’s selection in one area, with the hope of establishing a little community of transplants.

In the two-and-a-half hour drive home, the plants took on a rather droopy appearance, but after getting them in the ground and adding a little water, they showed signs of perking up a bit.

After work today, I’m hoping to connect with a neighbor who might be able to provide a loaner lawn tractor so I can get grass cut at least one time while awaiting news on the status of our machine.

I stopped by the shop where we took the mower last week, hoping to find out if they had looked at it yet. They hadn’t. I pleaded with the man behind to counter to sneak in a preliminary analysis for me, so I could know as soon as possible whether I needed to be ordering a new replacement, or not.

On Friday, upon arriving in Hayward on the way to the lake, we stopped at Coop’s Pizza for lunch. I told Cyndie that a guy who looked like the man I talked to at the repair shop had just walked in with a family group. As we were driving out of the parking lot, Cyndie read the name of the repair shop out loud.

My initial reaction was to think, “They have a shop up here, too?!”

No, she was reading the information off the door of the guy’s company SUV in the parking lot. That was all the evidence I needed to tell me my sense of recognition was right on.

I sure hope he and their crew will resume repairing today, and that I might get a call with an estimate. It would help me greatly as I resume ranching duties, joining Cyndie when I get home from work.

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Written by johnwhays

May 30, 2017 at 6:00 am

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

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

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

Frequent Downpours

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I hope this isn’t an omen. This coming Friday and Saturday we have scheduled a custom event at Wintervale for close friends that is intended to serve as a warmup to the annual Tour of Minnesota bike and camping week in the middle of June. I didn’t mean it to become a conditioning exercise for nasty weather.

I don’t want the weather we are currently burdened with to be representative of what we can expect in a month’s time. The good news is that the last few days have provided several quiet moments of time when it is not raining, between the cataclysmic outbursts of over an inch-per-hour gully-washers festooned with spectacular flashes of lightning and heavy rumbling thunder that roll overhead in gargantuan waves.

The forecast for Saturday: ** Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. High near 56. East wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three-quarters of an inch possible. **

A temperature of 56° with 100% chance of precipitation is not the kind of weather in which I want to ride.

Our rain gauges are getting a good workout, needing to be frequently dumped of the inches accumulating by the hour. It’s crazy making.

Meanwhile, animals just seem to deal with it. Our horses usually choose to stand out in the rain, but occasionally they will stay under the overhang. I wonder if it might be that they are growing used to the roar from the metal roof.

The wild animals are usually hunkered down far from sight, but yesterday Cyndie came across this beautiful fawn curled up on the edge of our north trail.

She reported that Delilah had completely missed sensing the little one and walked right past, oblivious. The momma must have done an excellent job of cleaning the newborn to minimize any scent.

There was no sign of the mother, but she was probably nearby, observing.

When I got home from work, Cyndie took me out to see if the fawn was still there. She held back with Delilah as I moved ahead and scanned the trail. I kept asking her if we had reached the spot yet, because I wasn’t seeing anything. We figured it had probably moved on.

Just as I was about to head back, my eye caught a glimpse of the brown color. It had definitely moved, but not very far at all. The fawn had settled in a new spot, a little off the trail, so that it was better surrounded by the tall grass.

I reached out to snap a shot looking down from overhead and then we stepped away. We didn’t have much time to tend to the horses before the next deluge.

As the rain pounded down with dramatic intensity, I wondered about that fawn folded up in a tight little ball among the tall grass. I was hoping the momma had showed up and guided a route to the woods for better cover.

Or at the very least, higher ground.

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Written by johnwhays

May 18, 2017 at 6:00 am

Different Day

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Saturday was calm and Delilah was afraid to touch the water. Sunday the wind was directly out of the south and blowing strong enough to create rolling white cap waves. That was enough for Delilah to get over her trepidation about the water so she could charge in to bite at the broiling waves.

It was a wonderful sight to behold. I rushed to get my phone out so I could record a video. I held the camera for a long minute and then reached up to touch the screen to stop the recording. What I actually did at that moment was touch the screen to start recording, after having held it up while the phone was doing absolutely nothing during the best action.

Curses!

After chomping the white water multiple times, she alerted to the two ducks floating calmly past. I think they reminded her of chickens.

In another way Sunday was different from Saturday, there was activity in the eagle’s nest over the tennis court. On Saturday, I looked and looked but saw no sign of anything up in the big nest that has been home to an eagle family for years.

Sunday we were standing directly beneath it with Delilah when I realized the sound we were hearing was very likely newborn eagles. Looking straight up, I quickly found an eagle on a branch beyond the nest.

It is possible the nestlings just hatched. They were making quite a ruckus and we wondered if it had anything to do with our presence. When the eagle on the branch flew off, we began to speculate about the possibility the noisy eaglets were reacting to feeding time.

While one parent stayed seated in the nest, keeping a keen eye out, the other one spread its wings and flew away, presumably in search of another meal.

After a trip back to the cabin to get binoculars, we returned to find the nest calm and quiet. Having recently witnessed how quickly our chicks could fall asleep, we pondered the possibility the babies had already gone from shrieking hungry to full nap-mode.

By the middle of the day, when we had the car packed for the trip home, Delilah made every effort to clearly convey her preference to stay right where we were. It was funny to watch. She definitely recognized the cleaning and organizing preparations inside and kept a close eye on our movements.

When it came time to put on her leash to head outside, she balked big-time. Upon ultimately succeeding in getting her outside, Cyndie tried to get Delilah to pee before going in the car. Delilah’s only desire was to walk in short loops that always returned to one of the doors to go back in the cabin.

I like the way she thinks.

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Written by johnwhays

May 15, 2017 at 6:00 am