Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘grazing

Fiery Sky

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The horses were heavily harassed by biting flies yesterday, which made my session of scooping manure a lively affair. The biggest hazard, beyond unpredictable flailing hooves as they fling a leg out in response to a bite, is the nasty snap of their tails. They could take an eye out with that whipping action. At the very least, it stings when they get you.

I’ve noticed they will frequently align themselves to purposely have their heads in the wash of someone else’s tail for added fly management. There is no doubt they are thicker skinned than we are. I wouldn’t be able to endure the beating.

I worked well past the dinner hour last night, after a full shift at the day-job, to create added open space in the compost area for my approaching week-long absence from home. The effort now should pay off when I return, so I won’t come home to a disaster of overflowing piles.

Manure management is one of those jobs that is made easy by frequent attention. Let it go for a day or two between scooping and it can become an exponentially more significant project.

Last night, I opened up a gate to a section of pasture that still has long grass, to allow the herd a brief session of grazing. The first thing three of them did was pee. The second thing they took turns doing was laying down and rolling around.

When I looked their direction to see they finally got around to seriously grazing, the setting sun was illuminating the clouds to create the impression of a great conflagration. Photo Op!

One last day at the day-job today before vacation. I hope to try mowing the yard tonight and maybe doing a little laundry so I can pack clean clothes for the bike trip.

If I pack warm clothes and rain gear, maybe I won’t need them. We all know that if I don’t pack those things, it would guarantee that the week would turn out cold and wet.

If we see fiery clouds in the evenings during the bike trip, I hope it will mean, “sailor’s delight.”

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 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

Herd Reunited

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I am very happy to be able to report that Dezirea has made enough progress toward good health that Cyndie decided to allow her back with our other horses. In fact, to celebrate the milestone, Cyndie let all 4 of them step out onto the green grass for their first brief taste of the spring.

We have now arrived at the difficult period when we meter out their minutes of grazing on the lush spring growth. In years past, the strict constraints on the time we allowed them were merely applied to ease their digestive systems into the change. Then we came to realize that they don’t work hard enough to justify the rich diet full-time.

We have to limit their grazing most of the year in order to keep them from becoming overweight.

Cyndie has purchased some muzzles in hope of giving the horses a chance to roam the pasture without over-eating. They can eat through the muzzle, but it takes a bit more time and effort. It will slow down their intake.

Since they are not out on the pasture full-time, they’ve been eating hay longer into the warm months. Last night we visited a new local source of small bales that Cyndie found through an ad. We filled the back of the pickup with as much as it would hold and hustled back to the ranch, quickly serving up a few test bites to the horses.

They loved it! That was a relief.

Hauling hay at the end of the day was a lot of work, because we were already fatigued from continued sprucing of the labyrinth, mowing the lawn, re-hanging the vines across the path out of the back yard, spending time with chickens out of the coop, and turning the composting manure piles.

Today will be a much more leisurely day. It’s World Labyrinth Day! We are expecting visitors around noon, so after a few small chores of preparation in the morning, we will be lounging, snacking, visiting, and walking for peace throughout the afternoon.

I’m looking forward to having the afternoon off.

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Autumn Ambiance

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dscn5204eI stepped outside to search for some fall scenery to photograph after I got home from work yesterday and was rewarded well beyond my expectations. It helps to never grow too accustomed to the beautiful surroundings we enjoy here.

It would be a shame to ever take this gorgeous place for granted.

The key factor yesterday was that it wasn’t raining. There was actually some blue sky visible. With a high pressure system moving in, we are hoping to for several dry days in a row. It is likely to deliver a dose of our best of autumn weather.

dscn5208eMany of our trails are developing a carpet of fallen leaves that provide a crunch when you walk. More importantly, they are filling the air with the unmistakable scent of the season. When I walk toward the pastures and pop out of the trees, the horses show signs of wondering what huge creature is making all that racket.

Just this huge creature, is all.

When I got down to our Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth, the sunlight was getting low. Cyndie had recently mowed and weeded the labyrinth, which gave it a well-tended glow anyway.

I walked to the far side and paused to stare at the beauty all around me. I was looking away from the entrance for the shortest of moments, and when I turned back around I was startled by the sudden silent presence of a lone young deer happily standing nearby.

It was as if it had magically materialized in the spot. I realized right away that it was totally unaware of me standing there. When it stepped through our fence and walked into the pasture to graze, I stealthily moved to a rock nearby and lifted my camera to capture the scene in video…

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Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2016 at 6:00 am

Springing Considerably

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DSCN4685eThe forest floor is sprouting forth with an abundance of white trout lilies this week. It made me curious about the trillium that we transplanted from our lake place last year. I should have marked them better, because the complete transformation of the woods in a year’s time has me confused now over where I put them.

I planted the “borrowed” trillium in several small groups in a section of woods just below the house. Surveying the area late yesterday, it seemed like the only growth was trout lilies, but I eventually spotted a grouping of the distinctly different leaves.

In a few weeks, flowers will make the trillium much easier to spot.

DSCN4681eUp north, it is obvious how prolific trillium is in naturally propagating to carpet the woods and create a dramatic visual. We are hoping to seed our spaces with enough starters to enable the natural process to do the rest.

After some passing gentle rain showers on Thursday, the pasture that I mowed last weekend is greening up nicely. I strung the webbing between posts yesterday to complete the divider fence that will allow us to rotationally graze the horses on that precious field.

The point where I connected the new webbing to electricity is right at the paddock, and the horses took great interest in what I was doing. I had the charger turned off to work, and while I experimented with several methods of connection, Legacy and Cayenne took turns putting their noses right into the business at hand.DSCN4669e

I sure hope they are keen enough to sense the hazard of doing that when the electricity is on.

Even though they already had a stint on the alley grass earlier in the day, Cyndie talked me into letting them come out on the pasture with the new divider for a short nibble after so patiently watching me fix it up all afternoon.

I can’t really say whether they even noticed the new divider, because their attention was exclusively focused on the succulent green blades immediately available just steps beyond the opened gate.

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Written by johnwhays

April 23, 2016 at 8:24 am

Green Alley

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I didn’t start the day Sunday with a plan to spend the entire day reworking the fencing around our arena space, but that is pretty much how it played out. We thought we were going to make a run to purchase parts that would allow us to finish the new divider fence in the back pasture. After that, we hoped to take a crack at turning some brush piles into wood chips for our trails.

Instead, I started fixing the sad-looking step-in posts we had used to mark out space for an arena, most of which were heavily battered by wind and soft spring soil. That spawned an idea to also put up the short barriers to the hay-field. This creates an alley between the paddock and the arena space, which we can then give the horses access to, saving me the chore of needing to mow it.

The grass in that space is actually further along than in the back pasture, so we adjusted plans and focussed on getting that space ready first. While I toiled away on details to electrify all the new fence webbing, Cyndie made the run for parts that would allow us to finish both the pasture divider and the arena area.

DSCN4665eWhen she got back and I had the barriers done on each end of the alley, we decided to give the horses their first few minutes on fresh grass right then and there, while we finished up a few details on the arena fence. They stepped through the gate in a very mannerly way, spending a few minutes nibbling the first blades available. In no time, they were wandering well into the space, Legacy hanging close to us, and the three chestnuts moving the other direction.

We needed to limit their time on the grass, which involves the challenge of asking them to go back into the paddock. That’s not always easy, but they demonstrated impeccable self-control last night and headed back inside of their own accord, when Cyndie was preparing to set out their evening feed.

Of course, they subsequently showed great interest in both of the main gates we tend to leave open for them later in the season. They were cooperative about coming in, but they were obviously interested in getting back out again soon. They’ll get that chance today, and for twice the time. We add 15-minutes a day during their transition times onto spring grass, up to about 4-hours. At that point, we can leave the gates open all the time, allowing them free choice all day and night.

Lucky for them, the alley grass is plenty green and growing fast, so they have that to start with while we wait for the back pasture to catch up.

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Written by johnwhays

April 18, 2016 at 6:00 am

Anxiously Waiting

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We knocked off a good number of satisfying chores yesterday, taking full advantage of perfectly summer-like weather. In fact, it was so summery, I found myself mowing grass. We also put fence posts in to split our back pasture, so we will be able to rotate the horses back and forth, allowing us to provide the turf occasional rest from the voracious foursome.

The herd spent most of the day lined up at the gate, anxiously awaiting access to the new green smorgasbord that is sprouting beyond the confines of their paddock. Cyndie captured a wonderful shot of them eyeing her as she walked past, sending their message of bewilderment over being neglected all this time.

DSCN4652eCHDSCN4662eCH.

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They won’t have too much longer to wait. We have shut them in for a few weeks to give the grass a head start, protecting it from both their heavy hooves while it’s wet, and their devouring ways.

While I was getting machines prepared for the day’s work, Cyndie drove the truck down to one of the older rock piles at the edge of our woods and selected perfect specimens to create a border for a new native wild flower garden that she is creating in the spot where we recently removed all the old barbed wire, stump, and brush.DSCN4651eCH

Visitors will be greeted by a colorful splendor as it comes into view over the crest of the first rise in our driveway.

Cyndie has some of her own anxious waiting to do, for her vision of new growing flowers to become established and in full bloom on this wonderful spot she is creating.

It seemed like more additional work than I saw a need for, but once again, her ability to make things happen is bringing about another enhancement to Wintervale that will add even more charm to an already precious place.

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Written by johnwhays

April 17, 2016 at 7:57 am