Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘hay

Objective Achieved

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Obviously, we have many objectives, and quite frankly –due in many ways to my lack of bringing projects to fruition– we have not achieved a great majority of them. However, if we were to focus on the dream of having chickens to scratch and spread piles of manure while eating bugs to help control pests… Objective achieved!

After dinner last night, Cyndie and I made a hay run to haul another pickup-load of bales from our latest supplier. We marveled over the phenomena of cultivating social capital to foster good will with the many service providers we have come to know in the area.

We are both intent on making the most of our limited time and work to maximize productiveness of the short hours available when I get home from the day-job. I squeezed in a couple of errands on the way home, including a stop at the repair shop that couldn’t identify any problem with the Kohler engine in my riding mower [grumble, grumble].

We settled on focusing his attention on the carburetor.

After squeezing in a very quick meal, we hustled to reach the hay farm at the appointed hour. Our new friend, Scott, entertained us with story after story while rolling bales perfectly into place for me to load. As I attached straps to hold down the bales, Scott tried a quick-fix to screw the rusted step-bar on the passenger side back onto the rusted frame, alas to no avail.

Then we chatted some more while half of me wanted to hustle home. The other half of me wanted to stay as long as he offered to visit. There have been very few, if any, interactions with folks that don’t involve some extended chatting. It’s really pretty precious.

It generates a social capital that we highly value. Projects can grow to take a fair amount of additional time, but the benefits of our interactions are always worth it.

The other errand I ran on the way home from work was to the implement dealer to see if they had any advice regarding the leaky gear box on our brush cutter. The last time I added gear oil, it seemed like it disappeared surprisingly fast. Then I spotted the dark wetness on the flywheel below and concluded the seals were bad.

An internet search on the subject was very entertaining. In classic form, I found multiple discussions where opposing views alternated with every other comment on discussion boards.

Corn Head Grease seemed to be a common recommendation. There were farmers who switched to grease over oil and hadn’t had a problem in 40 years. There were as many advisors who said absolutely don’t use grease, as it will move away from the friction points by the force of the spin.

Some wrote that they mixed oil with the grease to get the best of both worlds. The lubrication manufacturers strongly state one should never mix the two.

After twice scanning the offerings at the implement dealer, the clerk at the parts desk asked if he could help me find anything. At that same moment, my eyes landed on the answer to the question I was about to ask.

Farm oyl makes the very product I was hoping existed.

That’s one of those mini objectives, achieved.

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Written by johnwhays

June 6, 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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Dashed Plans

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Our day’s plan went out the door at the crack of dawn yesterday.

Does this look like the face of a mare who doesn’t want her picture taken?

Yes, it does.

Poor Dezirea is fighting a bug, we think. We didn’t notice anything amiss until serving up the pans of morning feed. Dezi had no interest. It was at that point that plans for the day were scrapped and caring for our senior mare became the focus of our energies.

She was not a happy horse, but at least she didn’t appear to be in extreme pain. After running through our basic knowledge of diagnostic steps, Cyndie wanted to consult with the veterinarian. He felt it warranted a visit so he could do an in-person assessment.

I kept Dezirea walking, which she did so amicably enough for someone not really interested in doing anything.

Her temperature wasn’t alarmingly high, but her pulse was definitely elevated. We had immediately quarantined her to the small side of our paddocks and emptied that box of hay. As the day wore on, I noticed the other three horses had deposited two piles of poo each, but Dezirea had none.

Was it a digestive issue or some other affliction? Hard to tell.

The vet took a blood sample. He believed the problem might be a tick-born infection, anaplasmosis. We are treating it as if, and they administered an intravenous antimicrobial.

This morning, she is at the very least, no worse in appearance. She is rather lethargic, though much less depressed. She seems to be gaining interest in eating, although we are hesitant to provide full rations until we see proof her system is functioning more normally.

We found evidence she was able to expel a small amount of poop overnight, so that provides some reassurance that she doesn’t have a catastrophic twist or obstruction shutting down all function in the digestive system. That also matches with her lack of acute pain symptoms.

So, looking after Dezirea consumed most of our mental energies yesterday. I turned piles of manure while spending extended time with the horses. The other horses tolerated the altered accommodations with only minor complaint. The hours and minutes passed in a blink and accomplishments dropped to bare essentials.

The big milestone that became overshadowed by Dezirea’s illness was the delivery of much-needed hay to rescue us from a predicament. Jack and Joanie were gracious enough to make a long trip from Minnesota to bring us hay because our sources here had nothing left to offer. Their precious energy lifted our spirits and provided liveliness that was particularly helpful in the moment, and their hay will help us greatly for the weeks ahead.

Hunter thinks he has an easy solution to the hay shortage. He desperately wants us to open the gates and let him have at the sweet green grass growing everywhere in sight. It’s like, water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

If he only recognized the risks.

We could use a break from horse health issues. For now, I’m making no plan for the rest of today. Whatever comes up will get my attention. Hopefully, it won’t interfere with the guests and dinner Cyndie has planned for this evening.

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Written by johnwhays

April 29, 2017 at 10:21 am

Slow Feeding

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After serving up pans of feed to our four horses, I make sure their slow feeder hay boxes are topped off and ready for the long and cold winter night. They emphatically chomp down the small dose of nutrition provided in the pellets and then move directly to the hay to fuel their internal furnaces against the sub-zero chill.

Last night the evening was so serene I paused with them and recorded the scene.

The slow feeders are a great success for us. Especially when we fill them with hay the horses like.

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Written by johnwhays

January 8, 2017 at 7:00 am

Hay Preference

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As if I needed any additional evidence, our horses have reaffirmed my suspicion about their dissatisfaction with one of our hay sources. Unfortunately, it happens to be from the supplier closest to home. So close, in fact, I was able to just hook up to one of his hay wagons and pull it down the road at 25 MPH to our driveway. It’s not just the miles, it’s a huge advantage of not needing to toss and stack hundreds of bales an extra time.

The other suppliers we used last summer required us to acquire a trailer and involved the stacking and strapping down of bales for much longer trips.

Exhibit A:

dscn5666edscn5665e.

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On the left, you can see what is left of the bale they like. This is a typical morning result. Pretty much nothing but dust left on the bottom of the box.

On the right, they have picked at it and pulled out what they could grab, then distributed it on the ground or nosed it out of the way on top of the grate in search of the possibility there will be something better deeper in the box.

I took those pictures yesterday morning. After returning from the lake, I got fooled about which bale was which in the barn, because our house-sitter had been so thorough as to replace bales I had set out for her. Turns out she replaced them with ones from the side of the hay shed I hadn’t been using.

When I initially loaded the boxes, I didn’t realize I had used the unpopular bales. Sunday night, I purposefully filled the one on the left with a bale I knew they liked, with a plot to see if results might be any different from the last time I tried mixing the bales.

I would say they have very consistently demonstrated their opinions about the bales from our closest supplier. This was the first time we purchased hay from him, and we have no knowledge of what it might be about his hay that our horses don’t like. The grass looks really good to us, with very little in the way of weeds. They don’t smell suspicious to us, but the horses have showed me multiple times that they can sense it in an instant with one whiff.

Could he have used a chemical fertilizer or pesticide that they don’t like? We will ponder how to best inquire about specifics when we next have an opportunity to visit with our neighbor regarding his hay.

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Written by johnwhays

January 3, 2017 at 7:00 am

Morning Pictures

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Delilah and I set out in the pre-dawn light to walk the long way through the woods to the barn so we could feed the horses. The coloring comes through with a blue tint before the sunlight starts making its way through the clouds.

dscn5548eI always find the view of fresh snow on the branches irresistible to capture, but the pictures never do justice to what I get to see in real life.

Legacy likes to pretend he doesn’t know how to get around the obstacle of the arena fence line to come in for the morning morsels of feed. The two younger chestnuts ignore his act and simply keep grazing until its time to go.

dscn5552eThis morning provided good evidence of the horses having a preference for one hay over another from the selections we have to offer them this year. I specifically mixed the supply in this box last night.

dscn5550eNot wanting them to suffer over their picky-ness about the fuel being served this morning in the snowy cold, I emptied the box of the less desirable hay and replaced it with one of the bales they prefer.

I dumped the unwanted hay out in the raised circle.

dscn5553eNow guess which one they prefer.

After getting back up to the house to feed the rest of the crew, I will be stepping back outside to crank up the Grizzly for the first snowplowing of the year.

With a Polar Vortex cold snap predicted for the days ahead, it is finally feeling a lot like winter around Wintervale today.

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Written by johnwhays

December 11, 2016 at 11:06 am

Weeds Begone

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It took twice as long as I expected to finish cutting down the 4 acres we call our hay-field yesterday, but I was trying to do a very thorough job of removing the primary invader, Queen Anne’s Lace from sight. The biennial crop is the most visible evidence that we aren’t growing high quality grass hay out there yet.IMG_iP1562e

There is some grass there, and it has become obvious to us from the regular mowing we have done around the labyrinth and along the fence lines, that doing so will help the grasses and hurt the weeds.

Right now, we are thinking about just keeping this mowed short for a full year. We may have some additives applied to the soil, and add desireable grass seed over the top, before getting back to baling it again the year after.

The project was almost over before I had even completed the first pass along the fence line. For no apparent reason the shear bolt suddenly gave out and the blades stopped cutting.

We had waited the entire summer to have this field cut, and when it didn’t happen any other way, we decided to finally just chop it down ourselves. This interruption had me wondering if maybe we were making the wrong decision, but I had a replacement bolt and it was an easy fix, so I didn’t let that problem stop me for long.

When it became clear that it was going to take all afternoon to complete the task, Cyndie was kind enough to bring me lunch in the field. It felt just like farming!

When I got to the last little strip to be mowed, I wanted to include Cyndie in the moment of achievement. She was serving the horses their evening feed at the barn, so I whistled to get her attention as I was lining the tractor up for the final cut.

IMG_iP1565eCHShe heard the second of my shrill chirrups, and was looking to ascertain whether I was in need of her assistance while I was backing into position. I was intending to point out that it would be the last pass and I just wanted her to share in the joy of accomplishment, when the blades of the mower started clattering on a rock I hadn’t noticed.

The sound of mower blades hitting obstacles always tends to create a panic response. I stomped on the clutch and lifted the mower. My big moment of victory was dashed by a dose of humble pie. In a comical turn, now she did think something was wrong.

She hollered something to me, but I couldn’t hear her words over the rat-tat-tat of the diesel engine idling. After several fruitless tries, we walked toward each other until I heard she was asking if I had my camera with me so she could capture the moment.

We laughed over the fact I hadn’t hit a single thing all day, but just as I was hoping to get her attention, …clank. I had already mowed over that rock without incident in the other direction. Backing across it on the slope was a different story.

She took the pictures of my final successful pass.

IMG_iP1576eCHIMG_iP1585eCH.

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Did you see that bird she captured in the last shot? It looks as happy as me over having our field freshly cut.

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Written by johnwhays

August 6, 2016 at 9:13 am