Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘kids

More Family

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Yesterday we enjoyed a visit with more family when my sister, Judy, and her daughter, Tricia, and kids stopped by for a dose of Wintervale that delightfully just kept on going, despite their intention to make it brief.

I treasure the opportunity to share the preciousness of idle time among our animals and strolling around our grounds. When the participants are as thrilled by what they find here as Cyndie and I are, it is both energizing and confirming. 

The experience is what I believe it to be. Rejuvenating. Inspiring. Mesmerizing.

The kids didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t blame them one bit.

There are chickens! The horses! They walked/ran the labyrinth, laid on the hammocks, split wood for a fire, made s’mores. We ate fresh-picked sweet corn and cooked burgers over the fire. What’s not to like?

The best part for me was sharing some custom time among the herd, just standing or sitting near the horses while they munched on sweet clover in the arena space. We pulled out the giant soccer ball for the horses, but it held little appeal compared to the greens at their feet.

As we stood observing, the horses eventually oriented themselves right in front of us, chomping away about as close as they could get. Coming from our previous snack of corn on the cob, we recognized that they were gobbling the grass with very similar motions and zeal.

Quietly hanging out with the horses is time I am able to enjoy every day, but drop-in guests rarely get the opportunity, with the inherent hazards of unexpected horse reactions and unfamiliar humans creating unnecessary risk. Cyndie offered a crash-course of safety instruction and the group was able to enter the horses’ space for some unscripted interacting.

Hunter was particularly appreciative of all the attention being lavished and he soaked up the scratches for all he was worth. The picture Tricia captured of Brooke’s kiss while Hunter closed his eyes is a wonderful depiction of the sentiments.

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Written by johnwhays

August 12, 2017 at 9:42 am

Creating Results

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I have envisioned a possible design for a wash station for years. Yesterday, with the kids here to help, we finally just did it. Regardless the way I pictured it, we ended up choosing to exclusively use material we had on hand. It meant we could take immediate action and not wait to buy supplies.

For example, instead of buying gravel to fill the grids we used, Julian and I scraped the driveway behind the barn. Time will tell if that will work as hoped. I can always replace material in the future if we find it doesn’t drain well enough. One benefit we have over whether this design serves the purpose or not is our complete control over its use.

We do not board horses for other people. There are just 4 horses here and they don’t need frequent washing. We have the ability to match our use with the limitations of the design. Likewise, we can upgrade the design as necessary if shortcomings become evident after use.

It looks good to see the space decked out now like the way I have been imagining it, but time needs to pass for the surface to “weather,” becoming stable enough to support the weight of our horses. Cyndie and the horses have waited this long, they can hold off a little longer before putting it through the ultimate testing.

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I’ve talked with Cyndie about trying it out in phases. Soon we will invite one horse at a time to pay a visit and maybe park themselves there, tethered to the hitching post, to receive some dry grooming for a spell. 

In the long run, it’s the horses who will create the real final results.

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Written by johnwhays

June 5, 2016 at 10:00 am

Floating Along

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It’s the middle of February and a life at the ranch is humming along with a reasonable sense of normalcy. We had a fun gathering with Julian and Elysa yesterday for a Valentine’s Day brunch. Julian brought his hoverboard for us to see and test. In a brief lesson, while standing with my hands on the back of a chair, Julian guided me through some steps on the basics.

It only took one quick loss of control where I practically dumped the chair, to decide I was good with just standing on it. I’d had enough and was comfortable simply watching Julian move around the house and spin in circles.

Later, Cyndie took a turn figuring out how to stand on it, while holding the back of the same chair I used. I decided to kneel in the chair as ballast, while watching her. She got about as far as I had before coming to the same conclusion… that was all she needed to experience, thankyouverymuch.

DSCN4447eJHFor some reason, her quick exit brought me a renewed confidence to give it another try. Soon, I let go of the chair and was wandering around the house on it. What a gas.

Julian stayed close and moved a few things out of the way to give me greater clearance. I took a couple of spins around the center island in the kitchen, turning in both left and right directions, one time coming in with a bit too much speed. That provided a sense of how one could find their body leaving the board and continuing in the direction of the last momentum.

I decided to complete my initial experience before meeting with any catastrophic failure. Having not practiced dismounting the board, I headed back to the chair. I wanted to try to get off without holding on, but have it within close reach, just in case.

It took many tries to convince myself to lift one foot, without tipping the other forward or back. I pretty much had to leap off, and found myself automatically grabbing the chair at the same time, anyway.

It was a lot of fun. While all that was going on, we also helped Elysa brainstorm ideas for a party she is planning to have at Wintervale this summer. She has a birthday milestone approaching this year and plans to celebrate accordingly. It took a couple tries to adjust our thinking to the fact it will be light out until almost 10 p.m. and there will be leaves on all the trees.

Before they needed to head home, we took the kids on a walk with Delilah through our woods and stopped to say hello to the horses at the barn while wispy white flakes floated down.

It was a super way to share the day with those whom we dearly love!

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Written by johnwhays

February 15, 2016 at 7:00 am

On Fatherhood

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Each morning, after I have finished tending to the horse chores, Delilah and I go for a walk around the circumference of our property boundaries. Lately, I have noticed this time is becoming a particularly fruitful one for inspiration and insights.

Yesterday I was thinking about fatherhood. My children are both grown and living their own lives at this point, so I am well beyond the day-to-day responsibilities of raising them. We are now in a phase that I hadn’t really given any thought to: being a father to adult children.

It occurred to me that when I was the age that they are now, my father had been dead for about 4 years. I was 22 when my father died. I don’t have the benefit of having had a relationship with my dad while in my adult years that I can use to inform and guide my decisions as a father from this point forward.

I suppose that could be seen as a feature instead of a flaw, in some regards. However, I’m finding that not having had my father alive for most of my adult life has me now feeling somewhat unschooled about what comes next. I’m sure that the manual that comes with each kid would have provided answers for any questions I had from here on out, if it had been included at the time of delivery.

Thinking back, the only type of feedback I recall receiving from my father during the time our lives overlapped involved indirect grumpiness and griping. If it came at all, direct praise or reprimand was rare enough that I hold few recollections of them. He was not one to tell me he loved me. That level of connection needed to be assumed. We did the best we could with it.

I definitely love my kids and am able to tell them so, though doing it still doesn’t come naturally for me. At this point, I don’t really know how to say or do much more than that, from within the role of being their father. After they left the nest, they became more like friends for me than people whose lives I direct.

Luckily, they are great to have as friends. From here on out, when the time comes for something more than friendly advice from me, I’ll be winging it; hoping to be the father I would like to have had as an adult.

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Written by johnwhays

February 25, 2015 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Gone Shedless

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I received the greatest gift from my family yesterday. Since I will be gone on Father’s Day, riding the Tour of Minnesota, we celebrated a week early. The kids came over and helped with chores around the property. Most significantly, we dismantled the toppled woodshed.

I had been considering ways to pick it up again, thinking it might still stand on the six support posts. After we cleared away everything that had been stacked inside, closer inspection led to a decision to just take it apart, one leg at a time. Having the extra hands made the project infinitely more simple for me. Getting that shed taken care of was high on my list of desires, but I never imagined we would be able to get as far with it as we ended up accomplishing.

I am so very happy to have that damaged structure dismantled. Thanks, kids!

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Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2014 at 6:00 am

Times Change

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This morning, sunrise occurred at a new time, under the change to Daylight Saving Time in the U.S.

I saw a poll yesterday, that indicated the majority of people would prefer that we not change the clocks at all. I am included in that majority. I think it is a useless annoyance.

Something about it makes me feel like a helpless kid. I have no choice in the matter. Why do we change the clocks? Because we do. It’s just what we do. It has been in practice for over a century.

“It saves energy.”

“It helps the economy.”

“It does not.”

The debates I hear even sound juvenile to me, but that just may be the mode I’m in. I keep having thoughts about childhood, lately. Maybe it is the many times that my recent experiences on our new property are bringing remembrances of my formative years on my family’s farm property in the 1960s.

I have reduced my hours at the day-job, and spend more time here at Wintervale. I don’t have to get up and get ready to go to work everyday. When that work-day arrives, I look in the mirror and discover I have been doing less daily grooming. I don’t enjoy spending time in front of the mirror. (Maybe that is because I am seeing my reverse image.) Last week, I thought, ‘I never had to spend this kind of time when I was a kid.’

That got me to thinking about the pros and cons of being a kid:

Pro: The only grooming required is, your mom licking her hand to fix your hair.
Con: Your mom licks her hand to fix your hair.

Pro: You never have to drive yourself anywhere.
Con: You can’t drive yourself anywhere.

Pro: Your friends make you laugh.
Con: Milk comes out your nose.

Pro: You get to go everywhere with your mom, and people fawn over you.
Con: You have to go everywhere with your mom and strangers try to talk to you and pinch your face.

Pro: You get to go outside and play games with your friends.
Con: You have to register for a team and wear a uniform and be driven to an official field for games with parent coaches and kids older than you as referee.

Pro: You get to be the center of attention.
Con: You have to learn you don’t always get to be the center of attention.

Pro: You get to go to school for free.
Con: You have to go to school.

Pro: You are always learning new things.
Con: You have to learn every new thing.

Pro: The world of possibilities lies before you.
Con: There are an incomprehensible number of possibilities you must face.

Pro: You don’t have to plan each of your days.
Con: You don’t get to set the plan for your days.

Pro: You are encouraged to wish for anything you want.
Con: You might get what you wish for.

Okay, so that last one might not be a con. I got Wintervale, didn’t I? No wonder I feel like a kid again. That, and the fact I had to change the clocks today, even though I didn’t want to.

Written by johnwhays

March 10, 2013 at 10:18 am