Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Legacy

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

Tidying Up

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With temperatures climbing into the 40s yesterday, Cyndie and I saw an opportunity to do a little tidying up around the property. After the most recent bouts of quasi-winter rain-sleet-snow precipitation, an annoying icy, glazed mass of packed snow had become the surface of our driveway.dscn5785e

I took out an ice scraper and pushed away at the soft, wet edges of the ice pack in front of the house. The portion that will come up without resistance is visibly obvious. I focused on that, picking the low-hanging fruit. After working the edges and then pushing the crumble of snow and ice to the side with my shovel, I looked back to see there was already a whole new measure of visibly obvious portions that begged attention.

How could I not keep going? After three times around, I had the whole upper platform of our driveway clean to the pavement. The  melt was happening at an amazing rate.

Cyndie was down with the horses, planning to give each of them some individual attention and grooming. That was my next stop, thinking I could hang out with them and clean up manure while she brushed them out. Even though there was a cloud cover painting the day with a hue of gray, the air was absolutely calm, allowing the warm temperature to feel perfectly comfortable without getting hot.dscn5784e

Legacy’s tail has always grown long, but Cyndie noticed it had reached a point where he was stepping on it, so she decided to give it a trim.

After scooping fresh manure from under the overhang, I fanned out a little further around the paddock and picked up some of the newly exposed piles emerging from the melting snow. Like the last couple of winters, we have been dumping much of the season’s worth of manure right inside the paddock.

Since much of the manure is frozen by the time we get around to scooping it up, there isn’t much in the way of composting that goes on in the pile, so it just keeps getting bigger and bigger with every passing day.

dscn5782eContinuing with the theme of tidying up, I decided to try giving the giant mass a little more shape by cleaning up around the edges. I was surprised to discover over the last few winter seasons that despite the dark color of the pile, if it starts out frozen, if left alone, the center can stay frozen well into May or June.

We placed this pile at a spot that we would like to fill in effort to reduce the amount of slope, but it becomes a long slow process to move from an ugly pile of manure to an unnoticeable natural ground cover nicely filling a low spot.

All part of the ongoing process of running a neat and tidy ranch operation, regardless what the weather presents.

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Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2017 at 11:18 am

Sticky Mess

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Sure, it’s beautiful, but it was a sticky, wet mess of a snowfall yesterday. Today’s episode of the ongoing saga that is our adventures on the ranch involves wet horses, warm winter precipitation, Christmas preparations, and knee replacement recovery.

Who could this be?

dscn5628eWhy, it’s none other than our stoic herd leader, Legacy. The wet snow had given his long winter coat a curly design that called out to me for a close-up photograph. I find it interesting that so many of his little ringlets contain a strand of color.

A first impression generally perceives him as a white horse, but he does have a subtle distribution of color to him.

I was walking Delilah around the perimeter of the hay-field fence and the horses were out standing in the wet precipitation in the far distance of the field. The horses are well familiar with our routine of trekking this path and most days pay us little attention. Yesterday, at a moment of pause for Delilah to bury her nose in the snow in search of some potential snack, I noticed Cayenne’s energy kick up a bit toward us.

dscn5626eI stepped up to the fence and invited them over, and to my surprise, they came! It is funny how Legacy reacts to these situations, as Cayenne was definitely the instigator and leading the way, but he makes sure to get right on her flank as leader and protector.

When they have closed the distance, he takes command and steps up to make first contact. The other three obediently concede his authority and stay back a length or two.

We visited for a bit and I took pictures of them. Then it was time to move on with Delilah and the herd responded immediately to my movement by turning and running off through the snow back to the fence line in the distance from which they had come. It was a gorgeous visual, their playful equine energy gallivanting away through the falling wet flakes.

They knew what was on the other end of Delilah’s and my little walk. We completed our loop and made our way back to the barn to do the daily afternoon housekeeping, serve up pans of feed, and refill the hay boxes.

I decided to wait out the falling wet snow before starting the plowing and shoveling routine, so spent the afternoon wrapping Christmas gifts and doing laundry. Cyndie had her last in-home physical therapy session and achieved the milestone of reaching 120° bend on the leg with the new knee. She has completely ditched the walker and is getting around with just a cane.

She went on her first outing last night to a Christmas party of the Wildwood Lodge Club clan, the community of families with vacation homes on Big Round Lake near Hayward, WI.

I can see some light at the end of the tunnel of full responsibility for chores around here, and none too soon. I am exhausted. I think the horses miss seeing Cyndie, and I have to admit, I’m growing tired of being their primary caregiver. It’s a bit much when I am also working full-time an hour’s drive away. Add in the requirement of walking Delilah several times a day and my candle is burning at all three ends.

Happily, Cyndie is active again in the kitchen, so at least I’m no longer needing to pretend I have skills there. The next two days will be a whirlwind of driving to and fro from the ranch to Cyndie’s parents’ house for Christmas events.

I hope I can stay awake behind the wheel.

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Written by johnwhays

December 24, 2016 at 8:08 am

Cloudy Skies

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The weather did not cooperate with our desires to see the predicted spectacle of the Perseid meteor shower outburst Thursday and Friday nights. Cyndie held a workshop over the last two days that had been intentionally timed to coincide with the opportunity.

Our views were blocked by cloudy skies both nights.

The good news about that outcome is that I got to sleep through the wee hours of the mornings, instead of being outside star gazing or watching the NASA live stream broadcast of the events.

Workshop participants still had plenty of opportunities to enjoy all that Wintervale provides. Thursday evening was  beautiful for their walk in the labyrinth. The sky looked threatening on Friday during exercises with the horses, but those sessions were completed before raindrops started to fall.  That timed well for the final indoor expressive arts integration projects.

DSCN5038eIn my role as staff photographer, I showed up at the round pen when they were learning with Legacy. He was being very attentive to the preparations of this exercise.

I particularly enjoyed seeing how differently he responds to each individual who interacts with him. Part of me tends to assume the horses are just responding to a routine to which they are familiar, and that may be true to a degree, but the specifics are definitely unique.

That is the reason the exercises work the way they do, and why the horses provide these amazing opportunities for us to experience valuable insights.

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Legacy was definitely present in this moment.

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Bath Day

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We’ve had a really fine few days of summer weather this weekend. Cyndie decided it would be a good day to give the horses a bath. I showed up in time to find Legacy luxuriating in front of the fan to dry.

DSCN5018eLooking out the door of the barn, I found Hunter in process.

DSCN5015eWhen Cyndie made her way back to the house after tending to all 4 horses, she reported that Cayenne was the surprise of the four, being the one to immediately roll in the dust when let back into the paddock.

IMG_iP1586eCHI would have put my money on Hunter.

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Written by johnwhays

August 8, 2016 at 6:00 am

Cool Skills

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It was hot yesterday, and tropically humid. That double whammy is enough to alter our choice of activities. That goes for the horses, too. Cyndie put a halter on Legacy in a plan of walking him out to a shadier and breezier spot to graze. She reported that he responded with a sigh and a look spoke volumes to her.

He didn’t want to expend the energy of walking to a potentially better spot.

IMG_iP1410eMaybe that is what inspired Cyndie to find a way to emulate Legacy’s attention to self-preservation. She offered to help me prepare the rest of the pallets I have been collecting from work. I looked up to find her hammering with one hand while sipping an ice-cold smoothie gripped in the other.

Now that’s efficiency.

I wish I could manufacture some of that efficiency for myself. It would come in handy for actually turning a pile of pallets into a structure that will house and protect some chickens.

In case someday we ever actually get chickens.

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Written by johnwhays

June 12, 2016 at 9:16 am

Four Horses

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With Cyndie home full-time this year and me working 4-days a week, I spend dramatically less time with the horses than I did last year. On Thursday, Cyndie asked me to feed the horses when I got home from work, because she wasn’t going to be home, and I found myself lingering with them afterward.

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The young ones, Cayenne and Hunter, cooperated in some mutual grooming.

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Legacy was test tasting a sample of the new hay Cyndie had brought home.

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Dezirea appeared to be standing watch. She is a very good lookout.

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Yesterday, while I was working on distributing piles of compost to trees around the property, I looked up and spotted Dezirea laying down in the pasture. It was late in the afternoon, about the time they would be coming up to the barn for their evening feed, and it alarmed me to see her down at that hour of the day.

I hustled that direction and hollered to Cyndie, who had walked past the horses minutes earlier. I was curious how long Dezirea had been down. At the same time that I got Cyndie’s attention across the field, our hollering rousted Dezirea from her brief slumber. She stood up right away and quickly rendered my query to Cyndie, moot, although I still learned she hadn’t been down when Cyndie walked by earlier.

So, that was a really short nap.

Sorry, Dez, for so loudly disrupting your rest.

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Written by johnwhays

May 15, 2016 at 6:00 am