Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘sand

Sand Play

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We had fun in our giant sand box yesterday. The round pen has not had consistent attention this summer which has given the grass a chance to become a little too prominent a feature. The horses get confused over whether they are supposed to be exercising or eating.

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The Grizzly and our snazzy ABI grader do a good job of converting the appearance from a look of neglect to one of groomed and ready to go.

Separating the uprooted grass bundles from the sand takes a little more manual effort. It’s the kind of activity that draws the attention of the chickens, who assume we must be scratching for insects they can eat. Cyndie tried to explain to them that the roots were not worms, but they just stared at her like a bunch of chickens, don’t you know.

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The gazebo is ready. The round pen is ready. We might as well hold some workshops, eh?

Might as well.

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Written by johnwhays

August 7, 2017 at 6:00 am

Disaster Averted

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Not my eyes again! Why did it have to be my eye?

img_1831eWe use a retractable leash for Delilah and yesterday’s wet snow was sticking to it something fierce, occasionally plugging the return function. When I took her in the barn on my way to feed the horses, I hung the leash on the hook I use every time we go through this routine.

From that distance, Delilah can wander out far enough to see the horses while I do a little housekeeping under the overhang, prior to serving their feed pans. Before bringing out the feed, I stop to temporarily lock the retraction on the leash, after shortening the reach to a point where Delilah can’t disturb the herd while they eat.

Her past performances have dictated her fate. She can sit by herself in the barn while they munch.

With the retracting feature off, the extended wet leash was laying on the sand floor of the barn. When I was done with horse duties and ready to take Delilah for an extended walk, I grabbed the leash with an instantaneous thought that I should run it through my gloved hand to scrape the grit off it before it spooled up.

dscn5526eI didn’t quite think it through all the way.

With my right gloved hand, I grabbed the leash between Delilah and the ground. Leaving the spool on the hook, I reached up with my left hand to release the lock. I don’t know if it is obvious to you as you read this, but I had grabbed the wrong side of the leash with my right hand.

The result was so fast I didn’t have time to blink as the spool spun and whiplashed the wet gravelly leash across my face in the ultimate insult.

WHAP! Take that!

My right eye closed in time, but the left eye got a rude stinging slap and enough sand to wreck a day. What happens when something touches your eyeball? You close it as fast as you can! I closed mine over some grains of sand that immediately lodged under my eyelid.

It hurt to blink. It hurt to leave it open. It hurt to hold it closed. It hurt bad enough to make me cry, but I think the tear ducts were plugged with sand, because there weren’t enough tears to wash it out and end my dilemma.

Delilah was kind enough to just sit there while I flinched and cursed and cried and stumbled around. When I knew it wasn’t going to self-remedy, I had to cancel Delilah’s walk and rush back to the house for help.

It’s always wonderful when the person convalescing suddenly has to step up and become the care-giver. Cyndie didn’t hesitate to rush her walker into the bathroom with me to start hosing the eye down with her saline solution.

I really don’t like getting squirted in the eye. That stung and made my eye try to close, which hurt tremendously because there was still sand under the eyelid. I wished I could fold my eyelid like some kids used to do when I was in grade school.

Cyndie worked heroically to clean it out as much as possible and added a drop of something to sooth the eye. I tried laying face down and just letting my eye rest. I figured it was possible that I had scratched my eye and that was what was hurting every time I blinked, so I was about to just wait it out.

Then I stood up again and grabbed my eyelash for the umpteenth time to pull it away from my eye. It was something of an instinctual reaction. I just felt like there was something under my eye lid.

With a blink, I determined that’s exactly what I was feeling, because the stinging pain was suddenly gone. Just like that, I was back to my old self, blinking pain-free.

Disaster averted.

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Written by johnwhays

December 5, 2016 at 7:00 am

Definitely Wet

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Cyndie is leading a workshop session this weekend, which normally involves use of the round pen. Friday, in preparation, she spent some time pulling weeds from the sand because the wetness made the chore easy. After that, the plan was to drag the pen with the rake behind the ATV.dscn5164e

Unfortunately, it was too wet for the 4-wheeler. I waited until yesterday and then checked on whether I should try raking it by hand. It was even wetter than she had described.

That happens around here. After a day of sun, when you’d think the ground should be getting dryer, it actually gets wetter. It takes a day or two for the ground water to make its way through our property from land above ours.

Yesterday morning the round pen sand was like soup in places.

For some reason, that picture tends to look reversed to me upon first viewing, so that the footprints appear raised up above the background. Sometimes it is a struggle to get my brain to correct the perception, but when it suddenly does, I find it almost impossible to go back and see it as I previously had. An interesting optical illusion.

dscn5162eWhile I was raking the muddy slop, the horses meandered over to offer their moral support, grazing nearby.

I’ll check the sand again this morning, in case the low dew point temperature, sunshine, and breezes of yesterday helped dry things enough to make it useable, but I’ll be surprised if it did. I was mowing through standing water in a few places yesterday afternoon.

The grounds are definitely wet around here, top to bottom.

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Written by johnwhays

September 11, 2016 at 6:00 am

Accomplishment Burst

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After a few days of not doing anything productive, it didn’t take much yesterday to make me feel like I’d salvaged the weekend by accomplishing something beyond just feeling better. It helped that the weather was especially nice, despite starting out rather brisk in the early morning.

By the time I made it out of the house, the chill had been replaced by an increasingly comfortable November breeze. My first goal was to get the truck battery charging. For some reason we have yet to discern, every other time Cyndie uses it, there’s not enough battery to turn it over when we next try.

Logic would indicate she is leaving something on, or maybe not closing a door tight. I don’t know. We have yet to find any clear evidence of what it is, and the fact that it doesn’t happen every time complicates the mystery.

While the truck charged, I headed down to the round pen to help Cyndie rake out and distribute the sand that was added. We got the project down to a manageable-sized remaining pile after spreading an even new depth throughout the whole circle.IMG_iP0954e

On my way in for lunch, I paused at the garage to get the truck started and let it idle while winding up cords and putting away the charger. Then I checked and re-checked to make sure nothing was left on to put any drain on the battery. It better start when we test it again. Cyndie wasn’t anywhere near it when I did all this. 🙂

After lunch, I enlisted Cyndie’s help to tackle a chore I have neglected for over a year. This one means the most to me to have finally resolved.

Almost 2-years ago I had a little accident when trying to get the diesel tractor out of the shop garage to plow snow at a time when a storm had knocked out our power. The garage door did not stay up all the way and the roof of the tractor caught the weather-strip of the door and ripped it down. I saved the moderately bent up aluminum and rubber strip, but had no idea how it could go back on.

I neglected it for the entirety of last winter, studiously shoveling out all the snow that repeatedly blew under the door, instead of looking closer at the weather strip. Honestly, I had pretty much given up caring about the conspicuously absent finishing strip on the bottom of the huge door.

When I was building the last hay box in the barn stalls, I needed a board from my stash up in the rafters of the garage, and that meant I had to move the old weather strip out of the way. I decided to just take it down and lay it in front of the door, to make it easier to reattach than struggle to put back up on the rafters again.

The strategy worked! It took a little creative problem solving, but Cyndie and I figured out how to get the rubber to slide off the aluminum, so we could access the screws. With a few minor steps to add some screws in new locations, we got it reattached and were able to get the rubber back in place. We successfully recycled a part that would have otherwise been tossed.

No snow inside the garage this year!

IMG_iP0958eWith that success bolstering my confidence, I hopped on the lawn tractor and mowed the front yard. It struck me that I had been working in a short-sleeved T-shirt all day, and was mowing my lawn like a summer day, on the 8th of November. I’ve dealt with worse working conditions.

After that, I got the horses fed and cleaned up manure, before calling it a day and heading inside.

I think actions speak louder than words to reveal evidence that I am, indeed, feeling much better after several days of rest and Cyndie’s exceptional care.

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Written by johnwhays

November 9, 2015 at 7:00 am

Fortuitous Failure

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The plan was to get one load of gravel, one load of sand for the round pen, and two loads of lime screenings —one to spread around in the paddock, and one to keep as backup to fill washouts as they occur. In order to receive all these deliveries in the time while weather is good for doing so, we plotted out the order and location for dumping the piles.

The primary concern was to avoid having the heavy truck drive into the paddock, because the previous time we allowed that, it led to problems from the extreme compression straining buried electric fence wires between gate posts. I was also concerned about collapsing the buried drain tube we had installed from the barn gutter downspout.

The truck driver always seems more than willing to drive anywhere, leaving the responsibility on us to restrain the choices in protection of property. He long ago demonstrated complete disdain for the well-being of our asphalt driveway.

By my figuring, if we got gravel first and spread it out before the next delivery, the truck could drive on the new gravel and dump the lime screenings at the entrance of the paddock. I would spread them inside the paddock. The sand could then get dumped beside the barn, where I could move it by loader scoops, driving over the new lime screenings through the paddock to the round pen.

That would be a lot of tractor hours, but it was worth it to me to protect the paddock from the heavy truck.

Then Cyndie received word that they currently had no stock of lime screenings. The driver delivered gravel on Thursday with a plan to bring the sand on Friday morning. I had a short window of time after work on Thursday to spread the gravel, so he could drop the pile of sand the following morning in the spot where we wanted it.

DSCN4043eIn the middle of that task, as I tried to back up in order to spread the scoop of gravel I just dropped, the tractor lurched forward. I shifted again. This time it wouldn’t go backward, or forward. Tractor fail!

That wasn’t in my plan.

I struggled to remove a cover plate to see the mechanism of the gear shift lever. That didn’t help much, because even though I could then see it, I didn’t actually understand what I was looking at.

The options rattled through my mind. Call my very knowledgeable neighbor? It was getting late. Call the implement dealer? That would have to wait until morning. What about the sand delivery? Where would I put that?

Well, this failure caused me to rethink the possibilities and opened up a new willingness to have the truck drive through the hay-field. He would only need to pass through gates in which there was enough turf to limit the compression that happens from the weight of the load.

DSCN4042eIn the end, I have a new appreciation for the inconvenience of that shifting failure, because it has saved me a lot of work. The dump truck placed the sand in the center of the round pen. The hay-field held up well under the load, but the driveway has some new wrinkles where he made the turn on and off it.

The service man from the implement dealer made short work of the tractor repair by afternoon, replacing a pin and snap ring at the base of the shift lever, and I finished spreading the gravel.

That shifting failure is one I will remember fondly for the better outcome that came as a result.

There may be a life lesson available in all this.

Ya think?!

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Written by johnwhays

October 17, 2015 at 9:37 am

Not Whining

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Darkness is here. I leave for work in the mornings now with the surroundings in total darkness. It makes for a drastically different drive from the mornings when painted skies of dawn filled my view over the summer. Before long this darkness will begin to feel completely normal, but for now I am very aware of the difference.

The chilly temperatures have me switching back to long sleeve shirts. That means the onset of the perpetual battle to avoid soaking the cuffs when I wash my hands after coming in from working outside. I’m considering making a couple of little “cones-of-shame” like the ones dogs sometimes have to wear, which I can slip over my hands to protect my long sleeves from getting wet when I wash.

Our home is under siege of the dreaded Asian lady beetle. I have gained a heightened sense of paranoia over my ever-present cup of ice water, ever since the time one of the nasty buggers made its way into my drink and I crunched it with my teeth. Even though I have a cover to protect the contents, I feel no sense of confidence that there won’t be a chance one of the invaders has made its way into the drink when I didn’t notice.

Cyndie and I have decided to order some additional loads of sand and gravel to have on hand before the snow flies. The ground is dry enough now that damage from the heavy dump truck will be much less than if we wait until spring, but I still fret over the impact that truck makes. We decided not to have him drive into the paddocks, but that leaves us with the challenge of choosing a spot where the loads can be dumped, and figuring out a way to spread the load out to the areas where we ultimately want it.

We also face the inevitable further abuse to the crumbling surface of our ailing asphalt driveway that the truck will dish out. We’ve given up on trying to repair the existing damage, but that doesn’t mean we welcome the increased distortion by the weight of a fully loaded dump truck. We want the sand and gravel, we just don’t want the abuse caused when it is delivered.

But I’m not whining. Really. Just venting a little bit. And it feels much better having done so.

Now I can get back to enjoying the splendor of a fall that is glowing all around our house this year. It is putting on quite a show!

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Written by johnwhays

October 14, 2015 at 6:00 am

Group Effort

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DSCN3784eUnder a strange sky on a day when rain wasn’t predicted, Cyndie and I planned to work on improving the landscape around the round pen to stop the sand from getting carried away in runoff every time it storms.

The passing disturbance in the sky overhead dropped some intermittent showers that were light enough that nothing became soaking wet, so it didn’t interfere with our efforts.

While Cyndie worked on the low side of the round pen, reclaiming sand that had spilled out when 7 inches of rain poured down on us last Wednesday, I prepared the soil on the outside perimeter by pulling our ABI rake/grader behind the Grizzly ATV.

DSCN3791e It was working perfectly until impact with a rock sheared the bolts holding the hitch on the Griz. With towing done for the time being, I picked up a shovel and went to work shaping a trench and berm combination in hopes of preventing the water from flowing directly through the round pen.

If I got the slope shaped right, the water should meander around to the low side where it can make its way harmlessly into the drainage swale, minus our precious sand.

Obviously, this is effort that would have best been done before we brought in the sand, but we were in a hurry to get the footing in the round pen improved in time for the training sessions that had been planned.

With Delilah off-leash and the horses free to mingle, we had a lot of “helpers” that were keeping us company while we worked. Between her bouts of barking at the horses for no good reason and wrestling with their exercise balls that she thinks are her toys, Delilah took time to stop by and help me while I dug up the sod. I would toss a shovel-full to the perfect spot for building up the berm, and then she would grab that piece of sod like it was a piece of steak, carry it away, and tear it apart heroically before coming back for more.

Seriously, she took three of the best pieces I had placed in a short span of time, but I didn’t have the heart to dissuade her, as she seemed to think she was doing the greatest job of helping me. That berm better not leak at that spot or she is going to be held permanently responsible.

The horses were also inspired to participate in their own way. Shortly after I got started, Hunter grazed his way so close to me that I didn’t have room to work the shovel. At that point, he was standing on the area I hadn’t dug up yet, so he was packing down the soil I had just churned up with the grader. At that proximity, he also ended up sharing the cloud of flies that were all over him.

They have my full sympathy about the flies. They went up my nose more than once which can really make one irritable. I considered trying on one of their fly masks, but figured the fit might not work out quite right.

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Legacy and Dezirea wandered over to inspect my progress and test out the trench. It confirmed for me that they would have no problem navigating the altered footing in the vicinity of the pen. I think it met with their approval.

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Written by johnwhays

August 22, 2015 at 8:26 am