Wednesday, March 14, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 47, flow

Daughter and I returned from California last Wednesday and on Thursday morning my husband and I met with the Duke Energy Progress folks about the trees. We learned a few things we hadn’t known: most of the trees they want to cut were cut before, around 20 years ago, and several of the tallest ones grew back from those cuttings, leaving visible weaknesses in their trunks which may make them more likely to fall. We also learned a lot more about the transmission lines.

I had what I think is a brilliant (ha!) idea that would allow the trees to stay and the lines to remain safe, but it will take time to find someone to develop it and I’m not sure the idea on its own is enough to back off Duke Energy, so we have made the difficult decision to move forward with cutting.

The good news is that they selected 11 trees to cut, not the entire swath as we had feared, and will have a tree man do it by hand. We have located a local man who has a portable sawmill and who will process and use the wood from these trees to finish off our feed/tack room once the wood has dried, and Duke agreed to have the tree guy cut the timbers in lengths we can use.

Both before and after the trip to California I’ve been feeling like a gear hopelessly grinding away at something relentless, to the point of being stuck. Too many unfinished projects, no sense of progress happening, winter (we had snow on Monday!), and the thought of losing trees have all weighed me down. Then my writing retreat scheduled since last July for next week at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico was canceled. I tried for several days to work it out so I could go on my own, but kept hitting obstacles.

Yesterday two things got finished, thanks to my farm helper and his assistant. The sun came back and the bit of snow melted. I walked from the front gate to the back, thinking that I was going to have to let the trees go, and I was also going to have to let Ghost Ranch go. And at that moment I spotted a stream of water flowing down our driveway. I thought at first it was the snow melt but it is a little spring that has popped up. Water flowing. Flow.

I feel connected, as I’ve written before, with November Hill. That’s a large part of why having the trees cut has been so difficult. But knowing one man will do it, with respect, makes it a little easier, and knowing we will use the wood for something lasting makes it a lot easier. When I let the battles in my head go, I felt the gears turning again. And the flow of a little spring appeared, making the perfect metaphor.

The redbuds are blooming now, and I have a plan (and an order forming) for planting trees in the back that won’t ever need to be cut. Redbuds and hollies, some shrubs, all native pollinators, and then some tulip poplars in the middle of the farm where they can grow to the sky without worry.

We managed to get the front field limed before the rain and snow rolled in on Sunday, so the horses are in the back pasture. We’ll move them and lime the back when the cutting is done. Yesterday afternoon I was able to take Bear Corgi to the back, which is finally secure for dogs, and let him have his first romp off leash back there. He loved it, and the pony and donkeys came to the shared fence line and trotted up and down, laying down the Equine Law. Bear was on his own mission and they weren’t part of it, so peace prevailed. Baloo Corgi is having an issue with allowing his collar and harness to be put on, so he wasn’t with us. We’re working on it daily and I hope very soon he’ll be romping back there too! This is stage one of getting the Corgis acclimated to being free on the farm. Things are moving along.

Meanwhile, the pony made it clear what the boundaries are.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Monterey in December

Daughter and I flew from Anaheim to San Jose (had to scratch the original plan to drive up the coastal highway due to the wildfires that were raging) and then drove from San Jose to Santa Cruz, recreating a part of my daily life years back when I did my final clinical internship for grad school in Santa Clara County. I lived in Redwood Estates, had a post box in Los Gatos, worked in San Jose (and all over the county, doing intensive in-home family counseling and then child sexual abuse intervention), and shopped in Santa Cruz. It was a wonderful year and a half in my 20s!

Of course many things have changed. Development has taken out trees and forest, there are more stores and gas stations and places to live. But downtown Santa Cruz is close to what it was when I was there, and we had lunch in a wonderful little place there.

We left Santa Cruz mid-afternoon and drove down the coastal highway to Monterey, where we stayed for a couple of nights. This was the view across from our hotel:

The layered color at sunset was absolutely stunning. We also enjoyed Cannery Row and the Christmas decorations.

Stay tuned for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the highlights of the trip!

Monday, February 26, 2018

December Travels: Anaheim and Sapolsky

I’m so behind on chronicling the California trip I took with my daughter in December. We flew to Anaheim to attend a day-long workshop with Robert Sapolsky, Stanford professor in neurobiology and author of many very good books about the research he’s done for the past 30 years. His newest book is Behave: The Biology of Humans at our Best and Worst. 

You can find it HERE.

He is a wonderful speaker, bringing complex science and his research to an audience with energy and humor. The book is 800 pages of neurobiology and research, written so a lay audience can understand. I’m almost done reading it and highly recommend it if you have any interest in humans, their behavior, and the science behind it.

The day we flew out began with daughter taking her final fall semester exam, a great lunch, then the airport.

TSA pre-check was easy, the flight was good, and we got a Prius as our rental car! The day ended here:

The next day we headed over to the convention center for Dr. Sapolsky’s workshop. Stanford has his neurobiology course lectures online so we had experienced his speaking style before, but if anything, he’s even more engaging in person. If you get a chance to hear him speak, take it.

This was the highlight of the trip. Thanks to my dear and brilliant daughter for bringing me to such a terrific workshop. The icing on the cake - I got 15 CEs for my licensure renewal!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 46, birthday edition

Today is Redford’s 10th birthday. I can hardly believe we now have a herd of equines in double digit ages! We started his party on Sunday, worked on it a little more yesterday, and today we’ll wrap up his celebration. Redford is a very sweet and also often shy donkey. He is bold with his herd and I believe he is happy, but he is not as snuggly as is Rafer Johnson. Redford reminds me to be still and to get quiet, and those are things I aim to do anyway, so having him here to help me remember is a blessing.

Today, on his birthday morning, November Hill is shrouded in fog. Even Redford, as he stands in between two of our beloved oak trees, who look in the photo as if they are guarding him.

I checked the garden beds this morning and found the first daffodil opening; I suspect it is in honor of a young donkey.

Not the best photograph but I was in a hurry to get to the pollinator beds! Slow down, whispers the birthday boy. They aren’t going anywhere.

The spotted horse mint is coming out, as are all the coneflowers. The rattlesnake plants too! As are a number of weeds which I hate to pull but I need all the space in these beds for the pollinators, so I’ll be clearing them out this week while the ground is nice and damp.

Although the main fencing is done, we’ve been slowed down getting the back corner in the way back done, mostly because of rain that appears on the day the guys can work. We still have several gates that need to be rehung, and the front gate to be dog-proofed. But the quiet days have been treasured and I feel like these little bits will be done soon enough.

The new hay tent is up and since we had the hay in the spare stall, I moved the mower and spreader into the tent, which means the back shelter is now totally clear for the pony and donkeys.

And Keil Bay has had his stall mats removed and his stall bedded deep in peat moss with shavings on top so he can lie down in total comfort. The chiropractor found his tail bone needed adjusting and he is no longer clamping his tail down when I try to groom it. As usual, he loved his adjustments and was so happy at the end when she did the extra special work to find what was going on with his tail. Before the chiropractor started I was telling her about him not lying down as much to sleep, and I got tearful. I wish there was footage of Keil Bay slowly turning his head around to look at me and then the vet, his clear message being, “My god, woman, you are embarrassing me to death here!”

Overall, we’re inching toward springtime on the hill and although as usual I am nowhere near where I hoped to be with the infamous “to do” list, I am perfectly caught up on enjoying the land, celebrating the trees, and finding joy with the herd.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Update on Duke Energy Progress cutting trees

On the advice of an attorney I filed a complaint with the NC Utilities Commission last Monday. They took down all the details of our situation and are doing research and investigation, and will be responding within 10 business days.

Meanwhile, the document that Duke Energy Progress says gives them the right to cut 20 full feet beyond their 25-foot right of way has not yet been delivered to me.

A friend who is a town council member asked me to share the details of this situation with our county commissioners. I did that on Thursday. I also shared all my information with our county beekeepers’ association.

For now, then, we’re in wait and see mode.

There is a plan for moving beyond this if necessary.