Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Hurricane is gone and all is well (on November Hill)

Tuesday morning and all is well. Violet taking her morning sun bath.

As usual, I over-prepared for the hurricane potential here, but that’s always a relief when I wake up in the night and here nothing, no wind or hard rain, so it’s back to sunshine and the knowledge that everything got a deep watering yesterday and into the night.

While Pella was here yesterday measuring for our sliding door replacement we had a deluge during the paperwork part of the appointment and this little cutie ran up the dogwood tree to escape the water on the ground. 

North Carolina’s Bertie County, specifically the town of Windsor, had terrible damage from a tornado that spun off in the hurricane’s wake, with one dead and many injured and several people still missing. Everyone in the path beyond us, I send good thoughts for safety. 

Friday, July 31, 2020

New essay up, and a few farm photos

My essay Stealing Light won third place in Streetlight Magazine’s creative nonfiction contest in the spring, and is featured this week HERE.

It has cooled down enough now that I actually went for a walk around the farm yesterday. As I was watching the bees, I looked down and noticed this friend on the plant behind me. 

Across the way, this caught my eye. If that’s not a portal to another place/time, I’m not sure what it is! Please note that I did not cross over and walk through it!

The most exciting find in Poplar Folly was this. Our first elderberries! 

I ended in the potager and picked the first tomatoes and some basil. Guess what we had for dinner? The annual summer favorite - penne pasta with tomatoes, basil, and Brie. It’s a wonderful and very simple dish that is only truly delicious when made with tomatoes still warm from the sun. These German Johnsons were my dad’s favorite, and I plant them most years in his honor and also because they are a perfect size and texture for slicing for the pasta and for sandwiches.

Of course as soon as we get relief from the heat, a hurricane seems to be heading our way early next week. Alas, I hope it is weak and goes out to sea. I’ll be ready for it either way.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Goldfinch on coneflower + excellent help

The charm of goldfinches who live on November Hill are really loving the coneflowers, and yesterday I managed to get a photo of one of them having a snack.

This is why I leave the spent coneflowers alone - so the goldfinches can have the seeds.

In other news, the walkway is clear! The hollies are pruned! The japonica is too! The dogwood branches are no longer growing onto the roof. The front porch is clear of webs, and the front steps and rails are scraped and newly painted. Hallelujah! A big bunch of things were knocked off my list thanks to two hard workers who know what they’re doing. 

In addition, my new muck helper arrived this morning and will be coming every day from 7-9 a.m. to do all the mucking and all the water buckets and troughs. What this means for me: I will have time to do other things that need doing! Very grateful for the help and happy to pay for good work! 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Rafer Johnson is a TEENAGER! Happy Birthday, Rafer!

Rafer’s birthday slipped by me this year, and I’m attributing it to the pandemic and my distractibility in general, but this week he reminded me in his very gentle and sweet way. We’re having an extra special birthday party for him this weekend, and all is forgiven. 

As I have said in years past, Rafer is the sweetest, most loving donkey ever. He is a love bug and I’m sure he would be happy if we brought him in with us at night or on hot days. I can totally see him hanging out in the living room with us. Of course, he’d have to deal with the dogs, but I think Rafer would even be able to manage that. He is a special soul.

I took this the day he reminded me that he is now a teenager - 13 years old - how can that be? He and Redford hanging out while the horses went out to the front pasture. We love you, Rafer Johnson! Happy, happy birthday to you!!

Friday, July 24, 2020

November Hill farm journal, 105

After a week of very hot days, we finally got some rain last night and again this morning. Everything needed a good watering, so I’m grateful for the cloudy skies and break from the heat. It’s mostly a gray day today, which is very welcome after the blazing sun.

Our farm helpers are coming Tuesday to do a very specific project - weeding the overgrown walkway, pruning hollies and japonica and dogwood, cleaning upstairs windows outside, painting trim, cleaning front porch top to bottom, and painting steps and rails. 

We will of course have no contact and while it looks like a hot day again next week, they will at least have shade for much of the work and they plan to start super early in the morning. I’m happy to have some sprucing up done out front by two people whose work is meticulous!

Meanwhile the pastures and paddocks are growing so well this year we’ve ended up rotating between them instead of leaving all open to the herd. My overseeding in the fall and last spring has really paid off. This fall I’ll need to do this in the bottom of the front pasture, but otherwise, all looks good.

I’ve been meaning to write about our summer tanager(s). We’ve not seen this bird on November Hill that we can remember before this year, but we have one (or more) who is living and foraging very close to the house and barn so we see him/her every day. It’s been a treat to have a new species to watch. I don’t yet have any photos!

The barn swallows have finally finished nesting and fledging their second clutch of eggs and are out of the barn. I admit the last few weeks they were there had me very tired of them swooping in and and out. Now they’re gone and I miss them a little bit!

July is my least favorite month because of the heat and the biting insects but I do love the lushness of it when we’re getting good rainfall, and I’m spending a bit of time each day noting the beauty and being grateful for it. Though I love the landscape in winter, with so many of the trees bare, we lose the privacy we have in the summer months and there’s always a winter day on which we’ve had a lot of rain and it seems so cold and dreary and muddy that I long for summer’s green. Right now we have it, so it’s good to appreciate it while it’s here.

I’m done with my bookshelf painting and the newly-colored shelves are in their new place, with books back in order. Yesterday I indulged myself and painted the lid (which for some reason has always seemed unfinished to me compared to the rest) of my grandma’s old cedar chest, which holds the beloved stuffed animals from my children’s younger years. There’s a small panel of filigree woodwork on the front and I lightly painted that the same color. I’ll finish it up today. I also painted the roof of the Breyer barn, something I’ve been thinking about for several years and boy was that fun to do! I have more ideas for it and since it’s such a little and manageable project, I’ll work on it a little at a time as a reward for some of the larger jobs. Today I’ll begin painting the bedroom next to the guest room, which we’re calling the “new garret” - really the second garret, for my daughter. The paint color is a bright botanical green and I’m looking forward to seeing color in that room!

The new furniture is set to arrive on Monday, so I’d like to get this painting done by Sunday. There’s one piece of furniture in there that has to be moved out and hauled away tomorrow, so I have to clear a few things off it today. 

Speaking of painting, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never finished the laundry room nor the dining room - partly because I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue the colors on the adjoining walls. I’m still not sure, but I’m hoping this bedroom redo will inspire me to get back to figuring out what I’ll do with the colors in those two areas. (Sometimes I just spend way too much time pondering colors and choices!)

Right this moment it’s gray and cooler than it has been and everything has been watered nicely by the rain, and I’m enjoying the way the windows as I look through them are full of green foliage. I can’t see the end of the driveway or the lane, and I love that.