Saturday, January 20, 2018

Snow = mud = I don’t want to go outside at all

We had 8 inches of snow this week on November Hill and now it is melting. The contractor is finishing up the fencing. It looks like a monster truck rally just happened here.

A huge pile of snow slid off the back side of the barn roof and is about 2.5 feet tall right outside the shelter.

Mud. Mud. Mud.

I walked back there this evening. It is a mess. The entire farm is a mess!

I’m ready for sunshine, sunshine, sunshine, and more sunshine. Dry ground.

Meanwhile I went into an inside the house cleaning frenzy. Control the things you can control, right?

Hope all are weathering the winter better than I am!

Monday, January 15, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 44

We just came through a spell of very warm weather and are now roller-coastering back to what is for us very cold. Nights in the teens. I had unplugged the water tank heaters and now we cleaned the tanks and turned them back on again.

Last night I discovered the water hydrant in the little barnyard had been left on (or turned on by donkeys?) while connected to the hose which had the sprayer nozzle on the end. Something froze and burst in the hydrant and the water wasn’t able to be turned off. Sigh. That is first on the repair docket this morning. We’re warming up to 39 as the high today, 48 tomorrow, then another few very cold days with possible snow before returning to our normal winter temps next week.

Our fencing is much further along this week but still not complete. The back field is now safe for horses and pony but the arena is still open at one end so the donkeys can’t be turned out in back since they can and will climb through the arena fence on the back side. I long for the day when I can turn them all out into the entire farm again without having to worry about what is what.

After the snow sucked up a couple of work days and our contractor was able to return, the next discovery was that the entire back side of November Hill is solid rock! He broke his huge auger twice and went through nearly 30 linch pins (if I’m remembering the terminology correctly) digging post holes. We have had to reconfigure the plan back there. In one area he moved the posts in to get on this side of the rock, which initially disappointed me but then I realized that area will be a wonderful site for bee hives. Further down we have opted to have our farm helper do the posts and no-climb woven wire by hand using existing holes instead of trying to dig new ones. In the end it will all be good but the rock really slowed things down.

However - I love rock. One of the things I love about the mountains is the rock. I can literally feel myself being grounded when I put my hands on it, stand on it, sit or lie down on it. So discovering this huge rock formation at the back side of the farm is a comforting thing. I have always been drawn to that back edge and now I know why.

The new gates arrived for the arena and the back pathway but came without their latches. So while waiting for them to be sent the contractor is taking a break this week to move on to his next job. I’ll be happy when everything is totally wrapped up with this but it’s also nice to have some days to just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. I knew this was going to be a huge endeavor as any fence replacement is when horses are involved. It’s one of those things we will only live through once!

I have to say how proud I am of the herd for their overall sensible behavior during this big job. There is a huge dumpster in front of the front fence, a generator going most days, a tractor moving up and down the driveway, digging and dumping and moving heavy materials, a nail gun, some things wrapped in huge tarps, and all kinds of disruption to their normal routine. And they have handled it so well. I think they can see that the new fencing is more secure and that they won’t be dealing with dogs, coyotes, or other things coming into their territory.

There have been several days when I felt totally ungrounded, without my center, as parts of the fence were taken down, the sounds of machines ripped through the air, and the front gate was open all day long for ease of working. Seeing the barnyard and parts of the pastures zig-zagged with tractor tire prints was painful. I keep telling myself how every winter I think at some point, nothing will ever grow on this ground again, and every year I am wrong. This winter will be no different. The ground will heal itself come spring and by summer I won’t know anything but the memory of how raw it all looks right now.

I’m waiting for these next few winter mornings when it’s both cold and quiet. And I will walk down to the rock and stand there and find my center again.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

After-snow, wintertime blues

We only got two inches, but the difference for us is that the days before and after the snow were well below freezing, so the snow didn’t melt for days, and even when it started to, the ground underneath was still dry. I’m not sure what it is about how the bare winter earth looks after snowfall, but I walked outside yesterday to take a look and became so depressed I gave hay, patted horses, and came right back inside. Granted, I’m still coughing and not myself yet, but still.

I love the winter landscape but it looks awful out there!

We finally broke through the cold spell and today are back up in the low 50s with full sunshine. I expect the rest of the snow will now melt and we’ll have some mud. The only chore it makes sense to do is muck, muck, muck and muck.

Meanwhile the fencing proceeds and my farm and house helpers will be here tomorrow so we should be able to make a dent in the mess.

Just in time for what looks on the weather forecast like days of rain. Sigh.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

November Hill farm journal, 43

Long overdue for a farm update here, and happy to have the quiet time to sit down and write it!

This weekend we’ve taken a huge dip in temperature, with highs during the day in the low 30s and lows at night in the teens. I think I saw a low of 11 coming up. We decided to set up the water tank heaters so we don’t have to do so much breaking of ice. I have one tank in the barn aisle for Keil Bay and Cody and another just outside the shelter where the pony and donkeys are at night.

The buckets inside the barn are not freezing since we got the new barn roof so winter and water is already easier than it used to be.

My daughter and I returned from California on December 19th, my son came home from grad school on the 22nd, family arrived on the 24th, and on the 26th, the farmsitter arrived and we headed to Corolla for a family getaway. I’m grateful for our farmsitter, who not only stays and takes excellent care of all the animals, but coordinated with our contractor to ensure no blips occurred with fencing.

Before and up to Christmas Day the herd was in the back field and the day after we went to the coast they moved to the front. I came home on Friday to the front field totally enclosed with 3-board and no-climb wire. It looks terrific and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to finally see this being done.

On Tuesday he’ll work on the back field (posts are already in) and then the back property behind the back field. It won’t be long until this will be done and I can start the process of incorporating Corgis off leash (supervised, of course) on the larger property. Once we make that transition I am starting my search for the Maremma pups.

We’re all the way into winter landscape here. Mostly bare trees, pink winter skies, and evergreens showing off their foliage in the otherwise bare landscape. Our fallen branches and leaves have never been better managed. I am a little in shock at not having to continue doing my branch and leaf management that generally lasts all the way to spring. This year I’ve had help and he stays on top of it. The arena is totally clear!

One of my Christmas gifts from my son is a farm journal - it has all kinds of pages for all kinds of tracking of things - I’m very excited to get busy filling it in.

The cats and Corgis are enjoying their naps inside with the cold weather, but I have to say the horses and donkeys are going the other direction. This evening just before dusk the herd came into the grass paddock (long, narrow, just by the house) and put on a galloping show. Keil Bay was the ringleader and he was doing his huge power trot, turning on a dime, and generally looking like a 5-year old. They were all in fine form and while I don’t really like them to do this in the narrow grass paddock, I just stopped myself from fretting and enjoyed it.

The horses have been especially clingy since we got back from Corolla. Between my being gone 10 days, then 4 more, the fencing, etc., I think they just needed some time with us. I spent hours with them on Friday, yesterday, and again today, and even so they were clustering by my bedroom windows last night and at the back gate to the house this morning.

Today’s little rodeo was the perfect way to end 2017. Happy, healthy horses and donkeys having fun. May we all be so lucky as we move into the new year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Happy winter holiday! Busy but happy on November Hill

I aim to get back to regular postings next week but wanted to say that I hope everyone has had happy, healthy holiday celebrations. We had a lovely and quiet meal of tamales made by my housekeeping assistant along with homemade red and green salsas.

We’re having a cold spell right now with highs in the low 40s and 30s and dipping down to teens at night. Thankfully we have a tent full of good hay and the horses and donkeys have that plus shelter and keep themselves warm and happy.

My biggest gift this year is the fencing that is about halfway done. The front field is nearly dog-proof and dog-safe right now! Woohoo! Once it’s done I can breathe a huge sigh of relief that will span a decade+ of fretting over dogs coming in. And thanks to my farm helper and my delivery guy the arena is free of leaves and looks gorgeous. Time to get back to riding once the fencing work is complete!

I’m soon to be working on my annual year in review and looking at what I want to create in 2018. At the top of the list is getting back to being successful writing at home. I love retreat time and will always need some to keep me rolling but I’ve written a lot of words sitting in various spots on November Hill and I’d like to get back to that.

Again, I hope all are having good time with family, friends, and beloved animals. Look for regular postings next week as we move into the new year.