Thursday, July 19, 2018

A Handsome Donkey Turns 11

Rafer Johnson is celebrating his 11th birthday today - and in honor of this handsome young man’s special day the entire of November Hill is putting on a show.

Butterflies are soaring, the charm of goldfinches are swooping as one, a pair of male Cardinals are having a mock battle. The second clutch of bluebirds have fledged, thanks to .65 inches of rain a couple of days ago everything is green and growing again.

Looking out the back window I see the tips of Rafer’s ears as he stands in the doorway of the stall he first slept in when he came to live with us. That first night he spent with Cody, teddy bear QH gelding who tends to be very laid back and easy to get along with.

The second night and for the next 7 or so years, Rafer stayed with Salina, his goddess mare, and then young Redford Donkey joined them. That trio were inseparable until Salina passed away at the age of 30.

Since then Rafer has bonded deeply with Apache Moon, our painted pony, and the new trio, Apache, Rafer, and Redford, are a united front and they share the stall on the near to the house side of the barn, their “porch” shelter outside it, and the grass paddock. Of course they all turn out with the big boys but it’s a sweet sight to see Rafer’s ears out the window the way I have for these 11 years.

Rafer remains the same loving, delightful donkey he has always been. On one hand it seems he just arrived yesterday. And on the other it seems he has been with us forever.

Happy happy birthday, sweet Rafer! Enjoy this midsummer day.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Garage area update!

The sun went behind a cloud just as I was taking the photo, and it’s slightly blurry on top of that, but here’s the nearly final result of the garage area update:

The grassy area up near the garage doors will be filled in with gravel. I’m leaving a strip of grass on either side from the retaining walls back. Note the new light fixture, the latest from Barn Light Electric! It matches the door hardware perfectly. As is the front porch fixture, this is wonderful quality and I am so happy with it.

The arbor above the garage doors is the next phase. I’m not sure if that will go up this fall or early next spring. I am reconsidering growing the existing rose over the arbor and thinking of taking the roses out of these beds and rehoming them to a more naturalized area along the fence going up the lane where they can trail along the fence and not require so much pruning to keep them tidy. If we do that, I will likely plant the native coral honeysuckle on either side of the garage doors and see if they grow enough to eventually meet over the garage entry door.

For now, I’m focusing on getting the gravel finished and adding some compost and another layer of mulch to these pollinator beds.

As I’m looking the photo right now as I type, I just imagined a November Hill plaque there by the entry door. We’ll see.

I’m happy to have things shaping up!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 57

At the end of a Very Hot Week, during which husband and daughter were vacationing in San Diego and my mom was here staying with me, we finally got rain. A few tenths of an inch a day for 3 days, then a huge and wonderful 1.6 inches all at once. I can water the pollinator beds and the veggie garden, we can tote buckets to the baby dogwoods and inkberry hollies, but the pastures are on their own, and they desperately needed a good soak.

During the heat before the rain came every morning when I washed out buckets and cleaned troughs I was joined by a gleeful group of chipping sparrows and house sparrows who used the little puddles to bathe in and drink from. I sprayed the hose far and wide around me and all sorts of insects came to drink as well. It was the November Hill watering hole morning ritual.

I managed to keep the pony in work, though not daily, and kept up the treatment of scabby areas on both donkeys front legs. It took a gray (not white) washcloth, the clicker, and a few horse feed pellets but they cooperated.

The saving grace for having all the chores to do by myself that week was getting a week’s worth of vegetarian family dinners for two from a local restaurant. They delivered them to the garage door and all I had to do was mix salads and reheat entrees and cut the homemade brownies. Delicious food and it made life easier for me and my mom.

July 4th came and went with not much fanfare. There were no fireworks on our little lane but someone close behind us started shooting them into the sky around 10 p.m. I went out back with my high-beam tactical flashlight and after beaming it through the woods and into the sky a few times the fireworks abruptly ended. And that was that. I sat with the herd and they ate hay while the cicadas put on a symphony of sound that pretty much blocked everything else out.

Finally, FINALLY, the garage doors were installed! I absolutely love them and we got a 15% refund for our troubles with this long-awaited order. Photos soon. We also had a French drain put into the soggy side of the driveway, more gravel spread, and have one section left to add stone to. Once that is done and the light fixture is put up out there I’ll take a final photo and show it off here.

Today, sadly, the trees on the back of our farm that were marked by Duke Energy to be taken down are being cut. I have left them to it after sitting out there early this morning listening to maybe 100 different kinds of birdsong, either coyote pups or fox kits, and cicadas singing in waves. It breaks my heart to know that some of their habitat will soon be gone but we negotiated many less trees to be cut than they would have done on their own, so I’m leaving them to it.

Other than a bucket truck driver who was a bit of an asshole about cutting the timber in sawmill lengths, it seems to be going okay thus far.

Later the white prehistoric monster cutting machines will come down outside our fencing and cut back both sides of the power cut. Thankfully what they’re doing today means those white monsters won’t be on our property at all but I dread the sound and the view after they come through. I hope all the birds and other wildlife get out of the way.

I’m on a “no new projects until every little and half-finished project is done” kick, and I’ve also made a promise to self: no new purchases on new projects until I have sorted through and cleaned out three bedroom closets and a hall closet. July seems the fitting month to take this on. The new AC is doing well and hopefully we can keep the other one going into the fall at least.

November Hill is glorious in the summer, but I currently have multiple kinds of insect bites and stings all over my arms and legs, my neck, and a patch of poison ivy on one arm. I have no idea how I got it as I haven’t gone near the plant itself - and we have less this year than we have in years thanks to my farm helper. Possibly the Corgi full-farm romps are the culprit here so I’m not complaining (too much, only when it itches like mad).

We have blueberries and tomatoes and that’s about it right now. Next year I’m going to take the time to plant more veggies! Husband put in sweet potatoes and watermelons but that’s it.

We have a birthday approaching but that will be its own post!