Sunday, November 22, 2020

A Goal To Sing

 I Worried

Mary Oliver

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows 
can do it and I am, well,
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?
Finally, I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

Isn’t this perfect? I worry about everything, not so much in a stressed out oh my god kind of way, but more like if I think of everything that might go wrong, I can fix it ahead of time so it doesn’t. 

This of course takes its own toll, and manifests in a lot of to do lists and a running monologue inside my head. The horses have taught me other ways to be, and I’m grateful to them. 

On Friday and again yesterday, instead of mucking pastures, I began to clean the tack room - most importantly the tack. For someone who has not ridden in over a year, this is singing, don’t you think? Holding the reins in my hands, lifting the saddle, its weight and heft, gauging which length of stirrup and leather I might need as I clean them.

It was a lovely day, and Keil was good, and while I am not setting a goal to ride him again, the possibility that such a thing might present itself was potent. Cody was hanging around as if making an offering, and I imagined taking him up on that.

When I walked across the top of the front pasture, this is what I saw:

The X is Gebo, the rune of gifts and partnership, and the sun was there glowing like a beacon of light, not at the end of a tunnel, but omnipresent and all knowing. I know the optical explanation for the two orbs, but am taking them to be my first horse Bo-Jinx, and Salina, hanging out with the herd and letting me know they’re here. 

I remember my first ride as a child holding the reins, feet in stirrups, and I remember the first ride on Keil Bay, in a sunny indoor arena with mirrors at one end, hardly able to believe that the woman in the mirror was me. Keil Bay sailed us through the sunbeams that day. A month later he came to live with me.

I see the next ride, the culmination of every ride, but without the worries. Just the song.

Monday, November 16, 2020

November Hill farm journal, 112

 A week ago my farm helper put in the bit of interior fencing in the corner of our front pasture, to keep the horses and donkeys out of that corner. I have southern bayberries planted inside the perimeter fence down there, as well as 10 winterberry hollies, and my plan is to add more rain garden plantings and stone to help with the rain run-off at that side of our property.

All was well until he hit our internet cable. All my fault, as I had No Cuts out previously and misunderstood where the line went up the fence over there. So suddenly we had no internet and a two-day wait for repair. Thankfully our little town has a very cool co-working business where you can rent space to work. They have two different high speed internet providers so the chance of both having problems is nil. With husband and daughter both working from home, this was a lifesaver. I had two writing workshop Zoom meetings there, as well as my monthly writing retreat Zoom meeting. I was so grateful not to have to cancel all of these. 

We have a temporary repair as of last Thursday but now waiting for the permanent repair this week plus another look at our internet speed, which is very slow. Hopefully all this will get organized soon. It’s hard to be without decent internet!

Other than the internet being cut, the fencing is wonderful. They used materials we had on the farm, so we didn’t have to spend money for that + it got some of those materials out of storage and into use. They put in a section of removable rails so I can easily get a wheelbarrow in there when needed. So happy with the excellent work!

In other news, Keil Bay seems to be back to a good place with the EPM. He’s on his second 30-day Marquis pack, has had his third acupuncture session, and we’ve put him on Equioxx for the anti-inflammatory effect. I also have him on Duralactin and will be putting him on bovine colostrum + a mushroom compound after reading a research study that treated EPM with Marquis/Duralactin/Vitamin E at 10k ius/Transfer Factor. I couldn’t find the Transfer Factor but found a reputable company making a supplement that matches the ingredients. It should boost his immune system, which is important in general, but especially during EPM recovery.

He’s on regular turn-out with his herd and seems to be quite happy with the fall weather we’re having. I’ve worried a bit about the upcoming cold nights on the radar and took this opportunity to order two new blankets for him. A little bit of an early holiday gift. All hail the Big Handsome Bay!

I don’t have photos or the recipe after our fig tree has gone totally wild with ripe, gorgeous figs this year, my husband picked a huge number and has made three fig cobblers. I took one to my mom and brother yesterday, but we’ve enjoyed the other two and they were delicious. I wish I could serve bowls to all reading this. A perfect fall dessert.

I’m doing a lot of writing and workshop assignments the past couple of weeks, and also have had some work going for the two boards I serve on, so my home projects have slowed. However, we have a barn roof repair being done soon and tomorrow my farm helper is going to focus on doing a semi-annual barn clean out. It desperately needs it. I am hoping the next week I can get to the barn door repairs that need doing. 

Inside, I have plenty to do. Too much to do. But I’m taking it a bit at a time and not getting too riled up about the pace at which I’m accomplishing the long list of tasks I have in mind. 

We had a lot of wind and rain last week with the hurricane that came through and many of the trees are bare now, but there’s still lovely color and it’s such a lovely autumn overall I just want to look out the windows, look up at the trees and sky, and soak it all in.

As we move toward Thanksgiving, let me say it now: thank you who read here, thank you who comment, and thank you to the voters in the US for taking back the White House. I am so grateful. We have a lot of work to do but this was the first step, and it was a big one.

Friday, November 06, 2020

A few photos of the Big Bay, this week

 Keil Bay got a big thumbs up from his vet on Monday, but yesterday had a relapse so we’re continuing the Marquis for another month. The relapse was not severe, but it definitely warrants continuing the medication. I’m stressed but hopeful. (This seems to be my default mode wrt many things right now - Keil, the election, our country)

I think the series of portraits my daughter took this week captures perfectly what I’m seeing with the Big Bay. He’s an amazing horse and I hope you’ll send him good thoughts as he moves on with EPM treatment!

Thursday, November 05, 2020

A fascinating tale about the Keebler Elf and dreams

 Years ago I posted a dream I had about the Keebler Elf. It was quite intricate and involved horses and at the time I marveled that my unconscious would insert the Keebler Elf into my dream world.

Today my fascinating tale is that of all the posts I’ve made here on camera-obscura, the post about the Keebler Elf dream is the second most-viewed posts of all time. What?!

It’s true! I have no idea why, but can only surmise that other people have dreams about the Keebler Elf.

Another interesting fact is that the views of my old Keebler Elf dream post tend to increase during times of “stress.” There’s been a huge uptick since Covid hit, and now there’s another big uptick during the elections here in the US.

Why do we dream about the Keebler Elf?

Why do we dream about him when we’re stressed?

I do not know, and while the post has the second most views of any post I’ve written, it doesn’t get comments from readers.

If you are reading this, and you found this post because you were searching for information about Keebler Elf dreams, PLEASE take a moment and just let me know why. 

You can comment anonymously and I will see them, or you can comment and request that I not approve the comment for the blog, and I will honor that. I’m just very interested in what brings people to that particular post.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

November Hill farm journal, 111

 We’ve had a lot going on. I’m happy to say that Keil Bay is much, much improved and that is a weight off my mind, body, and spirit. I’m grateful for Marquis, Prascend, HA injections, APF, and acupuncture, and also for three great vets who love the Big Bay and helped put together a treatment plan. 

I also need to say a special thank you to Cody and the donka boys, and to remind all readers that if you don’t already know this, horses have the capacity for emotion, and they also have the capacity for deep friendship. When Keil first exhibited symptoms, Cody came up to me over and over again that first day, facing me directly, putting his face to mine, and it was clear what he was saying. HELP him. 

In the days that followed, Cody spent many hours side by side with Keil, putting himself on whichever side seemed weakest, and literally held Keil upright with his own height and weight. It might not be obvious to those who don’t know the different sizes and weights of my herd, but Cody is the only living thing on November Hill farm who is big enough to do this for Keil Bay. And he did it. He did it in the double stall, he did it in the barn aisle, he did it in the barnyards. I watched him watching Keil and putting himself right next to him, their barrels touching, Keil’s weak hind end resting against Cody. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed.

The donkeys, especially Redford, stayed with Keil overnight, because I knew they would bray their little hearts out if he went down and could not get up again. They did that for Salina, and I trusted them to do it for Keil Bay. Thankfully it didn’t happen, but what a gift to me to know they would call me if needed. 

Little Man was Keil’s first new herd member when Keil joined our family. They joined us two weeks apart, and suddenly they were pasture mates in their boarding facility, then they were the two who moved here with us to the farm. Little Man has a very bossy personality but he’s also a good friend to his herd. He has been super sweet to me since Keil got sick, coming up and licking my hands, standing quietly beside me, and in subtle ways he took over as interim herd leader. I’m sure he’s been waiting for this for years - but while he took on that role, he gave it back whenever Keil Bay asked for it. 

I’ve lived with this little herd for years now, and they have taught me so much about how horses live together and how they care for one another. They have their little arguments, they converse, they share and say no, they play, they form unique bonds, and they do, without question, love and grieve and mourn. 

In other farm news, we are fully into autumn now. The dogwood trees are gorgeous this year, with burnished red leaves and berries, and the hickory trees have gone brilliant yellow. Our late ripening fig tree is laden and giving us delicious ripe figs on a daily basis right now. As long as we don’t have a hard freeze in the next few weeks, I think this will end up being one of the best harvests ever for this tree.

We’re not having a mast year with the oaks, but there are many acorns on the ground, and in the high winds we had this week from Zeta moving through, many more fell. 

Our front pasture was limed and overseeded with orchard grass earlier in the fall, and we’ve had it closed off to the herd for well over a month now. It looks amazing! And they are definitely aware of how good it looks. I’m giving it another few weeks to mature, and once Keil has the all clear to go out to that much larger space, we’ll open the gate and let them have some time on the grass, probably an hour or two a day for a few weeks, and then I’m hoping, if weather cooperates, to do a quick liming and overseeding of the back pasture, though it may only need rest to bounce back. 

I’m definitely liming and reseeding the big barnyard, to help with the trenching that was done to run our electrical line to the camper. 

In good to do list news, my farm helper put in 40 southern bayberry bushes along the front and around the side of our property. The front line are all mulched and look really good already. As they grow and offer some privacy it’s going to be wonderful. The ones on the side are inside the pasture, in an area that has always been a bit problematic, as it’s where the storm water runs out of the front pasture. We’re going to put some fencing in that corner, to keep the horses and donkeys out of it, and that will allow me to put in a rain garden area with rock/stone to help with erosion and to give a dedicated space for pooling that will hopefully end up being a sanctuary for birds and other critters. The bayberries will add privacy from the lane and also provide a nice evergreen backdrop for our new rain garden. 

I have 10 winterberry hollies to go in that area next. They lose their leaves but are known for their bright red wintertime berries, which will be great forage for birds and a bright spot in the winter for our eyes and spirits. 

Once we get the wild plums, pawpaw, and persimmon put in, all but one down in Poplar Folly, I’ll be done with planting for this season. (Okay, I do have some native seed mixes I’m going to toss out in a few spots, but other than that...)

The bees are moving into winter mode now. There are still some things for them to forage, and they are on warm sunny days, but we’re feeding this year since these were all nucs in late spring and don’t have quite the honey stores to make it through the winter. Next year I hope they’ll have their own honey to carry them all the way through. I’m feeding 2:1 cane sugar syrup, adding an essential oil mix called Honey Bee Healthy, and also adding a tablespoon each of powdered probiotics on the side. It was recommended in a beekeeping workshop I attended via Zoom recently to feed small amounts, enough for 3 days or so, rather than one large amount less often. We’re lucky that our hives have the capacity on top to open a panel and slide the food in without disturbing the bees or allowing cold air into the hive bodies. And this week on one of the super warm days we were able to install a new inner board that has a glass panel plus three vents which allows us to feed syrup or powder using a mason jar, and which offers a very nice view of the top box frames - again, with very little disruption or cold air going into the hive itself. I’m going to see how this goes and if we find it works well, will get these panels for the other hives too. 

I hope the bees make it through the winter this year. We’ve done some things differently and I hope these colonies are strong enough to make it!

Yesterday I was thinking about the fact that I haven’t been to a store of any kind since March. My shopping is online now; thankfully our local grocery, feed, pet supply, and wine stores are all well set up for curbside pick-up or delivery. I haven’t been to malls or shopping centers regularly in years so that part isn’t much different for me, but I have loved supporting local stores and businesses and getting to know the owners and staff, and I miss that part a lot. 

While life on our little farm has its own time and space, and the “apartness” of it from the world is one of the things I love most about it, I do feel a large sense of anxiety right now that stems from the upcoming election and the things that are at risk for our country if it doesn’t go toward the light. It feels like we’re in some kind of dark place now, and while I have issues with a lot of politicians about various things, it’s clear to me that we need a change in leadership, or to put it more accurately, we need an actual leader in the White House. I want a landslide. I want to know that a lot of the people in this country care about science, about the earth, about each other. I want to know that while many of us didn’t get our first choice in the primary, we are clear enough about what is needed to take us there with this election. It’s a big step, it’s a needed step, it’s a critical step. Where we go at that point is what we face next - and we should be ready to remain engaged and demand good leadership and progressive, humane policies throughout our layers of government. But right now we have to put out the toxic fire that’s smoldering. 

That’s as much as I’m going to say today, but as protected as November Hill is from the real world issues, it’s now holding this stress as well. I know it’s so much harder for so many people. May we find a path out of this mess and may we work toward helping everyone have their own safe haven.