Monday, April 16, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 51

Last night we got 3.1 inches of rain in a matter of hours, and all that water rushing through the stream bed in the front pasture swept leaves from last fall against a section of the front fence and damaged it. The leaves used to simply go under the lowest strand of Horseguard tape but now that we have the no-climb with boards the leaves were trapped. Thankfully my farm helpers are both here tomorrow and they’ll get it fixed, but I was so upset this morning to see the mess and realize at least a day’s work will go to that instead of the steady progress we were making with the “list” items.

All the rain started the spring flowing again, too, and while it’s not enough to do serious damage, the water is flowing along a path that’s creating boggy areas along the driveway. I feel like we need to address that as well.

It’s been quite warm again but tonight we have a frost warning in effect. I’m past being ready for spring!

April is our birthday month - husband, daughter, Keil Bay, and the pony. 48, 21, 29, and 18. Of all those ages the most remarkable ones are daughter and pony. Best birthday wishes to them all!

I’ve ordered two flowering dogwoods and 10 inkberry hollies for planting. I’ll be picking up a few more pollinator plants for the beds, and if the weather ever settles down, need to get the vegetable garden going and also overseed the pastures. I have seed from the botanical garden, all native pollinators, and I have to get those started very soon.

Bee supplies are rolling in. I have to figure out exactly where the hives are going - have changed my mind three times already, but once you set them up, moving them can only be done in gradual increments so I have to find the best site and plan to leave them there if possible.

April is historically our busiest month but somehow I still feel like it should be March!

On Lying Fallow

A link to my essay just published on Streetlight Mag’s site:


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A sweet ride on the Big Bay

Yesterday afternoon I brought the horses in to relax in the barn with some hay and grooming, and with daughter’s help, got enough done to have time for a ride. Keil’s left hip felt tight to me, as did my own, and there’s nothing better than some walking to loosen things up.

It was nice to leisurely groom, tack up, note the horse hair literally covering the sleeves of my shirt, and get on with no fanfare. We have a new mounting block, one of the standard 3-step ones, in the barnyard. It’s taller of course than the 2-step blocks, but significantly shorter than my rigged up 2-step on two layers of concrete blocks that I have in the arena.

Most regular readers know I had a weak hip several years ago and became stressed about dismounting from the 16.2 Keil Bay straight to the ground. My nervousness transmitted to Keil and mounting was not always the most pleasant part of our ride. He’s sensible, so nothing bad was going on, but I felt my own confidence undermined our rides and I wanted to put a stop to it. The higher mounting block set-up made a huge difference in both mounting and dismounting. Keil quickly adjusted to my getting off at the mounting block and my only worry in the world was that the donkeys quickly formed a habit of waiting until I got on and then pushing the 2-step block off its concrete base. But for the most part the new arrangement saved the day and I no longer stood fidgeting with the mounting block getting it in the perfect position nor did I dread the end of the ride and the drop to the ground.

I’m not sure what prompted me in December to buy this 3-step block for the barnyard, but yesterday when it was time to hop on I had Keil line up to it and before I could second-guess myself, got on. I have this thing about not getting too dependent on having things one/the same way when it comes to riding or for that matter, horsekeeping in general. It’s good to be flexible and in my case it’s good to back down from needing to mount from the very high block. So I was very happy that I got on and off with this 3-step.

The ride was nice. Keil is very wide and it was definitely a stretch through the hips! My heels were not down when it felt like they were nearly perpendicular to the ground but by the end of the ride Keil was looser and so was I.

And in the barn aisle afterward I untacked him and he stood by the bench and I sat cleaning tack and we both had that sweet endorphin muscle release zen feeling going and I realized I hadn’t had even the slightest twinge in my right shoulder.

The Big Bay is good for the body, good for the soul. And he is now 29 years old! This is the year that I am exactly twice his age. But the joy he has brought and continues to bring is an infinite number. We’re a mathematical phenomenon.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 50

Pollen is floating everywhere now, even with the cold rain and in a few places locally, frost and snow.  So many leaves have come out on the trees in the past few days, and my pollinator garden plants are going crazy. Our dogwoods are in full bloom. We have a volunteer baby dogwood blooming near the front of our driveway and are so happy to have it there.

I found the first tick on the Big Bay and the second tick (two total so far) on ME, the carpenter bees are still busy, and I have a bird nest in the “shelter” side of my mailbox. The bird building the nest kicked my little Keil Bay Breyer horse right out of there and I found him lying on the ground about four feet away!

It’s definitely springtime but we continue to have odd weather - 80s for a few days, then back down to low 50s with lows at freezing in the evenings. Our usual temperatures this time of year are highs in the low 60s and lows in the mid-40s. As it is, we seem to fluctuate between early summer temps and winter temps.

I’m working on getting ready for my three honeybee nucs, which are said to arrive the second week of May assuming the weather hasn’t slowed the bees down. I am very excited but need to review all my beekeeping school notes and literature, and plan to do the online “Beekeeping Like A Girl” sessions as well before the ladies arrive.

Yesterday we slept in a little (truly, just a little) and when I looked out the upstairs window this is what I saw:

What would they do if they could come all the way in?