Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Pet Peeve #874: when horse people attribute negative intention to their and others’ horses

 I have to vent. Today on a horse group discussion someone asked what to do for her horses who are free to come and go between stalls and pasture. They are urinating in the stalls and she doesn’t want them to mess up the shavings.

She said they will actually come in from the pasture when she’s mucking and pee/poop right in front of her.

She feels this is them insulting her.

I could not believe how many people responded saying their horses are “jerks” who do the same thing, their horses are “shits” who are “giving the middle finger” by coming into a stall to pee.

Many recommend not putting any bedding in the stalls so they won’t pee in them. 

I am totally confused. Isn’t a stall a horse’s space to rest, relax, eat, drink, pee, poop, as they see fit? Some horses are closed in stalls many hours a day, some are free to come and go. What is the point of a stall if you’re going to take the bedding out so they won’t use the bathroom, and you lock them out because you don’t want them to be in there messing up the shavings. What are the shavings even for, if not to be rested on, peed on, and pooped on?

We do close our stall doors when horses are turned out, but when they’re “in” I expect there will be pee and poop and that it’s sometimes going to be messy and that some horses are tidier than others just like humans are. They pee in the shavings because it soaks up the urine and doesn’t get all over their legs. Same reason I sit down on the toilet and use the bathroom instead of going outside and peeing behind a bush.

If I’m mucking and any one or more of them comes in and pees or poops, I consider that is them doing me a favor, not them giving me the middle finger. 

Why do people who presumably love horses and keep them insist on attributing negative intention to what seems to me normal behavior?

I do not even begin to understand this mentality. Sigh. 


Saturday, June 12, 2021

November Hill farm journal, 131

 After several days of good, needed rain, we’re having a quiet, cloudy but not rainy Saturday. The cats are sleeping on the front porch, the dogs are stretched out in the living room, and I’m sitting here feeling very grateful that two of the largest projects we had lined up for this season are now behind us. 

With the rain and the season, November Hill is right now in tropical jungle mode. Grass is growing, flowers are blooming, trees are thick and green, and the farm is teeming with life. This week marked the end of dog romps in Poplar Folly for the season, thanks to my son spotting a large copperhead in the pathway. I had hoped that what I’ve always heard was true: that black snakes are territorial and keep the copperheads away. We know we have a number of black snakes back there, so it seems this is a myth, or at least has exceptions. We keep a path weed-eated along the back fence since we use that as a walkway and place to sit and watch the honey bees, and there are several other bare path areas from the dogs running, but the brush piles and other foliage are there for wildlife, and snakes reside in that category.

I had been tromping fearlessly back there but will probably be more watchful now. I always wear my muck boots, and I don’t mess with the wilder sections of the folly, so it’s likely I’ll never see all the snakes that pass through. But for safety’s sake we’ll keep the dogs out until we get around to autumn again.

I’m happy to say that in the barn, the swallows are flying, the horses and donkeys are happy, and yesterday, when his chiropractic vet arrived, Keil Bay broke away from my husband and trotted out of the barn, giving her the perfect look at how he’s doing. He had very little needing adjusting, and he’s finally shed his winter fur. I’m happy to see him so feisty. 

Hopefully this week I’ll get some photos around the farm. I’ve been forgetting to take my phone with me when I go out, and there’s a lot to share right now. Early summer on November Hill is always nice. Not yet to the multi-shower days of midsummer!

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Sometimes A Project Delay is Exactly What You Need

 Well, we lived through 95% of the house painting. The front porch and front steps are left to do - they got rained out and we ran into the inside work that meant tons of foot traffic via the porch so they will be back next week to finish that up.

Today we lived through the attic HVAC not only being replaced, but being replaced with electric unit instead of the old propane fueled one, and that meant HVAC crew + electrical crew and oh my god, I honestly thought this day would never come to an end. 

Five minutes before they were ready to roll out, the downstairs unit failed! The HVAC crew valiantly rallied knowing they needed to fix it for us before they left, and I know they were exhausted after a complex attic replacement in 90+ degree heat. 

They determined the drain line was blocked but each time they cleaned it out, the unit ran for 10 minutes and then stopped again. They had to remove entire pieces of the unit in order to look deeper into what was going on. Turned out to be a very clean but very dead mouse. 

I think the indoor animals were relieved to finally be let out of their rooms after a 9-hour day. We were all relieved that we made it through this long-dreaded home repair. 

So when Pella emailed that they went through the boxes containing our three custom windows and everything looked good but ONE piece was the wrong size, and it would take a month to get that in, I basically said THANK YOU SO MUCH because they were coming Monday morning and I was dreading it after the two weeks of painting and today’s very high intensity attic work. 

We all need a month to recuperate and now we have it!

The house looks great, the upstairs is cool, and these things are checked off my list with a big fat black Sharpie. Yay!

Monday, June 07, 2021

A Rare Weekend Away

 This weekend was my husband’s and my 27th wedding anniversary. Thanks to our children, we were able to go to the NC mountains and spend it pursuing a long-time dream we’ve had - to purchase land in the NC mountains.

I’ve been scouring the internet for months looking at online listings, and we’ve gotten pretty good at finding land parcels on GIS systems so we can do preliminary research. We found one parcel we loved about a month and a half ago, and tried to use a local real estate agent to look at it and possibly make an offer. It became very clear that the agent (who is amazing at home purchases in our larger area) was really in deep waters with the nuances of mountain land and all the individual quirks one must know about to make a responsible purchase. I switched my scouring from properties to mountain agents, and found one who seemed perfect for us. When I contacted her, she apologized that she has retired, but gave me a name and asked if she could pass my email on to him. I said yes, he contacted us immediately, and wow - it has been like night and day working with someone who grew up in the NC mountains, knows the ins and outs of everything we need to know, and was ready to jump in with us on this journey.

This weekend we explored one property each day - Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. These were the three we’d narrowed down to after the hours of searching online. 

I can’t say enough good things about the agent, who drove us (in various 4-wheel drive vehicles depending on the road systems of the properties) to the tops of mountains and helped us experience the feel of each one. His knowledge is going to be key as we figure this out.

The three properties were absolutely stunning in person. In three different counties across the entire western end of our state, they were each very different, and each had pros and cons. One we had to rule out because the road going in and up is not adequate and the $$$ involved in improving it, plus the need to get right of way landowners on board, plus the lack of electricity or water, proved too daunting. 

Making things more difficult, the other two properties weigh out nearly equally on our “love the land” scales, and they are so different from one another it’s like picking an apple or an orange - or two fruits you love - it’s almost down to what are you in the mood for in the moment you look at them. 

We have a lot of research to do, and some thinking, and also need to keep our eyes and minds open to other properties that come on the market. 

I can’t think of a better way to spend an anniversary weekend than riding in a Polaris on gorgeous mountain land that’s for sale, while asking questions, soaking in the landscapes, and dreaming of what we would do to create a little haven without harming the land. It was wonderful. 

A little sampling of the very few photos I took, these from the property that won’t work - I was too busy soaking everything in through my whole body to focus much on photos!





Saturday, May 29, 2021

Brown Bunny Potager, update

 I’ve done a few things in the potager this week. 

But first, we have our first tomato! 



This is the view from the veggie bed side of the garden, with a new bench and bird/bee bath. 




I added a butterfly cottage near the bronze fennel in case any butterflies need lodging. 




This is from behind the bench, obviously. I’m thinking of using a horse panel to make an archway structure for native coral honeysuckle, that the bench actually sits beneath. (Thank you, A and J, for the idea!)



I have one more thing to add, and today we got sweet pepper and eggplants to put in. The tomatoes and cucumbers are flowering and the basil is growing, so we’ll soon be ready for some summer salads. 

This has turned out to be a fun space on the farm. 

And a couple of shots of the new paint color on the house. If you look at the upper left corner here, you can see the old paint on the upstairs side against the new paint on the back and lower story. The old paint color likely faded quite a bit but it also had a pink undertone that I wasn’t fond of. We’re rid of that with the new gray. The sun was obscured and the sky was dark overhead in this photo, so the overall color is a bit darker than it really is.




This is the new color and a truer rendition thanks to the lighter sky.



Of course, in true domino fashion, now all I can see is the orange tone of the concrete foundation wall. I am already thinking of a new project for which I need a local stone mason.

It never ends!