Sunday, August 14, 2022

Foreshadowing Fall

 It’s early and quiet, just the sound of distant bird song coming through the open doors, which I opened to let in the 56 degree air. I’m a little chilly and oh, how welcome that sensation is at the waning of a long, hot summer. 

We still have more hot days to go, of course, but this is an early glimpse of what is to come. The horses and pony and donkeys know I’m awake but instead of heading to the barn to come in from the growing heat, they’re lingering in the pasture, enjoying the relief. I noticed yesterday that the shedding of summer coats has begun, yet another foreshadowing of autumn.

Even the cats and dogs, usually ready for breakfast the moment anyone’s feet hit the floor, are drowsing and I think enjoying the cool air not born of an HVAC. It feels different when the farm itself cools down.

In the garden beds goldenrod is coming out, and the deep fuchsia of ironweed. The spotted horsemint is starting to bloom, and asters lie in wait. The dogwood trees are just beginning their tonal shift from bright green to red. The figs are ripening, the wild muscadines readying, and the days are slightly shorter. 

It’s too soon to celebrate, if, like me, the turning of this season is cause, but the glimpse is reason for pause,  to think about the party to come, a reminder that each season has its joys and that life is cyclic. With the change in climate that we know is happening, I am treasuring these seasons even more. 

For me, autumn is a time of deepening colors, crisp air that allows for the easier completion of chores, ideas of big projects on the page becoming more appealing, as if the longer nights fuel creativity and the shorter days add a bit of urgency to the work. 

It’s a time when the horses thrive. The biting insects die out, the horses grow thicker coats, and they seem to love life best when the nights are in the mid-forties. They are more playful, they prefer to be out than in the barn with fans blowing, they lie down in the early morning curled like cats, muzzles resting on the ground. 

I have learned since moving to November Hill that blacks and bays, chestnuts and grays, and one painted little pony look stunning with autumn colors as their backdrop. 

The moment that defines November Hill, a moment when I felt the first impact of our having moved here and claimed this little piece of land, was an early morning in the beginning of November, the first year here, when I walked out to a chilly landscape and saw Keil Bay and Apache Moon cantering down the hill in the front pasture. Between an oak and a cedar tree was a tree trunk that had fallen perfectly, like a cross-country jump, and Keil sailed over it, looking like a mythological horse leaping headfirst into autumn. 

These days he is not doing that kind of leaping, but yesterday, as I brushed him in the barnyard while waiting for his chiropractor to arrive, the lush and perfect color of ripe figs and green leaves behind him made me think of that first year, though the fig tree wasn’t planted yet, and the white hairs on Keil’s face were years away still. 

Every autumn has its perfect moments. Every season has them, but for me the ones in autumn stay with me, markers of the years. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Opossum in the cat tunnel

 In the years since we had the back yard, front porch, and cat tunnel set up so our cats have a safe and expansive area in which to go outside the house, we’ve never had this happen! 

Yesterday morning when I opened the front door to the porch to clean water bowls and litter boxes out there, I was greeted by a very obviously non-feline pile of scat front and center on the porch floor. It was full of fig seeds. I figured raccoon or opossum, and was super surprised to see it in the cat safe haven, but made a mental note to close the back yard side of the tunnel before dark to deter this becoming a nightly habit for the intruder.

I visited my mom yesterday evening and just plain forgot to pass this on to my husband. When I got home from my mom’s it was after 9 p.m. and I was in the bathroom when I heard a huge ruckus through the wall where the tunnel runs. My husband closed the dogs inside, went out with a flashlight to check the tunnel, and I went to the porch where Pixie came out of the tunnel and then Mystic hovered in the porch-side tunnel entrance until my daughter came and lured him out. We got them inside with the other three cats and I blocked the tunnel entrance on the porch.

Meanwhile the opossum would not leave the tunnel and husband noted it had blood on its ears and face, clearly from the scrap with Pixie and Mystic. Mystic had a scratch on his nose and Pixie had some ruffled fur above her eye and what looked like a pre-existing scab torn off. I cleaned their little wounds and used triple antibiotic ointment as a precaution, and emailed our vet so they could let me know today if we need to do anything else. 

Both cats seem fine this morning. The opossum left in the night. We kept the dogs inside to give it a chance to get out of the tunnel and out of the yard. My guess is the opossum came up the fence and got over the cat-proof wire into the fig tree, then came down the tree into the yard. And I guess after one night doing that, came back for a repeat visit.

I’m hoping the encounter last night is enough to deter the opossum from future visits!

We’re going to block the tunnel tonight just in case. 

The fig tree is full of ripening figs right now after years of having huge numbers of them later in the season, usually so late we’re looking at first frost which stops the fig harvest in one night. This year the figs formed early and are ripening at the much more usual time for fig trees in our area. We’re enjoying them daily and so, apparently, is this opossum! 

On another note, I tend to keep an eye on what posts get the most hits each day, and it always leads me to click on an old post that suddenly is getting noticed. I’ve been posting here for many years and it’s always a treat to click on a post title that is popping and read it. This morning I read the post I wrote after Moomintroll’s death. He was a polydactyl cat who showed up in his elderly years and just absolutely made himself at home with us, in a home full of other cats and Corgis who weren’t all that sure they wanted him here. He had been declawed in front and had seizures, and we took care of him and quickly came to love him dearly. When he died at what the vet thought was around 21 years of age, it wasn’t totally unexpected but it was both sad and interesting. I really think when he died that his spirit immediately went to find that of his previous person. Reading the post I wrote in 2012 made me think of many Moomin moments. He was such an interesting and loving cat. He’s buried in our back yard along with Chase, Kyra, Keats, River, and Osage. Quite the circle of love and many beloved memories in our back yard. 

Saturday, August 06, 2022

November Hill farm journal, 162

 Busy week, but feeling better and my brother and mom are both now testing negative for Covid, so I’ll see them tomorrow and let my brother get back to the gym!

Not sure if I’ve shared this here, but I’ve also come out of semi-retirement and am seeing psychotherapy clients part-time again. I’m doing a 100% virtual practice and have made a few changes in my garret so that it works well for these virtual sessions. It’s been a number of years since I saw more than a few returning clients off and on as they requested time with me. I’m finding it interesting that the work I did full time for years, and then part-time after I had my children, is still as rewarding as it ever was. 

The farm remains jungle-like in its summer foliage. We’ve now had several days with no rain so things are drying out a bit. The horses have transitioned fully to the front pasture now after over a week turning out for several hours a day there and then moving to other areas of the farm for their remaining pasture time. 

Cody is into his final week of treatment for Lyme disease and I’m definitely seeing some improvement. He’s also on Prascend during the seasonal rise and we’ll evaluate him in December with an ACTH test to see if he should remain on it or not. 

Keil Bay is doing well, the donka boys are good, and Little Man is his regular self. Since my last post, Rafer Johnson has celebrated his 15th birthday. Oh my gosh, there is no way I can even contemplate he has been with us for that many years! Every year a gift and we remain as enamored of him as we were the day we met him. He continues to be a sweetheart and these days he sticks close to Little Man and spends some quality time each day playing donkey-go-round with Redford. Happiest of birthdays, sweet Rafer! We love you.

Yesterday afternoon I had some barn chores to catch up with and some horse stuff to do, so I let the herd graze in the big barnyard for easy access to each of them as needed and easy access to get in and out with muck barrow and water buckets. 

First they went into the crowded corner I wish they would stay out of. 

Then the best buddies came back up.

Then they all ate their way back up. 

This ended with Rafer joining me for an ear scratching session in which he rested his muzzle in my lap and was so close I couldn’t get a photo of him. 

This herd gets along so well together, and each of them has special relationships with each of the other ones. I don’t know how common this is, but we feel fortunate that this crew is so bonded and that their lives are full with equine companionship. 

Everyone can use a little therapy and this is mine. Group therapy but with five therapists and me the client! You can believe I soaked it up like a sponge.

The bees are hanging in there through our forage drought - July and early August in our area tends to be a time when there isn’t much blooming for the bees. Soon the asters and spotted horse mint and goldenrod will be bursting forth and offer the native and the honey bees much-needed fall foraging so they can build up their supplies of honey for the winter. 

Winter! But first we get to live through my favorite season. FALL. I’m ready! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

This is me this week

 My PCR test for Covid was negative, but I have had a cascading downward spiral of chiropractic issues (this tends to happen if I have to cancel an adjustment and forget to reschedule for two months) that were piled onto by the Moderna booster #2 well and truly kicking in. Add to that high heat and summer doldrums in general and I have barely set foot outside the house for days. 

I had a chiro adjustment on Monday, which helped, but it’s going to take a few weekly appointments to get things back to a great place. I have massage tomorrow and this heat is winding down some over the weekend, so I am hopeful things will bounce back for me. 

I’m grateful to my husband and daughter who pitch in every day with chores and definitely keep things flowing here!

Friday, July 22, 2022

November Hill farm journal, 161

It's been a week. My brother and my mom both tested positive for Covid, and thankfully both have had mild cases. My mom got Paxlovid as a precaution due to her age. Also thankfully, I wasn't exposed, and I've stayed away this week and won't see her again until everything is clear. However, I started having my own symptoms over the weekend - these are what I think are allergy symptoms that I've been having off and on since early spring. I did a Covid test every day for four days, all negative, and I've sent in a PCR test just to be sure. I'm feeling better at this point, but haven't had much energy and so have barely been outside. At the moment I'm suffering from not being out and about! This should be remedied today. We've continued to get regular rain and also heat, but not as high as has been predicted. It's still a jungle out there! Clementine had her oncology consult on Monday. They've recommended the lymph node come out and she's on the list for late September. Her regular vet practice are considering if they can do this sooner. Cody has tested positive for Lyme disease and we're waiting for the antibiotic to come in so we can get him started on it. This week it feels like a vet clinic and a Covid clinic combined! Keil Bay keeps me on my toes. On Sunday when I went out to feed his mid-day meal, I was a few minutes late and this was my greeting: