Thursday, December 12, 2019

When holly and oak had a winter’s day party...

Three male cardinals came, along with their wives
And three blue jays buzzed one another
While Carolina wrens pecked at the stack of branches and brush beneath.

Then tiny sparrows came, one, and then two, wings aflutter,
Adding their smart gray to the chorus of red, blue, and tobacco brown
All in the deep ever-green of the holly tree
While bare oak stood tall, arms outstretched,
Inviting, protecting, holding the space.

Monday, December 02, 2019

November Hill farm journal, 87

I am late saying Happy Thanksgiving here and so will wish it now - I hope the holiday weekend was full of gratitude and family/friends. This year my son and daughter-in-law stayed at home to celebrate their first anniversary and we here on November Hill had a lovely week with my mom here and my mother-in-law here for the Thanksgiving meal.

I don’t often write about cooking, but this was the first year we were totally meat free. We had our final fall CSA veggies on hand and I used most of them in preparing the meal. This was the menu:

Baked pumpkin stuffed with wild rice/tart cherry/walnut/spinach + many lovely herbs and spices

Cranberry sauce

Sweet potato casserole with vegan marshmallows, pecans, plus a little brown sugar + cinnamon

Sourdough/kale “stuffing” baked in a pan

Brussel sprouts with soy “bacon” bits

An oldie but goodie from my childhood: lime jello salad with cream cheese, celery, pecans, and no sugar added fruit cocktail

Pumpkin cheesecake with a ginger snap/pecan crust

I made everything from scratch and started on Tuesday so I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving day itself without much work. I have such good memories of staying up late cooking while my husband and children are asleep, and I did some of that this year. It was lovely, special time, and gave me a chance to be thankful for all that it represents. To be awake while loved ones sleep, making food you know they will enjoy, holds so much of what it means to be a mother, for me. And this year, to be able to do it while my own mom slept was especially nice.

The herd got leftover ginger snaps, the dogs got tasty bites of the veggies, and the cats got a bit of heavy cream to lap up off a dish. We all enjoyed the day.

We also finished rewatching the brilliant, gorgeous Netflix series Anne With An E. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s wonderful in every way. There are two seasons on Netflix and a third coming in January, but Netflix announced last week that they are canceling the show, which was originally set to have five seasons, and this provoked a twitter-storm of protest. This is one of those shows that is just so beautiful it should be held up as a shining example of what can be done with the medium. I hope a network picks it up for the final two seasons that are on the stove simmering.

I have a trifecta of films I always love to watch this time of year, so we also squeezed those in during the holiday weekend: Contact, Interstellar, and Arrival. I love all of them. This year after watching Arrival again I got intrigued with the fact that it was inspired by a short story by Ted Chiang, who is a technical writer for software development but also writes creatively. He has two books of short stories out and apparently writes about one story every two years or so. He says he has no inclination to try to write a novel, and no need to try to write stories more quickly. There’s something truly beautiful about a creative process that is willing to spend two years on a story, its concepts and themes and expression. I’m reading his stories now.

We may watch Gravity and The Martian this week to complete the mood. Last night my daughter lured me into rewatching Silence of the Lambs, which is outside the space mood but such a finely-crafted film. A screenwriter/author friend, Alexandra Sokoloff, analyzed it in a 36-page brilliant look at the film from the perspective of craft and plot, and we looked at it while watching, as we also looked at how the Clarice character inspired Dana Scully’s character in the X-Files. A fun way to end the holiday weekend!

This morning it’s sunny, cooler, and I’m going to have to spend some time trying to get christmas tree lights to work. Isn’t that just the worst thing? When you plug the tree in and an entire section is dark? Okay, in no way the worst thing, but annoying.

Last week the oaks went into their full glory here, so I’ll leave you with my beautiful Oak At F.

Monday, November 18, 2019

November Hill farm journal, 86

It’s a cold gray rainy day that took me by surprise. I thankfully took the dogs out for their farm romp before the rain started, and then had to dash out to let the pony and donkeys in so they could have shelter and hay in the barn if they wanted. The donkeys wanted, the half-Shetland pony loves cold rain and stands out in it if not locked in a stall.

Cody and Keil have in paddocks adjoining the barn for the past 9 days. Last Saturday morning Cody presented a deep laceration in the groin, which prompted a vet call, stitches, antibiotics, Bute, and of course arnica and bellis perennis. He’s doing well, and the vet has been back to check on him, but the swelling that has traveled to his sheath and barrel/midline has been hard to see. Vet says it’s normal and all is well. We’ve never had anything like this to manage before. The worst thing is that I may be the one whose fault it is, since I left a plastic muck rake in the pasture lying (tines down) across the muck-barrow. We found it Saturday afternoon on the ground, a tine broken off, and somehow I think Cody might have run into it in the early morning hours and impaled himself. There are a couple of other possibilities that have to do with branches and brush, but we’ll never know exactly how this happened.

Yesterday we had sunshine and nice temps, which led to planting the 8 native wild blueberries I had on hand. I love where they are, that they’ll feed wildlife and bees, maybe us too, that they turn a stunning crimson in the fall, that they’ll create a screen on the edge of our property where we planted them.

The orchard grass seed we sowed in the grass paddock, barnyards, dirt paddock and back pasture is doing extremely well. I’ve been told for years it was useless to plant here, but one person told me she plants it and it does well, and since she lives nearby, I decided to try it. I ordered the first batch of seed online, and then suddenly our local feed store started carrying it, so we’ve bought subsequent batches there. We still need to sow the front pasture, and will get to it soon, I hope. It’s going to be interesting to see how it does through the year.

Bear Corgi has suddenly had some arthritis, according to the vet, and is on Adequan injections and double dose omega 3s to help it. Vet says short, frequent walks are best, and he’s self-regulating, so I hope he is more comfortable. It seems he is - he’s getting on the furniture again and is ever eager to go outside. Right now he’s on the huge dog bed though, as Clementine and Baloo have taken up the entire sofa between them and I’m spread out on the loveseat. Pippin has the chair, and that’s it for the living room seating!

We still have fall color, though it’s starting to fade after the stretch of 40/20 temps we had last week. Tomorrow we’re back up to the 60/40 range. I’m having a hard time believing it’s already the past the middle of November.

Yesterday I was cleaning stalls and happened to capture this on film. It was wonderful, and I wish I had the entirety of it, and also a more accurate representation of the sound, but here you go:

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Dear November Hill

Dear November Hill,

Thank you for the gorgeous autumn show you’re putting on for us. Fifteen years ago we met you in the springtime, made the offer that same day, closed the deal in late summer, and then November came. You were in your glory.

This year, as every year, I know that when November comes I’ll see it again. The colors and textures and changing season of a house and a barn on a hill, where I’m still learning the land and the wildlife,  trying to be a good steward of what keeps you happy and healthy.

The gifts you give are moment by moment. I’m grateful and still in awe.


Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Audrey Hepburn and adorable donkey

I saw this someplace online a few weeks back and it reminded me of a young Rafer Johnson. What a gorgeous photo, in any case! A pair of stars.

Photo taken by Norman Parkinson

In 1955, Audrey and Bimba the donkey are photographed together at Villa Rolli, South of Rome, during the filming of King Vidor’s War and Peace.”