Sunday, May 21, 2017

November Hill farm journal, 30

It's been awhile since my last farm journal entry. We've been so busy with finals for daughter, son's graduation, his trip to Ithaca to find an apartment, and trying to keep up with the daily dozen+ things that absolutely have to be done no matter what.

November Hill is in full jungle mode right now. All the leafing out is done and while I am not thrilled with the heat of summer nor the insect pests it brings, I do love the privacy we have when everything is lush and full.

The vegetable garden is in, thanks to my husband, and although it's not as much as we've planted in years past, it is already overproducing lettuces and greens, and we enjoyed our first November Hill strawberries this year also thanks to him.

If the garden is growing, everything else is too, and the grass is no exception. The side strip, what I call the wildflower strip, is more than waist high. The mower needs a part and we've been too busy to pick it up. All that tall grass has gone to seed so I'm looking at it this way: we're reseeding using the natural method!

This is the first weekend in many that I've even had the hope of working on my to do list around the farm. I'm happy to say those porch screens are FINALLY DONE! I'm ordering my light fixture tomorrow. Reward on the way for what took far longer than I counted on.

Because I am woefully behind and some of my to do list tasks are easier done in winter, I'm going to need to reassess what comes next. Whatever it ends up being, it will be good to get started on a whole new project.

Our contractor is returning the end of the month to install the barn gutters and our farm gate. I'm looking forward to finally having the entire perimeter of November Hill enclosed, and even more am looking forward to the new perimeter fencing coming this fall. No more stressing about the neighbor's children's dogs. And Bear and Baloo can run run run once the perimeter fencing is up.

Speaking of Baloo, he is absolutely amazing. He and Bear are best buddies and as puppies do, he has doubled his size and is growing up so fast. I'll post a few photos later this week.

I want to take a moment to stop and write about how wonderful the new barn roof and shelter are. The functional cupola is making a huge difference on hot days. Our barn is sited well for cross breezes but when you combine that with our big fans and the cupola and barn shelters, even on the hottest days we've had the barn is very comfortable and there is air flow. We've also had rainy days and it is wonderful having shelters on both sides so all the equines have space to stand and watch the rain, munch on hay, and stretch their legs without getting wet. I am so happy we went forward with this big project.

My newest farm purchase is a mini-sized, chargeable electric chain saw. I can't handle the big Stihl, and there are so many things I can do with this little machine. It's charging right now and the first mission is to cut the wild muscadine, honeysuckle, and trumpet vines at their BASES underneath the front porch. I could spend the rest of my days walking around the farm and up and down our lane on our long strip pruning back the ever-growing jungle of trees and shrubs. I'm excited to get started on that.

A few things in our week to come: a fly sheet for Cody who is being besieged by bug bites, grazing muzzles for three small equines whose barrels are approaching the size of small tanks, and hoof trims all around.

It's almost summertime. Daughter is digging into calculus 2, son is enjoying a month and a half or so break before moving to Ithaca and starting his doctoral study at Cornell, husband is busy with his own projects, and I have recently joined a weekly writing group which is already making me very happy. Life is busy, life is good.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Big milestone, a proud mom, and a note on homeschooling

From the UNCA website:

Cromer graduated first in scholarship as the university’s 2017 Manly E. Wright Award winner and is headed next to Cornell University where he has earned a full scholarship. He will pursue a doctorate in theoretical astronomy, having had the goal to be a research scientist since arriving at UNC Asheville. “I had in mind becoming a research scientist so that I could spend my time studying a subject I love,” said Cromer speaking to his fellow graduates. “But at UNC Asheville, through all the people around me and the experiences I’ve had, I learned that this isn’t all I want to do. I want to have a meaningful social impact on the world.”

My note:

We homeschooled both our children their entire lives, and by homeschooling, I mean we provided resources, spent time exploring the world, and gave them the freedom to explore their interests and develop passions. My mantra was First Do No Harm; children have a natural curiosity and love of discovery and learning that begins at birth and gradually develops. Having worked as a research assistant in child development studies, and later with many children who were not successful in school when I was a psychotherapist in the public sector, I developed my own theories about what might keep this love of learning intact. Again, it was mostly choosing NOT TO DO THINGS TO THWART IT. 

I am so very proud of my son for all his hard work and achievement as an undergraduate. And I'm glad I trusted my own instincts and did not cave in when it was hinted at and sometimes bluntly stated that I was "ruining" my children by homeschooling them. I didn't do a perfect job and there were times I failed miserably, but I managed to avoid the very deep pit of making learning dull. 

Friday, May 05, 2017

Baloo settles in

He's the easiest pup I've ever known. He and Bear are best buddies and he is winning over the cats one by one. Pixie has been the tough customer but here he is, showing her that he won't chase her but he'll definitely play if she agrees. We adore him!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Gorgeous! Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer: The Mushroom Hunters

Neil Gaiman's feminist poem about the dawn of science, from the wonderful Maria Popova's Brain Pickings today:

Science, as you know, my little one, is the study
of the nature and behaviour of the universe.
It’s based on observation, on experiment, and measurement,
and the formulation of laws to describe the facts revealed.
In the old times, they say, the men came already fitted with brains
designed to follow flesh-beasts at a run,
to hurdle blindly into the unknown,
and then to find their way back home when lost
with a slain antelope to carry between them.
Or, on bad hunting days, nothing.
The women, who did not need to run down prey,
had brains that spotted landmarks and made paths between them
left at the thorn bush and across the scree
and look down in the bole of the half-fallen tree,
because sometimes there are mushrooms.
Before the flint club, or flint butcher’s tools,
The first tool of all was a sling for the baby
to keep our hands free
and something to put the berries and the mushrooms in,
the roots and the good leaves, the seeds and the crawlers.
Then a flint pestle to smash, to crush, to grind or break.
And sometimes men chased the beasts
into the deep woods,
and never came back.
Some mushrooms will kill you,
while some will show you gods
and some will feed the hunger in our bellies. Identify.
Others will kill us if we eat them raw,
and kill us again if we cook them once,
but if we boil them up in spring water, and pour the water away,
and then boil them once more, and pour the water away,
only then can we eat them safely. Observe.
Observe childbirth, measure the swell of bellies and the shape of breasts,
and through experience discover how to bring babies safely into the world.
Observe everything.
And the mushroom hunters walk the ways they walk
and watch the world, and see what they observe.
And some of them would thrive and lick their lips,
While others clutched their stomachs and expired.
So laws are made and handed down on what is safe. Formulate.
The tools we make to build our lives:
our clothes, our food, our path home…
all these things we base on observation,
on experiment, on measurement, on truth.
And science, you remember, is the study
of the nature and behaviour of the universe,
based on observation, experiment, and measurement,
and the formulation of laws to describe these facts.
The race continues. An early scientist
drew beasts upon the walls of caves
to show her children, now all fat on mushrooms
and on berries, what would be safe to hunt.
The men go running on after beasts.
The scientists walk more slowly, over to the brow of the hill
and down to the water’s edge and past the place where the red clay runs.
They are carrying their babies in the slings they made,
freeing their hands to pick the mushrooms.

Here Amanda Palmer read it here.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Meet Blue Baloo!

Ears taped for support, relaxing on the front porch. He arrived last night and has settled in like a total champ. Bear loves him, one cat has laid down the law, the other three are pretty miffed. I think they'll come around. He is an absolute doll. Sweet and playful, curious and loving. It is so nice to see two Corgis gallivanting about again.

He's a blue merle Cardigan Welsh Corgi and his tail is a work of art!

It's so much fun having a puppy in the house again. Especially when there is a big brother to show him the ropes. More and better photos on the way. I'm "blogging from iPad Pro" challenged again.