Thursday, May 16, 2024

Horse abusers Austin Wayne Simpson and Kylie Lenore Parker update

 They have reportedly moved to Robeson County, NC while still awaiting trial for the horrible abuse of horses, including the very young foal Faith, who was removed from them and had to be put down after months of treatment efforts to save her. 

This couple have also reportedly been banned from the AQHA as members and breeders, however I have read they currently have more foals on the ground. 

Do not buy horses from them, do not support them in any way. Hopefully they are found guilty and will serve the consequences for their actions. 

This is what Kylie recently posted on FB:

No, Kylie, your abuse of horses and foals is not our issue. The abuse of defenseless animals, children, and any other living creature does in fact define a person. If you have learned and grown from an experience as abuser, you take responsibility and you apologize. You do not project that others have a  problem and you do not minimize what you have done. 

The past is relevant. The past and this current denial of responsibility and continued arrogance (“when we are ready to share details we will do so but on our terms”) are both evidence that you have neither learned nor grown. 

It’s appalling that you are still allowed to own animals, period. If justice is served you will not be. 

Thursday, May 02, 2024

November Hill farm journal, 210


We are full bore into spring moving quickly to summer here on November Hill, and the cicadas are emerging and starting their very loud chorus. Unfortunately, even the cicadas aren’t loud enough to mask the sound of the neighbor bellowing at her poor horse in the round pen as she chases him around. My heart goes out to him. 

Meanwhile, the November Hill herd are in their barn with fans on during these very hot days this week, meandering around and getting the first cold hosings of the year. Not the donka boys, of course, as they want nothing to do with cold water showers. 

Because I put in some new plantings this spring I’m having to water them during these weeks without good rain, but it’s not too bad. Baloo and I walk the watering can 7 times out to the front fence and water the viburnums and the one winterberry by hand since the hoses don’t reach that far. The others are in easy access areas so not quite as intensive as when we put in the row of hollies and the cedars!

I’m doing an embodied writing workshop on Substack this spring and it’s been a productive three weeks so far - I have four new flash pieces that have come out of the prompts and the yoga that’s offered with them. Very happy to be part of that. You can check out Jeannine Ouellette’s Writing In The Dark there if you’re interested. It’s never too late to start and the prompts go into her archives for ongoing use. 

A hopeful bit of news, please send all the good energy you have … we found a farm we love and are working on the steps to purchase it. It is the first place we’ve seen that all three of us love and there were signs and omens and I am holding the space for it to remain with no other offers until we can go for it. There is one piece that needs to be in place for us to move forward and it is outside my control (as so many things are, LOL) but it’s in motion - just not yet in place. Once it is we can leap. And I know, as much as I would love this to be the place we go to next, that if this doesn’t work out something else will. And the piece that gets into place will be there for the next property if this one doesn’t work. It felt like home. And it is private and very sequestered. I hope I get to share it here and if I do, that means we got it!

I also have a very special journey coming up - my daughter and I will be traveling to Shetland for two weeks to see and photograph birds and whales. I’m so excited and really looking forward to finally visiting the home of Little Man’s ancestral origins. :)  It’s going to be amazing. 

When we return I’ll be hunkering down for the summer months seeing clients and digging in with advanced EMDR training and certification. I continue to be wowed by the impact this has on clients and on trauma. After my own EMDR treatment for early childhood medical trauma, I went to the dentist this week for dental work and did not have nightmares, slept well even the night before the appointment, and did not have to take valium to endure the visit. I didn’t even death grip the arms of the dental chair! It’s a very effective treatment modality that I’m recommending to anyone who has had trauma or disturbing experiences that impact current daily life. 

I’m also hunkering down to finish the new novel and hopefully also finish the TV series pitch deck that is mostly done but needs a final review and edit. This is the summer of hunkering down. Unless of course it is the summer of MOVING. I’ll go with what comes!

Happy May - I know I’ll be sharing tales and photos from Shetland on the other side of the trip. 

OH - my piece in Door Is A Jar is coming out I think June 4th - here’s a link to the issue with places you can purchase if you would like to:


This one is special as it’s about my mom. I hope you’ll check it out. The journal is generally available online but also in Barnes and Noble! If you purchase it there, send me a photo! 

Friday, April 26, 2024

November Hill farm journal, 209

 I’m still doing daily gardening, mostly weeding the various beds/areas of non-natives and some of the more aggressive natives that will take over if allowed. It’s working well for me to take it a couple of trugs at a time, and I am working hard to think of it as a daily practice rather than a to do list check off of a task. 

Today I watered the viburnums along the front fence and they’re all doing quite well. Most of the southern bayberries continue to grow and thrive; there are two small strips where they just won’t grow and I don’t really know why. Since my larger plan is to create a native hedgerow along the front fencing, I’m going to do some research and see if I can find something new and of course native to fill these gaps. By the time fall comes around again I’ll have that figured out. 

I noticed today that the live stake elderberries we pounded in along several areas of perimeter fence line are also doing well. I focused on sloped areas where they will provide some screening but even more importantly erosion control. 

I’m really happy with what I call the “shady strip.” It’s taken a couple of years to get it looking more like the vision I had, but it’s finally starting to, and I took some photos today to try and capture that. I remember when it was a huge tangle of poison ivy and smilax and also a lot of interesting things trying hard to grow. It’s an area where water from the crow forest tends to join with drainage pipes coming from one side of the driveway down from the barnyard that feed into a larger drainage pipe that goes further down the driveway and across to the front pasture. That confluence of stormwater combined with shade at the edge of forest creates an interesting opportunity for some really nice natives. 

There are a lot of plants volunteering around and mixed in with the things I’ve put in, some native and some not, and I’m working on removing the nonnatives and making decisions about the natives, but also not wanting to take all the roots out of the ground until I can replace them with what I want to be there. In some instances I’m moving the native volunteers to other places. It’s so nice when good things pop up!

It’s lovely seeing that the things I planted settling in and spreading. If I can keep the things I don’t want from taking over, this visioned space will continue coming into reality. 

There used to be one gigantic brush pile in this area, but now there are two where I put things I pull out of all the various beds. Brown bunnies and birds love these brushy areas at the edge of the forest and I have come to love the patterns of the discarded stems and foliage. 

We have a lot of stone to continue lining the drainage area and I may make a border along the front edge to create a hardscape boundary to this long and winding bed. 

Across the driveway at the corner of the fencing where the drainage pipe comes out to the front pasture, I made the bluebird bed a few years ago and have continued adding to it. I started weeding there today and it too is coming into its own now. The bluebirds are nesting in their box and I really loved seeing the Indian physic at the bottom of the post, which was tiny when I put it in two years ago, really thriving this spring. 

I’d like to outline this bed with some stone too, and give it some definition. 

Across the front pasture, down to the far corner, the bird haven absolutely feels that way now. It turned a corner this year, it seems, though that area too needs some very focused weeding to keep a few things from taking over. I’ll be working on that over the next week or so. 

The place I never get to is Poplar Folly, where I still have the plan to make an actual woodland pathway that winds in a sort of figure 8 pattern down there. We’ve gotten the apiary organized for the season, and thanks to my husband, the two colonies that made it through winter (out of 4) are now split and we had a swarm come into the Hegemone hive (I actually think they came back!) for a total now of 5 thriving colonies. We plan to split Hegemone as they are building up very quickly, and that will be 6. I have one more hive box and a lovely wooden nuc box I may set up down there to see if we lure any more swarms with them. 8 would be a sort of magic number and I’d rather see the boxes being used than sitting in my beekeeping storage room!

The potager is also booming and needs to be weed-eated and tidied for the summer season. I’ll get around to it as I continue rotating around the farm. 

It’s a busy and rich springtime here. I am loving the privacy that comes with the leafing out of all our trees. The cicadas are emerging, the swallows are back, and we have a nest of eastern phoebes this year too. Chickadees in one bluebird box, bluebirds in the other. My owl box ready and waiting from an owl family to move in. There have been some hard things this year but as usual, November Hill is holding things together. 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

November Hill farm journal, 208

 The front garden bed is doing its amazing first wave of spring show right now:

My viburnums are all leafed out!

We’ve had a swarm move into our empty honeybee hive.

We’re planting the vegetable beds.

Someone dear is learning to love our other dear ones.

Life is being challenging in a lot of ways right now, but the farm and its routines, its joys and beauties, keeps us going. 

And might I note that we looked at a farm we wanted to make an offer on and then learned that its HOA did not allow donkeys! Never mind, we said, noting that they are missing out to prohibit such gentle, loving creatures. 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

November Hill farm journal, 207

 We are in the midst of three days of rain and today a new washing machine is arriving which means the delivery folks will be slogging through the soggy path into our back yard. I’m grateful I found this replacement machine - the exact same machine that has bearings wearing out at age 4 - in a very good deal online. The repair was going to cost $1300+ and the new machine was much much less than that. However, on this rainy day with animals sequestered during a two-hour window, and a washing machine that technically still works, I’m wishing I had a magic wand that would just keep it running instead of the hullabaloo of people tromping in and out with a new one. 

Cody and Rafer Johnson pushed through the un-electrified HorseGuard tape last night through the arena to get to the big barnyard grass, so that repair is on the docket for sometime today. Ready for sunshine and blue skies and drying out. It’s on my list to replace the tape at that end of the arena and on around to the barnyard gate with wood fencing, but that isn’t near the top of my list yet and they have lived with it undisturbed for 20 years! The boredom of rainy days in the barn, the lure of spring grass. 

Last weekend I went to a local pop-up native plant sale to get short-toothed mountain mint, which I’ve been looking for the past couple of years. I got there early and nabbed 5 beautiful plants, plus Wherry’s foamflower, woodland phlox, and Virginia mountain mint. We had two nights of frost warning so I kept the new haul in the garage until yesterday when things warmed up enough that I could put them outside. I managed to get one mountain mint in the ground during a break in the rain. Hopefully tomorrow I can get the rest in the ground and complete the prepping of the upper terrace for spring. 

I’m about 1/3 through the lower terrace removing some invasive non-natives but I’ve done enough to have uncovered the downy wood mint, curlyheads, and asters coming up. The patch of wild bergamot has grown larger and should be pretty spectacular when it blooms! Also pruned the beauty berry and button bush at the end of the terraced beds. I’m glad to be giving that whole area a needed sprucing up this year. 

On the other side of the driveway that bed awaits - all I’ve done over there is a little weeding and pruning of the very large button bush. 

All the viburnums I planted are leafing out, and in general, things are looking good, though I know at some point I’ll lose control of how fast things are growing and at that point I’ll sit back and just enjoy the jungle. 

Otherwise, life is busy but I am persisting in my effort to, as Cal Newport prescribes in his newest book Slow Productivity:

Do fewer things.

Work at a natural pace.

Obsess over quality.

It’s funny because I’ve been looking at my longtime goal to focus on three things in a day. He recommends this in the book, and it’s definitely fueled my motivation to adhere to this plan. The addition of working at a natural pace is helping too - just moving normally and not racing ahead to try to get more done. The book is good; if you’re like me and need some encouragement to slow down, I recommend it!

The delivery guy just called and they’re on the way so I’m going to meditate on that being almost done. The rain seems to have stopped so maybe this won’t be the big deal it feels like. I’m hoping their truck is not huge, as the last time they had to wheel the machines down the entire driveway! 


Had to add this in. Washer installed by two super competent young men this morning. And I just posted the following to my horsekeeping group. 

Today I was tending Keil Bay’s and Salina’s gravesites, after doing winter planting of some rarer native plants that seemed to be a suitable match for these two horses. I’ve been keeping the spring weeds that are popping up pulled on and around the graves and had the final plants in hand to put in for this spring. After getting them in the ground, and pulling the weeds, I walked over to the part of the grave where Keil’s head is and leaned down to say something to him. There was a Red Bird peppermint wrapper lying there on the soil, exactly where his muzzle is. 

For the past 20 years we have never been without Red Bird peppermints because they were his favorite treat. The night he died I fed him every single peppermint we had on hand, which was about half of a large bag. I never reordered because the remaining herd members do not really need those peppermints. We haven’t had any since October 25th.

I’m not sure where that wrapper came from but it sure made me smile to think that Keil Bay is at least in some way still getting his peppermints on this was rainy/now sunny spring day. :)