Saturday, September 24, 2022

Writing weekend! Much needed by me…

 Busy week with a messy ending thanks to me face planting in the arena (thankfully not related to a horse), so I’m especially happy to be back in the garret with my two writing colleagues having Zoom meetings and discussing our projects and works in progress.

I’m back to the TV series pilot and happy to be in that world for this weekend. 

I’ve been noticing some light refraction on my photos recently and realized last night the lens protector is cracked. I didn’t even know it had a protective screen on it, and not sure if the phone comes with it, or we put it there (this phone was inherited by me from another family member). In either case, replacements are super cheap and I’ll get one ordered. All to say excuse the odd light at the bottom and right side of the photo. :)

Happy weekend, all! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Autumn Tease

 We have had a string of cooler days and very nice nights but it looks like 90s and 60s again this week. It’s hard to go back after getting the taste of fall!

The big excitement this weekend was a small gang of elk appearing on Red Oak Wander, making their way to Sweet Bay Bald, and ending up on the Stillwater lawn. After numerous visits to Oconaluftee Visitor’s Center over the years to see and photograph elk, they’ve come to visit us! 

A few mowing chores were done this weekend, some barn and grooming fun, and generally continuing to relax while everyone here with Covid recuperates fully. I have not tested positive thus far and will retest tomorrow or Wednesday. 

I had some time in the potager too, and took a quick snapshot of the African basil, which has totally taken over. It’s flavor is more intense than sweet basil, so I rarely use it for cooking, but the bees LOVE its flowers and so this is for them. ;)

Sunday, September 11, 2022

November Hill farm journal, 165

Well, we said we needed rain and we are getting it! It’s on again, off again for two days now, and the sun just peeked out but seems to be hidden again. It would be nice to have a sunny break to dry things out a bit. 

Yesterday morning Baloo was perched on the sofa, looking out toward the front as he often does, when I heard a low woof and noticed his tail was moving very slowly back and forth. I assumed he had spied a deer out front, but when I got up to look, an opossum was on the front porch, digging in the large planter that my dead plant tree still occupies. 

I ran to the front porch to get Pixie in. She was lying in one of the porch chairs, totally unconcerned, but I brought her in and went to the back door to call to my husband. I spotted Pippin heading into the back yard end of the cat tunnel, so ran back to the front porch to get him. Mystic, Isobel, and Violet were already inside. 

By this time the opossum had climbed the dead tree. Husband swooped Pippin in and relocated the opossum to the front steps. He trotted off to the woods next to the driveway. 

I have to admit, he looks sort of handsome in the quick photo I took!

In other news, early Friday morning before taking Clem to get her stitches removed, I discovered the kitchen sink was leaking - a huge amount of water underneath. Thankfully most of the water had filled a tupperware bin I had sitting in there but that had overflowed and it was a mess. When we got home from the vet I got everything out and put a box fan in front of the open cupboard to dry the wetness.Thankfully, it didn’t take too long, and we were soon able to determine that the faucet was leaking down through the sink hole. It’s been needing to be replaced anyway, so yesterday dear husband went and picked up a new one. 

He ended up taking the entire sink out and once that old thing was removed, I remarked that it would be nice to replace it too. He headed back to Lowe’s and I was excited about a new sink. Not the ultimate dream sink (that would require wood working and new plumbing to be done) but the closest thing to it. Of course the configuration of that sink meant completely re-doing the plumbing, and we weren’t eager to  take that on. The best substitute was this:

I’m not the biggest fan of stainless steel appliances and sinks. I chose one for the laundry room because it was the sleekest thing I could find when we replaced that old sink, but for the kitchen, I wanted an off-white cast iron sink with no divider and one drain. Dream sink: that plus the farm sink style. But this is what they had in stock that fit our existing set up, so I said okay. We installed it last night and by this morning I can’t even remember what the old sink looked like, nor am I bemoaning that it’s not what I wanted. So - it’s new, super clean, and now I just have to redo the grout line along the upper part of the countertop, which needed to be done anyway but somehow looks much worse now that the new sink is adjacent to it. 

All this brings me to another home repair that we’re soon to be enduring. (Ha!)

The toilet ring in the upstairs bathroom started a slow leak and we have to replace the toilet and some of the surrounding floorboards. Which means ripping up the original ceramic tile. Which means we’ll never be able to match what remains. Which means we need to have the floor redone. That bathroom has been on the list of  “things we need to get to” but because of the cost of bathroom renovation and the pain that would be for us and our animals, we haven’t done it. 

Now that we have to do the worst part of it anyway, we’ve come up with a compromise. Our contractor is going to do two parts. First, he’ll replace the floor, install a new toilet, and replace the old vanity that has a built in cracked sink. I’ll probably do the painting. Then in part 2, later this year, he’ll replace the old bath/shower combo with a walk-in solid surface shower, spruce up the open closet with some painted beadboard, and replace the old bathroom fan. 

I’ve chosen materials that are easy maintenance and in stock at Lowe’s. I think it will look pretty spiffy and the ease of cleaning will be most welcome. 

He also has to repair the hole that had to be cut out in the dining room wall at the ceiling to diagnose the leak. It kind of never ends, right?

Meanwhile on the farm:

More fall flowering natives are blooming, the tulip poplars are shedding leaves, and the dogwoods are still turning. I’m behind with garden tasks but I don’t even care. Right now I’m just trying to ride the end of summer wave until it reaches fall. Added bonus of not caring - I’ve had time to READ! We cannot do it all, nor are we meant to. 

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Red Oak Wander natives blooming + Clem news

 I’m still in the process of cataloging the native flowers along Red Oak Wander. These are a few from this month:

This one known around here as wild sunflower, in some places Jerusalem artichoke.

Ironweed, the only one of these we have here on November Hill.

White snakeroot, which fyi is toxic to most animals including horses.

Great blue lobelia, aka blue cardinal flower.


Red Oak Wander is truly a native flower haven.

In other news, we got Clementine’s histopathology report yesterday and her surgeon says that the lymph node did have mast cells (we knew that but good to have it confirmed again), it was excised completely with capsule intact, and there were no mast cells extending beyond it. She gets her stitches out tomorrow and we have a follow up with her oncologist next week to review everything and get recommendations for moving forward. 

We’re very happy with this result and hoping for no more tumors. She continues on a diet and supplements developed for dogs with mast cell cancer, as well as a homeopathic protocol. She’s happy and doing well for now! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

November Hill farm journal, 164

 I finally got a few photos this weekend and can share a bit of what is happening on November Hill this late August. 

First, the little passionflower that is so delicate and pretty growing along the branches of one of the button bushes:

The long view of the larger species of passionflower that has grown from the ground to the roof in the corner in one season!

The quite extravagant flowers I can now enjoy from the front porch.I didn’t capture it in this photo, but the tendrils of the vine match the curled wire, a fun surprise.

Many gardeners planting native plants such as common milkweed get upset when they see something like this. It’s a common milkweed stalk that has been completely devoured by caterpillars. This is its job! It’s how milkweed plants support butterflies like the Monarch. When I see this I think, wow, I hope all those caterpillars make it into butterflies! 

My most favorite native, Monarda punctata, aka spotted horse mint. The garden is full of them now and I absolutely love seeing them. This is younger bloom. 

Back to the passionflower with its very happy visitor.

A more mature bloom here:

This is not a native plant! Even though her name is Violet and she seems to have planted herself on the back deck to enjoy the day.

The bee balm in the terraced bed is done blooming but look at how lovely the seed heads are. Perfect for fall decor, perfect for feeding birds and a few insects. I’ll leave these be on through the winter. 

The first bloom of the turtleheads I planted in the side bed last fall. The color makes my heart sing.

The very mature spotted horse mint in full sun, with a visiting bee who loves it as much as I do. 

Pixie guarding the entrance to the cat tunnel on a late summer day. 

A camouflaged visitor on a spent spotted horse mint bloom.

I only made it through a very small area of the gardens. There is so much happening in every square foot. A small part of what is going on here this week.