Sunday, May 31, 2020

Police Use Of Force Project, Police Scorecard Project, Campaign Zero Project

I’m taking a break from the garden posts today because I’m so angry, disgusted, and heartbroken by what is going on in our country, and has been going on for my entire life.

This weekend I and two writer colleagues had a virtual writing retreat on Zoom and we used a lot of our time processing what’s played out over the past few days. It’s horrific to see the videos of police attacking and assaulting U.S. citizens. I applaud the few who have joined their community protests, who have listened and supported, but the vast majority of police officers being documented by professional and citizen journalists are being brutal, vicious, and totally beyond the pale of what anyone could think is reasonable.

In an effort to find something in the way of a solution to all this, I came upon these projects and I want to share them.

The first is the Police Use of Force Project.

Please check them out here: POLICE USE OF FORCE PROJECT

The second is the Police Scorecard Project.

You can check them out here: POLICE SCORECARD PROJECT

The third is Campaign Zero Project.

You can join this movement here: CAMPAIGN ZERO

It is well past the point when our country should have rooted out racism in law enforcement (and in general). All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect by law enforcement officers. Every child should grow up with the knowledge that they can expect protection and safety from police officers. Every adult should walk or drive knowing they can look to police officers for help and assistance.

I’m a white woman who grew up in a small, southern, racist town. I was cared for from the day I was born until I went to college by a beautiful, loving, black woman. From the time I was old enough to understand what was going on, I have struggled with the issue of racism. I can honestly say that in my lifetime I have never been hurt by a black person. I can’t say the same about white people.

I do not know what the answers are, but I do think we should all commit to educating ourselves about racism in our country, about human behavior and how our brains work, and about how we can, in our daily lives, do small but powerful things to change the fact that we are not all able to move about as free citizens. We are not all able to have a sense of safety in the world.

As a psychotherapist who studied child and human development, a sense of trust and safety is a basic need. We are a country of people who have not had our basic needs met. We need mass healing.

We must all figure out how we can assist with this. We must begin with ourselves.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 48: Stokes’ aster (Peachie’s Pick) + some garden/farm photos

The unidentified plant suddenly came to me yesterday - it’s Stokes’ aster, Peachie’s Pick variety. It’s really pretty and I had forgotten this particular variety was in my garden!

These beauties are nestled in among the coneflowers and I also see three, make that four, spiky prickly weed thingies growing in there. They get tall and harder to pull so I need to get out there today and get them out. (Benefit of taking photo from above is you can see weeds easier!)

These are just starting to pop and this spot will be a mass of blooms soon. The asters tend to be long-blooming plants. I think this one is a bit early and partly why I didn’t remember what it was!

We’ve had a busy weekend on the farm, with lots of fun sightings of the critters we live with here.

My husband got a good photo of this black snake - I’ve seen one near Delphine, he saw one near the barn, now this one. Could be it’s the same snake, or could be more than one. Either way, I’m more than happy to share the outdoors with them. They help with mice and I think they’re beautiful. Plus, they lived here first.

 My daughter reports that this is a female anole. I thought I had captured a young dinosaur in action. A very curious creature and I’m happy she’s enjoying the garden.

Here’s a video of the milkweed yesterday afternoon. It’s a busy buffet for native bees.

I’m not seeing the honeybee girls up in the pollinator beds yet. They have so much blooming in Poplar Folly and Arcadia I think they’re working that area for now. As we move into summer the pollinator beds near the house will get busier, and lucky for the bees, honey and native, I have planted many things for them that bloom on through the season. 

Here are a few more photos of interesting garden finds this weekend.

This is what the baptisia do after they finish blooming. I love this feature in the garden and it’s food for wildlife as well. 

Here are a couple of photos showing the goldenrod plants I moved early on. A few of them wilted totally after transplant but they have all recovered nicely with some pampering. I didn’t quite finish the fenceline because it got hotter and I felt they would not make it. I’ll finish it off in the fall, when they can use the winter to grow their root systems without all the watering I’ve had to do with these.

I moved one rattlesnake master and forgot to take the photo of how it’s doing. I thought for sure it was a goner as it too wilted badly and then bunnies ate the leaves completely down, but I noticed yesterday it has sprung back and is thriving. I’ll move the rest of the babies in the fall.

And finally, more info on the Stokes’ aster:

Stokes’ aster ‘Peachie’s Pick’

Stokesia laevis ‘Peachie’s Pick’ (Stokes’ aster ‘Peachie’s Pick’). While this specific cultivar is of horticultural origin, Stokesia laevis is a native North American wildflower. It is also a member of the Asteraceae family.

The genus name honors Dr. Jonathan Stokes, a 18-19th century English physician. The cultivar name pays homage to the woman from Mississippi who discovered the plant, Peachie Saxton.
Stokesia laevis grows up to 45.72 cm (1.5 ft) tall with a 45.72 cm (1.5 ft) spread. Plants grow best in full sun with well-drained, sandy soil, but Stokesia laevis can also tolerate filtered sunlight and drought. The main killer of ‘Peachie’s Pick’ is wet soil in the winter, so it is very important to keep it well drained. It may also be helpful to use a layer of mulch in winter to protect against the cold.
This Stokes’ aster cultivar is best planted in small groupings throughout USDA Zones 5-9. The flowering stems tend to flop less than other Stokes’ asters, but their tall height leaves them susceptible to some reclining, especially after a strong thunderstorm. Stokesia laevis is a compact growing aster with fluffy, cornflower-like flowers (up to 7.62 cm across) colored lavender-blue. Especially if deadheaded, ‘Peachie’s Pick’ can bloom from midsummer to early fall. The stems originate from a rosette of oblong-lanceolate medium green leaves (up to 20.32 cm long). Stokesia also invites butterflies and bees to the garden!
Botanical NameStokesia laevis ‘Peachie’s Pick’
Common NameStokes’ aster ‘Peachie’s Pick’
USDA Zone5 thru 9
Light RequirementFull Sun
Season(s) of interestsummer, fall, winter
Height and Spread1-1.5ft x 1-1.5ft (30-45cm x 30-45cm)
Flower ColorBlue, Purple
Attracts WildlifeHosts Caterpillars of Butterflies/Moths, Attracts Pollinators, Rarely Browsed by Mammalian Herbivores
Additional InformationNot Native to the US Midwest. Slaevisnative to southeastern North America.
Location in Lurie GardenNorth Dark Plate, Northwest Light Plate​

Monday, May 25, 2020

November Hill farm journal, 101 (bee hives!)

We had some sunshine after last week’s daily rain but then shifted back to rain yesterday with a late afternoon thunderstorm. Today it’s overcast but thankfully not raining! Time to dry out a little bit so the daily routine can get back to normal.

Saturday morning it was dry and not too hot, and our honeybee nuc delivery from western NC went off without a hitch. I coordinate an annual bee nuc purchase and delivery for our county, bringing in VSH honeybees with terrific genetics and sweet natures. 7 Stands Farm is a family-owned business and they are wonderful to work with.

I got home with two new nucs and my husband helped me get them down to Arcadia. We opened the nuc box entrances so they could fly and start to settle in. Late Saturday afternoon we went down to install them into their permanent hive boxes. The bees were super busy when we opened the first nuc up and since our smoker wouldn’t stay lit and husband was getting a little bit agitated himself, I decided we should give them the entire day and overnight to settle in. We closed everything back up and called it a day.

Yesterday, Sunday, we went down at 11 with a well-lit smoker and got rolling. Things went perfectly. These nucs are thriving, with many bees packed on the five frames. We decided to go ahead and put a second hive box on both, and we fed all three colonies with 1:1 sugar syrup with some Honey Be Healthy added, since our main nectar flow is now over. Bees need nectar to build new comb, and 1:1 syrup closely resembles nectar. They need new comb in order to build out their frames to grow new brood, store the pollen to feed them, and to make and store honey for the winter. That’s the life cycle of the honeybee, and why we won’t be taking any honey from these colonies this year. They’ll need all they can make for their own survival.

After making a decision to put the new hive boxes in my potager, I changed my mind the day before the nucs arrived. While the potager is at the end of the paddock and fenced off from horses and donkeys, if for any reason we needed to move the hive after putting bees in it, we’d have to do a gradual move through the back pasture, through Poplar Folly, and finally down into Arcadia. It could be things would go fine in the potager, but there’s also a chance the bees would have bothered the horses. So we moved the hive boxes Saturday morning and all three are in Arcadia, well away from the herd and, honestly, in a little bit of heaven down there right now with all the things blooming. They can and do fly up to the pollinator beds by the house. I think the decision to keep all the hives together is the right one.

So, here they all are.

Echo is the hive we installed the end of March. They were able to to take full advantage of the nectar flow and have built out their brood box and have a great start building out the second hive box. They stayed busy in their usual foraging routine yesterday while in the literal center of the installing activity. Thankfully we have plenty of room to space these hives out so they weren’t really bothered by all the new bees flying around!

Artemis hive was the agitated one on Saturday. They were very focused on us as we opened up the nuc and getting in our faces more than is usual. They never bumped me but with agitation spreading to my husband, it felt like a bad combination. Yesterday, with more time to settle in and my husband and I both well-rested and ahead of the heat of the day, things went perfectly. I’m happy they’re in their new home and hope they use the syrup to get rolling with comb building. Thankfully the inkberry hollies are now in full bloom, so along with all the wildflowers in Arcadia, the pollinators I’ve planted in Poplar Folly, and the pollinator beds coming into full bloom at the house, they have plenty to forage as well.

And finally, Hegemone. They are in the spot where I had the two hives last year. I’ve been keeping an eye on the area for the past few months after big rains, insuring that we’re not seeing a lot of water run-off. I’ve done some work uphill from the area to address the run-off, and it’s paying off. There is one dry stream bed that flows when we get huge rainfall in a short period of time, but it’s well in front of the hive and shouldn’t bother them at all. These bees have been super active since we got them off our truck, finding a way out of their nuc box before we even opened it. Even today they’re still flying about, but they’re in their new and spacious home now and can hopefully finish settling in today and get to work foraging.

We had a little drama yesterday early evening, after the deluge, when our county bee group posted an email about a swarm report (we get a lot of calls from the community when people find swarms of honeybees, which we love, because instead of people killing them, we can send out experienced beekeepers to collect the swarms and install them in hive equipment) that was less than a mile from November Hill. I had a moment of paranoia that one of our nucs had swarmed and husband ran down to check on them. They were fine. Whew! I am not an experienced beekeeper and have not yet collected a swarm, so I’m glad we didn’t have to yesterday!

Several people were going to coordinate to get someone over to the swarm before nightfall. We’re lucky to be in a county with a large number of experienced beekeepers, many of whom are certified and have gone on to meet requirements for journeyman and master beekeeper. We also have a very active beekeeping association, so we have a lot of support in general.

I’m glad the bees are home and we can help keep them happy and healthy as we move toward summer, then fall, and into winter.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

A few rainy day photos in lieu of native plant posts

It’s been raining all week and still have another day to go, so I’ve not been out much. I took a peek this morning from the front porch and ran down during a break in the rain to take a few photos of some flowers getting ready to come out. The echinacea seem like they’re just waiting for a bit of sunshine to really pop.

The milkweed are slowly coming out. That is a stunning echinacea bloom to be standing tall on the right.

 These are ??? - what are they? I’m going to have to wait until the flowers come out and identify them.

 Here they are from above:

On a different note, about six months or so ago I stopped buying dishwashing liquid in plastic bottles. I got a lovely wooden dish brush and a block of white soap that is finally down to a sliver. Both came packaged in nothing but brown paper, compostable or reusable as wrapping paper.

When it came time to reorder, this olive oil soap was back in stock and check it out! Perfect for November Hill, good for the environment, a pleasure to use when washing hands and dishes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

November Hill farm journal, 100

Wow - 100 farm journal posts!

The heart of November Hill is the house, but the barn is so close behind the house I count it as part of it.

This week we’re having a multi-day rain event, which hasn’t happened in awhile. We need the rain but having it stretched out over 5 days is not my idea of a good week. But I’m rolling with the weather since I cannot control it!

I reorganized who is where in the barn this week. They come in for the day now and I’ve moved Keil Bay into the double stall open to barn aisle + big barnyard. This is the “special” place to be and was originally given to Salina and the donkeys when she got older and needed special attention. 

Keil would say, if he could talk, that he has always been deserving of special attention (and I assure you he has gotten it). Now that he’s 31, he gets the barn aisle during the spring/summer seasons. The barn aisle is coveted because you get the full fan effect there, and you get to survey all the stalls, plus have access to the big barnyard. It’s where the humans enter the barn, so any time one of us goes out, Keil can get to us easily. 

Cody has moved into what was, years ago, “his” stall - on the house side of the barn. That stall opens into the rear shelter and the little barnyard, which is also an active area for the humans when doing chores. 

Apache and Rafer have moved to the far side of the barn, with their end stall open to the dirt paddock. It’s not quite as spacious as it used to be for the donkeys, who went right through the rubber fencing into the arena and on through to the back pasture. Now that we have the board fencing between dirt paddock and arena, they are thwarted.

Redford is allowed to be a “floater.” He’s a good citizen and is rewarded by getting his choice of roommate for the day. Rafer and the pony have become super bonded and they sometimes leave Redford out, so he often chooses to hang out with Keil or Cody, and any time one of us is at the barn and he wants to switch places, he is allowed to. 

The only downside to this plan is that Keil Bay is, and I say this with all affection, a total slob. He drops manure up and down the barn aisle, not bothering to move so much as an inch from where he happens to be standing. The others helpfully go out to their own dedicated manure pile areas, keeping their stalls and shelters clear and making muck duty super easy. With Keil I have to literally muck around his hooves. This has always been the case, and it always will be, so all I can say is that is just who he is. The King.

Otherwise the vegetable garden is doing really well, the pollinator beds are too, bees are good, dogs and cats are good, and while I’m always playing catch up with my various projects, I’m good too. I had a lazy day today, stayed in PJs until 4 when I had a webinar on developing a pitch deck for TV series projects, and now I’m listening to the rain fall and wondering where all the hours went. It’s too late to take a nap and too early to go to bed.

I think I’ll get out the dog brushes and work on Bear Corgi. He is a fluffy and while wonderful in every way, his coat is a grooming nightmare!

Here’s to sunshine before Saturday, when the two bee nucs arrive!