Tuesday, July 12, 2016

November Hill farm journal, 11

It's the time of year when it most resembles a jungle here on November Hill. The trees are lush and green, all manner of shrubs and grasses and weeds are trying to take root with us, and the regular rain we're having is keeping the pastures very green. The focus becomes managing all these growing things. They can quickly get out of control.

In the midst of this our old weed eater died so my husband had to go buy a new one. The old one had been repaired many times but it had heavy use over the past years. We try to get the longest life out of our things but it was clearly time to let this one go.

We've also had some stormy weather with wind and lightning. We've removed the red maple trees from the pastures proper but there are some big ones behind the back pasture fence. We keep a close eye out when storms blow in and often simply close that field off until the weather clears again.

Two weeks ago a friend had a red maple come down in her pasture and her two horses ate the wilting leaves, which is when the toxins are the most dangerous. Both horses made it but have been in the vet clinic for two weeks with multiple blood transfusions and one having heart damage that has made recovery tricky. 

Around the same time we had a huge storm with some very scary wind. A downward gust snapped one of the big red maples in back in half and the crown folded over like a giant hinge. It wasn't exactly in the back field but it was hanging just along the fence line and husband spent an evening getting all the leaves well away from horses and donkeys. 

Sadly my marker tree tipped over from the root bed in that same gust. It was a huge tree that had previously (years back) been hit by lightning but it seemed to survive and even thrive so I was surprised and very sad to see it had toppled. There is a lot of work to be done now behind the back fence - getting these trees cut into firewood. This chore will likely wait until fall when it's cooler and bugs and snakes are dormant.

The interesting part of all this is that I have long wanted to build a writing studio behind the back fence, with a front porch that literally opens into the pasture so the horses and donkeys can join me there. We have plenty of room for such a thing but it would involve cutting down trees and I am loathe to do that.

I would never have cut the marker tree so had eyed other (less nice) sites along the back fence, but all had some issues so I have never proceeded with my plans.

In the past few years we have lost several trees to lightning strikes back there, but the marker tree was still living and right in the center of the prime site. Now that it's fallen the way will soon be clear to consider taking down those big red maples and truly clearing that area for the writing studio. It's not at the top of the list by any means but it is definitely in my mind again and without the obstacles from before.

This happens often on the farm. There are aspects to the landscape that I become attached to while at the same time consider possibilities that would require changing it. And then suddenly nature herself swoops in and makes the decision for me. We so mourned the clear cutting of the 11-acre forest next door to us. It was hard to stop calling it the 11-acre wood and refer to it as a field, but now, three years later, it is becoming a forest again. It is thick with young sweet gums and a haven for the deer herds. 

Meanwhile in the garden we have pulled out all the various squash plants after having a good harvest for two solid months. The squash bugs were taking over and it was time to clear the ailing plants out. Now we're harvesting garlic and tomatoes, still eating rainbow chard, and watching melons grow. The blueberries are ripening and the two cucumber plants have won this year's award for most amazing producer. It's always fun to see which plant goes beyond all expectations. One year it was okra, another peppers, last year it was sweet potatoes. Unless something else goes crazy, the cucumbers are well ahead. I'm eating cucumber every day at least once!

Following up on existing projects, I have tested the French gray milk paint color on the cat tunnel roof and it appears that Stillwater gray is still the best choice. I have everything ready to paint and oil the screens but need a run of dry days so that everything can cure properly. And I have my machete tool for working on the wattle fence. Slow progress but I'm glad to be moving on with these things. 


Grey Horse Matters said...

It's sad to lose the trees. I get attached to certain ones too. On the other hand, a writing studio sounds like a great idea. I'm sure you've got the plans for it in your head already!

billie said...

I have had the writing studio in my head for years now. It's fun to have a few projects on the very back burners to think about while mucking the fields :)