It's definitely midwinter here. By now I've gotten up a decent amount of leaves and mixed them in with manure and stall waste to compost. The wind has carried a fair amount of the leaves that were left out of the pastures, which made me smile as that is work I won't have to do!
The bones of the November Hill landscape are the most visible right now than any time of year. The contour of the land is clear, and we have our first winter view of the now-heavily-timbered 100-Acre-Wood. Although I miss the forest that was there before, it is interesting to see how that land lays. My husband took a photo from behind what will be our new property line looking this way toward the barn - what a sight!
The other prominent feature of midwinter are the birds: crows and red-headed woodpeckers, and many sparrows and finches and cardinals. We were at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science last weekend exploring their huge collection of bird nests and finally, after many years not knowing, learned that the tiny nests built of hairs from the tails of our horses are made by chipping sparrows. It's nearing the time of year when we'll find them on the ground, blown down by the wind. The recent ones we have found are conspicuously devoid of Salina's black tail hairs, distinguishable from Keil Bay's by their thick/coarse texture. It seems odd that finding a tiny nest makes me miss Salina but it does.
I remain behind on projects but this weekend's sunshine after several days of dry weather allowed me to chip away at my painting. I put two very nice coats of soft white milk paint on the support beams for the final porch screen, the post and porch rail beneath, and got about halfway through putting one coat on the screen itself. I considered finishing it today but decided horse hooves need touch-up trims and Keil Bay needs his full trim, so hopefully on Wednesday, a sunny day with forecast of 60s, I can finally complete this project!
Then it's on to the front steps which I need to sand, make one small repair, and then paint and tung oil (which will be the second coat of tung oil). I'm looking forward to that day when I can say DONE and place the order for my new porch light!
We have been replacing barn lights with LED bulbs as the old ones burn out and we had four to replace this weekend. It's nice how something so simple makes such a huge and pleasant change - LIGHT! It's nice and bright in there again. Cheerful on gray days.
In other news, I am pondering how and when to start my beekeeping in earnest, though I'm only a few classes into bee school. And on Friday I went to Bear's first obedience class and got some terrific tips that have already proved useful. I feel his biggest lesson in this class will be learning to do things with the huge distraction of being with 7 other dogs he doesn't know. I hope we'll sail through pretty well and then move on to Canine Good Citizen in March.
I would be misrepresenting life on November Hill these days if I left out concern about our country and what is happening here. Thankfully the farm and the season and the animals both domestic and wild keep me busy and grounded. But the peace and calm I feel here is also like a treasure to be guarded and protected and I'm making regular phone calls to state and national senators and representatives. It makes me both sad and upset to see the chaos this administration brings, but I hope, in a bigger, deeper way, that we are in the midst of a needed change. I feel the two-party system is not serving us well, and I feel our nation has lost its focus. We need to get in touch with what we as a country want to "be about" - I hope we can find a way to be a nation focused on protecting humans, animals, the environment, and making it a point to prioritize good lives for all citizens. With the arts and science given huge support. A lofty hope, perhaps, but I think it's possible.
I see recently how valuable living on our little farm is - how much joy and peace it brings - and I think there has to be a way to help people find their own November Hills in the world - whether it is a small piece of land and a lively, loving menagerie of animals, or an apartment in the city with a window garden and a sketch pad on the table by the window. It's really a state of mind, finding what sustains us. But it seems we have, in the big picture, lost the ability to find that in our daily lives.