Monday, March 27, 2017

November Hill farm journal, 28

The barn roof, shelter, and cupola are done! I'll share some more photos later but this one shows the view from the house and it's become a favorite already. I love seeing the shadows of the oaks on the green metal roof, adore the cupola, and greatly enjoy seeing the equines making good use of the shelter off the back stall. Rainy days will be easier now.

We have some sprucing up to do around the barn and then we'll shift gears to some other farm updates, including gating the driveway and fully enclosing the perimeter as well as new perimeter fencing all around. Once that's done I can proceed with livestock guardian dog plans. In a wonderful stroke of serendipity our contractor put me in touch with a local woman who has horses and chickens and goats and Maremma Sheepdogs and she sometimes has puppies. She's very connected in the livestock guardian dog world and already found a litter of pups in Virginia, which is easy driving distance for us. We won't be ready in time for this batch of pups but it's good to start seeing options. She loves her Maremmas and has been a wonderful resource. Our contractor told me her dogs were friendly but would not let him go through the gate into the pasture without the owners there to give the okay. That's exactly the kind of dog I hope for!

The carpenter bees are out and the dogwoods are just getting ready to open fully so spring seems to be settling in. We finished the winter store of hay, have moved hay storage back to the newly-repaired hay tent, and are seeing the equines more interested in grass still rooted in the earth. Rafer Johnson may need to go into his grazing muzzle! Yesterday the donkeys got hoof trims and all got ears brushed out and some goop carefully applied to keep the nasty ear-munching gnats at bay. It was good to see the ear flicking stop as I made my way through 10 ears.

I'm starting to see pollen in the water troughs and with the bugs starting and temps rising we may be looking at some afternoons in the barn with fans before long. The first tick was removed last week and the first batch of fly predators arrived and that is a sure sign of what is to come. Hopefully the predators do their jobs!

I have so many projects going on it's a big mess of unfinished business. But I have a list and slowly things get checked off. Now that the commotion at the barn is done I'm ready to get back to riding. I got a new helmet for my birthday and it's time to test it out!

Friday, March 24, 2017

beekeeping tales, 3: the purple deadnettle buffet is open

I'm woefully behind in blogging and have several posts lined up, but today I got sidetracked in the back yard when I noticed a fairly huge group of honey bees foraging the purple deadnettle that has volunteered as our garden ground cover through the winter.

My bees should be here in May but for now I'm thrilled to see honey bees, an assortment of native bees, and at least one ladybug enjoying the feast of nectar and pollen.

Below you can see the red pollen from the purple deadnettle in a nice clump on the bee's head. 

This is my favorite shot. See those tiny grains of pollen? 

I admit it. After bee school and a terrific workshop on natural beekeeping with Michael Bush I'm starting to "bee" smitten! And I passed the written portion of my certified beekeeping exam so am ready to start working on gaining the basic skills for the experiential part of the test. I have the bee suit and now that barn construction is done will be getting my hives situated and ready for the bees.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Technical difficulties! and a few updates

One of my birthday gifts this year was a new iPad Pro, which I badly needed as my old, very old, iPad 2 was getting clunkier and clunkier. However, as seems to be the case with technology and devices, sometimes when you upgrade things aren't all Good.

The one thing my old iPad did perfectly was allow me to blog with easy access to my photos.

For whatever reason, I haven't yet figured out how to get this fancy, fast, new iPad Pro to do that simple task. Sigh. No photos until I can sort this mess out.

Meanwhile, we are about halfway through the barn roof and new shelter construction. We had snow this weekend (very pretty, melted quickly) and the herd got to test out the new shelter. About 1/3 of the new metal roof is installed so I've been able to see how great it's going to look. Now we have the issue of gutters to deal with, as we learned on Sunday that snow slides off metal roofs quite differently than on shingles! We had a minor spook fest once the snow started melting.

We also decided to hold off on the weathervane as our contractor said with our history of lightning strikes behind the back field he would like us to do some research before we put something tall and metal on our barn roof. Any experience out there about this issue?

Tonight I'm taking my certified beekeeper written test. One more step toward the bees!

And Bear Corgi finished up his Basic Obedience class and got his certificate of completion. He is doing so well and in a couple of weeks we begin Canine Good Citizen class.

That's about it. Daughter's spring break just ended, son is narrowing his graduate school decision. I'm happy for both of them, and so very proud.

Let me get cracking on this photo issue so I can get back to posting with pictures very soon!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

What to do if your child's birthday is on Leap Year Day

Tell her this is the most special birthday ever because it only comes every four years. She is one of a few very special people who have this birthday!

On the Leap Years break out the biggest celebrations possible.

When people say to her, "oh you poor thing, you only have a birthday every four years" make sure and correct their mistake. She is extremely lucky to have this very rare and wonderful birthday!

On the years when there is no Leap Day celebrate for the entire week beginning with February 28th and roll on through March 6th. This makes up for the lack of the 29th.

Remember that she will encounter odd issues like not being able to actually fill in her real date of birth on forms that don't have the 29th as an option. Teach her to insist on having her REAL date of birth listed no matter what.

I've lived on the Earth for 57 years but I've had 14 real birthdays. But because my mother told me from the time I can remember how special this was I have grown up feeling fortunate. And yes, last week was a rolling birthday party here on November Hill.

Can you even imagine how huge the party will be here on November Hill in 2020 when my numbers hit 60 and 15? Something to look forward to, for sure. :)

Monday, March 06, 2017

Birthday art from my very talented daughter

She's a scientist and an artist - and I love this birthday greeting from her, featuring our kit-meow Pippin:

Sunday, March 05, 2017

A belated birthday wish for Redford

It's been busy and I'm behind on birthday posts, but sweet Redford's birthday was not forgotten! It boggles my mind that little Redbug is NINE years old! He remains sweet and sometimes shy, though he is quite bold in many ways too. Since Salina passed on Rafer Johnson has become quite bonded with our pony and Redford loves being with the "big boys" of the herd, Cody and Keil Bay.

Here's Redford's new portrait. He gets a little whiter every year and his face is now almost solid white. He's a handsome, very fit donkey who always makes me smile. Happy birthday, sweet Redbug!