Sunday, December 31, 2017

November Hill farm journal, 43

Long overdue for a farm update here, and happy to have the quiet time to sit down and write it!

This weekend we’ve taken a huge dip in temperature, with highs during the day in the low 30s and lows at night in the teens. I think I saw a low of 11 coming up. We decided to set up the water tank heaters so we don’t have to do so much breaking of ice. I have one tank in the barn aisle for Keil Bay and Cody and another just outside the shelter where the pony and donkeys are at night.

The buckets inside the barn are not freezing since we got the new barn roof so winter and water is already easier than it used to be.

My daughter and I returned from California on December 19th, my son came home from grad school on the 22nd, family arrived on the 24th, and on the 26th, the farmsitter arrived and we headed to Corolla for a family getaway. I’m grateful for our farmsitter, who not only stays and takes excellent care of all the animals, but coordinated with our contractor to ensure no blips occurred with fencing.

Before and up to Christmas Day the herd was in the back field and the day after we went to the coast they moved to the front. I came home on Friday to the front field totally enclosed with 3-board and no-climb wire. It looks terrific and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to finally see this being done.

On Tuesday he’ll work on the back field (posts are already in) and then the back property behind the back field. It won’t be long until this will be done and I can start the process of incorporating Corgis off leash (supervised, of course) on the larger property. Once we make that transition I am starting my search for the Maremma pups.

We’re all the way into winter landscape here. Mostly bare trees, pink winter skies, and evergreens showing off their foliage in the otherwise bare landscape. Our fallen branches and leaves have never been better managed. I am a little in shock at not having to continue doing my branch and leaf management that generally lasts all the way to spring. This year I’ve had help and he stays on top of it. The arena is totally clear!

One of my Christmas gifts from my son is a farm journal - it has all kinds of pages for all kinds of tracking of things - I’m very excited to get busy filling it in.

The cats and Corgis are enjoying their naps inside with the cold weather, but I have to say the horses and donkeys are going the other direction. This evening just before dusk the herd came into the grass paddock (long, narrow, just by the house) and put on a galloping show. Keil Bay was the ringleader and he was doing his huge power trot, turning on a dime, and generally looking like a 5-year old. They were all in fine form and while I don’t really like them to do this in the narrow grass paddock, I just stopped myself from fretting and enjoyed it.

The horses have been especially clingy since we got back from Corolla. Between my being gone 10 days, then 4 more, the fencing, etc., I think they just needed some time with us. I spent hours with them on Friday, yesterday, and again today, and even so they were clustering by my bedroom windows last night and at the back gate to the house this morning.

Today’s little rodeo was the perfect way to end 2017. Happy, healthy horses and donkeys having fun. May we all be so lucky as we move into the new year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Happy winter holiday! Busy but happy on November Hill

I aim to get back to regular postings next week but wanted to say that I hope everyone has had happy, healthy holiday celebrations. We had a lovely and quiet meal of tamales made by my housekeeping assistant along with homemade red and green salsas.

We’re having a cold spell right now with highs in the low 40s and 30s and dipping down to teens at night. Thankfully we have a tent full of good hay and the horses and donkeys have that plus shelter and keep themselves warm and happy.

My biggest gift this year is the fencing that is about halfway done. The front field is nearly dog-proof and dog-safe right now! Woohoo! Once it’s done I can breathe a huge sigh of relief that will span a decade+ of fretting over dogs coming in. And thanks to my farm helper and my delivery guy the arena is free of leaves and looks gorgeous. Time to get back to riding once the fencing work is complete!

I’m soon to be working on my annual year in review and looking at what I want to create in 2018. At the top of the list is getting back to being successful writing at home. I love retreat time and will always need some to keep me rolling but I’ve written a lot of words sitting in various spots on November Hill and I’d like to get back to that.

Again, I hope all are having good time with family, friends, and beloved animals. Look for regular postings next week as we move into the new year.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

To California and back again

I have a ton of posts to write and organize chronicling our trip last week, and I will be working on that. Meanwhile, I’m home and enjoying the winter solstice today. Fencing is progressing, I have the bedrooms all set up upstairs, and excited about having son home, some family visiting, and relaxing at home for the holiday weekend.

The trip was wonderful and I’m excited to start this California trip series. Stay tuned and happy winter solstice to all!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can

It’s been another crazy week. Daughter having final exams and presentations, husband working hard, me juggling things and trying to get stuff done before an upcoming trip. Things went off the tracks with the guy I hired to do drywall repair and painting in a bedroom. His work was excellent but the communication and sticking to the schedule I thought we’d made were not great. After I sent an email asking for specific times he could finish the work he showed up even after I told him I had to leave to pick up daughter and sat at the gate honking. Then climbed the closed gate and came to the door, walked around the house looking up at the windows. It was totally creepy and my dogs went absolutely nuts. I went out and asked what he was doing inside the closed gate and he said he couldn’t get me on the phone. When I suggested maybe it wasn’t going to work out, he wanted to come in and get his stuff (a ladder, some joint compound, two small tools, and a roll of tape) and I told him he’d need to come back when my husband was home. The dogs were uncharacteristically growling and snarling at him and I just didn’t feel okay about letting him inside. He reluctantly left. That was that for me, but later in the day his wife (the friend of a friend, and why I even hired this guy) wrote a bizarre “rant” on Facebook about me, and it was so far from reality I felt even more creeped out. She suggested “something was not right here” and that he might not get his tools back and not be paid for the work he’d already done. I didn’t respond. Of course we were going to return his materials and pay him, and we did that. She announced on FB that I was bipolar and I thanked my lucky stars we got out of this before we went any further. 

It was hard not to respond on FB but I know from 25+ years as a psychotherapist that this was not someone who could be reasoned with. Ugh. 

Friday was a nice day with a massage and snow! Yesterday I determined to finally get the lights on the front porch tree. I made a bourbon sour and took music out there and decorated while more snow fell! Very pretty and by nightfall I had made it almost to the top with the lights. I ran out, and husband went to buy more but before I could add them the beautifully-lit tree went dark. I had connected too many strands and blew the fuse. Sigh. He fixed it but we’re going to have to run an extension cord up and make two separate strings. This photo captures perfectly how I feel about my plans for the week. Halfway there, dancing as fast as I can. 

I did manage to hang a wreath and finish up the post box decor!

It was sweet seeing Pixie getting interested in the tree while it was still working!

Today I’m packing for a long-awaited trip to California with my daughter. We’re both attending a conference and day-long workshop with one of her favorite scientists, Robert Sapolsky. And yes, we’re flying right into the wildfires to do so. Our original plan was to drive up the coastal highway after the conference but we changed that due to the Ventura fire and are flying up to San Jose, then driving down the coast to Monterey Bay for a couple days. Then back up to Stanford to visit the campus and maybe tour the Neurobiology Department. I’m so happy to get some time with her on this adventure. 

Meanwhile husband will be here working from home and keeping all the animals fed and watered. And overseeing the completion of the bedroom by a new person (someone we know and trust) and maybe the beginning of the fencing if I’m lucky. He’s likely going to need a week off after single-handedly managing all of this while we’re away.

I’m sure I’ll post some travel updates along the way! And hoping we carry some rain/snow energy to Southern California. 

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

3-ring circus of a day

It’s being a crazy week here. Today there were branches being trimmed on the big oak trees by the house and barn, house cleaning going on inside, repair work being done on a bedroom’s walls and ceilings, and I was trying to keep tabs on 4 cats, 2 Corgis, and 5 equines while vacuums were going, chainsaws and blowers blowing, and all animals not sure what was going on. About halfway through the show, husband came home to work so I could leave with daughter for an appointment.

Appointment, late lunch, trip to feed store, and trip for paint later, we got home again. The color paint I wanted was not the same name at Lowe’s as it is on Valspar’s website, so that took awhile to sort out. The woman at the self-check aisle (the only one open) was amazingly kind as I bumbled through the self checking process and then in conversation told me the story of her son dying that was so moving I started crying right there in Lowe’s. She gave me a bookmark of a photo she took after he died which was equally inspirational and I left feeling like I’d just been in an episode of that old TV show about encounters with angels.

I was happy to be home and ready to settle down for an episode of X-Files with husband and daughter when I opened a cupboard in our kitchen island and found a container of salt soaking wet. I pulled out the cupboard drawer to find that an entire gallon of Deer Park water had somehow leaked into the wooden drawer and a bizarre Japanese snack husband brought home from work a year or so ago had fallen behind the drawer and been smashed open. Sticky brown stuff was mixed with the soaked-in water on the wood and the whole mess was getting moldy.

Something I couldn’t exactly leave until tomorrow to deal with, so I spent a half hour cleaning that up.

In the midst of that I crazily decided it was time to dye a sofa cover in the washing machine. It would be nice if I could just turn off my “to do” button and go veg out on the sofa!

On the positive side, there are no more branches hanging over the house or barn, the back yard was totally cleared of fallen leaves, and the house is clean. The bedroom will be done by the weekend so I can move daughter back into her bedroom and get the garret set up for son’s visit home for Christmas. Yay!

I’m shutting down the lights in the big top and calling it a night.