Monday, February 26, 2018

December Travels: Anaheim and Sapolsky

I’m so behind on chronicling the California trip I took with my daughter in December. We flew to Anaheim to attend a day-long workshop with Robert Sapolsky, Stanford professor in neurobiology and author of many very good books about the research he’s done for the past 30 years. His newest book is Behave: The Biology of Humans at our Best and Worst. 

You can find it HERE.

He is a wonderful speaker, bringing complex science and his research to an audience with energy and humor. The book is 800 pages of neurobiology and research, written so a lay audience can understand. I’m almost done reading it and highly recommend it if you have any interest in humans, their behavior, and the science behind it.

The day we flew out began with daughter taking her final fall semester exam, a great lunch, then the airport.

TSA pre-check was easy, the flight was good, and we got a Prius as our rental car! The day ended here:

The next day we headed over to the convention center for Dr. Sapolsky’s workshop. Stanford has his neurobiology course lectures online so we had experienced his speaking style before, but if anything, he’s even more engaging in person. If you get a chance to hear him speak, take it.

This was the highlight of the trip. Thanks to my dear and brilliant daughter for bringing me to such a terrific workshop. The icing on the cake - I got 15 CEs for my licensure renewal!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 46, birthday edition

Today is Redford’s 10th birthday. I can hardly believe we now have a herd of equines in double digit ages! We started his party on Sunday, worked on it a little more yesterday, and today we’ll wrap up his celebration. Redford is a very sweet and also often shy donkey. He is bold with his herd and I believe he is happy, but he is not as snuggly as is Rafer Johnson. Redford reminds me to be still and to get quiet, and those are things I aim to do anyway, so having him here to help me remember is a blessing.

Today, on his birthday morning, November Hill is shrouded in fog. Even Redford, as he stands in between two of our beloved oak trees, who look in the photo as if they are guarding him.

I checked the garden beds this morning and found the first daffodil opening; I suspect it is in honor of a young donkey.

Not the best photograph but I was in a hurry to get to the pollinator beds! Slow down, whispers the birthday boy. They aren’t going anywhere.

The spotted horse mint is coming out, as are all the coneflowers. The rattlesnake plants too! As are a number of weeds which I hate to pull but I need all the space in these beds for the pollinators, so I’ll be clearing them out this week while the ground is nice and damp.

Although the main fencing is done, we’ve been slowed down getting the back corner in the way back done, mostly because of rain that appears on the day the guys can work. We still have several gates that need to be rehung, and the front gate to be dog-proofed. But the quiet days have been treasured and I feel like these little bits will be done soon enough.

The new hay tent is up and since we had the hay in the spare stall, I moved the mower and spreader into the tent, which means the back shelter is now totally clear for the pony and donkeys.

And Keil Bay has had his stall mats removed and his stall bedded deep in peat moss with shavings on top so he can lie down in total comfort. The chiropractor found his tail bone needed adjusting and he is no longer clamping his tail down when I try to groom it. As usual, he loved his adjustments and was so happy at the end when she did the extra special work to find what was going on with his tail. Before the chiropractor started I was telling her about him not lying down as much to sleep, and I got tearful. I wish there was footage of Keil Bay slowly turning his head around to look at me and then the vet, his clear message being, “My god, woman, you are embarrassing me to death here!”

Overall, we’re inching toward springtime on the hill and although as usual I am nowhere near where I hoped to be with the infamous “to do” list, I am perfectly caught up on enjoying the land, celebrating the trees, and finding joy with the herd.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Update on Duke Energy Progress cutting trees

On the advice of an attorney I filed a complaint with the NC Utilities Commission last Monday. They took down all the details of our situation and are doing research and investigation, and will be responding within 10 business days.

Meanwhile, the document that Duke Energy Progress says gives them the right to cut 20 full feet beyond their 25-foot right of way has not yet been delivered to me.

A friend who is a town council member asked me to share the details of this situation with our county commissioners. I did that on Thursday. I also shared all my information with our county beekeepers’ association.

For now, then, we’re in wait and see mode.

There is a plan for moving beyond this if necessary.


Thursday, February 08, 2018

Duke Energy wants to cut down our trees

About the time our fencing project winds down and we are doing the final stretch of field fencing plus tweaking a few things, we receive a certified letter from Duke Energy.

The letter says they have decided they need to remove all trees 20 feet BEYOND their already clear 25 feet right of way. This will, in our way back area, newly fenced and cleaned out by us, mean losing about half of our tulip poplars and a few other gorgeous, healthy, old growth trees. It will also decimate the privacy screen left by the timber crew who cut the Hundred Acre Wood.

When I opened and read the letter, I immediately called the name listed and asked for an in-person meeting to look at our property and clarify exactly what they wanted to cut. The young man who arrived was courteous and professional, did zero measurements, just eye-balled things and told us what they plan to do.

We have contacted several attorneys.

These trees are homes to squirrels, birds, and a host of beneficial insects. Tulip poplars are the PRIMARY FOOD for native and honey bees in our area in the spring. My bees will arrive in May, and half their food supply is slated to be cut down in six weeks.

My one inspiration is a man in Raleigh, John Kane, Jr., who has a willow tree that Duke Energy wants to cut down. He took Duke to court and won, and although Duke has counter-sued, the willow tree is still standing.

Are we up for this? I will do my best. The sad fact is that Duke Energy plans to go down this power cut for miles and miles and miles taking 20 more feet on either side. Most of the large native trees in this region are tulip poplar and red maple and both are critical forage for bees. I am beyond appalled at Duke’s total disregard for the environment.

Their reason for doing this? “In case a hurricane comes through.”

In my mind you repair any damage done if and when the hurricane comes. You don’t go in and decimate trees on the private property of citizens to save yourself some money in the event of extreme weather.

If anyone has tips, experience, or finds information pertaining to fighting a power company and winning, please leave it in the comments.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 45

A few shots of the new fencing, which is done, and magnificent in my eyes! I love it so much.

There are a few final things to be done, and thanks to the 2 inches of rain we got late last week we returned to Mudville and that set everything back yet again. But all the pasture is secure, the horses are thrilled to have the run of the place again, and very soon we’ll be moving on to new projects. 

Sadly the arena fencing now looks so awful next to the new and the old gates seem so rickety next to the new ones, I think we’re going to have to work on that next! I had a feeling early on this might be the case, but hadn’t planned on dealing with it yet. 

The weather is roller-coastering between warm for the time of year and colder than usual, and we barely, not completely dry out and then more rain falls and we go back to mud. Tomorrow morning there’s a chance of freezing rain (yuck) and I’m just ready for a warming trend and enough dry days in a row so we see a real end to mud for awhile. Keil Bay appears to be lying down, after all my stress about him not, because I’m finding him every mid-morning with huge flat areas of dried mud on his body in the places it would be were he to lie flat out. Which is good news and lots of grooming for me. 

Tonight I’m having some insomnia and have been on Pinterest perusing photos of arena fencing and that morphed into looking at barns that have stained wood doors and windows combined with painted walls and metal roofs. Suddenly I was looking at new Hardie Board and new barn doors with windows and I just had to pull the plug on my own brain with all the ideas and projects.

Today I was in the front field with the herd grooming and dried mud and hairs were flying and that’s where my head needs to be for awhile. The herd mind, not the Billie mind. :)