Saturday, May 26, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 55

The garage painting job, including the stairway up to the main floor, is complete and it looks terrific. Next we will paint the interior doors down there and replace insulation in the large storage room. Yesterday I bought supplies to create a bee hive storage area in the smaller storage room. Which brings me to sad news.

The honeybee nucs I had ordered have been delayed twice already, and I got word this week that they have been delayed yet again. Delivery date is now June 16th. Unfortunately, the nectar flow in our area is completely over with at this point, and it’s the nectar flow that gives honeybees the energy to draw out new comb grow the colony. I would have to feed many gallons of sugar syrup at this point, and I really don’t want to start my beekeeping experience that way, so I have canceled the order. I will have to try again next spring.

However - I now have a beautiful bee hive that is going to be empty, so when I get back from Rochester I’ll set it up in a good location with some swarm lure and see if I can get a swarm to move in. It may or may not work but at least I’ll be doing some experimentation. More on that later.

My pollinator beds are going wild. Everything is growing like mad and the rattlesnake plants, the coneflowers, and the asters are getting ready to bloom. I’ve been able to keep up with the weeding, and with the rain we’ve had I haven’t had to spend time watering. It’s going to be stunning as we move into fall.

This was over a week ago - these plants have added a quarter of their size since then. I’ll do a pollinator bed post when I get back. I need to document everything in the beds so I can look back next year and monitor the longer-term growth.

Our tree plantings are also doing well. The little dogwoods are happy, as are the paw-paws and the inkberry hollies. The two volunteers that are now about 12 feet tall have turned out to be peaches. They are loaded with fruit! I’m not sure how well they can do where they are. There’s a red maple to their left that is blocking the sunlight and I may be willing to take that down. It’s not huge and since it’s not great for horses anyway, I don’t mind not having it there. Will think on it and decide in the next few weeks.

Several times over the past week I’ve come upon our resident black racer snake who is living in the barn. Zero mouse poop! I never have my phone with me when I see him/her but eventually I’ll get a photo. 

A few nights ago husband spotted this on the path to the barn.

What a handsome creature!

This morning I spied hummingbirds around the front porch. The bird song continues to be a near-constant soundtrack to the days and even the nights. 

Except for the ticks, it’s a gorgeous time of year. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 54

I need to check the rain gauge after three days of considerable rainfall here, but I seem to be otherwise occupied and keep forgetting.

Tuesday we had drywall repair done in the garage and then painting. I didn’t expect to be tempted into more projects in that space other than getting things cleared, cleaned, and repaired/painted, but alas, the painting of the stairwell from main floor down to garage looks so spiffy I am now itching to have stair treads/risers finished out. A new light fixture is on the list, and a new smoke alarm as well. Every project seems to, instead of simply being crossed off, start the dominoes falling as I madly add new things to the list.

But I have stopped today to appreciate the walls and the clean space and I’m going to move on with putting things back where they belong down there and wait for the new garage door installation before I leap into new work.

I’ve set up my bee supply area and will be painting the hive tomorrow. I’m very excited.

We are now officially moving into summer jungle mode here. It’s been nice not needing to water anything and I feel like the earth needed a big, deep drink, but I think we can stop now!

Tuesday was painting and a trip to the dentist with my mom, Wednesday was equine dental visit (all are well, three out of five were floated, I am relieved to have that off the agenda), and Thursday and Friday I had a 2-day live webinar to finish off my CEUs for this year. With all the rain it was a good time to be glued to the iPad screen. Thankfully I had a CEU buddy to keep me company, though I’m not sure he passed the post-test!

I have about 274 things to do and while I’m feeling the pressure of them a bit, I’m also enjoying the fact that the bluebirds fledged this week, the birdsong on the farm is symphonic, and the greening of the landscape is a sign of resilience and vigor. That I will never manage to keep up with it all means the land and the world rolls onward. And glancing up at the photo of Baloo, maybe a belly-up nap on a rainy day is something we all need to aspire to.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Susan Henderson/ The Flicker of Old Dreams

The Flicker of Old DreamsThe Flicker of Old Dreams by Susan  Henderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

About halfway through this gorgeous book my Corgi Baloo got on the dining room table and took it away. I came home to, curiously, a book without its cover, with a few chunks out of the pages, but unbelievably, still able to be read. It was a good excuse to give myself a few days to savor the story and decide whether to order a new copy. I ordered the new copy but resumed reading before it arrived.

This book has it all: exquisitely-drawn characters, mystery, wisdom, and sentences that are perfectly rendered. Henderson is a master of tone and each sentence reveals deep insights into her characters, making them real, leaving the reader with the sense that these people live somewhere in our own past.

It’s the story of a small town holding a grudge even as the town itself is dying. The protagonist, a female mortician, curates the death of the town even as she takes care of its dying people. Through her eyes we witness the beginning and the end.

This is a beautiful book. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Planet Wise garbage can liners - an alternative to plastic

For years we used leftover grocery bags for trash can liners, then switched to one plastic bag for kitchen and none in the recycling or bathroom cans. It was an ongoing chore to wash the cans, but in my opinion better than lining them with plastic. 

When Baloo Corgi came to live with us we experienced a new level of Corgi energy (after living with Corgis for 20 years!) and I bought gorgeous new trash cans from Simple Human that are all closed up and very user-friendly. They came with their own supply of plastic liners. The pure luxury of not having to clean trash cans was wonderful but each time I put in a new liner I felt increasingly guilty. If you’re never seen the documentary about the swirling trash dump in the Pacific Ocean go to Netflix and find it. It’s sobering.

There are so many things we use in today’s world that are disposable and will impact the planet for many years to come. I’m trying, again, to look at how I can reduce my footprint that way.

I googled widely and found a gorgeous alternative.

These cloth, waterproof liners are absolutely beautiful, well-made, and machine washable! They come in a large variety of colors and fun prints. I ordered a large one and a small one first to see if they fit our cans and seemed durable, and they are perfect. So I ordered two for each trash can. 

We take our own garbage to the trash/recycling center so we can empty directly into the compactor and into the recycling bins. This means no need for plastic bags at all! 

Who could resist narwhals and killer whales? Highly recommend. 

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Joy in the morning

My housekeeper brought these from her garden. What a wonderful sight when I woke up and saw them.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 53

We’re fully into green season here - the trees are absolutely gorgeous and offering near total privacy, which makes me happy.

It was warm enough last week that I decided to move all the indoor plants to the front porch. That night it dropped to 34 degrees! The plants are fine but that in a nutshell tells the story of this spring on November Hill.

Everything in the pollinator beds is growing and I watered for the first time in months to insure everything, especially the new plantings, got a good soaking this week. 

Monday was a very busy day: new entry door was installed, daughter presented her primate research on campus, and we celebrated her birthday with a nice dinner out. Tuesday was equally busy, with the garage being cleaned out (the main part only - the two storage rooms are for another day) and drywall repairs made. Next week it will be painted and we’ll continue with the storage room cleaning/clearing/organizing. Hopefully the garage doors are installed soon. Once it’s all pulled together I’ll share the “big picture” but for now, this is my new door:

It matches the clematis and the climbing roses on the left side of the big garage door, and it makes me really happy every time I drive up. 

After a dip to 34 degrees we’re now into a week with highs inching toward 90. The horses are in the barn during the days. Thankfully the humidity is low, we’ve had a steady breeze along with the climbing temps, and I’ve been able to carry on with chores without sweating. 

Baloo Corgi enjoyed his first big romp in Poplar Folly this week! He and Bear had a blast and I’m looking forward to more fun back there. 

This morning the doors are open, the trees are swaying gently in the breeze, birds are singing, and all the cats and Corgis are stretched out for morning naps. It’s a wonderful life.