Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Creating balance in a busy day

These two try to help me accomplish this task! Sometimes I manage it well but mostly I struggle with finding a way to balance the things that I need to get done, want to get done, and still make the day one of being present in the moment.

I’ve written before that I can usually manage to do three “things” in a day. House, barn, writing. Scheduled things, house, barn. Dogs, house, writing. Gardening, barn, dogs. You get the picture. All the animals get fed, obviously, and basic needs plus some are met, thanks to the help of my husband. I’m constantly juggling things, hoping that somehow I’ll discover a way to make the days longer so I can fit in more than three.

What is a balanced life? I think on the whole I have one, but I often feel like I’m riding the river on a boat with no oars, taking things as they come. Other times I try to impose structure and that works until something outside my scheme of how a day should go pushes in and detours my order. 

Today my mom is here and we’re going to take Clementine the service-pup-in-training to see my daughter’s presentation on her university campus. It’s reaching 85 degrees today so I’ll bring the horses in the barn with fans before we leave, and the Corgis could use a romp before we leave too. There’s laundry that needs doing and lunch before we leave and I’m on a very nice streak with writing time lately so I’d love to get that in as well. This is the dilemma. So many things. 

I figure I’ll get us fed, get the horses in, and give the dogs a romp. Laundry can certainly wait. Writing may get pushed back until tonight. But there’s a film on trees in town tonight with discussion after, and I really want to go to that... see what I mean? 

For this moment I’m listening to the many birds singing like mad on this gorgeous spring morning. The trees are fully leafed out and suddenly November Hill is enclosed again, almost like we’re in a jungle setting, and I’m going to sit here and enjoy it for at least ten minutes before I leap into the next thing. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

November Hill farm journal, 74 (when it rains...)

Last weekend we had a thunderstorm that yielded the most rain I’ve ever seen fall in the 15 years we’ve lived on November Hill. All the drainage efforts we’ve made were working but they simply couldn’t handle the amount of water pouring from the skies, and we had a 6-foot wide rushing river flowing through our front pasture, waterfalls along the pollinator terraced beds, 2-foot streams flowing from the barnyard gate and the grass paddock to the front pasture, a pond at the far fence line in front, and the driveway near our gate was completely under water.

My husband took photos but I don’t have them yet on my ipad. I was so worried the driveway had washed out I couldn’t stand focusing a camera in that direction! Thankfully, a couple of hours later the water drained away, the driveway was intact, the fence held, and we have gradually dried out with several sunny days since.

More minor issues: some newly-mulched areas washed out in a few areas and will have to be redone. This includes the area we prepared for my bee hives and made it clear that wasn’t a great location for them anyway, so I’m back to square one with where to put them.

We are totally green now, and things are growing like mad here. The one good thing about the rain is it made a large dent in the pollen count.

In other news, Clementine has started puppy kindergarten class, Violet and Isobel kit-meows were spayed with no problems yesterday and are recuperating upstairs, Bear Corgi had a broken tooth extracted and is recovered, and Pippin kit-meow is now on Prozac to help with a marking issue. It’s a vet clinic here at the moment, but all are well and we’re happy to be done with the surgeries for now.

The schedule these days seems to revolve around when the puppy sleeps and when she’s awake. Right now the herd are all spending some quiet time with hay in their closed stalls so I can take the dogs out for a farm romp - but Clementine conked out so we’re waiting for her to wake up. She’s 12 weeks old and her awake times and energy level are getting longer and bigger. She’s discovered the art of digging holes - I’m hoping farm romps will direct that energy elsewhere!

She’s a sweetie and a beauty.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Beautiful Brain

Last weekend we visited the Ackland Museum to see their exhibit showcasing the original drawings of Santiago Ramon Y Cajal, Nobel Laureate author of The Beautiful Brain and a luminary in neuroscience.

Several years ago I gifted my neurobiology major daughter his book, titled The Beautiful Brain, and available HERE. It’s an absolutely gorgeous and mesmerizing look at the intricately beautiful drawings he made during his lifetime (1852-1934). Cajal is considered the father of neuroscience. The opportunity to see many of the original drawings was too good to miss.

This photo of him is eerily similar to a treasured childhood memory I have of walking home from school in the first grade and passing by a downtown shop window that was at ground level. Inside were shelves of tiny bottles and tools, and a man often sat at a chair in the room, working. I do not know to this day what the little shop was or what the man was doing, and no one seems to remember it, but I’m sure it was real. Now that I see this photograph of Cajal in his own work space I am even more curious about my memory.

I loved the astrocytes.

From Wikipedia:

Astrocytes are a sub-type of glial cells in the central nervous system. They are also known as astrocytic glial cells. Star-shaped, their many processes envelop synapses made by neurons.

I also loved these:

This book and the exhibit are fascinating and a wonderful way to combine learning with art. 

Monday, April 08, 2019

November Hill farm journal, 73 (lichens, bees, pollen, rainfall)

It’s been a busy week here. I attended a workshop on lichens over the weekend, which is part of the native plant studies certificate program I’m enrolled in. It was a fun, energetic day of learning, with microscopes and many samples as well as a walk/search for lichens in the botanical garden. Of course I came home with new pollinators to plant: 3 great blue lobelia and 2 American hazelnuts.

The pollinator beds here are doing well. Everything is coming back, several things are already blooming, and the beds are weeded and mulched. I’m keeping a close eye on the things we planted in back in the fall. The big bluestem seems to be gone - perhaps deer nibbled it down to nothing. The inkberry hollies are looking sad to me - not as many leaves as it seems they should have, but the trees we planted are budding and the Virginia sweetspire doing well. The two little dogwoods we planted along the driveway may not have made it. So a mixed bag but we’ll figure it out and try again with the things that didn’t take root.

I’m coordinating getting VSH bee nucs from a small farm in western NC for a number of new beekeepers this spring. We’re not sure when they’ll come but I’m trying to get ready for them. I have a spot for one hive and need to decide where to put the second. Many beekeepers put their hives close to one another for ease of work but Tom Seeley (Cornell) found they prefer some distance and this also helps prevent the spread of drifting and thus parasites and disease. I’m excited and also nervous.

Today there were literal clouds of pollen aloft around trees between Raleigh and November Hill. The air was a yellow haze in the distance, cars coated, our porches and barn roof yellow, so much pollen in the air. Around 4:15 this afternoon I realized the storm that had been predicted for around 7 p.m. was here and when our power flickered off and on several times, I dashed out to the barn to get waters done and let the horses in and set them up for what was coming. Within minutes we had a deluge plus thunder and the sound of a million tree frogs who I suspect were very happy to get showers. Hours later, the rain is falling still and I’m sure everything is watered and pollen is washed clean at least for a day or two. We have the front door open to the lullaby of falling water and running water.

Tomorrow we have hoof trims and I have a list of desk things to do once I get back inside. The fence lines need weed-eating and buttercups should be mowed, the arena needs harrowing and there are all the projects lined up that will now be delayed by wet ground again, but how can I complain when the herd of five stood beneath their shelters and watched with me as the rain poured down? It was a relief for all of us to feel the air cool and see the pollen wash away. We’ll deal with the mud and the mess. For tonight it’s cool and the air breathes easy.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

November Hill farm journal, 72

Things are blooming madly here but in a bizarre turn of weather we’re having highs today in the 30s  along with cold rain and even light snow in some parts of North Carolina. The horses had to come in earlier, but after naps evidenced by shavings all over their backs, Keil and Cody have come back out to snack on dogwood blossoms. I have not seen them do this before so I guess they’re doing their own bizarre thing to match the weather!

I’m having one of those weeks where my head feels like it’s about to explode with the desperate need to do 1001 home, farm, and barn projects. I have my actual plan written down and it is modest and what we need to do next. But instead of focusing on that, I’m on Pinterest and various websites pricing new materials, searching for info, and generally driving myself half mad because truly, I have about 5 years worth of work in my brain this week. 

It’s cold and rainy, I have a cold, and there are literally hundreds of books I want to read sitting in the house in stacks and lined up on my Kindle, but I am too wired to sit down and relax with one of them. Spring fever? A mild mania? I’m not sure, but I hope it passes quickly. 

By the weekend we will have temps in the 80s and maybe that will slow my brain.