Wednesday, May 29, 2019

November Hill farm journal, 76

We’re in the middle of a heat wave - 6 days now of temps 92 and up. Yesterday afternoon we hit 96 degrees. This is the thing about summer I dread and really dislike. The farm is beautiful this time of year, lush with tree foliage and green and growing things, but when it gets this hot, keeping horses happy and keeping up with the chores becomes a burden.

Meanwhile my amazing farm helpers pushed on yesterday, working from 6-2:30, to continue the fencing project. Thankfully most of their work took place beneath the shade of two huge oak trees so they said it wasn’t too bad. I encouraged them to wait for a break in the heat, but they wanted to go forward and get this done.

I’ll post photos once I can get out there at the right time of day to get good ones. It’s so nice already having the gates mid-way the fence line between the barn and the outer fence of the property. The fencing looks beautiful and when my garden space is complete it will be a nice little oasis at the end of the dirt paddock. I can garden in the midst of the horses and am thinking it might be nice to plant a couple of apple trees out there.

With this heat we have had two small rainfalls, enough that I didn’t need to water before leaving for Bath last week, but not enough to wait until this Saturday for the next one, so I’ve watered the pollinator beds by hand and yesterday evening my husband helped me roll the wheelbarrow water bag down to Poplar Folly to give the hollies, the Virginia sweetspire, the persimmon, and the redbud babies a good drink. They all look terrific.

The bees are coming Saturday morning! I’m naming the apiary Arcadia and one queen will be Echo - not yet sure what the other will be. Their area is behind Poplar Folly in a spot that will get morning into afternoon full sun and then some light shade toward evening. In the winter they’ll get full sun most of the day when the leaves are off the trees, so I’m hoping this spot works for them. It’s away from the house and the horses, and since I no longer have plans to try to get lots of honey from them, I think it will work okay for me as well, in terms of not having to haul supers up the hill. We’ll see how it all goes.

Today I’m going to the feed store in town to look at a whisky barrel water garden that I can put by the hives so they have water right there. There are ponds and rivers and a lake nearby but I want them to have water close by for cooling the hive easily, plus a little water garden will be fun.

Photos when things are set up!

Meanwhile I’m just trying to get things done without sweating too much!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

When your screenplay nearly gets the best of you - DEEP WORK

Last night I was so confused by my own plot line I nearly exploded trying to explain it to my two writing friends. I wrote this trilogy of novels several years ago, and the plot is definitely complex, hopefully in a good, marketable way.

However, the writer of said work has to be able to get it clear in her own head before adapting it for the screen.

I ended up re-reading the first novel in this trilogy, read a chunk of it out loud to my feedback team here, and got the feedback that it wasn’t confusing when they heard it. This morning I jumped back in and did my best to wrap my brain around the thing my brain previously created. What a hoot!

This afternoon I had made progress but hit the truly complicated part and some resistance. I got up from the work space, decided to do some reading instead, and then Cal Newport’s voice rang in my head. “Deep work. Not distraction.”

Guilty as charged. I turned on a dime and sat my butt back on the red bar stool and forced myself to dig back in. Fifteen minutes later I had sorted out the central issue. This time around I charted the information in the novel manuscript AND on my screenplay outline and also repeated it out loud to my friends in an effort to truly cement it in my brain.

My agent told me years back that I didn’t back away from writing complex material and this is definitely the most complex plot I’ve ever attempted.

Thanks, Cal. Thanks, writing women. I’m back in the saddle and my outline is nearly done!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Writing retreat in Bath

Desperately needed time away to write and dive deeply into the structure of a TV series adaptation... I found this cottage on Airbnb and booked it, then learned it is owned by the mother of a woman who lives in the same town as I do and who has been instrumental in bringing some great things to our county, including the local food co-op. The cottage is lovely and three writing women are here typing away. Heaven!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

November Hill farm journal, 75

It’s been a lovely week here. We had just the right amount of rain last weekend to give everything a good drink but not so much that we had a river running through the front stream bed. On Tuesday a cold front moved in, bringing our temps for the past three days to highs just at 70 degrees and lows around 48 degrees. I feel this is just about perfect weather for humans and animals alike. Of course, it is ending tomorrow and by Saturday we’re looking at a high of 91 degrees. I’m not thrilled but it’s the weather. We just have to roll with what comes.

The garden beds are looking wonderful. I have to remember to pinch back some of the plants that will grow too tall before they do, but for now everything is growing, blooming, and standing beautifully in the garden.

In other news, Keil Bay was losing weight and I freaked completely out about it and have boosted his feed tubs plus added a mid-day meal. He defies the norm where senior horses can drop weight in winter; he always looks fabulous in the winter months but for the past two summers we have had an issue with him needing more calories. He has already put weight on in the week since I increased his feed, and as anyone who knows Keil can imagine, he is adoring the fact that he gets that mid-day feed tub served to him in the cool quiet of the barn with his fans going.

It’s tricky having one horse that needs more calories and the rest needing less than they get, but we’ll manage. I’ve finally scheduled the interior fencing along the dirt paddock to be replaced, which means the plastic strand fencing that has been there all these years (and proved totally useless in corralling donkeys) will be taken down and away. We’ll have three-board fencing to match our exterior fencing, sans the woven wire, and the front and back pasture gates will be closer to the barn so the horses and the humans don’t have to travel all the way to the end of the dirt paddock (near the difficult neighbors’ house) to move through. I’ll end up with a small enclosed garden space at that end which will serve a double purpose: more garden space, and screening for the property line on that side. I’m very happy we’re making this improvement.

I have mowed all the buttercups this week, harrowed the arena, and thanks to my farm help, all the weedeating and mowing needed elsewhere is totally under control. I also pulled poison ivy out of my pollinator beds and am glad that chore is behind me.

This weekend I have some power washing to do and getting ready for the bees, who are coming June 1. More on that soon!

A certain golden girl can jump on the sofa now and it’s a favorite sleeping spot. What a sweetie she is!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Laundry room wish list, item 1, check!

I’ve been pondering a different arrangement in the laundry room for several years now, and eventually came up with an idea based on a Welsh hutch I found online. It was gorgeous but very pricy, $3k+, and I figured if I kept my eyes open I’d find something close enough to do the job. I checked on Craigslist off and on for months, never saw anything remotely similar, and moved on to other wishlists for home and farm.

Last week on a whim I checked and found a hutch that was very close to the one I wanted. We got it for $400 and I spent most of Mother’s Day prepping to paint the wall behind it. The wall is soft apricot now, on two sides of the laundry room, and the hutch is in place. I’m seriously considering painting it with chalk paint, layering a soft natural green and a creamy country white in an interesting way, and putting dark wax on top of that. But I like to live with things before I jump in and put paint on, so my husband brought this monster up the stairs in two pieces for me and it was almost instantly christened with the November Hill Feline Seal Of Approval by Pixie.

I can’t tell you how happy I was to put the horse minerals and supplements “away” on their new shelving and line up my boots and hang my gardening hats. We have twice the space we did before and it looks much more my style than the counter-top wood tables that were there when we moved in. 

Now I need the second item on the wishlist - a wood bench that will fit over the horse feed bins under the window, a place I can put a cushion and sit to put my boots on, fold laundry on, etc. I already know most benches are not as high as the bins are so it may be something I have to make or have made, but I want it simple and durable, and that shouldn’t be too hard to have done.

On the opposite wall, there’s a multi-item list of things to do. Have the dryer outlet rewired, see if the vent can be done differently/more efficiently, replace the shop sink with something beautiful that will also allow for buckets and maybe even a lower deck dog washing station, plus new shelving over the washer/dryer.

Not to mention the new laundry room door with built-in dog door to accommodate the Golden Retriever girl who lives here now. I’ve found the door I want, but have to get measurements before I get the quote to see if it’s affordable. I’ll be happy when I can make this room totally Done. :) For now, though, I’m happy as can be with this hutch!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Clementine and the herd

Clem is spending time off leash in Poplar Folly now, along with her best friends Bear and Baloo Corgi. She’s curious about the equines but does not approach them, and if they start running she comes to my side and sits. 

The big lesson for Clem is “leave it” when it comes to horse manure. We’re working on it. 

It’s fun seeing her learn the ropes of living on a horse farm. She’s already a superstar when it comes to going out in the world. I feel sure she will be the same here as she gets more exposure. 

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Deep work + grocery bag = outline for new writing project

After taking three dogs for a romp in Poplar Folly, doing my morning chores in kitchen, living room, and laundry, I dug in for some deep writing work today.

Once I had my paper and marker my brain focused in on the project at hand. My novel trilogy titled Arrow of Time seems to me upon editing to be better suited for the screen, so I’m giving it a shot. It’s been years since I wrote screenplays and pilot episodes but my head is full of this story and these characters and I’m ready to go with this.

Normally I would have closed myself into the garret upstairs but I needed to keep an eye on the pup, even though she was conked out from the romp. Our dining table offered a nice space to settle in for the work at hand.

Buttercups need mowing, barn surely needs cleaning, but both my farm helpers will be here tomorrow due to a schedule glitch so I opted to keep my deep work day and let them deal with the outdoor chores when they get here. 

I’m happy I did. It feels good to make progress with this project and filling in all that blank space is one joy of the writing process. 

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

When the things that you want appear before your eyes

Yesterday I was thinking (after seeing two mice in the barn) that we needed a resident black snake to move in. Husband sent this photo to me while out feeding last night:

Today I suddenly remembered the Welsh hutch I found online months and months ago, from a custom furniture shop, $3000+ which is why I never followed up on it. This evening I went onto Craigslist and found this, very close to the one I found, nearby, $400. Picking it up Saturday morning!

I’m redoing the laundry room at some point and this will be the first step of that process. We have two long tables that came with the house and they have served us well functionally but are not that attractive and take up too much space in a small room that gets used a lot. I’m looking forward to bringing this piece in. 

Though it’s a game of dominoes, as usual. Now that this is coming in I’m thinking, well, we should go ahead and paint the wall before moving this in so we don’t have to move it to paint later. Isn’t that always the way it goes? 

Happy, in any case. :)

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

The solace of quiet mornings

For the past week I’ve been taking the time to stop and appreciate the beautifully quiet mornings on November Hill. Quiet meaning no sounds except for the birds singing, the tone of their song held close and perfect by the tree foliage which surrounds us in spring and summer.

Our house is on a hill, and at eye level with the thickest foliage of a number of trees, so the birdsong is nearer and I think held in almost as if in a contained space. It is marvelously peaceful and so welcome right now.

The quiet time is precious.

Even these three appreciate it.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

The pollinator garden beds, second year

The Virginia sweetspire we planted last fall in Poplar Folly, doing very well and blooming soon!

Golden Alexander, year two, also doing well.

The old clematis that was here when we bought the farm. I finally gave it something to climb and it’s looking wonderful this spring.

The old rose bush, framing the coneflowers in year two. They have spread this year and I can’t wait to see them bloom.

The second Virginia sweetspire. As the two grow, they’ll fill this corner of Poplar Folly.

Red columbine in the foreground - I planted it in the fall and this is its first year. Behind are the pitcher plants, which really need a wetter space but have managed quite well with all our rain.

The Baptisia, a favorite.

Irises, from our neighbor.

Little bluestem, which has spread and is doing exactly what I wanted in this front corner. 

Another shot of the rose bush.

I’m forgetting what these next two are...

The persimmon tree we planted last fall in Poplar Folly.

More baptisia.

I missed a number of things but ran out of time!