Saturday, June 29, 2019

November Hill farm journal, 79

We’re back into a higher heat spell here, but the humidity has been lower than usual so it’s not been too bad. Our upstairs HVAC unit had some trouble this week and I worried it was going to be the time they said we had to replace it, but alas, it was a dead capacitor which was replaced and we were back up and running in half an hour upstairs!

The horses and pony and donkeys are hanging in there. Biting flies are definitely out but we also have a good number of dragonflies this year and they seem to keep the numbers down some. Regular baths with tea tree shampoo and hosings on the other days have kept them comfortable and happy. Rafer Johnson and Redford both go to their dust circles while the horses are getting baths. The dust rises in clouds and is a good sign that the donka boys are doing their version of bath and fly control.

They were all extremely happy on Wednesday this week, when the new cutting of hay from Canada rolled in. Keil Bay and Cody were in the barnyard and they ran to the truck and sampled the new bales before they were even unloaded. 8 hooves up and that grew to 20 once the pony and donkeys had their say.

Nights are getting quite loud here with cicadas in full song, just in time for July 4th, when I’ll fret about fireworks and sit outside with the herd, only to realize that the cicadas are like a giant white noise machine, muting the fireworks enough to make them not quite so scary. If we’re lucky a big thunderstorm will thwart the entire thing.

They frighten wildlife, horses and livestock, dogs, cats, and sometimes people. They can trigger symptoms of PTSD for our veterans. There are so many other more considerate ways to celebrate. Shooting loud bright things off into the sky isn’t one of them. The smell, the debris, the risk of fire - I can’t think of anything good about it. If you MUST experience them, go to the nearest city putting on a firework show. Give your neighbors, including humans and wildlife and animals, a break.

Speaking of wildlife, we have goldfinches flying madly about the property all day long right now. The pollinator beds are buzzing with pollinators. Here are a few shots of what I captured in about 5 minutes this morning while weeding.

Monarch caterpillar seeking shade on a large weed, which I left intact. The milkweed is in full bloom just to the right of this. I’m so happy to see this caterpillar!!

Dragonfly on baptisia:

Bumblebee on coneflower:

Carpenter bee on rattlesnake master:

Honeybee on narrow leaf mountain mint:

Overall, a busy summer’s day here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

When your bees come home to forage

Yesterday I was watering the pollinator beds and I’m fairly sure the Arcadia bees have found the narrow-leaf mountain mint (and all the rest of the pollinator plants) in my garden beds! This is partly why I planted these beds, in anticipation of providing food for my own honey bees, and seeing them foraging was such a happy moment.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Day on the lake, with tribe

The cats, Corgis, and equine herd were with us in spirit, but what a joy to be on the lake with both my human children, my daughter-in-law, a good friend of our family, my husband, and Clem.

We rented a pontoon boat and had food, drink, gorgeous skies and temps, and the very best company. I came home relaxed and happy.

Clem loved it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Moons of Jupiter, charms of goldfinch, soft summer breeze

Last night we got out the super-duty binoculars and found Jupiter in the night sky. Three of its 79 moons are visible right now, and it’s pretty amazing to see them from the back deck and ponder science and science fiction and the magical, mystical world we live in.

I often wonder how it would be if the Earth had more than one moon and what our night sky would look like if it did. But 79? Can you even imagine?

While looking for the moons of Jupiter my husband downloaded a very cool app on his iPhone - it’s called Sky View Lite and the Lite version is free. You simply point your phone (or ipad) to the sky and it names what you’re seeing. I think we could have played with it all night!

This morning a different galaxy revealed itself as I was sitting on the front porch while the Mystical-kit meow ate his breakfast. A charm of goldfinches emerged from the seed heads of the first-blooming echinacea and dashed up into the sweetgum tree. What a sight to behold. Every summer I wait for it and it never fails to make me smile.

Yesterday and today we’ve had a constant soft summer breeze blowing. It’s not a cool breeze but it makes the most beautiful whoosh sound and is very welcome as the heat of early summer returns to November Hill.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

What service-dogs-in-training do for fun

They watch Puppy Prep, a show about service dogs in training! Clem was engrossed.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

November Hill farm journal, 78

The main portion of the new interior fencing is now complete! It’s difficult to get one photograph that shows the overall layout, so I took several angles to try and capture it. This is the far end of what we call the dirt paddock - it runs from the back of the barn to our property line, and at the end, adjoining the property line fence, had gates to the front pasture and the back pasture.

Since we mostly keep the entire farm open to our herd, they often galloped through from one field to the other, which I love to see, but having our gates literally right on the edge of our property has always been problematic to me. If the neighbors had anything going on over there, the horses couldn’t get to the barn without passing right along that fence line. Since a large part of “what the neighbors had going on” often involved dogs who weren’t trained or on leashes and came through our fence, it wasn’t a good situation. We remedied that two years ago when we got the fencing replaced with 3-board/woven wire, but I continued to wish the gates were further in.

This spring the big posts the gates were hung on suddenly and out of the blue became loose. I have no idea why, but since they had to be replaced anyway we opted to go ahead and do the new design. One day as I was out pondering it occurred to me that I could use the far end of the dirt paddock as a dedicated garden space by simply fencing across the dirt paddock and rounding the two sides that border the pastures to avoid creating “dead zones” with sharp corners. This not only brought the gates closer to the barn, it completely removes the horses from being near that fence line, which for whatever reason seems to be a magnet for the neighbors and their guests.

The horses can move from one part of the farm to the other without ever going near that area. I think it turned out really well!

This is facing the new garden space, toward the neighbors. The little gate is my entry to the garden, and you can see the left side angling toward the exterior fence.

This is a closer shot of the garden gate, which I’ve opened.

From further back, looking toward the back pasture, and showing the new gate that goes to the back.

This next photo looks from inside the garden space toward the front pasture. You get a better sense here of how much space I’ll have for raised beds.

This is from the back pasture facing the front pasture, showing both gates. The horses can gallop through like they always have, but much nearer the barn now.

Overall, it’s so much better! And just in time. For the past month, the neighbor has had workers on her property and is yelling and screaming at them for not doing the work correctly. I’m very happy to have my horses well away from that behavior. Hopefully my garden space, and me being in it some of the time, will deter the rudeness. Maybe a “quiet please!” sign???

As you can imagine, I’m thrilled to be able to check this project off my master list. :)

Saturday, June 08, 2019

PSA on petting dogs without permission (with a special shout out to rude Trump supporters)

Today my daughter and I took Clem to the local pet supply store to buy a few items and let Clem practice some of her work in a distracting environment. Daughter was on an empty aisle in the store working on Clem’s targeting of random objects when a 50’ish year old woman and her young adult son walked up and planted themselves about one foot away from us, staring and then laughing when Clem didn’t do the requested target at first command.

When we proceeded to move on to a different aisle, the woman suddenly stepped forward and reached to pat Clem, in the middle of my daughter’s request for Clem to walk on with her. I stepped in and asked the woman to please not touch the dog, as she was being trained. The woman became agitated and told me to “fuck off.” I remarked that it was inappropriate to touch someone’s dog without their permission and the woman said “You must be one of those Democrats.”

At this point my daughter and Clem had left the aisle and I turned to follow, saying “Well, I’m definitely not a Trump supporter.”

The woman said “You’re missing out on a great thing.”

I walked on, intending that to be the end of that, but as we neared the front of the store the woman came charging up and said “Do you support full term abortion?”

I said that it wasn’t the place for that kind of discussion and I wasn’t interested in talking about it. She was at that point coming closer, saying “You do it. You support it.”

I commented, “How arrogant and rude.”

She repeated “fuck you” several more times and when my daughter took out her phone and started videoing, the woman ran out of sight to the back of the store.

I think as upsetting as this was, the fact that the owner of the store, who knows us well, was watching at least the last few minutes of this exchange and didn’t intervene.


If you see a dog, whether it’s an adult, a puppy, a service dog, a service dog in training, or any dog at all, please don’t assume it’s okay to walk up and pat the dog. Don’t assume it’s okay to get in the personal space of the dog and its handler. If you want to pat the dog, ask yourself first if the handler is working with the dog. If so, walk on by. It’s not a good time to interrupt. If the handler seems approachable, ask from a respectful distance if it’s okay to say hello. Let the handler guide that interaction. Don’t speak in high-pitched tones to the dog, address your comments to the handler until he/she says it’s okay. If the handler says not now, or no, simply move on. You don’t have a right to pat someone else’s dog. It’s their call to make.

I’m well aware that Clementine is adorable. So is she. We actually like her to practice meeting new people, but we like to do that in a controlled, planned interaction. I’m also aware that she and my daughter are an impressive team and it’s tempting to want to stop and watch and participate. Please don’t. If you absolutely must, a quiet “Love how you’re working with your dog” as you pass by will be appreciated but likely not acknowledged in that moment.

As for the whole Donald Trump thing, if anything like that ever happens to me again, I’m calling the police and let them handle it.

If you’re a business owner and you see this kind of harassment happening, I certainly hope you’ll intervene. It would have meant a lot to me today if that had been done.

Friday, June 07, 2019

November Hill farm journal, 77

Busy week, but there were some lovely moments on the farm, like this one, when I looked out from the barn aisle and spied the gleaming Keil Bay, who, at 30 years of age, never fails to take my breath away.

He and I both got massages this week, first me inside the house, then Big Bay in the barn aisle. Our massage therapist said he didn’t have any major tightness or issues which makes her think he’s moving well and in a balanced way. I’m happy to know that; it fits with what I see, but nice to have it confirmed!

We’ve had a break from the unusually early hot temps this week, and it’s been wonderful relief after all those miserable days we just had of high 90s. Today on through the weekend we’re getting some needed rain. As I type it’s falling and watering everything. We actually have a number of days coming up with highs in the 70s, which is going to be even more glorious. I guess the thing about roller coaster weather is that you always get at least a little of what you like best!

The bees are doing well. We’ve chosen to leave them be for this first week, just checking to see that they have water. Tomorrow we’ll check the sugar syrup, refill the water feeders, and since it’s going to be rainy all weekend we’ll defer going into the hive to next weekend, when I’d like to get photos of the frames to make sure I see eggs and new comb being drawn out. Assuming the new comb is there we’ll go ahead and add second hive boxes to each colony.

This week I have a full-day pollinator garden design workshop to attend. We’re to bring photos of areas we’d like to plant, and I have an entire new space in mind, plus the shade bed, and I’m now also thinking of two areas for native rain gardens which will help the run-off we get through the front field when we get a lot of rain at once.

The interior fence work is progressed since last update. I think they’ll wrap it up this week. There are still two gates to hang after the fencing is done, and a number of things in the barn to do, but with summer upon us the inside work may need to wait until fall. This herd loves being in the barn with hay pillows and fans when it’s hot out!

Clementine the service pup in training had some terrific new experiences this week. She went to a children’s hospital where all kinds of physical therapy takes place and she was a superstar. I am constantly impressed with her demeanor and her patience. My daughter is doing such a good job training her. Yesterday she took her wait command to a whole new level at lunchtime. Clem knows to wait for her food bowl and the “okay” that means she can eat, but yesterday she waited for her name to be spelled out in kibble! This is a 5-month old pup. I don’t think I’ve ever known a more patient dog than she is. We’re lucky to have her with us.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Beekeeping at last!


Queen Echo to the left, Queen Artemis to the right! Nucs are installed now and it went well. I went slowly and am giving them today to settle in all the way.