Tuesday, August 27, 2019

November Hill farm journal, 83

The spotted horsemint, Monarda punctata, is in full, glorious bloom right now and it makes me happy every single time I look at it. The view yesterday:

The Arcadia hives are very busy right now, as the goldenrod is starting to come out and there are also a number of fall-blooming pollinators in our area. I enjoy the native bees too and it’s a busy time still in the garden beds.

We’re still cleaning up small branches and sticks from the deluge that happened a week ago, and have scheduled time to take down two very large dead trees, a red oak (it succumbed to a root ball fungus that I was told is rampant here now) and a tulip poplar that was taken out over the course of several years by my equine herd, who love to chew the bark in midwinter. We put a wrap around the trunk but it was too late to save it. I plan to put in some young tulip poplars to replace it, as it’s a majestic tree that provides shade and early nectar flow for bees. I may actually install fencing around these to keep the horses away!

We closed off most of the grass paddock so it can rest and recover. The first day the FOUR strands of Horseguard tape was up, two donkeys and a pony literally tore it down. One unfortunate fellow was caught in the act.

We purchased a new, stronger solar charger and the fence is back in place and certain marauders are being kept out. We overseeded and will let this area repair itself for the next few months.

I had the consult about stormwater management with native plantings and have a good plan for the strip of our farm that runs down the side of our lane. We’ll sow a mix of sun and shade native seed that includes wildflowers and grasses - no mowing needed, and all excellent forage for pollinators. Along with that we’ll put in native wild blueberry bushes every six feet or so. We’ll feed pollinators, the birds, and ourselves with those berries.

Down at our driveway where the water rushes through the culvert pipe we’ll be doing an area of live staking with elderberry, another native pollinator that will also give berries for wildlife and for us.

The two sections in the front pasture that need addressing will likely be fenced with wood to keep the equines out, in small oblong sections on each side where the stream bed is most in need of stabilizing.  We have a nice list of options for planting but I’ll be doing additional consults with some rain garden specialists to help with the geology of the areas.

Thankfully the local nursery we use can provide what we need for the strip very affordably and we’ll do that in early fall. The live stakes are done in December. The rain garden installations are going to be done in several phases after our gravel road repair is done.

In other news, I’ve been appointed to our county’s Food Council, and am excited about the opportunity to get involved with their work. And my daughter just won first and second prizes in a photography contest, the details of which can’t be shared yet, but I’m so proud of her. She’s a gifted young woman.

She and her service dog in training graduated from Basic Obedience class last night and are moving on to Canine Good Citizen in September.

They’re a super team and I’m happy to see them progressing together!

I’m very happy to be seeing signs of autumn all around. I’m so ready for this season to shift, though I’m enjoying the last month of summertime. It’s been hot and buggy and also beautiful, but I love the cycle of the seasons and fall is my most beloved. 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

A note for writers and other creative folk

This morning I walked out the back door and spied this:

It’s an egg sac left by the sweet writing spider I posted about a few weeks back. 

My impulse was first to post this to Facebook, with a little blurb about the symbolism. Then I thought about putting something here. It was only upon reflection that it occurred to me that my thinking after seeing this egg sac lent itself to an essay. 

I turned off the impulses to post on Facebook or blog, instead opening a new file in Scrivener and began to write. What I now have is a first draft of something I’ll submit for publication. Had I posted the photo on Facebook, I’d be checking to see how many “likes” it got, and comments. Had I blogged about it here, I would have written something satisfying and in a small way akin to what I ended up writing, but the path to deeper thought would have stopped there.

By postponing the impulses and instead giving myself the time and space to really dive into my thoughts and imagination, I ended up with much more. 

Of course, now I’m blogging about it, but in a different way, and not one that will take the place of the essay I wrote. 

This is the key to increasing our productivity in terms of writing we can submit, query, or turn into longer-form work. Instead of throw-away social media moments, we go deeper. 

A good reminder for me, and I’m happy I got the chance to practice this today! 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

November Hill farm journal, 82 - home again home again

After a wonderful getaway writing retreat weekend at Porches, I came home ready to jump back into daily life on the farm. This was my office view while on retreat. It is gorgeous and I think the reason it works so well for me is that it is a home as well as a writers’ retreat, and it has many aspects that remind me of November Hill. It’s a home away from home - a place where I feel like I’m in my own space but without the responsibilities. Looking forward to the next visit when it happens.

Back on November Hill, there were nice things going on in the gardens, and nice behavior between Redford and Baloo. The Corgis have gradually become very reliable out on the farm, to the degree that I can allow them to run freely without my direct supervision. Baloo went through a phase of barking at the donkeys but that has passed and they all now seem quite relaxed with one another.

We’ve had good rain since I got home, all the animals are doing well, and I’m starting to think about fall projects. I’m going to make a list just for my own peace of mind.

- consult for storm water run-off planting using native plants is scheduled for next week
- I have a plan for putting in terraces in Poplar Folly to help control run-off using brush pile and compost pile materials
- get new pollinator bed set up
- get raised beds built and planted in what I’m now calling Brown Bunny’s Potager
- stone in several areas near barn
- sprucing up of barn including fall clean plus stall doors, new latches, and some touch-up painting
- finish off the fencing project - all that’s left is to put in 9 landscaping timbers along arena and replace the final two gates

Inside, I’m focusing on two things:
- finish laundry room spruce up, which involves new dog door install, painting remaining wall, and tongue in groove ceiling install
- continue clearing process - I have two closets to go and some rearranging of furniture

I’m aiming to get this stuff done by the first week in October, when I have a trip planned with my daughter. We’re going to Cody, Wyoming! Very excited and it will be a nice way to wind up a 6-week whirlwind of project work.

This time of year is a favorite for me, as summer starts to wind down and I see glimpses of autumn. Geese honking as they head south, wild muscadines getting bigger on the vines, the leaves on the trees just beginning to shift in color. Still very green but there’s a subtle change. The temperatures not quite as hot. The horses and pony are starting to grow fur. I’m happy to enjoy the days as we move toward my favorite season.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Sprite, luna moth, brilliant color

I tore myself away from November Hill yesterday to drive north to my favorite writing retreat location. It was like removing a pot-bound plant from a plastic pot, and for a few hours I wasn’t sure I was going to make it off the farm.

When I got here I was greeted by a sprite:

A gorgeous luna moth:

And gorgeous color brilliant in the late afternoon sun:

If anyone needs me, I’ll be at the desk. :)

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Pollinator garden shots, lots going on in August

The first few monarda punctata blooms are coming out. The bees love this plant and it’s my personal favorite.

The butterflies are loving the milkweed and I’m happy it’s going so strong! 

Sunday, August 04, 2019

5 Things You Can Do Instead Of Shaming Your Kids

I went to bed last night after reading about the horrific massacre in El Paso, woke up this morning to read of another massacre in Dayton, then needing a bit of lighter fare, read a post from a mom blogger about her daughters’ messy bedrooms full of dirty laundry. She made them gather all the clothing in their rooms and took them to a laundromat to sort, wash, and dispose of everything they didn’t need.

There’s nothing wrong with that, and I don’t know how she actually behaved to them while this was happening, but what she wrote about it, with photos of her girls and the various items of clothing she posted were aimed at shaming them for their behavior. It made me feel very very sad.

I plan to write to every single one of my representatives, starting with the local ones and going all the way up to my senators, to ask what they are doing to address the level of gun violence in our country. Any person in any government role who has been voted into office should be addressing this in some way or other, because it could happen anywhere. It is already happening anywhere.

For the moms who are horrified by your children’s messy lives and rooms, I offer a few things to do instead of shaming them.

1. Model the behavior you want to see. Ask if you can help them organize their space. Make it into a fun thing. “Let’s get your room organized before school starts and then celebrate by going out for dinner!” Helping means just that. Not preaching, not barking, not shaming. Put on some music and dance your way through the clean up effort. Make it a bonding experience, not a shaming one.

2. Remember that creativity is generally messy. If you find clothing that has been cut up, dyed, drawn on, decorated with glitter, or otherwise changed from the way you think it should be, consider that you have a creative child. This is a good thing. Find ways to help them channel it. Please don’t try to shut it down.

3. Give yourself permission to freak out, but do it privately. I like things to be neat and orderly. I love seeing a room that looks tidy. Most of this is my own personality and way of being in the world. Some of it is because my mother was that way. Our house was clean and organized. Mostly because my mother hired someone to keep it clean and organized. My children did not have the ability to hire someone to do that for them.

4. Regarding the impulse to shame: if you are shaming your child it means you feel shame inside. For something. If you don’t know what it is, you can figure it out. You shaming your child is a Big Red Flag that you have work to do on your Self. It doesn’t make you a horrible person or a terrible parent. It just means your children are bringing up in you the things you need to work on as a human. Do it for them. But more than that, do it for YOU.

5. Most of the time our children grow up and move on to other homes. If yours haven’t yet, I bet when they do you’ll miss the messes. If not, no problem, enjoy your newfound clean and tidy home! If, like me, you do miss the creative piles, the projects, the crazy, fun, sometimes disgusting things you unearth, you’ll have to find ways to channel this. Like having cats, dogs, horses, donkeys, a pony, honey bees, gardens, and a ton of other stuff to keep you occupied. Enjoy it all. Life is short. Our children are who they are because of genetics and the way we treat them and how we act in front of them. When we see behavior we don’t like, we have to look first to ourselves, then to our extended families, and we have to make peace with all of it. In the end, if we do this, we can thank our children for helping us become more compassionate and loving.