Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year from November Hill

Live stake elderberries are in the ground, I got an acceptance email for my essay “Places I Went With My Dad,” I’m home with my family with homemade cheese ravioli and Brussels sprouts, cocktails, and animals tucked in safe for the night, and it’s a bright and beautiful night sky outside.

I’m mindful of the fact that 25 years ago I had a newly firstborn babe in arms. It’s amazing to ponder the passage of time since then, and a worthwhile exercise for all of us, I think. To stop and think about our time on the earth, then and now, now and what is to come.

I’ve done my annual review, detailing what went well in 2019, what didn’t, and laying out goals for 2020 in all areas. As anyone who reads here regularly can imagine, I’m extremely ambitious when it comes to setting goals for home and farm projects, and equally so with my writing, but I like to aim big and then celebrate what I manage to get done.

It’s been a challenging year in some ways but I feel like it’s ending on a good note.

The herd went wild right before sunset today, galloping, bucking, rearing, braying. I have no idea what set them off, but it was a spirited show of pure athleticism and grace in motion. I’m glad they are all healthy and happy and fairly easily calmed down with some apple treats and fresh hay.

I hope everyone reading has a lovely evening and a wonderful 2020.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

PSA: dogs and pizza/bread dough - go directly to the vet!

We’ve had a wonderful holiday and are still enjoying the time off with family. Lots of good food and good time spent.

Last night my son was making homemade (amazing) pizza and in the midst of a busy kitchen where we were all standing and talking, Clementine ran in, grabbed a small pizza’s worth of rolled out dough, and gobbled it down.

I honestly thought it was no big deal, but thanks to Google and a call to our local university vet school emergency hospital, we learned that the yeast in bread and pizza dough finds a perfect and perpetual “oven” in a dog’s stomach. The yeast grows and grows.

My husband and daughter took Clem directly to the ER and they quickly induced vomiting. It was about 40 minutes from the time she ate the dough until they got to the vet. The dough she’d ingested was the size of a football when she threw it up.

There are a number of serious medical issues that can happen when dogs ingest yeast-based dough, and while inducing vomiting is a solution, it’s not one to try on your own, as the volume of the dough coming back up can block the esophagus, so it’s best to get to a vet as soon as possible and let them safely manage the treatment if you can.

Clem was back home within a couple of hours and we were soooooo relieved that all was well.

Keep the dough away from the dogs! And if one gets it, head to the nearest emergency vet to be truly safe.

Have a wonderful New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2019

November Hill farm journal, 88

The elderberry live stakes are here and ready to pound in, the RV camper is here and ready for my son, daughter-in-law, and their dog, the shopping is done for food and gifts, and now I’m just sitting back relaxing until they get here tonight.

I hope everyone reading has a wonderful and joyous holiday season. It’s hard to believe we’re so close to 2020.

All the very best to everyone!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

When holly and oak had a winter’s day party...

Three male cardinals came, along with their wives
And three blue jays buzzed one another
While Carolina wrens pecked at the stack of branches and brush beneath.

Then tiny sparrows came, one, and then two, wings aflutter,
Adding their smart gray to the chorus of red, blue, and tobacco brown
All in the deep ever-green of the holly tree
While bare oak stood tall, arms outstretched,
Inviting, protecting, holding the space.

Monday, December 02, 2019

November Hill farm journal, 87

I am late saying Happy Thanksgiving here and so will wish it now - I hope the holiday weekend was full of gratitude and family/friends. This year my son and daughter-in-law stayed at home to celebrate their first anniversary and we here on November Hill had a lovely week with my mom here and my mother-in-law here for the Thanksgiving meal.

I don’t often write about cooking, but this was the first year we were totally meat free. We had our final fall CSA veggies on hand and I used most of them in preparing the meal. This was the menu:

Baked pumpkin stuffed with wild rice/tart cherry/walnut/spinach + many lovely herbs and spices

Cranberry sauce

Sweet potato casserole with vegan marshmallows, pecans, plus a little brown sugar + cinnamon

Sourdough/kale “stuffing” baked in a pan

Brussel sprouts with soy “bacon” bits

An oldie but goodie from my childhood: lime jello salad with cream cheese, celery, pecans, and no sugar added fruit cocktail

Pumpkin cheesecake with a ginger snap/pecan crust

I made everything from scratch and started on Tuesday so I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving day itself without much work. I have such good memories of staying up late cooking while my husband and children are asleep, and I did some of that this year. It was lovely, special time, and gave me a chance to be thankful for all that it represents. To be awake while loved ones sleep, making food you know they will enjoy, holds so much of what it means to be a mother, for me. And this year, to be able to do it while my own mom slept was especially nice.

The herd got leftover ginger snaps, the dogs got tasty bites of the veggies, and the cats got a bit of heavy cream to lap up off a dish. We all enjoyed the day.

We also finished rewatching the brilliant, gorgeous Netflix series Anne With An E. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s wonderful in every way. There are two seasons on Netflix and a third coming in January, but Netflix announced last week that they are canceling the show, which was originally set to have five seasons, and this provoked a twitter-storm of protest. This is one of those shows that is just so beautiful it should be held up as a shining example of what can be done with the medium. I hope a network picks it up for the final two seasons that are on the stove simmering.

I have a trifecta of films I always love to watch this time of year, so we also squeezed those in during the holiday weekend: Contact, Interstellar, and Arrival. I love all of them. This year after watching Arrival again I got intrigued with the fact that it was inspired by a short story by Ted Chiang, who is a technical writer for software development but also writes creatively. He has two books of short stories out and apparently writes about one story every two years or so. He says he has no inclination to try to write a novel, and no need to try to write stories more quickly. There’s something truly beautiful about a creative process that is willing to spend two years on a story, its concepts and themes and expression. I’m reading his stories now.

We may watch Gravity and The Martian this week to complete the mood. Last night my daughter lured me into rewatching Silence of the Lambs, which is outside the space mood but such a finely-crafted film. A screenwriter/author friend, Alexandra Sokoloff, analyzed it in a 36-page brilliant look at the film from the perspective of craft and plot, and we looked at it while watching, as we also looked at how the Clarice character inspired Dana Scully’s character in the X-Files. A fun way to end the holiday weekend!

This morning it’s sunny, cooler, and I’m going to have to spend some time trying to get christmas tree lights to work. Isn’t that just the worst thing? When you plug the tree in and an entire section is dark? Okay, in no way the worst thing, but annoying.

Last week the oaks went into their full glory here, so I’ll leave you with my beautiful Oak At F.