Friday, July 31, 2020

New essay up, and a few farm photos

My essay Stealing Light won third place in Streetlight Magazine’s creative nonfiction contest in the spring, and is featured this week HERE.

It has cooled down enough now that I actually went for a walk around the farm yesterday. As I was watching the bees, I looked down and noticed this friend on the plant behind me. 

Across the way, this caught my eye. If that’s not a portal to another place/time, I’m not sure what it is! Please note that I did not cross over and walk through it!

The most exciting find in Poplar Folly was this. Our first elderberries! 

I ended in the potager and picked the first tomatoes and some basil. Guess what we had for dinner? The annual summer favorite - penne pasta with tomatoes, basil, and Brie. It’s a wonderful and very simple dish that is only truly delicious when made with tomatoes still warm from the sun. These German Johnsons were my dad’s favorite, and I plant them most years in his honor and also because they are a perfect size and texture for slicing for the pasta and for sandwiches.

Of course as soon as we get relief from the heat, a hurricane seems to be heading our way early next week. Alas, I hope it is weak and goes out to sea. I’ll be ready for it either way.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Goldfinch on coneflower + excellent help

The charm of goldfinches who live on November Hill are really loving the coneflowers, and yesterday I managed to get a photo of one of them having a snack.

This is why I leave the spent coneflowers alone - so the goldfinches can have the seeds.

In other news, the walkway is clear! The hollies are pruned! The japonica is too! The dogwood branches are no longer growing onto the roof. The front porch is clear of webs, and the front steps and rails are scraped and newly painted. Hallelujah! A big bunch of things were knocked off my list thanks to two hard workers who know what they’re doing. 

In addition, my new muck helper arrived this morning and will be coming every day from 7-9 a.m. to do all the mucking and all the water buckets and troughs. What this means for me: I will have time to do other things that need doing! Very grateful for the help and happy to pay for good work! 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Rafer Johnson is a TEENAGER! Happy Birthday, Rafer!

Rafer’s birthday slipped by me this year, and I’m attributing it to the pandemic and my distractibility in general, but this week he reminded me in his very gentle and sweet way. We’re having an extra special birthday party for him this weekend, and all is forgiven. 

As I have said in years past, Rafer is the sweetest, most loving donkey ever. He is a love bug and I’m sure he would be happy if we brought him in with us at night or on hot days. I can totally see him hanging out in the living room with us. Of course, he’d have to deal with the dogs, but I think Rafer would even be able to manage that. He is a special soul.

I took this the day he reminded me that he is now a teenager - 13 years old - how can that be? He and Redford hanging out while the horses went out to the front pasture. We love you, Rafer Johnson! Happy, happy birthday to you!!

Friday, July 24, 2020

November Hill farm journal, 105

After a week of very hot days, we finally got some rain last night and again this morning. Everything needed a good watering, so I’m grateful for the cloudy skies and break from the heat. It’s mostly a gray day today, which is very welcome after the blazing sun.

Our farm helpers are coming Tuesday to do a very specific project - weeding the overgrown walkway, pruning hollies and japonica and dogwood, cleaning upstairs windows outside, painting trim, cleaning front porch top to bottom, and painting steps and rails. 

We will of course have no contact and while it looks like a hot day again next week, they will at least have shade for much of the work and they plan to start super early in the morning. I’m happy to have some sprucing up done out front by two people whose work is meticulous!

Meanwhile the pastures and paddocks are growing so well this year we’ve ended up rotating between them instead of leaving all open to the herd. My overseeding in the fall and last spring has really paid off. This fall I’ll need to do this in the bottom of the front pasture, but otherwise, all looks good.

I’ve been meaning to write about our summer tanager(s). We’ve not seen this bird on November Hill that we can remember before this year, but we have one (or more) who is living and foraging very close to the house and barn so we see him/her every day. It’s been a treat to have a new species to watch. I don’t yet have any photos!

The barn swallows have finally finished nesting and fledging their second clutch of eggs and are out of the barn. I admit the last few weeks they were there had me very tired of them swooping in and and out. Now they’re gone and I miss them a little bit!

July is my least favorite month because of the heat and the biting insects but I do love the lushness of it when we’re getting good rainfall, and I’m spending a bit of time each day noting the beauty and being grateful for it. Though I love the landscape in winter, with so many of the trees bare, we lose the privacy we have in the summer months and there’s always a winter day on which we’ve had a lot of rain and it seems so cold and dreary and muddy that I long for summer’s green. Right now we have it, so it’s good to appreciate it while it’s here.

I’m done with my bookshelf painting and the newly-colored shelves are in their new place, with books back in order. Yesterday I indulged myself and painted the lid (which for some reason has always seemed unfinished to me compared to the rest) of my grandma’s old cedar chest, which holds the beloved stuffed animals from my children’s younger years. There’s a small panel of filigree woodwork on the front and I lightly painted that the same color. I’ll finish it up today. I also painted the roof of the Breyer barn, something I’ve been thinking about for several years and boy was that fun to do! I have more ideas for it and since it’s such a little and manageable project, I’ll work on it a little at a time as a reward for some of the larger jobs. Today I’ll begin painting the bedroom next to the guest room, which we’re calling the “new garret” - really the second garret, for my daughter. The paint color is a bright botanical green and I’m looking forward to seeing color in that room!

The new furniture is set to arrive on Monday, so I’d like to get this painting done by Sunday. There’s one piece of furniture in there that has to be moved out and hauled away tomorrow, so I have to clear a few things off it today. 

Speaking of painting, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never finished the laundry room nor the dining room - partly because I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue the colors on the adjoining walls. I’m still not sure, but I’m hoping this bedroom redo will inspire me to get back to figuring out what I’ll do with the colors in those two areas. (Sometimes I just spend way too much time pondering colors and choices!)

Right this moment it’s gray and cooler than it has been and everything has been watered nicely by the rain, and I’m enjoying the way the windows as I look through them are full of green foliage. I can’t see the end of the driveway or the lane, and I love that. 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Nancy Gifford and her art installation piece Lament

Some of you may remember my trip to the west coast to tour graduate programs with my son several years ago. I wrote a post about an art installation I happened onto while exploring UC-Santa Barbara while he had meetings there. The artist was Nancy Gifford, and her installation, titled Lament, took up an entire wall inside the university library. 

I was absolutely stunned by this art installation, taking photos from a distance, close up, and truly wishing there were a way I could bring it all home with me. I still remember walking into the large room where it was and seeing it and realizing it was made entirely of books. 

Unfortunately my photos were taken with my phone and weren’t very good, which is why I’m not re-posting them today. 

About a month ago a comment showed up for moderation from Nancy Gifford herself! She had been doing some online searching and came upon my blog post. She wanted to thank me for writing about her work and to say how happy it made her that I loved it so. She also told me it now has a permanent home in Santa Barbara’s Main Library. 

I so hope that anyone reading this who travels to Santa Barbara in the future will schedule time to go to the Main Library and see this piece. 

Best of all, Nancy’s website has excellent photos of the installation as well as a video that shows the process of the work. Since we’re mostly staying at home right now, what a wonderful armchair travel experience to explore this wonderful piece.

GO HERE to see Lament and the video, and be sure to explore all of Nancy Gifford’s art on her website. 

I was absolutely thrilled to see her comment and happy to share with everyone, again.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

A few bloom updates + a crow PSA

These aren’t the best photos I’ve ever taken - I was sweaty and my glasses were muggy and I couldn’t really tell in my quick pass if I was getting things in focus or not! 

First, a bumble on the nodding onion. This bee was the only one and I think it was enjoying having these little blooms all to itself!

Update on the pretty fern patch. They have gotten quite tall and are lovely to the point that I want to create a mulched bed around them. Another project for the list. 

The Black-eyed Susans are really out now and make a very bright spot in the garden. They’re in a place in the bed that I see from inside the house when I glance out the windows on that side, and it’s so nice seeing them there!

This little scene became a favorite yesterday when I was standing on the walkway and glanced over. If it weren’t such a bright shot, it would be even better. I tend to like things slightly overgrown, not perfectly manicured, and while this tendency gets me in trouble in the garden a lot of the time (there’s a short distance between slightly overgrown and totally out of control when it comes to growing plants), in this moment I really liked how the garage looks with all the plants framing it.

Overall, some things are out of control right now with weeding, and we had a couple of days where two Corgis smelled a bunny and went crashing through the front bed, trampling the Stoke’s asters and narrow leaf mountain mint, and while those plants are alive and blooming and serving pollinators well, they won’t stand back up the way they were for the rest of the season. Daughter has worked with them to set some boundaries and I hope they will stay out of my flowers now!

It’s just too hot to do too much out there right now.

In other news, we had a big drama yesterday on the farm when I opened the back door and heard a cacophony of crow shrieks. It was the loudest ruckus I’ve ever heard from the crows and I knew something was amiss. I called out to my husband, who ran out the door to the back pasture where they were, and he found a crow in the horse water trough. Thankfully it was alive, and the moment he rescued it from the water, the crows went totally silent. 

The crow couldn’t fly and seemed stunned, and it was shivering, so he brought it around to the garage and we nestled it in dry cloths in a box in the sun to see if we could help it warm up. We read during this few minutes that when crows get in water they can get hypothermic quite fast, and pass out, roll over, and drown. I had no idea! While we were on the phone with our local rehabber, the crow warmed up and flew away! So we’re glad the crow family made such a racket and this one made it.

When I went in the back pasture yesterday evening to scrub and refill the trough, several crows came to the oak tree where the trough is and cawed softly. I really do think they know we helped and were there to let me know things were okay. 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

When shopping online, do this

I discovered this recently and maybe I’m late to the game, but when you’re shopping online, put your items in the cart, go through the form until the step before paying, and then abandon the cart. You’ll almost always get an email either minutes or a day later offering you a discount, ranging from 10-30% off the total. 

I had no idea! But my online version of window shopping is putting items in my online cart, going through to the final amount due phase of the order, letting it sit, and often coming back and closing the tab because I decided to wait, or look further, or just doing the window shopping thing.

Emails with discounts started appearing in my inbox and suddenly I realized you can take advantage of that. No need to search for coupon codes or wait for special sales. 
A friend who does web marketing in her day job told me this is programmed into many websites - it’s called the abandoned cart discount. Good grief!

No reason not to utilize this when shopping to get the best deal out there. 

Can you tell it’s mid-July in NC and I’m totally avoiding the heat? :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

November Hill farm journal, 104

It’s been very hot last week and this week and I have had some issues with migraine aura symptoms so have been staying out of the bright sunlight, thus no new photos right now of things flowering and growing on the farm.

Thankfully we’ve gotten rain regularly enough that I haven’t had to water anything, but if we don’t get any today that’s going to change!

While hanging out inside this week I’ve been working on sketches for new garden beds this fall. I’m going to have to transplant goldenrod, purple coneflower, rattlesnake master, and eastern horsemint because all of them are spreading and beginning to crowd out some of the other plantings. Since these are all favorites of mine, it will be nice to have plenty of plants to put in without buying them. I’ll add in a few new natives to each of these new beds, depending what’s available locally this fall.

I’ve also, finally, done some moving and shifting of furniture upstairs and gotten on with the painting of three bookshelves that will be going into another room. I discovered some interesting paints online one night when browsing design images and I got 5 colors that I’ve had for awhile now. It was fun to bring them up yesterday and get going with this project. With all of us in the house working from home now, we need another “garret” - my writing garret has been utilized by my daughter doing her university coursework, and the desk in the bedroom commandeered by my husband, so I’ve been using the dining room table as my writing and office space. 

Creating the new garret was on the list but it’s gotten bumped up some due to the pandemic. I’ve moved a day bed in from the guest room, and am painting some old bookshelves to move over to the guest room where there will now be a wall of books. I’m replacing the old desk in the new garret with something lighter and more Scandinavian in design, and I’ve already got the paint for the walls, a nice bright botanical green. It’s going to be completely different and will give my daughter a dedicated workspace that she can call her own. 

Meanwhile, we’re on the electrician’s waitlist for some work to be done at the barn that will allow me to move forward with the renovation of Delphine. Until I have easy power out there it’s just too hot to work on that. I have three things on the list to get done once the electrical work is complete.

It’s that time of the summer when outdoor projects are on hold and the daily focus is keeping all the animals and the human ones cool, hydrated, and happy. 

There are a ton of good books in my pile and if you keep an eye on the Goodreads app on the sidebar here you’ll see them as I read. Nonfiction and fiction. 

I have to say - July is my least favorite month in the year. Between July 4th and the heat it’s a month I would be okay skipping. In years past I’ve always had the dream that one day we would have a farm in the NC mountains, a remote and quiet place we could pack up and head to for May-September. It’s cooler there and not as many biting insects, and the trip isn’t too long for the horses. 

Now, with everything going on in our country, I’ve been thinking of Canada. The winters! I think mostly it’s that the idea of escape is soothing to me whether or not it actually comes to pass. For now I’m hunkered down here on November Hill, and grateful for all it offers. 

Monday, July 13, 2020

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 56: Black-eyed Susans

I didn’t make it out to get a photo until the sun was up and full on the beds, so the photo is not great, but here they are, adding a new color and texture to the garden this week and on into fall.

It’s been very hot the past several days and was starting to dry out again. These well-established beds can take dry weather without being watered, but the newer plants I’ve put in this summer need some extra care during dry spells. I woke up this morning thinking I would be heading out to do that but thankfully it had rained in the early morning and so everything on the farm got a nice drink.

We may also get some thunderstorms this afternoon, but given our location near the lake these sometimes split and go around around us on either side - I never count on the forecast when it comes to watering the garden babies!

More info:

Rudbeckia fulgida 

Phonetic Spelling
rud-BEK-ee-a FUL-gih-duh

Black-eyed Susan is an erect herbaceous perennial that may grow 2 to 3 feet tall. The many yellow daisy-like flowers with a brownish-purple center first mature in early summer and continue into the fall. A rosette of leaves that originate at the base of the stem persists through the winter, creating an attractive winter ground cover. Leave the seed heads on for the birds. Remove floral stalks after booms spent for lush rosette of green leaves. 

Blackeyed Susans are easy to grow, thriving in any but soggy soils. It does best in full sun but tolerates partial shade. It also bears up under hot, humid summers and, once established, will tolerate drought. The plant spreads by underground stems called rhizomes to form large clumps. Propagation can be done by division in the spring or fall, or it can be propagated by seed. It is utilized for perennial beds, backgrounds, in pollinator gardens, in naturalized areas, and borders. Staking may be required for large heads.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Bear Corgi and helpful supplements

Just wanted to update about Bear and his issues at age 10 with stiffness. Here he is, and please note that he is on the sofa! Which means he jumped up there.

He’s getting 2400 mg of fish oil a day, per the vet; eggshell membrane capsules, per CalmForwardStraight; Dogzymes Complete, per Clementine’s breeder; and Springtime Advanced Hip and Joint Chewables per me wanting to throw everything I can at this issue.

The combo of all the above has made a huge difference in his movement and comfort. He runs, plays, jumps on the sofas, and generally just seems happier now that all of these supplements are on board. They all offer different things to the mix and while it’s an ordering extravaganza every month, it’s so worth it.

Bear’s a sweetheart and we’re so relieved he’s feeling better. Thanks to CFS for the recommendation of the eggshell membrane. That made a big difference on its own!

Thursday, July 09, 2020


It’s that kind of day. I’ve been losing my focus this week and I feel a bit like one of the 25-odd Swallowtails on the buttonbush this morning!

Yesterday afternoon these three enjoyed a little hay between rainfalls in the barnyard. Cody had a reaction to insect bites last week and I went at him with a homeopathic remedy first, with Benadryl and then vet as back-up plans. He already gets chondroitin, fresh ground flax, and spirulina in his feed, and I’ll be adding a trio of additional supplements to see if I can boost things overall. What I did that worked in the short term: did a work up for a remedy and gave it. Bathed him with Banixx shampoo. Used the EcoVet spray (as I have been). Set up our spare big outdoor-rated barn fan in his shelter so he can stand in the air flow to stay cool and insect-free. And fed wet hay to get more water into him. The wet hay was a shoot from the hip kind of thing but I believe for Cody it made some difference, since I suspect his sensitivity to bug bites is connected to his sensitivity to dust in hay, and I just wanted to cover every base I could.

If you’re like many of my family members who do not believe homeopathy is a legitimate treatment, I respect that, but I can tell you that whether it’s a placebo or simply chance, after the first dose he became more agitated (which can be common if you hit the right remedy) and then after the second dose (given 30 minutes after the first) I saw a literal reduction in the many hive-like welts on his body. You’ll have to take my word on that, but it’s true. I guess it’s possible the placebo effect impacted me and he picked up on that and it impacted him, and if that’s how it works I’m fine with it! By the third and fourth doses that same day, he was looking close to normal and things are back to an even keel for him two days out from that.

My source for remedies for horses is George MacLeod’s book The Treatment of Horses By Homoeopathy. It’s an older book that you can get on Amazon and it’s a terrific resource for using homeopathic remedies for horse ailments. I would never suggest that anyone do this for serious issues or without calling your vet if that is needed, but most of the time homeopathy can be used as a wonderful adjunctive treatment. My experience is that if you do the work to identify the correct remedy for the individual patient you will get excellent results. I’ve found that skin issues respond very well to homeopathy, and I’ve at times been able to nail it myself, and other times used our homeopathic vet to make the call. Considering that the mainstream treatment for hives would likely be a shot of steroids that carry the risk of laminitis, I feel it’s prudent to try this first. It has worked 100% of with my herd in 16 years of keeping these horses.

With everything on the farm blooming right now, I have been happy and surprised to see this snake plant send up its own lovely flower. It’s not native but was a gift and I’m happy to see it thriving. It comes inside for the winters but seems to love going to the porch for the summer season.

In other news, we have yellow jackets nesting in a wall of the barn aisle. My husband has been stung several times now, and since there seems no way to get them to leave before they naturally die out in the fall, we’re going to have to use something to spray and exterminate them. We rarely do this kind of thing (fire ants and ticks being the exception) but with the proximity to horses and people it’s necessary. This evening when the horses are turned out we’ll deal with this. It’s only happened twice in the years we’ve lived here that yellow jackets built a nest in or near the barn, so hopefully this is it for awhile! They have to live somewhere but the barn is just not the place. 

I have wondered today if Cody possibly got stung by a yellow jacket and that kicked off the reaction, but I haven’t seen anything on him that looked like that kind of sting, and he isn’t usually in the area where the nest is anyway... but it’s a possibility. It’s also odd that with my going in and out of the barn doing chores I myself haven’t encountered them at all - but they seem to be going at my husband specifically. I’ll be glad when they’re gone. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Buttonbush, nodding onion, rattlesnake master

The buttonbush plants are going wild this week. I read today in the NC Wildlife Federation’s Butterfly Highway newsletter that this plant supports 24 insect species, 8 waterfowl species, 3 mammalian species, and several pollinators. No wonder it’s so busy!

The rattlesnake master are also very busy and looking very nice (though they have spread so much in two years I’m seriously going to have to transplant this fall - the one I transplanted in late spring wilted and I thought it had died, but it has revived and grown to over a foot tall in its new place along the walkway!).

Here you can see the goldenrod I transplanted in late spring - they were a few inches tall and they too wilted, but have revived as well, and zoomed up. I’ll be interested to see how they look when they start to bloom!

The nodding onion are blooming and while delicate and still not fully mature in their bed, they are lovely.

Last week we got so dry I watered every pollinator bed for the first time this season. Of course, two days later we got a huge rain and we’ve had rain every day since! Thankfully we’re also getting sunshine mixed in with the rain so that nothing is staying soggy. Yesterday it poured rain while the sun was shining - something my grandma used to say when this happened is that the devil is having a fight with his wife. 

We had a one day break in the number of cucumbers - I got two - but today we’re back to five. I can’t believe how quickly they grow from one day to the next.

I formally proclaimed to myself this week that I have officially lost control of the weeding. The garden beds themselves are fairly weed-free, but the stone walkway, the empty areas in some of the beds, and the drainage trench areas are completely overgrown. I don’t want to weed-eat and it’s too much to pull, even with my weeding hoe, so I’ve resorted to large pieces of cardboard to smother them. It isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing method, but it works!

Monday, July 06, 2020

New equine product I love: Confidence EQ

In a recent horse supply order I received 6 sample packs of Confidence EQ, an equine pheromone that says: 

ConfidenceEQ is an exact copy of the equine appeasing pheromone that mares produce as they nurse their foals. The appeasing pheromone helps the foal feel safe and secure when encountering new situations and unknown environments.

I decided to try it on July 4th. 

I went through my usual July 4th routine, feeding wet dinner tubs earlier than usual to get that good wet meal into their guts, set them up at the barn with hay pillows and clean water buckets with Rescue Remedy mixed in, separated the two big guys from the pony and the donkeys into their respective sides of the barn and paddocks (which share a fence line so they could hang together if they wished), and closed off all the pastures.

My chair was close by where I could keep an eye on them without being in the middle of things, and just as I heard the first distant boom we applied the Confidence EQ gel to the outer edges of 10 nostrils.

The gel doesn’t have a strong odor at all, but it clearly meant something to them as we applied it. They were very interested in the smell, a couple of the herd weren’t thrilled, but for the most part it was an easy application that didn’t upset anyone. We didn’t use the full recommended dose on any of them.

The first hour was quiet and when the louder/closer fireworks got going I applied another partial dose to all. 

My herd don’t go totally crazy on July 4th, but there is always enough agitation that I end up moving them into the arena all together where they can run safely. Our barn, paddocks, and arena are in the center of our farm, so it’s the most interior space, the furthest from any close-by fireworks, and the arena gives them room to move without much risk.

I figured I’d end up doing this again this year, especially when our neighbors across the street started up.

As it played out, they all stood quietly munching hay from 8-11 p.m. The most serious reaction? A few soft snorts when there were louder booms or longer-lasting noises. This is a first for this herd - they’ve never been this quiet. They were also super responsive to me calling them over for peppermints, which I did about once each hour, which showed me they were relaxed and able to focus on me instead of the noise.

Fireworks still seem like a bizarre way to celebrate freedom to me. They sound like war, and what we’re celebrating (at least for me) is peace. The noise and toxic smoke have serious negative impacts on many humans, animals both domestic and wild, and the earth herself. 

But Confidence EQ made it much easier this year and I’ll absolutely keep this on hand from now on. 

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Happy 4th of July - annual PSA regarding fireworks!

Every year I “celebrate” July 4th sitting in my horse paddock with my herd, cell phone in hand, hoping that no one in our neighborhood or general vicinity opts to do a firework display in their back yard.

Last year our immediate next-door neighbors did. The horses were so agitated they would not graze but trotted in circles the entire time, the toxic smoke from the fireworks wafted and hung in our riding arena like a fog of poison that took hours to dissipate. Our dogs and cats were locked inside the house, as was my husband who has asthma. 

In years past I have had lit firecrackers fall into the pasture a few feet away from me. 

This is my experience of Independence Day. I don’t gather with friends and family, I don’t go to any community celebrations, I don’t enjoy the freedom of feeling safe with my animals on my own hard-earned property.

Meanwhile, combat veterans are triggered by the noise, which sounds like gunfire, wildlife and the environment is impacted by both the noise and the toxic fumes and litter, there is always a risk of fires being started, and domesticated animals including dogs and cats are often terrorized to the point of running away and getting lost.

I can understand the appeal of the way fireworks look, but is it worth infringing on the health and peace of mind of your neighbors, animals wild and domestic, and the earth itself for a few minutes of pleasure?

At least stop and consider before you set them off. 

This year, in addition to everything else, we are all living with COVID-19, a virus which attacks the lungs. Do any of us need to breathe in toxic smoke right now, in particular?

Thursday, July 02, 2020

November Hill farm journal, 103

This is a daily occurrence in the potager. Cucumbers are still going strong. To the point that I have been giving them away to neighbors this week. I have two kinds of zucchini and they get more shade than they need, so we’re NOT being overrun with them, which I feel is a good thing. A couple every few days is just fine.

Last night we had the first tomato, basil and Brie summer pasta of the season. It was delicious!

Otherwise, November Hill is nearing high summer with insects busily flying about, and more than I like are bothering the horses. So far only Cody is having issues - and this just started this week for him. He’s always been sensitive to insects and while I have tried to supplement him with things known to help, he’s starting to sport bumpy bug bites and a scabby spot on his midline. 

I’ve got two new things on board - Ecovet fly spray and Zephyr’s Garden No Fly Zone salve. The Ecovet works. Well. But while nontoxic it is made using fatty acids which are heavy and cloying in the air, which means you have to spray it carefully. You don’t want it in eyes or breathed in. The smell is not bad, really, but just very very potent. I’ve been using it on the herd’s legs only, but today I sprayed Cody all over, carefully, to see if things improve for him. The good news with the Ecovet is that it’s very long-lasting. I’ve been putting it on every other day.

The salve is a dreamy concoction, herbal goodness that the horses love. Keil Bay tries to lick it. I put it in their ears, a small amount rubbed in to keep the gnats away, and on the mid lines, and in armpits. 

Redford donkey really doesn’t like fly spray but he will happily let me apply the salve to his legs and back and shoulders, armpits, and chest. I feel like it’s working for him so far, and it definitely helps with the ears and mid lines for all.

I have a nice almost unused fly sheet that I got for Cody several years ago. He wore it one time and within 30 minutes he was galloping about, managed to get it off himself halfway, and I was too paranoid to put it on him again. I have no idea if the fly sheet freaked him out, if a biting fly got trapped under it, or if he was just playing around and the fly sheet seemed like the culprit. I may have to revisit it if I can’t get a handle on what’s biting him.

Otherwise, the bees are good, the dogs and cats are good, the humans are as well as can be expected given COVID and the state of our country right now.

I’m reading good books, writing for my class and other markets, gardening, cleaning, grooming, feeding bees, avoiding cleaning, relaxing, sweating, rewatching Buffy and Downton Abbey, cooking, eating, enjoying glasses of wine, and basically wishing most days that I had more hours and more energy. 

In the small circle of my life, it’s good. In the larger view, it’s good in some ways and stressful overall. Suddenly my balancing dilemma is focused on the balance between staying informed and active with not letting myself get totally overwhelmed with anxiety. I know many of us are in this space and I send good thoughts out to all, in hopes that we find some peace, solutions, and a path forward that brings us to a new and improved way of being in the world. 

If anyone has tips to share for staying calm and also focused in today’s world, please share them!