Monday, November 30, 2020

November Hill farm journal, 113

 It’s hard to believe today is the last day of November. We’re having a rainy, windy day that is quite warm but on the other side of this is a cold front, so we’ll soon have chilly days and even colder nights. Fitting for the season, though, and conducive to thinking of decorating for Christmas. We got a live tree yesterday at a very near to us Christmas tree farm, and it’s up in our living room with about 3/4 of the lights put on. We’ll continue working on it today. I replaced my fall season gate wreaths with the winter season ones yesterday, and we’ll begin the annual tradition of bringing up bins with decorations tonight. 

Yesterday while it was still dry I made candy boards for the honey bees and we removed the syrup in advance of the colder weather. Did I mention here that two of my hives robbed the third hive and they left? I suspect I triggered this by disposing of some old syrup near the hive, which is a big no-no, but I simply forgot that it was a very bad idea. 

I hope that colony has found themselves a place to be for the winter. It’s not likely they’ll make it given they will have no honey stores. It’s also likely they were not a very strong hive if they weren’t able to defend against robbing, so from that perspective they have culled themselves from my apiary genetics. A hard truth.

The two remaining hives are very strong and okay. I hope to be able to catch a swarm off the very strong hive, as they seem to be thriving and I’d love to replace the lost hive with their genetics in the new year.

In the barn, I’m happy that the semi-annual barn cleaning got done, and I’m still making my way through the feed/tack room. The horses are good. Keil has had several weeks of being super good and now has had a few days of holding a hind leg out again. We’re in the final week of the second month of Marquis treatment, and I feel we need to go a third month. I’ve read that many horses need a 90-day treatment. I’m checking in with the vet today and we’ll figure it out.

This month our barn roof is scheduled to get some updating done - actually it is being repaired along the edges which unbeknownst to us were never properly finished by the guy who installed the roof three years ago. I’m annoyed, and when we first noticed a seeping issue coming in from one edge, I tried to get him over here to fix it, but he didn’t respond to my messages until I mentioned it on a FB group based in the town where he lives (big horse community that we’re a part of from way back) - once I said in that forum that I was trying to get a response from him, it was only a half hour until he reached out to me. By that time I had waited several months and already had someone else lined up. I hope this is it for the roof. We love it, but obviously things need to be installed properly to work!

Next week my farm helper and his friend will be replacing the railings on our back deck, and widening the steps so the three dogs can more easily go up and down without a logjam occurring. I’m also installing a ramp for Bear! We had planned to put a full back porch on in place of the deck, but after sitting with that plan I realized the roofline would interfere with several upstairs windows, some pipes along the back of the house, and the existing roofline and gutters. Visually I’m not sure how it could be integrated so that it looked like it was meant to be that way. For now, we’re repairing what needs to be fixed, creating something that works better (the wider steps plus ramp), and an area for the cats to have near their cat tunnel entrance that is secure from the dogs, who like to run over there and interfere with comings and goings. My desire for a covered space may be able to be met a different way - we’ll see. In the past I’ve considered enclosing the square deck area to make a sun room/den area and maybe that’s a better way to go. I guess part of the fun of living in a place is plotting how one would make it better. Certainly that’s true for me!

Right now I’m in my garret and the clouds are blowing away to reveal blue sky and some sunshine, so it’s nice to have gotten some rain and nicer still to have it move on through so the horses aren’t in the barn too long. 

December! I love the solstice time of year and it’s sweeter this year thanks to election results and also the vaccines that will start being distributed to those who need it most. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Shopping the Day After Thanksgiving? Jane Smiley’s New Novel!

 Actually, for us, today IS Thanksgiving, as we shamelessly changed the day to accommodate our own needs. I spent yesterday leisure making some of our favorite Thanksgiving entrees, all of which are ready to be popped into the oven when we get hungry today. 

I have never shopped on Black Friday - our tradition leans to going for a local hike or simply walking out with the herd, but I did read emails this morning and when I saw that Jane Smiley has a new novel coming out, I scurried to a new tab in my browser and looked it up.

It’s a novel about a race horse named Perestroika who lives on a track in France and escapes one day to visit Paris. Okay, Jane, you won me over. I’ve now shopped on Black Friday and pre-ordered this alluring new book for myself.

Jane Smiley is a prize-winning author and she is a horsewoman. I’d check this one out if you need an engaging, horsey read. It’ll be extra good if you also love Paris. 

Read more and order here.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

A Goal To Sing

 I Worried

Mary Oliver

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows 
can do it and I am, well,
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?
Finally, I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

Isn’t this perfect? I worry about everything, not so much in a stressed out oh my god kind of way, but more like if I think of everything that might go wrong, I can fix it ahead of time so it doesn’t. 

This of course takes its own toll, and manifests in a lot of to do lists and a running monologue inside my head. The horses have taught me other ways to be, and I’m grateful to them. 

On Friday and again yesterday, instead of mucking pastures, I began to clean the tack room - most importantly the tack. For someone who has not ridden in over a year, this is singing, don’t you think? Holding the reins in my hands, lifting the saddle, its weight and heft, gauging which length of stirrup and leather I might need as I clean them.

It was a lovely day, and Keil was good, and while I am not setting a goal to ride him again, the possibility that such a thing might present itself was potent. Cody was hanging around as if making an offering, and I imagined taking him up on that.

When I walked across the top of the front pasture, this is what I saw:

The X is Gebo, the rune of gifts and partnership, and the sun was there glowing like a beacon of light, not at the end of a tunnel, but omnipresent and all knowing. I know the optical explanation for the two orbs, but am taking them to be my first horse Bo-Jinx, and Salina, hanging out with the herd and letting me know they’re here. 

I remember my first ride as a child holding the reins, feet in stirrups, and I remember the first ride on Keil Bay, in a sunny indoor arena with mirrors at one end, hardly able to believe that the woman in the mirror was me. Keil Bay sailed us through the sunbeams that day. A month later he came to live with me.

I see the next ride, the culmination of every ride, but without the worries. Just the song.

Monday, November 16, 2020

November Hill farm journal, 112

 A week ago my farm helper put in the bit of interior fencing in the corner of our front pasture, to keep the horses and donkeys out of that corner. I have southern bayberries planted inside the perimeter fence down there, as well as 10 winterberry hollies, and my plan is to add more rain garden plantings and stone to help with the rain run-off at that side of our property.

All was well until he hit our internet cable. All my fault, as I had No Cuts out previously and misunderstood where the line went up the fence over there. So suddenly we had no internet and a two-day wait for repair. Thankfully our little town has a very cool co-working business where you can rent space to work. They have two different high speed internet providers so the chance of both having problems is nil. With husband and daughter both working from home, this was a lifesaver. I had two writing workshop Zoom meetings there, as well as my monthly writing retreat Zoom meeting. I was so grateful not to have to cancel all of these. 

We have a temporary repair as of last Thursday but now waiting for the permanent repair this week plus another look at our internet speed, which is very slow. Hopefully all this will get organized soon. It’s hard to be without decent internet!

Other than the internet being cut, the fencing is wonderful. They used materials we had on the farm, so we didn’t have to spend money for that + it got some of those materials out of storage and into use. They put in a section of removable rails so I can easily get a wheelbarrow in there when needed. So happy with the excellent work!

In other news, Keil Bay seems to be back to a good place with the EPM. He’s on his second 30-day Marquis pack, has had his third acupuncture session, and we’ve put him on Equioxx for the anti-inflammatory effect. I also have him on Duralactin and will be putting him on bovine colostrum + a mushroom compound after reading a research study that treated EPM with Marquis/Duralactin/Vitamin E at 10k ius/Transfer Factor. I couldn’t find the Transfer Factor but found a reputable company making a supplement that matches the ingredients. It should boost his immune system, which is important in general, but especially during EPM recovery.

He’s on regular turn-out with his herd and seems to be quite happy with the fall weather we’re having. I’ve worried a bit about the upcoming cold nights on the radar and took this opportunity to order two new blankets for him. A little bit of an early holiday gift. All hail the Big Handsome Bay!

I don’t have photos or the recipe after our fig tree has gone totally wild with ripe, gorgeous figs this year, my husband picked a huge number and has made three fig cobblers. I took one to my mom and brother yesterday, but we’ve enjoyed the other two and they were delicious. I wish I could serve bowls to all reading this. A perfect fall dessert.

I’m doing a lot of writing and workshop assignments the past couple of weeks, and also have had some work going for the two boards I serve on, so my home projects have slowed. However, we have a barn roof repair being done soon and tomorrow my farm helper is going to focus on doing a semi-annual barn clean out. It desperately needs it. I am hoping the next week I can get to the barn door repairs that need doing. 

Inside, I have plenty to do. Too much to do. But I’m taking it a bit at a time and not getting too riled up about the pace at which I’m accomplishing the long list of tasks I have in mind. 

We had a lot of wind and rain last week with the hurricane that came through and many of the trees are bare now, but there’s still lovely color and it’s such a lovely autumn overall I just want to look out the windows, look up at the trees and sky, and soak it all in.

As we move toward Thanksgiving, let me say it now: thank you who read here, thank you who comment, and thank you to the voters in the US for taking back the White House. I am so grateful. We have a lot of work to do but this was the first step, and it was a big one.

Friday, November 06, 2020

A few photos of the Big Bay, this week

 Keil Bay got a big thumbs up from his vet on Monday, but yesterday had a relapse so we’re continuing the Marquis for another month. The relapse was not severe, but it definitely warrants continuing the medication. I’m stressed but hopeful. (This seems to be my default mode wrt many things right now - Keil, the election, our country)

I think the series of portraits my daughter took this week captures perfectly what I’m seeing with the Big Bay. He’s an amazing horse and I hope you’ll send him good thoughts as he moves on with EPM treatment!

Thursday, November 05, 2020

A fascinating tale about the Keebler Elf and dreams

 Years ago I posted a dream I had about the Keebler Elf. It was quite intricate and involved horses and at the time I marveled that my unconscious would insert the Keebler Elf into my dream world.

Today my fascinating tale is that of all the posts I’ve made here on camera-obscura, the post about the Keebler Elf dream is the second most-viewed posts of all time. What?!

It’s true! I have no idea why, but can only surmise that other people have dreams about the Keebler Elf.

Another interesting fact is that the views of my old Keebler Elf dream post tend to increase during times of “stress.” There’s been a huge uptick since Covid hit, and now there’s another big uptick during the elections here in the US.

Why do we dream about the Keebler Elf?

Why do we dream about him when we’re stressed?

I do not know, and while the post has the second most views of any post I’ve written, it doesn’t get comments from readers.

If you are reading this, and you found this post because you were searching for information about Keebler Elf dreams, PLEASE take a moment and just let me know why. 

You can comment anonymously and I will see them, or you can comment and request that I not approve the comment for the blog, and I will honor that. I’m just very interested in what brings people to that particular post.