Monday, November 29, 2021

It’s A Dog’s Life (not sure what number I’m at with this)

It’s been a relaxing weekend and the November Hill pack seem to be enjoying a lot of rest and relaxation. They’re a fun crew. Baloo is in a search and rescue class that’s giving him something to focus all his intense energy on, and he’s doing quite well. Clementine is patiently waiting for her turn at search and rescue. Bear’s still chipper as ever but given his age and mild arthritis, we are not planning any more work for him! His job is to be fluffy and snuggly and to sniff out the farm and all its visitors. 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving from November Hill and the Mountain House


I’m grateful for blue skies, big trees, native plants, honey bees.

Horses, ponies and donkeys.

A pack of hounds, cats full of curiosities.

Family and friends.

Lands preserved and protected.

Books to read, books to write, the creative process.

From our homes to yours, I’m thankful for you who may be reading here today and every day. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2021

November Hill farm journal, 142


Happy to see this photo husband took that reveals November Hill spruced up for its namesake month. It’s taken months, but it has new roof, new paint, new upstairs windows, new attic HVAC, and I’m so glad these things are over I’m going to pour myself a little cocktail and celebrate. :)

I’m behind on my native plant updates, but will get back to that soon. Meanwhile we have a thornless blackberry going onto a trellis in the potager and still have the witch hazel and the heirloom local apple trees to plant. 

We’re having crazy weather. Warm days then cold days, temperature going all over the place. 

This week I had a few little repairs done with a contractor who will do it all, from little things like repairing door latches that don’t latch to bigger things like building new stall doors. He repaired a door latch, installed new light fixture on the deck, replaced a deteriorating exterior vent, and measured the back door so I can order a new Dutch door. This took him a couple of hours and compared to the larger jobs that we’ve done this year, it was a piece of cake. (Maybe I’ll add that to my cocktail time)

It’s been a relatively quiet day today and I’m doing some housework and for some strange reason am still wearing my pajamas. I very rarely do this but I’ve done it twice in the past week and one of those times I actually put a fleece vest over them and drove to get a coffee order!

I also ordered and received my 2022 day planner and the thought of all those blank days lying ahead is intoxicating. I know they will get filled as the year opens out, but for now I have an empty year ahead of me and I’m going to enjoy the thought of lazy days and puttering around trying to find things to do. 

Back to my wood floors and mop. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Mountain house, 3

 Some thoughts on trespassing private property:

We’ve had our issues here on November Hill with ATVs trespassing on the private gravel lane in front of our farm, as well as the back side of our property along a utility easement. One of our previous neighbors’ young adult sons, drove an ATV right in front of my face down to our back property, rammed our gate down, and drove over the gate to continue on his way. Last year 25 or so ATVs mostly driven by adult men trespassed all over the place behind our farm, doing huge damage to the land. All of this has been dealt with, and I remain completely mystified as to what possesses people to think they can buy an ATV and drive off into the world at large across any piece of land they see fit to ride onto. 

Now, of course, we have a beautiful piece of land on a mountainside that happens to have a sensitive habitat grassy bald on it. We knew this when we bought it - people are driving not only ATVs but full-sized trucks up to the bald, doing great damage to this gorgeous piece of land. 

My husband spent hours this week putting up chains and no trespassing signs to stop the trespassers until we can get a more appropriate barrier put up to stop this encroachment. I have a call into the USFS ranger for our area requesting assistance from them as well - the vehicles are entering through USFS land to get to our land.

My hope is that as we make it known that this is private property people will respect the boundaries. I remain mystified as to why anyone would think they have the right to drive into private property and do anything there. I don’t understand the mindset that allows that behavior.

If you want to cross private property, ASK PERMISSION. You may be told no, and if so, RESPECT THE FACT that the private landowner paid for the property, pays for upkeep and land management, and pays taxes on the property. Taking any kind of vehicle onto private property is likely doing harm. DON’T.

I understand all the arguments against private property ownership, and I understand that historically none of this land was ours to take. However, in 2021 we paid for the privilege to preserve this land and that’s what I intend to do. 

Rant over. I’m grateful for kindred spirit neighbors who are working closely with us to stop this grassy bald from being destroyed by the thoughtless, criminal behavior of random people. 

Friday, November 12, 2021

Mountain house, 2

 So much is in progress. This week we’re working on getting internet, lining up the dog fencing, the secure fencing for an area where ATVs and vehicles have been accessing the grassy bald, installing a guardrail at the bottom of our very steep driveway, and possibly creating a new more level driveway from another entry to the larger property. Hard to explain here, but it won’t be as difficult as it sounds. 

I’ve started a conversation with a wonderful young architect who will be helping us design a small off-grid studio structure that will sit inside the tree line up on the grassy bald. We’re looking at green building, a small footprint, and the creation of a place to work, relax, and enjoy that gorgeous view in all weather conditions.

We’re also in the process of signing a contract for right of first refusal with our immediate neighbors, whose lovely home is intimately tucked into this larger parcel. They expect to be there another couple of years, but this allows us to add that as a home for our young adult children and grandson in the fairly near future.

Every room is a work in progress at this point, but this is my view from the sofa in the den. Still much to be done, but I loved this view from the moment we walked into the house and it remains a favorite view for me.

The grassy strip out the door stretches between the two houses - ours and the immediate neighbors - and our plan is that we will build a barn set into the level wood line about halfway between, and fence in the pasture for the equines. This too is a future plan, since my feeling is that Keil Bay will live out his life here on November Hill with his herd, and eventually the younger ones will move up there. 

Which reminds me, we are still pondering the name of this new place, so for now it’s just “the mountain house.”

We’re very fortunate the neighbors close by are there full time and eager to be useful. And that we got the name of a local guy who “can do anything and everything” and is also very nice and able to assist us with these projects we’re undertaking to make this into a home. 

We learned this week that the declining species Audubon is monitoring, the golden winged warbler, is nesting up on our grassy bald. We are so excited! Keeping the bald healthy and protected will help these birds recover in number. Our neighbors are hosting an owl box in cooperation with Audubon, hoping to entice a saw-whet owl to move in. 

Another interesting critter we’re seeing is the chipmunk. We saw one come up onto the deck and it is so fun to see these little creatures.

There’s so much to explore and study on this land. Stay tuned for updates as we do so!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Thankful this is being knocked off my list today!


Finally, the new windows! There were a couple of moments when it looked like something was missing and then another thing didn’t fit, but the crew worked through those before I could get too freaked out.

I’ve always wanted these casement windows in the upstairs front and it’s been an 8-month wait since we ordered them, so it’s wonderful to see this project coming to fruition on this beautiful 75-degree day. 

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Mountain House, 1

 I’ll be documenting our exploration of our mountain home + the adjoining 175 acres we recently closed on, with the intention of preservation. I’m happy to say the garden beds and plantings around the house are native plants! And there’s an old soil road that runs through the entire length of the property which is reportedly a native plant showpiece in the spring and summer. 

I am so excited to begin our journey of learning its treasures. 

The first thing we found this weekend past was an old apple orchard that a neighbor described to me. It seems like the trees are past their fruit-bearing years but it’s possible we can find local heirloom varieties and plant new trees in the orchard. 

The most fascinating thing to me about this place is how much it felt like home the first day we looked at it. Arriving there and having the “we’re home” feeling was something didn’t really expect to happen, but it has, and we’re grateful to have found it. 

My longtime desire to live in the middle of a thousand acres is close to reality with this place. It’s surrounded by forest service land and it is dead quiet up there. And yet, the UPS driver comes every day and so does the mail carrier. The saint of a UPS guy gave me his personal phone number so I can text him about deliveries as needed! 

We also have amazing neighbors. Dreams do sometimes come true! 

A few photos:




Wednesday, November 03, 2021

November Hill farm journal, 141


On Monday I said goodbye to Weymouth and my writing women and headed home. It was a wonderful week of writing, writerly company and conversation, and an amazing dinner out. Our waitperson asked for our first names, told us we were her favorite table of the evening, and named us the Bright Little Diamonds. 

The thing about a writing residency is that it is limited in time and thus very precious. Weymouth has a history of hosting writers even before it was a center for the arts and humanities, and you definitely feel that when you’re working there.

Of course, as I’ve said before, the best thing about the end of a writing week is coming home. To November Hill.

It’s definitely this farm’s namesake month right now, with trees losing leaves and color continuing to develop. 

Since arriving home I’ve had a great day of housekeeping with my helper, a big batch of planting to get my fall natives into the ground, some bee hive prep for the freezing temps forecast for later this week, and today, getting horse sheets out of storage. 

I have a few things left to plant and then it will be my job to track rainfall and water the new plants as needed so their root systems can develop over this winter. I’ll be doing some leaf mulching in the pastures, and focusing on a few projects we need to get done before the end of the year. But in a lot of ways, it’s time to enjoy the season and wind down the to do lists for the year.

Up at the mountain house the temps will be in the 20s this week, with the possibility of snow!

This morning I’m back to my regular writing routine, coffee and dogs and some quiet time to think and write. It’s not the great long span of writing days that Weymouth gives, but it’s sweet and it’s where the work lives most of the hours of the year. I’m glad to be home.