Monday, December 27, 2021

November Hill farm journal, 144

 Well, another Christmas day has come and gone. We had a wonderful time with my daughter, son, our daughter-in-law, and our grandson. I can’t even express what a wonder it is to have him here crawling all over the living room investigating things.

We’re having unseasonably warm weather this week and while it’s not unusual in the larger span of years, it always rubs a little bit the wrong way when it coincides with the winter holidays. Although this year, with Keil being older and bearing some residual weakness after the EPM, I am grateful that he’s not having to (so far) contend with very cold weather. I will not mind if we have no snow or ice this winter. 

Today I’ll begin putting away the most Christmasy of decorations, one bin a day, until we have only the trees left. We enjoy the white lights and I’ll keep them up as long as the trees themselves are not getting too dried out.

Last year right at Christmas I developed a sudden and very intense abdominal issue - it was relieved by cleaning up my diet, getting structural massage, chiro, and a good medical check up to rule out any serious problems. I was very annoyed this week when, as if on cue, it happened again. I know the drill, and it’s true that once again as the holiday season approached, I gravitated toward a less healthy diet, had a few too many cocktails, decreased exercise, and rescheduled two chiro appointments. Add the general stress of Covid and holidays and wham. The perfect storm. 

I had already been prepped to reboot at the new year, but my body, this year and last, has stepped up sooner to say NOW PLEASE, or else. 

Is this part of the aging process in action? In any case, I found gentle yoga with Adriene videos online and those have helped immensely as I shift things back to better self care.

It will take a few weeks to get myself back to feeling good, and next year I believe I need to get out in front of this in November to break this two-year pattern.

I’ve been working on my annual review, a project that spans several weeks in December, in which I go through all the things I wanted to do in 2021, the things I actually did, the things I did not do, and I spend time pondering and writing about how I think the year went. It’s a useful exercise, not meant to be punitive or harsh in any way, but just a time to consider what worked and what didn’t. Each year I give a name to the theme of the year ahead. I’m not sure what it is yet for 2022, but I’m thinking about it!

It’s been a big year, 2021, and I’m taking my time with processing things.

A glimpse of today on November Hill: the skies are cloudy, the temperature is mild though in the 50s today instead of 70s, and at this moment three dogs are sleeping in the living room with me, one cat is here sleeping as well, the herd were just grazing in front in full view through the window I am sitting by, and my body is at peace with itself. I am grateful for the quiet moments and for the ability to choose, for the most part, what to do next in my day. 

This is what I always call the “between time” - when we’re past Christmas but not yet to the new year, and somehow it always involves a gray day or two, and a slowing of activity to some degree, which makes space to think and just be. I hope everyone reading this can have the gift of this space to breathe and reflect. 

Monday, December 20, 2021

November Hill farm journal, 143

 It’s been warm here until last night, when more normal December weather rolled back in. Horses went into blankets and I turned the heat on again. 

We’ve gotten some rain, too, after a dry autumn, and it’s good for all the plantings I’ve done this fall. Today I hired a landscaper to put in 14 American hollies along the side of our property that borders the very close neighbors. Between cars, yellow and white striped awnings, and bright lights coming on outside all night, it’s time to finally get the hollies bought and planted. 

The landscaper sent me photos after our meeting today and has located 9-foot trees but is continuing to look for 10-12-foot ones as I’d like to get some immediate relief in place. These hollies will be good screening, visually beautiful, food and shelter for birds, and the blooms will be nice forage for the bees. 

Right now the farm is in its most dormant state, plant-wise. The most prominent features are the bare branches against the backdrop of a winter sky, and ground covered in fallen leaves. We had sunshine today after the rain, and of course, when the blankets came off, the horses rolled, so Keil got a good grooming while he had his afternoon wet tub. 

We’re about 1/4 of the way through the laundry room updating. Between the bigger washer/dryer and the spruced up walls and new sink, I decided the feed bins for horses need to go back out to the barn. Which means it works best to put the feed bags out there (currently stored in the garage), which means I had to figure out a way to keep the bags safe from moisture and mice. One of our neighbors tipped me off to a storage bin he found for his animal feed and I’ve ordered the same for the feed room. Of course, now I need to work on finally getting warm water at the barn, and that’s a whole other project. It’s a fact of updating that one thing pushes the next and on and on and on. 

It’s been fun doing the holiday decorating this week, though we were quite late this year, and the white lights on the trees are cheerful as the nights fall. It’s hard to believe that in three months or so we’ll be back at the start of the jungle season here.

With the new Covid variant gaining momentum I’m grateful for this farm and all its beauty and work and space in which to be and to stay busy while also staying safe. May we all move through this and come out safely on the other side. 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Update on the Big Handsome Bay

 I’ve written a number of posts over the past year or so about EPM and Keil Bay. I admit that as autumn approached this year, which was the one year anniversary of Keil being diagnosed with EPM and PPID, I felt some stress that he might relapse. It wasn’t rational but just the power of the anniversary effect. 

In fact, he has not had any new issues this fall going into winter now. We continue to give him the full battery of supplements that I researched and added in with his 90 days of Marquis and 30 days of Rebalance. He continues to get acupuncture, chiropractic, and a Legend injection monthly. We keep a check on his ACTH and other things like vitamin E level via bloodwork. He remains on Prascend and I have Equioxx which I haven’t had to use much this year. I give it if he seems to need it, but generally he does everything he has always done, sometimes more slowly.

Keil Bay sings for his feed tubs, knocks flakes of hay out of the hay barrow as I serve it in the pastures, splashes in the water troughs on hot days, nudges me for peppermints, charms his vets, gives me the stink eye on occasion when I am being silly (like yesterday when I was grooming him and Cody snuck up in the  stall behind me and gave me a tender nip on the backside, causing me to scream in surprise), and generally behaves as the benevolent leader he has always been for his little herd.

He drags the hay pillows around, breaks through the stall door now and then when he feels he is not being attended to at the exact right times, touches my arm with his lips very gently to check in, bobs his head until the chiropractor gets to the right place, does his googly eyes during his treatments, and truly enjoys his treats and feed.

He is not the same as before the EPM, but as all the vets remind me, at 32.5 years of age, we cannot know that the slowing down and occasionally cocking a hind leg out when standing are due to the EPM or due to his advancing age. He’s a big horse, and I wish he’d been able to stay remarkably sound and fit and healthy all the way to the end of his life, but he remains happy and he can do what he wants to do. After our recent and much-needed rains, he rolled like he always has and I had to groom his mud-cake self to get his fur clean again.

I remain an overprotective companion to him. If I see a hind leg cocked out, I feel a moment of panic. If he seems the least bit “off” in any way, I get tearful and have to take a few deep breaths. I have told him that I want him to live as long as he can, as long as he is happy and feels good. I also very tearfully told him it’s okay for him to go when he’s ready, and while it will be probably the hardest day of my life, I will help him and I’ll be (eventually) okay with it. I have asked him to do whatever he can to let his passing be quick and easy. If he just fell to the ground with a sudden cardiac event, I would consider that a gift from the universe. But I do hope we have more years to go before that happens. (May it please happen when the time comes though!)

Some may think this is a morbid post, but this is the reality when you live with your horses until the very end of their lives. It is the most difficult thing about loving horses and keeping them with you as they age. But it’s also joyful. I can tell you that every single day I lift Keil’s forelock and see the growing tufts of silver hairs, I revel. They are beautiful and they represent a long and happy life. I see him moving more slowly and I rejoice that he has the kind of life that he feels safe and cared for and loved and knows nothing more will be asked of him but to meander around the farm and enjoy his remaining years. 

I am grateful for every day.

This is Keil Bay a few days ago. Something was going on down on the gravel lane and he strode from the bottom of the back pasture to come check it out. This is Keil at 32.5. Oh, how I love him!

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Streetlight Anthology 2020

 I learned this week that my essay, Stealing Light, which was a prizewinner in Streetlight’s 2020 nonfiction contest, was selected for their annual anthology. I’m honored to see my work among other beautiful writing. 

The anthology includes poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Support a small publisher and enjoy the work of many fine writers!

You can get it HERE.

Wednesday, December 08, 2021



Today I happened to take the path past the possumhaw - and the color! I had forgotten this is why I chose the possumhaw for this location on the farm. There are two, they’re taller than me now, and they’re doing THIS. I love them.