Monday, April 25, 2022

November Hill farm journal, 151

 Clementine made it through her mast cell tumor surgery just fine and all news is as good as it could be thus far. We’re now waiting for the cytology report and we’re also waiting for the end to the two weeks of recuperation as her incision site heals. We removed the cone, are using two Suitical sleeves that we alternate each day so one gets washed while the clean one goes on. Thankfully we’re able to supervise her closely and have not needed to use the donut collar yet. It’s a chore keeping the Corgis and Clem separate, but we have a good system and it’s working. The only time Clem has gotten super excited was last night when we hoped we could have all the dogs in the living room with Clem and Baloo on leash. She was so happy to be in the same room with no gate or crate between them we ended up having to regroup and separate again. Her staple removal is on May 5 and that will hopefully mark the end of her restrictions. 

In other news, the cedars were planted!

They have stretched out more since this photo and are settling into their new home nicely. Despite being dug up and having their root balls wrapped in burlap for over a month they have hundreds and hundreds of berries for the birds. I watered them religiously while they were here waiting to be put in the ground, and it worked. I didn’t take the photo I wanted to take, which is the view from the arena, riding down the long side toward this end of the property, but it’s that view that prompted me to want this screening all these years. Instead of seeing the neighbors’ sheds and the stuff they have piled behind the sheds, we’ll soon see this evergreen screen. I’m really happy. 

I’m happy to report that the honeybees are super busy harvesting the tulip poplar nectar flow. We’ve put medium supers on the three hives that came happily through winter, and we’re watching Mnemosyne closely. The swarm that moved into that empty hive box is bringing in pollen and seem to be enjoying their new home. 

Everything I planted last fall is coming up and doing well. All the beds are quickly moving from bare winter foliage to green. It’s very exciting. We ordered a load of mulch on Saturday and that will be the next big task. Over the weekend I did some weeding, gave away another large bag of goldenrod and rattlesnake master babies, and we got some veggies to plant in the potager. The only other outstanding plants are the five crossvine I purchased for a special project. 

The herd is enjoying spring. Right now we’re having mid-high 80 degree days and nicely cool nights, and they’re all happy to be in their barn with their fans during the heat of the days. 

In the midst of the chaos of the past two weeks I spotted a post on our semi-local equestrian network. It was an Equispirit 2-horse gooseneck with dressing room, ramp, and XL for warmbloods at a terrific price. We haven’t hauled horses in a good long while but if we needed to, this is the trailer I’d want to do it in. It will also be useful for picking up our monthly load of hay on rainy days. My husband took the ball I tossed to him and ran with it, and the trailer was delivered on Saturday. To make room for it we cleaned out the little horse trailer (I’d call it a pony trailer) and gave it to our farm helper. I am swearing this one will not end up being a storage shed!

Yesterday afternoon our son, daughter-in-law, and grandson came to visit. While my son got their dog settled into the camper, our daughter-in-law and grandson walked into the barn aisle to visit the herd. I happened to glance out the back window just as they did so, and it was such a joy to see a whole new generation discovering a love of equines. He’s a fun, spirited, curious little explorer and the fact that he is so interested in our beloved herd is like icing on the cake. 

It’s been a crazy spring but these moments of pure joy make me happy. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Send good thoughts to the Clementina Ballerina Ladybird today

 Clem’s vets managed to fit her into their surgical schedule today and her mast cell tumor will be removed.  We’re so grateful to them, and surrounding her with love and light today and onward. I appreciate any good thoughts you can send to her. There is strength in numbers! 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

November Hill farm journal, 150

 April has been an odd spring month, with a lot of warm weather punctuated with some much cooler days and some very cold nights sprinkled in. Despite that, the trees are green, the pastures are green, and everything is growing like mad in the native beds. We’ve got pollen and we’ve got tulip poplar blooms, which means the bees are extremely busy right now. 

Gardening: I had the second annual goldenrod giveaway which effectively cleared all the goldenrod out of my lower pollinator bed where once again they had completely taken over. With bee balm and mountain mint on one end and threadleaf bluestar, coreopsis, some asters, and swamp sunflower on the other, there was a wide expanse in between that needed filling in. So I moved some spotted horsemint from another bed, added curlyheads, downy wood mint and New England aster, and I’ll fill in a little with something else in the next week or so. This bed also has the single remaining butterfly bush at one end and the buttonbush and beautyberry at the other. We removed the smaller butterfly bush a month ago and severely cut the larger one back for this season. I am still undecided as to what I’ll replace it with, but that will happen in the fall and all the butterfly bushes will then be gone. They attract a lot of insects but they are a dead end for butterflies, whose larvae don’t have anything to eat when they hatch out, so I want to put a nice host plant there instead. The other beds are all doing well. The fall plantings are coming up nicely. I added some turtleheads to the shade bed and planted African blue basil in the potager, as well as created a blackberry trellis. Will be adding the summer veggies soon.

Bees: The three colonies that made it through winter are Hegemone 2 (now simply Hegemone since Hegemone 1 swarmed or absconded), Echo, and Artemis. We cleaned out Mnemosyne’s hive box two months ago and last week I rechecked it and sprayed some Swarm Commander inside. On Friday it was surrounded by scout bees who were eagerly investigating it. Ditto for the hive box left by Hegemone 1, newly named Callisto. We’ll see if any of these scouts bring a swarm to these two empty boxes! I have a nuc coming sometime this spring and I have an extra bee hive ready for it if these two get taken by swarms. I haven’t come up with a name for the new box yet if I end up needing it, but that will be a fun task if it comes to that. 

Horses: The stress this week was that on Thursday my farm helper saw Keil Bay fall to the ground. He was standing with the herd in the dirt paddock, relaxing, and just suddenly dropped to the ground. It sounded like he possibly fell asleep. He got up with a little scrambling, but had no signs of injury, and since then he’s seemed fine. But of course it scares me, and it makes me wonder if we’re nearing the very difficult place where I have to make a hard decision. For now he’s happy. He has hoof trims and his monthly vet appointment this week, so we’ll see how things look for those. Otherwise, they are all good and enjoying springtime. 

Dogs: Another stress this week is that Clementine was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor on her leg. We’re awaiting the surgery to remove it and hoping for the best outcome possible. Bear Corgi has been getting a lot of grooming and trimming of his very fluffy and thick coat, and Baloo is as watchful as ever. 

Cats: They’re all good and all a handful! 

We have a nest of swallows in the barn and both bluebird boxes are occupied, though one is occupied by sparrows and not bluebirds. I put up a new bird box in the potager and hope it offers a nice nesting place for any of the many birds we have here on the farm. 

The cedars are set to be planted this week. We’re still having minor repairs done in the barn on these days when the horses are still out, and we’ll wind that down when they switch to night-time turnout. I ordered new coated steel barn windows so when those come we’ll figure out how to get them installed without disturbing the herd, and I’m hoping we can at least get a couple more repairs done in the barn before we move to night-time turnout, but if not, that will resume in the fall when they switch back again!

Meanwhile the garage ceiling has had repairs done to a troublesome area, and when my laundry room beadboard ceiling is painted, I’ll be able to wrap that room’s work up and move on to something else. We’ll work around Clem’s surgery and treatment plan to keep things quiet and peaceful for her recuperation. Send her some good healing thoughts, please! 

Writing: I have a flash nonfiction piece coming out in May, and a poem coming out sometime this spring/summer, plus a number of things in progress in terms of being considered for publication. I’m working on the new novel again, though not as much as I’d like since March and April and all the things happening that have needed my energy and attention. 

My mantra right now is that life is good, but life is also hard. That seems to be the theme for 2022 so far. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

I think we may have a pony boy!


I’ve been doing a little work with Little Man and with Cody this spring, and even Keil Bay has volunteered to do ground work with me. Of course both Rafer and Redford love coming into the arena and joining in with whatever else is going on. 

Our grandson is very interested in the equines. He watches them, he pats them, he talks to them, and I am guessing he’ll be riding Little Man before too long. 

I keep saying spring is here, and it is, but we’ve had some cold nights lately and it’s almost as if spring has put the brakes on. It’s hard going back to cold after the very warm weather we’ve also had, but on the other hand, we’re not yet dealing with flies or ticks, so… I hesitate to complain.

It’s probably time to get this pony fitted for a new saddle, don’t you think? 

Sunday, April 03, 2022

November Hill farm journal, 149

 Whew - March was a stressful month for me, after my mom’s fall, resulting in femur surgery, hospitalization, and rehab. She went home on March 30th and is doing quite well with a lot of home and home heath care support in my brother’s home. We’re very fortunate that he’s there to oversee all the daily things and that he’s both willing to do it and does such a great job at it. She is so happy to be back in her own space and her routine.

The morning after we got my mom settled in, I woke up with the worst norovirus of my life. 18+ hours in bed, only getting up for the many sudden treks to the bathroom. I’m finally over the hump of that today, still not 100% but slowly getting back to normal. 

Meanwhile the farm is turning green, dogwoods are in full bloom, garden beds are gradually being cleared of winter foliage as the new growth emerges. We’ve got pollen and busy bees and playful equines. 

I’m happy to report that prior to the stomach upheaval, I had started both Little Man and Cody back into ground work. Little Man is prepping for some pony boy time, and Cody perhaps going back to some riding. Little Man took in it stride, pun intended, and Cody seemed a bit shocked and not all that excited about the work, but my daughter stepped in and coaxed him into it, and it’s gone well. 

Keil offered to do some ground work too, which was very sweet and much rejoiced. 

These three got chiro this weekend and are off work until mid-week, so hopefully by the time I’m feeling totally normal again they’ll be clear to continue.

As I’m typing I’m seeing a number of swallowtails flying outside the window. It’s a great day out there and maybe I’ll make it outside today.