Thursday, May 19, 2022

November Hill farm journal, 153

 Our temps are going up this week into the 90s here on November Hill, and then it looks like we’ll drop back into the 70s for a few days. I’m not looking forward to 90s in May, but I’m reframing today’s heat as a great opportunity for the first full horse baths of the season. They’ve been hosed down a few times already, but today I’m going to get out the shampoo and the scrubbers and give them a proper cleaning. 

In other news we have had to put a solar charger on the Horseguard tape protecting the holly trees from the herd. The donkeys were going through the tape and one section was torn down. It’s clear we’ll need to do the same for the tape going in to protect the cedars. They’re not actually eating the tree foliage, they’re going through to eat the grass in between and around the trees, and in the process they’re pushing against the trees, all of which are still in the process of developing strong root systems. I knew this was a possibility and we had the materials to install the tape, so now we just have to power it so this bunch of hooligans respect it! They are, of course, just doing what foraging animals do. Here’s a recent photo of the  morning sun worshippers after a night of holly tree marauding. 

Fast forward a bit to the amount of spring green we have and the metabolisms of ponies and donkeys, and what you get is too many calories and too much sugar. We’re moving everyone off the front pasture so it can rest, and I decided it was time to add board fencing to the two sides of the arena still using the plastic fencing, which the donkeys climb right through. This was finished on Tuesday, and for the next month night-time turn-out is Keil Bay and Cody going into the back pasture, and Apache, Rafer Johnson, and Redford going into the arena. There’s a little grass in the arena but it’s sparse, and we can give them their hay in the hay pillows to more easily control the amount they’re eating. Since the dirt paddock and back pasture wrap around the arena, they’re all close to one another and no one will feel too stressed. It’s either this or grazing muzzles. I’m sure they were shocked to realize they could not climb through as they usually do!

I’ve been doing pollinator bed weeding and starting to work on getting the beds mulched for the summer and fall. I’m doing a little every day and it’s going to take a bit of time, but that’s fine. So far I’ve lost a few things to nibbling wildlife: one of my oakleaf hydrangias has been I think killed by its leaves being eaten completely off, two shrubs in the bird haven bed have seen the same fate, and something is eating my coneflower tops off in one area of the garden. I know there are a number of brown bunnies coming in and also a few deer. It’s just one of the consequences of sharing the land with all who live on it, so I’m not going to fret about it. There are some things I can do to protect these plants and see if they can come back from the heavy browsing.

Poplar Folly is a wealth of things both planted and volunteering, and I am going to have to put some energy into figuring out where I want the walking path to go and then keep that part cleared. There are some invasive non-natives which need to be removed, but unfortunately with all the other things to do we rarely get to that enough to really knock things out. It’s an ongoing battle, and we just have to what we can. 

The bees are doing well. I think Callisto, the new nuc, really took off in their hive box and may have already swarmed. We had other things going on and in the spirit of letting the bees do what they do, we let them go. Swarming is the honey bees’ way of reproducing. The existing queen leaves with many of her workers, who have scouted out a new home, and the workers left in the hive box rear a new queen to take over. This not only creates two hives in the place of the one, it also gives a brood break - a time when no eggs are being laid which means there are no larva in cells for the varroa mites to breed in. So it’s actually a good thing if you’re looking at beekeeping from a Darwinian perspective. If interested, read Tom Seeley’s work on Darwinian beekeeping. 

Clementine is doing very well. Her tumor was removed, the histopathology report was the best possible results, and for now she is not getting additional treatment other than the homeopathic protocol our homeopathic vet has put together for her. 

It’s the time of year when I have to shift into my own conservation of energy mode. A couple of outdoor chores a day during the cooler times, and keep up as best I can with the summertime jungle November Hill becomes. 

I’m also working on the new novel again, and very drawn into this story and world. 

It’s not my favorite season, but I do enjoy the privacy all the trees offer when they’re fully leafed out. I feel their protection and their company. 

And I forgot - the laundry room work is finished! Well, okay, almost finished. The ceiling is done, which was the big thing we had hired in. I have one more matching shelf to install, some hand-made tiles I found which will make a small but serviceable back and side splash for the sink, and a matching washer/dryer “countertop” (that will enable me to remove those two towels) is on the way. 

It’s difficult to capture in my photos, but the interesting thing about the ceiling is that on the recommendation of a home renovator I found online, I used Benjamin Moore Pearl finish paint instead of flat ceiling paint. The very light touch of luminescence in the paint allows light to reflect more off the surface and it creates the illusion of greater height. It’s noticeable in person. I am so pleased with how it worked and plan to use that same paint in the living area and bedroom ceilings when I get to them. 

Our contractor had to do some special work to install this bead board ceiling. It’s not a thin panel of bead board but individual boards. It was beautiful unpainted but I think even more so now. 

With the summer heat starting early and the need to do some budget tightening in this economy, I’ve called a hiatus on renovation work. I have about 8 projects to do myself that I already have the materials for, and I’m going to focus on getting those done, clearing out some storage spaces, and be prepared for the end to the hiatus when it comes. First in line will be the already bought and paid for stall windows for the barn. The installation will best be done in the fall when horses are on day-time turn-out, and when we can hopefully have some barn siding replaced as they do each window. I’m glad to have the stall windows - they will be almost maintenance free and should last for many, many years. The existing ones are constantly needing either painting or repair. 

But for now, welcome, summer! I’m going to complain about the heat, the bugs, my sweat, and who knows what else, but for today, I am feeling gracious and happy to see this season coming in. 


Grey Horse Matters said...

Busy as usual! Love the ceiling it really looks great. So glad to hear Clementine is doing well. We’ve got 10 Weeping Willows to plant tomorrow. Unfortunately, we will have 93 degrees and 90 on Sunday. So that should be fun. Then it’s back to the 70’s. There’s just too much work to do between the mowing and gardens etc. I’ll bet the bunnies are eating your stuff but you probably can’t stop that easily. We have grazing muzzles on Rosie and Sami because they really are necessary as they’re out all day and need to cut down on their consumption of all the grass here. Rosie is like a vacuum cleaner if she doesn’t wear one. Anyway I’m glad you’re enjoying heading into summer. I’m not, I don’t like hot humid weather.

billie said...

You’re busy too! Yes, re: the bunnies. I may have to install a little fence around the bed they’re raiding. I so resonate with the horse-as-vacuum-cleaner, LOL. We have a number of them. Actually, all of them. :)

Hang in there with the heat. I will be complaining by the next blog post, I’m sure!

Matthew said...

I love the beadboard ceiling so much! It really makes the laundry room feel more homey and capacious at the same time.

Your ideas for home improvement are always genius and beautiful!

billie said...

Thank you!