Saturday, January 28, 2023

November Hill farm journal, 174

 The farm has been a muddy mess the past two weeks, not quite getting the time it needs to dry out before the next rain arrives. It’s also really hit that time of year when I feel like the ground is just destroyed in terms of any chance it can grow anything green again. Thankfully after a few years of our farm helper getting up most/all of the leaves, this year we left them all. That’s mostly what I did prior to having our farm helper and going into this winter without him, I knew we were going back to that. 

I learned during the years he got up the leaves that while it looked better during the sunnier parts of winter, when we had any kind of precipitation it was a disaster. The leaf cover helps with run off, it helps with mud, it helps the insects whose life cycles depend on having places to pupate. So this year I felt good about not only leaving the leaves, but not having that extra work to do.

What happens is that, gradually through the winter when we muck pastures and paddocks, a few of the leaves at a time get picked up along with the manure and composted. By spring most of the leaves are in compost piles or have broken down on their own. In the grassy paddock, where we only allow the herd to have limited and select times of turn-out, the winter grass is as thick as ever and the leaves are gradually displaced as the grass grows. I’ll mow that in the early spring to get rid of some weeds, but even that does not need raking. It seems obvious that out in natural areas, no one is out there removing leaf fall. I’m back to my original plan: let the leaves fall, let them stay, let them do their thing in the ecosystem. It’s best in that way, but for us, it’s also best for the horsekeeping part too.

I noticed yesterday that the daffodils are about 7 inches tall. I confess I actually love this early growth better than the flowers. The straight stems shooting up in bigger clusters than the year before make me happy this time of year. Proof that in spite of how the landscape looks, life is happening and things are alive and well.

I just ordered heirloom seeds for the potager. My son, daughter-in-law, and grandson are going to partner with us this spring to have our potager here and a similar space at their house, where we will attempt to grow the bulk of our produce. Today we have a 60-degree day, and I’m going to spend a chunk of it working in the potager to get the beds composted and ready for planting in the next few weeks. I have a roll of no-climb fencing that was accidentally purchased at the wrong height for side fence line, so I’m going to install it inside the board fencing of the potager to at least cut down on the bunnies entering willy-nilly to snack on new/young plantings. I also have some wire bell cages I can use.

I’ve done a small amount of clearing stalks in a couple of the pollinator beds, mostly along the edges where they were hanging down and getting in the way. I made a couple of small “edges” with the stems so the insects can still have them and the birds can continue to forage and shelter. 

I need to get ready and set up an extra bee hive, which will clear some stuff out of my beekeeping supply closet. Swarm season will be here before we know it and I wouldn’t mind getting one more colony going. So far all five are making it through this winter, even the one I thought had died out, but if we lose any I can replace them by splitting the early swarmers.

The herd is hanging in there through the muddy season. Dogs and cats are all doing their things too. Keil Bay’s chiropractic vet convinced me he could go back to every third month for adjustments, and we’ve spread his acupuncture and Legend injections to every other month. The birthday season has come - Baloo turned 6 and Clem turned 4 this month, Redford and Cody are up next month, and we’ll get to Keil Bay and Apache in April. I’m leaving out the humans but some of us will have our birthdays too!

One thing I’ll announce is that in the next month I’ll be starting a Substack, not to replace this blog, but to add a new weekly “column.” It will have some free contact and some paid content, and its focus will be the psychotherapy strategies I offer (and have offered) to my clients for the past 32 years. When I jumped back in full-time in July I found that the strategies are as needed now as they ever have been, and in ways more so. I’m happy to be able to share some of them in this new forum. I’ll post the link here when it’s active and rolling, in case anyone who reads here wants to also read there.

I hope everyone is making it through this winter with moments and times of joy and also hope. There are things happening that are upsetting and that inspire anger and frustration, and I’m not going to go into them in detail here. But I want to say this: we all deserve the chance to live our lives in safety, peace, and the ability to be with family and friends. We deserve to move through the world without being at risk of human-caused injury or death. And we deserve leadership that focuses on making this world all of those things. I do not know how we get to that from where we are, but I am holding the space for that to happen and doing the things I can to contribute in small ways to that way of life. 

1 comment:

Grey Horse Matters said...

We left our leaves on the ground this year too. We've been having an unusually warm winter this year. And I'm not complaining about it! Lots of rain but no snow to speak of which to me is a good thing. To hear the weathermen on tv it's a real tragedy. Lots of mud though and the herd is loving to roll in it every chance they get. This weekend is going to be extremely cold but then back to warm temps. I don't care I'll take it!

Your new Substack sounds interesting an I will definitely check it out when you put it up. Good luck with it!