Tuesday, June 13, 2017

November Hill farm journal, 32

This is what I woke up to this morning - our neighbor's ducks doing bug duty in the front field. I am charmed by this little flock, who make the trek from their pond two farms down to visit our field each morning. I wish I could hire them to march through the barn aisle a few times a day!

While doing morning chores I also encountered a box turtle walking along the dirt paddock. He acted like he knew exactly where he was going, so I left him to it. The barn gutters are being installed today, so the horses and donkeys are having to live "rough" in the front field, something they are not at all accustomed to at this time of year, and I assure you, there was drama. Husband and I brushed out ears, put on fly masks and fly spray, cleaned and filled the water trough, and gave lots of hay in the shady areas of the pasture. There was galloping and bucking and pacing and lots of bossing around by all of them. It's 2:14 as I type this and they are still bunching up at the gate, clamoring to come in!

I offered them all a cold hosing and the horses and pony accepted, all grumpy but willing to line up for their turns. Thankfully today has been overcast so while it's warm, it's not nearly as hot as it would be if the sun were blazing. I don't know yet how long the gutters and downspouts will take so they may be roughing it again tomorrow.

In other farm chore news, we recently got a Newer Spreader. I used it today for the first time and wow - it really does the job! I'm very happy with it.


Our efforts to purchase a small parcel of land behind our back line have failed. I was told by the realtor that developers from a neighboring town have the entire 103 acres under contract with plans to build 50 homes back there. Thankfully the power cut and county setback regulations will keep things at a reasonable distance but I'm sad that the hundred-acre wood is going to be a subdivision. The other side of this coin is that our property value will increase, but my hope is that the whole plan to develop crashes and burns.

Our plans to re-do the perimeter fencing are proceeding, but now we'll also add another fence to the actual back property line. There's another little plan I'm hatching as well but I'll save that story for another day to tell.

We've been having lovely salads with the lettuces from the garden this month. The last of the strawberries were eaten and now we're waiting for tomatoes and cucumbers and blueberries to come in.

Baloo is doing beautifully - he's a sweet pup and very high energy. Bear is still happy to have a playmate and I'm thrilled to have two dogs who get along well and keep one another company when I'm busy with other things!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Front porch bliss

Finally! Light is hung, porch is done. Enjoying the bliss and moving on to other projects. Just in time for summer nights! 

Friday, June 09, 2017

my new favorite company - Barn Light Electric

We recently ordered a new light fixture for our front porch, my reward for a lot of work done painting and weather-proofing the screens we had built last spring. It arrived yesterday. I am struck by the quality of the fixture, which was made to our specifications selected during the online ordering process. I was also impressed with the packing - no plastic, nothing but paper and cardboard, and yet it was secure and completely intact upon arrival. This company clearly cares about making and delivering a quality product!

I'll post a photo once we hang it this weekend, but meanwhile, if you need lights for the home, farm, or barn, I highly recommend Barn Light Electric .

I'm already looking at replacing our garage entrance light and the two on our back deck. As well as the barn. You pick your style, color, size, wiring, etc. I am beyond impressed.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Next big project - resurfacing stalls with Stable Grid

I'm posting this partly to psych myself up for this next BIG project. It's likely we will get to it in early fall but the prep work starts now.

We've been here on November Hill for 12 years and when we arrived the stalls were in super shape. All but one had stall mats and keeping them clean was easy with Keil Bay and the pony as our only occupants!

Then Cody came, and then Salina, and then the donkeys, and 6 equines put a lot more wear and tear on stall flooring, especially when 3 of them weigh 1200+ pounds. Then Salina needed "a soft place to fall" so to speak and we re-did her stall with a very thick layer of peat moss and extra fine pine shavings mixed in. All the horses ended up liking that stall best so I did two more stalls that way, removing the mats (which were starting to shift and create urine spots between the cracks) in the process.

We've done minor touch ups on the stall floor as needed through the years but this year it's become clear - it's time to get down to the base and resurface the floors.


I decided if we're going to do it, we're going to do it in a way that will hopefully make life easier in the long run. And honestly, I am hoping that this is it for us and resurfacing stalls! The stall mats are great in a lot of ways but getting them in and out when you need to do a deep cleaning OR to repair something underneath is a huge pain (in the back, usually).

I have done some research and decided that we're going to take out the dividing walls (ours are removable), clear everything down to the base, make any repairs to walls, etc., level the entire floor, put in a layer of gravel, install Stable Grids, and then put stone dust on top of that. We'll bed deep with extra fine pine shavings as we do now.

We're also going to need to replace the wooden "doorjambs" in the front and back doors of each stall. These keep the horses from tracking shavings out of the stalls. Keil's stall is missing his and oh dear, it is a constant chore this time of year sweeping the shavings back in where he tracks them out. (Bear in mind that our stall doors are mostly open so the equines go in and out all day long)

The prep for doing this starts with the arena, oddly enough. The arena needs topping off, and the "dirt" paddock needs additional screenings added at the end directly behind the barn. Over time, the surfaces out there have eroded away and everything needs to be topped off again so the drainage does what it's supposed to do when it rains.

So this is the order of business:
Arena topped off
Dirt paddock built up at the barn end
Shelter mats removed, floor leveled and resurfaced with Stable Grids
Three back stalls cleared, re-leveled, and resurfaced with Stable Grids

Then we'll do the barn aisle and the two stalls on this side of the barn, and the new shelter.

I think if we start now the timing will be just about right - with the horses in the barn during the summer days it's just not the right time of year to resurface stalls. Fall will work well, I think, if I can stay on schedule and Get It Done.

Thankfully we have a quarry 15 minutes away and a local man with a smallish dump truck who is very reliable and very affordable. I just hope he will be willing to do the stall part of this job!

Any advice or BTDTs welcome.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

November Hill farm journal, 31

Busy week here. One day was spent trying to figure out what was going on with Cody, who had a kicking, biting episode with what seemed to be his fly sheet, but even when I took it off he seemed agitated and a bit wild for the rest of the day. There was no evidence of anything on his body, but in general he's sensitive to bug bites and to pain in general. If something stung or bit him I think he associated it with the fly sheet and somehow just got wound up and it took the day for him to really settle down again.

There was a bit of drama in the feed room when the resident black snake went into a mouse hole and the mice ran out the other end and onto my muck boots. They ended up escaping but I am glad to have some help out there dealing with them!

Baloo went to get his nails dremeled at the local pet supply store, where once a month they have someone come in to do this service. We were in a long line of dogs who all seemed pretty calm about the whole thing and then came Baloo. Oh my, the shrieking and struggling! I felt terrible for him but the moment she was done he stopped and was totally fine so I think/hope it gets easier for him. We elected not to have Bear done as I felt like he would just be too much to handle and I didn't want to start something we couldn't finish! We don't have too much trouble clipping his nails at home but I had hoped the dremel would be easier. Will do this with Baloo again in July and see if it is indeed a bit easier - it would be so nice if they could go every month and get this done. They each got to go pick out a new toy and we ended on a good note.

I've mowed the last of the buttercups, the plantain, and today worked on hand-trimming back the trumpet vine in the butterfly bushes and getting used to the little chainsaw. It's great for thick branches and small trees but not so great with anything smaller. But husband helped and we got a small area near the barnyard gate finished and I'll be moving on to do small sections each day until... well, probably forever!

The light for the front porch isn't here yet but I'm looking forward to getting that up when it does.

It's been nice being busy here on the farm - with down time during the heat of the day inside and evenings working on writing and submitting. The pace seems slower now and I feel like I'm getting my rhythm back.

Summer solstice approaching!