Saturday, September 29, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 63

Last Sunday I went to the barn and realized quickly that something wasn’t quite right with Keil Bay, so I called the vet and as I had feared, he was having a choke episode. I’ve been through one sedated tubing through the nose to clear the blockage with our sweet old mare Salina years back. Hers was in the middle of the night and seems surreal in my memory at this point.

Keil is 29 and I’ve only ever had to call the vet a few times for him. Twice for corneal scratches, once when he embedded a small twig under the skin on his neck, and once for a very small cut on a hind leg. I was very stressed. Initially he presented with a cough but between the time I called the vet and she arrived 40 minutes later he had become agitated, was coughing much more frequently, and clearly wanted me to Do Something Now.

My daughter noted when she got home and came to join me at the barn that the blockage was visible on the exterior of his neck. She gently massaged him until the vet arrived and that helped him settle down.

The tubing was nightmarish. The first attempt was difficult and his nose started bleeding copious amounts of blood. I went from almost in tears to my “emergency in progress, go into robotic calm mode” status and between me, by daughter, the vet, and sedation, got the block cleared. In the midst of it, with all of us covered in blood, Keil turned and gave me the stink eye. I think that’s when I realized he was going to be just fine.

He’s on two weeks of SMZs and is doing fine. The first 24 hours after the choke he got many soupy meal tubs and no hay, but was allowed to graze with his herd. He has since moved on to regular tubs with an extra meal mid-day and his regular hay (but we’re wetting it down). All is well, and he’s got a regular check up in another week so the vet can go over him generally and just make sure everything is okay.

Otherwise, we had half an inch of rain this week, nicely supplementing my hand-watering of the beds, and now we’re back to sunny and cooler weather, which is wonderful. I harrowed the arena today, did some work in the back field, and got up a lot of acorns. It’s time to spread lime pellets and overseed in the next couple of weeks.

Life has been busy and a little stressful, partly due to Keil’s choke and partly due to the goings-on in DC. What a week.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Autumnal equinox in the pollinator garden

Lots of interesting things are happening today in the pollinator garden. The asters are soon to burst out, and Joe Pye weed and Eastern horsemint are looking beautiful in a whole new way. There’s also a large non-native pollinator doing some work in the garden!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 62

The sunshine is back, things are drying out, and yesterday my farm helper spent an entire day clearing fallen branches, mostly small, nothing requiring chainsawing, and created a new brush pile with what he got up.

Some days I want the brush piles gone. We have a number of them in different areas of the farm from all the work he’s done over the past year. The early ones are nearly gone, and I notice month to month the height of the piles gets lower as the bottom mulches down. In the long run the soil will benefit, in the short run we are providing habitat for birds and bunnies and probably mice and snakes.

Now, as I type this, the red-shouldered hawks are calling outside. Our nights are cooler now and the mornings feel like fall. Today marks the day when the horses were given hay in the pasture and will wait until mid-morning to come in for breakfast and fans. Gradually we’ll change them over to day-time turn-out, and for most of the fall and winter season, nearly 24-hour turn-out. That’s the time of year to finally get to some barn chores I want to wrap up before cold arrives. (It’s almost impossible to imagine cold, but I trust my experience that it will indeed come!)

I met with our local sawmill guy right before Hurricane Florence blew in. He says we have plenty of poplar for the feed/tack room walls, and that poplar will take paint well - stain not so well - and that it has a nice grain if I want to simply use tung oil on it.

We have some red oak as well, not quite enough for the floor, but if we end up deciding to take down another red oak on the property we could easily put in a nice wide plank oak floor in the room. He looked at all our remaining red oaks, at least 2 of which are suffering from a root disease that he said is besieging red oaks in this area. One is beyond use in terms of wood - it just needs to be taken down and mulched. A second one needs to come down soon if we are to get any wood from it. I’ve learned we have a down-the-road neighbor who runs a tree service and I’m on his call list after the emergency work due to the hurricane is done.

Now the hard part is how to get the big tree trunk sections from inside Poplar Folly to the flat grassy area behind it without a tractor. My farm helper has an idea. So the plan is to have the sawmill guy return to mark the wood that can definitely be milled, get it in place for his portable sawmill, have him cut it, put it on our truck, and bring it around via the main road to our barnyard where we will sticker stack it and put some kind of tin roof over it so it can dry and await the renovation of the tack/feed room.

I’m excited and will be happy to get the wood processed so we can finally spruce up Poplar Folly. It’s a mess right now with all the wood lined up and the brush piles and the ground so bare after all the work that has been done over the past year. I’ve been pulling Japanese stilt grass and carefully leaving the native ferns and other things. When the leaves fall this year we’ll have the start of a good forest topsoil again. I’ve spread stall waste down the path in advance of leaves falling in hopes to get the grassy path we used to have back again. That helped the erosion when it rains and also made such a nice path to walk and ride the mower down. It’s a process.

The botanical garden annual sale is coming up so I plan to really focus on my native pollinators for the shaded bed and will fill in a few gaps in the sunny beds. My American beautyberry is thriving but not forming the beautiful fuchsia berries it’s named for, and it’s possible it’s just not getting enough sun where it is, so I’m going to find a sunny spot and move it this fall. The plant sale is amazing and so much fun - I’m really looking forward to it.

I’m pleased to report that all the trenching my farm helper did and the gravel we had put in did the trick. No more waterway ending in a waterfall through my sunny pollinator beds! By working with the natural lay of the land and giving the water a nice path to follow it’s all going where it would end up anyway but circumventing a few areas we don’t want it to be along the way.

The horses are good, cats and Corgis good, and we’re all enjoying this cool September morning as the sun climbs and throws sunny arrows of light across the farm.

Life is good. I send good thoughts to all those for who it is still a big mess due to wind, rain, and flood waters. We’ve had a huge amount of flooding in our area, with roads closed and detours all over the place. Our coast has in many areas been ravaged. If you will, take a moment and send some positive thought their way. And donate for relief if you can. It takes years to recover from this kind of natural disaster.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Checking in as Hurricane Florence whirls through

We’re fine here, with about 5 inches of rain total since last Monday, and wind that has gusted, blown steady, and currently died down quite a bit. We lost power for about 22 hours but had water set aside for us and for animals and for flushing toilets. Food and hay stocked in as well, and my grandma’s oil lamps with extra oil and wicks from Lehman’s were very useful last night when night fell.

Many areas of NC are flooding and have sustained huge damage, and I hope everyone comes through with the least possible upheaval.

If you’re in the path, please check in and update in the comments!