Saturday, November 03, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 65

First, we have a new family member joining us in February. His name is Ciro and he’s my daughter’s dog. He’s learning a lot of things between now and then, and we get to visit him every week. Here he’s showing off his sit. 

 The gardens are beginning to fade a bit. This is the very last horsemint bloom with a carpenter bee taking full advantage. I cut the horsemint back recently as it was getting damp and powdery mildew was trying to set in, and beneath the huge mound was this late bloomer.

I was away for a week writing at my beloved Porches, where color was a bit ahead of ours on November Hill. It was a fabulous five days and I got a lot of work done. 

Back home in Poplar Folly, the newly-titled Prince of Poplar shows off his throne.

Keil Bay’s ACTH came back at 68.5, so the vet has prescribed Prascend and since we’re at the end of the seasonal rise and his number is not sky-high, I’ve consulted with my homeopathic vet and will be using a protocol of two remedies between now and January. We’ll redo the test, see where his level is, and proceed from there. I have the Prascend ready if we need to do a slow tapering on of that medication. The good news is, it’s early PPID if at all, so hopefully he won’t ever experience a negative symptom beyond the mild skin infections he had this summer.

The asters are going completely nuts and a few days ago I spotted the first honey bees I’ve seen this year. The asters were covered in honey bees! Check out her pollen basket!

Meanwhile, inside, Pixie proves once and for all that girls LOVE science.

And the Prince of Poplar keeps his eye on the kingdom from his front window perch. I rely on him to let me know if I need to check anything out.

Overall, it’s a beautiful time here. The dogwoods are peaking in color and the oaks are starting to change now. The leaves are falling and temps are dropping and projects are slowly moving forward. Right now I’m still finishing up what’s already on my plate. Not planning anything new for the rest of this year. This Monday the barn is getting a thorough cleaning inside and we’ll be making a few small repairs to get it ready for the winter months. I have a couple of already-in-progress projects that we’ll finish up and enjoy. The main project is to enjoy November and this amazing herd!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Friday, October 12, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 64 (senior horse care, more plants, and hurricane Michael)

It’s been a busy week here. It began with us finally getting to a little work on the cottage in town. After the laundry room and kitchen tile was installed we hit a very busy spell and finishing things up got on the back burner. Tuesday we painted the laundry room a lovely coral color (official paint name was peach preserves!) and had headboard paneling installed on the lower three feet or so of the wall. That is being painted white and then the plain board trim will be installed at the top and bottom of the paneling for a nice cottage effect - but mainly because it will be easy to keep clean without all the bevels in more modern trimwork. I think it’s going to look very nice. Door jambs are also being put in, and next will be some curtains and a stacked washer/dryer. This will also serve as the entrance and waiting area for my office, so I’ll be putting in a chair and table with lamp and some wall decor too. The cottage was power-washed and it was good to see it so clean. Of course my mind was racing forward with the next project - new shutters.

Keil Bay had his senior check-up this week. I had been a little stressed by the vet’s note that during exam when he had the choke episode she detected a mild heart murmur. He’s 29, so that’s not unusual, but of course I worried. During his exam this week the heart murmur was not detected at all, so she said it was probably just something to do with the choke and his heart has great rhythm and all is well. His body condition is perfect, his eyes are almost totally clear of any age-related changes. One small area in his left eye has the very beginnings of change, but she says that is totally normal and she doesn’t think it’s affecting his vision at all. She updated his rabies and Coggins and pulled blood to do a basic check on levels and also for Cushings and insulin resistance, mostly as a precaution. She says he is great and I should go ahead and start riding him again as the weather cools - and if he has any issues with light work we can discuss adding something to help with stiffness, etc. if that presents itself. I’m so happy he’s doing so well.

Good genes, good nutrition, barefoot hoof care, thoughtful riding, and the ability to move 24/7 are the secret to his senior health, I think. He’s been on human grade, therapeutic levels of evidence-based joint supplements since he was 15 years old, gets most of his calories from forage, and has been ridden with care, meaning long, slow warm-ups and attention to his cues under saddle. At 29 he’s sound at the walk/trot/canter but I’m extremely attentive to how he feels.

The day before Hurricane Michael roared into Florida and then up through North Carolina, I took a drive out to Mellow Marsh Farm, a local, native plant nursery, and picked up two redbuds, a persimmon, three inkberry hollies, a small flat of big bluestem, and two Virginia Sweetspires. All these will go in Poplar Folly. The redbuds and persimmon will replace the huge tulip poplars that were taken down. They’re much smaller trees and should never present any issue to power lines. The inkberries will fill in a gap on the outside of my very back fencing. The Virginia Sweetspires are lovely pollinator-friendly shrubs which will create some texture back there and feed the bees. The big bluestem is a thick, tall native grass that I’m putting in an area outside our fencing that feels very bare after they removed the huge red oak outside our back gate. Hopefully it will thrive and get big - it turns a lovely red in the fall and winter so will be a nice splash of color back there. All of these plantings are pollinator friendly - my bee hives are going back there now that the huge trees are gone and there’s a sunny corner that will have the hill behind it as a windbreak and good drainage. I’ll put a small fence to enclose that corner to keep the dogs away from the hives, and I’ll be setting the hives up soon to overwinter and get ready for the bees in the spring.

Yesterday the hurricane moved through. We had three inches of rain, winds gusting at 50 mph, and lost power for 12 hours, but no trees came down, our fences are intact, and we are all safe and sound this morning. The sun came up over Crow Forest (which was clearcut five years ago but is now grown back enough I can call it a forest again, albeit a young one!), I made coffee with good beans and oat milk, and it’s good to see the sunshine painting the trees out my windows.

Sending warm thoughts to all displaced by this monster hurricane. I truly hope we’re done for this season.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Confirmed! We have Southern Crownbeard volunteering in Poplar Folly

Plant Details

Verbesina occidentalis

Southern Crownbeard

Scientific Name:

Verbesina occidentalis

Common Name:

Southern Crownbeard

Plant Family

Asteraceae (Aster Family)


NC Native



Bloom Color(s):


Size in Feet:



Sun - part sun

Soil Moisture:


Bloom Time:

Aug - Oct

Bloom Area:

Statewide (Mountains, Piedmont, Coast)

Habitat Description:

Forests, woodlands, pastures, and roadsides, especially abundant in alluvial areas or upslope over mafic or calcareous rocks. Common throughout NC.

State Rank:

No NC Rank Listed (*)

Global Rank:

No Global Rank listed (*)

State Status:

No NC Status Listed (*)

Federal Status:

No U.S. Status Listed (*)


Sometimes confused with Common WingStem (Verbesina alternifolia) - Wingstem has alternate leaves as indicated by the name "alternifolia." Southern Crownbeard has opposite leaves.

This plant has special value to bumblebees and honeybees. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Poplar Folly, a few photos

I’ve been pulling out the invasive Japanese stilt-grass for the past month or so and look what happens when you clear it to make room for natives to thrive:

This is one pile of the poplar logs that were taken down by the power company. They are awaiting processing by a portable sawmill so we can use the wood to renovate the feed room. 

The teeth of a poplar:

This flowering plant has come up around the edges of several of the brush piles. I’m not sure what it is yet, but it’s very pretty.