Tuesday, March 09, 2021

November Hill farm journal, 121

 We’re in the middle of a wonderful dry and sunshiny but not too hot ten day stretch here on November Hill. Spring is definitely in the works, with daffodils in bloom, many trees starting to bud, bees bringing in pollen, a pony shedding like mad, and some greening beginning to happen in the pastures.

In the midst of this, though we also had three nights with temps in the twenties. Ice in waters outside and some blanketing to keep the Big Bay warm. I think tonight we shift to warmer temps and it will be good to try and get sheets and blankets clean during this warmer, dry spell.

We’ve had a bit of a spring cleaning thing going on last week and this. Last week I finally got the estimate done for the upstairs windows that face out to the front of the house. The big picture window was original to the build, so 26 years old this year, and its seal has failed. The French casement window I wanted to replace it came in at $30k, to which I said, um, no thank you, so we found something similar to that but not nearly as pricy. I’m going with wood inside and aluminum clad out so we don’t have to deal with the outer frames of the windows succumbing to the elements, and the picture window plus the smaller windows on either side will be casement windows that open out instead of the double hung existing ones. More useful to us, attractive, but not the arched French version I’ve been ogling for a few years.

I got a bee in my bonnet and redid the arrangement of things on the kitchen counter. I’ve created a coffee/tea/toast area where everything is gathered nicely for ease of use. Of course this meant finding a place for the things I displaced, and in the end I’m going to have to re-organize a few cupboards, but it’s pushed me to clear out some unused things, which is always a good thing to do periodically.

Our hall closet has become a nightmare of coats, duffel bags, hats, gloves, leashes and dog gear, so I ordered a few fun fabric bins and a wall hanging fabric thing with pockets to try and bring some order and pleasant aesthetics to this very small closet. The storage stuff is lovely and sitting on the dining room table because when I open the closet to begin this reordering, I am just overwhelmed with the thought of actually doing it. I’ll wait for the day I get the bee in my bonnet for the closet and it will go much more quickly!

Yesterday and today our roof is being replaced. I’ve lived through a re-roofing in other houses (rentals in my younger days) but never with five indoor cats and three dogs. Yesterday started pretty well. I kept the dogs quiet with chewies, put Clementine’s “suitical” on when she got nervous, and we watched the entire season of This Farming Life on BritBox. Thankfully the cats came downstairs and found places to curl up for the day, and until two workers came in the back yard unexpectedly and without permission all was well. After a conversation with the owner, we regrouped and made a better plan for today. Right now all is calm and not too noisy. The cats are in their spots, the dogs have chewies, and we’re watching the old PBS series Old Creatures Great and Small. For some reason having the TV on with animal shows seems to make things better. And running the washer, dryer, and several fans also has helped mute the sounds. 

The roof was also the original one, so it’s lived a good life. I’m excited to see the new one - not the black shingles we had, but a mix of grays that I think will look nice.

The horses are happy in the back pasture, Keil is doing well, and even with all the extra stuff going on, I managed to get the arena harrowed when it was still damp enough to harrow easily and well. Today is hay day, so the hay room is being tidied out and new hay coming in. Yesterday my new garret chair arrived and is sitting strapped to its pallet in the garage - it never fails that things sort of pile up to create a three-ring circus effect here, but I guess it’s good to get it all over with at once.

After today we’re taking a break from invasive projects for a bit. There are a few more things on the agenda but we need some quiet days to recuperate first.

For the first time in months, one of the tasks for today is to WATER the bayberries and winterberries! I’m so relieved to be drying out, I don’t even mind this.

In other plant news, our Meyer lemon tree suddenly burst out with blossoms - at least 15 total, and the little lemon that came from the first bloom (the only bloom at that point) is now turning yellow. It’s still tiny but on its way. I’m not sure what has prompted this growth spurt, but I’m happy to imagine a little tree full of lemons in another 9 months or so.

We’ll be putting our bait hive up in a tree in the next week or so in hopes of catching a honey bee swarm. I’m eager to see if this works for us - it will be a first and a big experiment in learning how to replace any hives that do not make it through the winter. This year we need to replace one, and I’d be happy to get two, so we end up with four going into next year.

I have no photos to share today but will have for the next post! 

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Redford’s official birthday portraits

 I have to preface this to say that these are raw photos from my daughter and not the finished photos they will be when she processes them digitally, but she is so busy with her semester courses I am too impatient to wait and share the final products.

A few days after Redford’s 13th birthday, she put these in our “fam chat” text and I shrieked with delight. She always captures the spirit and the essence of each living creature she photographs, and this is so so so Redford.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A few glimpses into the week on November Hill

Not the best photo, but through the windshield as I was driving in. I got winter gate decor a month ago to change from the holiday/Christmas horse head wreaths. The young woman who makes these is on Etsy and she will customize if you want something she doesn’t have listed. I love the hanging stirrups and the wintry foliage. Hoping I can make the change to spring wreaths sooner rather than later, though!

It’s my birthday week and I have treated myself to three gifts, one of which is below. A new embroidery project, a rainbow of floss, and the time each day to do it. (Can you guess which element of that combo is the hardest?)

This is me.

The second of my gifts to self: the Dualit toaster I have wanted for 30+ years. I had such a hard time picking the color. Decided on the bronze, and I love it. I’m creating a coffee/tea/toast area on the countertop which involves (of course) changing all the kitchen cabinets around which is going to confuse me for the next year or so, but maybe it also creates new neural pathways. :)

We had five equine dentals yesterday but thankfully the first of three warm, sunny days to dry things out. The night before the dentals it rained like cats and dogs and the ground is so saturated it is a muddy mess AGAIN. But the dental work went very well, it’s over for the year, and the herd is out today enjoying the sun on their backs. 

If your birthday is coming up, do something special for yourself. If not, do something for yourself for MY birthday. It’s been a rough year. You deserve it. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Happy Birthday to our youngest herd member, Redford!

Who is now a teenager! From here on out, it’s probably going to be my standard first line in birthday posts to say:

I cannot believe...

Redford is 13 years old!

Aside from all the wonderful things Redford is, this year he became Keil Bay’s constant companion through the EPM ordeal, and I am so very grateful to little Redbug for taking that on, and doing such an amazing job. When Keil has vet appointments, Redford insists on staying with him to offer support, which is not an easy thing since Redford is not all that fond of vets himself. 

And I should probably add that Keil Bay loves vet appointments and loves every bit of attention he gets, so Redford is offering support to the king of being the center of attention. 

But Redford is always willing and even eager to stay with Keil no matter where he is or what is going on. 

All this to say that Redford is a super special donkey and we love him dearly.

Here’s a photo from this week:

When Redford was very young, the only white on his face was his star, and if you think of that star as representing his superstar power, as you can see, it has grown exponentially to the point of being a blazing galaxy of goodness. I am always drawn to the whorl that he has front and center. It makes me think of the third eye and how much this little but powerful donkey knows about the world around him.

Love you, Redford! You will always be our superstar here on November Hill! 

A few thoughts on EPM, and an update on the Big Handsome Bay

 As regular readers know, Keil Bay, 31 years old, was diagnosed with EPM in October, and had:

90 days of treatment with Marquis + corn oil for better absorption

30 days of Rebalance

acupuncture weekly, now monthly

continued careful chiropractic adjustment

monthly Legend injection

specific to EPM homeopathic remedies

a supplemental regime including increased vitamin E, a specific research-based immune system supplement, duralactin, and his other senior horse supplements

bloodwork to monitor vitamin E levels and kidney/liver function

Equioxx and bute depending on symptoms

rehab work

All of this was put into place with a collaborative effort between 4 different vets and my own research. As of today, he is 100% most of the time, but seems to have mild relapses happening a few days a month. Most importantly, he seems to be happy and content all the time. 

On Wednesday, the second of two sunny and dry days we had this week, I went out to give some apple slices to the herd. Keil was all the way down the hill in the front pasture, and I walked to the upper flat area where I began to give out the apples to Cody, Little Man, and the donka boys. In a moment’s wonder, Keil Bay looked up, saw me, and galloped perfectly up the hill, taking the narrow path between the outer fence line and a number of trees along that area, the trickiest place to gallop through. It happened so fast I didn’t have time to go into my “oh my god what if he falls” mode. I saw him launch into a gallop from a standstill, watched his path, and then suddenly he was stopped on a dime two feet away, sticking his muzzle into my hands while keeping his 1250 pounds carefully away from me.

To say I was happy in that moment is an understatement. In the early days of the diagnosis I feared for the worst outcome, and at 31, we will of course reach the worst outcome at some point, but for now, as he moves toward his 32nd birthday, the Big Handsome Bay could be the same age he was when he came to live with me, and for that I am so grateful.

I took a one-hour CE course designed for veterinarians on EPM a few weeks ago. Unfortunately the info presented was so basic I already knew more than what was offered, and the treatment part of the class was woefully short. I could have added so much more info to the mix, including a list of research studies that guided my own plan for Keil Bay. By throwing everything but the kitchen sink into his treatment, I certainly muddied the waters of what aided in his recovery, but with this disease, which can be so debilitating, and expensive, it seems like doing it all is the most efficient way to address it, since lag time, and the damage to neurons that happens while you stretch things out, is not a place you want to go. 

This was never stated in the class. Nor was it said that nerves can regenerate with rehab and horses can regain function if given time. I feel badly for the horses and their owners who aren’t told this quickly so they know it from the beginning and can make treatment plans accordingly.

I’m grateful for knowledgeable, open-minded vets who did extra research, listened to my findings, and supported me and Keil in our journey with this disease. And to my husband, who took on the rehab and made it his own personal mission to get Keil’s neurons back in good working order. And of course, grateful to his herd who support him psychologically every single hour of the day, and Cody, who has stood beside him and allowed Keil to lean on him quite literally when needed. Keil has a great team, and all of us, including his vets, love him and are so happy with how he’s doing.

This week Keil had a full hoof trim with zero difficulty. That and the perfect gallop up a hill to a perfect stop for apples, this is the best part of my week. My month. And certainly among the top five of my year so far. Can’t wait for the birthday bash we’ll have in April.