Sunday, April 17, 2022

November Hill farm journal, 150

 April has been an odd spring month, with a lot of warm weather punctuated with some much cooler days and some very cold nights sprinkled in. Despite that, the trees are green, the pastures are green, and everything is growing like mad in the native beds. We’ve got pollen and we’ve got tulip poplar blooms, which means the bees are extremely busy right now. 

Gardening: I had the second annual goldenrod giveaway which effectively cleared all the goldenrod out of my lower pollinator bed where once again they had completely taken over. With bee balm and mountain mint on one end and threadleaf bluestar, coreopsis, some asters, and swamp sunflower on the other, there was a wide expanse in between that needed filling in. So I moved some spotted horsemint from another bed, added curlyheads, downy wood mint and New England aster, and I’ll fill in a little with something else in the next week or so. This bed also has the single remaining butterfly bush at one end and the buttonbush and beautyberry at the other. We removed the smaller butterfly bush a month ago and severely cut the larger one back for this season. I am still undecided as to what I’ll replace it with, but that will happen in the fall and all the butterfly bushes will then be gone. They attract a lot of insects but they are a dead end for butterflies, whose larvae don’t have anything to eat when they hatch out, so I want to put a nice host plant there instead. The other beds are all doing well. The fall plantings are coming up nicely. I added some turtleheads to the shade bed and planted African blue basil in the potager, as well as created a blackberry trellis. Will be adding the summer veggies soon.

Bees: The three colonies that made it through winter are Hegemone 2 (now simply Hegemone since Hegemone 1 swarmed or absconded), Echo, and Artemis. We cleaned out Mnemosyne’s hive box two months ago and last week I rechecked it and sprayed some Swarm Commander inside. On Friday it was surrounded by scout bees who were eagerly investigating it. Ditto for the hive box left by Hegemone 1, newly named Callisto. We’ll see if any of these scouts bring a swarm to these two empty boxes! I have a nuc coming sometime this spring and I have an extra bee hive ready for it if these two get taken by swarms. I haven’t come up with a name for the new box yet if I end up needing it, but that will be a fun task if it comes to that. 

Horses: The stress this week was that on Thursday my farm helper saw Keil Bay fall to the ground. He was standing with the herd in the dirt paddock, relaxing, and just suddenly dropped to the ground. It sounded like he possibly fell asleep. He got up with a little scrambling, but had no signs of injury, and since then he’s seemed fine. But of course it scares me, and it makes me wonder if we’re nearing the very difficult place where I have to make a hard decision. For now he’s happy. He has hoof trims and his monthly vet appointment this week, so we’ll see how things look for those. Otherwise, they are all good and enjoying springtime. 

Dogs: Another stress this week is that Clementine was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor on her leg. We’re awaiting the surgery to remove it and hoping for the best outcome possible. Bear Corgi has been getting a lot of grooming and trimming of his very fluffy and thick coat, and Baloo is as watchful as ever. 

Cats: They’re all good and all a handful! 

We have a nest of swallows in the barn and both bluebird boxes are occupied, though one is occupied by sparrows and not bluebirds. I put up a new bird box in the potager and hope it offers a nice nesting place for any of the many birds we have here on the farm. 

The cedars are set to be planted this week. We’re still having minor repairs done in the barn on these days when the horses are still out, and we’ll wind that down when they switch to night-time turnout. I ordered new coated steel barn windows so when those come we’ll figure out how to get them installed without disturbing the herd, and I’m hoping we can at least get a couple more repairs done in the barn before we move to night-time turnout, but if not, that will resume in the fall when they switch back again!

Meanwhile the garage ceiling has had repairs done to a troublesome area, and when my laundry room beadboard ceiling is painted, I’ll be able to wrap that room’s work up and move on to something else. We’ll work around Clem’s surgery and treatment plan to keep things quiet and peaceful for her recuperation. Send her some good healing thoughts, please! 

Writing: I have a flash nonfiction piece coming out in May, and a poem coming out sometime this spring/summer, plus a number of things in progress in terms of being considered for publication. I’m working on the new novel again, though not as much as I’d like since March and April and all the things happening that have needed my energy and attention. 

My mantra right now is that life is good, but life is also hard. That seems to be the theme for 2022 so far. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

I think we may have a pony boy!


I’ve been doing a little work with Little Man and with Cody this spring, and even Keil Bay has volunteered to do ground work with me. Of course both Rafer and Redford love coming into the arena and joining in with whatever else is going on. 

Our grandson is very interested in the equines. He watches them, he pats them, he talks to them, and I am guessing he’ll be riding Little Man before too long. 

I keep saying spring is here, and it is, but we’ve had some cold nights lately and it’s almost as if spring has put the brakes on. It’s hard going back to cold after the very warm weather we’ve also had, but on the other hand, we’re not yet dealing with flies or ticks, so… I hesitate to complain.

It’s probably time to get this pony fitted for a new saddle, don’t you think? 

Sunday, April 03, 2022

November Hill farm journal, 149

 Whew - March was a stressful month for me, after my mom’s fall, resulting in femur surgery, hospitalization, and rehab. She went home on March 30th and is doing quite well with a lot of home and home heath care support in my brother’s home. We’re very fortunate that he’s there to oversee all the daily things and that he’s both willing to do it and does such a great job at it. She is so happy to be back in her own space and her routine.

The morning after we got my mom settled in, I woke up with the worst norovirus of my life. 18+ hours in bed, only getting up for the many sudden treks to the bathroom. I’m finally over the hump of that today, still not 100% but slowly getting back to normal. 

Meanwhile the farm is turning green, dogwoods are in full bloom, garden beds are gradually being cleared of winter foliage as the new growth emerges. We’ve got pollen and busy bees and playful equines. 

I’m happy to report that prior to the stomach upheaval, I had started both Little Man and Cody back into ground work. Little Man is prepping for some pony boy time, and Cody perhaps going back to some riding. Little Man took in it stride, pun intended, and Cody seemed a bit shocked and not all that excited about the work, but my daughter stepped in and coaxed him into it, and it’s gone well. 

Keil offered to do some ground work too, which was very sweet and much rejoiced. 

These three got chiro this weekend and are off work until mid-week, so hopefully by the time I’m feeling totally normal again they’ll be clear to continue.

As I’m typing I’m seeing a number of swallowtails flying outside the window. It’s a great day out there and maybe I’ll make it outside today. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

November Hill farm journal, 148

 Whew, it’s been a hectic couple of weeks here. My mom is in rehab and I’m thrilled to say she’s doing very well. She’s been such a champ, working hard in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and navigating the routine being in a facility with a roommate. She is so lucky to have a wonderful roommate who’s 94 and dealing with a broken hip and all the work that comes with that. I hope I’m as strong and determined as those two are when I’m their age!

The herd is doing well, managing our ups and down of temps and rain and a few snowflakes last weekend. I’m so ready for full-blown spring and I think they are too. 

Today we had 20 American hollies and 6 eastern red cedars delivered. I was nervous about the equipment and the chaos and how the horses might react. I went out as they finished up their breakfast in the barn with a pocket full of horse cookies and a packet of Confidence EQ gel. I never halter any of them to move them to different areas of the farm, but I put Keil’s halter on, gave him a cookie and some gel in his nostril, and walked him to the back pasture with the hay. The donkeys ran and bucked and Little Man marched out. Cody pulled away from my husband and had a little runabout in the big barnyard, but then he too calmed down and they all got cookies and gel and that was pretty much that. 

The original landscaper we’d contracted to do the planting backed out a month ago and our order was canceled. Thankfully our arborist took the project on and we’re so happy with the work they did today. The only downside was that our original order was canceled and the 11-foot hollies were released to someone else. What we got isn’t as tall but they look great!

The cedars are in a holding corral until our next planting day in two weeks, so we can give the horses a chance to settle in with these new trees. The cedars are going in the back pasture. 

I’m relieved this first planting got done so well before the rain rolled in this afternoon, and really happy to have this first phase over and done with. Now they just have to grow! 

In other news, I just had a flash fiction piece accepted by River Teeth Press for the third volume of their Awake In The World anthology. Will post the info here when it’s printed and ready to order! 

And we have some birthdays coming up! Will post some birthday greetings soon. 

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Pacemaker of the Heart is up at failbetter

 My flash fiction piece, Pacemaker of the Heart, is up at failbetter today. You can go HERE to read it.