Wednesday, May 22, 2024

November Hill farm journal, 211

 We got home from Shetland yesterday and it was completely amazing, as is arriving back on November Hill. The very best thing about traveling to new places is how much it opens you up, and also how when you return to the routine of home, so many of those routine tasks seem elevated and special. Right now I am sitting on the sofa with Clem leaning into my left hip and Bear stretched out on the floor in front of me and these things are remarkable in this moment. 

So first, a glimpse of Shetland:

It is both rugged and tender at the same time. There are almost no trees. I loved it. 

And now, a return to November Hill and my gardens and family. We have so many trees! The whole world here on November Here is green and lush and blooming. There is no sea and no wind. 

We are up to six honeybee hives! The barn swallows are back!

I am so happy to have had the ability to travel to Shetland, and I plan to go again. I am grateful for home and all the living beings here. I will always come back! That is the beauty of travel in a nutshell for me. 

Monday, May 20, 2024

A Favorite Moment In Shetland

 When I found the Shetland pony who looked like Keil Bay!

If I could bring this little guy home, I would! 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Horse abusers Austin Wayne Simpson and Kylie Lenore Parker update

 They have reportedly moved to Robeson County, NC while still awaiting trial for the horrible abuse of horses, including the very young foal Faith, who was removed from them and had to be put down after months of treatment efforts to save her. 

This couple have also reportedly been banned from the AQHA as members and breeders, however I have read they currently have more foals on the ground. 

Do not buy horses from them, do not support them in any way. Hopefully they are found guilty and will serve the consequences for their actions. 

This is what Kylie recently posted on FB:

No, Kylie, your abuse of horses and foals is not our issue. The abuse of defenseless animals, children, and any other living creature does in fact define a person. If you have learned and grown from an experience as abuser, you take responsibility and you apologize. You do not project that others have a  problem and you do not minimize what you have done. 

The past is relevant. The past and this current denial of responsibility and continued arrogance (“when we are ready to share details we will do so but on our terms”) are both evidence that you have neither learned nor grown. 

It’s appalling that you are still allowed to own animals, period. If justice is served you will not be. 

Thursday, May 02, 2024

November Hill farm journal, 210


We are full bore into spring moving quickly to summer here on November Hill, and the cicadas are emerging and starting their very loud chorus. Unfortunately, even the cicadas aren’t loud enough to mask the sound of the neighbor bellowing at her poor horse in the round pen as she chases him around. My heart goes out to him. 

Meanwhile, the November Hill herd are in their barn with fans on during these very hot days this week, meandering around and getting the first cold hosings of the year. Not the donka boys, of course, as they want nothing to do with cold water showers. 

Because I put in some new plantings this spring I’m having to water them during these weeks without good rain, but it’s not too bad. Baloo and I walk the watering can 7 times out to the front fence and water the viburnums and the one winterberry by hand since the hoses don’t reach that far. The others are in easy access areas so not quite as intensive as when we put in the row of hollies and the cedars!

I’m doing an embodied writing workshop on Substack this spring and it’s been a productive three weeks so far - I have four new flash pieces that have come out of the prompts and the yoga that’s offered with them. Very happy to be part of that. You can check out Jeannine Ouellette’s Writing In The Dark there if you’re interested. It’s never too late to start and the prompts go into her archives for ongoing use. 

A hopeful bit of news, please send all the good energy you have … we found a farm we love and are working on the steps to purchase it. It is the first place we’ve seen that all three of us love and there were signs and omens and I am holding the space for it to remain with no other offers until we can go for it. There is one piece that needs to be in place for us to move forward and it is outside my control (as so many things are, LOL) but it’s in motion - just not yet in place. Once it is we can leap. And I know, as much as I would love this to be the place we go to next, that if this doesn’t work out something else will. And the piece that gets into place will be there for the next property if this one doesn’t work. It felt like home. And it is private and very sequestered. I hope I get to share it here and if I do, that means we got it!

I also have a very special journey coming up - my daughter and I will be traveling to Shetland for two weeks to see and photograph birds and whales. I’m so excited and really looking forward to finally visiting the home of Little Man’s ancestral origins. :)  It’s going to be amazing. 

When we return I’ll be hunkering down for the summer months seeing clients and digging in with advanced EMDR training and certification. I continue to be wowed by the impact this has on clients and on trauma. After my own EMDR treatment for early childhood medical trauma, I went to the dentist this week for dental work and did not have nightmares, slept well even the night before the appointment, and did not have to take valium to endure the visit. I didn’t even death grip the arms of the dental chair! It’s a very effective treatment modality that I’m recommending to anyone who has had trauma or disturbing experiences that impact current daily life. 

I’m also hunkering down to finish the new novel and hopefully also finish the TV series pitch deck that is mostly done but needs a final review and edit. This is the summer of hunkering down. Unless of course it is the summer of MOVING. I’ll go with what comes!

Happy May - I know I’ll be sharing tales and photos from Shetland on the other side of the trip. 

OH - my piece in Door Is A Jar is coming out I think June 4th - here’s a link to the issue with places you can purchase if you would like to:


This one is special as it’s about my mom. I hope you’ll check it out. The journal is generally available online but also in Barnes and Noble! If you purchase it there, send me a photo! 

Friday, April 26, 2024

November Hill farm journal, 209

 I’m still doing daily gardening, mostly weeding the various beds/areas of non-natives and some of the more aggressive natives that will take over if allowed. It’s working well for me to take it a couple of trugs at a time, and I am working hard to think of it as a daily practice rather than a to do list check off of a task. 

Today I watered the viburnums along the front fence and they’re all doing quite well. Most of the southern bayberries continue to grow and thrive; there are two small strips where they just won’t grow and I don’t really know why. Since my larger plan is to create a native hedgerow along the front fencing, I’m going to do some research and see if I can find something new and of course native to fill these gaps. By the time fall comes around again I’ll have that figured out. 

I noticed today that the live stake elderberries we pounded in along several areas of perimeter fence line are also doing well. I focused on sloped areas where they will provide some screening but even more importantly erosion control. 

I’m really happy with what I call the “shady strip.” It’s taken a couple of years to get it looking more like the vision I had, but it’s finally starting to, and I took some photos today to try and capture that. I remember when it was a huge tangle of poison ivy and smilax and also a lot of interesting things trying hard to grow. It’s an area where water from the crow forest tends to join with drainage pipes coming from one side of the driveway down from the barnyard that feed into a larger drainage pipe that goes further down the driveway and across to the front pasture. That confluence of stormwater combined with shade at the edge of forest creates an interesting opportunity for some really nice natives. 

There are a lot of plants volunteering around and mixed in with the things I’ve put in, some native and some not, and I’m working on removing the nonnatives and making decisions about the natives, but also not wanting to take all the roots out of the ground until I can replace them with what I want to be there. In some instances I’m moving the native volunteers to other places. It’s so nice when good things pop up!

It’s lovely seeing that the things I planted settling in and spreading. If I can keep the things I don’t want from taking over, this visioned space will continue coming into reality. 

There used to be one gigantic brush pile in this area, but now there are two where I put things I pull out of all the various beds. Brown bunnies and birds love these brushy areas at the edge of the forest and I have come to love the patterns of the discarded stems and foliage. 

We have a lot of stone to continue lining the drainage area and I may make a border along the front edge to create a hardscape boundary to this long and winding bed. 

Across the driveway at the corner of the fencing where the drainage pipe comes out to the front pasture, I made the bluebird bed a few years ago and have continued adding to it. I started weeding there today and it too is coming into its own now. The bluebirds are nesting in their box and I really loved seeing the Indian physic at the bottom of the post, which was tiny when I put it in two years ago, really thriving this spring. 

I’d like to outline this bed with some stone too, and give it some definition. 

Across the front pasture, down to the far corner, the bird haven absolutely feels that way now. It turned a corner this year, it seems, though that area too needs some very focused weeding to keep a few things from taking over. I’ll be working on that over the next week or so. 

The place I never get to is Poplar Folly, where I still have the plan to make an actual woodland pathway that winds in a sort of figure 8 pattern down there. We’ve gotten the apiary organized for the season, and thanks to my husband, the two colonies that made it through winter (out of 4) are now split and we had a swarm come into the Hegemone hive (I actually think they came back!) for a total now of 5 thriving colonies. We plan to split Hegemone as they are building up very quickly, and that will be 6. I have one more hive box and a lovely wooden nuc box I may set up down there to see if we lure any more swarms with them. 8 would be a sort of magic number and I’d rather see the boxes being used than sitting in my beekeeping storage room!

The potager is also booming and needs to be weed-eated and tidied for the summer season. I’ll get around to it as I continue rotating around the farm. 

It’s a busy and rich springtime here. I am loving the privacy that comes with the leafing out of all our trees. The cicadas are emerging, the swallows are back, and we have a nest of eastern phoebes this year too. Chickadees in one bluebird box, bluebirds in the other. My owl box ready and waiting from an owl family to move in. There have been some hard things this year but as usual, November Hill is holding things together.