Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Of Travel and Beginnings

May has been, and will continue to be!, a crazy month for me. I didn't intend for it to be this way, but it's just how the cards were dealt.


The month kicked off with my trip to Biltmore.

The cutest GP mare ever who had a lovely "evasion" of one tempis

I was home for a short few days and then headed off to DC to visit Austen and audit Janet Foy.

Red bat with light detector attached (temporary - has already fallen off bat)
Or, as I prefer, BAT RAVE!
Some of the red bat's vocalization after we released her.
Did you know: we can ID bats to species (or genus at a minimum) based on their vocalizations?
Isn't science the coolest?

Immediately following the clinic, I headed to a training on bat acoustics for work for the week.

My less-than-enthusaistic yard helpers
While I was removing the native layer of vegetation (and rocks...ugh) to build this flowerbed.
It looks small here but it's actually 8.5' x 6.5'

I had this past weekend home to enjoy some glorious weather and tackle some long-planned yard work, which felt SO good to accomplish. Though there is more yet to tackle in the coming weeks!

Galloped up this hill. Stopped for requisite snacking. Duh.
And yes, that is a leopard print bareback pad and a hot pink bridle.
Heading back to the herd, pausing for model photos.

I had Monday evening to briefly and quickly visit the horses, stuff them full of treats, and enjoy a lovely bareback meander on my forever best boy.

And now, I'm attending yet another work training out of town for several days. When I return home, it will be for less than 24 hours before bouncing off to audit a Mary Wanless clinic near DC - something I have been looking forward to for literal months since I found out about it!

If weather and luck hold, when I return, we'll be breaking ground on the barn! At which point I will put down roots much closer to home for almost 2 months while we complete the project.

Pano from the back porch of the future farm! Barn will be far right.

But lo and behold, things are already moving forward for Starlight Lane Farm!

She looks even prettier at sunset than she ever has! Just wait until that barn is built...

This past weekend, one of my farmer neighbors brought his tractor up to begin brush hogging my future pastures. I say "begin" because the fellow who helps and was doing the work this day busted a wheel on the brush hog and had to roll out without finishing the job, but I've been assured they'll be up this week to finish.

Grazing deer running from me because I mimed a karate kick in their direction 

It's a long way from being where I know it will be, but it's a huge step in the right direction and that thrills me to no end because the land hasn't been mowed since prior to 2015. It's been a happy little field of goldenrod and hawthorne for awhile, but I'm very confident that with some TLC (regular mowing, a soil test, recommended fertilization and seeding), it'll become what I know it can based on the rest of the open, mowed spaces on our ridgetop (which was once a farm and is still partially maintained as such for hay). One step at a time!

Big ol' pile of white oak! Barn will be just beyond it by about 25'
It smells soooooo good

Another exciting development? The wood for the exterior siding also came home the day I headed to DC.

Heavy freaking stuff!

It's remarkable to me how freaking heavy an individual board of this stuff is. White oak is dense, y'all. I don't think I could carry one board by myself. But the density and quality of white oak is exactly what will make it durable. It doesn't hurt knowing that my barn is most definitely not going to fly away in the crazy winter winds we get up here either!

White oak home, white oak barn!
House has been standing for 10 years and the siding is still raw (no stain or protectant) and looking great!

Bonus? It matches our house. Which was the impetus for choosing white oak all along.

In addition to the newly mowed pasture and the siding, the coated wire for the fence arrived. I've got four 70+ lb. boxes of brown coated wire sitting in my garage awaiting the day we install the fence (later in June).

And to top it all off, I found a local hay supplier! I am very happy to have that [very big] box checked off my "must do" list - it feels so good. Big bonus that it is a local friend with a quality hay pasture I've eyed longingly for years (and based on the soil map, it's the same soil type as I have so fingers crossed the pasture will be nice like this one day). I'll probably help make it, too, which will be a lot of work great workout and learning experience.

It's wild orchid season! These are pink lady's slippers.
They're the "truck nuts" of the flower world....use your imagination.  

I'm a bit sad to have to put seeing my horses on the backburner this month, but c'est la vie! Soon enough, they will be coming home and I'll see them all the time. For now, I'm grateful they've got a good situation with ample pasture to enjoy and friends to play with.

Things will probably [continue to] be a little quiet over here as May wraps up, but with any luck I'll have time to put together some posts on my Mary Wanless take-aways, and I will absolutely be updating about the construction process as more develops in coming weeks!


  1. Beautiful pictures as always - love the bat stuff!!! I looooove bats they are so cute. I wish you could keep them as pets they're like little tiny fluffy flying hamsters. Love them. My favorite part about summers at the barn is in the evening when you see them peeping around eating all the bugs.

    SO excited for you to start on the barn. Your future pasture is gorgeous.

    1. I love you for being a bat lover. We will have a bat box on the back of the barn (south facing) to help encourage them to hang out nearby. Last year I had an endangered bat roost in my garage most of the summer. 🤷‍♀️ Hoping it comes back so we can band it and find out where he (males are more often solo like this) spends the winter. 🦇

    2. OMG that's so cool!!! You need to name him. How did you know he was endangered? I'm guess you got a good look at him but... how lol

    3. Hahaha, I think I was calling him Henry last year. I nabbed a photo. He was a Virginia big-eared bat so it was pretty obvious. I work with endangered bats a lot for work, and as a result can visually ID most of them.

  2. can't wait to follow along as you build your dream barn (and pastures). And May is crazy for me (one work trip) and two in JUNE! WTF PEOPLE

    1. UGH. WHY must all work travel end up happening at the same time?!

  3. Our bat population was wiped by White Nose fungus. I miss them terribly. There are signs that they are returning but not around me. I am so excited to see your barn go up. Also, owning your own tractor and bush hog is awesome.....

    1. WNS has been absolutely devastating for most of the country. Our most prevalent species has been decimated >98%. The piles of bodies in the caves the first 3 years after WNS were absolutely tragic. West Nile has been on the rise ever since. My mom works in public health and keeps me apprised of all the upticks in vector-borne ailments. 😭

  4. So many exciting things! I can't wait to follow the barn building progress. Our home is built with 129 year old actual two inch white oak joists notched into a stone foundation, and it is SO solid, not even a little movement over time. You are not kidding about white oak being dense, and as it ages it practically fossilizes, if we have to drill into them it's no joke.

    1. Omg I can only imagine!!! Our home is a white oak timberframe and while Dave encourages me to hang photos on the posts, I mostly don't because it is SO HARD.

  5. Sounds like a busy but fun month. Super exciting about breaking ground on the barn soon!

    I know bats are good and eat bugs and I like them as long as they stay outside! We had an injured one get in our house and admittedly it freaked me out because I wasn't expecting it to be on the floor. lol We put it back outside and hopefully it survived.

    1. They can be unnerving when you're not expecting them! Fortunately, they're pretty docile all things considered and if you can manage to catch them to release, most do well once released.

  6. so sorry to miss you at the JF clinic! glad it was a good time tho <3 and i love all the pictures of where the future farm will be -- it's getting easier and easier to visualize it every time you post about the progress of your plans!

    1. Was sad to miss you, too! But it sounds like you had a fun weekend of your own. Maybe see you this weekend?

  7. That's so exciting! Congrats on getting the oak in for your barn! It looks lovely, and I would definitely be that weirdo that would like stand out there and just breath in the wood haha! Freshly cut wood smells amazing. And that is so fascinating about the bats! That is awesome that you can determine which species based on their vocals. And it's so tiny and adorable! Good luck with the training!

    1. IT SMELLS SO GOOD! lol I've known a lot of people who have worked for lumber yards and can tell what tree was cut just by the scent. Ever since learning this, I pay so much more attention!

  8. We have a small colony that live in the woods behind the pond and I love seeing them come out in the spring and eat all of our bugs. We are slowly getting more bat houses up for them.

    You are so lucky to be able to design and watch your farm come to life around you. Enjoy every stressful moment!!!! It is going to be gorgeous.

    1. Hahahaha "Enjoy every stressful moment!" I will do my best!!! Hopefully none are too horrible.

  9. Well... I can't unsee "truck nuts" now, hahaa.

  10. Very exciting developments!!