Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Archive for the ‘Cold weather’ Category

Living in Narnia

There is no way that I have the words eloquent enough to add to, or remotely describe God’s masterpiece in the form of a snow storm.  Literally, He wielded His mighty brush and turned much of Oregon white, with bits of green, and reddish brown peaking through.  With every flake that fell, the Artist painted a picture that, amazingly, I and several thousand of my neighbors, were painted into.  Upon my stepping “through the wardrobe,” I was enveloped in a new land, and whole heartedly expected to see Mr. Tumnus….

….running through the trees with an armload of packages (one of the most endearing scenes in, Disney’s, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.)  There was no doubting it, I had awakened in the land of Narnia.

 

January 2017

January 2017

January 2017

The land was quiet, insulated by the snow…have you heard the quiet….it is when God speaks the loudest.

January 2017

January 2017

January 2017

January 2017

January 2017

The beauty of it all takes my breath away.

Thank you for visiting today.  I hope that beauty, natures beauty, will surround you in some way today whether it be the simple sound of a song bird, or the flickering tail of a squirrel, or the magnificent beauty in the vastness of nature that surrounds you.  Look for it….it is there!!

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

Snowy, Winter Questions

I love how a simple comment can spark an entire conversation to have with you all.  My blogger friend from https://willowcreekfarm.wordpress.com/ posted a comment regarding my comment on not being able to imagine people who live in snowy conditions for months at a time.  They live in the Rockies and not only have snow on the ground for many months….they get into the negative temperature numbers.  How do you all do it??

January 2017

 

Staying Warm and Power Bills

The money saving item we utilize everyday in the late fall and winter is our wood stove.  We would be broke without it.  I mean truly….what do you all do in the bitter cold to stay warm?  I know there are different ways to heat your homes.  What do you find makes the most financial sense??  We have no gas options up here on the hill, unless we want to truck in propane…at this point we do not do that because we have a forest full of trees that provide us heat free of charge (besides the fuel for the chainsaw and tractor.)  Basically, if we run the wood stove, the forced air heater/heat pump (electric) never comes on.  The peripheral rooms get a little chilly, but blankets and a little portable electric heater in one room, takes care of that….getting out of the shower can be a little chilly…LOL.

December 2016

Work, School, and Driving

Maybe it’s because we don’t really experience the accumulated snow here in the Pacific Northwest (at least west of the Cascades) but it seems that schools close, buses stop running, and people (including myself) make other arrangements in their work day when it snows.  How is it managed in those areas where snow and ice stay on the ground for months?  Remember, I am a California girl who came to her senses and moved to this beautiful State of Oregon.  I brought with me zero snow/ice skills….totally zero!!  So do you all just leave chains on your tires all the time??  Are huge traffic jams that last several hours just part of your regular winter driving life??  What are the tricks you all could share in maneuvering when the roads and sidewalks turn white?

January 2017

Livestock and Chickens

I’m getting the idea that livestock / chicken chores are just messy tasks in the winter.  In a lot of ways, it is harder.  Freezing water is always an issue, and you just can’t really avoid muddy, poopy muck…it goes with the territory.   When there is snow, however, the outdoors is cleaner….until it melts.   So what do you do with the muck??  Is there anything you can do to minimize it?

January 2017 January 2017

Well there are a thousand more questions I could ask, but guess what….it snowed again last night….big time.  It is totally Narnia everywhere you look….we need a lamp post!!  So I have pictures to take, and ideas to gather….let alone dogs to run, chickens and goats to get cleaned up and settled in for the night.  I hope I can get off the hill for a Starbucks….if they only had their red, holiday cups still stocked….<sigh>!!

November 2016

Thank you for visiting on this cold winter day.  I hope you are warm and doing wonderfully today!

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

 

Hooves on Ice

I don’t know if we are doing this right.  I’d love some advice!!  By, Sunday afternoon, our snow turned to snow under ice as freezing rain covered the homestead.  Literally, everything was / is covered in a sheet of ice.

January 2017

While the goats don’t seem to mind rain or snow, ice is a different story.  Our goats are Spanish Heritage Meat Goats…they are large, about 100 – 120 pounds.   Imagine being a goat….walking around in life on high heels….their hooves remind me of heels.  What a weird design hooves are….anyway…..here you are, walking around on an icy surface in heels.  It would be a bit precarious, at best.  Remember, Bambi??

Call it experience, intelligence, or instinct……the goats do not venture out of their barn when they sense the ground is slippery and icy.  As the ice became a bit more brittle later in the day, they did eventually venture out.  I feel badly for them because they just stood around getting really wet from the rain that pooled on top of the icy covered snow.  I have to wonder if we should have done something different for them.  Should we have closed them in for the day?  Is it okay that they just stand out there and get thoroughly wet?

January 2017

They do have a thick, winter coat on….it does repel water and snow away from their skin, but will it eventually get saturated?

January 2017

Will they be chilled throughout the night?  Any suggestions or shareable insight out there??  I hope they were comfortable through the night.

The goats bedding is dry and very thick

The goats’ bedding is dry and very thick

The chickens seem to have more sense.  On days like yesterday, they stay in their house, or on their covered porch.  Ice and snow are not their things, and they know it.  Unfortunately, I did not build their chicken cabana, as in winters past this year.  I blame it on a certain puppy.

January 2017

Sometime in the very early hours of Monday morning, snow started to fall again.  These were big, chunky, fat flakes….they were the type that would land on the dog….and stay on the dog…haha!

January 2017

Quickly, our footprints were filled in by the fluff, and quickly the new fallen snow started turning into slush within the well defined grooves of tire tracks…..

January 2017

…..and footprints.

January 2017

As of Monday afternoon, the pond was still frozen, there was copious amounts of snow still to melt, and beautiful pictures yet to be taken.  It is so strange to be covered in frozen for this long….imagine doing this for a three, four, or even five month stretch.  Guess what??  There is more snow in the forecast tonight, and tomorrow.  Am I dreaming of spring….not yet.  I think I would like to take in the beauty of it all for just awhile longer.

January 2017

Thank you for visiting our frozen homestead today.  May you have a wonderful, tenth of January.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

The First Eight Days of 2017

I am so taken by the white fluffy stuff that falls from the sky.  As a child, a young adult, an….ol…..more mature adult, I looked to the skies of the Bay Area in California and hoped, wished, even prayed that it would snow….and snow it did….once, when I was in Middle School.  It was such a rare event that even though it was not even close to sticking on the ground, the school let us out of our classrooms to experience the joy of the numerous flakes fluttering overhead.  It was an event that I remember well.

If you were lucky enough to live in the hills surrounding the lower elevations around the San Francisco Bay, once every couple of years snow would fall and accumulate….for 48 years, I yearned to live in those hills…or hills somewhere (maybe Colorado….maybe Twaine Harte, CA….and later in life…maybe Oregon?)  Well, I guess we all know by now where my family and I ended up….LOL!!

This year, literally the first 8 days of 2017, we have had the most beautiful of winters.  There has been snow on the ground to some degree every day since January 1st;

New Year's Dayd....just a dusting.

New Year’s Day….just a dusting.

….not exactly a normal winter pattern.  The air is crisp, and cold, and biting.  When I drive back to town from the valley, the hills are white and beautiful, and I realize that I live in those hills.  I am one of the “hill dwellers”…. sometimes we are in the snow zone….sometimes we are in the clouds.  I have a sense of disbelief that the place I hang my dogs’ leashes are in those hills.  The weird thing is, when I see them from afar, I still look at them with a sense of longing to live there….and somehow, the car keeps moving forward, towards them….through the town….out of town….up the hills….into the snow.  I hope I never take this for granted.

2nd day of January '17

2nd day of January ’17

Still the 2nd day of January

Still the 2nd day of January

The 3rd brought beautiful clear skies, and temps in the teen and twenties.

The 3rd brought beautiful clear skies, and temps in the teen and twenties.

The snow decided to continue to stick around, and the skies added more to the landscape.

The snow decided to continue to stick around for awhile longer on the 4th, and the skies added more to the landscape.

Our goats frozen water buckets were a constant threat throughout the first 5 days of January.

Our goats frozen water buckets were a constant threat throughout the first 5 days of January, and beyond.

While the frigid air painted mosaics on the outer doors....

While the frigid air painted mosaics on the outer doors.

Lucky 7 brought more of the white, powdery, flakes.....

Lucky 7 brought more of the white, powdery, flakes…..

....and since the pond had frozen over during the days prior......

….and since the pond had frozen over during the days prior……

.....the snow deceptively accumulated on top of the frozen layers.

…..the snow, deceptively, accumulated on top of the frozen layers.

Currently, we have about 6 inches of snow accumulated over these first eight days of January.  However, the weather has changed to freezing rain which has been wreaking havoc from at least Eugene all the way up north past Portland.  The range is very wide encompassing from the coastal regions to the Cascades.  It’s not often that you see chains required on the roadways in these parts….the signs have been up since last night.  I love the snow…not so much the ice.  In fact, my daughter and I had a show to attend in Portland last night….

 

January 2017

…..her wonderful Christmas gift to me.  We were so looking forward to it.  The show was cancelled due to the weather.  Traversing the icy surfaces was not going to be something this girl from south of here, was going to attempt.  Tony’s job requires him to respond in these hazardous conditions as necessary….he’s had to go out twice so far.  Tomorrow – Monday’s roads may be very treacherous as the rains come in and freeze again overnight.  I do not drive over ice, covered in snow, covered in ice….not me!!

December 2016

An icy windshield from a day in December 2016

Managing the animals on the ice should be a “fun” experience today.  I’ll be sure to bring my camera.

Stay safe out there this winter, and thank you for visiting the frozen homestead.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

Frozen in Ice

November 2014

As much of the country continues to protect themselves from the recent polar vortex of November’s Arctic Cold…

http://www.weather.com/news/weather-winter/arctic-cold-outbreak-november-locked-20141110

….we are thawing out! Temps in the warmest areas in our neck-of-the-woods, should be around 40 degrees today, dropping into the low 20’s this evening. With no real rain in the forecast for the next few days, the icy conditions will be greatly improved. Now is the time to look for those areas of black ice that hide in the shadows on roadways.

November 2014

The beauty in this icy storm has been incredible!! Please enjoy this little video of our forested ice castle…it was purely gorgeous!!

For those of you in the areas of the continuing, strong, deep freeze…we’re praying for your safety!!

Thanks for visiting our frosty forest today!!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

Storms a brewin’

As much of the country falls under the influence of the most recent polar vortex, Oregon sits on the western edge…still within its boundaries, but on the edge.

Polar Vortex 11-2014

It wasn’t until about 1:00 p.m. this afternoon that outdoor water dishes began to thaw. I didn’t even think about freezing water dishes last night…but it makes sense seeing that temps were down to 27 degrees at 5:00 this morning. More than a little distressed, the chickens looked for their morning drink…and I had somewhere to be. Thankfully, there was one little indoor water dish that had not frozen inside their house. The rest of the frozen bowls would have to wait until I got home.

Polar Vortex 11-2014

Alerts of a harsh, winter storm have been flooding the news reports the past couple of days. As I looked into the sky, the approaching storm was becoming apparent.

Polar Vortex 11-2014

Within an hour, the clouds moving through had a bluer, darker gray hue…the kind of cloud that carries ice, or snow. They are distinctive. A myriad of things can come from those clouds from ice, to icy rain, to snow….no one is really sure what to expect from the impending dropping of this polar vortex. Tomorrow morning’s commute should be exciting!!

Right now, it’s 8:15 p.m. on the west coast of Oregon…it is 33.4 degrees (according to our little thermometer) not a real common event in mid-November. So to keep warm…crock pot vegetarian chili,

Veg Chili 11-2014

and Spinach and Cheddar Bread (homemade) http://myfavouritepastime.com/2014/11/04/spinach-and-cheddar-bread/

Chili and Spinach Cheddar Bread

…and a nice warm fire!!

Fire Nov. 2014

Everyone seems to be enjoying it!

November 2014

November 2014

Thank you for buttoning up your jackets, putting on your mittens, and braving the cold to visit the farm today!! Prayers and hopes that you all stay safe out there, please be careful on the ice!!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

Dinner Last Night

There is artistry in the food we eat. I realized this with last night’s dinner. I don’t mean in the way of how it is displayed on the plate, or the unique style in the craftsmanship of the porcelain it sits upon. More and more, thanks to the numerous cooking shows on T.V., I’m experiencing the depth of flavors one can create when the main seasonings go beyond garlic salt and pepper (that’s where I’ve been stuck for many years.) Even this, however, is not really what I’m talking about right now. Although spices add to the complexity and success of the dish, the main ingredients, the stars of the show, are what my thoughts have been focusing on.

OOOOPPSSS...how did those Little's get into the garden??

OOOOPPSSS…how did those Little’s get into the garden??

Dinner last night, the sustenance of nutrition, was completely grown, or raised, on this little beginnings of a farm…right here on Haveadane Hill. Okay, so the spices I used and the local honey were not…but….does that count??? Something to think about…can I grow my own cumin, how about ginger?? Something to definitely investigate!!

Baking chicken on the grill.

Baking chicken on the grill.

This beautiful bird (one of the roosters of the Littles, aka The Muppets hatching) was hatched, raised free ranging from day one, culled by Tony, cleaned and processed by my own hands, chilled in the fridge for a few days, and became the star of the show!!

Isn't that gorgeous??!!

Isn’t that gorgeous??!!


Rooster Aug. 2014

I made a rub of powdered garlic, cumin, ginger, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, and olive oil. This little bird was well coated and cooked up beautifully!!

Then I chopped up onion, crookneck squash, young yellow bell peppers, and zucchini…all from my garden…sauteed them in olive oil (well..no, I didn’t squish the olives hahaha)…cooking the onions first, sprinkled with cajun spices until well caramelized, then added the two squash.

August 2014 Saute

As the veggies started to release their juices, I added the wonderfully delicious local honey I discovered a couple of weekends ago (I was not at all fond of honey until I discovered REAL honey…not the junk sold in the grocery store.)

The end of the honey drizzle....who wants to lick the spoon??

The end of the honey drizzle….who wants to lick the spoon??

I thought that I had possibly cooked the veggies too much…I didn’t want mushy, but I wanted them to be cooked through. Much to my delight, they still had a nice crunch from their skin due to the just, picked, garden freshness. Next time for color, I may add some spinach at the end of the veggie saute. I think that would be good!!

My completely home grown dinner...delicious!!

My completely home grown dinner…delicious!!

The little rooster was really, really flavorful…and a bit tough. He was a very fit bird, with very little fat. Butterflying the bird and roasting it on the grill breast side up (thank you FoodNetwork – The Kitchen) allowed the spices and the small bit of fat from the skin to permeate the meat making it very moist. The veggies were outstanding, and the sweet honey added to the brightness of the cajun spices really complimented each other. The flavor that stood out to me the most, however, was how absolutely fresh everything tasted…really, it was amazing.

Making chicken stock.

Making chicken stock.

THEN….not wanting to waste one bit of this amazing little rooster, I added water (we’re on a well so again…straight from the farm), carrots and onion (from the garden) and made a wonderful stock.

Stock after sitting in fridge overnight.

Stock after sitting in fridge overnight.

There was so little fat that rose to the surface, that this is all I could skim off….

Rooster Stock Aug. 2014

I’m proud of my little rooster…he was one healthy bird!! He provided my family dinner last night, and will provide us broth for a great soup once the weather turns cooler.

Cooled, skimmed, and ready for the freezer...to enjoy as soup in the cool of a fall evening!

Cooled, skimmed, and ready for the freezer…to enjoy as soup in the cool of a fall evening!

Who would have ever thought that this city kid from the San Francisco Bay Area, who ate in restaurants more than she cooked, could move to the country and raise the meat and veggies entirely on the farm for dinner last night?? I’m so excited to explore what is next for the farm…I keep talking to Tony about a couple of cows…he keeps talking about a couple of pigs….bee keeping for honey is totally on the list…stay tuned, there’s more to come!!!!!

Thanks for sharing my dinner last night!! Have a wonderful, wonderful Sunday!!

Your friend,
Tami

Timber Farming

I’ve come to the conclusion that we are officially a farm! I haven’t really embraced that until this past week…it’s a good, good feeling!! Tony and I are working to become as independent as possible by growing our own food, raising our own protein (notice I didn’t say that nasty word…meat ) creating our own energy sources, maintaining our own septic system, and we are not hooked up to a public water source – we’re on our own well. Going off grid?? I don’t think we are totally there yet, and not really part of our goal…we like our Direct TV connection (but are looking at some very viable options to that,) we like to flip a switch and have a constant stream of electricity (but there could be news on that horizon soon,) we have to have internet connection – DUH!!

A big part of our farm is timber management. There is a period of about 4.5 months that we can trim, and cut down trees – 2.5 months in the spring…2 months in the fall. These time frames occur between the more constant precipitation months (rain, snow) and the fire restriction months (unknown to many, Oregon does have a dry season.) Tony and I don’t care to use chainsaws in wet weather…just a personal preference. So this past week, we have been working on our firewood supply for the 2015-2016 fall – winter season.

Tony, sizing up a tree to fall.

Tony, sizing up a tree to fall.

We have a rotating wood stack system to make sure the logs we burn are dry and burn well, and clean. There is a lot less smoke created when the logs are dry…and they burn hotter which is the goal! A hotter fire means less energy cost from not running our heater…then of course there are blankets gracing the backs of the couch, and recliners! I know, I know…GET BACK ON TOPIC!!!

One side of the wood paddock has been burned through the winter.

One side of the wood paddock has been burned through the winter.

The paddock on the left is the space we need to fill.

My man, Tony, taming the forest!

My man, Tony, taming the forest!

This Douglas Fir tree was too close to the other, and it had an unsafe curve….we are thankful for the heat it will generate in our wood stove during the cold winter months. The other tree will have a chance to fill out, it’s already very tall.

Whoops!!!

Whoops!!!

The looonnnnggg view of a very tall tree.

Douglas Fir Tree

Douglas Fir Tree

How old do you think this tree was…

Can you count the rings??

Can you count the rings??

This stump is of a Douglas Fir cut down by the previous owners about 10 years ago and sold in the timber market…

This must have been a huge, beautiful tree!

This must have been a huge, beautiful tree!

Next in our process was gathering the wood, and chipping the parts not suitable for the wood stove. Tony cut logs into splittable size….

Sizing logs for splitting1

Sizing logs for splitting1

I ran the chipper (we try not to make burn piles as much as possible)….

We're not going to burn thin branches full of fir needles.

We’re not going to burn thin branches full of fir needles.


Look at those beautiful chippings!!

Look at those beautiful chippings!!

We had an extra helper….

Even Penni got into the process!!

Even Penni got into the process!!

I wish you could experience how good the air smells around the mulch pile…it’s like the most fragrant Christmas Tree ever!! Take a deep breath in….ahhhhhhh!! We’ll be spreading this mulch around the garden for pathways without mud.

Beautiful mulch pile!

Beautiful mulch pile!

The wood pile ready to be split…

Resting peacefully, waiting to be split and stacked.

Resting peacefully, waiting to be split and stacked.

This stacked pile is the result of two trees. It should last the better part of a month if our late fall / winter temps are the normal 20’s to 40’s.

We need to build this stack as high as the highest log, and forward to the front of the pallets!

We need to build this stack as high as the highest log, and forward to the front of the pallets!

The house temps will range from 70 degrees (the hub of the home) to around 52 degrees (the outlying bedrooms) running just the wood stove. This saves us about $200.00 a month or more…well worth the effort! We’ll repeat the tree-log-chipping-splitting-stacking process for about 6 – 8 more trees this season. It’s healthy for our timber to thin the forest…and it’s healthy for our heating bill to create our own energy in the winter. The relationship with nature in our everyday lives is exciting, and very, very refreshing!!

Gloria’s Pond

Just a quick post….BREAKING NEWS!!

Previously, I wrote about our resident wild duck, Gloria, on our pond, on Gloria’s Pond.

GLORIA!!! Our little wild duck that migrates back to the pond every spring!!

GLORIA!!! Our little wild duck that migrates back to the pond every spring!!

She comes home to the pond every year ushering in the start of spring. Gloria has lived half the year at the pond since we have been part of this property…8 years now (I know, we just officially moved here 2.5 years ago…long story….we had been visiting the property for 6 years prior.) This beautiful duck has hatched a few clutches of eggs over the years, sadly, none have grown to maturity. There are predators on this land, including this big guy…and he routinely visits the pond.

Beautiful yet dangerous to frogs and baby ducklings.

Beautiful yet dangerous to frogs and baby ducklings.

I have often wondered where Gloria goes in the winter-time. Our family likes to think that maybe she flies south to the Bay Area, landing in a park that we frequented on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay…along with dozens if not hundreds of Canadian Geese. I wonder why Gloria is such a solitary duck, most years spending the spring and summer by herself. I wonder what kind of duck Gloria is, actually, although I think she is a type of Mallard. I wonder if Gloria is a Gloria….or a Gordon?…she is actually kind of dark and green for a Gloria. (She will always be Gloria…no matter.) I wonder why Gloria came back to the pond when there seemed to be so much cold and rain still ahead of us (if she migrates to – from CA she may have been misguided by their drought this year.) I wonder why Gloria died yesterday? 😦

Walking up from the mailbox, I found our little wild friend lying motionless in the seasonal stream that is fed by the runoff of the pond.

A very sad sight!

A very sad sight!

I didn’t know what happened…I still don’t know what happened. I put on some gloves and checked her over; there were no wounds that I could see. Her eyes were still clear, so if Bear Grylls is right, she had only died an hour or two before I found her. I did, however, find out something really incredible….Gloria was insanely beautiful!!

She was marked so beautifully.

She was marked so beautifully.


The emerald green of our Gloria.

The emerald green of our Gloria.

Maybe the days of continuous rain was too much? Maybe the lack of natural cover due to the delayed blooming of spring caused too much exposure on an old duck? Maybe both of those things, combined with morning temps dropping into the low 30’s weakened our old girl to a point she couldn’t recover? I don’t know…but I miss our little wild friend.

Gloria's final resting place under her favorite tree, next to her pond.

Gloria’s final resting place under her favorite tree, next to her pond.

I’m NOT liking this…I’m not liking this at all!!

It’s Springing Like Crazy!!

Contrary to popular belief…I haven’t yet lost my marbles….well maybe not all of them. :o) I know it’s still winter, and much of the country is still experiencing the freeze from the polar vortex…

Amazing images from NASA!!

Amazing images from NASA!!

….but I’ve learned that once these guys come out from the mud….

…Spring is springing, spranging, sprunging…it’s knocking, loudly, at the door!!! I recorded this frog song last year in April, so right now they are not singing as loudly, or voraciously, but the brave have emerged and are singing in the early dusk evenings. It’s very exciting, and hopefully, encouraging to my friends out in the Mid-West and on the East Coast…especially to the amazing dogs (Great Danes) and people of the Service Dog Project in MA ( servicedogproject.org ) whom, btw, you can watch live on Explore.org!

OKAY...ENOUGH OF THIS FROSTY, WHITE, COLD STUFF ALREADY!!

OKAY…ENOUGH OF THIS FROSTY, WHITE, COLD STUFF ALREADY!!


Photo by Mark Arimault

With this being our third “emergent of spring-time” season, we think we have discovered a pattern with the onset of the frog songs. They are like our groundhog…our indicator to start planting seeds in the greenhouse (okay, we don’t have a greenhouse yet…but when we do…) and then into the ground in six weeks. We started hearing the frogs about a week ago, so we are going to mark the date of Feb. 23rd, count forward 6 weeks to April 6th, and ready ourselves for planting into the ground during that week. Since the growing season in western Oregon is at least a month shorter than in the San Francisco Bay Area, timing is crucial. My garden of 2012 suffered a lot of damage because I planted just a week or two, too soon. Frost killed much of my garden, and I had to replant which, of course, meant double the costs. My garden wasn’t huge so it wasn’t a big loss. I wrote off the cost of that garden to a very well spent Pacific NW Gardening education…of which, I’m still trying to earn my degree!

Looking forward to these little beauties again!

Looking forward to these little beauties again!

In the meantime, I’m enjoying our mildly cold, rainy days, watching and listening to the amazingly poetic sounds of numerous types of birds in the tree canopies, and watching the green of the pastureland become more vibrant as everyday passes. This is beautiful country, God’s country, and I am so thankful to be living within it!! When I take the time to sit, look, watch, smell, and listen, I can feel Him, hear Him, see Him…my God, my Savior is here He created all of this, and it is good…it is very good!! Just listen to Benedict…he’ll tell ya!!

Water, Water, Everywhere Water

The past 3 – 4 weeks have been testament to one of the draws the Pacific Northwest has had on me for many years. I like rain, I like wind, I like temperatures that drop , and drop, and drop. I like snow that lasts a few days and then magically disappears. I like that there are distinct seasons, and most of the year, (with the exception of July – Sept.) you can either expect it to rain, or accept that it may rain. Did I say I liked the rain?? BTW, I won’t say anything about the summers and the incredibly blue Oregon sky….that’s a secret…shhhhhhh!!

A tree stump overtaken by the water running into the pond.

A tree stump overtaken by the water running into the pond.

January was an inordinately dry month for most of Oregon…then February hit and the flood gates opened up…well snow first, then rain. Thankfully, actual flooding has been at a minimum, but the rivers, creeks, drainage areas, etc. are rushing to get to the Willamette River, to eventually get to the Columbia River, all in an effort to get to the ocean. We have a year round creek, pond, and seasonal creek from the pond run-off…they are currently really, REALLY running hard. I put together a little video of the rushing waters on our property…I was explaining things for Tony as he was out of town yesterday, so please forgive the narrative.

Unfortunately, my friends and family back in the SF Bay Area, and California in general, are suffering through a huge drought. Having lived most of my life in the Bay Area, living with drought conditions is part of the package. This year, however, is really severe. I’m praying for you all, and hoping that your spring time will be full of rain days. Also, the fire season is going to be really scary, big PRAYERS that His hand will protect you all.

Chickens and Ice

There have been two constants since the snow started on Thursday…snow has been accumulating, and the chickens have hated every minute of it! I have wondered about the “intelligence” of my birds, because often times in cold rain, hail, and really cold wind they have been outside running around going from tree to tree, and complaining the whole time. They don’t seem to have any sense sometimes, and even in those conditions will wait until almost dark to run inside their house for the night. Even in this storm, on Thursday when it started spittin’ snow, I had to chase them inside and close the door behind them. Friday, however, it seemed something finally “clicked” with the flock and they have kept themselves inside and within their outdoor cabana since.

One great thing about cold weather....cracked corn treats in the food dish, and a heated water bowl!!

One great thing about cold weather….cracked corn treats in the food dish, and a heated water bowl!!


Whooooaaa, I'm not going out ther!!!

Whooooaaa, I’m not going out ther!!!


Hey what's that?? A little spinach hung from the ceiling helps break the cabin fever!

Hey what’s that?? A little spinach hung from the ceiling helps break the cabin fever!

The younger flock are still in their larger brooder so they didn’t have the decision making dilemma that the older birds had. Since they were on shavings over concrete, in preparation of the storm we slipped a rubber stall mat on top of the floor and covered that with the shavings. With two heat lamps, they have been staying toasty warm, when they want to warm up…they do huddle together under the lamps during the coldest parts of the day, but they seem to be doing great. I do feel like they are just about ready to join the older flock, but the weather is not ready for them. These active little ladies (hoping for no roosters…) seem to be a little bored lately, so I gave them something to do…just like the big kids.

A little fun, a little spinach, and chicken littles!!

A little fun, a little spinach, and chicken littles!!



The aftermath!!

The aftermath!!

Beyond the chickens…I have some outrageously beautiful pictures of the snow, which turned to freezing rain and left a 1/4 inch layer of ice blanketing the snow on the frozen land of which I and my family are so blessed to share with the Oregon wildlife.

Can you see the layer of ice covering the layer of snow?

Can you see the layer of ice covering the layer of snow?


Frozen Blackberry bushes.

Frozen Blackberry bushes.


Two ducks tried to land on the pond, but it was frozen.  :o(

Two ducks tried to land on the pond, but it was frozen. :o(


Limbs full of snow and ice on a Douglas Fir tree, beautiful, dangerous, and amazing!!

Limbs full of snow and ice on a Douglas Fir tree, beautiful, dangerous, and amazing!!

Douglas Fir trees being weighed down by the ice.

Douglas Fir trees being weighed down by the ice.

How Did They Do It???

Just about 2 feet of snow!

Just about 2 feet of snow!


Our neighbors horses...so gorgeous!!!

Our neighbors horses…so gorgeous!!!

How did they do it?? As I try to navigate my world in the midst of a three day snow storm I am amazed at how unprepared I feel. Albeit, I lack in the true snow boot arena, I have mud jumpers that do the trick in keeping my feet dry (for the most part)…since my snow pants (I think I have snow pants) are still packed away somewhere within our shop, double layers of pants seem to keep me warm enough for about a half an hour, although soaked through…then there’s the waterproof jacket and gloves….I’ve got some stuff, but definitely not enough. Trudging through two feet of pant soaking, ice accumulating, leg freezing snow, the warmth of a nice warm fire was all I could think about….well, that and sledding down on of our hills obviously adding to my already frozen appendages. But I have to think….”How in the world did the pioneers….those who crossed the great divide, climbed the Cascade Mountain Range to land in the Willamette Valley of Oregon…how did they make it without the warmth and waterproofing necessary to sustain life this day and age. Would we be able to survive as our ancestors did? How did they survive?” I guess many did not (remember the Donner Party), but somehow, most did!

How did they do it??!!

How did they do it??!!

My San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, sun 90% of the year upbringing and adulthood is a far cry from the winters of the Pacific Northwest. There is much I have to learn about preparing for weather that can turn on a dime…what’s that saying up here?…”If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes…” On Thursday morning, this was so true!! Within 15 minutes of my walking out the door for work, we went from a few clouds, cold, brisk, refreshingly clean air, to major clouds, “It’s starting to snow”…”We’re in a blizzard (well almost)”…”It’s snowing for 3 days”… “We’ve got 2 feet of snow”…to the beginnings of freezing rain…and if it warms 15 more degrees (which is actually predicted) we may have flooding due to a fast melt of all the snow!!! Holy guacamole!!!!! I am not in Kansas…or in my case, California, anymore!! But I am so happy to be here!!

How are the adult and young flocks doing in all this cold……update coming soon!! In the meantime, here’s a friendly, Claudio, hello!!

Claudio wondering, "What the heck is all that cold, white, icy stuff!"

Claudio wondering, “What the heck is all that cold, white, icy stuff!”

Douglas Fruit Trees???

I stepped outside Sunday morning…there was a distinctive winter chill to the air, but it sounded like spring! As I looked over to the pond, the “foreigners” who have been absent for three months were paddling around in the water. Up the road, guinea hens were loudly boisterous, and the songs of the robin were like beautiful waves of melody. My neighbor’s horses were once again in their front pasture..it seems that spring may be attempting to bloom.

To speak of the seasons, you speak of events choreographed in nature. Spring is a time of renewing as trees bud and push out new growth; it is the season of gardens, gardens, and more gardens. Ironically, this season of young, delicate, sprouts is really too late for planting trees. Generally, a tree planted in the springtime will struggle. The good thing is that it will probably catch up the following year. As the ground warms, summer is a time of fullness as the canopy overhead shades with a lush, green umbrella. Planting trees in the fullness of this season can shock them badly, causing a loss of leaves, fruit, and stunted growth that could last 2-3 years. Fall then is a time of harvest, fruit is ripening and tired trees are getting ready to go dormant for awhile. Yet just beyond the harvest season, late fall, in the colder parts of the country, is the best time to plant trees.

Out here in the west…specifically the west coast, contrary to popular belief, winter is a time for planting. Seems odd, why plant while the ground is cold, and growth is almost nonexistent? Something magical happens under the ground while trees lay dormant above it. Roots, young and old roots stretch their “legs” and grow during the cold of winter. While a tree stands motionless, sometimes to the point of, “Is it alive or dead?”, the underground world is active and working hard to gain strength, gather nutrients, and find new ground from which to sustain itself.

On that note, this week has been a time of planting on the hill. In late November, numerous trees arrived. We planted the Giant Sequoias (post – Replanting the Forest), and have been protecting the yet-to-be-planted fruit trees. Over the past two months we (more specifically Tony…with a little help from our son, Will, and I) have added 347 trees to forest and pasture areas. Within that count are 300 Douglas Fir one gallon seedlings, and 37 varying 15 gallon fruit, and chestnut trees all wrapped in wire cages to keep the deer away. Timber and fruit…Douglas Fruit trees..haha…I can’t wait to see them grow!! A nice gift from nature…deer are not attracted to Douglas Fir seedlings…Whew!!…glad we didn’t need 300 tiny wire cages around those little beauties!!

A hillside of Douglas Fir seedlings.

A hillside of Douglas Fir seedlings.


Rocky, muddy soil...use a post hole digger to plant 300 fir trees!!

Rocky, muddy soil…use a post hole digger to plant 300 fir trees!!


After the holes are dug, someone has to plant the trees!

After the holes are dug, someone has to plant the trees!


An orchard full of 4 types of apple trees, and 2 types of pear.

An orchard full of 4 types of apple trees, and 2 types of pear.


Cherry trees line the driveway.

Cherry trees line the driveway.

Contrary to what Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog said….the neighbor’s Peacock flock are converging on our hill once more, another indication that spring is on the horizon.

Really, this year, who knows? It’s predicted that we’re to dip down to the single digits again this week. We’re on the coast side of the Cascades so temps like that are not a winter common.

Premature Chick Hatch

When does life begin??…the age-old question. I believe that life begins at conception, for many reasons…and I believe the Bible tells us this. So what does that mean for chicken eggs? Given the right heat and humidity, a fertilized egg develops into a chick…but, put them in the fridge, they look and act like any other egg. Seems to me it is safe to believe that in a fertilized chicken egg, once it starts developing, life has begun. Little Austin Healey is the strongest example of this…EVER!!! She fought to stay alive in her shell during extreme single digit cold temperatures…Chardonnay was on and off the nest in the beginning because she kept getting confused which nest was hers. She warmed, she cooled, she warmed, she cooled, she was late in hatching, and when she finally did hatch……..

Update on little Austin HealeyChickface
Very soon after her hatching, it became apparent that there was something different…wrong with little Austin Healey. Trying as hard as she could, she was not even close to being able to stand….she crawled on her belly, and her legs splayed out to the sides. She was so determined, she never gave up…so neither would I. I promised Austin that I wouldn’t give up on her. As I watched her, it seemed that she had hatched prematurely even though she had been in nest for over 21 days…is that even possible…is it possible for a chick to start and completely hatch from an egg prematurely, on her own?? I am convinced that it is. Here’s Austin’s story since the hatch….

Austin’s legs had no tone, her feet looked almost as if the bones had not finished developing. They would curl into a “fist” whenever she tried to use them. She was so less developed than the chick, Honda, who had hatched just 29 hours before her. The pictures really show the extreme differences between these two.

Hatched just 29 hours apart...big difference!

Hatched just 29 hours apart…big difference!

Honda standing, Austin could not stand.

Honda standing, Austin could not stand.

20 hours after hatch...Austin is having a tough time.

20 hours after hatch…Austin is having a tough time.

Obviously, Austin needed to be given a chance to develop and grow stronger, so she was separated from the young flock. Since there was such a big gap between these last two chicks and the others, I took Honda out of the brood (she was getting kicked around a bit) she and Austin became roommates. They had each other to cuddle for warmth, and I believe that Honda was a great example for Austin to follow as she struggled to stand.

Austin fought hard. She crawled on her belly, I removed the pine shavings from her little brooder and replaced it with a rubber matted rug for traction. I fed her sugar water until she could start eating chicken starter mush. Her legs continued to splay to the sides…I found this idea about tethering her legs together with vet wrap… http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/02/spraddle-leg-in-baby-chicks-what-is-it.html So, I tethered her legs…

Hoping to strengthen her legs and hips.

Hoping to strengthen her legs and hips.

I so hope this works!

I so hope this works!

There is so much that I could say about our little Austin Healey. She is and was such a fighter. She tried and wanted to stand so badly. We worked together…every time I held her up to eat, I positioned her feet and body correctly so that she was upright, and uncurled. Everyday, Austin got just a little bit stronger. Honda moved back into the main brooder leaving Austin a little lonely…so we gave her a friend..

Not quite the same as having Honda around, but better than being alone.

Not quite the same as having Honda around, but better than being alone.

Austin worked hard on her physical therapy, holding her body up, with my support, working the muscles in her legs. Then one day, her legs stayed forward, underneath her…the next day she was moving around in a squatting position…the next day she wobbly, wobbly stood mostly straight…the next day, she stood up and walked upright….the next day she gained strength and coordination…the next day, she met her mama, Chardonnay, for the first time. She spent the day, she spent the night…she survived both. She eats and drinks with the brood, she cuddles under the heat lamp with her family, and hides under her mama’s wings. She is a fighter…she is AWESOME….she is home!!

Way to go little Austin!!

Three Plus Four = Ten??

I’ve never been that great in math….can you tell? My dilemma with the finite solution of 7 to the equation in the title, doesn’t lend to the possibility of the three waiting in the wings…so to speak. Technically, 3 + 4 does = 7…but I think it is more fun to ponder the possibility of 10….because right now, the possibility does exist!!

The last time I updated on our Christmas brood, we had three hatchlings….now there are SEVEN!!! They seem to be hatching a day apart from each other. One chick, #6 – or better known as William Jr. (long story there), had a difficult time hatching. I got a bit anxious and got involved a little too much with the process by breaking the shell, leaving unnatural break-lines, and weaknesses to the shell.

Cracked egg...I started to help the process.

Cracked egg…I started to help the process.


I was getting over anxious, it had been a couple of hours, so I chipped away a little more of the shell

I was getting over anxious, it had been a couple of hours, so I chipped away a little more of the shell


A couple of hours later, I felt the chick was struggling, I had broken the shell too much, and Chardonnay was pecking at the baby. I took it inside to finish hatching.

A couple of hours later, I felt the chick was struggling, I had broken the shell too much, and Chardonnay was pecking at the baby. I took it inside to finish hatching.

After a short time, Chardonnay sensed something wrong, and started pecking at the exposed chick, not the shell. At this point I removed the hatchling from the nest, and brought her inside the house. We did not yet have an incubator so I made a warm area underneath my bathroom sink utilizing a lamp, a cup of water for humidity (my husband’s idea), and a heating pad underneath the box wherein I placed the shell.

Warm area under the sink to help William Jr. finish hatching.

Warm area under the sink to help William Jr. finish hatching.

If this little one survived, GREAT, if not, at least we gave it a chance. Chardonnay was not going to be so nurturing. After a couple of hours, my daughter, Roni, checked on William Jr….he (hopefully a hen not a rooster) had hatched and looked pretty weak.

Within minutes, like maybe a half an hour, it was obvious that this chick was strong and completely normal!! I then took it out to Chardonnay…here is what happened next…..

That night, one more egg hatched under Chardonnay, leaving the count of four yet to hatch. Mama hen became so busy with her brood, that she started leaving the nest for longer periods of time. She would allow the eggs to cool down a lot, and with the temperatures as they have been, I was afraid that these eggs wouldn’t get a chance to hatch if they were, in fact, viable. We gathered the four and put them in the incubator. Yesterday, December 27th, the first of the four hatched at about 5 P.M. At about 8:30 P.M. I brought the chick to Chardonnay. She was sitting on her nest…all the chicks were under her. I set this little one down in front of her, she looked sideways at it..cooed, lifted her breast, and the little one scooted right under her!! Checking this morning…that 14 hour old chick is doing GREAT…swallowed some water as I dipped her beak into the water dish, and ran around with the brood pecking at food that Chardonnay kicks up for them. I’m a happy Chicken Mama!!

BTW, another egg in the incubator is currently chirping….within the next few hours, we should have # 8!!!

The Three Amigos

Status Update on our 2013 Christmas Season Hatchlings….

Over the course of four days, our brood of seven hens and one rooster grew by three…you all welcomed, Loa Ri-dah, a few days ago (see previous post)…today I’d like to introduce you to Jag,

Top - Little "VW", to the left - 1st hatched "Loa Ri-dah", to the right - Jag

Top – Little “VW”, to the left – 1st hatched “Loa Ri-dah”, to the right – Jag

and sweet little, pure yellow VW, named after my daughter, Roni’s, little yellow bug.

Jag and Loa Ri-dah are Buff Orpington/Rhode Island Red crosses…while VW, at this point, looks like a pure Buff Orpington whose parents can only be Claudio (hen) and our gentleman rooster, Benedict….who by the way…is “DA MAN!!!”

If you remember, Chardonnay has been sitting on 14 eggs, she started with 7 and added 7 as that first week went on. Roni and I decided to candle the remaining eggs in the nest to get an idea of things to come, and if it seemed that there were more viable eggs. Due to the difference in time, it is hard to gauge when to take the eggs away and let Mama just go about raising the 3 that hatched. Candling is really cool! I hadn’t ever done this before, so I was quite amazed. Out of the 11 remaining eggs, 4 had not formed, but 7 had. Within each of those 7 eggs was a definite air pocket, and complete blackness indicating the growth of a chick.

A beautiful air pocket within this shell.

A beautiful air pocket within this shell.


This egg is very full...close to hatching??

This egg is very full…close to hatching??

Whether or not the eggs are still viable at this point, only time will tell…we have a few more days for the next hatching window (actually from today through Christmas.) In the meantime, Chardonnay is loving on her babies…she is such a good Mama Hen! In the cold of winter, she provides a consistent place of warmth, and her babies know it.

Staying warm with Mama

Staying warm with Mama

Speaking of the cold, it has been a challenge. I am using long throw rugs to block drafts from the people door that leads from the main chicken room into the now revised people/brooder room. I’m using this same method for the people door that leads outdoors. By doing this, using a heat lamp, and an abundance of pine wood shavings, I think our little family is keeping warm and toasty. Chardonnay’s nest is in a bit of a covey not directly in line with the heat lamp, keeping it at a more moderate temperature for Mama. She seems to be thriving there.

I have been amazed at this entire process of our broody hen, however, one event holds a high amount of respect. Mama had been on the nest for a few days. I went in to check on the family, and found that she was off the nest…..and the eggs (11 at that point) had been moved…completely moved from her nesting area. Chardonnay moved her eggs directly under the heat lamp;

The seven developing eggs after candling, and removing the four nonviable eggs.

The seven developing eggs after candling, and removing the four nonviable eggs.


she and the babies were sitting away from them. I scratched my head thinking…”Maybe she feels it’s time to abandon the nest?” I decided to totally just clean her nesting area with new shavings and see if that made a difference. I went away for a little while, and lo and behold, when I returned, the eggs were back in their proper place, and Mama was back on the nest! UNBELIEVABLE! That was completely AWESOME…but then again, my little Chardonnay is completely AWESOME!!!

BRRRRROODY HEN

I’m a nervous chicken mama. The temp has been dropping steadily for days. Our efforts to protect the flock has been a learning experience, especially since one of our hens has decided that this would be a great time to sit on a nest. Chardonnay is broody, and extremely dedicated to her potential chicks. December 14th will mark 21 days on the nest…and maybe our first hatching!

This is our first experience with a broody hen, and I know this is the worst time of year for her to be wanting to hatch these eggs, but….we’ll provide whatever support these little chick-a-dees may need for warmth, etc., and hope that Chardonnay will take over some of that responsibility. She has been off the nest a couple of times wherein I think she has gotten confused which box she had been laying on. The eggs had cooled off some, but did not get “cold.” Well maybe a couple of them did. Each time I put her back on the correct nest, she has cuddled down and brought any eggs outside of her body into and under herself. At last count, she had 14 eggs!!! I don’t know if she is bringing more eggs into her nest, or if others are laying theirs where she is lying. This is a true learning experience, and if we come out with one or two chicks, I will be ecstatic!!

This all started two weeks ago today. Six of the 7 hens laid eggs in the same nesting box…Chardonnay decided to sit, and there she stayed. The 7th hen laid her egg in a different box, so since it was still warm, I put that one under her….one egg for each hen giving us a better chance of a pure Buff Orpington chick. Our boxes are a bit small for a broody hen, so Tony took out part of the lower wall under the nesting boxes (they are about 4 ft. off the ground) and made a nest/brooder area that expands into the “people” area. I lost some of my storage space, but Chardonnay is more comfortable, and the chicks won’t fall off the landing area in front of the nesting boxes.

I was afraid that moving Chardonnay and her eggs would result in her abandoning her nest, but she is so devoted, she just wiggled herself back into place, pulled two eggs under her that were sitting out, and snuggled in. She has been much more comfortable since the move, and is growling a lot less when I come near. I bring her treats, and little bowls of cracked corn and chicken feed at night…I thinks this is helping. Due to the cold, I haven’t candled any of the eggs to see what we’ve actually got going under there. I’m sure we won’t have 14 eggs hatch. It’s going to be fun to see what we actually get…I’m hoping for at least one Claudio (our Buff girl) look alike!

New nesting box.

New nesting box.

Ideally, the hope is that the brooders can stay with the flock (in their own area within the chicken house) with mama leading the way, keeping them warm. Logic would say that their integration will be more natural this way, but there are dangers of attack by other flock members that we have to be really thinking about. Our logic doesn’t always coincide with God’s design in nature, so we’ll try our best to nurture through the cold of winter whatever may hatch. I just hope they’ve stayed warm enough through this bitter cold. Either way, I won’t let Chardonnay sit for much longer than a few days past the 21st day. She needs to nourish herself and get back to chicken business beyond nesting.

A question for my knowledgeable poultry friends out there….Will eggs that have been sat upon for many day still hatch if Mama Hen gets confused and sits on eggs laid that morning while her nest grows cold? Chardonnay did that today. In very chilly weather, the eggs were cold to the touch when I found them without her. She readily snuggled back down with them when I put her back on the nest, but my fear is that damage has been done.

OMGosh…It’s Cold out There!

Well…I’ve had to cut my posts from one loooonnnnnnggggg post to two shorter. Keep an eye out for my next post….!

I think that almost the entire country has been in consistently dropping temperatures.

At 7:00 this morning, our outside temp was 3 degrees…3 DEGREES!! The welfare of my chickens has been a huge concern. I’m just short of inviting the flock into the house…..well….maybe not that far, but the garage stays in the back of my mind. Though their house is really wonderful, it is not insulated, and the roofing is metal sheeting. Without help, their inside water would surely freeze…actually it did. This freaked me out!! I felt like such a hugely awful chicken mama, but it threw me into action. I started with rigging up one 250 watt heat lamp, and a heated water bowl…since there is no power to the house, I hooked up power with long, yellow, construction power cords. A week and a half ago, this worked fine…this past week it fell way short. Implementing a cord splitter, heat lamp #2 was employed. The temp dropped again…we moved the heated, outside water dish inside. This seemed to work well for the teen temperatures…but last night we were going to be dropping into the single digits. So, in the dark, in temps of about 13 degrees…Tony and I were out at the chicken house lowering the heat lamps to more directly provide heat to the chicken roosting / nesting areas instead of the general house. With this, and a generous supply of cracked corn, everybody survived the night. Give me a break now….I’m used to animals living INSIDE the house…these girls and guy are my first out-of-the-house experience, and with these kind of temperatures….let’s just say it was a glorious 6:30 a.m. moment when I heard Benedict crowing!!

It's cold out there!

It’s cold out there!


Heat lamps add warmth.

Heat lamps add warmth.


Heated water bowl was a necessary addition.

Heated water bowl was a necessary addition.


Coaxing them in with cracked corn so I can shut the chicken door.

Coaxing them in with cracked corn so I can shut the chicken door.


Claudio the hogging the heat.

Claudio the hogging the heat.


At least they look warm and toasty.

At least they look warm and toasty.

The cabana has been a really great addition, and the flock has spent a lot of time out there. Tony picked up a couple of straw bundles, and spread some of it on the floor of the cabana. That was a hugely great idea as the chickens are not liking foraging around the snow very much. They actively kick around the straw and look for the chicken scratch we’ve thrown out in it, and little bugs that may be hiding.

A big pile of straw to play in.

A big pile of straw to play in.

The more extreme cold is supposed to last a few more days, I think we’ve got it covered….maybe…wait until the next post, big news on the farm!!

Rooster tracks in the snow.

Rooster tracks in the snow.

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