Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Archive for the ‘Great Dane’ Category

The Great Adventure part 3

(continued) “Hoping that mama turkey would not be afraid to come back another time………By this time, my daughter had gotten home and joined me in the quest to reunite the family. She held a couple of the poults in her sweater, while we sat behind a tree….and we waited……”

The poults burrowed into their hiding place, nestled within our clothing.

Burrowing in for safety

Burrowing in for safety


They totally came alive, however, whenever the possibility of freedom enter into their sites. This was a great thing! Their quietness was instinctual, their flight response was crucial to their survival once released.

One of the poults jumped from my grasp into the tall grass. Even though I kept my eye on where it landed and the direction it headed, almost instantly it vanished…completely disappeared.

A hidden poult!  With her head slightly raised, this one was actually a little easier to see.

A hidden poult! With her head slightly raised, this one was actually a little easier to see.


Very carefully I searched…only me, we didn’t need two sets of feet potentially stepping on the invisible young turkey. All of a sudden, there it was! I scooped it up, hoping that mama turkey would soon return.

My daughter and I sat quietly, looking for any movement through the grass, which was a bit of a challenge since it was a windy day. All of a sudden, off to the right at about 200 ft. was the beautiful, bobbing head that we had been looking for.

This photo taken by http://www.caryinstitute.org

This photo taken by http://www.caryinstitute.org


As mama turkey reached the general area where Penni had found the poults,
May 2014
she called…our little ones woke up. We let them go, hoping they would find their way to her. This was a difficult. What if they didn’t find her, would we be able to find them again?? We wanted to walk up to mama turkey and say, “Here they are,” but we knew that wouldn’t be possible…she would leave again…would she then come back? We just had to let the poults go and hope for the best.

Getting close to release time, mama turkey is calling.

Getting close to release time, mama turkey is calling.

We released, and they ran. Mama turkey called,

the young poults chirped as they moved through the grass. We watched from a distance, but it was hard to tell when a poult would reach her. Not wanting to affect the reunion we carefully, and quietly backed off. Nature was now leading the reunion…….

(To be continued)…the story gets bigger…come on back for tomorrow’s chapter!

The Great Adventure part 2

The underside of a felled Douglas Fir tree.

The underside of a felled Douglas Fir tree.

(cont.) I gathered up these little babies, and out of the corner of my eye…I saw mama turkey carefully approaching……

….so did Penni, just fractions of a second before I did..but that was enough time for her brain to excite her body into “chase mode” and off she went. Mama turkey immediately took flight. I looked around the area, checking carefully before each step. Wild turkey poults instinctively hide, low and silent in tall grass. They are very difficult to see. Knowing that there were hidden babies right around me, I had to be careful not to step without caution.

A hidden poult!  With her head slightly raised, this one was actually a little easier to see.

A hidden poult! With her head slightly raised, this one was actually a little easier to see.

Penni’s distraction away from the hiding poults gave me a chance to assess the condition of the little ones I had been holding. If you will remember, Penni is a wanna-be-mama-dog. She has helped raise up all 4 broods of chicks, protecting them from hawks, and if Tucker or Karli got too close (she let them know in no uncertain terms that they shouldn’t get any closer to her chicks.)

Making sure all is right with her little puppy-chicks.

Making sure all is right with her little puppy-chicks.


I was confident that these beauties were perfectly fine. They were very young, and were still sporting that fashionable egg-tooth.

Still sporting a prominent egg tooth.

Still sporting a prominent egg tooth.


They were playing "possum" hoping I wouldn't see them.

They were playing “possum” hoping I wouldn’t see them.

My shirt was doing double duty, acting as, well, a shirt…and also a catch for the poults. They lay quietly in their cocoon, huddled together looking at me with their big eyes…I was surprised at how much larger their eyes are than chicken chicks eyes.

Wild Turkey poult #1.  The first little one found by Penni.

Wild Turkey poult #1. The first little one found by Penni.


Kermit!!!  See how much small her eyes are compared to the wild turkey poult.

Kermit!!! See how much small her eyes are compared to the wild turkey poult.

Following her nose, Penni came bounding back directly to me and the poults. She nudged the buldge in my slinged shirt, indicating that she needed to check on the babies. I let her take a quick look, and big sniff into the pile of young poults…and as is Penni’s style…she gave them a lick (No, not to taste them!!)

May 2014

Hoping that mama turkey would not be afraid to come back another time, I walked towards the house. My plan…as long as I had the poults, Penni would follow…she did! Securing her inside the garage, I headed back. In the background, Penni shouted her protests…loudly! By this time, my daughter had gotten home and joined me in the quest to reunite the family. She held a couple of the poults in her sweater, while we sat behind a tree….and we waited……

May 2014

(To be continued)….please come back tomorrow to read the rest of the story.

Hoping you have a wonderful weekend
Tami

The Great Adventure

The scene...a beautiful, sunny yet windy, spring day.  The grass is green and tall.

The scene…a beautiful, sunny yet windy, spring day. The grass is green and tall.


The forest brings many surprises, not the least of which are the various, unexpected, wildlife encounters. Sometimes you’re just standing there… movement hits your sight sensors…you look in that direction…and you catch a glimpse of a hawk taking off with its prey, two foxes playing in the snow, the annual, brief, return of the elk, a coyote traversing across the landscape…or a wild turkey being flushed out of the brush by your dog. The latter of these events happened this week, and what has ensued has been another grand adventure.

Picture this, a calm, partly sunny day. There is a steady wind culminating over the mountains behind us, funneling through the openness of the pastureland on this side of the creek. Suddenly, without warning, there is the sound of water, splashing water. Your mind quickly translates that sound to be the unmistakeable pattern of a dog…a very large dog moving at a fast pace through the shallows of a waning seasonal creek. You look in that direction just in time to see a very large winged bird taking flight.

It is hard at first to process the awkward style of the beautiful brown coloring of the bird’s underside. It just doesn’t compute…it’s not a hawk, it’s not the Great Blue Heron, it’s not a duck. And then it dawns on you…this distinctive fly-only-if-I-have-to style is that of a wild turkey.

The dog pursues, chasing this uncomfortable flyer down the hill. I call to her, but it is too late…she is fully engaged! Feeling confident that Penni…the dog…our Great Dane dog…

www.servicedogproject.org No...that's Hugo...a future service dog!!

http://www.servicedogproject.org No…that’s Hugo…a future service dog!!

…noooo…not that one…

2 year old, beautiful, fawn, Penni

Our 2 year old, beautiful, fawn, Penni

…will not come back with a turkey in her mouth, I go about my chores.

After a bit, Penni comes running back…not to me…completely still engaged, runs down the other side of the hill, back to the scene of the great flushing. As I’m watching her, she starts a very familiar game…she pounces! When Penni finds something of interest that she wants to “play” with, she will first pounce at it (sometimes on it) with her front paws a few times…

…..then she picks up whatever it is and runs with it…when I saw her pounce, my first thought was what did she find…immediately my second thought was…baby turkeys (poults! ) OH NOOOO!

Before I could get my thoughts from my head to my mouth and out to Penni, she had picked something up and was jumping around with it in her mouth. Running (of which I look as awkward doing as the turkey looks when it flies) I yelled for her to drop it. She did…then picked it up again…”Drop it!” was what she heard as I approached. She did, then looked at me and back at the little turkey in a very excited manner as if to say, “Look Ma…look what I found!” I picked it up, it seemed fine…soaking wet, but fine. Penni immediately went on the hunt. She found another, and another, and another…they were quite dispersed. I gathered up these little babies, and out of the corner of my eye…I saw mama turkey carefully approaching……

To Be Continued (please come back tomorrow to find out what happened next in this great saga on Haveadane Hill……….

What a gorgeous sky!!

What a gorgeous sky!!

Tami

Free Ranging Littles

Remember these beauties??!!

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

Here they are now!

Free Ranging and feeling great!!

Free Ranging and feeling great!!

The Littles (AKA the Muppets) are two months old today!! Honestly, I did not plan the writing of this post with the date…and I’m pretty sure we’re not celebrating with Twinkies…pretty sure!! πŸ˜‰

So, as they’ve entered their awkward stage….

Definitely the awkward stage!

Definitely the awkward stage!


Sporting a wind-blown do!

Sporting a wind-blown do!

…..they have also found freedom to traverse around the farm as they see fit. The Littles are very integrated within the older flock and move around and within freely, although, they are the Littles…the newbies on the block…if an older hen wants to stand where they are, or eat what they have found, they do get “run out of dodge” for that moment. The word “hen” doesn’t really reflect the true nature of a female chicken’s attitude sometimes…they can be pretty…uhhmmm…what’s that “B” word??? Yeah…that one!

This Little flock within the flock are a pretty close knit group…..

They love to huddle together.

They love to huddle together.

Now that's a nice pile of Littles!!

Now that’s a nice pile of Littles!!

….and they love piling up next to each other to soak in the warmth of the sun. The older groups do this also…but usually in groups of 3 maybe 4 max.

These Littles…they’re fun…they’re adventurous…and they are very curious…

Penni and a Muppet (not sure which one) ...

Penni and a Muppet (not sure which one) …

…”Hey you, big dog…that’s my bug, go find your own!!”

The good news with this bunch…I have yet to completely identify a rooster (No, I’m not looking under their feathers!!) I have one that I suspect, possibly another, but none are standing out like in the other broods we’ve raised. A couple of the Littles have a bit of a larger comb, but I have had that with hens as well as roos. There is not the usual amount dominance posturing going on…a little, but young hens do that too. I’m just not seeing the difference in tail feathers…they’re mostly appearing like hens. Wouldn’t that be AWESOME!!!

Hoping you will have a wonderful day today! Thanks for taking this hike through the forest!
Tami

Change is in the Wind

These wild Lilies are growing everywhere in the shady/partial sunny places right now.

These wild Lilies are growing everywhere in the shady/partial sunny places right now.

My thoughts have been so distracted as of late. Really!! Can’t the world just step aside and stop threatening to take time from us? Time from the needs of our farm, from being physically present to care for our family, from being able to take the time to grow and prepare our own food, from the ability to write a simple blog post. I’m sure most of us feel this way … this past week has been especially hard for me due to changes at work which will directly affect my position, and my availability for those things I just mentioned. My husband has felt it all along, but he is driven to be a great provider. He, with God’s great blessings, have made this whole farming thing possible…I do not say, “Thank you,” to Tony enough…not nearly enough.

The outdoor brooder...now a roost...maybe we need more chickiepoohs! ;)

The outdoor brooder…now a roost…maybe we need more chickiepoohs! πŸ˜‰

So life on this farm will be changing, soon. I’m going to have to figure out how to flip-flop some things, how to get ahead of the game on others, and how to get everything done in a timely fashion so that we are not eating dinner at 10:00 p.m. rather than 9:00 …. 7:00 p.m. which was my goal, definitely seems a bit out of the running, but we’ll see. Right now, through summer, the impact will seem less as the sun is up until about 9:00 p.m…it will be the dark, earlier evening hour seasons that will become much more difficult. Maybe this is the incentive I need to kick up my understanding and knowledge of an income producing small farm, and work towards that goal. I think that is a goal worth striving towards!

In the meantime, I must remember that change does not inherently equal a worsening of conditions…it may even result in a more enjoyable life experience (in this case, at work.) And, since I believe that Jesus Christ is the author of my story…the Pilot of whom I seek to follow…the Protector of my home and family…and the Great Counselor from whom I gain wisdom and guidance…my family, myself, and our farm are in great hands!!! Nothing shall befall me that He doesn’t already know, and that He can’t handle!!

Please enjoy this rainy, spring day of Oregon…..

Hoping you all have a wonderful day!
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!!

Catching Up…

I really dislike it when “life” gets in the way. There is a lot to update on the farm…I will let the pictures do the talking.

Five of the six Originals

Five of the six Originals


Riesling and her man Benedict!

Riesling and her man Benedict!


Jag....one of our Buff Orphington / Rhode Island Red mixed roosters...very handsome!

Jag….one of our Buff Orphington / Rhode Island Red mixed roosters…very handsome!


The Muppets and Chardonnay!

The Muppets and Chardonnay!


Benedict checking out his progeny!

Benedict checking out his progeny!

As the sun came out, so did those who inhabit this hilly forest…..

The Muppets, testing their feet on the green grass.

The Muppets, testing their feet on the green grass.


Not too sure about this...

Not too sure about this…


Hey Ma!!!  It's still a little cold out here!!!

Hey Ma!!! It’s still a little cold out here!!!


Penni watching over the youngest flock.

Penni watching over the youngest flock.


The Muppets following mama with no boarders!!

The Muppets following mama with no boarders!!

…and the trees decided it was time to make their long awaited appearance….

The first Cherry Blossoms!

The first Cherry Blossoms!


Apple trees

Apple trees


Beautiful Pear Trees

Beautiful Pear Trees

…but the Chestnut trees are still in that “groggy” state right before they wake up! The first pasture’s grass needing to be mowed down is completed (only 8 more hilly acres to go…uuggh..but also πŸ™‚ …..

The back hillside is mowed....to be repeated at least 4 more times this season....

The back hillside is mowed….to be repeated at least 4 more times this season….

….producing this lovely, lovely product….

All these cuttings and not a single goat, cow, horse, or rabbit to feed it too...

All these cuttings and not a single goat, cow, horse, or rabbit to feed it too…

…hhhmmmmm maybe we need to rethink this……

Our neighbor's horse!

Our neighbor’s horse!

…but I don’t think we are quite ready yet…the good extra work of spring has worn us all out…

Tired old Tucker

Tired old Tucker


Karli catching some rays in the warmth of a beautiful spring day.

Karli catching some rays in the warmth of a beautiful spring day.


Hank, the cat, kicking back on Easter.

Hank, the cat, kicking back on Easter.


Tito and Lilly

Tito and Lilly

…but the epitome of being worn out due to excessive spring-like-I-can’t-believe-the-sun-is-out behavior goes to….Penni!!!

What a day!!!

What a day!!!

I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Easter!! Enjoy the burgeoning springtime!!!

A Blessing and a Curse

Oregon, west of the Cascade Mountains, is green. To quote a famous frog named, Kermit,… “It ain’t easy being green…” is an understatement. Oh, the green permeates the environment quite readily as soon as the first rains hit the ground after the dry season of summer….wait….what? You didn’t know that up here in the Pacific Northwest we have a dry season? Well, in fact, we do!

The dryness of a late summer walk with Tucker & Karli.

The dryness of a late summer walk with Tucker & Karli.

But that’s another discussion!! So to get back to topic…it’s a wondrous sight to watch how the grasses green-up in mid-fall, yet they don’t really grow due to a shortened day. The grasses remain a straw-like green throughout the winter…even under a blanket of snow…but the show really begins as winter starts turning to spring. The vibrancy that ensues is absolutely gorgeous!! This is a true blessing!!

As I stand outside, I see that blessing everywhere around me.

The beautiful green...the beautiful Penni!!

The beautiful green…the beautiful Penni!!

This compound color of blues and yellows surround our land in differing hues…it is quite stunning! However, there is another picture in my mind that I have to continually blot out so as not to hinder the true romance of the spring eruption…that is the “curse”…one of hours and hours of….MOWING…GRASS/WEED/BRUSH/ENORMOUS WILD BLACKBERRY BUSH CONTROL!!! ugghh! My husband and I keep about 17 of the 34 acres we live on groomed or in some areas, just managed. The other 17 are left to be natural wooded acres for wildlife and just, well, nature to thrive. It is a very healthy forest. Once we get the bridge rebuilt across the creek, we’ll be able to groom the already existing trails. Right now we hike back there with a machete in hand for the overgrowth.

While we wait for the ground to solidify a bit from the winter/spring rains allowing us to get this toy…

She sure doesn't look that new anymore!!  LOL

She sure doesn’t look that new anymore!! LOL

…out and mowing, yesterday, I started on grass management within the pond…that is the removal of dead grasses that float causing a disruption to birds, and frogs…besides looking really yucky. Tony and I don’t use any pesticides, fungicides, etc. on the property so the work to keep the land and water manageable is very labor intensive. Sometimes we win…sometimes the forest wins…but either way, it is a healthier ecosystem! So for almost 3 straight hours yesterday, using an 8 ft. long pool cleaning pole with an attached net, I cleared the pond of all the dead grasses that I could reach….

BEFORE:

The pond full of dead grasses.

The pond full of dead grasses.

AFTER:
I couldn't reach everything, but it will eventually make it's way closer to shore.

I couldn’t reach everything, but it will eventually make it’s way closer to shore.

BEFORE:

The right side is where I've already worked.

The right side is where I’ve already worked.

AFTER:
Most of what is left on this side are still rooted.

Most of what is left on this side are still rooted.

It was a hard job, but well worth it! Gloria’s Pond looks beautiful once again, and the balance of the ecosystem has not been compromised! I read somewhere that you can tell a healthy pond by the presence of frogs because they breathe through their skin…I’m very happy to report…we have a lot of those guys!!!

WELCOME SPRING!!

WELCOME SPRING!! You’ve been asleep too long!!

Penni relaxing in the warm 58 degree sunshine!

Penni relaxing in the warm 58 degree sunshine!

Old Man Winter is keeping his finger on the temperature controls a bit longer…we are still waking up to temps in the twenties…28 degrees at 7:00 this morning. The afternoon temps are getting into the high 50’s so we are totally warming up!! Driving around the lower elevations in town, and out to Salem, trees are in various stages of bloom. Daffodils are blooming like crazy in some places, but up on our hill…we are just now seeing the first brave Bulbasaurs (couldn’t resist that…my son grew up as a big Pokemon fan.)

Our first Daffodil blossoms

Our first Daffodil blossoms

Our young fruit trees that were planted this past fall, are just now starting to swell…sooooooonnnnn to be blossoming!!!

The Pear trees show the most spring-like activity.

The Pear trees show the most spring-like activity.


The Chestnut trees are trying hard to be part of the big spring show!

The Chestnut trees are trying hard to be part of the big spring show!


"I'm Here," shout the Cherry trees!!

“I’m Here,” shout the Cherry trees!!

It’s great to know that these young trees survived the harsh cold, and unusual large snowfall that hit us in January. These beauties are shouting their presence and eagerly waiting to spring forth into the 2014 growing season. The roadblock in front of them are the freezing temperatures we are still experiencing in the early mornings. There is still “frost on the pumpkins” and cars, and rooftops, and ground. We may still be three weeks out before that ends, meaning, sadly, our garden has to wait awhile longer. Although the Giant Sequoias experienced a little frost burn on their tips, the branches are still green and pliable…WHEW!!! That is good news. On the 300 Douglas Fir saplings…we may have lost half of them due to the big snows. It may not be as bad as it appears, but on numerous saplings, needles come off in our hands…not a good sign. In normal conditions, we would loose many of these trees, one reason why you typically plant so many, but this winter was definitely NOT normal!

Definite signs of spring on the farm…starting with our most welcomed tenant, GLORIA!!

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!!

The first dandelions of the season!  My flock is very happy!!

The first dandelions of the season! My flock is very happy!!

We've hung the wasp traps to capture as many queens as we can when they emerge from hiding!

We’ve hung the wasp traps to capture as many queens as we can when they emerge from hiding!

I know it's spring and not summer 'cause the Barn Swallows have not made their nests yet in the barn.

I know it’s spring and not summer ’cause the Barn Swallows have not made their nests yet in the barn.

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 ultimate of ULTIMATES!! The frosting on the cake! The sure sign that spring has sprung…..
Welcome to the farm…to havadanehill….WELCOME THE MUPPETS!! First one hatched, Kermit…March 21, 2014…

Welcome little Kermit!!!

Welcome little Kermit!!!

…three more hatched on March 22nd…Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf (after the two old guys who sit in the Muppets Theater Balcony)…

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

……I could feel three more eggs were cracked under Mama hen yesterday…she hasn’t shown me the new little ones yet today, so I’m not sure how many more have hatched…but I will update soon! She had 10 eggs under her before hatching started!

DANGER, DANGER, DANGER

UPDATE ON TODAY’S POST

Remember that robot from Lost in Space?

That’s what our rooster, Benedict, was calling…”DANGER, DANGER, DANGER!!”

In all seriousness though, he was calling out for a reason! As I looked out the window to see what all the commotion was about, I saw one of the adult hens, Don Pedro, was outside the enclosure. She was running with wings flapping toward an outside covered area. Then I saw it…a huge hawk inside the chicken yard, trying to escape. She was getting caught up on the chicken wire fencing that kind of bends in.

I ran outside with my Great Dane, Penni,…..

Penni the Great Dane!  Protector of all things chicken!!

Penni the Great Dane! Protector of all things chicken!!

…..who caught site of the large bird now sitting on the ground outside of the enclosure. Penni ran at the hawk. Although beautiful, it is a natural enemy to my flock. The hawk had an easy exit and flew to a nearby tree. I didn’t see anything within her grasp.

It appeared everyone was inside…there certainly was enough noise coming from the house. I opened the door and started counting…1, 2, 3, 4…..with the one hiding outside all 8 adults were accounted for. Time for the Chicken Littles…1, 2, 3,….7…7…wait where’s #8? I counted again…still 7. Quickly exiting, I started looking for #8. This was deja vu to when we lost our little rooster, Gretchen (post from July 2013, A Sad Reality.) At the backside of the hen house, huddled in a corner was my little #8!! Was she alive? I opened the gate and she got up walking away from me…then I as called to her, she came back to me and let me pick her up. It was my little Austin Healey…the little chicken born lame! (See my previous post in December 2013 – Premature Chick Hatch)

Young Austin Healey

Young Austin Healey

She cuddled her head under my chin and sat quietly, shaking. I tried to reassure her, as much as you can reassure a chicken, checked her over a bit, and not seeing anything, brought her back to the flock.

As i walked back to the house, I saw this…

My little Austin was injured by the hawk!

My little Austin was injured by the hawk!

Oh nooo, she was injured! I went back and found a puncture hole through the skin layer of her chest, under her right wing. She was no longer bleeding, and I could see the lining under her skin. It seemed intact. My poor little Austin…but she is strong, she had to be to survive the beginning of her life. She will be fine, and a little smarter. Thank goodness for our rooster, Benedict, who always keeps his eye on the sky!!!

This guy is an AWESOME rooster!!

This guy is an AWESOME rooster!!

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.

The Gentleman Rooster

Aesops Fables – THE ROOSTERS AND THE EAGLE
There were once two roosters who argued loudly. They wanted to prove who reigned over their flock and farm. Day and night the roosters crowed, proclaiming each one’s own strength and power. One day, crowing turned into fighting. One rooster saw that the other rooster was hurt. He stopped fighting as his kindness would not allow him to continue. The other rooster proclaimed his victory. Flapping his wings, he crowed louder than ever before. Running into the openness of the pasture, he jumped onto a log and announced his victory again, and again, drawing the attention of a soaring eagle. With quiet accuracy, the eagle snatched the rooster off the log and carried him away.
The moral: Victory comes in humility and kindness, while boastful pride can cause destruction.

Our rooster, Benedict, is a true gentleman rooster! He reigns over his flock with a firm hand, yet he is kind. He keeps the hens safe from the hawks that fly overhead (see previous post titled, “A Day in the Life…”), runs, I mean runs to a hen if she is calling out in distress, leads the flock to the chicken house when darkness approaches, and just a few days ago welcomed with open “wings” Chardonnay (our mama, broody hen) back to the flock. The more dominant hen, Don Pedro, tussled with Chardonnay as she first arrived…but Benedict jumped in between the two hens to stop the fighting.

As these events unfolded, the four oldest chicks had their first outing from the brooder. It happened to be a sunny day, and temps were in the 50’s so in full sun Lo Ri-dah, Jag, VW, and Pontiac stretched their legs! They were only out about 45 minutes before they lost their sun, but it was fun while it lasted!!

While I was out with the the four adventurers, Chardonnay jumped back in with those still in the brooder…and so did Benedict!! I was ready to jump in and save the babies in case Benny got aggressive, but this AWESOME rooster was a perfectly behaved “daddy” to his little brood. BTW, Benedict’s comb succumb to some frost bite this winter…the white patches are areas that were affected and are, hopefully, healing. The darker coloring on his feathers at the top of his neck is clinging dirt from the Vaseline, and NeoSporin I put on his comb.

The following movie stars Benedict, Chardonnay, Chevy, William Jr., Honda, and Austin Healey…

I’m hoping Benedict’s actions in the brooder is a good indication of the easy transition to come once the chicks are ready for the big leagues…joining the rest of the adult flock.

BTW, if you noticed, Austin Healey is doing FABULOUS (said in a very flamboyant manner!!!) Her legs / feet had some bruising as Chardonnay kept the little brood on their feet much of the day. As her legs have gained strength this bruising has calmed. Now that Chardonnay has left the brood completely, everyone is calmer and I have noticed there are more periods of resting. This has been good for our littlest member of the flock!!

My little cutie-ba-tutie!

My little cutie-ba-tutie!

Oh and in case your wondering if, Penni, our Great Dane is watching out for the new bunch of babies…you decide!! Hahahaha

Are you our Mother?

Are you our Mother?


I promise to watch over you... I may chase you, but I will protect you!

I promise to watch over you… I may chase you, but I will protect you!

Catching A Hatching

I have no words to say that would add to what the video already says….except maybe two things….my Great Dane, Penni, totally believes that all chick babies belong to her…and GOD IS COMPLETELY AWESOME!! I’ve never seen a complete hatching before, and I hope that the experience never grows old….

Have a GREAT Day everyone!!

A Day in the Life…..

….Of a Chicken!

It was a beautiful fall day. The sun was shining, giving warmth to the cool, damp, November morning. I had been away, not for more than a few hours. The welcome I received was as if a long, lost friend had returned from an extended absence.

There we were, my chickens and I, enjoying the warmth of the sun, basking in the knowledge that we were together again. Then it dawned on me, this flock of welcoming poultry were hoping that I had a bag of lettuce in my purse. But then, well, look what happened next…

Our reunion was interrupted as I went into the house. Within moments, I felt that I was being watched. I wondered from where the ever-present aura of watchfulness had sprung. Looking around, the culprit was exposed.

"Look guys, she's in there!"

“Look guys, she’s in there!”

My fascination with the flock was diminished as the reality of three dogs standing around with their legs crossed, looking up at me with pleading eyes led me back outside. Truth be told, the canine drive for eliminating outside was truly a blessing to our feathered friends.

The following events happened in an instant in time, yet slowly played out in great detail in front of my eyes. As the four of us opened the garage and walked out to the world awaiting us, Penni my Great Dane, ran to the right. Glancing that direction, a dark veil draped over the bliss of the morning. There swooping down toward the tiny patch of grass in front of our porch on which our chickens had just been gathered, was a very large, brown bird. Stealthy and silent, the hawk was quickly approaching. As if in a choreographed dance, Benedict our rooster, caught sight of the danger and started stomping and clucking loudly, sending out the alarm. The hens responded quickly and headed for the cover of the porch. As the hawk reached, what I would consider the striking vicinity, it must have noticed the approaching freight train named, Penni. Without hesitation, the hawk effortlessly turned to the left, and with completely silent movements disappeared into the horizon. Penni ran toward the direction it flew, but it was so quickly gone.

Quickly counting heads I found all present and accounted for. Benedict was doing his own counting…

The flock stayed hunkered down for several minutes under the chairs on the porch.

Hiding out from the big, bad monsters.

Hiding out from the big, bad monsters.

They came out and resumed their foraging, however, remained a little more on edge. Happily everyone survived, but the hawk now knows our address…she will be back. And she was back…today. I think she got a bit closer this time because I found a lot of feathers…a lot of Buff Orpington feathers which means either from Benedict (rooster), or Claudio (hen.)

My poor little chicken.

My poor little chicken.

All the other hens are Rhode Island Reds. Seeing the hawk once again, I found the flock split into two different hiding places. They managed to get enough courage to come back together, and my kids and I wrangled them into the chicken house…we then closed the door for the rest of the night. It was time to just stay indoors and calm down. Once again, all were accounted for.

So the big question is now….free range, or corralled under cover. One, obviously, has a larger danger factor than the other…but it also holds more freedom, better tasting eggs, and the ability to welcome me home. They seem happier since being able to free range, but maybe a bit less relaxed. What would you choose?

Images of Fall Mushrooms

After a relatively dry October (with the exception to the first few days of the month,) November 2nd brought the rain to the Willamette Valley of Oregon. I say “relatively dry” October, well, because I guess it was, to the locals (of which I can not call myself yet as I am a short-timer here still.) Although I’m not sure if it hit the record books, the weather reports all talked about how dry the month was. This is not to say, however, that it wasn’t wet…at least to this Bay Area transplant. The morning dew of the fall seemed to be enough at our elevation to keep the ground moist. The dogs’ muddy paws while digging in whatever critter hole that got their attention can attest to that. Ever see a Great Dane dig a hole? It’s a thing of beauty…quite the ankle breaker! Our little Rat Terrie/Poodle mix gets in there and adds fineness to the freshly dug casm, while our old guy, German Wirehaired Pointer who’s back legs can’t support his front legs digging anymore, directs the entire excavation project…it’s really quite comical to watch. Everyone gets red, clay, mud stuck to their paws and nails…my light colored carpet is now more of a rust color.

To get back on track…November 2nd brought the rains. Basically, if it hasn’t been raining, its been drizzling. If it hasn’t been drizzling, the fog has moved over everything and engulfed our place in a cloud. In other words, it has been constantly wet, with periodic spurts of sunshine. It has been chilly, but it hasn’t necessarily been cold. Due to the nature of the weather, we have been indoors more lately than the past few months. One and a half year old Great Danes don’t really appreciate this…so, it is outside we go. We like to take hikes this time of year since the brush has started to die back. As we walked through the canopy of Douglas Firs, Maple, and indigenous Oak trees something became very apparent. The initial rains of October, then the mildness of the weather the rest of that month, followed by the constant moisture of November and the cloud cover keeping the temperatures chilly, but not cold resulted in a veritable cornucopia of visual stimuli. Mushrooms!! A varietal abundance of mushrooms. As we went along, Penny followed the scent tracks of whatever went before us, and I took pics with my phone. I realized how much I don’t know about wild fungi, so I treat all of it like it’s poisonous. I’m not touching any of it, but it sure is pretty!

Maybe these are what the ants used for lamps in It's a Bug's Life.

Maybe these are what the ants used for lamps in It’s a Bug’s Life.

Mushrooms 2013

Big, gross, slimy, and ugly! Possibly a King Boulet??

Big, gross, slimy, and ugly! Possibly a King Boulet??

More of the big, gross, slimy, and ugly King Boulet group.

More of the big, gross, slimy, and ugly King Boulet group.

Like a beautiful flower.

Like a beautiful flower.

Oddly round.

Oddly round.

Beautiful rotting log ensemble.

Beautiful rotting log ensemble.

I thought this was some sort of wild animal poop...turned out to be a mushroom.  Black Elfin Saddle?  YUCK!

I thought this was some sort of wild animal poop…turned out to be a mushroom. Black Elfin Saddle? YUCK!

Mushrooms 2013

Like a delicate flower.  Japanese Parasol?

Like a delicate flower. Japanese Parasol?

Bell-Cap Panuelos?

Bell-Cap Panuelos?

Candy Caps??

Candy Caps??

A delicate cluster. Fairy Rings??

A delicate cluster. Fairy Rings??

Mushrooms 2013

Beautiful yet....I don't know if it's poisonous.

Beautiful yet….I don’t know if it’s poisonous.

Mushrooms 2013

Mushrooms 2013

Uhhhmmmm.....enough said!

Uhhhmmmm…..enough said!

And this weird thing…what the heck is this………..

Not even sure if this is a mushroom...it's some kind of gelatinous blob!  Gross.

Not even sure if this is a mushroom…it’s some kind of gelatinous blob! Gross.

It is really hard to try to identify these different types of mushrooms online. Good lesson as unless I am 100% sure what they are, I’m not going to touch them. Thankfully, my dogs don’t seem to want to either. They are pretty though. Since it is fall, I added a few pictures from our walk that aren’t mushroom related. I thought they were nice, although they don’t compare to actually being out there, exploring, and coming across these things that show it is indeed fall in Oregon.

That's my foot on the right....one BIGGGG leaf.

That’s my foot on the right….one BIGGGG leaf.

The fog creeping down the hills behind us, eventually covering us in a cloud.

The fog creeping down the hills behind us, eventually covering us in a cloud.

Penni and I found a friend.

Penni and I found a friend.

Such a cuite!

Such a cuite!

Hello little California Newt.

Hello little California Newt.

A beautiful canopy.

A beautiful canopy.

This one lone Maple Tree, surrounded by young Douglas Firs, dropped all of these leaves.

This one lone Maple Tree, surrounded by young Douglas Firs, dropped all of these leaves.

The pond is freshly full again.

The pond is freshly full again.

I hope you are enjoying the fall, it is a gorgeous time of year.

Update on the Deer Kill

I thought I would update you on the recent deer kill (see previous post.)

Tony, my son, Will, and I gathered up whatever scattered, leftover pieces of deer we could find along the route to the site where parts of the kill had been covered by whatever killed it. As we approached the pile, it looked quite depleted. Tony laughed and teased me about the pile…there was really nothing there, and he hadn’t seen the original pile site. Even though the wildlife had a week to eat from it, I expected to find some bones, hooves, or something. Thankfully, Will, was there to back me up…Tony was having a good time laughing that he had just dug a hole with the backhoe and there was nothing to bury except the head that Penni and carried up the hill, the spine that we found along the way, and some tufts of fur mixed in with the leaves. To “save face,” I insisted that the leaves and fur were to be buried, as well.

I knew that the saga of this little deer was not over. Experience had already taught me that as time went on, we would be seeing deer parts showing up with one very happy Great Dane named, Penni. There’s not much you can do about that. The next day, however, changed this scenario. Penni had gone down the hill and was barking at something. One thing about Penni is that her bark means something, she is a quiet girl unless there is something to talk about…and there must have been something to really talk about. I jumped in the RTV and rushed down the hill…there she was, standing in front of something, jumping (she likes to pounce on things…it’s really cute) and barking. She backed-off as I approached. Lo and behold, it was the mysteriously, disappeared carcass. It was mostly just the hide…two legs (bones and hooves), however, were also attached!

This was awesome because whatever was left, if found, would be small and not too gross…the big parts were all found. I guess we’ll never really know what killed that deer, but I think, like some had suggested,it was probably a cougar. Everything that could be eaten was….nature can be really cool…and a bit frightening!

?????? About a Deer Kill

FYI……THERE IS A GROSS-OUT FACTOR TO THIS POST…. SOME PICTURES ARE NOT TOO PLEASANT AS THEY DEPICT A DEER THAT HAS MET HIS DEMISE BY ANOTHER ANIMAL, OR HUMAN. THE JURY IS STILL OUT ON THIS, BUT I WOULD REALLY LOVE YOUR INPUT IF YOU CAN TELL BY WHAT I DESCRIBE, WHAT MIGHT HAVE KILLED THIS LITTLE DEER. THANK YOU!!

It was Saturday morning, October 13, 2013, my three dogs and I were walking the fence line of our property looking for areas in need of repair. All was well that morning…there was a spot on which a giant limb from a very mature Douglas Fir had broken off leaving the wire fencing smashed down. Important find as it would make easy access for a dog chasing a squirrel or a deer to just keep on running, and find themselves on our neighbor’s property (of which I do not feel would be very welcomed.)

Tucker feeling better!!

Tucker feeling better!!

Karli - Our fourteen year old sweetie.

Karli – Our fourteen year old sweetie.

Penni our Great Dane!

Penni our Great Dane!

So, to get back to our walk….everything was going fine. We found the one flaw in the fence line..good find…then making our way to the plateau before the downhill slope to the creek, the dogs stopped, (except for Karli, our 14 yr. old rat terrier/poodle mix who has lost most of her sensibility and is not as sharp as she used to be.) Penni, our Great Dane, started barking, lurching forward, but not moving forward. I immediately went on the alert, hoping this band of merry hikers had not cornered a skunk, or worse yet a cougar. As I cautiously approached, yelling for Karli to stop moving forward (Tucker our old German WireHair Pointer guy had already lay down in the grass as his rear legs don’t like to just stand still) I could see the object of their roadblock.

It was a deer, a very well cleaned, fresh kill. By this I mean what was left on the bones (which wasn’t much) was still very pink and red….the bones, and joint areas were still very pearly in color. The stomach had been removed and pushed away from the body, and a large portion of the deer had been buried under leaves and dry grasses. Since we were walking, I quickly got the dogs under control and we left the area. No way did I want to be standing around a fresh kill with the possibility of a cougar or coyotes lurking in the area. Later in the afternoon, I went back down with the RTV (a quick get-away), a knife (for protection…this is where I know I need to take my gun handling to the next level…I didn’t feel comfortable handling the gun myself, since my husband was away), and my adult son, Will, came down with me to help….the dogs stayed home!! I wanted to check out this kill more closely.

Okay, so here is what is disturbing, or more correctly, something I’m a bit concerned about, something that just doesn’t make sense…to me…remember, I’m new to this game. Being from the city, I’ve seen wild animals hit by cars, fallen from trees, or maybe attacked by the neighborhood cat, but I’ve never seen the remains of a fresh human or predator hunted animal. At least two of the legs were dismembered and were part of the bury pile….what else was under there I am not sure, but I could see two legs/hooves sticking out. Lying on top of the bury pile (not buried) were the entire head, neck, spine and one leg still attached, although I don’t know how the one leg was staying attached as the hip area did not look like it was intact. Okay, here’s the weird part….the ribs were basically gone, except for a couple…there was absolutely no meat left on these exposed bones. The deer’s head was laying back, and the skin looked like it had been pealed back, rather than torn or chewed. Using a stick I moved the head for a better view, and the skull looked empty…the brain was gone. I had a co-worker tell me months ago that predators go for the brain…I guess it is very tasty to them. Again, the stomach had been removed and set aside (it was broken open); the intestines seemed intact and removed. It all just seemed so clean…was this an animal kill?? ***WARNING….THIS IS WHERE THE PICTURES GET GRAPHIC****

The deer's stomach separated from the body.

The deer’s stomach separated from the body.


This is how we found it...partially buried.

This is how we found it…partially buried.

Close-up of exposed carcass.

Close-up of exposed carcass.

Close up of neck, head area. See how skin is peeled back.

Close up of neck, head area. See how skin is peeled back.

Another view of head / neck area.

Another view of head / neck area.

So my questions are these… would a human hunter butcher a deer at the kill site? It is hunting season…I don’t want to think that someone hunted that animal on our property…but, I did hear very loud gunfire the night before around 12 or 1 in the morning…two shots. It was not that alarming because once in awhile a farmer will shoot at night to scare a coyote or something away from their farm. It is possible that it was shot on one side of the fence line and then the second shot killed it on our side. It is the coward’s way to hunt if that is what took place…they would have probably used the “Deer in the headlights” scenario with a very bright light shined in the deer’s face so it becomes almost paralyzed for the moment, long enough to get the shot….cowardly, and illegal!! Does it sound more like a predatory kill…and if so…what type…cougar or coyote? BTW, the deer seemed on the smaller side.

So today, we are going to dig a big hole and bury the remaining carcass. We have given the wildlife a week to get a good feed, now I need to get rid of it because Penni is more than enthralled with dragging leftovers up the hill and chomping on them….YUCK!!! She’s had her mouth washed out with soap a few times this week, as well as, the rest of her. I think her defining moment was bringing the skull up to the house and dropping it near the front door yesterday….ENOUGH IS ENOUGH…BLEH!!!! Here is a little clip from her deer adventures last year with a deer the sheriff shot on our property because it had been clipped by a car and was suffering in the cold….enjoy…she sure did!!!

She eventually did drop it!!!

One Day in September

Life is full of “firsts”…some you can foresee, and some you never thought you’d experience. Two years ago and beyond, I never would have pictured the “first” that was necessary one day in September.

I had mentioned in a previous post about our “bad boy”, Merlot. This animated, exuberant rooster had changed his approach from assertive, to aggressive. His aim was the flock, and any hen not falling into place was to be punished….and punish he did! He chased, he pecked, he pulled out feathers, and he jumped forward with talons leading the way. The three hens that were loyal to Benedict…Don John, Don Pedro, and Claudio were the objects of Merlot’s main aggression. He was relentless in his pursuit, grabbing and pulling the hens by their combs….our entire chicken community was constantly disheveled and on edge.

Benedict, our buff orpington rooster, emerged as a lover, not a fighter. In the beginning he stood up for his three gals…chasing Merlot away…Merlot would respond. Until one day….one day in September. On that day, Merlot raised his talons to Benedict and Benedict cowered to Merlot’s rising aggression. It was 89 degrees that day…Merlot had the entire flock sequestered inside the hen house. Anytime they tried to get off of their roosts to get food or water….he punished them. They were breathing through their mouths and suffering in the heat of the day. As I chased Merlot out of the chicken house he turned on me biting and raising his neck feathers. He ran back inside, to reestablish the hostage situation, I decided it was time for his tyrant reign to end.

Merlot was separated from the flock that day. The solution was apparent. Given his aggressive nature, he would be vulnerable to getting into the wrong hands wanting him for fighting, and he was not appropriate to lead a flock. We decided that we would finish the responsibility we started when we added him to our little farm. He would meet a humane end. Everything went well…it was quick, and the processing without blemish. Merlot is now in our freezer awaiting to grace our table side-by-side with our Thanksgiving turkey. We think he deserves that place of honor!!

So please help us celebrate Merlot with a video tribute…light hearted, and exemplifying of the life that was Merlot’s!!

Discovering My Small Town

There have been some interesting times of adjustment throughout the last two years of living in our small town, but last night cemented my longing to be here…to be part of this farming / logging community. It all came in the form of the opening high school football game. This was our first game….this was our first experience of how an entire community…town…rallies around, and is united by their sports teams. As I looked around at the crowd and witnessed the long-standing friendships, the commitment to this high school football team, the Cheer Team, the families, the younger kids running around behind the back of the end-zone waiting for their chance to someday be on that field…in that uniform, the mere fact that 90% of everyone at the game was wearing a shirt showing their pride in this team; I realized something my experience thus far had lacked. There was richness here, in this small community in a different way than what I have known.

In the Bay Area, the illusion of financial richness for everyone is all around you, but the feeling of community within the city we lived suffered a great deal. There was division around financial status, the neighborhood you lived in, and whether they want to admit it or not…race. The difference came for us by being part of our Christian church family, and the small population within the Little League / Bobby Sox Softball organizations. This is where we found community among the diversity that the Bay Area holds.

Public high school football games, and other youth sporting events were something that happened in the community, but in most cases, didn’t draw the community’s attention. Participation was generally based on individuals having a variant that was directly related to that particular sport. In fact, anytime one of our district’s high schools petitioned to let students (Heaven forbid) park their cars on the streets surrounding the high school, install lights, or improve the fields, they were met with multiple city counsel meetings, and threats of lawsuits to hash out the opposition that the schools own direct neighborhood harbored. Not all, but many of these members of the community even though they had bought their homes next to the high schools, or community sports fields…felt inconvenienced and threatened at the thought that campus life even existed. “What…you mean there is going to be traffic, and people parking on the street outside of my home because there is some sort of school event going on? Come on, City Counsel…tell them that they can’t do this!!” Unfortunately, these circumstances were where you found most of the community’s involvement when it came to the local sports teams. In contrast, the community richness that I witnessed last night in my small town was amazing, and was greatly missing in the place I am from. After 22 years of living in the same city of California, I cannot say if there was anything that truly united that community.

So I have to ask myself…am I becoming small town, or in my heart have I always been?? Are the chickens, the wildlife, the frogs in the pond, the quaint downtown, the lack of well known restaurants, the 40 minute drive to the nearest Target Store, and the time I arrived late to an appointment because I got behind a 20 mph hay baler driving down the two-lane-no-passing road starting to replace the fast-paced, convenience of the city? My love for our property has been present from the first time I laid eyes on it. My love for our small town was imprinted on my heart and mind last night. I may be running on emotions right now, but I have to look and know that the game, the town’s rallying around the team, the complete silence during the band’s playing of the National Anthem…there is so much that my little slice of Oregon offers beyond what I have seen with my eyes. Perfect, no….incredibly ‘Bedford Falls” like…yes (well, and no – but that’s another story..hahaha!)

The noise was actually deafening!

Blackberries + Sugar = Jam!!!

I’m almost embarrassed to admit how excited I get over those little, basic, skills that people have been doing as part of normal, everyday life for countless centuries. Being a newbie at all things even remotely related to homesteading, (with the exception of growing small planter gardens) taking my blackberries and turning them into something I can spread on toast (preferably San Francisco Sourdough!!!) makes me so happy!! I feel like an out-of-the-ordinary homesteading geek…..meaning if other homesteaders (I totally do not even feel that I am qualified to fit into that category) read this blog, they would probably think I’m a geek-homesteading-wanna-be! This is all such a huge experiment for me…I feel like a kid in a candy shop!!

Last summer was the first time I attempted to make blackberry jam. Looking online, I found that you can make jam with our without pectin. Pectin?? What the heck is Pectin?? So I chose not to use that unfamiliar product, and go with what I knew….berries and sugar. I found a recipe at http://savorysweetlife.com/2009/08/how-to-make-blackberry-or-raspberry-jam/ that allowed me to do just that.

Basically, its 1 cup of sugar, to 1 cup of berries and 2 tbsp. lemon juice. That’s it! Simple and to the point. I like fruit products that are a little more tart than sweet, so I reduced the sugar amount to about 3/4 of a cup (or a little less, but more than a 1/2) for each cup of berries. I also prefer seedless jam, so I blended just the berries, then smashed the liquid through a strainer leaving the seeds behind. The result was a very smooth, tart, yet sweet, delicious blackberry jam. Without Pectin, it doesn’t last as long in the fridge…but in my home, it gets eaten up pretty quickly. So here is the process…(most of these pictures were taken from last year’s jam production.)

The stars of the show....Wild Blackberries!

The stars of the show….Wild Blackberries!


The Ninja blended berries!

The Ninja blended berries!


Blended blackberries getting ready to separate the fruit from the seed.

Blended blackberries getting ready to separate the fruit from the seed.


The pulp and seeds left from working the blackberry juices through the strainer.

The pulp and seeds left from working the blackberry juices through the strainer.


Now combined, sugar and blackberry juices boil for 5 minutes.

Now combined, sugar and blackberry juices boil for 5 minutes.



The boiled jam now simmers for 15 more minutes.

The boiled jam now simmers for 15 more minutes.

[
Had a bit of a spill over here...sticky mess!

Had a bit of a spill over here…sticky mess!


And all of a sudden...it's blackberry jam time!!!

And all of a sudden…it’s blackberry jam time!!!


Uhhmmm...YUMMMM!!!  Blackberry jam on sourdough toast!!!

Uhhmmm…YUMMMM!!! Blackberry jam on sourdough toast!!!

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Our French Oasis

FAMILY LIFE IN A FRENCH COUNTRY VILLAGE

House by the water.

From blank block to new home in Mandurah, Western Australia.

Chantel Mickaela

ITS TIME FOR YOU TO BE HUNGRAY !!!

A Bright Ray of Hope

I'm a temporarily staying-at-home mom of two living in Oregon, learning all over again (after 15 years of city life) how to garden, harvest, and put up food. You might see posts about baking, parenting, crafting, organization - anything that strikes my fancy!

Homesteading NJ

Keeping the garden in the Garden State.

Winkos: a straw bale building adventure in Poland

A journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle

Press Publish

Inspiration and tools for better blogging from WordPress.com

Cherry Orchard Homestead

Learning to live a Simple and Self-Sufficient Life

Humble Little Homestead

Living Simply and Enjoying the Good Life.

happilybackward

an exercise in simplification

Health, Life, and going back to basics

What I've been discovering about the ultimate self-sufficient lifestyle

Kevin Hotter

Attorney β€’ Comedian β€’ Photographer β€’

Crockern Farm

The evolution of an old farmhouse, an American woman, an Englishman and their dogs.

Mucking Moms

Horse Showing, Stall Mucking, Kid Raising, Garden Growing, Animal Rearing, Creative Crafting, Home Cooking, Penny Pinching, Coupon Clipping, Family Loving Moms

Preppin' Mamas

Get your prep on...no matter what comes your way!

My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!

The ancient eavesdropper

Nature's nuances in a nutshell

Willow Creek Farm

Homesteading from the High-Altitude Mountains to the High Plains of Colorado

Cheese Acres Farm

Happy hens lay healthy eggs!

The Jones Garden Blog

We plant, we water, but only God can make it grow.

thekitchensgarden

Sustainable. Self Sufficient. Loving the Land. Join Us

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