Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Archive for the ‘Homesteading’ Category

A Farming Mindset

May 2016

It’s times like this that I feel like we are actually doing this.  By this, I mean farming, ranching, homesteading…whatever label you wish to attach to it.  I am reluctant, almost embarrassed to call ourselves, or what we do any of these titles.  I have so much “city” engraved in every part of me that I cannot shake the feeling that although my soul lives and breathes here on these forested acres, I don’t quite belong here.  I’m a misfit to this beautiful land that I meld into with every piece of me; I don’t have the knowledge it deserves.  I don’t know how to do the farming things that I really want to do here.  My feet have been girded in concrete for all of my life (well except for the sand of the awesome CA beaches) but this dirt, this dirt that holds so much potential and promise is a mystery to me. (more…)

Rainy Days and Mondays

I would like to be a Weather Reporter in the Pacific Northwest this winter of 2016.  I know there is more to it than it seems….but, really, unless you are predicting a day of sunshine, you are practically guaranteed to be right.  Rain, rain, and more rain every day.  I am totally NOT complaining.



An unexpected break in the rain

I like the rain.  I like how it sounds, I like how it feels, and I like the freshness that it brings.  Right now, we have had about 7 days of pretty constant rain with maybe a few short breaks on a couple of those days.  Otherwise, rain is the order of the day, as it has been for about a month.  As I look at the extended forecast….the next 15 days show rain….everyday….at 60+ percent which, up here means one thing….it gonna keep right on raining!!


The goats are mostly hanging out, inside their house and do not venture out unless it is a very light mist….or less.  This makes for the need of a deeper kind of cleaning everyday.  Their bedding is deep in straw, and hay that they have decided wasn’t good enough to eat <sigh>.  We need to remove the wet, urine soaked straw mixed with poop…which makes like a poopy mud.  I do not like nor intend for my little herd to spend their days and nights housed in dirty digs.  So I rake out the wet straw in the places they seem to like to pee, down deep into the layers, until I hit mostly dry material.


Sprinkling a product called, Zeolite, over the now damp…not wet….exposed areas helps to control the formation of ammonia.  This powdery product really does help.  By throwing down a new, thick layer of straw, our year old whethers have a dry place to bed down for the night….tomorrow afternoon, I will clean it all up again…and at least for the next 15 days….it will be the same routine.  When they stay inside all day there is more to do.  But, it makes me feel good to give them a clean, dry place to hang their hats at the end of the day.  This routine will ease up a bit once we build the small, but larger barn, hopefully next month.


Sometimes, I wish they were chickens!!  Hahaha

Thank you for visiting on this rainy Monday.  I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful week ahead.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami   http://haveadanehilldanes.com

#doesitrainalotinoregon  #dogoatslikerain  #spanishmeatgoats #zeolite #doeszeiolitecontrolammonia


Fun With Goats

And the forecast today is ra…… wait a second…. let me double check that!  This just into the newsroom ….. it appears an anomaly has made its way into the northwest Oregon region ….. all forecasting models predict a day of grey, no real sunshine, BUT… no real rain.  Let’s look at that again, Tom, YES…the current mapping is correct… NO RAIN IN THE FORECAST!!

November 2015

That was yesterday!!  I think the collective shown forth in a happy dance!!


Although quite cold, Tony and I took the opportunity to get the goats out, and to stretch their legs a bit with a hike through the brush.


I think they appreciated the change of flavor from basically hay, and their nighttime grain.


The rain has returned, the goats are keeping dry in their house, and I am continually perplexed as to given the choice of nice green hay and yellow, pale straw….Why does straw always win out?????


Thank you for visiting the herd today.  I hope you have a wonderful, safe Sunday!!

Your friend from Oregon,


We’ve Left the Farm…


…it wasn’t easy to do.  The decision was the result of a few months of thinking, planning, and visiting options for the furry four legged, and feathery two legged residents of our little community.   The circumstances driving us away were/are important, equipped with their own unique pulls.  So, during this past week, we made the final arrangements for the animals, packed up, and left the farm.  To say it was a little emotional for me would be like saying, “The sky is blue” … a bit obvious.  I haven’t left, left my new home for 3.5 years….except for a short trip to Disneyland a few months after we had moved here.  Our beautiful piece of God’s great creation has become my most favorite place to be in this world….sorry Walt.  Really, why would I want to leave it?

For my Bay Area peeps... Can you tell what area we were flying over?

For my Bay Area peeps… Can you tell what area we were flying over?

So, is this the end of our Oregon story?  No!!, because you see, although we did leave the farm, it was only for the weekend!!!  Hahaha….gotcha!!!  Since this blog is about the journey of moving from our life-long lives in the San Francisco Bay Area to a small town in Oregon, and how our lives change, grow, and expand, I thought it was only natural to write about the experience of my first time visiting home.  It was all so familiar, yet all so different.

Leaving is a struggle, it turns out, I don’t really like the “leaving” part.  My mind is filled with, “What if’s” and “look at those big brown eyes,

IMG_8469 - Version 2

she’s not going to understand why I’ve been gone so long.”  The longer the delay, the bigger the, “What if’s” become.  In contrast, the logical part of my mind works on the premise of the “to-do” list….the preparations so that leaving is actually possible.  It’s a little different now….it’s not just about packing….and it is helpful in keeping the “What if” bugs out of my head….they are definite energy zappers.  Studies show that, approximately, only 8% of the things we worry about are likely to occur, or actually impact our lives in some way…..Who studies these things??!!  Good to remember…..did it help…..well, I didn’t worry about the flock much at all while I was gone…LOL….they are pretty self-sufficient….with a little help…..

New Chicken House 2015

……like a quick, temporary fix to the new chicken house.  Wait….What??!!  I didn’t mention the new chicken house…….well, it’s not quite finished, but it has an automatic door that open and closes with light and darkness., hence nobody needs to do that for them.  I just looked around and grabbed what I could to make their lives comfortable.  I hope they were!

Thank you for stopping by and visiting today!!  I hope your day is amazing!!!

Your friend from Oregon,




Vegetable Lentil Soup

The past four days our family has been entertaining that unwelcomed guest….the “Ick!”  It all began with a horrendous sneeze on my way to work on Monday morning….it went downhill quickly from there.

My sweet Penni...she knows Mama doesn't feel well.

My sweet Penni…she knows Mama doesn’t feel well.

I will spare you the….details except to say, I had not felt as horrible as I did on, Tuesday, and Wednesday, for several (probably at least 15) years.  I did manage, however, to cook up a pot of vegetable soup, which I think gave me the edge to get back to work today (which by the way is Thursday…depending on what time I post this, it may say Friday…but my time zone still says it’s Thursday.)  Today, I feel like I normally do on the worst day of most colds I experience, so I’m feeling pretty well in comparison, but now, it’s migrating through the family. 😦

The infamous, Alton Brown

The infamous, Alton Brown

Anyway, since I know many are working through a lot of the “Ick” this flu season, I thought I’d post the recipe for my hearty vegetable soup.  I used Alton Brown’s Garden Vegetable Soup recipe as my base…then added/deleted/exchanged a few things….. (and, NO, I do not presume to cook better than the infamous Alton Brown, hahaha  that’s too funny!!  I changed things to fit the taste buds of my family.) Those items in italics are my changes.

Garden Vegetable Lentil Soup

My Rating…A+
Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/garden-vegetable-soup-recipe.html …..with my changes
Yield:  6 to 8 servings

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, white part only (from approximately 3 medium leeks)

Make sure you soak them to loosen all the dirt.

Make sure you soak them to loosen all the dirt.

2 tablespoons finely minced garlic

Lots and lots of garlic!!  Keeps away vampires, and knocks out the "Ick"

Lots and lots of garlic!! Keeps away vampires, and knocks out the “Ick”

I obviously cut the carrots before the garlic...LOL

I obviously cut the carrots before the garlic…LOL

Kosher salt & Pepper
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds (approximately 2 medium)
1 can Garbanzo beans, drained, but not rinsed

I left the skins on since I was going for the "kill the Ick" factor.

I left the skins on since I was going for the “kill the Ick” factor.

2 cups fresh green beans, broken or cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 quarts vegetable broth; Have extra on hand as needed
4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes  (I used 1 can of tomato paste instead, because my people don’t seem to like chunky tomatoes….except me that is!)
1-2 cups corn
1 cup, Bob’s Red Mill dry split Lentils, and Vegetable Soup kernels

Bob's Red Mill
1/4 tsp Cumin
Red Pepper flakes to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice                                                                                                              For a creamier texture:   Boil 2 plus cups of chopped cauliflower in enough water to cover (don’t forget to add a touch of salt)…once softened, add cauliflower and water into food processor with 1 tbls of olive oil, and pulse until creamy.  Add to soup.


Heat the olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the leeks, garlic, and a pinch of salt and sweat until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.


Add the carrots, garbanzo beans, and green beans and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add to Veggie Soup

Add the stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the tomatoes, corn kernels, dried lentils/vegetables, cumin, red pepper flakes, and pepper.Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the parsley and lemon juice. Season, to taste, with kosher salt. Serve immediately.

Vegetable Lentil Soup

This soup is hearty, chewy, and delicious.  Keep an extra quart of Vegetable broth on hand to add as you go along, depending on how soupy you want it.  If you try it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…but if I were you…I’d tweak it to fit your family’s taste buds too!!!  Did it work to help me get well faster….well, I don’t think it hurt, but it’s definitely not a cure…just sayin’.

Hoping you stay healthy the rest of this “Ick” prevalent season!!  BTW, the beauty of adding the cauliflower is that you won’t have dairy products for creaminess, which, adds more congestion when you have the flu or a cold.

Waiting for Mama to come home.

Waiting for Mama to come home.

Thanks for visiting the farm today…next winter, my goal will be to have enough vegetables to can to make this soup from all my own, homegrown veggies!!!  Only the next couple of seasons, and this year’s garden will tell!!  I’m excited for this year’s garden!!!!

Your friend from Oregon,



A Purple Sunrise

Our morning sky has literally been on fire…completely stunning.  I wish I had a passenger with me during  a recent morning drive, just to take pictures of the horizon to the east.  I’ll do my best to try to explain it to you.

Okay, let me walk you through this.  In lieu of a picture, let your mind meld into my description, but first, clear your mind…..now close your eyes….do you have them closed??

HA!! Show of hands!!!!  How many of you actually closed your eyes?  But seriously, I wish you could close your eyes and still read this post.  It does help with imagery.  Come with me, and experience my morning.

So, you’re walking out your door, and there is darkness all around you.


Glancing upwardly, you see a vague bluing on the horizon, indicating that the sun is awakening, and starting to rise.  Turning your head slightly east, the warmth of pink, orange and yellow have begun to sneak through the spaces in the sky that the tall trees have agreed to share (oh, and our power pole….but I don’t really see that 🙂 .)


As you leave for that day’s work, excitement fills your mind.  You ponder the masterpiece that awaits you, as you approach the open horizon of your flatter scaped neighboring farms.  The beauty of the sunrise is never disappointing.  The Master Painter, creates an astonishing symphony of colors, shades, and textures…new every morning.  You realize that, oddly enough, you are thankful for your morning drive out of town….that this time on the road is much more than mundane travel.  It is a visit to the largest canvas ever painted.

I cannot capture the brilliance of the scene.

I cannot capture the brilliance of the scene.

Moment by moment, color is encroaching, and the sky is a smoldering fire anticipating the fullness of it’s flame.  All of a sudden, the horizon has opened revealing ….. a fleeting creation that speaks to one’s soul.  The eastern mountain range presents itself in the opaqueness of a deep blackish-bluish-grey.  A lighter grey, fluffy, ribbon sprawls horizontally across the base of the mountains, yet an intermittent, lighter ribbon dots across that same range in a slightly higher position.  As your eyes move up through the darkness, complete awe fills your mind….your eyes have landed upon the majestic silhouette of one of the many volcanoes that watch over the entirety of the Willamette Valley and beyond.


A bright light appears, outlining the volcanic mountain range, and just above it, the brilliance of the sunrise reaches forth presenting in yellow, into orange, into deep reddish orange, into the darkest hue of pink, melding into a deep, dark red which very quickly turns to a sonnet of purple hues that reaches, literally, into every orafis of one’s heart, mind, body, and soul.  In the silence of the sunrise, the Creator, Jehova,  loudly pronounces His majesty.  I am in complete awe, and gladly paying close attention to His dramatic proclamation.  My day is now in motion.


Little by little, the sun has arisen.  The beauty of the early morning has waned, yet there is great anticipation….tomorrow, there is another sunrise!!

A sunrise from the past.....since I can't take one of the future..LOL!

A sunrise from the past…..since I can’t take one of the future..LOL!

Thank you for visiting my beautiful Oregon today.  Although we left the forest to experience a larger piece of the Pacific Northwest, I hope you found something beautiful to take with you.

Please have a wonderful Sunday!!

Your friend from Oregon,


Egg-zample of Diversity

Penni and Lilly

Penni and Lilly

Chicken eggs…keep me thoroughly entertained.  Really!  There is a kind of, “Treasure Hunt,” satisfaction that happens every time I go out to collect them.  I never really know what I’m going to find….well…I don’t usually expect to find dinosaur eggs or anything like that, but I’m always hoping to come upon that golden egg…..wait….that was Aesop’s goose.  However, in Laos, there is a similar fable with a hen being the giver of the golden egg….it could happen!!!


Our very first hens, remember them…the Untouchables (meaning, these hens and our rooster, Benedict, will never visit the stew pot…they are the Untoucables)…started laying eggs about a year and a half ago.  This was my very first experience with eggs not bought in a grocery store.  At first I thought, “Uuuhhmmm…..EEEWWWW!”  They looked different than store bought eggs….they weren’t…..perfectly sized and formed.  The shells had blemishes….this couldn’t be okay….could it?  Well, I quickly learned that they are very much OKAY….and delicious!!!

Here is a sampling of how free range chicken eggs can differ one from another…..

A Symphony in Eggs

A Symphony in Eggs

….pay no attention to the ketchup packets….hahaha…they provided structural support 🙂  As you can tell, I have all brown egg layers.  The difference in shading is quite remarkable.  I wonder what determines the shading from hen to hen or egg to egg….hhmmmm…..lots of things I suppose.

Eggs 2014

Home-grown, free range eggs come out spotty with deposits of pigment dotting the beautifully browned shell.  Notice the little warty thing on the egg to the left….those happen too.  I imagine those are little extra deposits of calcium.  It’s all good!!

Eggs 2014

Sometimes, the spots look like someone spattered white paint all over them.

Eggs 2014

Is this splotching pigmentation deposits, as well??  I don’t know…but it is common, and does not affect the integrity of the egg.  I will admit, the first eggs that I discovered with this kind of….decorative coloring…were discarded.  I just didn’t like them….I soon learned that the goodness inside was beautiful, perfectly formed, and perfectly healthy.

Torpedo Egg

Torpedo Egg

Some of my hens have a great sense of humor…..they lay torpedo eggs!!  Seriously, I think I have one hen in particular…not sure which one….that lays these extra extra large, elongated eggs.  I feel bad for this hen as laying these eggs must be quite the feat!!   Many times these eggs are more fragile…..

Egg 2014

…and their smaller ends come out a bit wrinkled…sometimes cracked.  The torpedo egg below….

Extreme Torpedoing

Extreme Torpedoing

Torpedo Egg cracking

Torpedo Egg cracking

….is an example of the cracking that can occur.  Only the outer shell is cracked, but the integrity of the egg has been compromised.  This egg either goes into the compost pile, or directly to our Great Dane, Penni.

Eggs 2014

Of course, my hens lay perfect eggs…why not…they, themselves, are incredibly perfect!!  Doesn’t that egg look entirely delicious!!  The goodness inside is like no other egg you’ve ever tasted, unless of course, you have the privilege of raising, or buying true, free range eggs yourself.  I can’t even order egg dishes in restaurants any more (with the exception of eggs benedict.)  My hens have completely spoiled me!

Eggs 2014

Just look at the depth of color that yoke has!!  It is fully of an amazing amount of omega-3s…truly, very healthy!!  One thing you may notice is how the yolk kind of separated from the white in this picture.  Many times, this is what happens when you cook eggs that are same-day fresh.  It does make it easier for the yolk to break if you are trying to fry it.



Making a tiny omelette with two tiny eggs.

Making a tiny omelette with two tiny eggs.

I usually have a supply in the fridge, and am generally cooking up week old eggs rather than same day.  It does make a difference in the integrity, especially if you’re going for that “flip” when creating over-easy yumminess.  I keep a carton of about 2 week old eggs for hard boiling, as the shell won’t stick as much to the white when pealed.  HHHmmmm….makes you think, doesn’t it….how old are the eggs we buy at the grocer….I never had a problem with shell to egg-white sticking in hard boiled eggs when I was buying them…..HHHmmmmm!!

Quiche 2014

How about that lovely beauty….my first quiche!!

I think it’s easy to say that my hens’ free ranging, farm fresh eggs are the star of the show around here.  If you’ve never indulged in a golden delight raised by one of your local small chicken farms…do yourself a favor and get a dozen….

Beautiful golden gems.

Beautiful golden gems.

….I think you’ll be hooked….so be prepared, there’s no going back!!

Thanks for visiting the farm today!  I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.

Your friend from Oregon,



Frozen in Ice

November 2014

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


….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,

Walnuts, Walnuts, Everywhere…

My life has been shrouded in the realm of walnuts. My earliest memories include my grandpa sitting after dinner cracking walnuts. Once I had the hand strength to squeeze the metal nut cracker hard enough to break the shell, I would sit next to Gramps, cracking walnuts along with him. After that, I lived most of my adult life in a home with a giant black walnut tree which stood 50 ft. tall, and had a span of branch width of at least that many feet if not 60. It was huge, and provided shelter for squirrels, raccoons, and opossum. I loved that big old tree. I still have walnuts in my life.

Black Walnut Tree 2014

These trees are dropping round, squishy things with a hard pit that threaten to twist your ankle upon a misstep.

Black Walnut Tree 2014

There are five of them, all abundantly dropping as quickly as the leaves are falling.

Black Walnut Tree 2014

They do resemble ornaments hanging in the breeze. I wonder how white twinkling lights would look strewn about the branches?

Black Wlanut Trees

After the last big rain, the trees are more devoid…..

Walnut Trees 2014
Walnut Trees 2014

…but now, the ground is covered. They do make quite the mess.

Dropped Walnuts 2014

After talking with a friend about collecting and drying walnuts, my curiosity was ignited. I Googled the process and found some good information. This year, we are going to try our hand at collecting, de-husking, drying, and harvesting the nut from the very hard, thick shell. Black walnuts differ greatly in shell construction than the English variety that are usually sold in grocery stores.

Black Walnut 2014

The shells are harder to crack, and instead of a two chamber contraption, it has four.

One older shell, and a new one that I cracked today showing the wet nut.

One older shell, and a new one that I cracked today showing the wet nut.

I have read that the meat of the black walnut, once dried, has a wonderfully nutty flavor. It is apparently, well worth the effort, and will keep well in the freezer for two years. I hope this works out, and will help cut the costs of enjoying these healthy, meaty nuts.

Thanks for enjoying the farm with me today!

Your friend from Oregon,

The Green of Spr, Uhhmm, Autumn

Click “PLAY” if you’d like an added ambiance to this post.

Spring is not the exclusive season for new growth. Turns out, Autumn’s early rains are amazing for springing life back into the lifeless, dry, landscape of late summer. This year, the long, hot, dry summer caused more dryness to the land than we have experienced in our three short years of living upon it, and an additional six of visiting it. Seriously, it’s true … but my heart goes out to California where the long, dryness of summer has lasted through too many seasons. Hopefully, this will be the year that the mountains get a great snow pack, and the reservoirs fill back up. Praying for that!!

Take a look at the magical qualities that just a few days of rain can have on a landscape pleading for a drink of water….a 6.68″ glass of water….

September 2014

October 2014

September 2014

October 2014

September 2014

October 2014

September 2014

October 2014

Can you see the rain??

October 2014

I hope you have a fantastic Monday!! Thanks for walking in the rain with me today!!

Your friend from Oregon,

Go Giants!!!

I’m trying to break the silence, but every time I start to write, I back space and take those words off of the page. See, I did it again…I just typed two sentences, only to backspace them away. So although the farm has written it’s own stories, and is anxious to tell them, I have a definite event to speak about today….occurring 600 plus miles away from this forest….



Yesterday’s (Saturday, 10-25-14) game was exceptionally exciting….that was some really great baseball!! So not to mislead you, although we are avid Giants fans, we don’t catch that many games during the regular season. One reason…well…since moving to Oregon, we are limited to the games that whomever is in charge, decides to broadcast up here. We don’t pay for the extra channel to get the games. That being said, my mom is the most dedicated fan I know…she catches nearly every game. I’m excited that her, “boys of summer,” made it to the Series!!

Mickey and the Giants

The SF Giants have been in my life since the day I was born. I grew up with Willie Mays, Tito Fuentes, Bobby Bonds, Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry…did I just date myself?? Baseball is in my family’s blood, and when the Giants get into the World Series….well…it’s a big event…and in our case, there’s a lot of texting going back and forth across the miles!

Lrt's Go Giants

Witnessing so many years of the SF Giants’ baseball line-up changes, and having the privilege of attending games (both on T.V. and in the ballparks {Candlestick and AT&T Park} under my belt … I think that the last few years have been the most exciting. It was always awesome to see the long ball batting of Barry Bonds, but since he was let off the team, the Giants have built an incredible roster. The players are incredibly athletic which makes for some spectacular fielding and batting…. and have you ever seen pitchers more fun to watch than Timmy Lincecum.. Bumgarner, or Romo??


And the fielding of Pablo Sandaval… AKA …



and the all out, put-yourself-out-there baseball of Hunter Pence…

Yup, he caught it!!

Yup, he caught it!!

And what about this guy? Girls…..??


So, yeah….the hunt for Orange October is in high gear. Two games Kansas City Royals … two games San Francisco Giants .. tonight should be VERY exciting!!!!


Well, it wasn’t really a walk through the forest…but I hope you had fun. Thanks for visiting today!!

Your friend from Oregon,

The Littlest Hen

The morning was filled with the warmth of summer in late July. Anticipating the freshness of the day, the flock was noisy, calling for their freedom. I pulled opened their door, and quickly, hens rambled outside. Opening the “people” door, I heard that familiar little sound. Although, somewhat muffled, it was undeniable. Peering into the brooder, my eyes landed on the source of the high pitched “peep peep peeep”……

July 2014

…she would have been easy to miss, as she quickly hid in the warmth of Mama Chardonnay’s wings. Out of seven eggs, she was the only one to hatch.

August 2014

The baby chick quickly grew, and became her mama hen’s little shadow. Chardonnay shared all of her food with the chick, always allowing her to eat first. She has always been such a good Mama Hen.

Mama and Chick catching some rays.

Mama and Chick catching some rays.

She grew, and grew.

She grew, and grew.

Corn has always been one of her most favorite things.

Free ranging everyday, she diligently followed Chardonnay, listening, watching, imitating, and learning. She became well integrated into the flock, and was rarely chased or pecked at by the older hens.

September 2014

As is the danger of growing up in the middle of a farm – forest, predators are a real threat when feathers cover your body. The flock works hard to safeguard themselves against these threats, and they do very well. Sometimes their efforts, and our efforts are not enough. Something attacked our littlest hen.

The undeniable evidence.

The undeniable evidence.

I found the evidence yesterday morning…I’m not sure if it happened Saturday evening, or Sunday morning. Usually, I count the flock to make sure everyone made it into their house for the night…I didn’t do that Saturday night. I don’t remember specifically seeing her come out of their house on Sunday morning, but nothing alerted my conscious thoughts to her absence. In any case, she is gone…I wish I knew what got her!

It’s that circle of life thing. The flock knew it and were on high alert all day, hiding underneath things..running from cover to cover to change locations. They felt the loss, and the danger. This is the life of a free ranging chicken. There are real dangers, and in spite of that, there is real freedom….and sometimes, if I catch it just right, I think I can see them smiling!

Sorry little girl!!

Sorry little girl!!

There are definite life lessons that occur in nature, look for them, they’re there.

Thanks for walking through nature with me today.

Your friend from Oregon,

29 Hours on the Farm

I’ve come to realize that my life is all about the chickens…and of course Sir Benedict.

October 2014

They tell me, under no uncertain terms, when to wake up. On those rare mornings that I have not gotten out of bed before sunrise, Benedict loudly calls from his high roost, and the hens squawk and complain….and poop…everywhere. Since I clean their roosts, nesting boxes, and platforms in front of their nesting boxes every morning…it’s a good idea to get them out just as the sunlight crests the darkness. I fudge this timing, just a little on the weekends, but still need to get out there before the hens have need for their time of privacy.

No more rooms at the Inn!!

This flock dictates how late I can stay out at night…somebody has to close the door to the hen house after dark!! Predators in the forest = a definite need for security.

Moonlit Night Oct. 2014

The flock and I have a symbiotic relationship…..they poop…I pick it up. They eat…I buy more food. They get blown by the wind….I cover up the drafts…. (this will be the last time I do this….more on that in my next post.)

The UPS guy told me that that was the most "Red Neck" chicken coop he's ever seen...hahahaha!

The UPS guy told me that that was the most “Red Neck” chicken coop he’s ever seen…hahahaha!

…..they poop…I pick it up (yes, I said that twice…I spend a lot of time picking up chicken poop!) My flock free range. They follow their natural food sources, and always end up back in their house at night. Sometimes that means this……

Hey, get off the porch...that water is for the dogs!!

Hey, get off the porch…that water is for the dogs!!

….and this…..

Seriously...that is chicken poop...That's ridiculous!!!

Seriously…that is chicken poop…That’s ridiculous!!!

….so, I follow them around picking up their…not so golden surprises. In the end, I believe the flock is healthier (I know we are!) and happier.

If you have 41 seconds….take a look at our little video, 29 Hours on the Farm , …. this is the reason I let this flock run my life ….

….next stop….well, we’re looking at goats (any ideas?), but I think I need a trip to Disneyland first!!! I’ve definitely got the bug!!

Thank you, for visiting the farm this morning!! Have a wonderful Sunday!!

Your friend from Oregon,

That Certain Age

Within these past several weeks, I turned that certain age. I’m not giving that age up, but most people who grew up with me, or have known me in these adult years have a good idea what age I am. This is that year in which I am forced to reflect on my life a bit. It is that age I have kind of dreaded…that I have watched my brothers reach and surpass, and when brought to mind, prayed for, earnestly, keeping in mind that lightning rarely strikes twice the same way…but knowing that sometimes it does.

August 2014

There is just enough irony in life that the nagging of the unknown around that certain age sometimes settles in the way the fog lingers over the Golden Gate Bridge.


Sometimes the fog looms, and my fears grow. I pray, I hug my dog, I take a walk, or busy myself with simple chores that take me outside and into the grandeur of the land around me. Other times I write…I write to you whom have become part of this journey…I write those stories that are the “maybe someday, somehow” unpublished pieces…and I read…I read the words of many others who have stories to tell, who ask nothing but to be read. They are out there…stories…wonderful stories baked in the lives of so many…when the fog settles in, these things help me to remember that the truth of this certain age is not necessarily the truth of that same certain age of another.

September Sunset 2014

I am that age…the age when my father died.

Daddy - 1990

My dad was a young man…he seemed older to me, at the time, than I feel now, but since I am that same age I realize how young he was, really. He died suddenly, his body failed him. That’s what bodies do…some earlier, some later, but they all fail. That Sunday morning left ripples, waves in my life lasting the entirety of these past 23 years.

Sept. 2014

So this year, the year of that certain age, I’m focusing on health…this little homestead helps with that, along with you, as I read your words and learn from your wisdom and recipes…and from new friends who have recently introduced me into the delicious world of squash, beyond zucchini…. 🙂 I’ve never been to this world before. Then there’s this TVP, Textured Vegetable Protein…..hmmmm, that’s a maybe.

Butternut Squash and Spinach

Mostly, I know that this body will fail at some point. Greater yet, I am assured of this….

John 10:27-29 (Jesus is speaking at the temple during a dispute at the feast of dedication)
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

Sunset June 2014

….my salvation through Christ is rock solid, nothing can snatch me from His hand!! When I actually do reach the age in which my time is done, I know where I’m going. That assurance makes being this certain age a much happier place to reside. In the meantime, life is good……


That's my Penni in the orange collar.

That’s my Penni in the orange collar.




August 2013 006

Don John

Tito August 2011

Sourdough Heaven



My sweet girls, Penni and Karli !

My sweet girls, Penni and Karli !

September 2014

July 2014

AND YOU…all of you..who walk through this forest, and visit this farm. Who’s words inspire, teach, encourage, and fill my kitchen with wonderful fragrances from delicious new recipes. As my thoughts turn inwards…you help me to look out from the window of this certain age, and I, once again, move away from my apprehension. And since the SF Giants are one step closer to getting into the World Series….October is looking pretty darn good!!!

Thanks for sharing this certain year with me!!

Your friend from Oregon,

Nope, Not Moulting

You may remember this guy…..

Benedict....our Big Daddy Rooster!! Patriarch to the Middles, and the Littles (aka the Muppets.)

Benedict….our Big Daddy Rooster!! Patriarch to the Middles, and the Littles (aka the Muppets.)

….big daddy, Benedict….our gentleman rooster. Always polite, never asking of his hens without the traditional dance. He doesn’t eat of the discarded kitchen goodies until his family has had the chance to partake. This boy keeps his eye on the sky and warns the flock of any impending dangers…Yes, he is the stud of the farm.

The past couple of months, Benedict has become somewhat of a bully to a few select hens. Oddly enough, these are hens of his roo-hood…the full Rhode Island Reds, all of them…except mama hen, Chardonnay. He will literally chase them down, not necessarily to mate, but often times just to, well…stand on them. Really, at this point, I know the difference..hahaha! Their backs are bare, or in various stages of feather regrowth.

Poor little Reisling's bare back...FYI she had just gotten up from a dust bath, her back looks dirty.

Poor little Reisling’s bare back…FYI she had just gotten up from a dust bath, her back looks dirty.

I’ve read about this. Their feather loss is not due to molting, there are even thick wing feathers that have been broken off, not pulled out. And I’ve witnessed it…I’ve seen the intentional chase..mount..stand, just standing, no rooster duties going on. Sometimes, Claudio, our Buff Orphington hen, gets in the act with Benedict, and will run over and start some weird kind of hen attack…plucking at the other hen’s feathers while Benedict stands on them. Is this common behavior??

Benedict and his harem...including the 4 bare backs.

Benedict and his harem…including the 4 bare backs.

As the colder weather approaches, I’m a bit worried about these girls. At the advice of our local feed store, the flock is now getting supplemented with Purina Flock Raiser which is higher in protein and fat than regular chicken feed (Purina Layena.) It seems to be helping with feather regrowth, and since the cold weather is currently knocking on the door, I’ve made this their primary food. As the feathers attempt to grow back, those thick shafts stick out, and it seems much more painful for them when Benedict does…whatever it is he is doing. I’ve become, Alpha Rooster, and chase him away from these girls when he pursues them…he does seem to be listening. I’ve read about hen jackets that are made for this reason, however, you run a greater risk of a mite infestation with the jackets….I don’t think I want that…but I also don’t want my girls to be cold. The only thing I know is….there’s a lot I don’t know!!!

HEY!!! Get off the porch!!!

HEY!!! Get off the porch!!!

Thanks for checking in on the farm today. When I tell the flock that you’ve been here…they get very excited!!!

Your friend from Oregon,

An Incredible Find

Have you ever seen the artistry in the routine? Birds nest….an incredible, yet routine event in their lives…

The Muppets hatching.

The Muppets hatching.

Chickens do not really build a nest, they find a cozy, quiet spot. Many of the flock will then lay their eggs in that same location, resulting in this…

Six nesting boxes....this one was the hot spot today!!

Six nesting boxes….this one was the hot spot today!!

….that was all from one morning. Where is the artistry in a nesting box full of eggs? If you look closely, each egg is very different…size, shape, color, decorative “freckles”…they are each very unique….

July 2014

That's one big egg!!!

That’s one big egg!!!

That being said, I think the true artists reveal themselves every spring with the creation of an incredible piece of workmanship. The structure is amazing, and the question that usually arises in me every time I, happily, encounter one of these delicate yet strong, masterpieces of construction is …. “How did the bird build this without the use of hands?” You will not believe the incredibly gorgeous piece of true art that I am so blessed to have come upon while hiking with my Great Dane, Penni.
September 2014

It must have blown out from the trees this past week…. are you ready…..

Look at this closely...

Look at this closely…

So completely incredible...

So completely incredible…

Look at this closely…imagine the time it took to build. The supplies used were ingenious…feathers from the chickens supply softness, hair from the mane or tail of our neighbor’s horses provide structure, and a little peacock feather for a splash of color….completely, insanely gorgeous!!!

September 2014

By the size of it, my guess is a hummingbird nest. Truly amazing…

September 2014

I feel like it is truly a privilege to have found this little beauty, and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you!!

Thank you for taking a walk with me this morning, I hope this little gem of the forest will help to make your day just a bit more special.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tule (Tooley) Fog

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” ― Henry David Thoreau

Okay, that’s pretty much true…unless I have a chance to sit on the couch and cuddle with this sweetheart…
Penni Sept. 2014

…..uuuhhhmmmmm, I mean this sweetie…
My Sweet Guy - April 2014

As if scripted by a professional screenwriter, Autumn rolled in, in the form of the very familiar covering of ground level fog…in the SF Bay Area, it’s called Tule (Tooley) Fog.
Oregon "Tule Fog" Sept. 2014

I called the valley fog here in Oregon, Tule Fog once…..I got blank stares accompanied by a smile or two…hahaha…nobody seemed to know what I was talking about..hahaha! So, I don’t really know what to call it…I guess just fog..haha. I had no idea that that particular weather terminology was specific to California.

Rain is in the forecast, in fact, it drizzled much of the day, and has now rained throughout the night. So at the great advice of two of my friends from work (thank you Sabrina and Angie) I picked the rest of my tomatoes. Many were immensely green, but off the vine they came.
Green Tomatoes Sept. 2014

These will, hopefully, ripen in a paper bag, and be no less than the quality of a tomato bought in a grocery store. At least I will know that these were grown without pesticides, and unnatural fertilizers.

Corn Stalks Sept 2014

The corn stalks came down today, as well, to keep them from molding. I like to use them for outdoor decorating…they don’t usually last very long…the chickens like them too!

Corn Stalks Sept 2014

While we wait for the rain, Penni promises to keep watch over the tomatoes.

The Guardian Sept. 2014

Thankfully, they don’t taste like blackberries…that bucket would be emptied by now!!

Looking forward to sharing this wonderful season with you….thanks for visiting the farm today! 🙂

Your friend from Oregon,

Autumn is Fall-ing

I had help writing this morning…

Penni Sept. 2014

We’ve been seeing the tell-tale signs of the wilting and turning of leaves…some are starting to drop. The season is beginning, yet summer is giving its best effort to hang on. Yesterday, the last day of summer, Se˜or Verano, decided to flex his muscles for one more day here in the Pacific Northwest. Take a quick look at this comparison to areas that are typically on the hotter side this time of year……

1:40 p.m. PST (time that I looked at it )... 3:40 p.m. EST (actual time of temp.)

1:40 p.m. PST (time that I looked at it )… 3:40 p.m. EST (actual time of temp.)

September 2014
Sept. 2014

……What….doesn’t everyone have Disney World and Disneyland programmed into their phones?? Typically, the Bay Area gets hit with a late Indian Summer in Sept…uhhmmm, hmmmmm. In contrast….

Take a look....this was at 6:00 P.M.

Take a look….this was at 6:00 P.M.

it seems since we moved up to Oregon the sustaining heat followed us….don’t laugh too loudly!!! It’s been a hot, very dry summer. We, on this little farm including our fine feathered friends…

Ready for Fall 2014

…have had a collective, sigh, as the forecast shows dropping temperatures and RAIN in the forecast. For the flock this means the emergence of bugs, worms, and a bit of fresh, greens growing up out of the dry soil….for the humans it means sweaters, warm coffee, an eventual lift in the burn restrictions equaling in the ability to mow down those darn weeds, and the chance to build outdoor / indoor fires…yes, we are ready!!

Tomatoes 2014

While we wait, there are tomatoes to harvest, watermelon and pumpkin yet to ripen, a new hen house to build (that’s a different story), and hopefully one more blackberry harvest. I do hope the watermelon ripens!!

Watermelon 2014

Thank you for visiting the farm today!

Your friend from Oregon,

It’s Salsa Time!!!

So what do you do when you have a bunch of tomatoes and jalapeno peppers? SALSA!!

This is my all-time favorite salsa…..literally, every once in awhile we will drive over an hour just to get to the restaurant that creates this outrageous bowl of goodness …… CHEVY’S SALSA!!

CHEVY'S ... Yummmm!!

A pound and a pint (sometimes two) take-out always accompanies me home…that’s non-negotiable!!

With this salsa addiction, I am on a quest to reproduce this outrageously yummy concoction. I just can’t get it right…there is always “something” missing and I can’t put my finger on it. There are knock-off recipes out there that get me pretty close…just nottttt quite at the point where I can exclaim, “That’s it!” So, once a year when the tomato harvest is at full speed, I tinker with salsa…one of these tomato seasons, maybe I’ll get it right!

This is my latest attempt…..

Roasting the Veggies

Roasting the Veggies

Salsa 2014

An innocent looking bowl of fire!

An innocent looking bowl of fire!

A new ingredient...trying to get a bit of a smokey flavor.

A new ingredient…trying to get a bit of a smokey flavor.

The roasted garlic on top is so delicious and creamy.

The roasted garlic on top is so delicious and creamy.

Salsa 2014

Where are the chips???

Where are the chips???

The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce did make a big difference. I still have to figure out how to manage more liquid in the finished product. My salsa usually comes out quite “meaty”…not necessarily a bad thing, but I think a little more moisture would be good. This definitely is one of the better blends…not sure that I’m satisfied as it is not as close to Chevy’s salsa as I’m looking for, but…yummy in it’s own way.

Darn…I guess I’ll have to keep trying.. hahaha!

Thanks for visiting my kitchen this morning. I hope you have an excellent day!!

Your friend from Oregon,

Morning Sunrise

I’ve taken a bit of an absence from writing lately, a time to clear my head of old thoughts and to see if there is still room for new ideas. That step away brought a type of solitude, an inward look into the entire last three years raising questions in my mind.

I have been missing my home of 22 years,

So many beautiful memories made in that house.

So many beautiful memories made in that house.

and the San Francisco Bay Area…the place of my entire existence up until our big move three years ago. To say that I never look back would be completely untrue. Something usually strikes a chord in me, however, bringing me back to this place.

As I sit here drinking my coffee and watching the morning sunrise,

Sept. 2014 Sunrise

I am taken by the unique beauty that is all around me. The sun’s light rises in the east, yet casts its first warmth on the western hills behind us slowly erasing the shadows of the night.

Sept 2014 Sunrise

The diurnal wilds of the forest are awakening, yet the nocturnal are taking their last look around within the shadowy places. I know this because I hear the “hoot-hooting” of an invisible owl to whom I am probably well in focus, yet to me remains stealthily hidden.

Sept. 2014 Sunrise

A cacophony of birds, all different in their song, resounds in the background, the foreground, all around me. The neighboring farms are awakening with sounds of crowing, braying, gobbling, quacking, and the ever present, “Hey, I’m laying an egg here” repeated clucking of hens giving of their provisions.

Sept. 2014 Sunrise

I may have left my heart in the San Francisco Bay Area (seriously, this is true),

Beautiful San Francisco

but my soul finds peace in this little slice of Oregon. Well, actually, my soul finds peace in Christ, but as I look around me, the brilliance of the Creator envelops my very being. That is what has drawn me to this place from the beginning…I see God’s handiwork all around me, and in that there is great peace, contentment, and a huge desire to be here…to be right here!

Beautiful Oregon Home

Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

I hope you have a wonderful Sunday! And hey…Go Giants….and Niners!!! Both play today!!!!
Giants & Niners!!

Thank you for sharing my morning!!

Your friend from Oregon,

Tag Cloud

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