Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Archive for the ‘San Francisco Bay Area’ Category

My Home is in …….

Feb. 2015

How do you compare the two, very distinct, environments that I call home?  They are remarkably different, as one would assume.  I do not find a ton of similarities, however, to the chagrin of many Oregonians, there is a California encroachment of sorts that seems to be occurring……good….some of it…..not so good….unfortunately, that comes with it too.  My recent visit to the San Francisco Bay Area, really impressed a few things on me….

Feb. 2015

…. there is more traffic than I remember… I remember a lot of traffic …

…. there is constant movement …. it seems as though it’s almost a sin to just stop, relax, and not look at, but take the time to gaze upon a sunset, or a playful squirrel … I remember this too, but I’d kind of forgotten ….

Feb 2015

…. the pace of change is amazing …. the demolition and construction that has taken place in the last 3 1/2 years is astounding …. much faster, and more prolific than I remember happening in the past …. the buildings are fresh, and new ….

….  there is a lot of concrete…..I seriously forgot about the concrete tunnel that runs along Hwy 101 with the tall, cement, sound barrier walls lining both sides of the freeway …. while we were still going back and forth from our property to the bay area before finally moving north, I always experienced a sadness upon returning to the “concrete jungle”  that has become the bay area …. there used to be orchards, and open space ….

IMG_8835 Levi's Stadium 2015

…. the 49er’s new stadium – Levi’s Stadium, is gorgeous …. definitely not the nostalgic feel of, “the Stick,” Candlestick Park, but holds a lot of promise of it’s own…now if the Niners can just start winning ….

….. it now costs 10 cents to allow a store, any store, to give you a bag with your purchase …. and, no plastic bags, only paper …. so either pay the 10 cents per bag, bring your own, or carry out your items in your arms ………..

If you've ever wanted good Basque meal, the Basque Cultural Center in So. San Francisco is the place to be!!!

If you’ve ever wanted good Basque meal, the Basque Cultural Center in So. San Francisco is the place to be!!!

…. the Basque community that I have been apart of since meeting, and marrying, Tony, is unique and wonderful…. I have missed that sense of, “extended family,” much more than I knew ….

IMG_8824

…. It was good, really good, to see family …. I don’t think I’ll let 3 1/2 years pass again ….

This beautiful young lady.....

This beautiful young lady…..

...turned a fabulous 80 years old this month.  Happy Birthday to my beautiful Mother-in-law!

…turned a fabulous 80 years old this month. Happy Birthday to my beautiful Mother-in-law!

…. Next time, I’ll need at least an extra day to visit with dear friends whom I didn’t have time to see this trip …. sorry about that ….

…. China Cafe still rocks the socks off of any Chinese food restaurant I’ve been able to find up here in Oregon …. seriously their Moo Shu Pork, and Hot and Sour Soup are to die for ….

The most amazing Hot and Sour Soup ever!!!

The most amazing Hot and Sour Soup ever!!!

Mu Shoo Pork to die for!!!

Mu Shoo Pork to die for!!!

…. In N Out Burger is still the most “awesomest,” fast food burger joint to hit the planet …. no more 3 1/2 years to feast on one of their beauties …. they’ve breached the border … they’re coming to Oregon!!!! ….

In n Out Burger 2015

A double single (that's two patties, one cheese - In N Out jargon)

A “double-single” (that’s two patties, one cheese – In N Out jargon)

…. Lastly, the innovation, the excitement, the impression of limitless boundaries of success is an aura that the bay area exudes, demanding incredible amounts of time, and many valuable years of one’s life.  Driving around, just being there, I felt a part of it again …. it can be addicting, it is an exciting place to be …. the roads or paths one can take are far reaching into technology, higher education, cutting edge medical advances, and lots and lots of GOOGLE. You get the impression that the world is your oyster, just waiting to be opened …. it’s exciting …. there are many, many opportunities to excel within, really, anything you want to do (except farming) …. however, it’s a false reality in a way …. because when you live in it your entire life, and then leave, it is a bit of a shock to find out that the rest of the country doesn’t necessarily perceive life that same way.

Feb. 2015

I’m thankful that I can visit, and breathe-in that sense of “limitless boundaries” once in awhile….also, for the life here in Oregon, and the ability to stop and gaze upon that playful squirrel (or deer, for that matter.) … for growing friendships, and the family who are close by (because I miss the one’s who are far.)  For the open spaces and broad skylines, and for the slower pace of life, and the uniqueness of Oregon, wherein, most people value recreational time as much as working time …. there is a balance here, and from what I’ve experienced, people are very serious about protecting that balance.  That’s a good thing…….that’s a great thing!!

January 2015

Thank you for sharing my first visit home….it truly was wonderful, yet I’m so glad to be HOME!!!

 

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

 

 

 

We’ve Left the Farm…

IMG_8813

…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,

Tami

 

 

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….

The SF GIANTS ARE IN THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!

2014 WORLD SERIES!!

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??

Tim_Lincecum_2009

And the fielding of Pablo Sandaval… AKA …

PANDAAAAAA!!!!

PANDAAAAAA!!!!

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…..??

Posey

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!!!!

originaldreamsfgiantstime20121010162003userid1909

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

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

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,
Tami

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,
Tami

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,
Tami

Dinner Last Night

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

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

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

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

Baking chicken on the grill.

Baking chicken on the grill.

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

Isn't that gorgeous??!!

Isn’t that gorgeous??!!


Rooster Aug. 2014

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

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

August 2014 Saute

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

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

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

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

My completely home grown dinner...delicious!!

My completely home grown dinner…delicious!!

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

Making chicken stock.

Making chicken stock.

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

Stock after sitting in fridge overnight.

Stock after sitting in fridge overnight.

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

Rooster Stock Aug. 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Your friend,
Tami

Timber Farming

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

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

Tony, sizing up a tree to fall.

Tony, sizing up a tree to fall.

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

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

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

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

My man, Tony, taming the forest!

My man, Tony, taming the forest!

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

Whoops!!!

Whoops!!!

The looonnnnggg view of a very tall tree.

Douglas Fir Tree

Douglas Fir Tree

How old do you think this tree was…

Can you count the rings??

Can you count the rings??

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

This must have been a huge, beautiful tree!

This must have been a huge, beautiful tree!

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

Sizing logs for splitting1

Sizing logs for splitting1

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

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

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


Look at those beautiful chippings!!

Look at those beautiful chippings!!

We had an extra helper….

Even Penni got into the process!!

Even Penni got into the process!!

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

Beautiful mulch pile!

Beautiful mulch pile!

The wood pile ready to be split…

Resting peacefully, waiting to be split and stacked.

Resting peacefully, waiting to be split and stacked.

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

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

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

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

Gloria’s Pond

Just a quick post….BREAKING NEWS!!

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

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

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

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

Beautiful yet dangerous to frogs and baby ducklings.

Beautiful yet dangerous to frogs and baby ducklings.

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

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

A very sad sight!

A very sad sight!

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

She was marked so beautifully.

She was marked so beautifully.


The emerald green of our Gloria.

The emerald green of our Gloria.

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

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

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

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

It’s Springing Like Crazy!!

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

Amazing images from NASA!!

Amazing images from NASA!!

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

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

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

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


Photo by Mark Arimault

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

Looking forward to these little beauties again!

Looking forward to these little beauties again!

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

Water, Water, Everywhere Water

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

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

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

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

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

How Did They Do It???

Just about 2 feet of snow!

Just about 2 feet of snow!


Our neighbors horses...so gorgeous!!!

Our neighbors horses…so gorgeous!!!

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

How did they do it??!!

How did they do it??!!

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

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

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

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

RePlanting the Forest

One of the realities of our homestead is the fact that we are living in a forest. There are some cleared areas of rolling pasture land, but the majority of our 34 acres consists of Douglas Firs, deciduous Oaks, and Maples. Around 2004 – 2005, the previous owners logged the front 12 acres of the property, the back 22 were logged back in the 1980’s sometime. Thankfully, they chose not to clear-cut which left young, mature trees and an ecosystem that would more easily maintain, and regenerate itself. It did create a mess that nature could naturally take care of, or we could help with. Eight years later, the forest is thriving. The Douglas Firs are popping up above the Oak trees, which in turn will create a natural reforestation of conifers. As you walk the property, there are baby firs everywhere. It has taken a lot of sweat equity in cleaning up piles of logs, limbs, and branches, and years for the land to heal. This fall, actually, this weekend, marks our first attempt at phase two for our forest management plan…tree planting.

We planted a grove of 10 baby, Giant Sequoia trees that we can see from our main windows, as well as, a line of them down along the fence line toward the pond. If you know of our ties to the SF Bay Area, and northern California, you may be able to understand our camaraderie with these beautiful trees. Apparently, these young trees are like candy to deer so protecting them is crucial to their survival.

Tucker and Penni enjoying the new trees

Tucker and Penni enjoying the new trees


Tony and his helpers!

Tony and his helpers!


Cutting the fencing...16 ft. for each tree

Cutting the fencing…16 ft. for each tree


One of our cute, little, protected Sequoia trees.

One of our cute, little, protected Sequoia trees.


What a nice little grove of GIANTS!

What a nice little grove of GIANTS!


Beyond this, in terms of conifers…we will be planting much smaller Douglas Firs around many different areas.

We’ve also designated an open area as an orchard with the hopes of having a little “Fruit Stand” set up in the front pasture….that’s a different story!! However, being mindful of this, the trees waiting to be planted this week are Honey Crisp, Braeburn, Fuji, and Melrose Apple trees; Bartlett, and Comice Pear trees; Bing, Lepin, and Stella Cherry trees; and Chestnut trees. From the time we bought the property, Tony’s dad, Joe, wanted to plant Chestnut trees on the property…he never got a chance to do that…our Chestnut grove will be in his honor. BTW…he also wanted to put a couple of beef cows out there…..UHHH OHHHH!!!

HI COW!!

HI COW!!

Freezing Chicken Fix

By Friday the temp fell to 19 degrees...brrrrr

By Friday the temp fell to 19 degrees…brrrrr

I think it is safe to say that the late, fall weather has arrived! I still find it fascinating when I leave for work and puddles are frozen…then when I return, those puddles are still frozen. Two days later, still frozen…obviously these puddles are shaded throughout most of the day, but I’m still amazed. In the Bay Area, it is a rare event when it gets cold enough to freeze a puddle, and even more rare for it to stay frozen the length of a day. I don’t think the beauty that the cold brings will ever get old for me. Since we now live at a higher elevation in the foothills surrounding our town, our temps can be 5 – 10 degrees different than what the phone weather apps, like the one above, display. Sometimes I will call down to my Mom who lives in town when it is snowing…we may be getting a bunch, while in town it is more of a slushy rain.

This puddle stayed frozen for 3 days.

This puddle stayed frozen for 3 days.

Mostly or partially frozen for 3 days.

Mostly or partially frozen for 3 days.

With the onset of the colder weather, my thoughts ran to the chickens. I know they wear their own down filled “jacket”, but I worried that their house wasn’t going to be warm enough through the night. We still had some issues with drafts, which, I have learned through my blogger friends of whom I hang on their experienced wisdom, is bad, bad, bad for chickens. That first cold/rainy/windy night about 3 weeks ago, I kept waking up thinking about my freezing birds. I apologized to them as they stepped out onto the wet ground of the morning, fluffing their feathers and cackling at me (do chickens swear, cause I’m sure they were…) Needless to say, when I got home from work, I hopped into action. I can’t have a bunch of angry hens and a rooster on my hands…not since they’re producing these….yes, that’s one day’s collection.

Seven chickens, seven eggs...life is good!

Seven chickens, seven eggs…life is good!


Everyday, we’re collecting 6 or 7 beautiful eggs…from 7 hens. It has definitely helped with my dog food bill. 🙂

I just really love our chickens, I don’t want to think that they are cold or can’t get out of the rain. #1 – I decided that they needed a cabana that would give them cover as they stepped out of their house. I took the paneled wire fencing from around the garden, and with the help of my son, set up a three sided frame, attaching it to the chicken house for stability.

They already like it!

They already like it!


Looks like a good space.

Looks like a good space.


At this point, then, I was alone with the rest of the design and build of the cabana. We always seem to have a supply of plastic tarps, so I threw some of these over and attached them to the wood framing with a heavy duty staple hammer. This was the first level of protection against the winds that come over the mountains behind us and funnel through on their way into the valley.
First level of protection, insulating against the wind.

First level of protection, insulating against the wind.


I then found a ground tarp that we used underneath our tent for camping. I hesitated on the thought of punching holes with the staples through this tarp, but I figured our flock was more important than a piece of plastic. This tarp was large enough to provide protection from the rain. It was a great fit, then I realized that I had to pitch the roof-line or rain would just accumulate on top and cause all sorts of problems. On my hunt for a solution, I found items like a stand alone wire shelving unit, boards, and boxes that as I lifted, shoved, and somehow moved around, creating a pitch…we had a pitched roof. I stretched the tarp tightly, and tacked it down to the wooden frame. I was stoked! It really came together! As I stood back to take pictures to send to hubby who was away on business, I realized that as I created the roof pitch, the tarp had shifted…leaving the wind/weather side of the cabana shorter than the other side. UUUUGGGGHHHHH!..it was that Charlie Brown moment….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ-t4DhAfrs

It ain't purty, but it works!

It ain’t purty, but it works!

I wasn’t about to go through and remove all the staples, so I used Shoe Goo on the seams of the white tarp, and it seems to work just fine. It’s quite cozy, and the chickens really seem to like it. With the addition of a heated water bowl to keep the water from freezing, I think they’re doing pretty well! I’m glad I liked to build forts as a kid…and with my kids when they were younger…I think that helped!

Cozy and dry

Cozy and dry

Cozy and dry...that's their heated water bowl.

Cozy and dry…that’s their heated water bowl.

#2 – I needed to fix the drafts and provide some sort of “insulation” since their house had none. As you can see in the previous pictures, I tacked on some large, flattened, cardboard boxes to add a line of insulation on the outside areas corresponding to their indoor roosting branches. Then hunting around the shop, I found some cans of foam insulation….PERFECT!! Being afraid that the birds might be attracted to the yellow, hardened foam, I insulated from the outside. It’s not that pretty, but it completely cuts that draft from those areas I applied it. Basically, I just followed the gap lines between the boards, trying to keep a straight line..haha.

Can you see what's roosting behind the windows?

Can you see what’s roosting behind the windows?


Canned Foam Insulation 2

By the time I finished, it was getting quite dark, but I couldn’t let them go one more night in the cold. The result is that the flock is happy, I’m happy, my dogs are happy because of all the eggs they get to eat…all is well, and I’m not waking up thinking about freezing chickens.

I feel good that our chickens have a dry place to go from the rain.

I feel good that our chickens have a dry place to go from the rain.

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.

The Day After One Day in September

To say that the events of Merlot’s day in September came and went without another thought would be the understatement of the year for our family. We have always done everything within our power to preserve the life of any animal that we have been blessed to care for.The events of Merlot’s September day was something we had prepared for in the physical requirements, but it took a lot to get the ethereal preparations in order…once we got somewhat there…well, that’s yesterday’s story.

The story of the day, is about healing….the healing of the flock. Within two hours of Merlot’s absence, we had an egg…Don Pedro, who had seemed to be quite uncomfortable for more than a day jumped into the nesting box and started kicking around the pine shavings…

Our very first egg!  Thanks Don Pedro!!

Our very first egg! Thanks Don Pedro!!

These days in September actually began on Sept. 15th. Since then, the flock is at peace, we have gotten five small eggs and Benedict has become the gentleman protector of his flock. It has taken until today, one week later, for this city-raised-buy-your-eggs-from-the-grocery-store-girl to work up the nerve to cook up our hen’s eggs….and they were delicious!!!!

My first home-grown fried egg.

My first home-grown fried egg.


September 2013
Making a tiny omelette with two tiny eggs.

Making a tiny omelette with two tiny eggs.


BREAKFAST!!

BREAKFAST!!


These are some delicious little eggs!

These are some delicious little eggs!

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!

The Skies Have It

I’ve always been taken by the sky. If you think about it, there are no comparisons to any other type of canvas one can paint on. Within varying shades, the background remains virtually the same. The medium, however, varies not by content, but by texture, shading, brightness, and color. When the sky merges with, and becomes part of the skyline, the impact is even greater.

Growing up and living most of my adult life in the San Francisco Bay Area, we had a merging sky – skyline referred to as the Bay Area’s natural air conditioner. This would occur as the coastal fog would come inland enough to hang, literally, on top of the bay area coastal mountains, creating the appearance of huge waves. This meant the jet stream was coming inland from the ocean, bringing with it that cool air and fog that creates those iconic pictures of the Golden Gate. It’s spectacular!

The Golden Gate Bridge in fog.

The Golden Gate Bridge in fog.


Arial view of SF Bay Area coastal fog by photographer Simon Christen

Arial view of SF Bay Area coastal fog by photographer Simon Christen


Unfortunately, in the absence of the fog, the skyline turns more of a brownish color rather than blue. Call it particles, or pollution…it totally detracts from the beauty of the canvas, however, creates some very wonderful sunrises and sunsets.

The skies of Oregon have been a welcomed surprise by the creative hand of the Master Artist. He paints a moveable, ever-changing display of undeniable beauty. In contrast to the Bay Area where so much of the majestic artistry compounds on the skyline, in Oregon, the sky gets most of His attention. It’s amazing, every time you walk outside, the canvas has been repainted.

These past two weeks or so, the sky has had some outrageously beautiful stories to tell, with the last couple of days expressing vivid beauty from pain. We’ve had the threat of thunder storms creating “ahhmaaazing” sunsets, culminating, yesterday, in Severe Thunder Storm Alerts on the radio and T.V.. all day warning of quarter sized hail, winds to 60 mph, 1/2″ to 1″ of rain, and ground to sky lightning. Imagine the attention those warnings got from someone, Me, who is used to seeing fog on the hills as a significant weather occurrence. (If you want to talk earthquakes, that’s another story.) Here are some photos of our incredible Oregon sky taken the past 2 – 3 weeks…and then a little video of a lightning storm (not mine, nor even from an Oregon storm…just a beautiful video.)

What a gorgeous sky!!

What a gorgeous sky!!

Awesome, yet, intimidating!

Awesome, yet, intimidating!

Twenty minutes of incredible beauty!

Twenty minutes of incredible beauty!


Twenty minutes of incredible beauty!

Twenty minutes of incredible beauty!


Twenty minutes of incredible beauty!

Twenty minutes of incredible beauty!

Where Are the Bees??

It took three posts to do it, but I will be caught up-to-date with my garden’s growth chart at the end of this writing..hahahaha.

Water, water, everywhere water….and not a drop to spare. In a cruel twist of irony, this usually rain soaked portion of the Pacific Northwest becomes very, very dry in the two – three heated growing months. A common saying around here is, “Summer starts on July 5th.” From what I have seen, it also marks the end of any kind of rain (this year was about two weeks earlier) until fall. We’re on a well, and with the help of a water storage tank, it produces more than our daily needs. Water use and conservation here or in the Bay Area has always had to be in our thoughts, and habits…drought conditions are not uncommon in California. In par with that, watering the garden has to be adequate, but not over-abundant. To combat this, and maximize the watering, I try to build little mounds and tributaries around where I want the water to flow and stop. Nobody wants a stream running away from their plants. Sometimes I’ll give a shot of water…let it seep into the soil…then repeat several times for one plant just to maximize the concentration of water into one spot. It takes patience.

I’ve been noticing a real lack of honey bees visiting the flowers in waiting. My plants are really huge at this point, they have flowers, but barely a bee. I do have some beautiful gems that have started, and a few larger than that, but it is getting to the point that I might consider “artificial inpollination” (play on words here) to bring more for the harvest….Tony said all I would need is a cotton swab…I don’t know, it seems a little imposing hahaha. I hope they start showing up!!!

Whatever our difficulties, the earth is giving back!! Our plants are beautiful….take a look!! These pictures are the latest taken on July 20th…one month later from yesterday’s post.

Potatoes, Corn and Pumpkins in the background

Potatoes, Corn and Pumpkins in the background

Potatoes, Celery, and Corn... I did not expect the potatoes to get soooo big.

Potatoes, Celery, and Corn… I did not expect the potatoes to get soooo big.

Tomatoes, with Peppers in front

Tomatoes, with Peppers in front

One pot full of Watermelon, and Cantaloupe

One pot full of Watermelon, and Cantaloupe

Gourds in the foreground...Pinto Beans in the background.

Gourds in the foreground…Pinto Beans in the background.

Pumpkins!!  I've never seen pumpkins start out yellow instead of green...

Pumpkins!! I’ve never seen pumpkins start out yellow instead of green…

The strangest pumpkin I've ever seen

The strangest pumpkin I’ve ever seen

Taking my morning trek down to the front gate with Penni, I discovered where the current honey bee hangout has developed….they are all over our wild blackberry bushes!!! Blackberry jam is right around the corner…YAY!!!

The Vegetable Garden That Almost Wasn’t

This year, winter turned to spring really quickly, and weirdly, unexpectedly in our minds. Even though it was late April, temperatures were still dropping really low at night…I think we even got a light frost in early May. Tony had to leave on business for a couple of weeks…we had just entered the month of May. All of a sudden the weather was warmer, and we had NOT set-up the garden at all. In my mind, we were way late…remember, we were used to getting our garden going by Mid-March at the latest in California. I was starting to panic, but I pulled it together…hahahaha…..got out a big shovel and turned the ground over…Tony would have used the tilling implement on the tractor, but it wasn’t attached when he left. At that point it was MUCH easier….more practical…NO WAY was I going to try and get that thing attached.

My second obstacle was the fencing…we have to have protective fencing or nothing will survive. We had 6 wire panels with 2×4 boarders that Tony and my son, Will, had already made that past summer. They would be perfect for a quick set-up…remember, I was in panic mode to get my seeds and tiny sprouts into the ground. The one drawback was that it would greatly reduce the space I would have available to plant….we have 34 acres….my garden would be reduced to a 16’x 8′ rectangle…oh well…at least I’d have great tomatoes!! My son and I attached the panels together, and then I addressed the other issues.

Veggie Garden 2013 – Young, Growing Seedlings

My cute little garden!

My cute little garden!

Just planted!

Just planted!

First of all, the soil….the soil!! We have red, very iron rich dirt…not rich in much else…great for Douglas Fir trees, vegetables, not so much. Last year’s garden was a total Test Garden. We did not improve the soil, at all, on purpose, and it did okay with some help from granulated fertilizer. The tomatoes were delicious, the strawberries did terribly!! This year we chose a different area within the ashes of a burn pile. Mixing all of that into the soil beneath it really broke up the packed, rocky soil and seemed perfect for the potatoes, onions, corn, and celery. We also added pots with traditional bagged soil because the burn pile was not big enough for everything I wanted to plant…… I think we need to call this Test Season #2.

Veggie Garden 2013 – One Month Later (June)…Oh How They’ve Grown

One Month Later...Potatoes, Celery, and Corn

One Month Later…Potatoes, Celery, and Corn


Carrots

Carrots

Gourds...what do you do with gourds??

Gourds…what do you do with gourds??

Pinto Beans

Pinto Beans

Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Pumpkins

Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Pumpkins

Tomatoes, Green and Yellow Bell Peppers

Tomatoes, Green and Yellow Bell Peppers

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The Little Green Spoon

The Healthy Irish Kitchen

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

Los Angeles Freelance Writer • Comedian • Photographer •

Crockern Farm

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

Mucking Moms

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

kelzbelzphotography

My journey - The good, bad and the ugly

Anam Baile (Spirit Home)

The Experiments of A Romantic Hobby Farming Homemaker

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

High Altitude Homesteading

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