Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Posts tagged ‘California’

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.

Discovering My Small Town

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

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

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

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

The noise was actually deafening!

Blackberries + Sugar = Jam!!!

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

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

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

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

The stars of the show….Wild Blackberries!


The Ninja blended berries!

The Ninja blended berries!


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

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


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

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


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

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



The boiled jam now simmers for 15 more minutes.

The boiled jam now simmers for 15 more minutes.

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Remembering Our Garden Mistakes of 2012

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2: 15

I’m always amazed when I plant a vegetable garden, and it actually starts to grow. I’m even more amazed when I’m grabbing a basket and plucking the beautiful gifts that garden gives. Can you imagine the preprogramming that is in each and every tiny, tiny seed?? Not only is the Big Guy the Master Gardner, He is the original computer geek…LOL!

I started this post with the mindset that I could get everything caught up about the garden into this one writing. Uuhhmmmm….that is not working too well, so I’m breaking it up. Why I’m saying that and just not doing it…I have no idea!!

I have found that there is a certain timing to planting a vegetable garden up here in Oregon. This has been a learning curve for me. In the San Francisco Bay Area of California, you’re pretty safe getting things into the ground really anytime from late February to mid March. Oregon plays by a different set of rules, I mean, it can be April, and a light frost comes on for a couple of nights damaging your young, delicate crops. Timing is everything. Last year was our first attempt at growing veggies within these conditions….let’s just say I lost most of my garden due to frost, and had to replant. Those things that did fight their way back…like a really brave eggplant, never really produced much….except the potatoes, they did really well.

The Brave Little Eggplant...produced a mutant vegetable after coming back from the late frost of 2012

The Brave Little Eggplant…produced a mutant vegetable after coming back from the late frost of 2012


Our 2012 potato harvest...not bad for hard, rocky soil!!

Our 2012 potato harvest…not bad for hard, rocky soil!!


Example of our 2012 garden

Example of our 2012 garden


Our funny little 2012 carrots..hahaha

Our funny little 2012 carrots..hahaha


Although the 2012 watermelon had reached the full size they were going to grow to...they hadn't ripened when we had to pick them to save what we could from the deer.

Although the 2012 watermelon had reached the full size they were going to grow to…they hadn’t ripened when we had to pick them to save what we could from the deer.

I think the short growing season has created, in me, a better appreciation and thankfulness for the produce that we receive from these plants. Truly, different from gardens past, wherein, the growing season and production times were much longer, I didn’t waste or let lay to waste any of it. I really saw for the first time, the value of what God had provided us from the tiny seeds we planted in the months prior to harvesting. It’s now mid July, 2013, and I’m just starting to see gems of goodness hanging from the vines and limbs (I can’t see what’s under, but I’m imagining with great hope)…looking forward to the coming weeks where I’ve gotten those precious “stones” out of the garden and onto our dinner plates. Now if I can just keep the deer from eating it first…..

The Bell Peppers struggled, and in the end were eaten by deer.

The tiny 2012 Bell Peppers struggled, and in the end were eaten by deer. As you can see, I gave up on trying to keep back the weeds..hahaha


This was the ripest of our 2012 watermelon...

This was the ripest of our 2012 watermelon…


The deer were hungry that night...pumpkin of 2012

The deer were hungry that night…pumpkin of 2012

This year’s garden, 2013, almost didn’t happen. The ground was not tilled, the protective fencing not up, and all of a sudden…winter turned to spring in late April, and we were unprepared. The, Have a Dane Hill Garden 2013, did get in the ground….that story is next…..

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