Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Posts tagged ‘Moving to Oregon’

Thawing and Greening

We are soaked!!  Gobs of water everywhere.  The snow and ice have melted very quickly as our temps grew to a sultry 45 degrees the last couple of days, and the water is flowing!!

The flow into the pond.

The flow into the pond.

The overflow out of the pond.

The overflow out of the pond.

This culvert takes the overflow from the pond under the driveway, fed by an overflow outet....

This culvert takes the overflow from the pond under the driveway, fed by an overflow outlet….

…..and a secondary overflow culvert when the main outlet gets overwhelmed…..

January 2017

…..it’s all about protecting the driveway.

The ground quickly turned to slush….and then very slippery ice as the slush refroze overnight, but continued it’s melting process (does that make sense??)  Seemingly, in one quick moment….the white was gone and the green had returned.

January 2017 January 2017

I'm melting.......

I’m melting…….

.......melting.....

…….melting…..

....melting!!!!

….melting!!!!

January 2017

January 2017

January 2017

Seriously, I do not know if this truly happens, but I am totally convinced that underneath the frozen white, the lush green continued to grow.   Look how long the grasses are as they appeared from their winter cocoon!!

January 2017

While it is good to have our feet on solid ground, the evidence of our gopher invasion…..

Busy little gophers.....this isn't even the half of it. UGGHHH!

Busy little gophers…..this isn’t even the half of it. UGGHHH!

……makes for sticky mud on shoes or paws….and those paws LOVE to dig into those muddy gopher mounds.

March 2015

Thankfully, the pond provides an automatic paw wash station….

January 2017

Happy AFC, NFC playoff game day!!!  It’s all about football!!  I hope you have a great day whether you are watching the big games (that lead to the Super Bowl) of not…try and catch a little bit of fun in your day today.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

Green on the Horizon

On this 16th day of walking through piles of snow, I am a cauldron of mixed emotions.  We are literally on the cusp of the big melt…..part of me looks forward to having my feet firmly planted on the ground, rather than sinking into the powdery accumulation….

January 2017

…..or slipping on the beaten-down snow that has turned to solid ice…..the other part of me is not ready for it all to go away.  There is so much more involved than just the desire to walk on solid ground.  Accumulated snow hits all of my senses….in a good way. When I am inside, I love the coziness of the wood stove fire while taking in the beauty of the white against the greens and browns.  When I am outside, it feels playful just to walk in the powder, and comical when I and those around me change our gate to that of a penguin when walking on ice.

Thinking of returning to green has gotten me thinking about the garden.  The plans are to move the location, and make it much larger.  Our plans don’t always seem to come to fruition though, so it will be interesting to see what actually happens.   Somehow we get lost between the idea, and the action.  Besides the fact that Tony and I both need to stay employed to make any of this possible, our plans are kind of loosely woven, and we lack the extra hands it takes to get some things done.

July 2016

We tend to try to do things ourselves, and we are not connected with other homesteaders or farmers to barter with or benefit from their knowledge.   The past several years, we have not been great with “community,” and that doesn’t work well when you relocate your life, and all of your prior resources from where you were born and lived for 48 years, are gone.

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I didn’t intend for this writing to go this direction, but there are opportunities on the horizon and I don’t know if we can or will make them happen.  I think I get stuck in the, “Why make plans if we’re not going to follow through” , or “Seriously, we’re not zoned for that?” kind of thinking.  I get mad because the mind and spirit are willing, but the body continues to say…..”Mmmmmmm, maybe not.”…..

August 2013

…..the heavy physical stuff hurts my hands and shoulders these days.  Running this homestead, doing projects on this homestead are very physical in nature….if we can’t pay to help get it done, we have to do all the heavy lifting…..there is not enough time in the day.  Sometimes I feel like the dreams I had are slipping away….one major dream, seemingly, already has….but never say never….right?

September 2016

I’m sorry to go in this direction today.  I am committed to being honest with you in my writing, which means it’s not always posies and roses up here on the hill.  If I planted those they’d get eaten by the deer anyway so…..hahahaha!!  I’m just in this transitional place wherein I need to decide if it is enough for me to just enjoy the environment and forget about trying to grow our homestead, and earning possibilities that it could bring.

January 2017

That was not our plan when we bought it, we had a direction, we wanted the land to work for us….but plans, I have learned, are mostly just guidelines in life.  There is so much you can’t see on the horizon….best to be fluid and not static.  Maybe I’m short on vitamin D…LOL

March 2005

In any respect, I / we have a lot to think about….what direction should we go in?  If you will let me, I will include you all in the thoughts and “plans.”  I’ve kind of mentioned all of this in the few months prior to now….it is laying heavy on my mind and heart, but I really feel that we have to narrow our focus and lose the diverse functions of this homestead….there just isn’t enough time in the day to continue on that road.   But there was enough time yesterday to do this…….

"Do you want to build a snowmaaannnn??"  Sorry...I just had to say it!!

“Do you want to build a snowmaaannnn??” Sorry…I just had to say it!!

……I hope he sticks around for a few more days!!!  I hope you will stick with us as we “Redefine Our Lives in Oregon”…it’s a continual process.

Thank you for visiting today.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

 

House Breaking a Puppy in Winter

Last night it was cold….really cold.  Temps were in the low teens up here on the hill…that is cold for us.  I felt bad that my doggies had to go out there to do their business….but go out they did

December 2016

…..even the puppy…..for whom I can confidently profess has reached the stage of being officially house broken….potty trained….doin’ the dooty in the great outdoors consistently without fail, and even asks now to go out!!  You’ve gotta love Great Danes….they do not like going potty in their house….

January 2017

…..this little girl is only 3 months old….

January 2017

….no more wet spots accidentally discovered!!!  She has managed success while battling:  rain….

Alivia at 8 weeks old

Alivia at 8 weeks old

…..wind, freezing rain,

January 2017

snow, big heavy rain, temps into the teens, snow that has turned to ice…..she figured it out even in the coldest of nights….

She looks so cold out there in the dark.

She looks so cold out there in the dark.

….battled her desire to run back inside (okay that happened a couple of times)….

Doggie potty area.

Doggie potty area.

….and went out there anyway and got the job done!!

Mama and Pup ... Little Alivia - 3.5 mos old.

Mama and Pup … Little Alivia – 3.5 mos old.

This award goes to little, Alivia!!   Gooood girlllll!!!

January 2017

THE ENDS!!!!!

P.S.  I wrote about house breaking puppies a little while back on my other site….https://haveadanehilldanes.com/2016/09/02/puppy-basics-go-potty-outside/  It has been an intense several weeks of the get-up-and-run-for-the-door-at-a-moments-notice over and over again time of Alivia’s life….but it is so worth it to have a 3 month old house broken puppy!!

Have a great Sunday!!  Thank you for visiting today!

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

 

Managing the Wet

In an attempt to answer a couple of questions in the comments from Wednesday’s post, we need to shift to melting snow, and rain.  Managing animals in the many months of rain that falls in Oregon is a challenge sometimes.  The thing I have found that is really important is to keep up on the muck control, because if you let it go, it can and will get out of control, and spread quickly.  Eddy Winko, another blogger friend, had mentioned that they use straw to control the mud…that is what we do, as well.  Straw in the winter is a homesteader’s saving grace against the mucky mud, and walking over a layer of straw is so much better than walking with boots covered in sticky mud.  It is worth the investment, both time and dollar.

Okay, Penni, now pretend that the wind is blowing really hard!!

Okay, Penni, now pretend that the wind is blowing really hard!!

I also use large, plastic tree pots for collecting the muck when the weather hinders us from driving it down the hill to our manure pile…..which we are totally NOT managing properly.  I have a lot to learn about turning poop, straw, and hay into a product that will feed our soil.  Anyway, since we have only a few outdoor animals, and an abundance of tree pots, this collection system works for us during the wetter seasons of Oregon.  It contains the ick, unless a chicken decides to scratch around in it….which they do.  And really….goat poop is pretty easily managed….pellets vs. patties….pellets win.  Chicken poop…that’s a totally different animal altogether…LOL.

Frozen poop pots

Frozen poop pots

I feel that having barns or housing structures large enough for the animals to get in out of the rain, dry off their feet or hooves, and be able to manage themselves comfortably is really important.  They have to be able to get out of the water, and a structure large enough to house the number of animals, plus a food and water source is really imperative on our homestead.  We have not had any foot rot (knock on wood) in our herd partly due to them having the ability to go in and out of their barn at will to warm up and dry off.

January 2017

The chickens spend time in their house and the goat barn….whichever fits their fancy.  Except at night when they are secured indoors, they free range and manage themselves in the wet weather.  In the snow, they tend to stay indoors…but it seems that the rain doesn’t bother them, and they manage themselves quite nicely.

The flock no longer have access to the front porch...LOL!

The flock no longer have access to the front porch…LOL!

Mold and mildew are definitely issues that you have to stay on top of.  It’s one of those things that you can try to prevent, but when you see it you have to jump on it or it will grow quickly.  You see a lot of houses around here that have moss growing on top of the roof…not a good thing as moss holds a lot of moisture.  Insulation, and ventilation is really the key here.  We at least partially insulate anything we build, and we have added insulation to the existing out buildings, except the big barn which is a partially open structure.

January 2017

Allowing air to flow is huge in the prevention of mold.  If there are areas that we notice trap moisture, we fix it, and if we see any signs of mold or mildew, we clean it up.  The product that all this humidity abundantly grow around the property are mushrooms….lots of different types of mushrooms…some very dangerous, especially for the dogs.  So far, the dogs don’t seem too interested in them, nor do the chickens and goats.

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 the movie, It’s a Bug’s Life.

Beautiful rotting log ensemble.

Beautiful rotting log ensemble.

Candy Caps??

Candy Caps??

Mushrooms 2013

So here is the nice thing about Oregon’s environment which brings the wet falls, winters, and springs…..because our temperatures don’t normally get below the teens, and we are normally not covered in snow….we usually have a lot of green on the ground.

The green of January

The green of January

The grasses don’t die off in the winter which helps to control the mud (except when old Mr. Gopher decides to build mound after mound after mound turning the ground inside out – ugghh.)  That being said, the places where the goats like to spend most of their time does get muddy and mucky.  We use straw to firm those areas up when they get too bad.  Our neighbor has horses, which is totally much harder on a pasture during the wet months….there is not a lot you can do except to rotate pastures, and provide a large enough covered space wherein the animals can dry off their feet from time to time throughout the day.

January 2017

Living primarily on hilly property is helpful because the water runs away from us, and since our soil is quite rocky beneath us, as soon as it stops raining for a few hours, it starts to dry out.  We dry out very quickly up here, except in the “valley” areas of the property….those areas hold a lot of water throughout most of the year, because all the water runs that way.  But there is enough moisture throughout the year that the only time the landscape turns brown is from late July into the first week or two of September.  And using a dehumidifier in our home is totally unnecessary because the wood stove dries everything out really efficiently…maybe too efficiently…LOL.  Sometimes we have to add a boiling pot on the wood stove, or open a window somewhere to add moisture back into the house.

January 2017

As far as mold in the hay….basically, we have to store it in a covered environment, enclosed by four walls, a roof, and vents for ventilation.  We tried housing it once in a three sided structure, but lost a bit of it due to mold issues.  Our goats eat the straw we put down as bedding, so that has to stay dry as well, but it seems that we can keep that in a three sided lean-to and it is fine.

April 2016

The hardest issue, I find, is keeping humidity out of the hen  house.  Surprisingly to me, chickens put off a lot of moisture….especially through their poop.  I battle the tendency for ammonia build up during the winter in the hen house.  Through trial and error what has worked for me is to keep just a very small amount of pine shavings on the floor…enough for them to kick around in and dry off their feet.  I have their roosting boards over a dropping tray, and I go in there every day and scrape their boards and the dropping tray.  By daily removing their poop, I take away most of the potential for wet air.  It is the most efficient way I have found to keep the mold and ammonia build up from happening with them.  I don’t use straw with my birds….the one time I did, I had a mite infestation.  Never again!!

Those boards and drop trays are clean...the residual "splat" marks are what is left from the day's cleaning.

Those boards and drop trays are clean…the residual “splat” marks are what is left from the day’s cleaning.

So really, the wet environment of Oregon is not a big problem….just a little inconvenient sometimes.  The resulting green that surrounds us, with the exception of late July and August, is really worth the amount of rain and fog that we live with.  What does concern me is the fact that this current snow will be sticking around for a few more days….

img_6890

…..then the temps rise with a series of big rain storms on the horizon….if a big melt happens at the same time, we may see some flooding going on in town and beyond.  It has happened before….according to our neighbors, in 1992, a portion of the long driveway that boarders our pond was taken out because the pond flooded over it’s banks.  There was three feet of snow on the ground in that event….we have about half that.

December 2015

It could happen again.

Thank you for visiting today.  I hope I shed some light on how we manage the wet, Oregon environment.  It has been, and continues to be a hit-and-miss….learn-by-doing lesson plan.  Thank you for helping me with your comments along the way.  It’s truly appreciated!!  And by the way….it is Day 14….we’ve had snow on the ground for two full weeks now….I’ve died and gone to Colorado!!!

img_6903

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

Snowy, Winter Questions

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

January 2017

 

Staying Warm and Power Bills

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

December 2016

Work, School, and Driving

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

January 2017

Livestock and Chickens

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

January 2017 January 2017

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

November 2016

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

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

 

Hooves on Ice

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

January 2017

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

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

January 2017

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

January 2017

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

The goats bedding is dry and very thick

The goats’ bedding is dry and very thick

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

January 2017

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

January 2017

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

January 2017

…..and footprints.

January 2017

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

January 2017

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

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

The First Eight Days of 2017

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

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

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

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

New Year’s Day….just a dusting.

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

2nd day of January '17

2nd day of January ’17

Still the 2nd day of January

Still the 2nd day of January

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While the frigid air painted mosaics on the outer doors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

January 2017

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

December 2016

An icy windshield from a day in December 2016

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

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

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

First Snow of 2016

I wasn’t sure it would happen this year, but in the last month of the year, Jack Frost decided to visit the Pacific Northwest and allowed a bit of Christmas cheer to fall from the skies.  It was beautiful….and still is as the frozen white lingers upon the grounds of the homestead.

This morning, the same as yesterday….the small finches that we are fortunate to share this forest with, are visiting the snow covered brick patio that we have scattered with wild bird seed.  It is beautiful to watch them dance from the trees, to the patio, into the barn…..scittering to and fro.  It makes my heart so happy!!

December 2016

Mine is not the only heart who gets happy watching the little birds…..

December 2016

…..his does too!!  Hahaha

There were two, “firsts,” with this snow…..his first……

December 2016

……and her first……

December 2016

…..paws in the snow.  They loved it, as I thought they would.  Penni has always loved the snow!

December 2016

Following the snow, came the freezing rain, and everything turned to ice.  We lost power for several hours, and it became very quaint and cozy with the wood stove providing our heat, light, and coffee!!

December 2016

December 2016

At least when there is snow, ice, and 30 degree temperatures outside one doesn’t have to worry about the perishables within the fridge…..haha

December 2016

The cold does create some beautiful, natural ice sculptures…..

December 2016

December 2016

….but I am thankful when the ice turns to slush, and the roads aren’t so scary to drive on.

Merry Christmas!!  I hope your day is filled with joy and beauty.  I think our weather is headed to the east of us, so be careful out there!!

Thank you for visiting today.

Tami

Hot Weather and Predators

Summer, the real heat of summer arrived in the Pacific Northwest this week.    Temps in the high 90’s and low 100’s permeated the State of Oregon bringing with it skies……..

August 2016

Our Oregon sky!!

…..as blue as any sky you’ve every imagined.  Thankfully, this summer, there has not been any large fires proximally close enough to cause smokey air, or dingy skies.  The air has been clean, warm….well, hot….and easy breathe.  It feels good, actually, as the humidity that can sometimes accompany the heat, is really nonexistent this time of year.  Well, let me clarify that….sitting, sitting in the heat feels good….working out in it beats you down pretty quickly.  This really has been a lovely summer.

August 2016

Okay….don’t laugh at my scrawny watermelon…..hahahaha!!

Something else arrived on the homestead this week…..something less desirable, something lying in wait, opportunistic in nature, watchful and observant….waiting for a chance.  I let my guard down, and it turned it’s instinct into an opportunity…and, without hesitation, ran with it.  The chicken house was the intended target…..cunningly, or more like a rushing train, “It”, the predator, took advantage of my unwarranted trustfulness in what I had not yet experienced…a predator had broken into the chicken house.

June 2016

See the screen….these guys ripped that screen one day when they roagly entered the, Chickens Only, yard. We keep the chicken feed in this area…the goats L-O-V-E chicken feed!! See the empty feeder on the ground…UGGHH!!

Due to the heat, I had opened that little window, from the picture above, on the chicken house to create a little air flow through the night.  One larger window we leave open in the summer, but it is covered by mesh wire (not a window screen.)  This window had a screen, however,  it had been torn away…..so no screen, no wire mesh.  I had placed a fan in the window and held it in place by wooden dowels, thinking the sound of the fan and the supporting dowel structure would keep predators at bay.  It had worked for numerous nights, but not that night.

March 2016

I heard commotion from the flock, it was about 2:30 a.m.  It woke me up.  The flock was upset.  Sometimes, Benedict, our rooster will call out in the middle of the night….that is not an unusual sound.  The cackling that was going on that night, was not that sound.  Half asleep, I got up, and listened….Penni, my Great Dane, barked just a single bark…..I was in the process of thinking, “Should I go out there?” …. I did not instinctually run out in my jammies and bare feet ….. I listened, and the sound rescinded.  I listened a while longer, and all was quiet.

I had already cleaned up here a bit before snapping this shot.

I had already cleaned up here a bit before snapping this shot. Notice the struggle in the sand. 😦

Morning chores revealed the struggle my birds went through that night.  The first clue was noticing that I did not see one hen or rooster, anywhere.  Seeing the open window, no fan, or dowels remained within the open space.  Opening the door of the chicken house….there were feathers…there were many feathers.  In the corner of the droppings tray lay the body of a Rhode Island Red hen.   My heart sank.  I checked her legs…..she did not have a red band so I knew it was not Chardonnay, our #1 broody hen for hatching chicks.  Chardonnay is a sweet, sweet hen.  I was happy to see that.  So, this meant it was either, Don Pedro, or Chablis (I only had three true Rhode Island Reds at that point.)  Her head and neck were gone…the rest of her body untouched, but still I knew….this was Don Pedro.

Don Pedro....hen in the foremost of the picture.

Don Pedro….hen in the foremost of the picture.

Don Pedro was the lead hen of the flock….she ruled, second only to Benedict.  Sometimes she ruled with an iron beak, but one thing is for sure, she was respected among the other hens.  We will miss, Don Pedro!!  She had the largest, floppy comb of the hens, and I could always tell which of the hens were her actual offspring…they were the ones with the larger floppy combs…but none of them as grand has hers.  RIP, Don Pedro.

Foot print in the sand

Foot print in the sand

 

It seems that this was probably the work of a racoon.  There were suttle foot prints among the signs of the struggle within the sand of the droppings tray.  Also, a Google search told me that if just the head and neck are missing, the predator is either a mink, a racoon, a hawk or an owl.  I’m pretty confident I can eliminate all three except the raccoon…I don’t think we have mink up here…I’m not sure….but I’m pretty sure an owl or a hawk would not enter the hen house through a partially blocked small 2 x 2 window.

A claw mark, I think.

A claw mark, I think.

Needless to say that window will remained closed until I put a wire mesh screen over it.  On a good note, when the flock emerged from their hiding place, we found that only the one hen was taken from us that night.  It could have been so much worse.

Don Pedro showing off her personality as a young chick.

Don Pedro showing off her personality as a young chick.

Don Pedro….she was quite a character!!  Hahahaha!!  I’m glad I knew this funny, demanding hen!

Happier news on the homestead…..our Great Dane, Penni, has a confirmed pregnancy!!  Puppies due Sept. 21, 2016.  Check out http://www.haveadanehilldanes.com

Thank you for visiting today!!  Have a wonderful Sunday, and an awesome week!!

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

#racoonattacksonchickens  #whatanimalwillonlyeattheheadandneckoffachickenandleavethebody  #predatorsagainstchickens

 

A Farming Mindset

May 2016

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

Move That Hen House

Some days the task is huge….and heavy…..and awkward.  Enter the need for the relocation of the hen house.

Benedict's Bungalow 2015

Tony built the house on skids for just this occasion, but once again, this is not your average chicken coop.  It is large for a chicken enclosure …. 8 ft by 10 ft by 12 ft tall — it is heavy ….. built with full, heavy lumber, fully insulated, tar shingles, and a porch — awkward….something this large does not move without a lot of ingenuity.

Benedict's Bungalow 2015

Why move a large, stationary, unyielding object such as this?  The flock seemed “just okay” with their house.  It was consistently shady, and dark.  Many of the hens sought out alternate places to lay their eggs.  They seemed to tolerate their home, but they didn’t love their home…hahah….as I write this, I do realize how ….quirky that sounds, but it’s true!!

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Other than that, we really want to control the chicken poop in the people living areas.  They are all over the place, and I want them off of my porch, in front of my car doors, and where my dogs run.  They are going to live in the pasture with the goats.

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The real story here, though, is in the process of moving this small, but large out-building.  The video below is just that.  It took a few hours, but it did eventually get to it’s intended spot.

Thankfully, the move was successful, and no one got injured. This project actually took place a couple of weeks ago, and I am happy to report that the hens are happy again!!  They are speaking loud and clear with an abundance of eggs….inside the nesting boxes….and now two broody hens!!  What more can you ask of a Saturday!!

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Thank you for visiting the farm today.  I hope your day is filled with the beauty, and warmth of spring

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

#howdoyoumoveanoutbuilding

Did I mention Barns?

September 2014

Barns can be addicting….seriously.  They are these structures that hold an amazing amount of potential….a big empty space…..a blank canvas….interior walls that are moveable and forever interchangeable.  The older the better.  They hold a history of past lives from a simpler time.  They protect and grow the very animals that sustain those of whom share the soil from which their sustenance grows.  Mud stained wooden walls point to where animals lived….they are a thing of beauty.  Our main barn was probably built in the late 80’s…not terribly old, but still holds a history.  I feel it….I think about it every time I walk into it….the evidence is clear.

September 2014

Tony is our resident builder.  He, amazingly, takes pieces of wood, measures, cuts, and nails them all together.  He places each piece of the puzzle squarely in place….and it fits!  He is so multi-talented, I think he can do anything…..Tony for President!!!  Do you think I’m kidding??  Not at all….this country could use someone in the white house who understands a few callouses on your hands and dirt under your nails is good and healthy.  No more politicians running this country….let’s get true, working Americans into those offices!!  Okay, off my soapbox…..back to barns.

February 2016

Question…does size matter when it comes to building a barn??  Seriously, how do you determine if a structure is a shed, a little house, a coop, or a small barn?  Is there a standard dimension that says this is a chicken house, rather than this is a chicken barn?  How about a goat house vs. a goat barn? It’s a dilemma, it truly is.  I want to get the verbiage right, and sometimes in one sentence I will call an enclosure a house, a coop, and a barn….never really knowing what the heck is right.  I mean….I don’t want to sound like a rookie….a farm rookie, but I so am!!

February 2016

So Tony recently, over the last few months, built a barn to add to his collection, starting with the starter hen house that doubled as the kid’s (goat kids not people kids) first home, graduating to a larger chicken house.   The hoofed trio had rather cramped quarters this past winter, and now that the sun is out more often, they not only get to stretch their legs outside, but inside as well.

February 2016

As the barn was being raised, I offered a different use for the new, solid structure.  I mean, really, do a bunch of goats truly need such a beautifully constructed building.  They will poop and pee in it…they will ram the walls, walk in with muddy feet, and cause much mayhem within those walls.  I, on the other hand, could design a beautiful guest cabin with a structure like that.  Heck…it even has a loft!!

April 2016

Think of the potential!!  But alas, the little herd won out….and rightly so – I – guess!  Look at me, jealous of a goat…or three in this case.  But it’s a really beautiful little barn.

The people space to the left.

The people space to the left.

Since the picture above, Tony added two window cut outs covered by wire mesh along that wall for better ventilation.

The livestock space to the right.

The livestock space to the right.

I think it needs a good coat of paint…what color would you paint it?

The door on the left is for people, the door on the right for goats.

The door on the left is for people, the door on the right for goats.

Once the goats are in pasture, we can open that gate on the left all the way to the poles on the right blocking out the herd.  Very beneficial for cleaning without three sets of horns trying to participate.  Goats are like dogs in a lot of ways, but in other ways, they are all goat….big, undisciplined, obnoxious goats that like attention and treats…and if you don’t offer it to them, they will take it…one way or another!  At the same time, they are incredibly lovable!

They are definitely good little Whethers!!

Lots going on…it’s that time of year.  Thank you for visiting today!!

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

 

#smallbarns  #okaytheydeserveit

 

The B’s Have It!!

B stands for bumble, and honey……hornets, and wasps….they are alive and very, very active.   Last week, we had a moment of warmth.  The temps rose to the low 80’s and those flying things that carry stingers came out to play.  The first on the list, bumble and honey, are my favorites….I don’t fear them at all.  They have my permission fly around me, and we all live in perfect harmony.

Mason Bees

Their friendly counterpart, mason bees, (above) are also on that list of welcomed pollinators….they are so cute.

Hornet

 

However, the hornets and wasps are unwelcome in my little world.  Seriously, who wants them around?  As the warm weather continues, and they become abundant, they make it almost impossible to enjoy a summer picnic or meal outside.  I know they are beneficial to keep pests at bay….but really, I’ll take a few more flies in exchange for less or these aggressive predators.  In preparation for the warmth we saw coming, Tony hung up the hornet/wasp traps, seven of them surrounding the 5 acres we do most of our living on, a few days before the queens came out from their winter hiding places.  This has truly worked to manage our wasp population…capture the queens, and soldiers can’t exist.  Still, some manage to escape the attraction of the pheromones within the bright, yellow coffins…..that’s okay……we will capture your soldiers!!!  BWAHAHAHAHA

B stands for blackberries.  I am so excited!!!  I cannot wait for these beautiful gems…..

Blackberries 2015

…..my affections for them go way back.  When I was growing up in the SF Bay Area, we would go visit my grandma and grandpa in the north eastern hills of California.  They lived in a couple of different places, but always, there were blackberry bushes that they would pick from.  Those poignant thoughts of jams, and cobblers, and fresh picked berries from summers, and Christmas gifts with my grandparents, are fast in my memories.  The blackberries I harvest from our vines taste even that much more delicious because of it.

Blackberries 2015

I have two main wild vines that I take the time to prune, and baby along.  Yesterday was pruning day.  I wear gloves that go up my forearms, and long sleeves, but still, the thorns find skin.  I tore little holes in my shirt, and my fingers were quite sore last night, but it is all totally worth it.

April 2016

The vine above is smaller, and younger….it gives the more delicious fruit of the two.

Before

BEFORE

This, older woodier vine gives more volume, but the fruit is seedier.  Not a problem for jam since I strain out the seeds…a little less desirable for cobbler.  I only prune this vine as far as I can lean in and reach with the shears….that is also how I harvest this bush…minus the shears.

AFTER

AFTER

It’s a harsh briar, with a cherry tree growing up right in the middle, and is good for leaving fruit for the birds and deer.  I also leave a lot of thorny, older wood at the bottom because little quail families like to hide out in there.

The aftermath... 1 of 2

The aftermath… 1 of 2

It’s all about balance….we love the wildlife, they are welcome here.

B also stands for barns….but that’s another story.

Thank you for visiting the wilds of the farm today.  I enjoy spending time with you!

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

#wildblackberriesoforegon  #pruningwildblackberrybushes  #howdoyougetridofwasps

 

 

Where Do We Go From Here

March 2016

Things are always moving, changing, rolling forward on this farm / forest homestead, yet so much of it repeats in a cyclical, seasonal way.   These things never really repeat the same way, but I get caught up in the thought of, “Well I’ve already written about that.”   I am so appreciative of my Readers!  I am so amazed that people actually read the words that I add to these pages….Thank you!!

March 2016

I am a dreamer.  I dream about things we could accomplish with this land.  I dream about how I can be a good steward of the environment, and nature while growing life…ours, the animals (wild, livestock, and pets) while we change the satellite view of the landscape from out in space.  More than anything, I dream about how I can share this land, this beautiful, beautiful land with those who would visit, in person and those virtually by means of this blog.  From the first time we stepped foot here, I knew it wasn’t just ours….it was meant to be shared.  I feel close to God here…His creation is everywhere….my heart is for others to feel that too…I can’t escape it.

March 2016

So here is my question….”Where do we go from here?”  I believe that whatever it is, it must serve our community, in some way.  I can think of at least a dozen ways to do that, the problem is taking the leap and making it happen.  Going past my fears and into the greater good.  So my goal is to decide on a path, and go forward….that is what I am praying about, that is where my mind has been for the last several months.  I get stuck….I think about how these ideas may negatively impact my neighbors, and how I can mitigate and lessen that.  Realizing that there are acres in between us, I have to get out of the mind set of my 40 plus years from birth of living in the city….although sound does carry, I do not have a neighbor’s home 20 feet from my own anymore.  Anyway, I have to start thinking more about the good I can accomplish than the hurdles I may need to jump.

March 2016

So, beyond the farm / forest updates, I hope you will come along with me….as we explore where the road, and the Lord may take us in this journey.  I hope to update you on the struggles, decision making, and progress that occurs….and I’m thinking if I put it out there on this forum, it will compel me to keep moving my feet forward.  How about it?  Will you go on this journey with me?

March 2016

I hope to walk the miles with you all…..we can chat and enjoy each others’ company along the way!!  Will you come with me?

Thank you for visiting the farm today.  Many updates await, and I invite your input…I don’t want to take this journey alone.  Please LIKE, SHARE, and COMMENT….it will be fun to hear from you!!

March 2016

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

#farmingideasinoregon  #whatcanidowithmyfarm  #iliveinaforest  #homesteadingideasinoregon  #iwantotgrowmyfarm  #elkinoregon

A Touch of Spri……..

“A Touch of Spri…….”, unfortunately, I cannot finish that last word.  That word which in its very nature speaks of growth, vibrancy, and warmth  accentuating the season of  hope …..hope for the future…..the future of wonderful delicacies from one’s own garden, Saturday (or in my little town, Thursday) bounty markets,

Harvest 2014

sunbaths in the warmth of the sun….cool, glistening, ice filled glasses full of thirst quenching refreshments.  Ahhhhhhh, yes!!  The promise of Spri……

June 2014

Why, you may ask, am I finding it difficult to fully utter that word which elicits excitement found not only in the hearts of so many, but in the lives of all of nature?

I don't know what the rainbow-esq illumination is in this picutre...

I don’t know what the rainbow-esq illumination is in this picutre…

Maybe it is a result of winter’s, seemingly cruel dance of allowing a moment, seriously just a moment of spri….. – like weather, only to abruptly grab it back in a selfish child-like attitude….screaming, “It’s mine!!”

March 2016

It was a beautiful moment……it happened this past Thursday afternoon…..

March 2016

…….nature was dancing…..frolicking…..awakening!!  It was a magical moment….and it disappeared as fast as it arrived.  Since then, winter, as mild as it has been this year, has strengthened its grip for awhile longer.  There is rain in the forecast for the next four days, a continuation of something like fifteen days of rain we’ve already had…..hey, you live in the Pacific Northwest, you’re going to get rained on….a lot….except in the summer, but SHHHHHHH…..that’s a secret!!!  It’s actually grey and rainy all year round…..right??!!  😉

March 2016

In lower elevations, the cherry blossoms are in bloom….so beautiful!!

March 2016

I think our State’s Capitol gardens are really beautiful…..Oregon is beautiful!!

March 2016

Larry, Curly, and Mo (aka Montana, Clark, and Lott) wanted to give you an update of their wool debriding……

Lott

Lott

 

Montana

Montana

Clark

Clark

…..hahahaha!!!  Aren’t they amazing??!!!!!

Thank you for visiting our little slice of Oregon.  I truly appreciate each and every one of you.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

Time to Take Off that Winter Coat

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To say that we have a rag-a-muffin looking trio would be an understatement.  Our three whethers are in full, loose-the-winter-coat, mode.  The unwanted wool fiber hangs, dangles, and is deposited on anything and everything they rub up against.  You don’t shear these guys like you would a sheep.

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Some of it is so loose, you can literally pull handfuls of the stuff off of their backs….it’s kind of fun actually.  Since the loosening fluff makes them kind of itchy, they seem to like the feeling when the fiber is pulled.  Using their horns, they scratch their backs and sides in the hopes that they will rid themselves of their extra layer.  Some of the wool will gather on the tips of their back scratchers, and dangle.  Poor little Clark, the black/grey whether to the left in the video below, has horns that turn forward…his back scratching capability is a bit more challenging.

Don’t you just want to give that overcoat a tug….

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They have a bit to go….Montana (the brown goat) seems to have gotten a jump on the rest….but they will eventually get all that extra fiber off.  We hope to get some things around their enclosures that they can rub on…in the meantime,  trees and branches seem to do the trick.

I’m looking forward to their smooth, sleek coats of summer….and so does Lott!!

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

You friend from Oregon,

Tami

P.S. Ever wonder what doing dishes on the homestead really means??

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This picture just doesn’t capture how dirty everything really was….maybe that’s a good thing!!

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All clean and tidy!! There were a few more, but you get the idea!

And the Sun Emerges

Has it truly been almost a month since I have written on this blog?   Just about every day I think, “I’ve got to write about that,” and then I get distracted with life.  That being said,  you can catch up with us a bit on http://haveadanehilldanes.com as we walk through our days analyzing every droopy face, every burp, every ….. well, go check it out …. there may be new additions to the family soon.

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Okay, so where do I begin?  Winter is quickly fading into spring out here in the Pacific Northwest….really quickly.  The goats are getting “itchy”, literally, to loose their fluffy, winter coats.  They are rubbing on trees, scratching their backs and sides with their horns,  and enjoying laying down under the mid-winter sun breaks.

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The hens went into an egg shut-down this year, and virtually stopped laying.  Since late October, we have only gotten 1 – 2 eggs every couple of days….within the past two weeks….production has increased, and we are now up to 3 – 4 eggs per day!  Thank you increased daylight…with morning and evening combined, I think we are up to almost two more hours of light in the day than we were in the deep dark of late fall-early winter.

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My two young hens have even started their egg laying careers……

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…..these tiny eggs are perfect when you want to make a 1/3 of a cookie recipe or something.  Who would want to only make a 1/3 of a cookie recipe, you may ask….well it’s kind of like buying already made refrigerator cookie dough, and only cooking part of the package….but I wouldn’t know about that, because I have these little eggs and I just make 1/3 of  the recipe. HA!

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One of my young layers…her name is, Summer….she is very friendly thanks to my niece, Justine, who spent a lot of time holding her, as a young hatchling, this summer…and quite fittingly, she named her, Summer!  🙂

Speaking of recipes, I’m on a mission to “lighten” our lives a bit.  At this point, I’m not overzealous, but just making changes where I can.  I’d like to share with you this recipe I made for the Super Bowl….it is a lightened up version of Spinach-Artichoke Dip…

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….it was full of flavor.  It did feel lighter in texture, not as creamy, but totally okay because the flavor was there…..honestly, I did miss the creaminess a little, but I can live with that.  Here is the link to the recipe…. http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/09/hot-spinach-and-artichoke-dip.html

Thank you for visiting the farm today after our long absence.  We hope you have a most wonderful day.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

#lighterversionofspinachartichokedip  #spinachartichokedipwithgreekyogurt

Claudio / Goats & Christmas Trees

A bit of sad news on the farm (but keep reading, it gets better)…..

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Claudio, the Buff Orphington on the right.

……Our little hen, Claudio, went to the big farm in Heaven.  She had been ailing a bit for a couple of months.  We came really, really close to ending her rein as the Matriarch of the hen house a little over a month ago, but I brought her into the little “resting” enclosure we have in the garage, let her warm up and rest for a few days away from the flock, cleaned her up and she was better….slower than normal, but she liked to eat, walk around, and hung with the flock….but she was slow.

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Claudio, the one and only true Buff Orphington hen on the farm.

We kept a close eye on her….and apparently so did our resident hawk.  Seeing the vulnerability of our little Claudio, the hawk saw an opportunity.  I’m sorry, little Claudio…you and I had some great conversations….she was the talker of the hen house.

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“Are you listening to me?”  “Always, Claudio, always.  RIP my little friend.”

On a lighter note…..

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The other day, my brother, Steve, text’d me and asked if I knew that goats like to eat Christmas trees.   There were news reports down in the Bay Area about goats eating Christmas trees…..I think it is hysterical that this would be a news worthy item…HAHAHAHA!!  I’m not laughing at my brother….maybe a little…..I love you, brother!!!

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Anyway….it was ironic that he contacted me about this  because, litereally, I was forming my thoughts for this post, and just a couple of days before I video’d my goats……chomping down on our Christmas tree!!

It didn’t surprise me that they would like the Christmas trees….they had already attacked the wreath on our door.   Even as young little sprouts, they showed their affinity for fir trees by seeking out the low limbs of our Douglas Fir trees.  It was weird though….put in the context of chomping on our CHRISTMAS TREE….the revelation seemed new, and magical.

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I love my little herd.  They are so cute, and fluffy, and chunky!!

Happy Sunday!!  Thank you so much for spending part of your day with me.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

Please visit my other site….  http://www.haveadanehilldanes.com

 

 

First Snow 2016

It’s always an exciting event when the first snow…or any snow for that matter….falls.  In it’s silent descent, the beauty unveils itself with a crisp, exoteric whiteness not often duplicated.  Like a gift, gently unwrapped under the Christmas tree.  It is calming, and gives one permission to settle in, and linger….just a bit longer.

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On the other hand….snow, the kind of snow we get is FUN…but we don’t live in it for months on end.  When it snows, it is an event for a few days…it may or may not snow again during that particular winter….but then again…..it might!!

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This is the goats first experience with snow.  They sniffed it, they tasted it….

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…they ran into their house…then back out.   The funny thing about snow….you don’t feel the wetness on your thick, curly, fur coat until it starts to soak in….I think.  So, they stand outside as the flakes fall and accumulate on their tops…they don’t seem to have the sense that they need to go in out of the “rain.”  Funny goats.

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The flock is more seasoned and are keeping their feet warm by staying under cover…except for this one adventurer.

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It’s a lovely day in the Pacific Northwest!  Thank you for visiting the farm today.  More of the fluffy white stuff is still in the forecast for this afternoon!  Happy New Year to you all!!

#Have-a-Dane Hill Danes

http://www.havadanehilldanes.com

 

And the Pond Floweth

After months of the absence of a mist, a “spit”, or even a mere drop of rain the flood gates (literally) have opened.  Beyond the sogginess, and slight inconvenience this might prove for our farm chores (more than slight if you poll the goats) there is a real concern of flooding, road closures, sudden gaping sink holes, and landslides.  Our prayers are with those in Oregon and Washington who may be affected by these types of events.

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So far, with the exception of some low-lying street flooding, our town has fared pretty well.  The wonderfulness that the rain brings to our little homestead is the freshness, and running of the pond.  The cold weather ducks that stay around for the winter, are enjoying it too.

If you have a couple of minutes, please enjoy the video below….it’s always a welcome sight when the pond starts flowing again.

Thank you for visiting our water-logged homestead today.  I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami     http://haveadanehilldanes.com

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