Sun Peeks Out

IMG_2406I’m always shocked and incredulous when the days turn sunny in the middle of winter.  Thrilled, to be sure, but skeptical.

It’s like a double rainbow — what does it mean?!

For three days in a row we had 60 degree temperatures.  Here on the Oregon coast, that’s tee-shirt weather, June weather.  I’ve tried to block out most of my memories of last year’s meteorological conditions, but I can assure you there were no 60 degree days.  In spite of myself, I’m hopeful.  Maybe this means a mild winter, a balmy spring?  Wouldn’t that be a treat?

IMG_2381.jpgTo celebrate, we spent time outside.

Jasper hooked up the electricity to the greenhouse and the attached shed, and then we spread fresh straw over the trench and around the front and back steps so that we wouldn’t track so much mud inside (we hope).  We also spread a bale in the chicken coop because they’d reduced their last bale to dirt already.

I worked on my perennial herb garden too, spreading chicken manure, compost, punk wood and old bedding on the cardboard that I’d laid down a month ago.  I’m trying to transition into using permaculture practices in the entire garden, and I’m starting here.  No tilling, no digging, and hopefully no need for weeding will be the end result.

And — this is so neat! — while I was checking everything over and just quietly enjoying the moment, I kept hearing this weird, low crunching, munching sound.  It sounded like something was chewing on cardboard.  I was absolutely mystified until I lifted up the layers and discovered that that was exactly what was happening!  I was hearing the worms and other bugs eating the underside of the cardboard!  So cool.

IMG_2312Another sound I heard a lot of was the buzzing of bees.  It was a little disconcerting to hear and see honeybees flying around in the middle of January.  We saw a lot of them in the straw we put down, presumably because it was glowing rather brightly in the sun, and around the hummingbird feeder.  Anywhere there was a bit of color.  I felt so bad, knowing they wouldn’t find anything to eat this time of year.

But!  While walking down to the girls’ school bus stop I passed by our hazelnut trees (enormous bushes really, they need badly to be pruned!) and discovered that they were absolutely covered by bees foraging on the blooming yellow catkins!  Full of pollen, full of food.

Nature’s got it figured out, my friends.

I just need to spend more time outside observing, apparently.  Which I am more than happy to do, if the weather could just stay so wonderful.

Advertisements

New Year, New Farm Goals

IMG_1942.jpg2017 was the year we bought the farm.

It was also the year we destroyed and subsequently rebuilt a house (we hired somebody) and upgraded our septic system (we did it ourselves!).  It was the year we took our first big family vacation (to the Redwoods and Disneyland) and bought our first LGD, Rowan.  It was the year we all saw our first solar eclipse and the year that both of my girls went to school full-time.

But it was not the year we accomplished a single one of our other goalsWhomp whomp.

Thank goodness for new years and fresh starts!

Una by fence.jpgMy plan is to write a whole post on each of these goals throughout the year, to go into more detail about the hows and the whys and the progress (if any) that we’re making.  Hopefully, now that we actually live out here we can get more done, and already I see that we’re making little inroads on some of these!  They’re all really pretty simple, but to check any of them off the list as finished would go a long way toward fixing up this old farm.  So, without further ado, here are my goals for 2018:

  • Rent a dumpster (again) and get rid of the remaining junk
  • Build a duck house and yard
  • Acquire some ducklings
  • Paint and shingle the chicken coop
  • Build raised beds and cold frames for year-round salad greens
  • Build and plant a strawberry patch
  • Transplant raspberry canes to a permanent raised bed
  • Prune fruit trees
  • Build a better garden fence
  • Expand garden
  • Clean out the garden shed
  • Clean out the greenhouse
  • Beautify backyard
  • Landscape around house
  • Fence in the lower field
  • Paint, clean out and fix up the wood shop (or, as we call it at present, the ugly old garage down by the road)
  • Cut down blackberries and miscreant alders
  • Begin to build perimeter fence
  • Fix or replace the tractor

IMG_2200I’m so excited for this year!  Excited to finally be in our house, living here on the most beautiful forty acres I could imagine.

Life is good, you guys, and I think 2018 is going to be good, too.  Happy New Year.

Happy Winter Days

IMG_2120The solstice passed this week, and we are finally, officially, in winter.

Although, really, it’s felt like winter for months now.

Living in what amounts to a temperate rain forest, one doesn’t really get seasons as it were.  One gets mild fluctuations.  In September or October it gets a little cooler than it used to be and it rains a little more, and in May or June it gets a little warmer and drier again.  That’s about it.

The morning of the solstice surprised us all though, and we woke up to temperatures  below freezing and everything brilliantly, dazzlingly crusted over with ice!

IMG_1974The girls, who have absolutely no idea what real snow is, thought it was wonderful.  We were having a White Christmas for sure!  They even threw some frosty clumps of grass at me and claimed we were having a snowball fight.  I just went with it, because that’s what you have to do here.  Sometimes frosty or icy is all you get.

And it was a good thing we enjoyed it, because the next day we were back to normal.  But it hasn’t been very rainy this month at all, so for that I am extremely thankful.

In other winter news, our first Christmas on the farm is only a couple of days away now and we’ve been busy making it feel very festive inside the farmhouse.  We’ve gathered greenery and put up the tree and strung lights and made treats and listened to more Christmas songs than is probably good for a person.  But we are happy.  We are excited.  Christmas doesn’t feel like a chore this year!

Instead it feels, rightly, like something we’ve waited a very long time for, indeed.

Thanks for sticking with me through all of this.  It means so much knowing that you’re out there cheering us on and following along on all the adventures we’ve had so far, and all those to come.

Cheers to a wonderful new year, a happy winter and a merry Christmas to you all!

Winter is Coming

0702 logs.jpgJasper started cutting and splitting logs for us to use this winter.

The trees were ones that had fallen last summer at the westernmost edge of the property.  The owner of the neighboring tract of land clear cut the forest bordering ours.  Without the protection and buffer of those trees, the fierce winter winds felled a good swath of our trees, too.

I was mad about it to begin with.  The owner of the land is something of a lumber and land baron around here, doesn’t live on the property but bought it just for the timber, and of course he didn’t think for a second about what would happen to our trees when he cut his down.  But being mad about something you can do absolutely nothing about is no way to live.

Instead, we decided that when life knocks down your trees, it’s time to cut firewood.

0721 woodpile.jpgWinter.  It seems like such a very long way away, being in the middle of July as we are.  It’s hard to believe that the days could be cold and dark and that the nights could be long.  I’ve gotten used to sunshine and balmy weather (average of 70 degrees my friends!) and going to sleep at night while the robins are still singing and with only the thinnest of quilts.

But I know it won’t last, the Earth just keeps swinging around that sun, and so, forearms browning in the summer sun as I weed in the garden, I listen to buzz of the chainsaw and the metallic thunk of the ax in the lower field as Jasper chops firewood for the cold months ahead.  And when I go help to move it and stack it, I think about how happy I’ll feel to throw one of these logs in the fireplace and listen to it crackling away come January.

0721 cat

There’s something nice about preparing for winter in the heat of summer.  Something that’s deeply soul-satisfying about knowing that this hard work will have such tangible results.  It’s not the same as working in an office and earning a paycheck.  It’s not the same as throwing the switch on the thermostat and later paying the heating bill.

It’s harder, to be sure.  But it is hugely rewarding, in a way I never knew before, and on an almost primal level.  We worked hard, and this winter we’ll be warm.

And I feel rich beyond measure.

On a (Warmish) Tin Roof

0512 roof 0512 roof 2Is there any nicer way to spend an inclement spring day than crouched on an old metal roof equipped with a crow bar and a hammer, tearing off old cedar shakes and listening to the local station on the wind-up radio?

No?

I didn’t think so, either.

The New Hatchlings

Well, it turns out that I didn’t have to wait very terribly long for baby birds, after all.

I spent yesterday morning hunting out and knocking over any and all nests I could find inside the farmhouse, and getting quite a few adult barn swallows furious at me.  I know it isn’t likely, but I didn’t want to give them a chance to lay any eggs in the next 24 hours, lest their unborn babes go up in flames.  I have an especially soft spot when it comes to barn swallows, you know.

So it was nice, and needed, to find that the three blue eggs down in the nest box are now three baby birds, hatched and healthy and greedily chuffing with hunger.  I still don’t know if they’re robins or starlings, although now I’m starting to learn toward starling.  Iris claims she saw the mother bird leaving the nest and that it was all brown.  If she’s right, that’s some pretty strong evidence for it.

I won’t lie; I’ve always wanted a pet starling.  I know lots of people hate them, but I’ve always found them beautiful, and their flight murmurations are breathtaking.  But if that’s what these little guys are, I promise I won’t take one to raise.  This year.  My life is crazy enough right now as it is.

***

Today is burn day.  I’m excited and apprehensive, both, but I am also absolutely 100% ready.

To new beginnings!

Nest Update

0422 tree and nest box0422 eggsAnother egg has appeared in the nest!  Is the clutch done now?

And as for what kind of eggs these are, my vote is also for baby robins.  I don’t have any real reason why, that’s just my first inclination.  I suppose I’ll know for certain in another two weeks!