We, Peter, Larry and I, got there at noon on Thursday, swapped out the SUV for Bob-The-Truck, and drove to Corvallis for wood to make the sawbuck. Lunch, of course, then on to the ranch, as Larry has taken to calling the H.A. Wood. The boys would be occupied with their craft project, but I wanted to have a go at the weed-whacker. Turns out the thing is managed by way of a harness the operator straps on. The weight of the whacker is suspended on a hook, and the strange balance allowed me to manage the length of the machine.
“You can do it,” Larry encouraged me, and I could, although I required assistance with starting the thing. Into the orchard I went, meaning to mow a swatch around each tree which would allow future mulching. I was surprised by the machine’s power, and by the impossible lumpiness of the terrain. And when the filament wrapped around the base of one of the cherry trees, thereby executing it, I was horrified. I later took a photo, but it’s very graphic and might upset some viewers, so I will spare you.
“I killed one of the trees,” I had to announce. Those of you who know Larry will understand that he took the news well, but not lightly. He does love his trees. “Shonnard’s will be open until five,” was all he could find to say after viewing the victim and accepting that this tree’s life was over. He should have told me, he later would say, to keep the shield between the tree and the filament, but it was not any failure of his. I alone chopped down the cherry tree.
We didn’t wait until five to visit Shonnard’s and purchase a replacement tree. With Peter there to dig the hole, the job went quickly, and the new plant has happily settled into the orchard with the others.
Meanwhile, the sawbuck was successfully completed and hauled over to the giant woodpile.
We’d had visitors:
Elk, was the diagnosis, from the size of the prints. We’ve never seen the animals, but clearly, they had been up investigating our little settlement. I’m happy to say that they did not take a single bite from the lilac, and that they did not manage to leap the fence. They may not like lilac leaves, but I fear that they’ll tell the deer what’s available at the buffet. Still, we want the lilac outside the fence, so will take the chance, this time.
The guys took a few swipes at some logs and then we called it day. Into town for an overnight at the Hilton, where we crashed with a beer and a look at the Masters on TV. Dinner was in a restaurant Dick Sandvik had recommended, Del Alma. Great! Thanks, Dick!
Next morning, we were surprised to find that new cows had been added to our herd:
We’ll have to fence them out of the oak copse very soon, and have called the man from NRCS who has agreed to help us determine the best grazing practice. He’s out of town until Monday, but we hope to hear from him soon. There are probably 25-30 animals now, enough to do some damage in the wrong places.
While Peter and Larry worked on the large woodpile, I went back to work with my little hand saw. Properly chastened, I knew I should recognize my limits. I didn’t want to watch as the men hefted the heavy oak onto the sawbuck and ran the saw. I mean, I did want to, but it’s sobering to know what accidents can indeed happen, protective gear notwithstanding.
It was hard work! By noon the wind had changed, the guys were tired, and while they wanted to just do one more little section, finally we all realized that we’d had enough:
We wanted to beat the Friday traffic back to Portland, so packed up. After searching for an appropriate spot to mount the lock-box for the truck keys, kindly donated by the White-Davises, we decided that the truck bed itself offered the perfect spot. Thanks, G and V!
What comes next? We await the county’s pleasure with respect to the building permit. Larry has been happy to turn over the management of the power and water systems to Tyrone Simmons, our builder. We’re planning a bird inventory with Charlie Quinn, a friend from the Nature Conservancy, and visits to other properties whose owners have been working on the Muddy Creek conservation corridor. Stay tuned!