Eric wanted me to be sure to explain exactly whose truck was doing the charging and whose truck was being charged. Of course you already know, but for the record: It was Eric’s truck over to our Bob.

The plan that day was that I should drive the truck closer to the stack of wood I meant to load while Larry continued power-sawing. I know how to drive a truck, but it wouldn’t start. Had to ask Larry to come and help. Ah, dead battery. Curses!.

After going into town to acquire jumper cables, and after considering AAA, Larry thought maybe the SUV could power up the truck. Which perhaps it could, if we could locate the battery in the SUV. Nothing for it but to ask for help, and Eric was happy to oblige. We learned, however, that Bob has two batteries. Not sure why. Eric’s truck has but the one. He says he apparently didn’t pay enough for his. (He is funny!)

That was last Wednesday. Today is the following Thursday:

This morning, I lie on my back on a bench hoisting weights toward the ceiling, my eyes closed against the fluorescent lights. I lunge up and down the room, carrying weights. I make like a board, doing planks. (Really hate those planks.) I can’t say I enjoy this, but Aaron is sweet and smart, so I get through the hour. On the way home, I wonder about the equation: I’ve used energy to move my body, and created energy, I think, in the form of heat. Circular. But what exactly is the point? Sure, I need to exercise, I get that, but wouldn’t it be better if that energy were directed toward some result more positive that heating the gym?

So, work. Physical work.

“Oh, I see where you’re going. Don’t pretend that this whole farm adventure is about getting out of the gym or something,” I imagine Larry saying here.

“No, but come on. Wouldn’t you rather lift heavy oak logs into the truck than push weights up to the ceiling? Shovel out the barn than lunge up and down a cold, stupid gym room?”

“You had me up to that bit about shoveling the barn, but yeah. I like to work, too,” Larry might say.

In fact he likes it so much that he went to the farm this Tuesday without me!

Don’t imagine that it’s all inspirational, though, the barn smelling sweet from straw and absent horses.


Here’s one pile of limbs stacked by the arborists when they took out half of the homestead tree. Our objective is to retrieve the fire-place wood from the tangle of branches, the tangle to be consumed in a bonfire later when the fire danger is passed this winter.


And here’s the wood, neatly settled into the cribs in the barn. Seventeen cribs on each side to be shoveled out, by the way. About the cribs: Hard to say, but most dairy operations, says Google, sell their male calves to be raised for beef. Still, it’s pretty undeniable that these cribs weren’t used for any humane purpose, and we’re glad to “repurpose” them. (Brave new world, it seems to be possible now to breed selectively for female calves. We’re not surprised, are we?)


As you see, the barn is hardly charming, but the good news is that we will be getting barn doors soon. The roofing metal for the house is being ordered, and while the builders wait for that, there may be time to mount the doors. Then I can begin my campaign to clean it out this winter, perhaps when rain prevents us from doing anything outside. Find a way to clean the walls, put down some fresh
straw . . .? Hmm. Maybe at that point, the gym will start looking better?

This Saturday, we’ll go back. Work outside for awhile. Then we need to take a measuring tape and imagine the furniture we’ll be needing. How big should the table be? The sofas? Where will we want reading lamps. And what about a TV for the living room? There will be one upstairs in the — well, let’s call it the lounge space — but evenings when there’s a good movie or football game and a fire crackling on the hearth?

Not much to report on the conservation side. Steve says he will be meeting with Jarod and we’ll have the completed plan in the next weeks. Good thing, because we’ll be starting to spray the blackberries soon, and it would be good to have guidance on that subject! We have the bid for fencing, and need input on that subject as well. So, we wait.


I sit at my desk, working through the conservation plan draft Steve has asked us to address. It’s late, we’ve been at the farm all day, but it’s clear nothing will happen until we get this document edited and back to Steve and Jarod.

“I’ll do it,” I tell Larry. Among his skills, please do not imagine typing with any proficiency. He claims it’s the result of being left-handed, and when I’m not convinced, adds that he’s also color blind. These two things are true, if, in my opinion, unrelated to typing. But the administrative work of this project should be mine anyway if it’s he, for example, who will do the sawing and weed-whacking.

And while we wait for governmental approval and assistance, sawing and weed-whacking are about all there are to do on the farm just now. So, after sowing the clover seed in the orchard, a task of about 10 minutes total, Larry straps on the harness and attacks the weeds growing alongside the driveway.


So what am I supposed to do? I walk down to the barn from the house site, and the fields are beginning to show the first green. Birds are busy, but as yet no sign of turning color by the oaks. The berries are spent, now, and it occurs to me that my job today should be to take care of Bob.

Bob has become a de-facto rolling storage shed, the back seats cluttered with everything from a screwdriver to the weed-whacker itself. There’s a very bad smell, suggesting a mouse body somewhere in the upholstery.In the bed of the truck, bags of left-over mulch, assorted sprays and oils, shovels, etc. Okay, this situation definitely needs attention, but we can’t keep everything in the new shed up by the house while it’s still under construction. I think about the barn and the small stalls. I fear they were used for raising veal, but Shirley, Mike-the-Sheep-Guy’s wife, says no, they were used by a dairy operation.

We all know that dairy cows need to be “freshened” periodically to keep the milk flowing, the by-product of which is a supply of calves. They keep the girl-calves, or some of them, but the boys? I haven’t been able to determine their fate, but it can’t be happy. Anyway, the little stalls apparently housed these babies for some portion of their lives.

The stalls are carpeted with 3-4 inches of cow poop and straw, settled together over the course of years into solidified sludge, which I propose to remove. I’ll turn them into storage for our tools!


This is not easy. The “stuff” is heavy and the shovels I have to use are not suited for the task. There are perhaps 15 of these little stalls, and while they are the most-thickly compacted, the entire barn floor is similarly carpeted. The walls and windows are thick with sheep wool clinging to spider webbery, dead insects, and the detritus of years. I don’t know what it will take to clean these walls, but the broom I have to hand is certainly not adequate.

Nevertheless, I make my slow progress. Gather all the tools and whatnot into the bed of the truck to be sorted. We have purchased some plastic bins to contain the small things like gloves, instruction manuals, clippers, and, very importantly, a supply of toilet paper, paper towels, soap, sun screen, plastic glasses and silverware. Just collecting these items in a designated bin has improved Bob’s burdens impressively.

I help myself to some nails from the house site, and using a mallet Larry has found somewhere, find a way to hang some of the garden tools and saws. This thing is looking pretty good!


I know, “good” is relative. Let’s just say better. And, the storage must be temporary until Tyrone can get to the barn doors, which can happen only after the house is closed in. I’m newly sensitive to thievery after discovering Saturday morning that someone bashed in the rear window of my car, parked in the Crane Building garage, and stole some of my music electronics, my pick-up mic, pre-amp, and all the cords. Didn’t take the amplifier itself, probably too heavy, but it’s all a reminder that tools in an open barn are surely tempting fate. Remember what I said about not being stupid?

So I take my photo, disassemble my little tableau and go to watch Larry. Mike has arrived on his little Gator to herd his mama-cows and calves into the correct field. A passer-by has stopped to tell Larry that these 4 have been seen wandering along Llewellyn and we must do something! “Something” means calling Mike, of course.

But this interruption has been enough for Larry to quit for the day. Mike has said, in the kind way he has of not appearing to be telling us what we ought to know already, that we should just spray the road-side weeds. Well, yeah. If we had that tractor, the spray rig, the . . .

We don’t care. We like to go there and do our small chores. Happy Labor Day! P.S., I never found the dead mouse.


Larry standing atop Marys Peak on his 76th birthday!


Fun facts about Marys Peak: (Note the absence of the apostrophe)
At 4098 feet, it’s the highest point in the Coast Range.
On a clear day, you can see the ocean from the summit. And on most days, you can see the peak from our farm.
It’s surmised that the peak’s name comes from proximity of Marys River. (Also no apostrophe)

So who is this Mary, and why no punctuation of possession? Not the mother-of-Jesus Mary, apparently. Two stories: 1. The name honors Mary Lloyd, said to be the first white woman to cross the river. A little thin, I think, as it must be hard to document exactly how far west white women had penetrated at that time, and to thus celebrate Ms. Lloyd’s accomplishment. I’m choosing to go with Story #2. Adam Wimple, early settler, named the river after his sister Mary. In a tragic turn of events, Mr. Wimple was hanged in 1852 for murdering his wife, also named Mary. So a memorial for the decedent Mary? And the missing apostrophe thing? Maybe back in the day, women weren’t allowed to own rivers and peaks.

That was Tuesday. We’d stayed overnight in Corvallis, had dinner at Sur Alma, and got back to work on Wednesday. First objective was the orchard. We got our Dutch clover seed, but perhaps you’ll remember that we were supposed to drag the surface before planting. No tractor, so it was pick up the rakes and do it the pioneer way. Half an hour in, though, the rain got serious and we had to quit.

But I’d noticed a lot of insect damage on the leaves of the cherry trees. Up close, I could see little slug-like creatures on the leaves. Slugs in trees? Well that’s a nightmare. Next I suppose someone will tell me that snakes climb cherry trees, too.

We decided to stop by a near-by blueberry field for the winter’s supply of the fruit on the way home. Check. Then on to a roadside stand for some local honey. This was more picturesque, as the sign announcing items for sale was hand drawn, and the transaction managed by the honor system. Eggs, $3.00 a dozen in a beat-up old refrigerator on the driveway, and there were the chickens, obviously enjoying organic worms and grubs. Not sure I’m brave enough for that bargain. The honey was less of a bargain at $6.00 for 8 oz. sealed in a nice glass jar with a cute label. Should be fine, don’t you think?

On to Shonnard’s, who confirmed that indeed those creatures eating our cherry leaves are slugs, and the remedy is an application of diatomaceous earth at the base of the trees. Apparently these slugs like to overnight back in the soil, so have to cross the diatomaceous powder in order to get to bed. Like having to cross glass shards, in human terms, so if you feel tender about all living creatures, you wouldn’t want to kill slugs in this way. My sensitivities have been adjusting, though, and I say, bring it on.

The rain having stopped, we returned to dose the trees and continue raking the orchard. As we were leaving, we stopped to visit with Tyrone, and asked him for a recommendation for lunch in Salem. In case you read this, Tyrone, Acme was great! Hooray! We loved it!

Rain! Huge cloudbursts on the way home. Fine. Light a fire, read a book, go to bed. A perfect day.