Playing catch-up today. Here’s last week’s adventure:

Buck-the-Tractor had his first look outside the barn since arrival. A nice day, and we had time to do some actual work around the place. So the barn, or edifice we call the barn, is as clean as we can manage, and we’ve done some preliminary pruning around the old home site, the nearby blackberrys have been sprayed and lean brownly clutching an assortment of farm fences in an impossible thicket. Time to tidy up.

The appendage securely attached to the tractor’s back end is a mower, and Larry wanted to have a practice run with the machine in the relatively safe, flat space at hand. I had read somewhere that a responsible farmer will walk a field before mowing, discing, tilling, whatever, and while Larry familiarized himself with the controls, I began to pace the area between the cement slab which formerly anchored a garage and the barn.

We’d known that the derelict house had been party central to bands of high school or college revelers, and that various souls had camped inside the barn and garage, so had already picked up bins full of trash. But what we hadn’t seen was all the glass and metal debris under the weeds. Now in winter, the weeds are low enough to expose all the treasure. Broken bottles, bottles buried in mud, scraps of metal, shards of old bleach bottles, broken toys. Obviously we couldn’t just run the mower over this tableau of misery.

Ugh. Poor land. Poor souls who huddled here, the rain beating down (in my imagination). The old saying: Foul your nest and move west? This is about as west as you can get. Here’s a quote from Andy Warhol: “I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own.”

So let’s make some art!

The tractor rumbled over the uneven ground and it does look better. Larry succeeded in grinding some blackberry canes along a cement trough, but didn’t yet attempt the larger mass I described earlier. Next time, maybe.

A lovely patch of daffodils bloomed in a lake of vinca and I wanted to take some home. The vinca is about a foot and a half deep, covering what I had recently learned to expect, but I waded cautiously over to the flowers and cut a nice handful. As much as the glass and metal, I was concerned about slumbering snakes, but if I trod on any, they didn’t complain. Vinca, by the way, is invasive, non-native, and will have to go!

This brings me up to yesterday. We had a meeting scheduled with Applegate Gates to discuss a gate for our driveway. It will have to be controlled remotely from the house, and from our cell phones if we’re away from the farm. Merlin was the expert who came to talk with us, and he certainly seemed to know the answers to all our questions. We wanted the gates to swing inward upon entry, but the drive slopes upward at the chosen point. To accommodate the rise, the gates would have to be mounted at a silly-looking height off the ground at their posts. Okay, so the gates will swing outward toward an entering vehicle.

My friend Molly suggested that I’d better get my camera situation straightened out because this project is much better when illustrated. With that in mind, here are Merlin and Larry discussing placement:


How far from Llewellyn may the gate be sited? Fortunately, Merlin has a contact at Philomath Fire who would be able to tell us. His brother, in fact. Always good to rely on local contacts, we find! It seems that the distance is determined by the ability of a fire engine to pull completely off the road before encountering a gate. Merlin will let us know what he learns.

Here are some of the daffodils that have decorated this little quadrant of the property:


Everything looks better contained by our lovely new fence, or so we believe.

We went up to the house to see what the builders have accomplished in the days since Saturday. Dick was there working to put rock on the little shed. I had mentioned Cactus in an earlier post, and he and Dick are the masons. Dick is Cactus’ father, and, amazingly enough, Cactus is a grandfather. This has to make Dick the oldest human still laboring at the very demanding job of masonry. Never retire! Do what you love! You can see their work on this photo of our back porch:


Guess what. Remember I said that the cows weren’t coming back? It seems that they are. Jarod, of Fish and Wildlife said that he would very much like to have the animals for another year, and Mark agreed to continue with us. His electric fencing is already in place, necessitating the use of the forked stick to get us over the wire. We wanted to amble down and check on Muddy Creek, and were a bit shocked to see a giant machine rumbling over the flood plain. What the heck?


Here’s Bob, who drove the rig which loads the giant. A fertilizer spreader, as it turns out. Mark, Cow-Guy has decided to fertilize the land the cows will graze. On his dime, of course, but still. One might like to have been notified?

So here’s my take: I’m sad to see how the cows damage the land, and a little resentful that it’s being fertilized artificially. But just how naive can I be? The depths have not yet been plumbed. Of course Mark will act to maximize the growth of his animals. We want to use his animals, but he’s in his business to succeed. If we improve the land for forage, well and good, but meanwhile? Let’s just fertilize the thistle and tansy while we’re at it. I don’t know how this will balance at the end of the day, but per Andy Warhol, we’re trying!

Enough for one post! Time for dinner.


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