Here are the missing photos from this morning’s post. Apparently my devices have consented to work together. “We’re Stronger Together.” Heard that anywhere? Click on the photos to enlarge.

This is the fairy circle. The witches don’t come out in the daylight, but tomorrow night? Watch out!


Here you see nine thousand dollars worth of heritage seeds. Later this month, they’ll be taken to the Finley Refuge for storage over the winter.


I rather like this old pitchfork relic. One of the nicer bits of our archaeological dig.


The bike we worked so hard to free from the mud and weeds.


You remember Peter’s woodpile? As you see, he still has some work to do.


I love to wander the property, go to Muddy Creek and watch it rise in this month of record rainfall.


An example of the little streams OWEB will try to protect. This is in the riparian forest, and you can imagine thousand pound calves tiptoe-ing through the downed branches to get a drink of water.



What do you do down there when it rains like that?

Good question. One fun activity is going to the dump. Here’s how that goes: You take the ATV down to the barn where Bob the Truck lives. For months, maybe years, we’ve been conducting what could be called an archaeological dig on the property, starting with the demolition of the original house, and storing our finds. Easy to toss most of the stuff into the pickup bed for disposition when the rainy day comes.

Many of the shards we collected were on the surface, albeit under tangles of ivy, vinca major, blackberry canes, mullein, thistle, am I forgetting anything? Kid toys, broken bowls, an autographed baseball, and many, many broken bottles strewn about. Broken glass has been a speciality of mine, and I’ve filled several wash buckets with beer bottle fragments, window glass, etc., along with a nice side collection of beer cans. Probably pre-dated the 5c return law, but too filled with mud and yuck to be worth the recycling attempt.

Old tires! Don’t know if the collection out on the back 40 are courtesy of a previous owner, or an opportunistic neighbor. We were reluctant to drive out to the far corner where there are maybe a dozen, fifteen, rounds mouldering away, but today we did have one lovely specimen still wrapped around its wheel to deliver.

The focus of this day was the excavation of a bike that lay buried beside a tree of undetermined specie — maybe a hawthorne. Larry thought he could chain up the derelict and haul it of the mud or clay with the power of the tractor. It would be my job to drive while Larry managed the chains. (Real women don’t mind getting soaked while steering a tractor.) After several failed attempts, we had to go to Plan B and scoop the thing out with the bucket. At this point, Larry took over command of the Deere. See photo.

This artifact joined another dismembered bike in the truck, and along with the side piece from some unknown farm equipment and all the debris we’d collected, was on the way to Powell Butte, the city land fill.

You drive your vehicle onto a ramp and are weighed. Your load is examined, and when a tire is discovered, you will learn that there is a tariff of $8.00 to dispose of it. And furthermore, you will be required to separate the tire from the rim in order that the metal can be disposed of in the metal bin. You think about those other tires in the back forty and realize that it will cost a hundred fifty bucks or so to get rid of them. Ah. This is why someone else chose to use our land as a dump. No cost to them.

Once again, site won’t let me upload photos! Damn! Try again later? I wanted to show you the fairy ring that bloomed under one of our trees. A perfect circle of white mushrooms (edible? wish I knew) caused, myth would have it, by shooting stars, lightning strikes, or, my favorite, wandering witches. Not supposed to enter the ring lest you be transported to the other world, from which there is no escape.

But back to the rainy day: this past week, a gang of Peter and Allison’s friends, parents of U O students all, came for a farm visit. (Why do so many Pasadena kids choose to attend U O? Why not OSU?) This day, it wasn’t raining! Blue sky! Gorgeous. Reinforcing the idea that it really doesn’t rain in Oregon, another myth to dissuade the hordes of Californians who would immigrate if they knew the sunny truth about our climate. In any case, the men all had ATV tours of the property, the women laughed and told stories, Amy, a little refuge from dorm life, took a long hot shower. It was nice to see the house come alive in this way. Lots of photos, so I won’t be visiting FaceBook any time soon to see what I really look like.

Conservation note: Two weeks ago, a woman from NRCS visited the property to survey the creeks to establish sites for “water breaks.” We had a long conversation with Ryan to help determine his views on the best water disposition for the cattle he’ll graze here. It has been decided to hold off on planting our precious heritage seeds until spring, and plant a cover crop of feed oats instead, which Ryan will graze before discing the land again, before planting the wild flower seeds. A little disappointing, though a field of green will look beautiful even if the butterflies have to wait another season.

Lunch with our accountant to discuss the creation of a separate entity for the farm. He’s opposed. Why? Thinks we can just fold conservation expenses into our family taxing. Okay, over my head, but I didn’t hear his response to my assertion that we aren’t grazing cattle as a money producing scheme. They are a conservation tool: we either graze our land, mow it, or burn it. Of the options, grazing seems the most eco sensible. He, the accountant simply responded that I’d make a terrible tax attorney. What does that mean?

I want to get this posted, though I’m bummed that I can’t add photos at this time. I’ll try to edit the post later and see if my new iPhone 7, my Seagate photo storage device, and my computer can play nicely together. Ha. Talk about a fairy circle and witches!


As it is at this moment, IT POURS. Both metaphorically and literally. Been a busy week here at Lake Woe . . . I mean, at the Wood.

Starting at the end of last week, Peter stayed another day after tucking his daughter Amy into her new digs at the U O campus. He planned, I believe, to to a little sawing on his eponymous wood pile, but his dad had other ideas. Mounds of dead berry brambles heaped over long-ago downed oaks create a wonderful habitat for various song birds, and a big speed bump for the pasture renovation. Hector to the rescue. Which reminds me, I haven’t told you about the name changes for our equipment. Tractor is now Hector. For the obvious reason. The men worked all day Saturday:



On Sunday, Peter flew home and we returned to Portland. On Tuesday, we learned that Matt, Fence-Guy, had completed the fencing around the house which we had conceived as a way to differentiate homestead, settlement, from the pasture and restoration acres. Also as a way to keep the cows off our back porch. This is a photo of the little people-passage creating access to the future paths in the oak copse.



And on Wednesday, Bad Brad arrived to paint the barn! (It’s he who calls himself “Bad,” not my idea. Though he can be pretty grumpy.) That misogynist description, lipstick on a pig? Pretty apt, here, though I mean no offense. At least the barn is clean and no longer Baby Poop Yellow. You decide if it was worth it:


Let me introduce Bill Peterson, our “landscape” Guy. Unless we wish to surround the house with a football field of mud through the winter’s rains, we need to have some sort of “yard.” After some on-line research, we found Bill, and he’s visited the site a time or two. The second time to adjust his vision to ours, eliminate fountains, fieldstone patios, flower beds; he absolutely got it. Has good suggestions, we suppose, for laying a little sod for the immediate winter, after amending the underlying clay. We discussed the orchard, and the need for some under-planting, and he led us to seeding with rye grass. Which was going to need to be watered while we are away celebrating Allison’s birthday. No problem. We provide the hoses, he’ll bring sprinklers — but of course, the recent rains have obviated that plan.

Switching to Thursday, we received notice that our seeds were ready to be picked up from Heritage Seed in Salem. Road trip! Took a while, even with our nav system, to locate the collection of sheds, barns, greenhouses that is Heritage. Inside, we were reminded of nothing so strongly as Farmcraft Chemicals — which my family will recognize as my dad’s ag chem plant. Missing only that smell which flavored our childhood.

The botanist, an earnest woman who didn’t bother to brush her hair that morning, told us how they curate seeds for the Stinger Mix which we had been told by F&W to purchase. Heritage plants are grown, tested, nurtured (not genetically altered, these are HERITAGE) and finally selected by their ability to ignore the glyphosate (think Roundup) which must be applied. An herbicide is necessary if these ancestral plants are to compete with the invasives thriving in our pastures today. Below is a photo of $9000.00 worth of these precious seeds:

Or not, because my miserable computer won’t allow me to move photos this morning. What the? Excuse me while I go out onto the porch and tear my hair. Yes, I know I’m supposed to download version 4.6.1., but when I do, will I ever be able to post again? So sorry, Apple does not support Word Press. And who does? Try WP’s website if you want to enter computer hell.

But I want to get this out to you-all, so will forge ahead without illustration to say that Ryan has come, has disced the entire 14 acres, and our land is transformed into 14 acres of lumpish good dirt. He says it’s good! Been undisturbed for ever, first time under cultivation. Historic, really. Now we await even more rain so that he can harrow the land in preparation to receive the above seeds. OMG, it’s really happening.

And our new gate is mounted! Awaiting Applegate Door Guy who will come and install the electronics to operate these lovely pieces of powder-coated steel. This will replace the sagging farm gate which must be manually operated, using a padlock for security, every morning and evening. In the rain. Hooray for the 21st century! I hope I do not celebrate in advance, thus condemning the thing to failure. Well, at least, thanks again to Gordon, who introduced us to Randy at C.H.I.P. & Dale’s Iron Works. Must be an inside joke. But he did a great job, and you would also be impressed if I could show it to you.


Well, if there’s a joke, it’s on me. Now my computer is perfectly transferring the photos. I’m editing my earlier post, so have a look if you want to see the fence and gate. Now, shall I update or not?

Yr. Faithful Correspondant, etc.