March 1. More sunshine than rain, so Larry and I could get to work on the downed oak. See below:
Yeah, and that’s just one fallen tree of maybe 15 around the property. Larry mans the saw, of course,
while I more or less pick up sticks and toss them on the burn pile. We both scrape the moss off the firewood that results, pile the wood onto the Ranger and unload it in the barn:
Then the pile of firewood has to be split and stacked. We rent a splitter, and though it’s really a three-man job, we wear ourselves out managing it anyway. A splitter is a wondrous machine, and it’s great fun to watch the pressure split the wood into fourths or eights, to see the growth patterns as the tree adjusted to the wind, to its neighbors, to the sun, disease, pests, over the course of hundreds of years.
To digress: my sister Mary introduced me to a small book called The Inner Life of Trees. Sounds a little new-agey, I agree, and you have to accept the premise that trees communicate with one another, but read the book and you’ll be transformed, or at least a little smarter than you were yesterday. The author writes about trees in his native Germany, and I’m not sure if German oaks and my Oregon White oaks share the behaviors he describes, but I am stunned to learn, for example, that the oaks in a wood communicate, in the ways they have, to determine when to start diverting energy to the generation of acorns. Which they all do in a single, given year. Not every year, see, because the foragers, deer, elk, and so on . . . well, I could go on, but the author is Peter Wohlleben, if you’re interested.
Back to my farm. FAQs:
1. Are you ever going to move down there permanently?
Not giving up our condo in Portland, if that’s what you mean.
2. But which place is, like, your home?
Both. We have two homes.
3. Do you consider yourself a farmer, then?
No. I consider myself a princess. (Apparently you don’t know me at all.)
4. Do you take food down there from Portland?
Sometimes, but there are actually grocery stores in Corvallis, and even in Philomath. Trader Joe’s. Market of Choice.
Safeway. We’re fine. Plus, there are even restaurants here and there. But no, we can’t walk to them.
5. Do you have any friends?
Well, we think we have pretty good friends in Portland, but we’ve met a neighbor or two here, and had an amusing
conversation with some people in line at the Post Office this morning.
6. Aren’t you out in the middle of nowhere? Isn’t the quiet a little eerie after the “urban texture” of Portland?
It’s not that quiet. There are thousands of geese flying up and down the valley each day, and they make plenty of
noise. Then, it’s spring now, or supposed to be, and look who we saw on our window sill this morning:
We call them peepers, or tree frogs, though I have no idea who they really are. There must be a million of them down
in the creek by the barn, and they sing us to sleep every night. There are also robins chirping about. Larry was surprised
to see them. Thought they few south for the winter, he observed. This IS south, we were told. Oh.
About the title of this piece, we drive up each time, hoping to see signs of growth in the oats we planted this fall. (By “we planted” I of course mean “Ryan, Cow-Guy, caused to be planted”) We congratulate ourselves on the green haze we believe we see.(Again, by “we” I mean “I”. Larry, whose color-blindness has never abated, has no idea if the fields are green, brown, or a sort of purplish gray.) We hope to see that the continuation of the fence along Llewellyn has been installed. We hope that Jason, Habitat-Guy will have come to burn the massive burn-piles, although I sure hope I can be here for that spectacle!
And in fact, Bill Peterson, the man whom we’ve hired to help with what we’ll call landscaping, is due here any minute, so what am I complaining about? This farming thing takes patience! One more Frequently Asked Question: Do you expect to see the fruition of your conservation, habitat restoration plans? This is a bit like another FAQ we hear: What did you do before you retired? How do they know we retired? They think we’re old or something? Same as that expectation, fruition question. Answer: Who knows? In the meantime, we are sure having a lot of fun watching the robins, the tree frogs, the geese and that oat-grass.