If I’m at the farm and can’t find my red sweater, I might say “Oh, it must be at home.” If I’m in Portland and can’t find my red sweater, I might say “Oh, it must be at the farm.” Which is odd, as I think the farm is where I live. But it seems that unbidden language has its own convictions, and so I have come to understand that “home” doesn’t mean the farm. Yet. And what makes somewhere be “home?” anyway? But tonight’s question is, what do I say if I think my red sweater might be at Black Butte? If I don’t live at Black Butte, and if it isn’t “home,” then what is it?

But let’s back up. How was Easter? For us, it was spent in the lovely company of granddaughter Amy (on the left)and her friend Madeline Lewis, on their way from Pasadena to Eugene with a quick stop-over in Portland Saturday night, Sunday dinner at the farm, and then back to school for the Ducklings.


Back to Portland for us for appointments, a symphony, workout and massages. Then on to Black Butte to take care of some ranch business (noncompliant lettering on the house), to deliver a bundle of linens from the cleaners, to have dinner with friends Dianne and Dick and sister Martha, and lunch with friends Nancy and Mal. So yeah. Black Butte. It’s still as beautiful as ever there. Larry loves the place for sure. He loves to play golf, loves the famous BBI, loves to go fishing, loves the hot tub (when it hasn’t been appropriated by strangers smoking and drinking). Okay, it’s a perfect vacation home.

We decided last year to turn off wifi and TV while we’re not there. Smart, huh? We hired someone to keep the landscape tidied up. If the driveway needs plowing, we call ranch maintenance. When we leave, we call the house cleaning service. No, don’t be a smart ass, we don’t have a cook or a wine steward. So there we were last Wednesday. A walk with my sister. Dinner, then lunch with friends. And now we’re approaching the essential thing-of-it. No wifi, no TV, so we read books by the fire. But there are no chores, nothing, really, to do. No pine needles to rake and burn. No food in the house, seriously, so nothing to cook. Sure, I can knit and maybe finish that sweater I’ve been working on for 5 years (not red), I can practice, but I can’t just sit there and do nothing for very long. Now don’t misunderstand, I don’t want to go to Black Butte to wash dishes and mop floors. What do I want?

What we did was pack up and go to Terrebonne, where the nice folks from Central Oregon Chicken Coops have a model under construction that we might look at. And all the way home (to Portland) we talked about how we could fit a coop into our orchard (at the farm), how we might keep the foxes out of the hen house, and so on until the traffic made us so crabby we stopped talking all together and just ground our teeth.

This week: We always say that when there’s nothing else to do at the farm and the rain won’t quit, we’ll go rent the splitter and spend the day in the barn. Today was that day. Here’s what that looks like: A LOT of wood!


Here’s what we have left for tomorrow: Piece of cake.


Jake and his crew arrived in the morning to connect the pipes from the old well, install a nitrate elimination system so that the water from the well will satisfy the county’s purity mandate. And most important, install back-flow devices so that the water from the cattle tanks can’t accidentally reverse direction and get into the cistern. Ugh. Cow slobber in the faucets? No, I didn’t think you’d like that either.

The kitchen sink faucet here has developed a non-stop drip. I call the Philomath plumber. “What’s the brand?” Rhonda, from R.G.Smith asks. Don’t know. I find out and call her back. Oops, it’s a fancy, ridiculous Waterstone designer affair, parts for which R.G.Smith doesn’t stock. But Rhonda looks up the model number for me, the phone number of customer service at Waterstone, calls me back and suggests that they may have the part and will send it to us. Should be under warranty, she says, so don’t let them charge you for it. Wow. I’m impressed, and grateful. And, get this, the Waterstone service person is equally helpful, says she’ll ship the part that afternoon, and no, no charge. A nice story, but tonight, the faucet still drips and we will see how the story ends.

Tomorrow, weather cooperating, besides more wood-splitting, Sam Carter is due to arrive to take down the hulk looming under the tree which we tried to name. The name won’t stick. These trees are too ancient, brave, powerful to bear a trivial name some silly person invents. Maybe I should just call them all “Grandfather.” Sam and his new employee, Keith, got to work, with the result that we have another pile of wood to haul to the barn and split.


Now it’s tomorrow. Larry says that this time he’ll haul the splitter out to the site. Good idea! Anyone in the sound of my voice who wants some free firewood, come on over. Wear boots and bring gloves. Call ahead and we’ll rent the splitter for ya.