Back home from the 2019 edition of Camp Estrogen, held this year at Julie’s Black Butte digs, okay, I’m tired. Six women, five of whom no longer contain any of the eponymous estrogen (one who says they’ll have to pry her precious pills from her fists when she goes to her eternal rest) havin’ fun away from real life for a couple of days.

Among other adventures, we had lunch at Rain Shadow Organic Farms, and when asked if we might buy some eggs, were told that chickens don’t lay at this time of year. It seems, the nice lady told us, that they sense the oncoming cold weather of fall, and egg production stops. Very interesting. No one told my chickens, who continue to lay apace. Maybe this is a regional pattern. We were, after all, across the mountains where it does, indeed, get cold in winter.

Interesting note: Corvallis is a word derived from Latin, meaning Heart of the Valley. Somehow this knowledge improves my appreciation of our town’s name.

Let’s take a break for a couple of photos, artistically arranged:

Larry’s garden has run amuck! So now what? Note, by the way, the basket of farm-fresh eggs. Ha! This is what happens when you run off with your girlfriends, and I’ve been chopping and blanching and freezing for days. In fact, we find that we have to buy an additional freezer for the garage to house the bounty.

I’m not sure how to winter over the delicatas, and the huge cucumbers lurking behind the eggs have taken their place in the great wheel of compost, but the broccoli, zucchini, and cauliflower have been tucked into freezer containers to await, well, something. I’ll figure it out.

And I came back to notice that our herd of cows/calves has expanded. Five white baby calves, very cute, and what seemed to be lots more mommas. Seems Ryan felt the grass of the three pastures where they’ve been hanging out was rich enough to support more animals. About 24 more. Bringing us up to 50 or so. They’re such fun to watch, but what about our water? Remember? Our wells run dry sometimes? We’ve turned off the sprinklers to our lawn and it’s getting appropriately “golden” (it’s a look), but we would like to guarantee our household supply.

So Ryan says that his guy will talk to Green Belt Landtrust about a solar powered system they use to pull water from Muddy Creek. We farmers are allowed to sip from the creek for ag purposes, and if true, could fill a couple of tanks down in the riparian area. I tend to freak about the water situation, so hope that this system can be put in place before we have to call the tanker as per 2 years ago. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tomorrow I’m going to U-pick blueberries with neighbor Terri, departing at 8 in the morning. At least they’re easy to freeze! So, got my tin bucket, my jeans and boots and yeah, it sure feels like summer.

JULY 2019

This is my second attempt at a photo essay by First Grandkid Andrew. The first disappeared into the ether and I have one word for anyone planning to write a blog using Word Press. Don’t.

But, here’s a photo of Andrew, which is not, of course, part of his photo essay:

He came to the farm to work, and here he is hard at it:

He’s shoveling dirt into the old feed trough, which we thought to utilize as a planter. It’s right by the old well, so water is available, and wouldn’t filbert (aka hazelnut) trees be a fun idea?

I changed my mind. It’s too damn hard to manipulate this f-ing app, if that’s what Word Press is, and if there’s an opportunity to post another photo, I’ll give it a shot later when I’ve composed myself.

Last post found us sending David and Caroline off to parts unknown, which materialized as Vancouver BC, where they spent a few weeks before heading back to Hawaii. Right now I believe they’re in England somewhere, but communication is sketchy with these two. If and when they actually move, I’m sure they’ll let us know.

After their visit, Jenny and her family came to the farm for a couple of days. Somehow I didn’t take any photos, which I regret, but at least that means I don’t have to commit a half hour and my usual sweet temperament to post them. I’ll just say it was great fun to see them, to catch up on Alli’s life in Colorado, and at Seattle Prep where Will is a Junior-to-be. Jenny and Tom have purchased a “fixer-upper” and have launched the project with a search for an architect who will understand that a dollar means a dollar. Good luck with that, but miracles do happen.

Peter and Andrew arrived next, to help with the latest downed oak, some tractor work on the above mentioned feed trough, and whatever else occurred to the aged p’s.

Speaking of miracles! I refer to the fact that this photo arrived right-side up and in the right place. Pushing my luck, I try again:

I am so on a roll! Peter at the controls of the trusty John Deere — but as happened in the past, the tractor sprang a hydraulic leak and this particular job came to an ignominious halt. The tractor got hauled away as Larry, who is usually sure he can fix whatever (see next topic) wisely deferred to the local John Deere folk.

Mom and Peter here. Love the cowboy hat!

Peter and Andrew drove off on the 4th — yes, they drive from Altadena — and we sat on the porch enjoying the rare, consecutive visits from our kids. In our rocking chairs. But farm life waits not her tired caretakers. The watering tanks were up to their tricks.

The construction error that cost the life of the calf had been remedied, but the float valve in the operative one declined to shut off the water supply, and, on going to check, we discovered a flood. This, of course, can drain the well, and though we can get along while the well recovers, the cows can’t.

Call Ryan, (cow guy) I say, with an edge of hysteria.

“I can fix it,” says Larry.

Oh God. Yes, he probably can fix a stupid float valve, but . . .

“Look, it’s simple. You just have to . . .”

A day goes by. The fix endures, until it doesn’t Another flood. This is not, dear readers, Larry’s fault. It finally required a real true plumber and a whole new system.

But in working with the tank, we’d seen a scummy slimy forest of algae in the tank. Goldfish to the rescue:

Ten “feeders” who bring the number of our personal livestock to thirteen. So far as we can tell, they’re doing a very good job. Don’t know how they feel about cows sucking up their water, but we can hope that they will thrive.

We made a dash to Black Butte to make up the beds for the Hawley family who will be staying there for a week, starting the 16th. As their time corresponds exactly with Camp Estrogen, and as Camp E will be held at the Ball family home there, it will be fun to finally get a chance to meet Jutka and the kids.

On Monday, we were lucky to be on the southbound trail of Ellen Banks and her new beau, George. Ellen is technically our grand-niece-in-law, but she has always been one of our grandkids in our hearts. She lives and works in New York where she met her lovely Scottish boyfriend. They’re driving down the coast to Pasadena, then back to New York. Yes, driving to New York. Kids!

Back now at the farm, alone again, we’re enjoying a spell of rain-ish weather. Actually welcome, as we have time to figure out how we’ll be watering the new plants down at the gate. Plants heretofore watered by the old fashioned bucket and pail system. Can you buy a two-hundred foot hose? I’ll let you know.