Just sitting here in Portland in the sunshine waiting for the tech from the gas company, who’s scheduled to come fix whatever is wrong with the gas fireplace in the condo. Service window from 12 noon to 4:00. Love the specificity.

But what’s going on at the farm? When I left to come up here this morning, Allen and crew were at work, transforming the scrubby area in front of the orchard to a grassy extension of lawn. This is Larry’s brainchild, and I think it’s going to be great. The area in question is the residue of the house-builder’s efforts with a bulldozer to level the site for the house. Leaving behind a scraped wasteland upon which nothing but a few anemic weeds have grown.

A little excitement yesterday when a passer-by reported to Animal Control that one of our cows was wandering down Llewellyn toward the bridge. See, we don’t really know what to do about this. The cow, or calf, certainly isn’t going to come along when we call. But we took the ATV down to see what the heck? The fence is pretty impenetrable — wire mesh topped with barbed wire, and the farm gates are closed with steel link chain.

On our way, we were greeted by Ms. Animal Control, who joined us at the site, and agreed that there was no way an animal could have breeched the enclosure. How many animals do we have?

Good question. We call Ryan. He says 20, 10 moms, 10 calves. We count 18. Two missing? No way two animals could be strolling down the street toward the creek. So Ms. A C leaves, assuring us that passers-by often call in when they misinterpret what they see, that cows, being herd animals, would be in a panic to rejoin their herd if they were indeed loose. Okay. We go back up to the house. We resume working. And then, there they were. All 20 cows, peacefully grazing in the adjoining pasture.

Not an exciting end to the story, but it did remind us that we are so clueless!

Here’s what we’ve been doing this month:

You can make out the fence under the fallen branches. This is along Muddy Creek, near the road, in front of an acre or so of land that is, weirdly, ours. Some earlier owner ran a fence on this line, probably because the land between it and the creek is a thicket of ash, poison oak, and unidentified weeds.

The fence was bent, but in place, so the effort to clear the branches was in service of esthetics, really. We have found, however, that untended windfall like this invites blackberry to come on over and colonize, so there is rational cause to clear, other than the pleasure of future bonfires and tidiness.

Took us three days to accomplish this. As you see, waiting down at the corner is another tree down, but that’s for another day. The thing is, we have to work when we can still drive the truck down there. This is wetland, so hard to say how long we have. We’ll try when we get back from California, and Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, when the rains do come and the county gives the go-ahead, here’s what we have ahead:

We’ll haul the firewood up to the shed, then torch the piles. Fun. Come on down. Bring your boots and raincoats.

It was bound to happen:




Okay, mustn’t laugh. “COMING!” Seems the cord thingy which enables a person inside the coop to spring the latch, should the door accidentally close, had gotten tangled. Right, you want to know why Larry was in the coop in the first place.

“What were you going to do if I’d happened to be inside, didn’t hear you? If I didn’t have my phone around?”

“Sleep with the chickens? Wait for you to miss me?”

Somehow it has become his job to clean the coop. A most noble undertaking, rather unpleasant. But there it is. Fine with me.

And what am I doing while Larry is heroically doing farm chores? The funny thing is, that life on the farm continues to have inside chores as well. Laundry. Cleaning. Cooking. Who knew?

Luckily, I do love to cook. One of the fun things is that one can’t just pop down to Safeway if one runs out of, say, butter. So there’s been a slight shift, in which I’m challenged to create a meal out of what’s on hand. What needs to be used up.

For instance. Last week I had one leek, a frozen slice of prosciutto, and of course, frozen chicken broth, in the larder. Found a recipe requiring all of the above. Didn’t have the required endive, but on the next trip to town, procured a half pound. Endive soup! Sounds a bit effete, something you might expect at a la-de-da dinner party, but it was really good.

Then, there was the smoked salmon chowder. Had a piece of the salmon slouched in a back corner of the freezer. Came from Eva’s husband, Mr. Outdoors himself. Only 3 years old. What if I made chowder with it and the sweet potato that obviously wasn’t going to be eaten any time soon? Must report that nothing I could do could save that yuck-o bowl of orangeness. Liquid smoke? Horseradish? White wine? Nope. One for the garbage disposal, and an inch off my self-congratulation exercises.

I’ll be in Portland until Monday, when we board the train for Los Angeles and the family Thanksgiving. Just can’t keep running up and down I-5 for no good reason, so here I am. Taking one for the team. In the meantime, hope that Gas Co. tech shows up. Been an hour and a half. Grrr . . .

But best wishes to you all for a happy holiday. See ya!