Before I launch today’s column, I want to let you know that Teo Praslin, Allison’s cousin, came home this past Tuesday after 40 days in the hospital. He’s been suffering with Covid, and though the challenge isn’t behind him, we’re all so grateful that he is well enough to be at home with his family.
So, yeah, work! Spring can be relentless here at the Wood. I had been determined to attack the weeds growing between the rows of creek-side trees and shrubs planted 2 years ago by Benton County’s grant. Couple of problems, the first being access.
The whole idea is to keep the cows away from the seasonal streams that thread across the property, and to provide habitat for the birds and other creatures, like salamanders, frogs, who all work together to keep the stream beds sound and the water pure. To that end, the streams were all fenced with 4-strand barbed wire and, where facing the pastures, hot wire as well. This sure keeps the cows out, but the people, too.
So in the course of the two years since planting, here’s what we have:
This is the north view across the post fence from the driveway. Hard to tell, but there are rows of young trees among the tall weeds.
On the south side of the road, I’ve been able to squeeze through the “man gate” and have Larry hand me my already started weed-whacker (technical name). Yes, I know, why don’t I start the thing myself? People. It’s one of those chain-pull things where you have to be at least 6 feet tall and own biceps in order to engage the motor. Stupid. Why not a turn key, or button? Nope.
Anyway, to continue, I’ve spent the last few mornings and afternoons achieving this much:
But then the job extends a quarter of a mile up away from the gate thing, so I resolved to get across that damned fence closer to the area of work. Larry’s good idea:
As you can imagine, it’s a little dicey to climb up and over this “stile” but it does work. And at this point, Larry has joined me in the labor. We drive the ATV up, hand the machines across, the gas can, the harnesses, and carefully cross the ladder.
Except. Larry’s machine is awesome, cuts a huge swath with each sweep of his arms. Bugger this. Why am I working so hard with my little toy? Turns out his machine is a “brush cutter” not just some back yard weed-whacker. I can’t just borrow the big machine — you need to be at least 6-feet tall (again), or hold it out at such an angle that the weight would be impossible. Did that make sense? Well, just accept that I can’t manage the thing. Luckily, Larry has sort-of gotten into it, and so even though it’s “my” project, I now least have the right man for the job.
While up here in the north forty (actually, south forty), we are close to the watering tank for the adjoining pasture. The cows have become very interested in us, and gather along the fence, mooing earnestly. It’s quite frustrating, because I know exactly what they’re saying and they apparently don’t return the favor. No, my darlings, we can’t take you to another pasture. You will have to wait for Ryan.
But we make the unfortunate discovery that the water tank is leaking. Somehow the float device has become turned sideways and has not turned off the water from the well. This is really bad, so Larry gets busy trying to discover the problem and to fix it.
As you can see, the water is nasty, slimy, and though we’ve been told that the cows don’t care, we decided to adopt the remedy Ryan has suggested and buy goldfish to clean up the algae. Off to PetCo which, being in our nice safe county, is open for business, and stocks the fish. Larry opts to buy to 25c/per rather than 15c/per fish. Uncharacteristic for the treasurer of this family, so I assume he is determined that this shall succeed.
Fun sidebar: at ZoomChicks that afternoon, I tell my friends about this episode in farm life. They can’t believe that the goldfish will be up to the job, but nevertheless offer the good suggestion that, if determined to go ahead, we let the plastic bag with the fish float in the tank long enough to balance the temperature of the water before releasing the fish. Vik suggests in her laconic way that I simply do as Ryan says and ignore further advice.
Later, I get an email from Sidney with a link explaining how the little fish do, indeed, work to clean cattle troughs. It’s always good to have friends!
On to the main subject: work. Last week I explained how Larry was trying to build a structure that would protect his precious lettuce plants. Here we have the result of that job:
This should work nicely. You can’t see from the photo, but he has arranged a pulley system to raise and lower the front wire to allow the eventual lettuce harvest. Observation: This sort of thing would be far better if the craftsman in question had a shed-full of appropriate tools. Honestly, most of what we do here can be characterized as amateur fumbling to accommodate missing skills and tools.
I showed you the photo last week of the bird nest by our front door. Momma Robin has been sitting on the nest without rest for the last two days. She’s working, too. At the moment, she’s standing on the edge of the nest chirping. For her husband to bring some groceries? We locked the door so that we don’t forget and disturb her. Soon I should be able to get photos of the fledglings, should she succeed in hatching her brood.
We’re taking a break from all this farm stuff and leaving for a weekend at Black Butte. I believe that we have nothing at all to eat over there, so am packing some survival goods like last night’s leftovers and cream for the morning coffee. The chickens will be left behind to fend for themselves, and the cows as well. See you when we get back!