You can’t stay inside on a day like this! Highest pollen count in decades for Corvallis? Grass seed? Yes, but, my allergies?

I thought I’d left my hay fever behind when we moved from Minnesota and its ragweed. And then came the great wave of hazelnut (filbert, to some of you) planting in our valley. Corvallis, the Grass Seed capital of the world now has a second claim to allergy-generation fame.

But instead of sneezing and coughing, I get hives. Yes. Red, blotchy, itchy hives. I call my beloved Dr. Jen, and she suggests something called Zyrtec. Comes with all kinds of warnings, but hey. If it works? It doesn’t.

I see a product advertized. Allegra Hives. Yes! Specifically for hives. It doesn’t work. Not to feel too sorry for myself, but have you ever itched so fiercely that you can’t even try to sleep? All night? You can try Eucerin, but over your entire body? What would that do to the sheets?

I call Dr. Jen again and she recommends Xyzal. (A ridiculous name — how would you even pronounce it to the pharmacist when you call?) “24 HR ALLERGY” Take it, Dr. Jen says, with Pepcid AC. Today, I’m holding my breath because the hives, while still there, DON’T ITCH. I went outside in celebration, into the wind, the pollen be damned.

Okay, that behind us, let’s get on with the blog. Ryan, cow guy, has been busy. The west-most pasture had been planted in early spring to fescue, but to lie fallow this year. I like that word: fallow.

Then last week, came the thresher crawling over the field. I don’t have a photo of this stage, so use your imagination. Because next came the rake to gather the grass into windrows. Another word I like. Windrows. And this time, I have a photo:

And finally:

The bales will be stacked, then loaded onto a truck, and stored in one of Ryan’s barns. Next year, the plan is to plant sweet peas in this field, a legume meant to fix nitrogen, but which look and smell gorgeous as a bonus.

How are the bees doing? It’s a little hard to tell, but Allen came over to assist in settling the creatures into their new habitat. Here’s what that looked like:

We think they’re doing well. Apparently they have to be fed at first, before they set out to gather nectar and — pollen! For energy, the nectar, and for protein, the pollen. Who knew we’d have so much free protein for them?

Allen brought his family with him, and here are his two little girls making friends with the chickens:

It’s true that the chickens haven’t managed to enjoy the swing Larry made for them, but little girls know what to do with one:

We’re just back from a Nature Conservancy trip to visit Sycan Marsh, and learn about the fire management programs they’re implementing there. Their before and after photos are compelling, and the personnel are passionate and smart. The marsh is a mile-high meadow, and, speaking of words, I asked one of the staff the definition of another of my favorites, “fen.” What’s a fen?

Although both bogs and fens are similar types of wetlands as they are both considered peatlands, what sets them apart from each other is the source of their water supply. Fens typically are fed by a steady source of ground water whereas bogs are usually enclosed depressions filled by rain water.

Larry is standing at the sink, preparing to create one of his specialities for dinner, Szechuan Sweet and Sour spare ribs, when he says Hey! Look out the window!

Not sure why this photo came up super-sized, but it seems an appropriate ending to this afternoon’s blog. Wish you were coming for dinner — it’ll be delicious!


I should have taken a photo. Maybe I shouldn’t be left at home alone? What ev, here I am. Every morning for the past hundred years or so, I’ve made a smoothie for my breakfast. You know the recipe. Some frozen banana, frozen spinach, chocolate protein powder and etc. There’s always something in the refrig to be used up, half a cup of yogurt, some grapes, and in today’s case, a dismal chunk of tofu left over from a stir fry several days ago. Fine. Check. So why, dear God, did I fail to put a lid on it?

Standing there, stunned, it took a moment for me to realize what was happening, and when I did react and turn the damn thing off, I was saturated with, well, it. As was the floor, the cupboards, the oil painting on the kitchen wall, the ceiling, the machine itself.

And I had just taken my shower. Didn’t want to go that far back in the day, so I just peeled off my clothes, cleaned myself up in the sink, got re-dressed, and started in. Hands and knees and a scrub bucket. It took me an hour. I decided against getting the ladder up from the barn or the shed or the other shed and attempting to clean the ceiling. Larry will be home soon.

Started over. It was actually pretty good.

Meanwhile, I did just hear from Larry. Who is over at Black Butte for the famed BBI Invitational Golf Tournament. He says to ask if anyone is interested in a slightly used, left-handed, set of clubs? Apparently he has forgotten how to play, and instead of flinging the clubs into the lake, will try to recoup the loss. Bad day for the Viehls, looks like.

Chicken news: One of the Speckled has been repeatedly escaping the orchard to roam about the property, flinging bark dust from the flower beds, digging for worms or just having fun. She’s had her wings clipped, so theoretically can’t fly out. We’ve scoured the perimeter for her escape route, placed strategic chunks of firewood against the smallest possible exit, and yet. So the other day, Larry was driving past in the ATV when:

Apparently she can fly just fine. Or at least enough to flap up on the planter box and on up to the cross post. While the other two seem to be taking notes, neither of them have yet flown the coop. Hey. Maybe that’s the origin of that expression! Wow!

Now she’s supposed to be just a bird brain, so how did she figure this out? And how does she remember to do it again? Not so stupid after all. Except that she can’t get back into the orchard the way she gets out. For that, I have to go get some scratch in a cup and lead her back inside. Let me see. She gets out, and gets an extra treat to be herded back in. See? Not stupid.

If she insists on busting out, she and the other two will just have to spend their lives in the run. Where it’s narrow and there’s no shade and gravel to kick out onto the grass. It’s for their own health and safety. Inside the run, they’re protected from hawks, skunks, foxes, neighboring dogs.

Tomorrow Larry’s bees are set to arrive. Here’s where they’ll be living:

Of course when Larry gets decked out in his bee gear, I’ll be sure to send a photo. I can’t wait to see this myself! In order to take this photo, it was necessary for me to boot up, to crawl under the fence which is, unfortunately, hot wired for the cows. This was not an elegant site, as I am, as always, wearing a skirt. Which kept getting snagged on dead blackberry vines, unknown species of tall grass and flowers. Sigh. All for you.

I also was at work weed whacking the tall grass encircling the fruit trees where the mower can’t reach. Going just fine, until my machine ran out of line. I know that somewhere on these hundred acres will be a supply of fresh line. In a box, maybe? In the barn? The shed? Nope. Not going looking. Larry will be back soon. Ha.

Back inside, I’ve been experimenting with a recipe I discovered to brew non-alcoholic Kahlua, in order to recreate a coffee mocktail we found a few weeks ago. There are hundreds of recipes for coffee cocktails, not so many for the non-. But this seemed to be a good effort. Score: okay, but not what I’m looking for. Basically just brown sugar, vanilla, and coffee. I know. What’s wrong with that?

I’m heading over to the neighbors this evening for dinner. There will also be some friends from their time in Boise at the party. My family has been a part of Boise history, so I Googled my great uncle Ern. Here he is. Maybe you can make out the note that he was elected mayor twice. Nice toupee, don’t you think? See any resemblance?

I’m due at 6-ish, so better go do something about my hair.