#18 Headed To Temporary Job

We had a call from a farm near Banks in search of a loaner bull for their three cows. Our six yearling bulls were all in need of getting their identification tattoos put in their ears anyway so it was a good time to bring them all into the barn, get the tattooing completed and #18 separated from the group and into the stock trailer for a trip to another farm.

Yearling bulls locked into stanchions.One by one, I went down the line and put a halter on a bull while Mike was getting the numbers set into the crimping tool, he smeared green ink in their ears and crimped the number into each one.

The fourth bull in line was #18, Pirelli. When the others were done we moved them out of the bull pen, pulled the stock trailer up to the barn and loaded Pirelli for his trip.

Two jobs done in one day, and we have one less bull to worry about for the next couple of months.



A Yard-full Of Trucks

It was right at 7 a.m. when I heard a truck pull into the driveway, followed by another, and another. Usually it is not a good sign when the white rigs of the power company show up with this show of force. I was almost hesitant to go out and greet the group.

A yardful of trucks.There were two boom trucks with their wood chippers attached, two full sized pickups, one commander vehicle and one supervisor truck.

The chippers were unhooked and propped in the driveway and each boom truck dropped a load of fresh chips onto the pile. Hooray, I thought, this really is going to be a good day! Then the guys said that the trucks will all be staying around a while, parked this way and that, so they could clear out the power line behind the bull pen.

Out came chain saws, line poles, thick insulated gloves, goggles and chaps. The group of 10 walked through the pasture, over the electric fences and began slashing the trees and brush that was growing under and into the power lines.

While the guys worked, I made brownies and was able to share them with the crew for their coffee break. I’m very happy with my gift of chipped wood and my gesture, hopefully, will keep me on the receiving end of the chip deliveries.

Blooming Asian Pear

New blossoms on an Asian Pear tree.The Asian Pear tree is busting out with all kinds of blossoms.

Last year we had a couple of buckets full of the round, bulb-shaped fruit. It was the second year of producing, the first year we only had a handful of pears. We like them best when they are just starting to get sweet and are still crunchy when bitten into.

Hopefully our cool frosty nights are over for the year so the fruit has a chance to set on this young tree.

The Hill Is Alive

I nearly broke into the Sound Of Music song while feeding the main herd across the river. It looked like the whole hillside was swarming with the big herd of elk.

A hill filled with elk.If I could of captured a panorama of the hill the elk would be showing en-mass nearly filling a football field across two ridges that range in elevation more than 200 feet with a canyon in the middle.

The herd moved (it really did look more like a swarm rather than 60 individuals) first to the left then to the right before one of the leaders decided that it was time to move on and they took off with great speed over the rough terrain and disappeared over the horizon.

It had to have been the largest of the three herds even though counting individual animals was not possible. I am happy that they decided,for now at least, not to come down into my fields to eat all the grass that is finally starting to grow.

Not The Usual Post

For those of you who follow along with my farm life, you have seen stories of smooth workings and those bumps in the road over the seasons. I am honored to be able to share the stories of the barn work, the fields that produce our hay and grazing space, the births and sometimes deaths of our herd. I have shared freely the struggle of invasive species like Scotch Broom and Tansy along with the struggle to balance nature along with running a farm. Continue reading

Evidence Of Monitoring

As I was taking a walk down by the river, I came across a few rocks that looked odd compared to the other rocks in the area.

Monitoring rocks with warn red paint.Rocks smaller than golf balls looked like they had been painted red with most of it worn off. Red painted rocks are used by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife where they are monitoring native fish runs.

Our property has been monitored for years by the ODFW. A couple times a year, workers donned in waders, boots and waterproof coats trek in past fences and fields to the four established crossings on the river to check the rocks that help locate the monitoring spots in the water. 8 x 11 plastic signs with bold black lettering are tacked up on trees along the water route signaling the observation area to those who are around or near the river.

The rocks that I happened across today were no where near any of our crossings and must have tumbled in during high water. Hopefully there are some that did not get washed away during the winter storms and are still helpful with the monitoring.


Skunk Cabbage

Skunk cabbage growing near swamp.The spring skunk cabbage is now in full bloom and is gracing the wet swamp below the blackberry vines.

A perennial beauty, the skunk cabbage emerges from the mud to give us a chance to ponder the warmer days to come.

A trip down memory lane reminds my of my Aunt Julia and her love of skunk cabbage or maybe it was the tolerance for skunk cabbage. Duly named after the scent, the yellow spring horns with green centers and brighter green leaves are tempting to pick. They grow in the wetter areas of the swales, where the tussock and bunch grass grows.

The bright color calls out to kids to gather the frond-like wide petals into bouquets, which is just what Aunt Julia’s children did one day, they gathered and gathered and gathered until they had a huge bunch.

By the time they got their treasure back to the house as a surprise for their mother, the kids smelled like both skunk and swamp muck. Their smiles were as bright at the golden horns they bestowed on their surprised mother. There were so many in the huge bunch that they would not fit in one vase so the house was filled with bouquets set up in every room.

Aunt Julia thanked each child for the beautiful, long-lasting, odoriferous gift but also told the story that the glorious blooms would last so much longer if they were left to grow rather than pick them. Each kid got a mid-week bath that day, a highly unusual treat as they were as happy as guppies splashing away the muck and a bit of the smell.

Weeks after the blooms faded out and the vases emptied of their contents, the house still smelled like skunk cabbage.

That was the beginning of the many trips that the kids took their mother out to the swamp to see the bouquets in their natural habitat. Aunt Julia thanked the kids each time she was shown natures bounty left in the wild grateful that the smell was left far from the house.