Finally Feels Like Fall

All this last week while I had been away from the farm, I was afraid that I would miss a good time to get my little baby strawberry plants into the ground before winter really took hold. The dry and cold pattern made me hold off most of October and well into November. I did not want to try to plant the tender little plants while the ground kept freezing at night with lows in the 20’s.

These plants were the runners that I had coerced into trays of potting soil after the berry season had ended. I was able to keep the tender tips moist all summer and most of them sprouted roots of their own so they could be cut away from their mother plants and survive on their own.

I had driven home in the dark after several days away from home and the weather was still dry, so first thing in the morning I got the rototiller out into the garden and revved it up. I could already see little leaves of those dreaded buttercups poking up through the soil that choked out the last patch. I made a couple of sweeps through the garden and parked the rototiller at the edge of the patch thinking that I could give it one last go-over the next day. But showers had moved in overnight. Ditching the idea of the perfect tilling job, I planted two rows of plants.

Now I will sit back and watch Mother Nature put the little starts to rest for the winter and hopefully they will perk back up in the spring in enough time to have delicious strawberries in June.

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Since You Are Going Right By

Trips away from the farm are not always a quick run in to get a part and back home as is the case during harvest seasons. A broken piece of equipment can mean a complete work stoppage until that critical piece can be repaired or replaced. Most of the time though, a trip into town for any reason means stops along the way. It may be to pick up supplies of anything from printer paper to flywheels or bar oil to groceries that were missed on the last trip. Continue reading

Using Imagination

I would like for you to imagine being a farmer.

You set aside an acre of land that you would normally grow organic vegetables such as beans or carrots. You invest in some pricey seeds at $1.50 each to grow a specialty crop that is fought with stigma. You will need 2200 seeds to plant that acre. Labor costs will be tremendous, equipment purchased may or may not be delivered in time for this specialty harvest. There are unknown regulatory issues that will most certainly continue to arise as you grow your crop since this is unknown territory for most banking establishments, farmers, regulatory inspectors and the government. Continue reading

Explaining This Week Of Stories

While I have been away at Klamath Falls for the first class session of the REAL Oregon program the posts this week have not mentioned how things are going so I wanted to assure all my readers that I am going to fill you in on all my adventures. However, I seriously need some time to get all the exciting thoughts, created with the intense class time during the first four days of this six month program, into some sort of order. I do want to give you a few teasers to hold your attention, so will attempt to give you a broad overview.

First off, my 29 other fellow classmates have traveled here from nearly every corner of the state. Some are professionals in the logging sector and range from owners, managers and foresters with some of those wearing all three hats. There are people from the regulatory sectors such as the Department of Agriculture. Several from the various Watershed Districts of the State, one that also is aligned with Ducks Unlimited. There is a lobbyist. There are directors from non-profits and those who run several departments and programs.  One classmate is running  a tourism education center. Specialty farmers including organic and added value  products,  along with large scale farmers, are in the mix. There are professionals that assess risk and lend money to those farmers. There are specialists that read the data of GIS to monitor and provide information in real time for large timber companies. There is even a Human Resources person in the bunch. To say the least, I am in the company of an amazing group of people who are not afraid of hard work, long days and finding ways to make Oregon special, profitable and sustainable.

It is impossible to get the first session all into one post, so you will be hearing a series of stories that will range from interviews of some of my classmates, details of many of the individual guest speakers, and impressions from the tours.

This first description is of the facility that hosted the group of us in Klamath Falls. Our accommodations and class time were held at he Running Y Resort. The group of us were very comfortable in the Lodge with the surrounding views of an Arnold Palmer golf course, a large swimming pool complex and an on-site ice arena. I am understating the area when I say, nice digs.

You will need to go to to see the pictures since this site is nearly out of data space.


Being Called Out

Did you notice it? My sister did. She commented on the post from a couple of days ago about my frozen hoses, or rather I should say the hoses that are no longer frozen and I rolled them up for the winter.

This is the wording from the post: Most of the garden hoses that fill the bull pen, show barn cows, the nearly ready to butcher critters, and newly weaned animals, un-thawed enough to drain and roll up for storage

First off, it wasn’t a very structurally sound sentence, but my sister pointed out (in a very kind way) than if the hose had actually un-thawed it must have frozen.

I have grown up calling things a certain way and I have always waited for my hoses to un-thaw, but my sister growing up in the same household just a couple of years separate from me had to alert me to the error of my ways. She had a legitimate point  and the sentence was just plain wrong.

With that settled, I now am going to have to figure out why I still call those pedals in the foot well in the drivers section of the foot-feet. Many of times, as the kids were learning to drive, I would tell them to make sure they are steady on the foot-feet for the gas and not to be afraid to push the foot-feet down all the way to the floor to engage the clutch. I have no idea why I call it that.

Enough for today, I’m going to check to see if my hoses are now thawed…



Some Of The Other Things

There are things I do away from the farm. Most of those things are designed to learn more about the land. To me, learning about how other people are tending their own property gives me fodder for trying my own hand at new ideas or techniques. I would have never been this involved with the cattle or with the timber if it would not have been for some of the clubs, associations, councils and groups that get together for the good of farm and timber lands.

One of the groups that I have had the opportunity to learn a lot from is the Washington County Small Woodlands Association. WCSWA is a chapter of the Oregon Woodlands Association. Through this group I have seen what positive things can happen when a group of like-minded people, in this case small tract timber land owners, form a dynamic group. It helps to have some of the experience of long time loggers, foresters and land owners in the group to assist with any questions or coming up with solid recommendations.

I am proud to be a member and serve on the board for this group and would recommend reading the Forest Forum that the Association puts on-line each month. Topics range from guest speakers, current drought/flood conditions, tree planting, harvesting, forest health and wood land products.

Autumn Work

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It was a crisp autumn day, the sun was shining and the wind had finally stopped blowing. A perfect afternoon to split up a few chunks of wood to feed our outside wood-fired boiler. We have wood stacked in the woodshed and an extra supply outside the woodshed already, but I had a few big end pieces that had been sitting around by the log landing that needed to be cleaned up before winter.

The dogs, Jackson and Butler were busy with their own tasks of chasing a grey squirrel that had holed up in the limb pile and was chattering noisily. The sounds of squirrel chatter sends the dogs into a frenzy and the game is on.

While I attended to the wood, the dogs could be seen going round and round the limbs, twigs and rotten wood. They would stop and dig for a while then stick there nose in as far as it could go before moving to another spot to try it again. A couple of times the squirrel would pop out of the pile and scamper over to the trunk of the large maple tree at the other edge of the landing where he apparently has a vacation home set up. The dogs follow to try to extricate the squirrel, but the vacation home is as armored as the limb pile.

Between watching all the excitement I was able to get about a Gator load of wood chunks split small enough to fit the boiler and began loading the bed. Two pieces of wood were loaded before Jackson, all tuckered out from squirrelling, commandeered the bed space for a much needed rest. I could not get him to move so I stacked a few pieces around him and called it a day. I figured that wood will still be there tomorrow and maybe by that time the dog won’t be so tired.