While I have been in on the training and reporting to Natures Notebook the phenology (plant and animal life cycles) of a small plot here on the farm, I have not been as regimented and complete a reporter as I have been with the CoCoRaHs rain program. It all boiled down to  time.

With CoCoRaHs I am able to take less than a minute each morning at 7am to record precipitation that occurred in the last 24 hours. And now that I have the handy app on my phone, I have consistent data that I am sending each day to the network in a more timely manner. I have the Natures Notebook app for phenology observations on my phone as well but watching for bud swell, counting leaves, noting color changes, etc., takes longer and I never did get into a balanced regimen for reporting. The multiple trees that I was observing made the process long and rather haphazard. Continue reading


New Trail Cam

trail camera to be used in the woods.In preparation of the seedling test site in the woods, a new trail camera has been purchased.

It is all set up and ready to go so that the next time I hike to the top of the hill I will be able to position the camera to watch what hoodlums are wreaking havoc with our cedar seedlings and protective cages. Some of the cages, bamboo stakes and raspberry tether stakes have already been moved to the test site with the rest being taken up in small trips. All roads are impassable during this time of year even with the bulldozer, so bundles of supplies will be tied to backpacks for the trek as will the seedlings hopefully arriving around the beginning of February.

(Spoiler alert: We believe most of the damage is being done by elk from all the footie prints and droppings left behind. This camera will be positioned to monitor when they are coming into the area, how many there are and assessing possible changes to the planting and cages to keep the no-good-nicks from spoiling our entire nursery of seedlings).

Testing My Limits

Twisted chunks of firewood.I was busy splitting piece after piece of firewood with the Super Split (the super-cool, table top, centrifugal splitter) when I came across some tough customers.

I knew that the wood had more twist than usual (trees do grow in spirals but it is typically very smooth growth and not noticeable). This tree however was more curvy and every time I set a piece up to split, the twist became more pronounced and the pieces more misshapen. For those who spend time in the lumber area of mills and retail stores, warping of one end or another of a 2×4 is a common sight, these do not sell well and crack when nailed (do-it-yourselfers avoid these snake-y problems).

I kept trying to make something out of the wood but out of ten feet of tree length, I could not get any pieces that were suitable to be used in firewood bundles. These odd-ball pieces were quickly dispatched to our wood fired furnace and became heat for a chilly night that dipped into the teens.

Shelter In Place

cats on chip pileThe barn cats took a moment to find spots on the wood chip pile to sun bathe on the non-breezy side.

The east winds have kicked up this week and although we don’t get the windy conditions as bad as Portland or the East Side, the cats are content to find a good outpost that is not icy with frost or chilled by the breeze.

Elk Realize Hunting Season Has Passed

several elk out of a large herd.The herd of 70 plus has been spotted almost daily since elk hunting season has closed.

The open fields have been very tempting for the large group and they are not roaming far between their foraging grounds,

During the season, the elk had disappeared deep into the forest and only came out into the clearings once or twice. Elk in background cows in foreground.Now they can be seen all times of the day, from early morning to late evening. One night they ran into my fence and shorted out the electric wire by tangling it up with a non-electric woven fence. Luckily the cows were not in a hurry to leave their green pasture for a walk with the elk herd. We were able to get the fence back easily.

Enjoy A Little, Save A Little

Sauted mushrooms in cupcake pan for freezing. Out of the meager harvest from the woods walk the other day, I was able to enjoy half of the fresh chanterelles and hedgehogs, the other half was set aside for future use.

The mushrooms were cleaned, chopped and placed in a saute pan. A quick sear made the mushrooms start to release their moisture.

As soon as I could see the moisture, I removed the mushrooms from the heat. Half of the mushrooms were spooned with the liquid into a mini cupcake pan (the silicone rubbery pans make the process to release easy without the need for any added grease or oil).

The frozen mushroom pods are popped out and placed in a zip bag. The bags store well in the freezer for use throughout the winter and into the spring and summer months. One, two or three can be added to soups, stew and casseroles.

The other half of the sauteed mushrooms were added to a butter sauce and served over steamed rice for dinner.


Caught Red Handed And Mud Faced

The morning sun warmed the ledge of exposed dirt and roots along the river. Some of the cows wasted no time to dig right in and make a mess. I had been on the far side of the river when I noticed the trail of cattle moving toward the open field had extra smears of mud on faces, necks and torsos.

Cows with mud smeared on them.



Blowing up the size of the picture in order to see the detail, the image is not as clear as I would like, but I’m sure you can see just what the critters have been up to. These two mess-makers were the final ones to head to munch on grass.

During the summer time, cattle are known to rub dirt and mud into their coats as an extra coating to keep the flies and other bugs from bothering them. During this time of year, it is probably just for fun.