I had the chance to walk up the hill with my little white bucket to see if the cold weather was actually enough to freeze the Chanterelle mushrooms that were so plentiful this year.
I saw many mushrooms but when I touched them I found them to be nothing more than mush after getting frozen and thawed several days.
The mushroom hunting season is officially over for the year. Or so I thought. A friend of mine believes that I should train one of my dogs to be a truffle hunter.
I am skeptical, but I now have some white and black truffles for the dog to sniff and find. I am keeping them in the fridge for now and give them fresh paper towels each day to stay fresh. I have noticed a wonderful sweet smell that the truffles give off when they are ripe. This is the smell that the dogs find under the carpet of needles below fir canopies.
I may have to have help on training me to attempt training a dog. I’m not sure I have the patience for this.
Living out in the country has many advantages that outweigh any convenience disadvantages my a country mile or more.
Last on the mail route, final stop for the school bus, up until 10 years ago we were the end house on the Vernonia prefix of 429; all other phone numbers were long distance and that included the next neighbor less than two miles away. Our address gets mistaken for the wrong county even by the State when we try to renew our licenses. We are usually nothing more than a forgotten spur that runs from Highway 26 to the County border that lays just beyond the corner of our property. Most of the time this is ideal and we are referred to by law enforcement as the ‘West Enders -where we take care of our own business.’ This motto was given to us by the seldom seen and even more seldom needed Sheriff and we wear it proudly. Continue reading
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, large animals are not as dumb as they may seem. Although normally they abide by the rules of the farm and get along with their fellow critters(including humans), they can also be quite conniving when they decide to mutiny or if they just get into a ‘mood’. Continue reading
The farm has slowed as we close in on the shortest days of the year. Many non-essential chores are on hold. Digging post holes in frozen ground is a good way to get exercise but not good to attempt fence building. The firewood stack is in no danger of running low. Fixing equipment with winter gloves on leads for more fumbling than fixing.
A sunset peeking through the trees that line the Nehalem River didn’t alight the sky with brilliance, but gave a pastel hue that spread far and wide across the valley.
The main herd had finished their dinner of hay served in the outside mangers and they moved along the hillside under the fir trees for the night. It seemed that the coyotes must have noticed the special moment for they were quiet as well.
This evening was dead calm and still cold with the temperature dropping below freezing before the sun tipped the edge of the horizon.
With this long stretch of cold, dry weather the irrigation line that we use to keep all the stock tanks filled with water for the cows has stayed frozen.
Usually we can skate by, holding out until the weather pattern changes and moisture fills all the extra holding tanks by run-off from the roofs.
The dry east winds along with temps in the 20’s at night has not given us any rain or snow to be able to gather the needed moisture.
For the time being we will resort to the very messy business of hauling water to the animals that are located across the county (a good distance away from the river). The main herd, thank goodness, has access to running water all year and packing water to that many would take more hours than daylight this time of year.
Backing the Gator near the river edge, a bucket is used to scoop and dump large tubs in the bed of the rig but only 3/4ths full. If we fill them to the top, they would slosh all that moisture right back out.
A slow, gentle drive up to stock tanks for more scooping and dumping, this time from the tubs to the stock tanks. We are still using a stock tank heater moved around to the different pens to keep the water thawed for the animals.
Rain is expected back into the area by Friday.
With the last of the calves weaned, it was time for the veterinarian to complete the health check for the year.
We are fortunate to have a local office with stellar professionals that not only have a lot of large animal experience they also show the compassion and ability to treat critters with tender care. The combo is not always easy when an animal gets spooked or worked up from activity that is out of the normal day to day schedule.
Keeping the animals calm makes the veterinarians job easier and it is much easier on the critters, so we lock them into the head stanchions to curtail the calves from running around the pen.
Gentle pressure is used to hold the head of the calf in place while Dr. Kim tattoos, tags and checks over the animals.
Many farms use a squeeze chute to do this process. We are not a large enough enterprise to deem the amount of space and money needed to have an effective area for a squeeze chute. Although there is manhandling going on during our process, there are no injuries to the calves, Mike the pusher, or the vet during this examination.
Mike uses his hip to hold pressure on heifer to keep her from moving.
Veterinarian uses stethoscope to listen to breath sounds.
The sky awoke this morning before the sun did.
Bright pinks and blues illuminated the east horizon and glowed with brilliance.
The ever-changing scene was mesmerizing.
The glory show only lasted about 20 minutes before changing to subdued hues allowing for the sun to break the horizon and begin the day in earnest.
I am thankful for this day. To be able to enjoy the beauty and to take a moment to revel in the splendor of nature.