Weather reports had been saying it for several days, snowfall expected in the area. Not only in the high coast range but below 1500 feet. Nearing the end of March, the fruit trees are only one 70 degree day away from blooming, frogs had been croaking up a frenzy in the swamp and I saw my first hummingbird of the spring and now another round of snow? I was very skeptical although one year we did have snow on Easter Morning when the apple blossoms were on the fruit trees but that was just a small, one morning event. This wintery storm sounds like it may last for several days.
All week, I had been watching the mountain peak above Timber during feeding times across the river. Even during the warmer days this week the snow was slow to melt from the hilltop. The top is around 3000 feet and can hold snow for several weeks more than here on the farm and a snowstorm now will keep the snowpack around for awhile.
The snow showers started about 10 p.m. At 3 a.m. I looked out the window and noticed that Quiet and her calf were out in the field behind the house. SBD sleeping peacefully as his black coat turned white from the snow with Quiet standing above him in a restful slumber.
At daybreak we had a good coating and by the time we had the morning chores done, we had 3 inches and we were also out of electricity.
I’m sure the peak above Timber is back to snow white winter again but I will have to wait a few days before the mountain shows itself again.
It’s usually a pretty good bet that when one of the ‘good eaters’ (those cows that do not like to miss a meal) doesn’t make it into the barn at breakfast time.
That is the way it was this morning. Everyone was coming into the barn except for Quiet, not like her at all since she is usually the first one to feed of any kind. Walking down to the woods, we saw her beneath the fir and cedar stand with a beautiful bull calf.
The calf was already clean and fed by the time we found the pair and brought them up to the grassy field to hang out with Sitka and her calf Willow.
Welcome to the farm, SBD(insert fart joke here), born 3/22/2018 and weighing in at 85 lbs.
I have come across a project that I will be a part of. This is a community/country based project that is being monitored by Oregon State University Extension Service here in Northwest Oregon. It’s is called a Season Tracker program.
Across the country, thousands of people track rainfall and plant life stages from their homes, farms and schoolyards. Join them to become an Oregon Season Tracker volunteer. Your data will help weather forecasters, scientists, ecologists, emergency managers and others in Oregon and beyond.
It begins with computer classes to learn the basics of tracking precipitation carefully and adding the information collected into a nation-wide data base. The data collected requires diligence to take the measurements at precise times each day. Weekly observations of wildlife and specific plants are also noted. After the home work, a classroom training fills in any gaps in the training and all participants receive the materials needed to complete the project.
Since I am already watching the sky nearly as much as the ground as I go about the workings on the farm, I figured that an extra little bit of science added in will only enhance my insights to the goings on around here. And keeping an eye on the wildlife while on my quest will only add to my data online and personally.
I was filling the stock tanks with water the other day and had some time to watch the heifers that are hanging out in the outside barnyard. While I was moving hoses, one enterprising heifer found a way to get to that annoying itch.
At first she tried to swing her head and lick at her right shoulder while she was standing up and could not reach the itch. Not yet ready to give up, she laid down and with her front legs curled under her, swung her head way back and licked long strokes at her annoyance.
She must of quelled the problem area because as soon as she was finished she righted herself to resting position and gave a big yawn before settling in for a nap between rain showers.
The springtime chore of getting all the fruit trees pruned have narrowed down to two final trees.
The old grafted trees were the hardest, they are nearing 100 years old and the grafts are not as strong as they once were.
Some of the extra weight from the sheer volume of the limbs needed to be sawed off in order to keep the trees from breaking after the foliage comes out and the fruit begins to grow.
The newer trees (under 10 years old) are not grafted and are merely kids compared to the oldsters. They are also semi-dwarf varieties and we will not need the 14 foot ladder to reach the top branches even when they are full grown.
The big, old Bartlet Pear is the current tree being pruned. This tree is the most prolific grower of water sprouts, each single one can be up to 6 feet tall and thicker than my thumb at the base.
The buds on the trees are starting to swell and now the race is on to finish the pruning before they get any further along in their springtime growth spurt.
It was not freezing outside so we decided it was time to get the irrigation lines and fittings back into working order after the long winter.
Rather being uncomfortable standing with our heads down along the ground, we took the suction pipe with all its pieces up to the house where we could use a table to disassemble and reassemble the myriad of parts. It may have taken quite a bit longer to do it this way but we were able to get the seals better fitted and a spot in the pipe that had a small hole forming got a solid seal from a form-fitting sleeve.
We didn’t quite get to the end result of having the irrigation up and running. We still have to tear apart the primer unit that sits on top of the motor. The rubber gasket that allows one hand-pumping the water to the well (think of an old pitcher pump like you would see on Gunsmoke or The Waltons) still needs to be replaced before the irrigation can be used to fill the stock tanks on the house side of the river.
When we went across the river to feed the main herd and the herd of cows/calves in the nursery field, we came across three of the calves that had figured out a way to escape the nursery field and partnered up in the barnyard pasture on the edge of the barn.
Butler, the dog, stood guard just beyond the fence so the wayward calves did not escape before we had the chance to get them reunited with their mothers.
The three calves had made it through the electric fence for their little get-away, but were quite sure they didn’t want to test the fortification shock values to get back to their mothers. We opened the far gate for the three amigos to first get into the barn area barnyard and then they were able to casually walk back into the pasture where their mothers were waiting for them and for their morning measure of breakfast hay in the pasture on the other side of the barn.