Predictions From The Predictors

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The weather forecasts are not always reliable, but we still watch them with eager anticipation or dread depending on what is being said. Over the last week, predictions about the coldest Thanksgiving in the last ten years and a chance of snow in the valley including Portland had everyone watching for the latest updates. Here on the farm we went into overdrive trying to get ahead of the upcoming possibility of bad weather. Continue reading


Acronyms are a part of our world. This acronym stands for Tree Farmers Of the Year, a very prestigious award given to hard working, extremely motivated, woodland tract owners that go above and beyond owning a piece of property that happens to have trees on it.

I had the opportunity to visit the current TFOY event with the close knit group of well over 100 people to celebrate Linda and Ernie Rieben and their family for the dedication and effort they put into a parcel of land they call the Madrona Ridge Tree Farm. The farm is located to the east of Banks in the foothills of the Coast Range. Continue reading

Dogs On The Barbie

Listening to the news the other night, the weather forecaster announced the beginning of the the meteorological summer. Now I am no fool even though I act very foolish sometimes, I know that the summer solstice is not until the June 20 or 21 or 22nd and that the forecaster must have been mistaken.

I did the same thing I always do when I stumble upon something that just doesn’t sound right, I begin investigating. I did the same thing when I heard of a Bomb Cyclone, Arctic Blast, and Lenticular Clouds. Now before I lose all my readers to the great cyber space vortex called the internet, I will fill you in on those terms… Continue reading

Vanilla Leaf Tea

I harvested a bunch of leaves from the vanilla leaf plants growing wild in the forest. My ultimate goal is to enjoy a cup of tea with the dried leaves since I had come across the usage in my research of the Oregon native plant.

I was curious about the name because I know that vanilla that is used for flavoring comes from a variety of orchid from around the equator and does not grow around the Pacific Northwest. The vanilla leaf plants in the forest are neither the climbing plants or pod producers of the tropics.

Officially the plant is called Achlys triphylla, but it also goes by vanillaleaf, vanilla-leaf, deer’s foot and sweet after death. That last scary name came to it by way of the vanilla scent it gives off as it dries. The plant is considered to be non-toxic and even has some minimal health benefits but is more common to used as an insect repellent. Hikers in the Washington and Oregon Coast/Cascade Mountain Ranges use the leaves in both the fresh and dried form to keep mosquitoes at bay.

I nibbled a fresh leaf in the forest and found no vanilla taste at all, just a really green taste. Continue reading

Chewing On Bamboo Part 3

Tips of bamboos stakes chewed on.With the tips of the bamboo stakes being chewed on, my mind starts working on solutions to our elk teething problem. I had to first break it down into easy points.

  • The deer and elk, but mostly elk, seem to be drawn to the stakes, it may just be a new game for them or a new smell/sensation for them to investigate by chewing.
  • Once they have a good grip on the tip of the bamboo it is easy to pull it out of the ground.
  • Since the bamboo is woven through the fabric of the cage, pulling out the bamboo also pulls the protective cage off the tender seedling leaving the baby tree exposed to the creatures.
  • Our attempts at noise and movement several times of the day does nothing to deter the critters from moving into the area between our laps or during the night.

Continue reading

Chewing On Bamboo Part 1

I had mentioned that we were starting to notice deer and/or elk disturbing the seedlings that we had planted on the hill and that we have been going up there to ‘remind’ the critters that we are monitoring the baby trees.

Tips of bamboos stakes chewed on.We seem to have the critters biting and chewing on the tips of the bamboo stakes, these are the ones that are woven through the cages to help hold them safely in place around the seedlings. I have noticed bite marks and ragged edges of the stakes.

Disturbed cages around seedlings.Once one or more of the stakes have been pulled out of the ground, the cage follows up the seedling, sometimes hanging mid-air and sometimes completely off the tree making it an easy browsing target. The tree can get mowed off by the chewing or pulled right out of the ground, either way can kill a seedling. Continue reading

Building With Mass Timber

carbon 12 buildingTechnology for high quality/high strength components is in demand. The use of wood  as the basis for structures big and tall are being built within our state and I had the opportunity to find out more about what goes in to a building.

Seven floors of condo units above a ground floor of retail space is not a unique addition to the Portland skyline, but one comprised mostly of wood is. The 85 foot tall, 8 storied building known as Carbon 12 features the tallest mass timber and cross-laminated timber (CLT) building in the United States. Continue reading