The Farm From Above

Our long drive around the backside of the farm. the pack into our section with all our gear and supplies, with a brief stop to collect our strength and re-hydrate gave us stunning overviews of the farm.

This one small section of the forest had trees that were no longer healthy and were in danger of creating hazardous conditions during storms and after storms passed through. We wanted to clear the trees in order to open up the area for a full replant. This is some of the steepest ground on the property with the slope being more than an 80% grade, the only other area that is steeper is the sheer cliff above the river where a slide dropped earth and rock over two hundred feet straight down the hillside more than 100 years ago.

Where we disgorged all the supplies from the several trips in, a few stumps became our thrones as we took a few minutes to enjoy the view. Directly below us, the main herd of cattle graze along the base of the hillside. Inside the fence where the hayfield has become a 26 acre nursery field, the six cows with their six calves meander the area. The Nehalem River bends and curves around the fields/pastures in lazy swoops and arcs through the landscape. We observed hawks and bald eagles surveying and monitoring the river as the late salmon have been coming upstream as of late since the high water has receded a bit.

Where we were sitting, we saw evidence of coyotes, elk and deer that had been in the area in the last 24 hours although we did not have any sightings while planting seedlings, the dogs took off several times during our work to track what we could not see.

I have to admit, it was hard to tear myself away from the serene scene that was laid out before me and begin the work of planting. I could have stayed in this spot all day and would have been happy despite the winds that picked up from time to time ahead of rainy squalls that would pelt the clearing with fat raindrops between breaks in the clouds and bright sunshine.

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Nature’s Notebook

Along with the Citizen Science monitoring of rainfall here on the farm through the CoCoRahs program, I also participate in Nature’s Notebook. This program is described on their website:

Why Observe?

Have fun outdoors

Where you observe is up to you. Participating is an exciting way to experience your favorite trail, neighborhood park or even your own backyard.

Deepen your connection with nature

Going outside to look at plants or animals up-close will expand your knowledge of nature and open up new ways you experience the great outdoors.

Learn about phenology

You can intimately connect with plants or animals that you see all the time in a brand new way.

As an observer, you’ll notice things you never saw before. The slightest blush on a maple leaf that foreshadows the coming fall. The new, more vibrant feathers warblers put on days before mating. The swelling of a Palo Verde bean pod as it grows. You can develop a more nuanced appreciation of our natural world when you participate in Nature’s Notebook.

Contribute to scientific discovery

Researchers, resource managers, educators and others use your data for scientific discovery and decision-making. Your data are a big deal!

Phenology data help us predict threats to people and the environment such as wildfires, drought or flooding. They help us decide the timing of events, from when to harvest or irrigate land to when to conduct controlled burns in forests.

When I started, I was really gung-ho and signed up to observe five individual specimens that were different species. I had picked out a Douglas Fir, White Fir, Western Red Cedar, Wild Cherry, and Vine Maple. They were all located at the far end of one of the small pastures not too far from the river. I figured I could take a walk once a week to observe and report the results. I was in over my head, not only could I make time to get down to the end of the pasture on a weekly scheduled basis, I could not be specific enough on the results because I had chosen full sized individuals and could not even reach a branch to see close detail.

Testimony from their website explains:

sharman's picture

Sharman Apt Russell got her start as a citizen scientist working with birds and beetles, and joined Nature’s Notebook to “slow down and look closely at the trees and shrubs” in her own backyard. Sharman loves “having to stop and peer so intimately at a plant to see if it still has new leaves, to ‘count’ the flower buds, and then to record when they actually open,” and feels that Nature’s Notebook has made her more aware of the natural world. Sharman’s advice to other NN participants is to forgive yourself for making mistakes, and use the NN FAQ on correcting data. Sharman is a nature/science writer with many publications and an active naturalist blog.

With the advice of my local Extension Agent, I pared down my enthusiasm to a single tree. The Vine Maple is considered to be an indicator species by Nature’s Notebook and one that can be observed easily if using a young plant. I chose a transplant that I had snagged out of the woods and placed in my yard about seven years ago. Now I can observe each detail of this single plant throughout the year and report precise information.

This week was the first week of observing after the winter dormancy and was pleased to see that the limbs have begun to turn their spring red color and the leaf buds on the tips are beginning to swell.

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Timing Is Everything

I love going out into the forest. It is my calming spot even when there is a grueling, eight hour workday ahead (for the sake of honesty here, I rarely, RARELY work or play at ANYTHING for eight hours at a time. My tasks are simply too dis-jointed to have one job last that long in a single day, but I do love to go into the forest for work, play, or meditation).

I was kind of hoping that after all the hustle of trying to fill the garage with cribs of firewood and kindling that I would have a day off before heading away from the farm. My kind of hoping did not work. As I was down to one last day of splitting and stacking firewood for the garage, and one day to change gears from farm to session, our neighbor showed up with the seedlings we had ordered from the Columbia County Small Woodlands Association.

The seedlings are grown at the Lewis River nursery in Washington State with seed that was purchased over two years ago by the Association. The members of the Association get to order trees when they have been grown first in small plugs for one year then transplanted into the ground for a second year of growth before digging or ‘lifting’.

A lot can go wrong along the way. Seeds do not always germinate well, or small seedlings can have die off from extreme weather or soil disturbances. Lifting can’t occur if snow is on the ground or the fields are too wet to dig. Last year, because of a nursery issue, the seedlings for Western Red Cedar were only one year old and very tiny from the trees we normally plant. This year the nursery was not able to supply any Western Red Cedar at all. The Association was able to get enough  trees to fill orders of the native Western Red Cedar stock from Scholls Valley nursery located in the Willamette Valley.

With all the ifs, maybes and possibilities surrounding the delivery of the seedlings to the farm, I was hoping that I would be away to the REALOregon class in Salem and miss all but the tail-end of the planting for the year. As luck (however you describe it) would have it, the seedlings arrived two days before my departure.

The family switched gears from splitting and stacking, to planting. And now the race is on to complete this round of forest re-planting before I get to take off for Salem.

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Ramping Up Production

I used to call my garage my ‘three car mud room’, and this time of year the garage is more like a mud room than a garage at all. The third bay has never been used as car space. It houses the big freezers, extra storage space and had been the area used for the butcher table until we took over the square footage with bundles of firewood and kindling last year.

The garage has become more of a multi-use area. Instead of parking my car in the garage, the pickup gets preferential treatment so the bed is dry when we want to load and tarp the firewood orders. Even the pickup got ousted from the garage this week because we needed the space to finish drying off firewood so that we don’t run out of product in the upcoming month before the weather turns a little drier. Since I am away from the farm this coming week, the garage option was the perfect solution to all the rain-soaked but seasoned wood.

The barn has been busy across the river with splitting firewood and kindling. The split wood was then stacked neatly into cribs. The cribs were moved one by one across the river and county road and placed in the garage with dehumidifiers and fans running to finish drying the soggy outsides of the cured wood.

After all the hustle as a family unit, we were able to get over two and a half cord of wood nestled into cribs settled into the garage. I can already see what is ahead for me when I return to the farm at the end of the week. I anyone tries to find me, I will be out in the bull barn bundling at full speed.

Since mrssusanschmidlin.wordpress.com is nearly out of data, the complete story can be found at SchmidlinAngusFarms.com. I encourage you to check it out, get your information in on the FOLLOW button spot, and get every story in full color. I would be grateful if you did want to do any cyber shopping to use my links on the stories on that site. By using my links, I get credit for directing people to shop and may make a small commission without any cost to you! Your support helps support the website to be available for the daily stories. Thank you for supporting SchmidlinAngusFarms.com

Advantages Of A Busy Schedule

This is another post about meat production, so I wanted to warn you in advance.

I am tickled pink and quite pleased with myself today since my busy schedule has me avoiding the task of playing ‘mother hen’ as the guys cut up the aforementioned elk.

Since the harvest, the animal had been skinned, quartered and hung to cure and dry. It is now ready to haul the quarters, one by one, into the garage where a strong table will be set up. The spot is the exact spot that the pickup had been parked to load full of firewood for delivery. Since Mike can’t deliver firewood and cut up meat at the same time, I get the pleasure of the delivery of orders while he tends to the process here at the farm.

In our case we use a group of at least three people to process a whole elk, while I get to do cleanup, mess control, lunch duties, and basic ‘gopher’ tasks (I don’t mind at all missing out on most of those duties for this day of processing). One works on boning out the rib cage (a time consuming and tedious task), another works on cutting the thick roasts and steaks from the animal (knowing the cuts and making the proper cuts), and a third is needed to keep the knives sharp (can be fraught with danger especially with the long 14 inch knives) with to keep the process working along.

After the meat is extracted, the roasts and steaks are wrapped in dinner sized packages for the freezer. Some of the boned out pieces of meat are used for stew meat packs with the majority of the meat getting ground up for burger before packaging. It tends to be a long day.

It is also the very rare exception that Marilyn has the day off from her busy schedule as well and is going to accompany me on my delivery voyage. A helper speeds the delivery times considerably since one person can stay on the truck while another moves the wood bundles from the tailgate to the display or pallet. From all angles, this day is working out wonderfully well for me.

Now I’m just hoping that my family doesn’t see this post before the day is done so I can get away with an easy schedule of work!

Since mrssusanschmidlin.wordpress.com is nearly out of data, the complete story can be found at SchmidlinAngusFarms.com. I encourage you to check it out, get your information in on the FOLLOW button spot, and get every story in full color. I would be grateful if you did want to do any cyber shopping to use my links on the stories on that site. By using my links, I get credit for directing people to shop and may make a small commission without any cost to you! Your support helps support the website to be available for the daily stories. Thank you for supporting SchmidlinAngusFarms.com

LOP

LOP means Land Owner Preference,  the lingo is used for the purchase of tags by landowners to harvest elk that have become a nuisance to the farm or forest. There are designated seasons  for LOP tags as well as what segment of the population can be harvested. The last day of the first season was January 31st and my brother had that last day to fill his tag. He made it by a couple of hours.

According to eregulations.com:

LOP tags are only valid within the registered property boundaries for which the tag is issued. All landowners and eligible applicants must purchase controlled hunt application prior to the deadline. Applications for LOP tags must indicate a landowner preference hunt choice on their application.

That big herd of elk must have figured the calendar incorrectly and thought they were in the clear since they were just hanging out in the far, far field eating all our grass. My brother was on his way over to hunt when we first noticed the herd contentedly munching away as I was headed to the barn across the river to split firewood. The herd hung around for more than an hour before meandering down to the river where the herd split in half, some crossed while some stayed where they were.

Brother was able to drop the animal in a clear area where the tractor was used to scoop her up with the forks to move her by the house side of the river for the butchering process. Another brother showed up to help with the task. and Mike with my two brothers made quick work of the project.

The meat will hang several days to cool and dry before being cut off the bone and frozen in packages of eight to ten pounds each. The process of boning out an animal takes many more hours than the actual butchering and may take a few more people helping out to get it done in one day.

LOP is a good way of thinning out the herds that cause a lot of damage in fences and eat quite a bit of grass intended for the cattle herd. The harvested animals are used for meat and do not go to waste.

Since mrssusanschmidlin.wordpress.com is nearly out of data, the complete story can be found at SchmidlinAngusFarms.com. I encourage you to check it out, get your information in on the FOLLOW button spot, and get every story in full color. I would be grateful if you did want to do any cyber shopping to use my links on the stories on that site. By using my links, I get credit for directing people to shop and may make a small commission without any cost to you! Your support helps support the website to be available for the daily stories. Thank you for supporting SchmidlinAngusFarms.com