Working On The Lines

Our local utility company, West Oregon Electric has a big job. The power lines stretch through some of the most densely forested areas of the Northwest area of Oregon.

In the 1950’s, when the power company was beginning to place poles and stretch wires to the unincorporated rural customers, costs would skyrocket with the miles of network needed. In order to curtail costs a plan was developed. Instead of following the county roads that skirted along the path of the river, shortcuts were established through meadows, across meanders of the river, through fields and farmlands. The shortcuts did the job of getting power to the people but it also caused a lot of trouble as the years went by. Continue reading

A Yard Full

Local power company working around yard and garden.An old transformer that was in need of dismantling was tackled by the local power company this morning.

An early morning phone call alerted us to the West Oregon Electric crew being available to complete this job that had been on the list for over a year.

The yard was filled with 2 of the large boom trucks, 1 smaller boom truck, and the supervisor rig. Another pickup showed up to direct traffic as the wires that hung across the road were taken off poles and removed from the site. The project took a couple hours.

The crew did a good job of getting in and around the garden area without any impact to the vegetation and once they left we found no trace that anything had happened other than the transformer being gone and wires removed from poles.

Always Darkest Before The Electricity Comes Back On

After the pump blew up and the inevitable running around to check all the power to the pump house had been shut off with circuit breakers, we finished the round of cards that we had been playing at the dinning room table before chaos ensued and assessed the situation.

  1. A foot of snow outside and still coming down, the generator in place in case the power goes out completely.
  2. Try to get a nights sleep before starting the chores at daybreak, then dismantling the blown pump for repair.
  3. Get the darn thing fixed.

Continue reading

Busy Day In The Driveway

The local power company, West Oregon Electric was hard at work in our driveway as they prepare to update our lines on the poles that run from the grid to the farm.

Local power company working on pole in driveway.

We are too rural for big power companies, just not enough density of people to support all the costs associated with providing electricity. We belong to our local co-op, over the years we have had temperamental service, we used to comment about the electricity going out if someone sneezed. But the crews have worked diligently over the last ten years to upgrade poles, bury lines in susceptible storm areas, and logged line zones to make our power more dependable than ever.

We appreciate our power company and the job that they do to keep up up and running throughout all weather and through every season.


Frozen Stock Tanks

The last week has been cold for this time of year. We had been in the mid-teens four days in a row and it has made for some challenges to keep the stock tanks clear of ice for the animals that do not have access to an unfrozen stream. These include half of the animals in the bull pen, and the animals in the show barn consisting of the weaned heifers and show cows.
A small electric heater is submerged into the bathtub we use as a stock tank.

An electrical appliance called a stock tank heater is submerged heating element that keeps the tanks free of ice during cold weather.


It sits on the bottom of the stock tank to heat the water. The goldfish don’t seem to be bothered by the bit of warmth coming off the unit.
The little heater can be easily moved from tank to tank in an effort to keep the ice melted. We cannot use the unit in any of the 55 gallon plastic tubs that catch rainwater for fear of burning through the bottom.
The heater is a single coil like a stove burner. The opportunity arises for the animals to chew on the electric cord, so we try to keep it away from easy reach. Even at that, one early morning, one of the newly weaned bulls bit the cord, pulled the unit out of the water and dropped it on the ground. Mike happened to find it and put it back into the stock tank before it burned through its own electrical cord.
Other than that one instance, the little heater has been running non-stop for the week of cold weather. Forecasts say warmer weather on the way, it will be good to store the heater unit away for a while.

Downing a Danger Tree


Early in the spring I had told you about our local electric company, West Oregon Electric (WOE). They had come out to help us with a dead white fir tree that was near their electric lines and needed to be removed. This old white fir was about 120 years old and had been on the decline for the last decade. It was time to remove the dangerous tree before it ended up wiping out the power to the whole rural neighborhood and quite possibly the town 10 miles up the road.

WOE crew used their cherry picker to top the tree twice. The first cut removed the very top fifty feet of the tall tree and dropped it right by the base, likewise with the second fifty foot section. The fifty foot base was left standing since it was no longer a threat to the power lines and we would need some time to clean up the tree that was on the ground before falling the last portion.

We consider our local power crew as family.  It’s not just the wave and a honk as they drive past the farm. They are courteous and helpful, and work long grueling hours during horrible weather, to keep us in power. I witnessed first hand, the safety first attitude put into practice with each task. And the grateful giggles from the crew when a pan of brownies was rewarded to them as they were moving onto their next project. Continue reading

Portable Electricity

More than half of our farm is across the river. Our big hay barn, the pastures, most of the cattle, timber and hay fields take up most of the area. We do not have electricity on this larger side of the farm. When power is needed for fencing around the barns, or for the two-month temporary fences we use to keep the cows out as the grass is growing for the next hay crop, we use portable solar power units.


Even in poor weather, these small low-voltage units can produce enough current to charge the barriers. The investment of these portable units have paid off many times over. The units last for several years. The only maintenance needed is a good cleaning before storing at the end of a season.

It only takes two wires strung across an area to keep a line secure. Woven wire, barbed wire, or the white tape wire known as New Zealand fencing can all be used with these chargers.