Before I begin this post, a warning is needed.

LOP stands for Land Owner Preference and is the tag that is purchased through the Oregon Fish and Wildlife for harvesting elk that roam on our property. For those who object to harvesting i.e., hunting and shooting wildlife for food, do not continue to the next page. Continue reading


Mid-Sized Herd Visit

A herd of elk interspersed with fir trees.This small hillside was cut and replanted about 10 years ago and when the elk come in to graze around the young trees they are very easy to notice.

Counting the herd it looked like only about 15 animals, so this is the mid-sized herd out of the three that like to visit and stay for a meal or two. Continue reading

Elk Herd Growing

Elk herd along treeline in back of field.This resident elk herd is one of several that make their appearance on the farm. This is the biggest bunch. With more frequency, we have been noticing the herd hanging around the treeline at the back of the hay fields.

The numbers of elk have been growing in the last few years and this herd is now well above 50 and the babies for this year should be showing up soon. Yet it is hard to get a solid count because they seem to be always on the move and near the cover of the trees.

The damage caused by the multitudes of elk show in the soggy fields where sharp hooves break through the sod during herd scuffles and with the animals that prefer to go through fences rather than jump over them.

My spring task list seems to grow each time one of the herds show up to visit.

On The Horizon

As I was walking the rolling slopes of the big hay field soon to be filled with the new mothers and calves, I noticed that I was not alone.

Over the horizon of the next hillock, sets of eyes were watching.

A herd of elk stretched from one side of the field to the other across the back of the big hay field, dotting the area just beyond the inside fence and before the tree line.

They were watching me intently as I tried to get a good count on the critters.

Before the herd took off in a mass evacuation, I counted at least 30 elk. I saw 3 with horns, 2 of them being spikes and one branch bull. Several of this years calves were spotted mixed in with the big cows even though it is  hard to distinguish them while the herd is moving because they must weigh 400 lbs.  or more already.

In a flash, the herd jumped the fence and headed off into the trees. The sound of the herd crashing through the river sounded a few minutes later as they ran to safer ground.


Field Number Three

Bale counter on the baler records bale number 2253.Field number 3 is now safely stowed in the barn.

The counter on the baler says we have punched out 2253 bales so far. About 5 of those have broken. One because of a twine malfunction when baling, one when the stack in the barn fell over, another happened when it got stuck going onto the Stackliner and two happened last night when an elk herd decided to come into the hay field while we were sleeping to play with the 300 bales that still needed to be picked up.

It must have been a fun game for them running around those bales in the field. It looks like they were knocking the bales around just for the heck of it. It is good that the bales are now under the roof and away from the elk and deer.

Field number four is being  mowed now and is going to be fluffed tomorrow.

Yes They Were That Close

Looking out my front room window, just beyond my garden, a herd of 22 elk grazed and played in one of the fields Mike had just coated with lime.

A herd of elk just beyond the garden space.In the foreground you can see my young fruit trees and some of the elk were eyeing the green grass around my trees.

I had to have a stern talk with my farm dogs, they had not made a single noise all morning with this herd encroaching so close to the house. The dogs have the job to alert us of intruders and this herd could cause major damage to the trees, strawberries, cane berries and all the other plants that have new spring growth. If the herd bounced through the garden area, the footy prints would not only leave big impressions, but would chew up the turf I have growing as a cover crop to maintain healthy soil.

Mike came to the rescue and scared the herd off for now. I’m sure the neighbors are a little miffed about that.

How Disappointing

Anyone who has spent any time in the forest with Mike has heard him comment, “Take a little sashay out into the woods.” Loggers, mushroom pickers, hunters and visitors to our woodlands, have heard the comment.

I cannot think of any other grown man to use the word sashay as he does. To me when I hear sashay, I think of ladies in dresses to their ankles and a pretty little bonnet on their head, with a debonair escort to promenade around the town square.

To Mike, sashay means getting off the main roads, animal trails, and skid paths, and into the heart of the forest. A sashay to Mike could be a trek 10 minutes to several hours, from a scramble up to a ridge or a 3 mile pack.

After 40 years together, I noticed that I picked up on the word also. I was out in the area where we had planted cedar trees a couple weeks ago and mentioned to my right-hand-helper that we needed to take a little sashay over to the trees to see if the elk had been in grazing on the seedlings.

To my surprise, we found that not only had the elk come in to nip off all the tender ends of the trees, some of them were completely pulled out of the ground and left for dead.

A cedar tree plug had been pulled from the ground by grazing elk.The spots where they had been pulled from left gaping holes in the earth while the roots dried from exposure to the elements.

All around the planting area, big old elk footy prints marred the ground and the vegetation that had been growing there was torn up or trampled into a muddy mess.

We had taken a chance on planting these seedlings without benefit of cages to protect the trees, but this destruction was a lot more than expected.

More on cages will be coming up in new stories.