Ready Rhubarb

rhubarbI noticed the commercial rhubarb fields in the valley are being harvested. Acres and acres of rows are cut off the plant with machetes, the leaves are removed leaving the stem of the rhubarb to be tossed into large totes throughout the field.

The stems are shipped all over the United States. Much of the fruit is made into desserts, jams and syrups. Most of the time it is mixed with strawberries to calm the tart flavor of the rhubarb. My family happen to be rhubarb purists and don’t like mixing other fruits with the rhubarb (other than a little lemon or orange juice crystals added to make the flavor pop). Continue reading

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First Filberts To Fall

First of the season filberts.The first filberts of the season have hit the ground.

This handful is already more hazelnuts than last years crop! The Stellar’s Jay birds and gray squirrels can pilfered the entire harvest last year.

This year, the solar electronic animal deter device seems to be working. A few Stellar’s Jays have flown in from the far side of the shop and landed in the top of the trees to swipe a few of the nuts, but so far the thievery  has been minimal.

I don’t want to encourage squirrels with a bounty of readily available filberts, so the collection of fallen nuts will be a twice a day exercise to keep the tempting nuts off the ground (the dogs will sneak in to get their fill, but they assist in bird and squirrel raids so I will accept the loss of pilfered nuts as their payment for their work). Harvested filberts will be placed on trays to begin the drying process. In my spare time, I will be cracking the nuts to remove the shell and when they are completely dry, will be freezing them to keep them fresh for use throughout the year.

LOP

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

Dad-gum Critters

Between the Stellar’s Jays and the squirrels, the filbert trees were wiped out and I wasn’t able to harvest a single nut. I do believe the Jaybirds called every relative in the county to feast upon my trees, we could hear them sitting in the tall fir trees on the other side of the river before sending in reinforcements to plummet the bounty. The squirrels were sneakier and did their looting at night, the dogs kept up a stream of barking to scare them but each evening they got bolder and bolder.

Luckily for me, one of my brothers has a walnut tree that produced more nuts that any critter could possibly steal and I was able to  collect several buckets full to dry, crack, peel and bag for winter.

Freezer bags filled with dried walnut meats.The bags of nut meats will be put into the freezer along with all the fruits and vegetables that were harvested throughout the summer and fall.

A visitor to the farm wanted to purchase some locker beef. When I opened the freezer and they saw the variety of our harvesting efforts, they remarked that from the looks of it I must be gearing up for Armageddon.

Not exactly, but having the mixture from all the garden, beef and hunting sure makes things more comfortable during those dreary days to come.

Last Log Truck Load

The final log truck load of the year has been sent off to the mill. Our season in the woods has been rather dis-heartening because of the amount of damage we found.

Overall, the trees that we planted 30-35 years ago took the brunt of the winter storms. The trees were well on their way to being a good timber stand when heavy, wet snow combined with sudden wind storm snapped the tops out of many of the trees without leaving enough of the green crown to support continued growth of the tree. Many other trees that did not get broken from the weather completely uprooted and slumped over. Some fell flat to the ground but those that did not hung up in trees around them creating spots where fire could ‘ladder’ from the ground up into the crowns of the live trees.

During August the overall fire danger in the woods from the very warm weather curtailed most attempts of working in the forest and this was during the time that the Columbia River Gorge Fire exploded into a raging inferno shutting down the I-84 road system for weeks. With so much of our local fire suppression crews working long hours away from the area and the fire danger rising here in the West, we pared down and completely stopped our work in the woods to avoid the possibility of a fire of our own.

The harvest of forest lumber in board feet from our farm this year was less than half our normal output. Cleanup and road building took up most of our efforts and we are starting to see improvement in our stand of timber. With that we have also opened up large areas that will need to be replanted in January and February. Trees have already been ordered and we have that to look forward to after the winter.

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.

Last Of The Carrots Pillaged

Carrots pulled from the garden show rodent damage.Rodents moved into my garden when I wasn’t looking.

I went out to harvest the last of the carrots out of the soil and found them mostly eaten away by rodents.

I have ruled out squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons since the damage on each carrot was started at the bottom end under ground. That leaves gophers, mice, rats and voles.

Rats usually take a lot larger bites than this and voles a lot smaller bites, so I am looking for a herd of mice or a couple of hungry pocket-gophers. But no mater how you look at it, the rodents got to my crop before I finished my harvest and now I’m cranky.

Once the winter is over, I’ll have to be vigilant with planting in the spring in case the varmints are wintering over with me otherwise I could lose all my root crop next year.