Strawberry Season

Strawberries, lettuce and spinach from the gardenStrawberries are in full swing. We have been enjoying strawberries on pancakes in the morning, mixed into green salads, sliced and marinated in balsamic vinegar for spinach salads and in the evening on a scoop of ice cream. Oh, and several times throughout the day, a walk through the garden for a handful to eat as I go. Continue reading

Grandma On The Breeze

Mike has often told of stories of his Grandma and what he remembers growing up on  the farm. One story had to do with poppies. Grandma was known for her poppyseed  cake. It was a cross between a coffee cake and a jelly roll. A firm cake was needed to hold a thick slathering of her secret poppyseed filling recipe while still being pliable enough to roll and create that signature pinwheel look with each slice.

She did not go to the store for the seed. She cultivated the showy poppies in order to harvest the special ingredient, and law enforcement was involved. Continue reading

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

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.