While feeding the herd across the river, I noticed the alder trees by the river getting their familiar red spring tinge.
The trees had been dull and lifeless all winter long since they lost their leaves in the fall.
It seems like a long time coming but the alders turning hue is a very good indicator that the trees are coming out of winter dormancy.
The color doesn’t come from new leaves emerging, that comes a little later in the season. The red comes from the catkins that will soon be the pollen delivery system for the area.
The picture also shows a couple of under-developed cones still on the tree from last year, hanging on until they rot away.
I just had to post this picture that was taken during the late February snow event that lasted more than a week. This image was just to pretty not to share.
Soon all the cold will be gone and the year will be zooming by, but for a few moments the farm stood still as in contemplation of the beauty and glory of nature at its finest.
It reminds me of a cupboard door with a squeaky hinge. The sound came from high above me this day while I was out working in the barn.
I knew in an instant that it was a Bald Eagle calling but I could not see the bird. I had to walk out past the barn to view it sitting up there in one of the tall trees near the bridge. The eagle was perched at the tippy-top of the twin fir and squeaking like crazy. Before long the squeaking stopped and I saw that the eagle had been joined by a second.
Apparently, Number 1 was lonely and had been calling for Number 2.
The pair hung out this way for nearly an hour before heading off to cruise the river in search of prey.
It is such a joy to witness these massive birds as they monitor the river and the farm, cleaning up decay and keeping rodents in check are vital tasks for the health of the area.
We picked up our first load of seedlings to plant along the riparian zone of the Nehalem River.
The dark colored box contains cedars but we also loaded up spruce, alder, hemlock, white (grand) fir and dogwood.
The seedlings are potted in 12 inch plastic pots. It takes quite a hole to make sure each tree is planted deep enough to keep the tender roots growing in the correct direction. ‘J’ rooting causes the trees to fail when the tops get larger than the stunted roots can hold, from plantings 10 years to 30 years old. Whole sections of forest can fail at the same time if the roots were not planted carefully.
The weather forecast calls for a drying and cold east wind so the planting needs to be completed in a hurry to get the trees safely in the ground before they freeze or dry out from exposure to the Columbia River Gorge wind that tunnels the cold winter air our direction.
The river has been staying up most of the week even though we have had several dry days interspersed with the down pours.
In the far ground you can see a small waterfall, that is actually water draining out of the hay field from the natural slopes of our not-so-flat ground.
It feels like typical fall with all the moisture and cooler weather, we have been seeing an increase in the bald eagles scouting along the river in search of the ocean salmon returning to their spawning ground.
Could it be that true winter could be far behind?
We had not noticed it right away, but the main herd split into two groups during the night. Some of the more adventuresome critters made their way across the Nehalem that was running high from the week of rain we had just gone through. Luckily, none of the younger animals tried to cross and stayed safely on the far side.
At this crossing where the river bends, the cows seem to have little to no problem crossing from the far side to the road side of the river. Going back across the swift water seems to be tougher for them and they are more hesitant. They find it harder to gain purchase on the slick rocky bottom as their backsides get pushed downstream as they cross. Cows can swim, but rushing water can carry them away if they miss-step and lose contact with the river rock. One cow did drift downstream a ways before getting her footing back.
With the thought of breakfast on their minds, the wayward cattle began to advance through the quick water. The herd sire, Renaissance, was holding back at the edge of the river. Predominately the last one to join the herd, he makes sure there are no missing stragglers from the group before catching up to the rest of the herd.
Most of the cows had made it across before the herd sire got into the water. With Renaissance weighing in at about 2400 lbs the river doesn’t push him around quite as much as the cows that weigh a ton or less.
This little adventure did not bother the half herd, and they were able to join with the others quickly for hay that had been put into the round feeders on the correct side of the river.
It was only a few weeks ago when I was posting pictures of the beautiful fall leaves and the quiet Nehalem River. After the week of rain we just experienced, most of the color has washed out of any of the remaining leaves and the river is running the full span of the bridge.
I know the ocean-going salmon are there spawning because the bald eagles are keeping a close eye on the river. While the river is high like this, they can only sit in the tall fir trees and wait when they are not flying the route of the river.
As the water begins to recede and the muddiness of the water clears, the eagles will once again have a chance to snag the carcasses of the spawned-out salmon. The eggs will have already been fertilized and the eagles are happy to scoop up the dead salmon keeping the water clean and healthy.