The farm has slowed as we close in on the shortest days of the year. Many non-essential chores are on hold. Digging post holes in frozen ground is a good way to get exercise but not good to attempt fence building. The firewood stack is in no danger of running low. Fixing equipment with winter gloves on leads for more fumbling than fixing.
A sunset peeking through the trees that line the Nehalem River didn’t alight the sky with brilliance, but gave a pastel hue that spread far and wide across the valley.
The main herd had finished their dinner of hay served in the outside mangers and they moved along the hillside under the fir trees for the night. It seemed that the coyotes must have noticed the special moment for they were quiet as well.
This evening was dead calm and still cold with the temperature dropping below freezing before the sun tipped the edge of the horizon.
This last week has brought soaking rains to the farm, a lightening strike that flattened a condo in Coos Bay, a funnel cloud over the ocean at Tillamook and tornado warnings for Astoria. To say the least the weather has been dynamic and has gone a long way to calm the fire danger here at home and at the several large wildfires burning throughout the western states including the Columbia River Gorge.
The much needed moisture put a stop to our logging because it made the roads up the hill slick and gooey. Mike tried to move the bulldozer up the skid road, the tracks would dig down to dry earth and move a few feet, then have to dig again before moving forward. At the second bend and just before the steep stretch, the dozer could go no further and he had to back down the winding road moving slow inches at a time to stay on the path.
In the landing, the area right in front of the log deck held more than a foot of rainwater. If there were anyway to get a self-loader truck in the swamped road to get to the pile, the truck would sink below the axles with the weight of the logs.
Mike brought in three truckloads of rock to fill in this puddle, smoothed the rock and compacted it with the dozer. It will still be several days before we will be able to get the log truck in for this load.
A small thunderstorm rolled through last night. It was a welcomed sight to see a few drop come down. It has been an extremely warm and dry August and first half of September and the fire danger has been swinging from moderate to high, but mostly being stuck at high.
Near midnight we had enough rain to make a few puddles and by morning the moisture had all absorbed into the thirsty ground. The smoke particles in the air have been cleaned out by the rain and it feels good to walk around outside without smelling smoke and feeling drug-out by the heat.
This is not enough rain to douse the Columbia Gorge fire or to keep the fire danger here on the farm down for more than a day or two. A new system should be bringing higher temps and warm weather again in the next 24-48 hours. With the nights lengthening the sweltering 100 degree days should be at an end since there is just not enough daylight time to heat up that much.
August seemed to slip by quickly with all the picnics, BBQs and get-togethers going on but I managed to keep a daily list of fog sightings. That is with the help of Mike when I headed to the beach for a few days of fun.
For new readers, the Old Farmers Almanac had a saying about the amount of fog you have in August is an indicator about how many snow days you will have come wintertime. Last August seemed to have a little more fog than normal, this last winter we experienced more snow than normal so I decided to fog watch this year to see if it is as accurate. Continue reading
OK, I think it is time for me to eat a little crow.
A couple of days ago, I was lamenting about the weather forecasters and their description of snow in the forecast of being 1 inch to 1 foot of accumulation on the Valley floor (meaning Portland). To me that was not much of a forecast, it would be as if I made a broad statement such as ,”we may have a calf born this year, or maybe 12 calves, we will just wait and see.” I don’t think it would go over well with our cattle buyers.
This forecast did not go over well with me. Usually we listen to the news for the Portland area, then adjust for the cooler 1000′ feet of difference and the wetter difference of being closer to the Pacific Ocean. From the news on Saturday, I had no way of telling what we would be in for.
It started raining in Portland in the middle of the night as well as here on the farm. But before daybreak, it turned to a wet, sloppy snow as Portland continued with downpour rain.
By 8 a.m. the driveway and county road looked like a winter postcard. The ground was warm enough thaw much of the snow as it landed, but it was coming down so quickly that it could not melt fast enough to keep it from piling up.
Looking back over the weather forecast that had me in such a tiff, I have to admit the guessers were right. Portland ended up with over an inch of rain on this day. We had over a foot that had not melted.
Even though the winter weather has warmed and the deep freeze has moved on, we still see small snow patches lingering in the shady spots around the farm.
In the foreground, the water is running freely through the pasture. Beyond the treeline where the river flows, is located on the shady dark side of the hill and still has a covering of snow.
Once we got past the first blast of warm, tropical air that carried with it many inches of rain, the moderation of temp and moisture allowed for these small snowfields to melt slowly. The slow melt adds much needed fluid to the dry ground and it soaks in deep so it will sustain the vegetation for a long time.
Living on a rural county road, I can usually tell what day of the week it is by the traffic that goes by.
I see loggers go by early weekday mornings headed for the logging site. Log trucks can start as early as 3am during the summer and 5am during the winter to get the first load headed for the mill. Familiar rigs go by that carry neighbors to work, and kids to school travel past around 6 or 7. Weekends have jeeps and refurbished 4 x4s that head out to the woods for 4-wheeling adventures. Bicycles by the bunches and motorcycles go past on the loop that takes them to Vernonia for a stop before turning and heading back to the cities. Continue reading