The plan was to have my right-hand helper come to the farm for the day to help with the cleanup of the old fence line around the river. Some spots have half buried cedar posts, some places have bits of barb wire fence that has grown into the brush, blackberries and small trees that have continued to multiply where the fence had been 50 years ago. It is a labor intensive process and it helps to have extra hands.
Nature got in the way of the plans and sent a gusty storm that brought dangerous waves to the coast line and whipped the trees throughout the Coast Range and into the Valley. Here at the farm we know that there was at least one tree that snapped off back by the log landing and we lost power about 8am. We cancelled the fence line clean up until we have a day that is not so tumultuous.
Just before dark we got electricity back, we had just finished the evening chores and was looking at the possibility of PB&J sandwiches for dinner. With the power back, we were able to have a hearty dinner and catch up with the news to see how things were going with the rest of the world.
Being without power for just a few hours reminds us that we really have things easy and comfortable and makes us grateful for the return of our creature comforts.
The cold snap broke and we are slowly getting back to a weather pattern that is more typical. Pipes and hoses are no longer frozen solid and we can water the animals with the irrigation again between nights that freeze and days that thaw.
Forecasts have been waffling for a week about the chances of snow on the 25th. We had less than a trace two days ago and it disappeared as the sun came up.
In the fields, the ground is still frozen several inches down below the turf while the moisture in the air hovers in patches across the trees and into the dips of the field.
Butler the dog watches the fog as it dances around. He is hoping to see a coyote or bird move about so he can go running, but for now it is just the fog.
Can you feel it, see it, sense it?
Winter Solstice is here! The beginning of winter and also the beginning of the days slowwwwly getting longer.
Its not warmth I feel, but a glimpse of nearly a minute more of daylight than the day before. The daylight cannot really be seen, the clouds are obscuring any sight of the sun. But it can be sensed, we are on the way to shorter nights. It’s a good thing because I have a problem with the day finishing around 4:30 in the afternoon. Once that sun sets I start watching the clock and judging when I can go to bed.
It is hard to get the end of the year bookkeeping accomplished when I start yawning before 7pm.
The year has passed so quickly, yet here I am itching for the days to pass quickly so I can get back to more daylight. Fickle me, but that is how I roll.
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