oops, it’s autumn (i mean winter)

Well… it appears that we haven’t done a blog post in roughly five months. Which then suddenly morphed to eight months after starting this. That’s unfortunate as many amazing things transpired in late spring and all through summer, then autumn. And some seriously unamazing as well.

Here’s the nutshell version of things, as we couldn’t possibly share it all, but first, happy autumn!… and happy winter!

Our first batch of 12 chickens are all grown up and laying. This is Raven, our champion layer of mostly massive double yolk eggs (this photo was taken before the run was enlarged to include the chicken compost she’s on).

I know we started with a lot more than that but one died, as you recall, 10 went to the neighbors per a prearranged deal, and I have since sold 5 troublemakers. It was either sell or soup and even though I bought all of the proper knives and accoutrements, I opted for the sell option this time around. Next year soup. Lots and lots of soup.

Our second batch of chickens (7 girls) are about to start laying too, probably right around the time of the ducks within the next three or four weeks. Update: a few of our second girls are now laying. Not a duck egg in sight.

Two of them are Olive Eggers, one is an Easter Egger that I got as a surprise bonus and to our Golden Cuckoo Marans so we have the beginnings of a rainbow egg basket. Just need some blues, darker greens and more chocolatey chocolate. That’ll happen by Spring for sure.

Our third batch of chicks (10 girls and 2 boys) may not start laying until Spring either, unless they want to be winter layers. I think I have two but I’m not positive yet. In retrospect, July born babies aren’t the best idea. They end up being freeloaders a lot longer than spring or late fall babies.

And then we hatched our own chicks, but that’s a different story. We have 33 chickens now. ♡

Ducks are disgusting little beasts as babies, I’m warning you. You need to change their brooder every single day and it’s… yuck. If I were a nicer human, I would have changed it twice a day. I’m not that nice.

Ducks as teens and young ladies (as in outside ducks) are freaking awesome! They will make you laugh and smile and totally crack up several times a day, every day. They are the best farm entertainment I could possibly think of (outside of goats, which will hopefully also happen in Spring). And the most impatient (try to change their pool water without them getting in until you’re done — not going to happen). Three more ducks are getting added to the farm in February.

The garden was kind of a sad story this year. It started awesome in spring, then turned lame with the start of summer.

Thankfully it got mostly awesome again after that.

We had previously decided that all we were going to grow year one was stuff for us to eat on our homestead and get to the market garden growing and farm sales next summer.

Anyone who knows me knows that I can grow the crap out of anything except (bell peppers from seeds — we frequently quarrel) but most of our garden just refused to grow. And what did grow, the deer mostly ate. Except squash. The whole no fence thing? Dumb idea, at least until things are established. We’re buying some fences within the next few weeks to protect our autumn garden.

(Yeah, that actually already happened — we now have about a 3000sf fenced garden area.)

After a couple months of little to nothing going as planned in the garden, we tested our water PH. Things had been growing amazingly when watered by the rain but when we switched to well water via hose, they stopped growing. That was the problem! 8.4 ph, I think it was. Or 8.6? Now that we have that sorted out, everything is growing miraculously well again… just in time for autumn. Except our rainbow fingerling carrots that got off to a poor start.

Fruit has been a totally different story. Plums, pears, blackberries and apples have been so abundant. We even had early blueberries and cherries.

Canning has been awesome this year! My favorite so far was a maple bourbon plum butter. Oh and blackberry pear jam. We also canned spiced apples, chai spiced plum butter, cinnamon anise pears, plain blackberry jam and we’re about to do some pickled apples this week. (That was months ago.) I’ll keep you posted on that one. (Next year I’ll do a post on pickled apples.) I’ll probably also do some apple and pear sauce. (Didn’t happen.)

Cabin one still isn’t done but we literally didn’t touch it until about a week or two ago because we’ve been too busy with animals, orchard planting and other plantings… and everything else. I think the last time we worked in it was November? Maybe December? But the floors are now all done, all of the electrical is done, drywall and insulation is about to start going up in the living room and kitchen and everything will soon be textured and painted like that.

Holy crap, and we have a bathroom sink! With hot water to wash your hands! I can’t find the pic right now but I’ll share soon.

Paul ended up having to get a job and we discovered that he miscounted that we’re 9 pieces short on drywall so the cabin is once again on hold. Working 6 or more days a week it’s just way too much for that sweet man and I can’t do drywall myself. But, I can tape and mud once it’s up!

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a chicken hiccup and a veggie harvest

Oh how I love our new baby chicks!!! We received them last Monday and have gotten behind I’m sharing due to working 12 to 16 hour days. We had a little hiccup though. Or heartbreak. Or… a fuster cluck.

One of the chicks arrive injured and sickly. I named her Penguin because she looked and hobbled like a penguin. We bonded hard and fast because she was too weak to eat and I was hand feeding her. By day two, she was doing MUCH better and could actually walk for the first time, and feed herself a bit, though I continued to hand feed her egg yolk and chick starter to keep her strong.

Every hour or two, when I went in, she would perk up, hop into my hand and snuggle in for a nap. She always nuzzled my hand. It was so precious! I was head over heels for her, my soul chicken. The one that would never go to freezer camp or end up in the soup pot. By day four, she stopped eating or drinking entirely, but every half hour or so I would try anyway. Sadly, she died in my hands. I’ll spare you the gory details but although rough, I’m so glad it was quick.

I dug her a little grave in our pet cemetery (in the faerie garden), planted arnica and yarrow over her and marked her spot with pretty rocks, daisies and fir cones. It was sad.

But the good news is that we still have 27 other fluffy little feather balls to adore. None of them are my soul chickens like Penguin was but I adore them times a million. Six are actually for our wonderful neighbors. I’m just fostering them for a few weeks. 

There is nothing cuter than their egg yolk feeding frenzies!

They’re a crazy blur of darting and hopping feathers most of the time, but every once in awhile one will slow down enough to get a not totally fuzzy shot.

In other good news, those few days of nearly 80º days kicked things into high gear. We have lots of big beans, zucchini, yellow squash, herbs, corn, peas, raddishes, etc.

We even nibbled our first baby radish today. It was a bit small because they were planted late, but we really felt like it was a perfect day for a sacrificial radish.

planting and growing 

Everything is growing like crazy now in this crazy beautiful April weather of alternating (heavy) rains with 65-78 degree sunny days, at least for here. The peas and raddishes, kale, lettuce and chard, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and herbs are having a race to see who can get the biggest and tallest fastest, and so far the peas are winning. (I actually started this post almost two weeks ago and it originally said radishes, but the peas are kicking their butt now).

Our curvy personal garden (see last post) is pretty much fully planted plus a new bed, and the rest of the land is getting worked and planted with food guilds and companion plants that will one day create our food forest oasis. To clarify, we’re 100% done with our personal homestead gardens — everything is either planted in the ground or started in the greenhouse. We wanted to make sure we got that done straight away so we could focus on our farm next, and an actual much needed income.  

The fall garlic is monstrously huge and we recently planted a spring crop, but it’s not doing as hot so I’ve decided to stick solely with fall garlic planting. That being said, I reserve the right to change my mind, of course (I’m not the most patient person so could be speaking too soon). See the bottom leaves with a bits of yellow? We pull those off and sautee the green parts and compost the yellow. Yum! The bed behind it is all early cabbage, greens, nasturtium, marigolds, purple broccoli, onions, a rainbow of carrots and soon-to-be-planted cucumbers, dill and basil. (It’s probably 20′ long.)

Knowing full well that beans “should not” be planted in our zone until mid May, I decided to test fate and plant a few beans early. Like five weeks early. And here you go, beans! (Heirloom/organic blue lake bush beans to be precise.) That part wasn’t a lack of patience but rather an “I have a gut feeling our last frost this year is actually early April and not May 1st”. Rebel farmer? Yeah, probably. Gut truster? Always.

Lots of sprouting babies. I feel like a proud mother of millions right now. Trees, veggie, herb and berry starts, and our impending chicks. More on the baby girls next week though. (Or sooner since I’ve failed to publish this and they have arrived.)

We received some awesome seed potatoes from our friends and because we have lots of gophers and moles and such, we decided to do them above ground in big pots this year. This is a crap photo but they’re actually peeking out to say hello.

The greenhouse is blissfully thriving. Cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, a variety of peppers (a lavender bell pepper was the first to sprout!), various types of basil, oregano, sage, marjoram, thyme, asparagus, etc… all happy and growing. There’s a bit of a wasp situation in the greenhouse too, but let’s just not even talk about that right now.

One of our first permaculture guilds will have this lovely crimson autum olive in the center. It’s a great nitrogen fixer and the guys love the berries (they kind of make my tongue itch). Autumn Olives, or silverberries can be extremely invasive in some areas but not Oregon. We have an amber one too.

The Apple trees are now blooming. I love mother nature! First the apricots, pears and plums, then the peaches, almond and nectarines, then the cherries, and now the apples. Well, all but the honeycrisp… those are more of a late season apple. 

I could seriously take photos of apple blossoms all day. 

I planted a nasturtium under each of our apple trees and made an interesting observation yesterday — three are growing so far, and only under the three honeycrisps. I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation but I don’t know it… I just noticed things.

The whole east side of the gardens are planted with various lavender types and rosemary as deer hate them. So far, no deer in the gardens but I don’t want to speak too soon or curse or jinx us. My dream is fence free gardens, and although 99.7% of people seem us crazy, I’m hopeful it will work.

The strawberries are blooming too. We only have four this year (for personal consumption) but next year we’ll have at least 100.

planting a homestead, growing a farm

I couldn’t possibly tell you how many things we’ve started in the gardens and greenhouse, but it’s a lot. We’re starting with a more “homestead approach” and planting all we know we’ll eat, and adding to that to branch out into full fledged farm over the next year or couple. I guess currently we could be considered tomato, pea and garlic farmers as that’s what we have enough of started to sell, so far. And orchardist offerings, of course. 

The first meandering bed is growing, nicely lined with fallen logs and limbs, and more gifted from the creek. The paths will eventually be lined with wood chips (oh how we dream of owning a wood chipper!!) and access is easy on each side. In the wider spots I’ve put stepping stones for ease of harvesting so I don’t have to step in the soil or squish things. I say “I” only because there will be no lack of ease for my tall fellas — little ladies tend to have short arms, and I’m not even 5’2″. It may not be the best utilization of garden space but I love it!! Next year we’ll add another heap of organic compost and another log to raise them up a bit more, holding them together with an earthen mixture such as is used in cob or strawbale construction. This is 75% planted already with lettuce, a few varieties of kale, peas, raddishes, carrots, onions and spring garlic, plus borage, dill (next to a blank spot for future cucumbers), marigolds and soon, nasturtiums, etc. It’s still funny to me how tall these look in person and how shallow in photos, but you’ll see… it’ll be great!

Lots of things are sprouting and growing… peas, kale, chamomile, onions, thyme, tarragon, basil and tomatoes. I only just planted cucumbers and dill so those will be soon, and the rest to follow. Hopefully our eight dozen peppers sprout soon — I have big plans for those babies. I’ll take photos when I don’t have to use a magnifying glass to do so. In the meantime, here’s one of our massive pears in bloom. We’ll have a good 872 pounds of Bartlett. We trimmed all the dead junk out of both (And the old apples) and are all so very happy. 

Things outside of the food gardens are blossoming like crazy too. We had one visible bud on this tree a couple of days ago and now it’s covered in big pink blossoms. It’s a Camellia Japonica and it sure is pretty! I dont think the flowers fall off immediately like our other Camellia. It’s funny… I keep talking about making a space inspired by The Secret Garden but it’s starting to become that all on its own. I can’t wait to have the cabin done so we can rebuild the main house into a woodsy faerie house. It’s already in the perfect setting for it. ♡

Part of our inspiration comes from this Jacob Witzling pacific northwest tiny house… or really his building style in general. He’s amazing!! We don’t really have the funds to do the whole house in such stunning wood, but we’ll be thrilled to at least have the front and garage look similar upon approach. I don’t care if the rest is ten different kinds of recycled siding painted a lovely hue of “wood”.

I spent the evening at the creek last night as the sun was starting to set and it lit the trees ablaze with brilliant light. It’s a wonder we get anything done around here with so much stunning beauty to get lost in at all times.

On the way back up to the house, what did I spy but a Fairy Slipper Orchid! And then I noticed they’re actually everywhere along the path. These are and have always been one of my very favorite flowers, along with trilliums. We apparent have those too, but I haven’t yet happened upon any. Regardless, I’m buying and planting some one of these days.

The orchard is almost officially complete. We received a few more trees and have only two apples and a persimmon to plant this week, then the orchard is done… until we get two fig trees and four meyer lemons. The above photo is of a Sweetheart Cherry. Isn’t she beautiful! 

I’ve been juggling between planting several varieties of lavender and rosemary around the periphery of the garden, sowing seeds in the garden and planting a kazillion things in the greenhouse while the husb has been working on the cabin. I’m refraining from posting pictures so we can do a full unveiling but the kitchen has been 100% gutted (drywall, insulation, cabinets, sink and all), sill plate replaced, some structural bits replaced, and new concrete floors ground and ready to seal once the living room floor is done. He rocks!

More lovely blossoms of the week. I am over the moon with all of the spring beauty. It’s like christmas every day, waking up and rushing outside to see what’s new. I found out that a large portion of our muster bulbs are Lucifer flowers. They’re gorgeous. Devilishly beautiful? I have no idea why they’re called that. We also have an abundance of uncommon daffodils, hyacinth, regular irises and bearded iris. Or so we shall see.

Another project underway is the chicken house rebuild. This is a screenshot of the Eco Paint colors I narrowed it down to because my girls need a pretty house. The interior and trim will be egg blue and the exterior will either be wood nymph or glass bottle. Really, I’d like to incorporate all colors (and more) but this zero voc, no chip, eco and pet friendly paint is not cheap ($73/gallon!). So I may just have to get Lowe’s zero voc exterior paint and color match (~$30/gallon). We are 100% ready for the girls’ arrival in three weeks except for their house and I couldn’t be more excited. Well, and except for their massive outdoor area too, though they’ll be free range ladies much of the time. And they’ll be inside babies so we have plenty of time.

We also got a load of 8′ peeler cores (and helped our neighbors pick up three more loads). I want to use them as fence posts for the massive chicken run because that would be much lovlier than ugly metal t-posts. Yes, I know they will need to be replaced and aren’t the most efficient option, but… in this particular case I don’t care. 

We’ve done and experienced a lot more than that this past week but that’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I’m chicken distracted (that’s a real affliction). Our little rainbow flock is starting out with three each of the following: Black Australorp, Golden Laced Wyandotte, Partridge Cochin, Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, Buff Orpington and Delaware. I’ll still need to get (3 each) Amaricauna, Cream Legbar and Oliver Eggers but that’s a secret (husb “authorized” me to get 12 to start). I got the 1 and the 2 confused — it’s called chicken math. Oh, and a couple of roos. ♡ Shhh.

the birds and the bees, butterflies, flowers and trees

Springtime brings so much beauty (and so much awesome work). Most of our farm is eventually going to be curling pathways and wandering patches of this and that, but having prepped a nice 3000sf rectangle already, that’s where we’ve decided to start, logically. I really have an aversion to rows and precision so we’ve decided to let mother nature dictate the shapes of our initial beds and growing spaces.

For this area, we’re doing seudo raised beds, lined with fallen and creek-gifted logs for this first part (they’re much deeper than they appear, and have since been built up even more).

We broadforked and grass-removed a nice 40-something foot blueberry bed and got those beauties planted where they will grow with a few varieties of thyme and comfrey (they’re great companion plants as all prefer acidic soil). By the end, near the plum tree, I decided that cardboard occultation was a better option than more broakforking for the comfrey patch. The comfrey (and an am a potential accidental borage or three that I dropped seeds of) will surely be happy there.

The blueberries are thrilled to be in the ground! If you’re planting blueberries, don’t forget to add a bunch of organic peat moss. We have two each of five blueberry varieties so someday we’ll invite you over for gluten free blueberry pancakes, frozen blueberries on home made ice cream and handfuls of fresh berries, straight from the vine. It’ll be at leadt a couple of years, but we’re thrilled. We have a nice balance of early and late season varieties too which doubles the reward.

A kazillion things have been started in the greenhouse (this is about half of it): tomatoes, peppers, heaps of culinary and medicinal herbs and…

…all of these from an amazing gift of a tea garden we received! Those are going in my secret healing garden (though I don’t know how “secret” it will end up being but since I was a little girl, I dreamed of having a Secret Garden like in the book so to amuse myself, that’s what I’m calling it).

Finn and Paul both managed to get stung within a couple of days of each other. Paul by a wasp we presume, and Finn by a hitchhiking bumblebee in his show. Thank goodness neither are allergic! I was always worried about Finn because I am (though wasn’t as a kiddo — I was a bee pin cushion). I found Finn’s bee the next day trapped in cabin two where it stung him and wanted to step in it for a spot second but instead made him a little cozy warm house because it was a cold night and he was nearly comatose. He survived the night but does the next day. I should have made him some nectar. 

A couple of days later, I found this butterfly in the field, missing a wing. I cried and then decided to try to save it. I made it a butterfly sanctuary, watched two videos on how to replace a butterfly wing (before I leaned that they can grow back), found my wing collection to utilize and got nectar making supplies ready. As I went to go get her (or him?) to put in her rock, water and plant filled sanctuary, a bird swooped down, snatched her up and flew away. I kind of had to laugh at that point. Guess I need to back off in the meddling of mother nature. 

In happier news, literally almost everything is budding and blooming. Pears, plums, peaches, almonds, apples, etc. It’s a pretty stunning sight.

There’s lots more to share (including some cabin progress!) but I’ve got to get back to planting so I can make dinner at a reasonable hour. In the meantime, here’s a pretty picture to reflect on. This was taken the day before the days of torrential rain we had last week that raised the creek level once again.

random musings and discoveries

It has come to my attention that of the eight families that live in this beautiful valley of ours, we have a Huck and two Finns, which couldn’t be more awesome. Chickens outnumber humans by about four to one — we haven’t gotten ours yet so that will increase exponentially (we’ll soon be starting with 18 but that will likely double). There are two recording studios and a stage for music festivals. Everyone joins together in the summers for potlucks and the swapping of fruit and veggie garden abundance, pies, jams, herbs, flowers, eggs, pickled miscellany and other yummies grown or made with love. All eight families are comprised of musicians, artists or both. 

These are just a sprinkling of the reasons why we immediately felt as if we were coming home the day we moved here, even before we were aware of it. We’re really excited to meet everyone that we haven’t yet met — they already sound like part of our extended tribe. ♡ 

We’re trying not to be such busy home bodies and finally ventured west to Elkton, the next town over. It’s cute, and the drive there is stunning.

In other random new, our red hawthorn tree count has now exceeded our ability to keep up. So many new babies! If anyone wants some berries for seeds to plant their own, let me know. We’ll be adding black and douglas hawthorns to the mix soon too. I think I ought to start a little side “thing” called Heartwood Nursery where I sell hawthorn, oak, western red cedar, doug fir and other native seedlings to spread the tree love (because I have so very much free time with all the rebuilding and remodling, my shamanic/healing practice, the farm, cooking for so many hours a day, my art, teaching shamanic and art workshops, greenhouse building and sales, community planning and creation, etc.). Oh how I love trees though!

Speaking of which, we have yet another addition to the tree family: a strawberry tree. Look up arbutus unedo to see better pictures. It’s an evergreen native to the Mediterranean that produces weirdly cool looking edible berries that kind of but not quite resemble strawberries. (They’re not remotely related to the strawberry family, however.) This was yet another amazing gift. We are in awe and the deepest of gratitude for the abundance of gifts we’ve received since moving here! I can’t wait to share overflowing baskets of fruit, veggies, herbs, eggs, berries and flowers with our neighbors and friends. 

With the crazy rains, we now have a pond in the lower field. The ducks and geese will surely be thrilled, though they don’t come until after the chickens. Finn wants to turn it into a permanent pond (as opposed to seasonal) and grow rice here. He’s such a cool kid.

Little did we know that our creek-turned-river would rise even more. We have some serious white water rapids along part of it. Fun!

This is the 2.5 to 3′ sloped rocky hill that goes to one of the larger beaches. I see no rock hounding for awhile…

more farm planning, tree planting and other goodness

I totally miscounted our trees in our last post… the real and true count of new food-bearing trees: 7 apples, 3 plums, 2 peaches, 2 nectarines, 2 cherries, 2 pears, 1 almond. I’ve got it down now. We’re well on our way on our plan of planting 100 trees within our first 5 years here. Between those, the dogwood, walnut and Japanese maple that hasn’t yet arrived (an amazing gift from a wonderful friend!), we’ve got 22 down and 78 to go. Other than meyers lemons, figs and apricots, most of the rest won’t be food bearing.

It’s funny how crooked my pictures always are. The photo above is actually pretty flat land. We had planned on planting all of the trees up by the existing pears and apple (as you can see) but changed our minds after hefting them all into place and rearranging them a few times. I decided that that’s where I want our personal pottager garden instead, up close to the house as it should be.

More hefting…

…until I remembered my awesome wagon (once I was almost done).

Now the bulk of the orchard will be on the other side of the blue tarp on the south and west sides of the upper field (three more still need to be taken over there but they’re heavy and I’m tired). The tarped area is our initial 3000 square foot market garden space where we started our garlic and will have an abundance of heirloom tomatoes, green and herbs planted. It still stuns me how tiny that area looks compared to to rest of our land, knowing that that’s almost the complete area of our old yard in Portland AND that it was technically considered to have a large lot.

Some of the apples were planted between the pears and existing gravenstein and the future chicken coop area, and the plums ate going adjacent to our neighbor’s plums (behind future cabin six) for happy cross pollination and meandering, non-linear placement. I think I’ll put an apple or a pear (or both) next to the chicken coop for a nice shady area, though they’ll be free ranging in the daylight hours, of course. 

With the coming of spring we’re certainly becoming busy bees. I mentioned yesterday that I wanted wooden posts for the chicken fencing instead of using ugly metal t-posts and poof, the husband procured them within a couple of hours. Here are a few of them. Finn and I have some serious prepwork to do before we start cutting them into proper lengths. (No trees were harmed in the collection process — all were downed in the forest or delivered via creek by the generous water spirits.)

And of course we can’t get through February without a greenhouse so that’s underway as well. Eventually we’ll be making affordable greenhouses and kits (etc) to sell in various styles and types: high tunnel/hoop houses, low tunnel, geodesic dome shaped greenhouses, walipinis and cold frames. We’ll likely add in worm farms, composters and other great farm/garden/homestead goodies eventually too… I married a man who likes to be creative and keep busy, so these will be super fun projects for both of us in addition to offering a but of additional income here and there.

Our new bathroom is going to be awesome!! It’s now caulked and primed (above), and the crazy blue color I picked out is in the walls (my camera is lame and can never adequately convey hues, but it most looks like the photos below)… 

We’re still doing a raw wood accent wall but for now it’s all blue. It’s going to look amazing once our cute pedestal sink and vintage towel racks and shelves are in, and the window and door frames and baseboards are installed… and the doors are painted and we get some knobs. Happiness!! The previous owner apparently had an aversion to knobs because there are none on any interior door, oddly. This step of completion means we can now shower for as long as we’d like and don’t have to worry about moisture and drywall. Bliss!

I originally color matched this color with a my blue ball jars to do the wee built in shelf in the kitchen this color but I’m thinking I may revisit that idea. It’s magical in the bathroom but possibly a bit too in-your-face for a vintage cabin kitchen. Anyway, I’ll do a proper unveiling of the bathroom once it’s fully complete. And once I’ve cleaned the shower. (Yikes!)

trails, a big window and a tiny orchard

We’ve been so carefree lately, enjoying the winter and slowing down. Hardly anything has progressed in the cabin and we’re totally okay with that. Winter is the time of quiet, relaxing and rejuvenation, and we’re growing quite adept at it.

We’ve spent a ton of time walking the trails we knew of…

…and discovering or creating new ones that didn’t previously exist to us.

We’ve spent a lot of time at the creek, in the forest and just wandering whilst planning our far-in-the-future cob guest houses, our bigger personal tiny cob house with rocket stove, the retreat meeting/community yurt, our complex of tree houses and other fun things (like a dock with floating platforms for meditation and watery naps).

We’ve also gotten a bit of work done too. A little bit at least. The texturing of the walls in the bathroom is done and looks freaking amazing (thanks to my freaking amazing husband), and are ready to prime and paint as soon as the last bits dry. We’ve been waiting a week for that, but we’re used to waiting. This is a bad photo so I’ll take another after we paint. Excited!

The rotten window frame was worse than we thought but was a much quicker process to fix than anticipated. The first photo is looking under the window to the front patio, through the missing wall. You just never know what can arise from removing bits of load bearing walls but again, awesome husband banged it out quickly and flawlessly. I think we’re doing the next one tomorrow. Or the day after. 

Our tree order was delivered today. Hello instant mini-orchard!! We got 3 honeycrisp, 3 granny smith and a liberty apple, two kinds of plums, a couple of pear varieties, two types of cherries, two kinds of nectarines and an almond tree for the guys. Lots of impending yummies! 

Most are potted trees so we have time to plant them, but six were bare root so that was our today and will also be our tomorrow project. More than likely, I’ll dig and plant while the husband remodels and repairs.

Here is a granny smith, right on the hill that used to be covered in scotch broom.

And here is a honeycrisp right up the hill from granny. They’re great companions, you know. Honeycrisps aren’t self-fertile so need a pollination partner, so granny to the rescue. They’re two of my all time favorites so definitely a perfect pairing in my eyes.

We added a nice rock border with the stones we dug up (this hill is pretty rocky in places), and I think it looks awesome! I’m sure I’ll have to enlarge it eventually but for now it’s perfect. I’ll be planting lavender, sage, rosemary and other aromatics on the hill to keep the deer away from the baby leaves and eventual fruit. They hate walking through “smelly plants” because it messes with their ability to scent preditors. Plus lavender et al are so much more lovely to look at than fencing. ♡

Tomorrow’s planting will be the four remaining bare root apples, and the almond which will go near the walnut that we started from a nut from the hundred year old tree at our old house. The rest will go near the existing gravenstein apple and two bartlet pears, making it a true little orchard. Next year we’ll add three meyer lemons, a couple of miniature kiwis (yep, they grow here), a hazel nut tree and then we’ll move back into expanding our berry varieties. Baby steps. (The picture above is a cherry tree budding at night.)

We need to get motivated and creative to get the greenhouse built within the next couple/few weeks. My dream greenhouse is $8k so totally not happening (it’s glass and not practical and honestly nothing I’d actually ever buy, don’t worry). We don’t need anything fancy but will hopefully have a little something put together for our veggie starts by mid-February at the very very latest. In the meantime, our garlic is growing like crazy! The picture above looks like a small piece of grass but it’s about a 4″ garlic top.

This is our new/current favorite place to relax after rock and crystal hunting. It’s so peaceful and lovely to watch the trees reflect upon the water, right across from the waterfalls. I don’t think this part of the creek even exists in summer. Such a treat! (As is the steelhead our neighbor caught, smoked and shared with us from just below this area.) As always, there’s so much to love and discover around here. 

the purge of the scotch broom

There’s so much beauty around here but scotch broom is just not part of it. Usually I’m not a hater of plants but I just don’t like it much. 

Let me rephrase. I don’t like it at any other time of year than this. The pods, when they’re all dry and brittle, look awesome. But I don’t like how invasive it is and it doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose to me. We had way, way, way too much of it on the property… and now we have less. I did have a before photo but I just lost over 1,200 pictures on my phone so now I don’t.

Just envision this space full of Scotch broom. Now see that it’s so much more open and beautiful. This gives us so much extra space to plant more apple trees and other things. A lot of our trees are so old they’re starting to enter their final phases of life. Like our over fifty year old pear trees or hundred-year-old apples. Of course we won’t be getting rid of any of those but we can introduce some new companions.

This whole area is clear now too, and the second apple tree (of four) and two plums that we’d discovered when we moved here are finally free. Of course these are old and covered in lichhen, but they still produce and we’ll get them all squared away to produce more soon.

Here’s the first scotch broom mountain (future burn pile or possible hugelkultur berm but the latter is probably not the best idea). Finn kicked butt helping, as usual.

We will keep a bit of broom for the goats, but make sure it’s kept under control because we can’t cohabitate otherwise. I’m just not a scotch broom girl. It’s a good nitrogen fixer, but you can’t eat it, so I’ll replace it with something more beneficial to us, and our animals.

Speaking of animals, the pup wanted to pose by the pile too. So stinking cute!

sleeping in the cabin and other adventures

We haven’t done a blog post in 2 or 3 weeks but that’s because we haven’t done anything around here for 2 or 3 weeks. The husband was offered some work in Portland and then had to go out of town on a few various expeditions and now we have 8 days of company. So, no real progress in the cabin.

Well, a little. 

The bedroom is 100% insulated and drywalled, taped and mudded. We’ll be texturizing walls old lath and plaster style after our company leaves next week then priming and painting shortly thereafter. Since we have company (two adult male humans and a female wolf hybrid), and were trying to shove 5 people and 2 canines into half of a tiny house, the husb and I decided to sleep in the cabin. Above is my view out the window our first morning. (Actually, looking at the clock, I was clearly taking an afternoon company break.)

It’s kind of funny. The nights have been pretty cold so we turned the space heater on high about an hour before we came in, thinking it would be cold. Both space heaters are constantly on full blast in the main house and it’s not super warm. We about fainted when we came in the cabin bedroom. It was a sauna! Having the space heater on low for a couple hours before bed and then turning it off is plenty toasty. The difference is amazing beyond words.

The roof got finished, finally, too. That’s old news, but I hadn’t yet shared. We were missing part of the ridge cap and some rake edge pieces. I can’t really remember what they’re called so, sorry. But it’s done and that is awesome!

We realized after I had posted that picture where I claimed I took a cruddy crooked shot that the chimney *was* actually crooked. That’s all now fixed as well (that’s what happens when you work late into the night, after dark, on the roof wearing headlamps). We aren’t replacing the siding until spring but all colors have been picked, inside and out. That part is my job.

I’ll unveil the exterior colors in Spring once everything is done, but in the meantime this will be the living room wall color. (I’m a jerk and should have written down a photo credit from the above picture. I found it on Pinterest.) 

The kitchen will have white cabinets but I’m going to distress them with a ball jar blue color peeking out from underneath. The built-in shelves will be the ball jar blue. Since we’ll have so much extra, the bathroom will probably be that color as well. It will be one of those slap you in the face with happiness kind of colors.  after having to use so many boring neutral colors in our old house in order to sell it, we’re going a little crazy perhaps. But the beauty of paint is it can always be changed if we get tired of bright happy hues.

We’ve been adventuring as much as ever with the intermittent sun. My best and most exciting find was this arrowhead/projectile. The ironic part is I can spend hours rockhounding, combing every inch of the areas we like to go but on this particular day we were showing Paul’s Uncle and Cousin around the property. The creek was super high and there was only about a 1 foot by 3 foot tiny edge of beach with the high waters being so high so we were turning around to go back. I saw this poking up out of the dirt and had to jump down to get it. I about peed my pants with excitement. I’ve since found out that is about 2000 years old and likely made of either common opal or Oregon honey opal. It’s an extremely rare material for Native American projectiles, I’m told.

Showing the arrowhead first probably makes these less exciting but I was thrilled to find tangerine agate, carnelean and some pretty fantastic zeolite and possible thompsonite pieces.

The carnelian pure fire in the sun, and I’m going to have it made into a necklace.

The husb is the master of finding bones and teeth for me, and found this. It’s an elk tooth.

Here’s the top.

We also started collecting and cutting up next year’s firewood. Yesterday the guys cut up several loads of this size. Thank goodness for the riding lawn mower and cart!

In the process, another new path to the creek was made.

We still live in paradise! It’s crazy to think that no humans have probably been down in this little area for decades. It’s right next to a beaver den, and the gift of aged wood they had nibbled down for us and not used for whatever reason.

Our sweet dog Modoc has been enjoying the company of our new wolf friend Helja. He’s always thought he was a wolf and has carried the spirit of his wolf ancestors.

Helja is 3/4 wolf and an absolutely Majestic being. She was gentle and sweet and so very kind. We sure will miss her when everyone leaves next week! I’d love to have a wolf but I don’t know that that’s a good combination to have with my desired future 36 chickens, 6 ducks, 4 geese, 4 goats, 2 sheep and 2 donkeys. (My list keeps growing and the husb is not very ammused.) We’re actually meeting a new dog next week to potentially add to the family. He is a blue heeler and lab mix and ever so precious. Cross your fingers for us!

I hope you all had a wonderful Winter Solstice, Yule, Christmas or whatever you celebrate. We’ve had a lovely break for the most part and will be getting back to things soon. We’ll hopefully have lots to share in then the next week or two.

Happy New Year from our home to yours!!