assessing the damage, a miracle, and baby chicks

As usual, I started this post over a week ago so some is old news. Updates will be in bold again. It all probably reads like someone with multiple personalities conversing amongst themselves.

As snow and ice begins to melt, more and more storm damage is coming to light. Heartbreaking and devistating are both huge under statements. The landscape has been forever changed, at least for our lifetimes. It’s overwhelming and hurts my heart to see so many damaged and fallen trees (I like a lot of trees more than a lot of humans). We were originally thinking around 50. Now it’s appearing to be at least 100. We used to live in a beautiful, private oasis. Now it feels more field than forest that offers significantly less privacy, though still beautiful. Before we could hear but not see the highway from the courtyard near the cabins. Now we can see passing cars up the driveway (and they can possibly see us). Guess that’ll make outdoor bathing a little more interesting this summer if they can, eh? I’ll be replanting that area first and think it’ll only take five or six trees once grown in, and maybe a couple of shrubs.

Although 95% of the greenhouse contents had been lost, a couple things survived — 7 cauliflower seedlings. And the greenhouse damages are infinitely less severe than I thought so I can fix it without having to ask anyone for help. A bit of UV plastic and some greenhouse tape and it’ll be good to go, needing only a new door but we’ll get to it when we do. In the meantime there is a UV plastic flap door.

Update: I’ve been planting like a crazy lady, both in the greenhouse and in the garden. Let’s see if I can remember it all: 64 heirloom tomatoes, 36 strawberries, 48 broccoli and cauliflower each of several varieties, more radishes, carrots and peas (those three love being planted together and thrive as companions), cabbage, poppies, calendula, lavender, dill, coriander, mint, thyme, sage, turnips, beets, onions, green onions… There’s more but I don’t have my garden journal with me and I’ve not had enough coffee yet.

The garden holds a great deal of death. A dozen dead four year old blueberry bushes. A dozen dead raspberries. Our two potted/need to be planted blackberries will likely return, plus all of our delicious wild blackberries. It looks like our garlic is safe and most of the radishes remain. I would rather have blueberry and raspberry bushes than radishes, but someday we can buy more berry bushes. Plus we have 8 more to plant so our annual blueberry cravings will be satiated in a couple of years. There’s frog life in the garden too, and frogs are a symbol of luck and abundance. I’ll tale that!

Update: Raspberries are resilient plants. This one above is our golden raspberry which sprouted these leaves in under a week. Now most of the others are sprouting. It looks like we only lost two heirloom raspberry plants but I’m still hopeful. I’ve grown huge raspberry bushes out of tiny little pieces of raspberry roots so I’ll work my magic and see what happens. (Tip: if you have raspberry loving pest, plant some onions and calendula around them.)

So far only four orchard trees are lost: a wine crisp apple (ouch!), our only apricot (also ouch!), a peach and a nectarine. We’ll have to watch the rest and see. Fruit trees can only tolerate only so much ice and frost before the decide to just give up. I’m trying not to be the same. I’m trying to force on my fighting gloves and kick ass on everything. At least the free stuff to fix, like replanting seeds that we already have.

Update: The wine crisp may be saved. It was laying flat on the ground due to other things falling on it but I replanted it. Plums and cherries are starting to blossom.

The the chicken house was so new I never even finished painting it. It has trees on it. The roof is smashed. The sheathing under the roofing is smashed. Support beams are smashed. Once it rains, it may leak and that’s no place to keep chickens. But fixing it can’t happen until we fix the cabin first. I would hate to rehome all of my girls to have to start over again later so I’m not even going to think about that. It’s not raining right now so that’s good. I would put that big tarp over the roof instead of their enclosure (that I was planning on covering in suntuf next month) but it’s now riddled in holes. Clearly my husband is an amazing builder though. The force of the trees and branches falling on the coop jarred the nesting boxes off the walls. But the whole building remained. He’s awesome! But now, the girls are so traumatized today aren’t laying eggs in the coop. I went from an average of 18 to 23 eggs a day all winter and now I’m getting 3 or 4. Spending $50-60 a week to feed chickens to only get three or four eggs a day is not my cuppa tea either, haha.

The chicken house damage hasn’t effected the mama hens Juniper and Olga. Both hatched 5 babies and all are thriving.

Update: A massive oak tree had fallen on part of the chicken Nursery yard fence and apparently that gave any access to the neighbor cat. It ate one of the babies. 😦 That’s fixed now. Out of 10 babies there were only two black ones, fathered by my barnevelder that I rehomed and that cute little black and white one in the front was one of them. That’s the one that got eaten. Farm life.

Update: We also have 7 eggs in the incubator and 100% fertility rate. I candled them all again last night and five were moving so we will have at least five more babies soon. And the Coastal Farm store has a few kinds of day old baby chicks I’m also going to add into the mix. I’ve been selling lots of babies and pullets to keep my flock rotated so am rewarding myself with some blue egg laying Ameraucanas. This baby above is the only one I’m keeping, except for the roosters to put in the freezer, out of the first two batches. She, if she’s a girl, is half Partridge Cochin, half Welsummer. Feathered feet! I call her Hild.

Easiest part of everything is all the fencing. It’s fairly cheap and easy to run. The duck area, the chicken area, the garden area, all need fencing replaced. We should be able to get that done in the next couple of months. And hopefully I can just do it myself without having to harass the husb who already works six days a week and has a million other things on his plate.

Paul has been kicking ass on chainsaw work (thankfully we had 2 offers to borrow one as we don’t currently own one). We’re going to have many years of firewood. Just need to build a wood storage shelter.

The cabin is the biggy, but also the biggest question mark as we haven’t totally gotten to assess damages yet. This is the cabin we took down to studs and have been working on rebuilding the past year-and-a-half. The cabin we were going to be moving into in about two weeks. The cabin that was finally soon to be insured because everything was redone so amazingly well. It could be infinitely worse. In fact, it’s kind of miraculous that it’s not. So on that note, we are so lucky.

The brand new metal roof has damages. The back covered deck is kindling. The front porch awning was ripped off on one side and is being propped up by a peeler core (log). I’m not sure if it needs to be replaced or if we can salvage it. Redoing it eventually was on the To Do List anyway, along with gutters and well filtration. The already problematic septic system has been completely jacked by a tree going roots-up. We hoped we could just have it pumped. Now we have to replace the whole thing. That in itself is bare minimum of $8,000 we dont have but I’ll figure it out. I’ve been looking for cheap leftover building materials on Craigslist that they would like hauled off. Then we can have an awesomely mismatched hodgepodge of recycled material goodness to live in. With the wood stove! That will be so amazing, warmth.

Update: Holy crap! As it turns out, the book of the weight of the oak tree that fell on the cabin is resting on the now shattered deck and roof. A branch is propping it up both from the ground and the deck rubble. If you look closely in the photo above you will see that the oak isn’t even actually touching the roof. A couple of branches are and it appears that they did not pierce through. It looks like it might not even be dented. That means we don’t have to replace any roof panels, only a couple of pieces of flashing. Less than fifty bucks, I’m guessing but a crap load of work. Trees are magical and wise. I asked them to please not fall and if they had to to do as little damage as possible. If it fell even a few inches towards the north, the entire roof structure could have been crushed.

I haven’t even gone to the creek again yet via the multiple trails after the first attempt. I’m kind of terrified to do so. The loss in itself is painful to me, as dramatic as that sounds. But there are also about 10,000 widow-makers, some as long as 10 or 12+ feet. It’s dangerous now, our once safe and beautiful forest. Is no longer a place of solitude or peace but a war zone where shit can fall on your head at any given second. We’ll find a way to fix it all, replant a couple of hundred trees and bring new/different life back to the forest. Same spot, before and after, on my favorite path:

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a slower week

We really haven’t done a lot in the past week and a half because the sun has been shining and we’ve really just wanted to bask in it. We even had a 69 degree day this week!! It’s been total t-shirt weather in February (except now it’s getting cold again and the rains are returning). That and I had an abundance of clients so didn’t have a lot of planting time.

Instead of my usual kick butt and plant at least three or four trees per day in addition to having clients and doing everything else, I’ve been reduced to a tree a day the past few days. I planted a moonglow pear (the white stone will remind me that it’s a moonglow)…

Then I planted the last nectarine. I was completely unaware that that area used to have a lovely meandering stone pathway so had to dig through about 6 inches of rock in order to reach soil. Once I was done sorting all the rock out and planting, I was done with tree planting for the day.

I did, however, get my purple tulips in the ground though last week, finally. They were already sprouting in a vase of water (they where an awesome mother’s day gift last year, a vase with living bulbs and flowering tulips). 

I was grateful I was able to save them to regrow this year. They’re going to look gorgeous next to the to heather plants I put in that area, under the western red cedar by my healing space.

This color! I’m pleased I still have photos of them.

Paul kicked butt as usual and got the whole front of the cabin done (meaning ready for new siding and trim in a couple of months). The whole thing was painted (because the sun hadn’t arrived yet) and later covered in tyvek. These colors remind me of the old house. I kind of want to do cedar shingles on the front only, and regular old style wood siding on the rest, painted green (or a milky coffee/new bark color?). Would that look dumb? We plan to get back in gear this week to get the rest of the floors done. Maybe. Our compost is coming early in the week and we need to start getting things planted, too. We’ll see how everything pans out but now that we’re past the super cold phase of the year, but getting the cabin done isn’t the highest priority anymore.

The yuzu, another apple and the strawberry tree got planted too, as well as an osage orange and a pear which I apparently didn’t photograph. (I’m probably one of very few people that really want to see pictures of every single tree but I know you get the picture. We are almost done though!)

The flowers are starting to bloom everywhere. Crocuses, daffodils, a magnolia tree I didn’t know we had, and the hellebores.

We pretty much took most of the day off yesterday and went to the creek. The part we now call Crystal Beach. Someone, once upon a time, planted daffodils all along the path there.

Along the way we met the most beautiful tree that I can’t believe we’ve never noticed before! It’s the most perfect climbing tree! See cammo Paul climbing down? It has a wonderful view of the farther waterfalls at Crystal Beach.

Those vines make the perfect footholds for getting up and down and I could sit on that branch for hours. (I’d probably have to because I’m much better at climbing up than down.)

Father down the path I found the most stunning crystal, complete with sparkly druzy, laying right on top of the leaves like a generous offering.

I love how they shimmer in the sunlight when wet.

And plenty of smaller beauties. Probably 50 in all, but I only take the ones that allow me to take them. I found so many more than that.

Carnelian, jasper, thompsonite, agate, zeolites, quartz… an abundance of loveliness. 

Just a couple of weeks ago, this entire stone area was under water, as was half the beach.

The sun came out right when we were about to leave, so we changed our minds and stayed awhile longer. It was blissful. 

Off to plant more trees and make another batch of homemade seedy flax crackers. I’m obsessed (with both).

a lesson in *not* planning… and other stories

Farm lesson #1: learn your land before you make too many plans. ♡ I totally mapped out everything I wanted to do here before we even arrived in September. It’s pretty funny really (in a cute and naive sort of way). 

This area was going to be part of the orchard but we’ve discovered it has a very high water table at this time of the year. So… yeah, not a good orchard spot. Thankfully I only “planned” on putting 6 of 28 trees there. Eventually we will be doing some berms (Sepp Holzer style raised beds) and small river rock trenches to directing the water to a pond, but we’re not there yet. 

Pretty much since the first week we moved here I planned to plant a garden in memory of the woman who previously owned this property before passing away in 2016. She had tons of garden book some things bookmarked, mostly bulbs, flowers and herbs. I wanted to put those under the mimosa trees and around this gorgeous garden area in the courtyard. I planned to plant a ton of bulbs, all from her books. I went over there today to get started on the tulips and someone already had the idea of planting a million bulbs there. ♡ 

Clearly it was her. I can’t tell what a lot of it is but I’m pretty sure there are irises and daylilies. There may be daffodils and tulips as well but it’s a hard to tell at this juncture. Now I’ll be planting the tulips around my art studio/healing space instead.

Remember these “ask and you shall receive” theme we have going on here where everything we say we want just “mysteriously appears”? Well I was saying the other day, before these bulbs started sprouting, that I wish I had more bulbs than just my tulips to plant as I’ve never lived anywhere long enough to really want to do bulbs. Today I happened upon several gallon sized pots of abandoned bulbs full of last year’s decaying leaves and dozens of new shoots. I’ll be cleaning them up and separating them out to plant this week too. I have no clue what they are but they’ll undoubtedly be gorgeous around the courtyard and in my secret garden.

The same thing happened with my desire to have hellebores. Correct me if I’m wrong but these are hellebores, right? There are three patches in the courtyard. I think they were one of my grandma’s favorite flowers (along with calla lillies) so I’ve always wanted to have some in my garden. She had the most stunning flower gardens in the world and will be a huge inspiration to me as I work in the pretty flower gardens around the cabins over the years.

The whole rotten front of the first cabin is almost fully replaced (remember, siding isn’t happening until spring). Paul is freaking amazing! During the time it took me to plant four trees, he did all of this. Once this is complete, which should be today or tomorrow, we can start completion of the living room and kitchen. All they need is electrical work, drywall and insulation, texture and paint, and then kitchen counters, cabinets and sink and such. Oh and the floors. 

Okay, so I blinked, and he was done. Like I said, he’s freaking amazing. We’ll be painting it to keep it safe and sound until siding happens.

Clearly we’ve stopped having a strict cabin completion schedule and are totally comfortable with things happening when they happen. With views like this, how can you blame us? Living in such a magical place, your outlook on life totally shifts. Originally it was rush, rush, hurry, hurry, get the cabin done. Now it’s hey, we’re never leaving here so it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Plus we have plenty to do in the gardens and orchard.

Usually it takes a couple/few days to do a post and I have now planted even more trees. Above is one of our two peaches.

This is a liberty apple that overlooks the chicken yard. Good eventual snacks and shade for the girls.

And this is one of the nectarines. It probably takes me infinitely longer than your average human to plant trees due to my need to add rocks and unearth bits of the surrounding moss so it pokes through. 

When we first moved here our sweet neighbor lady commented about all of the faery energy on our property and all the gnome energy on theirs. She was totally right but my first thought was “phew, she’s awesome and surely won’t think I’m crazy as she gets to know us!” I love them both so much (as I mention frequently).

It really is a fairyland indeed.

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. 

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!!

nine days later…

I’m not sure how, exactly, but I’d managed to forget that we have a blog, and that I’ve committed to keeping it up to date on our progress. Oops! Plus we’ve pretty fleepin’ busy.

We had a day of sun about a week ago that was purely divine (all next week is supposed to be sunny too, but cold as heck). The husb offered to assemble my shiney new dump wagon which excited me beyond words. Upon seeing the instructions though I kinda wished I’d done it myself simply due to the sheer genius of them. 1. 2. 3…

I planted the dozen heather shrubs that were gifted to us whilst he did that. Such pretty little flowers.

And then it was done! It was so glorious it appeared to emit rays of golden light. Kidding. But the photo turned out nice.

Because he’s the sweetest man on earth, the husb hauled some load of soil to the gardens “to show me how it worked” (which really meant he thought my new “toy” was pretty swell, I think).

The next day was awesome too. Awesome enough to work outside in a t-shirt in Oregon in November. I broad-forked my arse off and got the rest of the garlic planted.

I’m slow, but I got a lot done. This photo cracks me up because it looks like a did a whole foot or two, but it was closer to twelve feet. (Okay, probably ten, but it was nice to check that off the list.)

We’ve had way less inside work time than imaginable (planting, errands, other chores, more errands) but the whole bedroom and bathroom are insulated now. It’s warm in there even without the wood stove yet.

And the drywall is underway in the bedroom. 

Construction car has been totally slacking. She loves lazing and camouflaging herself on the insulation. In the dark, she’s invisible on it.

Things would probably be farther along but the past two weeks have been my busiest ever with shamanic and healing work. I’ve pretty much had a client or three every single day. That’s awesome though because it’ll fund all of the crazy “extras” I want materials-wise in my art and healing space. I can’t wait to share my ideas… it’s going to be pretty amazing. (And yes, I’m mushroom obsessed lately.)

I’ve been making fun gifts at night too — bath salts, herbal foot soaks, moisturizing hand scrubs, sore muscle salves, sea salt sprays, etc. Can’t wait until my apothecary is complete! I’ll be listing them in my shop then, and carrying them in a couple of local shops.

More later. Gotta go finish dinner. xx

mostly just waiting 

Things have mostly been on hold the past week. Waiting, waiting… waiting for another chimney piece and waiting for things to dry out.

That’s a pretty comical statement from an Oregonian in November since “dry” usually isn’t a thing that happens until May or June, especially living in a rainforest. 

We got some sun on Monday which turned everything inside cabin one (and two) into a lukewarm sauna. Everything was drippy and damp and steamy in unison. 

Thankfully we got most of the electrical work done in the bedroom, bathroom and back porch the day before. Moisture and electricity are probably a bad combo.

(We’re reusing most of the old light fixtures temporarily, especially exterior.)

Paul got the bedroom and bathroom floors grinded down and smooth and I got all of the walls vacuumed and impeccably clean… and then poof! Wet! You can’t seal a wet concrete floor, so wait, heater, wait, dehumidifier, wait…

A frog came in to wait with us. Frogs like moist environments. 

We waited, and wandered the property and watched the leaves continue to change color.

And then finally we (I mean Paul) was able to seal the floor with a moisture mitigating epoxy. (The only thing that we’re using that isn’t 100% green or earth friendly or VOC free, other than the temporary OSB, but it’s an absolute necessity.) 

They’re still wet in this photo. (Husb took the pic.) I LOVE the lines in the bathroom from whoever originally did the floors — they’re float lines that were filled with some old type of tar leveling compound, which was then covered in tar mastic, which was then covered in 80s style carpet glue. (Yes, carpet glue… there was carpet in the bathroom.) 

(Another wet pic from Paul, complete with cat barrier for paw print free floors.) I don’t have a dry pic because, well, they aren’t dry yet. Dehumidifier. Heater. Still damp. The moisture mitigating sealer seems to be pulling the moisture out of the floor and onto the surface. Paul explained to me that this is because no one put in a moisture barrier when they poured the slab. And as a result, the sealer has frosted, which he told me would happen. I think it looks awesome. He thinks “it is what it is”. Someday we’ll install wood floors in that cabin but for now I think these will be sexy. And maybe cold in the winter. But lusciously cool in the summer. (Slippers may be on my Solstice/Christmas list.)

The other day we were discussing the fact that we need a chopping block for firewood chopping. Of course I found one the very next day, perfectly cut and the most perfect height. Every single time we say we want or need something, it magically appears. This is like the 20th time that’s happy in 11 weeks or so.

I tried (quite unsuccessfully, I might add) to haul it up to the cabin from the lower field to surprise my sweet man. He thought that was hilarious. (It’s still in the lower field, by the way.)

Oh! We made friends with a wonderfully sweet and super cool family on the other side of the valley (about 6 minutes from here). They have a sheep farm which also has goats, chickens, cows and horses (we’ll be getting our goats and chickens from them, I believe). This above photo is of Gabe, a sweet fella who had an amazing life before he came to live in our freezer. I love him so much!

We had the abundant blessing of leg of lamb roast for dinner tonight, along with a menagerie of vegetables. I’m a horrible food photographer, but it was amazing, complete with rosemary from our gardens. There is nothing better than knowing exactly where your food is coming from and I can’t imagine buying lamb from anyone other than these guys again. I love them so much, and how they honor the animals and literally use every single piece, fur to bone, nose to tail. 

To top off a perfect meal, we made homemade chai and gluten free pumpkin pie. An awesome combo indeed! We whipped the whipped cream in a mason jar. It was so fun and seriously took a fraction of the time a hand mixer used to take.

According to whatever weather app I use, tomorrow is supposed to be the last sunny day of the year. Perfect timing because we have friends coming who haven’t been here before and we’re super excited to show them our amazing property. I hope the water is low enough to still get to the rock-hunting area, but that’s probably wishful thinking. 

It’ll be a great way to pass the time while we keep waiting for things to dry enough to start the dang insulation and drywall that have had sitting around ready to use for weeks now. Once the last stove pipe piece arrives it’ll be easy to heat and dry everything in a hot second though. That’ll be exciting indeed.

unbuild. rebuild.

Rebuilding a cabin sure takes a lot of unbuilding. The husb was working on a simple electrical rewiring project that turned into a massive unbuild a door frame and rebuild it again project. Why? Whoever did the electrical in cabin one is/was a jackass… some of the wires went through the bathroom wall, outside, then back inside between two load-bearing framing pieces. So, an hour project became a day project (including the extra issues discovered). Unbuild. Rebuild. 

We finally got to pick up the windows and stove pipe though! Wooohooo!!

The pipe and chimney are in. The roof is now 98.5% done and 100% water tight. (Bad photo makes things look crooked.)

Everything is ready to get the wood stove installed inside, too.

Th old ugly pay by the hour type frosted hotel windows are now gone. Got a cute pensive photo of the husb before we yanked it.

Things were wonky here too. Unbuild. Rebuild. 

Now it fits perfectly AND we have an amazing view! Air and water tight + visibility of our stunning land = happy us!

We can now watch the deer in the lower field in the evening when they pass through. 

And I can visit with the gnomes and faeries while everyone else sleeps and actually see them through clear glass. 😉

The other old window was even more wonky. It required way more unbuilding and lots of rebuilding. Thank goodness the husb knows how to do all of these things! I’m not as good. I’m his “fetching fetcher” and “holder of things” more often that not.

Now it’s all painted and cute, which should have been my job since I’m the artist and I’m not allowed to cut things, being accident prone as I am. Soon it will be ready to unbuild and rebuild again in the spring when we replace the siding.

roof, rocks, recipe

Holy cow, Sunday was amazing! Paul, Brandon, Jake (and Finn for part of the day) pulled off the two old layers of roof on cabin one, replaced all of the rotten sheathing, did the flashing, completed the roof and tacked down the ridge cap before dark. Well, and into darkness while wearing headlamps, but the point is that they kicked massive butt!

We have a roof!! Paul had already cut and framed in the chimney support stuff through the attic crawl space so all that needs to be done now is the roof on the bedroom addition, finish attaching the ridge cap to both main cabin and addition, and install the chimney. Holy cow, we are so close! B is definitely one of the kings of the universe and is coming back on Saturday to help. We are so blessed to have such amazing friends!

We’ll be tending to the porch roof and adding all new gutters later. Originally we were going to go with a red roof and paint all of the cabins totally different bright colors kind of like a storybook lane. But at the last minute we decided maybe it would be better to blend in to nature and went with this sexy green roofing instead. 

We thought we would get the chimney finished and the wood stove fully installed and burned in by this weekend but… nope. I’m annoyed with Lowe’s (really their vendor — Lowe’s has actually been awesome). We had to special-order the chimney pipe which was supposed to be here on the 1st. No call on the 1st so they say it will be here on the 3rd. No call on the 3rd so they say it will be here on the 7th. I called today and I’m told it should be there by the 17th! Seriously!? No heat for another week and a half? Dang.

We got the water heater hooked back up last night though. We’d had heated water for maybe one week out of the past two months we’ve been here. Pure Bliss! I ordered a short shower curtain rod on Amazon and they sent us the wrong one. Oops! And I couldn’t find our shower curtain hooks but we made do with staples and duct tape. How wonderfully awesome hot showers are! I love our funky set-up. It makes me giggle. 

Jake stayed the night Saturday and we all took Sunday off. We usually take at least half the day off on Sundays but this time we decided we were going to do nothing but explore and enjoy each other’s company.

We went down to the creek on the side of the faery pools and much to our surprise, the water was quite a bit lower than the couple of weeks previous. The sun even came out for about twenty minutes. 

The guys ventured off while I was visiting with a tree and taking photos and Paul returned and said “you HAVE to come with me!”

We meandered through paths and bramble, climbed over fallen logs and duck-walked under others.

This was the first treasure I found before we even got “there”…

At first it looked like petrified muscle to me. I still really don’t know what it is but it’s beautiful. 

This majestic fallen oak marked the entrance to “the place”. 

Oh my goodness! A beach of amazing rocks, crystals, minerals and treasures such as tumbled glass and pieces of smooth antique china.

The three of us hunted and rock hounded until the sky opened up and soaked us to the bone.

We left with our pockets full of the most amazing finds!

I can’t wait to go back! I could seriously live there. Oh, right, we do live there. ♡ There is a whole huge second set of waterfalls as well but I was so obsessed with treasure hunting I forgot to take a picture. Don’t worry, we will definitely be going back within the next day or two.

Lastly, Finn wanted me to share a recipe. We have such a sweet boy! It’s not so much a recipe as it is a means of avoiding waste though. When he makes rice, there’s always WAY too much left over, and left over rice isn’t super tasty, at least plain.

1. Stir your leftover rice so it’s not stuck together in a big clump.

2. Whip a bunch of eggs and mix them together. Add finely chopped onion, garlic, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper… whatever you want. Grated cheese is awesome too.

3. Fry it in some organic olive or canola oil and butter until it’s all golden brown and yummy.

4. Add something to it to make it a tasty sandwich. Here we have two fried eggs, cheese and a whole bunch of sauteed kale for a good sized breakfast sandwich. 

The guys love it. I don’t really eat grains or carbs pretty much at all but these little rice cake patties are so good I always make myself at least a silver dollar sized one. It works awesome with leftover oatmeal too, with a little brown sugar and cinnamon, diced apple and dried cranberries. We make it topped with fresh foraged berries the first time.