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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busy in the sun

Since the snow has melted and things have started to warm up, we’ve become quite the busy bees. Yesterday we finally got the greenhouse UV cover on our little hoop house (it’s not really that “little” — it’s 10×24′, which should be more than plenty for now).

The whole family pitched in and we got it done yesterday. We also have enough cover for a whole second greenhouse next year which is also exciting. We love not having to buy more supplies for our projects. 

It’ll be all tight and smooth on the ends once we get the doors built and attached. We have a few too many ideas on what we’ll be doing for doors but no solid plan yet. We’ll get that figured out in the next day or two and get everything complete within the next week or so. Excited!! We even dig trenches along the sides which we’ll line and fill with gravel so the rain runoff doesn’t flood stuff.

I also discovered yesterday that we have a flowering quince! The day before we discovered a hydrangea. Every time I decided what I want to buy from the seasonal nursery down the street that we haven’t been to yet, I find that particular plant growing here already or we’re gifted it out of the blue. Apples, plums, raspberries, bamboo, bluberries, dogwood, hellebore, daffodils, apricot, japanese maple, irises, hydrangea, quince… I really want to support local businesses but I’m running out of ideas on what to go there for. I’m sure I’ll be inspired the minute I get there though.

I discovered this yesterday too, growing and blooming off the back porch of my art and healing space. There’s so much beauty around here!

And a lot of work. ♡ Shovel compost, haul it, unshovel it, spread it. Repeat. Until the wheel in the cart breaks. Oops! We got way better fat wheels though and Paul fixed it all up tough and sturdy. (And then the mower drive belt broke, but we’ll have that fixed by this weekend.)

The last of the flame weeding got done too (and blackberry bramble burning in unison). See what happens when the sun comes out? We bust ass.

With the alternating crazy rains and lovely warm sun, things are growing like crazy. The garlic is huge.

The plums, nectarines, peaches, cherries, pears, almond and apricot are all budding and blooming. 

Even our super old lichen covered pear trees are going crazy with buds. This place is going to look so magical when all of these trees really start blooming, holy cow!

And really it already is magical. I try to go on a long walk every day, or at least a shorter one on days we’re super busy. The sun filtering through the trees and illuminating the ferns and moss is one of my favorite sights (especially when the gnomes and faeries come out to play).

I love shadows because shadows mean sun, of course. After weeks of gray, it’s so rejuvenating and welcome.

Another amazing discovery was this stunning crystal I received from the nature spirits on my birthday. I was on a long walk and was told that my gift was on the path I was traversing. A voice said “turn around, you passed it,” so I retraced my steps. When I was told to stop and look down, there it was! It was a beautiful day that started with thick heavy snow that immediately melted, and was replaced with sunshine and that soft fluffy rain that tickles your cheeks and makes you smile.

It was on the path diagonal from this stunning spot in the creek. The waterfall are re-emerging too. Spring is in the air!

This was our cloudiest day all week, and clear blue skies the past two days (but I was too busy to get good shots). The rains return tomorrow but I don’t mind because we’re cruising into down to get chick supplies. 
We’re going to have babies next month!! 

(Photo credit: mypetchicken.com) They’re going to live inside for awhile but we need to get our butts in gear and re-roof the coop, replace the missing walls, put up fencing and build laying boxes. They’ll be our free range farm and forest girls and I couldn’t be more excited! We just need to get a few blue and/or green egg layers and our little rainbow flock of layers will be complete. Next year, or maybe the year after, we’ll build a separate area for meat birds, but one step at a time.

We have lots more to share (like the progress on the cabin kitchen) but I have to make breakfast and get back outside while it’s still nice.

flame weeding, dirt digging and healthy snacks

Last Saturday we got a torch and propane tank to flame weed the tarped garden area that needs a bit of extra love (probably should have done that in autumn). Carbon holds four times its volume in water so is a great addition to the garden, fyi. We will never use chemicals of any sort anywhere in our gardens or homes and since our very fertile organic hay farm came with some pesky weeds, this feels like the best option to us, especially being on a timeline (if our savings account was bigger, we’d probably just continue the occultation process another half year and we’d be good but that’s not really an option).

After a few rounds of holy fire, the garden area actually now looks like a garden area which is pretty exciting. This is just phase one (of many).

It still totally cracks me up how tiny that “little” 3000sf patch looks amid the rest of the yard, which is really no small garden area in the grand scheme of things. 

On Tuesday, our organic compost arrived. It was steaming in the morning frost (the night before got down to 21 degrees).

It was cold enough to kiss our windows with frosty little smooches. It’ll be that cold and colder this week. Yikes!

Call me batshitcrazy if you must, but a square garden is boring. So, the first square (which is actually a rectangle) is the beginning of the leaf shape our garden will eventually be. The above photo was actually originally designed for a smaller greens garden so ignore the labels, and the longer flowing shape. Ours will be more like a popular or cottonwood leaf. I’ll doodle it up for you shortly.

We started marking out the center path and some of the side paths with meandering stakes and twigs already. Probably hard to see in the photo, but you get the idea.

Broad forking is butt kicking work for a little lass like me. My arms (and back and shoulders and neck and legs) are feeling it. It’s awesome — I’m starting to develop back muscles. You can come on over and try it if you’re longing for back muscles too.

Dirt and sunshine: the stuff that dreams are made of. That’s been our week.

We’ve also been spending time harvesting some of our bamboo to make trellises and such once dried. I do love that we have so much bamboo growing here! We use a lot of it in the gardens.

All this work is hungry making. We are big healthy smackers. Healthy snacks are stupid expensive… like the flax crackers I used to buy. At $6 a tiny bag that could be eaten in two days, plus my pumpkin and sunflower seed additions, plus my daily chocolate intake… yeah, stupid expensive. So I make our own crackers and snacks now. Above, flax, pumpkin seed and sunflower seed crackers with lots of savory and mildly spicy herbs and spices.

These were an experiment that turned out to be pure bliss. Golden flax, sunflower seeds, five spice, cinnamon and dried cranberries. Ohmygoshyum! It’s like a desert cracker.

I don’t measure stuff so would be despised if I started a food blog but here’s the gist… measure one cup of brown, golden (or both) of flax seeds. Put it in a big bowl. Add a cuppa water. Add salt and whatever herbs and spices you want (garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, cumin, cayenne, five spice, cloves, whatever). Once you think you’ve added enough, add some more (flax really needs a lot of seasoning). Let sit 20-30 minutes. It’ll be like a slick dough or thick glob (usage of the word “glob” is further proof that I should never start a food blog). Toss in a handful of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, raisins, dried apple bits, etc. if desired. Mix again. Add a bit more salt. Spread on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Toss in a preheated 200 degree oven, bake for an hour and a half. Flip (you may want to put a second piece of parchment on top and fold the two edges together to assist in such large flippage). Bake another hour and a half. Beep. Pull them out, let them cool, break ’em up and eat. Yum. If you like precision and fine lines, score them before baking. I like random shapes and sizes just fine, personally. 

I’m five spice obsessed right now after having accidentally grabbed that instead of the cinnamon for my ginger hibiscus cranberry tea a couple of weeks ago. That’s the happy accident that inspired my five spice and cranberry flax crackers. This week I’m making gluten free cheese crackers for the guys (they taste like clean and wholesome goldfish crackers), granola and chewy granola bars. And maybe some kale chips, dark chocolate and shredded coconut chunks, and cinnamon spice roasted pumpkin seeds. That’ll be plenty for a month of healthy mid-day and late-night snacking, and it’s all cheap to make yourself. Bam. Our $300/mo snack bill reduced to $30 at most.

Oh! Look what beautiful and sweet creation I awoke to on Valentine’s Day. I love my sweet and thoughtful man!! He said “flowers die, rocks are forever.” Truth. I’ve been working on moving this to my meditation garden. 

Back to the garden… it’ll be closer in shape to this stout little leaf. Closer paths, probably so there’s ever tromping through the actual beds but you get the idea — this is just a rough sketch for the purpose of visual explanation. It’ll be flowing, organic and beautiful, and will allow room for my mandala garden in the south side of it.

We won’t be starting the mandala one for a year or two, and haven’t decided if it will be all picking flower a mix of flowers, herbs, veggies and berries, but it will be colorful and stunningly beautiful. 

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.

erection of the greenhouse (and more planting)

What a hugely productive weekend! We finally got the greenhouse frame started.

Here all are of the pieces, organized and ready to go. Spot picked, and everything measured out. This area gets morning, afternoon and evening sun so it’s the perfect spot.

Let the erection begin. Hoops built and staked into the ground. This baby isn’t going anywhere! 

Side and top supports added. We’ll do the cross bars tomorrow, probably, but the cover doesn’t arrive until the 31st so we’ll have a few days at least before it’s fully done. And then we’ll still have doors to do but I’m not thinking about those until I have to.

Today was so sunny and warm it was work in t-shirt weather for me and shirtless working for the husb. Absolutely divine! It’s seriously like May in January here.

Several more trees got planted, as did the last of the rosemary. 

And then our amazing neighbor brough over even more trees because he had an overabundance. I freaking love him and his sweet and beautiful wife!! These are four Osage Orange trees (which will go along the driveway at our main entrance), a Bosc Pear, a Winecrisp Apple which I’m over the moon excited about, an Akane (one of the best early season apples in the US), a Winter Banana (another apple variety, very hardy and sweet), and a Puget Gold Apricot! I see many gluten-free pies and cobblers, preserves, and gallons of hard cider in our future. And quite possibly a side-of-the-road fruit stand for Finn to make some cash from.

Oh, and this Yuzu Ichandrin. It’s a citrus tree, prized in Japan for flavoring, juice and preserves. This variety bears abundant, easy-to-peel, 3″ diameter fruit with tasty, lemon-lime flavor. Yuzu is reportedly hardy to 0°F so grows quite well here we’re told. Even the leaves are tasty, fyi. The thorns on it are crazy beautiful! (I love thorny trees.) 

Osage Orange trees are also quite thorny and resemresemble hawthorn seedlings in their youth. Apparently they lose their thorns, but I love them anyway. I’m planting these alternated with black hawthorn trees for a beautiful hedge along the front entrance, as mentioned (the husb thinks they’re too big, but I still want to put at least two there). Osage Orange is dioecious, forming male and female flowers on separate trees, which I didn’t know, but what I do know is that the wood is amazing! It’s strong and flexible and perfect for making bows (which is a one of Paul’s passions), and is a phenomenally gorgeous natural dye (one of my passions). The seeds are edible and taste like sunflower seeds (but don’t eat the fruit — it’s apparently quite gross).

Most of my day was of this view… digging, digging, digging…. It was great!

I love the balance we already have going on here with fruit and berries ready for harvest during each season of the year.

We also received the gift of three tea bush seeds! This type is Camellia Sinensis and produces oolong, black, green and white teas. They’ll be started in pots this week and available for delectable sipping in two to three years. Come on over for a cuppa!

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. 

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

rising waters and pretty views

The past week was so busy with waiting (see previous post) and healing client appointments that it had been about five days since venturing out around the property. Today we had visitors so we got to walk around for a couple of hours. It was wonderful! 

These two photos were taken in roughly the same place. The first was from about 6 weeks ago when we had a lovely meandering creek. The second is the raging river that we will have for the late autum and winter months.

Here is another comparison… the top two being the left and right at the lower creek, and the bottom photo being what the area has become now after the rains. If I were a fisher or fish eater, I’d spend the rest of the day catching salmon. (I’m not really sure when salmon season is though, so maybe I wouldn’t catch any.) We have trout though too, and bass.

I finally got to meet our moss covered Yew tree during our walk. What a magical being! In Celtic tradition, the Yew is referred to as the tree of resurrection or the tree of eternity. It’s associated with Winter Solstice and was often used as protection from evil. 

I’m not kidding when I tell you there are so many magical trees on this property. ♡ Not just in type but in pairings and location, i.e. oak and hawthorn surrounding the original homes and property lines. I seriously wouldn’t have planted things any differently had I been the planter, except I’d add a few English Hawthorn among the Red Hawthorn (which I intend to do).

We walked up to the upper part of the creek near the waterfalls. These two photos are taken about seven weeks apart and in the same location except that the second is from behind the bramble because the space below isn’t accessible. 

This is the path we’d take if we were going to the place where we hunt for crystals and rocks. It’s now impassable, but we may be able to get down there from the road. That being said, it’s quite possibly underwater too. I imagine we will find so many wonderful treasures when the waters retreat back down!

We took our friends down to our secret love area where we had cleared of half a couple of months ago. This is the place with a huge open area, covered in woven branches and leaves, with winding, tangled branches around the edges in the forest floor.

I can’t wait to see how high the waters rise to decide if we should build a temporary seasonal hut or a tiny cob house.

It was such a lovely morning visiting with our friends. They just left to go drive up the coast and we are planting some things. It is stunningly sunny and warm today.

Oh!! I peeked at our garlic under it’s blanket of straw yesterday and it’s growing. I was joking that now we technically have a garlic farm. By the end of the day, with any luck, we will have both a garlic and blueberry farm. We still have 10 blueberry plants to get into the ground. Yum!!

Happy Green Friday! 😉

lots of little things

Another week has past and we’re still chugging along slowly. We were potentially getting roof completion assistance this weekend but now it’ll be next weekend. So grateful and excited! 

This week we got the siding off another side of the cabin, the sheathing replaced, and got it ready to hang more painted OSB so we can wrap it. 

The bedroom ceiling and rafters are now stunningly gorgeous and you can no longer poke a broom handle through it. Yay!

This window is open… who wants ugly frosted windows with a view like this!? We don’t! We now have our new Windows picked out and ready to order tomorrow. These remind me of a cheap and sleazy 1970s pay-by-the-hour motel and I will be happy to see them leave.

Both sides of the cabin now have trenches dug and will have fancy diy drainage installed that will direct the water down the hill instead of into the cabin. 

Those things alone, once complete (well, once we get the new siding on) will mean that in a mere couple of months, we’ve easily breathed another fifty years into this sweet cabin.

Serious planting is about to go down around here. Above is the “before” shot: field of mowed organic hay.

The after (or really “during”) shot: luscious soil. I’m a crappy digger so even with a couple hours of husb’s help it’s taking a but longer than anticipated. But we’re using hand tools for everything right now. No tilling or anything like that. Tomorrow we’ll pick up some organic compost and amendments and I’ll have all our heirloom garlic, winter spinach and two varievarieties of kale planted by the end of the week. Woohoo!

We also got 9 blueberry plants (four different varieties) and were gifted a 10th blueberry plus a rosemary bush.

Lots of small but amazing things happening on the farm already! Oh, and a big thing — we got an amazing deal on a farm truck.

We weren’t even going to consider such a thing until spring but having to pay for every delivery of… everything (building and roofing supplies, appliances, soil, etc) and having to otherwise hire people to to haul our remodeling junk piles to the dump for us, etc, made it pretty much even out in the long run. 

Its first task was towing the Saturn out of the garage so we could get to the riding lawnmower. Piece of cake. The mower had a flat tire and a dead battery and as with all other things hete, miracles ensued.

Out of nowhere, we suddenly discovered that we have a battery charger and air pump. Those will be handy indeed! The battery is too dead to charge but that’s easy. That and a little gasoline and we shall see how she runs. Of course I told the husb it would be amazing if we had a little cart to pull behind it and this appeared: 

Yep, a “cart” to pull behind it! No more walking back and forth with 32 armloads of things across 7 acres.

It’s been another week of getting our hands dirty and making serious progress while having heaps of fun along the way. 

Tomorrow will be mostly sunny and warm enough for an outdoor bubble bath in our awesome new “tub” after my healing clients and our chores. We’re all pretty excited about that too.

Raking has been fun too. I should make the boy do it, but I really do enjoy it.

This is one of our maple trees last weekend vs this weekend. Leaf mulch!

I love this time of year so much! I’ve been going crazy making lots of soups, stew and chilli so we can come in and fill up on hot, nourishing yummies. We’ve been so blessed with this indian summer we’re having but I’m sooo excited to get the wood stove installed too. I love cooking on them more than in a slow cooker once it’s super cold out.

That’s the main gist of our week, in a little nut shell.

a few edibles and medincinals

We’re still getting to know the land and discovering more of her wonders but we’ve learned that there is a lot more already growing here than we realized. 

We had a hawthorn tree at our old house and I was so sad to leave it. I planted it just over ten years ago and it was easily ten feet tall. It was a different type as this, with black berries (black hawthorn or douglas hawthorn) instead of red like we have here (common hawthorn, thorn apple or may tree). The berries are good (though you don’t want to eat too many) and are amazing for the heart. They’ve been used to treat heart disease for centuries. We found some berries from our black Hawthorne on the hood of our car the other day so we are going to have an abundance of both. We probably already have at least two dozen hawthorn trees here.

We also discovered what I thought were four wooly lamb’s ear plants but it’s actually thirty-eight!! They aren’t big, but they’re lovely. Lamb’s ear has been used to treat wounds both because it absorbs blood and because it has antibiotic and antifungal properties. Awesome! We don’t need to buy bandaids anymore. 

We have an abundance of blackberries. Three or four different cultivars at least. Fat juicy sweet berries, compact tart berries, etc. Yum! I’m going to make an abundance of blackberry jam and preserve next year! And cobbler. And omgosh, blackberry syrup!! We have about a half dozen maple trees or so (we’re going to walk the land and catalog all of the plants and trees… seriously).

As previously mentioned we have an abundantly productive gravenstein apple. A fresh apple a day. Pie. Dried apples. Cider!

I discovered a second apple tree on Monday (which ended up being a no cabin work day*)! I’m not sure what kind yet, other than red… It’s buried behind a serious thicket of scotchbroom, dead queen ann’s lace and miscellaneous vines. We’re unburying her. Apple butter. Applesauce. More (hard) cider!

I already mentioned the two bartlett pear trees. We’ve only ever had asian pears so this is a real treat (though by the time we got here there were only two pears left). I’m not a fan of canned food, but I’m going can my arse off anyway so we have a nice winter stock every year and goodies to share with the neighbors. 

This lemon balm needs love. And to be moved because it’s in the middle of a garden walkway that needs to be mowed. Oops. I love it tea though and will revive it, plus plant a few more here and there.

We also have plantain (but no comfrey!?), horsetail, a possible black currant (I’ll get back to you on that), wild carrot, obviously, four hundred billion acorns (which I’ve never tried yet), and…. I’ll just do another similar post part two soon to fill you in on the rest. We can gloss over poison oak, ivy and sumac, and stinging nettle. Actually, I love stinging nettle.

Does anyone know what this is? Our realtor said it was lobelia but it’s not.

*to clarify, a “no cabin work day” does not mean a no work day. We started our new compost area which we’ll finish building soon, cleared a heaping pile of scotch broom away from the “new” apple, installed a new mailbox which included drilling all new holes and procuring new hatdware because it was for a post not a bar, visited with three neighbors, made too many phone calls for boring business stuff, did dishes, cooking… it seems like I’m mostly cooking and playing.