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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chickens and gardens. wait. nevermind.

This is the blog post I started a day or two before our storm. Updates are in bold.

Though it’s still winter, our gardens and crops are already well underway. The recent frosts have set things back a tiny bit, but I’m confident that I’ll catch back up with my original plans and intentions within the next week or so.

garlic, heirloom garlic, homestead, garlic farm

About a dozen chickens and all three ducks had a recent garden party and unmulched all of the garlic I so carefully mulched in November. I had planned to cover it again but it’s doing so well. I decided that I’ll only do it if we have more freezing spells (garlic likes a little freezing, fyi). We’ve never had garlic this big at this time of year. So lush!

Sheep sorrel

I was pretty upset with the feathered ones at first but now we have an abundance of sheep sorrel growing where the mulch was which is an awesome addition to salads and stirfrys. Their leaves are a great source of vitamins C and E, and lots of cartenoids and beta-carotene in the seeds (seeds come way later in spring and summer). New studies show that it also is a great cancer fighter. Definitely a good “weed” to welcome to your garden. (This photo is from last year. It’s still quite tiny right now.)

Radishes sprouting in the garden

I recently planted 325 radishes and a crap load of carrots which are now coming up (two of which are too close but they’ll work it out). I need to put some more carrots in between and add some peas. The three are a wonderful companion plant trilogy or permaculture guild. I also have started an abundance of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage in the greenhouse and plan to start tomatoes in there today or tomorrow — I’ll have to check my calendar as I’m doing things on a 100% biodynamic agriculture schedule. Oh yeah, and planted more herbs and a crapload of greens. And a million other things. If you’re not planting yet, you’re missing out! I have probably 300 starts going in the greenhouse already. UPDATE: The weight of the snow imploded most of the greenhouse and surely all starts are dead due to freezing. Guess I get to start over and kick some butt once this snow finally melts. Hopefully everything in the garden is safe but seeing as how it’s been sitting under a foot or more of snow for over a week, I kind of think not. As long as our garlic survives, I will be happy. I’m most concerned about our Orchard since the trees are still so young. That was over a $3,000 investment last year. But I’m going to be positive and say all will survive because being hopeful is good.

Organic kale, heirloom, heirloom kale, in my garden

I want to add another 100 kale or so in the garden (this is from last month’s frost). I could eat kale every single day so I will just plant a bunch (maybe not really a hundred, but a lot) and reseed every month or so along with peas and radishes. And spinach. You can never have too many greens or fresh veggies.

On another note, chickens. This one you see here, right above? Her name is Myrtle. She’s on my shit list. She’s a baby killer. She went broody just over a month ago and I gave her some eggs to sit on. I candled them after a week and all were viable but one. I candled them just over 2 weeks and I could see all of them moving, outlines of little feet and all kinds of cute and magical goodness. We were about to have 9 babies! Then, that night, she pushed the four brown eggs out from under her and pecked a hole in one of them. All four died. The very next night (which happened to be 20° f) she decided to leave the brooder and go to the nesting box for the whole night, leaving all of my second generation Olive Egger babies to die. I removed all the eggs and she continued to sit on fake eggs. I caved a couple of days later and gave her nine more eggs. She sat wonderfully for a week and then decided to move and sit elsewhere again. What the hell!? She is a defective chicken and I think she killed babies again. I candles last night and 1 looks alive, 4 look possible and the rest look dead. Long story short, she is either going to be rehomed or… soup. That would be a dozen dead chicks due to her malfunctioning brain. Not cool! I had 10 of the chicks pre-sold. UPDATE: unless she malfunctions again, there are at least two or possibly three chicks due to hatch on Thursday. In 2 days! That’s far less than nine but much better than zero.

Thankfully I caved and bought an incubator, starting nine more eggs the same day as Myrtle. I candled those last night also and 6 are 100% viable and the other three are too dark to tell but look good. Sometimes it’s really hard to candle dark brown or green eggs. These babies are 2 Golden Cuckoo Marans and Welsummer mix, a Black Copper Marans and Welsummer, 5 Olive Eggers and Welsummer or Barnevelder, a blue Easter Egger under Welsummer and a total mystery just for fun. Mom could be a Partridge Laced Cochin, Buff Orpington or something else entirely, and dad could be a Welsummer or Barnevelder or Swedish Flower Hen. Or Swedish Flower Cock as we call him. UPDATE: With the power outage, all babies died. It hurts my heart.

Speaking of roosters, remember my Swedish Flower Hen and Lavender Ameraucana that I was so excited we’re both girls? I lied. Mr. Jasper Florington (previously named Flora) is a boy. Lumin, the Lavender Ameraucana may be a boy now too. She has a boy tail and a super red comb for her age of Ameraucana but despite everyone telling me she’s a boy, I’m not fully sold. I only have one other blue egg-layer and twice now I’ve had two blue eggs in a day. I’ve never seen her anywhere near the nesting box though. And she did mount someone yesterday, but one of my Rhode Island Red girls used to do that too. She’s never crowed. I just got rid of a sweet, sweet rooster because I didn’t need three and now I may have three again. Soon to have probably 10 with the babies, haha. Two are sold, but the rest will become my chicken processing practice. We need another freezer.

Oh yeah, in addition to the 18 eggs in the incubator and under Myrtle, I have another Broody sitting on 7. That was not my plan but you know how things go sometimes. I have no clue what Olga the Black Copper Marans is sitting on other than some crazy mixes with Olive Egger, Easter Egger, Barnevelder, Welsummer and I think Rhode Island Red and Barred Rock mamas. Basically she hijacked those eggs from the nesting box one day and I just let her go with it. Barnyard mixes can be so fun! And like I said, I have 10 chickens pre-sold. 2 boys and 8 to 9 girls. I’ll keep a couple girls, sell the others, and eat or sell the roosters. I have 100% of the supplies necessary for chicken processing now so need to make that next step. UPDATE: somehow her 7 egg clutch turned to 17. She doesn’t get up much so I didn’t notice in time. I think this means we will start getting hatchlings from her on Monday and then a couple of day for about a week after that? I have no clue but… yeah. That’s a lot! I will candle them again tonight but there are at least two that I think are not viable.

Anyone else need some baby chicks or started pullets or cockerels? So far no one wants day old babies but I have no problem keeping them to 4 or 8 weeks and selling them for a bit more money. The above picture is my first batch of 28 I got last April, 17 of which were sold and 1 died at a couple of days old.

My next breeding endeavors are going to be much more controlled with Easter Eggers, second generation Olive Eggers, pure Welsummers and pure Swedish Flower Hens, with a few mixes thrown in because tinkering can be fun. I really want a Swedish Flower Hen and Buff Orpington cross and a Partridge Cochin and Welsummer Cross. I also thought about getting a few Lavender Orpington girls and crossing them with my Lavender Ameraucana for a pale blue egg laying lavender bird… if the feather color would breed true. I know Lavender Orpingtons breed true but beyond that, I know nothing. I need a couple more chicken coops! Material donations accepted, or I’ll trade for eggs and future babies. ♡ Update: probably not going to be able to build a second coop this year. But next year for sure! After the storm, the ducks moved in with the chickens and really seem to be enjoying themselves. As soon as I can get some materials together I’m going to build a little stall for them in there and clean out their old house to make it a chick nursery. With all the babies coming I should do it now but there are only eight million things on the list.

I’m going to do a full post on everything here in the coming days or weeks. All of the good, bad and ugly. The amount of trees that have fallen is absolutely devastating. It seriously looks like someone took a bulldozer through our property. But good things can be birthed of bad things sometimes. The second strip of snow beyond the trees in the above photo is the property across the creek. We’ve never been able to see it and they’ve never been able to see us. That is a tiny glimpse at how many trees we’ve lost.

Oh, and here is Jasper Florington:

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!!

a week of sun and cold

Last week was magnificently sunny! Lows in the 20s at night, but bright, beautiful, sunshiney days.

Last week I enjoyed taking these photos in the gray autum days. They reminded me of hibernation and going inward, as well as death in the form of transition.

This week everything is ablaze with color and brightness…

And the sky was the craziest blue. There was a spring-like newness to everything that we rarely get to experience this time of year.

I changed my mind on the location I’d picked for the pink dogwood and got it planted, finally. Perfectly aligned with the doug fir to the east, perfectly aligned with the pears and apple to the south, and perfectly aligned with the bamboo to the west. To the north, one of our largest windows of the main house will get to overlook it.

I’m excited that its branches will hang over my future secret garden and be perfectly visible from both my healing space and our future covered sitting area as well as the front porch/driveway. Love it!

Sunny days mean outside cabin work too. While I planted, Paul worked on replacing more of the dead sheathing under the siding. I’m not sure he loves all these cute candid shots I take/post of him but I love them. ♡

Of course the dog has been loving this week too. Funny ball-in-face running action shot. He doesn’t mind the cold, especially when it’s this sunny. 

While the guys ran to Portland for the day, I fully planned our chicken coop. This is going to start out as our chicken house and once I’m done it will house both chickens and a couple of goats (until I have too many chickens to cohabitate with goats, at which time a goat house will be built). I’ve decided that I’m going to try to build the whole thing myself (with the possible exception of the roof replacement), laying boxes and all. It’s far larger than it looks. Later we can add homes for geese and ducks and a couple of sheep but… baby steps. The husb, as a logical Virgo man, always says we have to have a house for ourselves before we can build one for the animals we don’t yet have. It’s nice to have a definite plan now at least. 

I’m the meantime, I’ll keep visiting with the neighbor girls.

We’ve also planned cabins six and seven, but that’ll be years down the road (I do see the comedy in that statement for now, but it’ll be amazing, we promise). Our dream art-healing-music-farm community is slowly unfolding and will one day come to fruition. 

The evening skies this week have been so beautiful. If it wasn’t going to be 27 degrees, I’d sleep outside tonight so I didn’t miss any of this gorgeousness. 

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.

mowing and moving

We (which really means the husb) got the mower fixed!

Here you can see him delivering a massive bag of peat moss for the near future blueberry patch.

Of course he needed to test it out and mowed some meandering Zen paths through the lower field and around the trees. I’m a tad too short to shoot them properly but they’re awesome. 

He had so much fun! We’ll enjoy the Zen pathways for a bit longer and get the rest mowed next week.

The west wall is finally pretty much done for the season. All sheathing is up, topped with a moisture barrier and painted OSB. All eaves and everything else are now blocked with construction cloth. No more unwanted creatures will be getting into this place.

We  ran out of our pretty “pepita” paint so grabbed whatever cheap mis-tinted exterior hue they had and it was this. I wish, in a weird way, that we didn’t have to cover this in plastic until the new siding goes up in spring. It’s pretty lovely. 

The “need to plant these” collection of goodies is growing! All were gifts, except 9 of the blueberries which we got from our wonderful neighbor for wholesale price since he’d purchased too many. Ten blueberries of five highbush varieties (I think I said four last time), a dozen heather plants, a well established rosemary, and two autumn olives (a red and a golden).

This is what the “autumn olives”, or silverberries look like at the end of summer/beginning of fall. They aren’t actually olives.

Tomorrow the roof goes on! Or Saturday. I regularly lose track of days. Our goal is to also have the wood stove installed next week and burned in before we start insulation and everything else. Then, a fully functional bathroom with a shower and hot water! Woohoo! That’ll definitely happen before thanksgiving but the goal is the next week and a half. 

I somehow managed to forget about the kitchen — there so there’s much to do on that front. Like… everything. A whole wall that hasn’t been removed or replaced yet, gross counters that need to be removed and replaced and a couple more cupboards to purge. A new faucet. Then lots and lots of paint. We were going to replace the cabinets entirely but with all the extra other things that were unforeseen and things taking so long, that’s not happening. Lots of bleach, new paint, new hardware, call it good. We have leftover white paint from the trim at the old house so that’s what they’ll be for now. The insides and the built-in shelf with be the old ball jar blue color. The counters will be butcherblock. 

My personal goal is everything except the kitchen done by thanksgiving and the kitchen done by winter solstice. ♡