Friday, May 28, 2010

Gizmo, Working Papillon

Not to be confused with the REAL working dogs on the ranch, Gizmo the Papillon from Hell decides that sheep annoy him, so he does what he does best - annoys them back. I think they were just humouring him, or maybe laughing at him. Don't forget to click the pix for the expression on some of their faces. Priceless.

The two old guys, Gizmo and Ho Dog

Trust me, the sheep know where to go, and even tho that little white puff following them thinks he's really influencing them much, he's not, not really

Poor Ho Dog cannot believe I told him to stand and stay while that 13 year old, 9 pounds soaking wet with his Polarfleece sweater on Papillon takes his sheep for a spin

He is actually moving them here, but believe me, to the sheep he's just a tiny predator that they feel the need to move away from, and I have no control over this little predator, so I can't place him where I want to influence the sheep, all I can hope to do is grab him at some point when the sheep decide they've had enough and turn on his little puffy white butt

I don't understand how he knew where to be to keep them on the fence, but by golly, he's keeping them on the fence. At least, while they are in motion. When they stop, he immediately loses interest and finds something else to do. I've seen waaaaay too many dogs like this in actual working trials

What a nice obstacle! Just proves that anything, even a rabbit, could influence sheep to move in a particular direction when placed appropriately

Keeping them pinned on the fence for the crossdrive. VERY nice. Of course, he's barking his head off at the moment

Well, missed that gate because he got too close and by now, even tho it was barely 1/2 a lap of the working arena, my VERY out of shape ewes were about done with listening to this little morsel yap at them and were about to turn around and run his butt over, so I had Ho Dog, who was outside the arena, stop them so Gizmo would stop and I could grab him before he became a Papillon pancake

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Poo Flinger Cleanup

Dale finally got (he thought) all the old, rotted wood off the sides of the poo flinger and finally got to power up his new power washer. And then he found out that the floor wood was rotted as well, so now it's back to deconstructing some more of the flinger before we can start painting and putting on the new wood. Good thing, too - got a mountain of great, composted poo behind the barn just looking for a wild ride in the poo flinger!

It was about now that Dale finds out the floor wood is rotted. I think he was saying some stuff here

Grow Garden Grow!

There are perfect days for gardening, and today was one of them. Threat of rain all day, right now finally making good on that threat. High 50's. Light breeze from time to time. Cloudy. Dale totally wrapped up with work. Cows where they needed to be. Last of the lambs banded and ready to be weaned. Yeah, it didn't get much better than today to spend the whole day in the garden. Had to do a lot of weeding too; when the weeds started hiding the beds, it was time to get after them. Up here, the weeds rule this time of year unless you keep putting them in their place. Yesterday, I did exactly that throughout the homestead with a combo of Buccaneer (ag version of Roundup at half the price) and Milestone, a potent broadleaf and brush murderer. Thugs like bull and Canada thistle and Himalayan blackberries gobble up anything lesser. Needless to say, in the garden, hand-pulling is the order of the day, not spraying.

It was a very productive day too. Cukes all went in, as did the last of the Brussels sprouts, the pumpkin and the Sapomiel melon. Had I not flat run out of energy (and the rain was coming), I'd have seeded the second bed of corn as well. I also got some of the hanging flower baskets out and hung and planted two more.

A day of gardening is my happy place.

The runaway bed of strawberries. Oh so sweet and tender, I gobbled a bunch while weeding the bed today

'Connecticut Field' pumpkin and 'Sapomiel' melon

The potato boxes. The 'German Butterball' box on the right is ready for the next board to go on and to be buried a bit

Far bed (closest to fence) is the 'Cippolino' red baby onions and some errant shallots and potatoes left over from last year. Closer bed is thyme, some odd kind of celery, basil and 'Fall Gold' raspberries (difficult to see)

Inside the greenhouse

Overview, looking towards black plastic covered corn beds, pea fence (none of the 'Oregon Sugar Pod II' snowpeas has made it to the house yet) and two flower beds with lupine and pansies, pinks, monarda didyma bee balm, flax, poppies, nasturtiums and maybe foxgloves again this year. I like to keep my bee girls happy as well as add some colour to the veggie garden

Another overview, looking towards the pasture. Hope you're remembering to click on the pix!

The cuke trellis. 'Cool Breeze', 'Pearl', 'Miss Pickler' and 'Bush Pickle'. Gonna be a butt-load of picklin' going on this summer!

The first corn bed and the cuke trellis to the left of it. The narrow bed on the other side of the corn bed has 'Watermelon' radishes and a salad mix growing. Large bushy plant on the end of the corn bed is a centaura montana that the bee girls adore

Chives and blueberry 'Chippewa'. Blueberry 'Ka Bluey' is on the other side of the chives

A stout and happy 'Brandywine' tomato. 'Kellogg's Breakfast' and 'Oregon Spring' are almost ready to go in the ground

Another fine crop of 'Candy' onions takes flight

And our hard workin' bee girls, with their new addition to their home

Friday, May 21, 2010


Up here, rainbows are a fact of life most of the year, but they are especially beautiful this time of year when everything is so fresh and green. A lovely evening rainshower and attendant rainbow, accented by a fine bunch of shedding cows.

Sisterly love - Vixen and little sis Velvet. They are full sisters, out of Ruffie by Roar

The yearlings and calves meander over the pasture to fresh grazing

Speedy and Vixen

Vixen, Velvet and Sunshine

Vivienne, Vixen, Velvet and Violet

Vivienne, Vixen and Velvet

Vivienne, Vixen and Velvet

Vivienne, owned by Donna of Bellfountain, and Vixen, just purchased by Mark of Pleasant Hill

Viv and Vixen, the yearling heifers

Is It Almost June???


Four Years Ago

Today marks 4 years to the day that we crossed the California border into Oregon. The whole story is on my website (which is WAAAAY outta date but the story is still the same, just ignore everything else, so I won't go into detail here. I tried to put together a kinda pictoral journey to follow, but because I'm not terribly organised with my photos, after about 3 hrs of working on this blog entry, I gave up and just tried to at least put them in some kind of 'then and now' order, kinda sorta. Anyway, we've come such a long, long ways since the first moment we stepped onto the property; a lot of blood, sweat tears and money has washed over the entire place. We did things one way, only to find out that way wasn't the best, redid it, found more flaws, and eventually got it done right. Repeat that over the course of 4 years and too many projects to list (or remember), and you'll have an idea of what it's taken to get where we are today. It never fails; people who know the place and who have known it for years (and in some cases, decades) always comment about how far we've come with the entire property. Many, like our pal Don, kinda get a kick out of Dale's engineer habit of overengineering things, but Dale likes to build things ONE time, build it right, and yes, overbuild it, so he doesn't have to either constantly fix it or rebuild it. Once we get it the way we want it, anyway. And it works for us. Unlike my gardens, which I am constantly redoing, stuff Dale's designed and built tends to age gracefully with few, if any changes needed. Until he figures out a better way, that is.

We don't regret much about moving up here from Southern California. We regret having left our long time friends behind, but they come up to visit and relax from the hectic pace down there. We lived for so many decades in a desert, and yes, don't fool yourself for a moment, Southern California is a DESERT, made lush by landscapers and Colorado River water from out of state, that we don't mind the rain much. Sometimes, it gets tiring, like when there are things we just NEED to do or want to do but can't, not quite yet, but by the end of September, we are more than ready to get wet again for another 8 months. But being able to plant just about anything and have it grow with little or no help makes it all worthwhile. Growing the finest bentgrass pasture for the cows to graze and to hay for winter feed without irrigation. Japanese maples. Rhodies, altho I'm almost over them now. Berries of every kind, and the finest blueberries on the planet. Roses that you literally cannot kill. Wildflowers of every type, colour and style. Conifers, of course. And the clean air - I don't know that I could even breathe anymore if I were to go back to SoCal.

The people. From the crazy, stressed-out rudeness that is the norm in SoCal to the leisurely pace of life reflected in the people of our part of Oregon was an incredible change. Everyone knows everyone. People talk to total strangers in line at the grocery store. If you drop something, someone runs to help you pick it up. The poor man who died in NYC in full view of dozens of people who walked right on by - that would never happen here. Not only would someone have helped him immediately, others would have chased the murderer down and held him for police. People HELP people up here, without fear of being sued or anything else. It's how we do things.

It's not for everyone, the way of life up here. For some, the pace is just too slow. For others, people are too friendly. We have two great colleges within 20 minutes of the ranch, University of Oregon and Oregon State. We have the Hult Center in Eugene, where we saw 'Riverdance' a few years ago, and Ringo Starr is appearing in a few months. 'Wicked' comes to town next April. There are lots of smaller theatres as well, always putting on plays. We're not 'backwater hicks' in Oregon. Our tiny Monroe High School was one of 100 schools recognized as the BEST in the nation. Last year, for only the second time in its history, the Ford Foundation picked THREE MHS graduating seniors for its scholar programme. There is just so much space here and so much to say, that I'll just leave you with this. Come up. Visit. Spend some time. See Oregon off the beaten tourist track. And make your own observations.

And if you decide to become an Oregonian, become one. But actually BECOME one, not just move here. There's a difference. Those that do, stay.

The old red barn late last year

Getting painted in early '09 I think, after Dale literally rebuilt the outside
Fall '06

Back deck/entry, early spring '10

September '06

John and Jane, our best buds from SoCal, helped out sooooo much. They trailered Dale's Viper all the way up from San Diego!

That stock trailer is jammed to the gills with stuff. Over the next four years, I think we tossed out or gave away 90% of what was in it that Dale hauled up from San Diego

Not a great shot of the barn today, but the best I could find at the moment. If it wasn't currently raining, I'd just go take a new shot. What I wanted to show was the difference on the left side, where we now have the cattle handling facility. That includes the sweep and the squeeze we moved into the barn, much to the OSU large animal vets delight

September '06 I think. Still have the old wooden fencing on the left and nothing on the left side of the barn. Squeeze isn't in the pix, it would be behind the cameraman

Early November '06, before landscaping, before painting the house

Spring '07

John and Jazzee relax before unloading the bikes

Our first dinner on the deck. Note that I didn't appear to waste any time finding a bottle of Benton-Lane wine it looks like

East side, spring '07

Front of house, spring '10

East side, spring '10

Homestead, spring '10

West side, spring '10