Friday, January 31, 2014


It was another perfectly gorgeous winter day yesterday (except for that whole lack of rain bit), and the entire Tack Fence crew came out for the big job - setting the main gate and surrounding wrought-iron panel posts.  Craig and Jeremy 1 finalized the layout and spacing, and John, Dave and Jeremy 2 spent the entire day digging and measuring and digging some more before meticulously plumbing and concreting the posts, including the two 10' monster gate posts.
Now, Craig will start building the custom single swing 16' entry gate, the guys will be back today or Monday to install the wrought iron panels and the small man gate, and the front fencing project will be 99% complete!

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Little Fencing Goes a Long Way

Thursday morn, the boys from Tack showed up to put up the chain link portion of the front and final fencing project.  Took them most of the day, as they were meticulous about doing it right and making it look good, and the results reflect that attention to detail.  Now, we are just waiting on the wrought iron panels to arrive and be worked on by Craig to match the custom gate he's going to be building, which will be the final piece to go up.
A more perfect day to tackle such a project we couldn't have ordered from Amazon.  Sybil hung out with the guys all day, enjoying the sunshine and attention and making sure they did a good job

Oops, It Happened Again

Whoa!  2 days in a ROW without fog??  What the heck's up with that?
Gotta love the colour of the sky - completely unretouched in any way, shape or form (except I did some cropping, about the only thing I'm good at with the software).
Don't forget to click the first pix for the slideshow
 A frosty but gorgeous start to the morning
 In a way, this is a beautiful shot.  But in another way, it's a disaster in the making.  The pastures should be green and growing right now, but we are on day 12 of zero rain, edging up on the all time record for January of 14 consecutive rain-free days.  Not good
 But, the cute little crocus' sure are fun to see pop up

Are you KIDDING me??  20 degrees higher than it had been for weeks!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Best Beef Book EVER

Yesterday, my buddy Carla and I had a girl's day out in Corvallis, and one of the shops in old town we hit was Many Hands Trading, kind of a funky, Corvallis version of Pier 1 Imports.  They were having a huge sale, and one thing on sale was this book by Joseph, Oregon resident Lynne Curry.  What caught my eye besides the 'Artisan Beef' bit was the 'grassfed' bit.  Now, folks who have eaten our own grassfed beef know that it's different than what you get at Safeway or even Costco, but this is the first time I've seen, in print, the reasons WHY.  And, more importantly for people looking to make the switch to the much healthier grassfed beef is how to properly cook it.  I have a guidesheet I send along with my beef when I give out the odd sample to let people know how to cook grassfed beef properly.  This book goes WAY beyond that, and I expect to learn a ton.  I couldn't put it down last night.
If you are making the move to grassfed, you must get this book

Foggone It

It started in mid December, the freezing, foggy, rarely unbroken string of foggy days and nights.  But magically, yesterday, by noon the long absent sun started shouldering aside the low lying clouds of fog, letting the blue skies run rampant.  The cows took full advantage of this, as you can see, even tho the temperature never climbed above 40.  The second pix is the same basic shot, taken this morning - back to business as usual, nearly noon and still below freezing, but I am seeing some lightening of the cloud cover that means that maybe, just maybe, the sun will overpower the grey once more this afternoon

Saturday, January 18, 2014


On Thursday morning, John and his rookie helper Jeremy from Tack Fence came out and set the posts for the chainlink portion of the new front fence.  Meticulously done, and I can't wait to see it finished!

Stumped Out

Thursday was the day that the stump extraction was scheduled.  Pioneer Phone would have a tech out, standing by just in case.  Don was coming over with Little Greenie and the Hoe.  And, sadly, it wasn't raining, as it hadn't been in what seems like forever for us this time of year.  Not that there still wasn't a lot of mud, the sticky clay mud of this area, to contend with.
Don started on the backside of the stump while we were waiting for Pioneer to show up.  Watching Don on a tractor is an exercise in alternating between "I just gotta see this" and "Oh my GOD he's gonna die!!".  No one I know of can make a tractor do his bidding like Don can, and if you can get over the pure, unadulterated terror that comes with the awe, it's a show you should see at least once in your life.
In the end, it all came out and is still squatting on the driveway like a hideous, muddy, beached octopus, awaiting our decision on what to do with it.  No one lost their phone or Internet, we found an old cable (talk about heart failure!) wrapped in the roots along with an old guy line anchor from when the original power poles ran on our side of Dawson Road, and the Pioneer tech only had a heart attack once or twice during the delicate portion (if there was any such thing, really) of the operation.  With Big Orange pulling and Little Greenie pushing and the tech sweating bullets, the stump finally flipped over with no skinny black fiibre optic cable tangled in the roots.  We all heaved a big sigh of relief there.
Don't forget to click on the pix to enjoy the slideshow! 
 Don and Little Greenie get the party started on the non-cable side of the stump
 Free on the road side.  We haven't found the three big roots yet but we will.  Did find the old power cable and guy line however
 The Pioneer tech and Don confer on the final and most touchy part of the operation, flipping the rootwad the rest of the way out of the hole without yanking the fibre optic cable with it
 The old guy wire we found is visible at the bottom of the wad, the old cable we found curled up at the top right hand side.  The fibre optic cable, not visible.  The tech actually had dug underneath the wad at this point and located it physically to verify it was where it was supposed to be and not wrapped up in the rootwad
 Yes, Little Greenie is deep in the hole.  Dale and Don are resetting the chain again
 This is how Don can make a tractor do things you'd never think possible
 Now, I know it looks like Don just grabbed that chain and yanked that sucker out without any help, but believe me, it was quite a moment.  I was flagging traffic on Dawson as Don and Little Greenie were in the road, thus I didn't get any actual shots of the monster coming out of the hole, but Don was in the hole pushing with little or no traction while Dale on Big Orange was using the chain to pull at the same time, also with little or no traction.  Somehow, it worked, and Don casually drove Little Greenie out of that hole like he was backing out of his driveway on the flat and level
 Big Orange drags the wad out of the way, leaving a nice, packed streak of muddy clay that Dale and I would spend several hours removing with the bucket, shovels and the pressure washer
 Remembering that Big Orange is a BIG tractor, you get a feel for the size of the rootwad.  With it's covering of muddy clay, it probably weighs in at about a ton
Rough graded and ready for final grade and gravel

You might remember how it looked a few posts down, but if not, here is how it was

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

We're a Bit Stumped

One project that really has nothing much to do with the fence project is the stump removal project.  If you recall back a ways in this blog, we had the big end of September storm that brought down some oak branches.  So we got Vernon and his crew at Buena Vista Arbor Care to come out, take care of the oaks and get rid of the two Dougs on either side of the driveway.  This was the pain in the butt Doug on the east side of the driveway that is in the way of everyone pulling a big trailer or 5th wheel trailer in and out of the driveway.  We'd been meaning to get rid of the stump and cut the grade down to driveway level and rock it, thus making it a ton better for everyone pulling in and out of the driveway, trailer or not.  That was the plan, anyway.
Part of the fence project of course requires many post holes and two BIG holes (for the gate posts) to be dug/drilled.  And of course, you ALWAYS get the Locator out before doing that, just in case.  Much better to be safe than explaining to Pioneer why no one downstream of the ranch has any phone or Internet service all of a sudden.  As it turned out, it was a VERY good thing we had the Locator out first, before we went hucking out that stump with a backhoe, as was the plan.  The double orange paint line makes that very obvious.
The good news is that we not only have a major league backhoe operator (Don), but Pioneer will sent a tech out on standby, just in case.  There is a good chance that the fibre optic cables are all tangled up in the roots of the Doug, and even though we do plan to be quite careful, sometimes fate laughs at that sort of thing.  If that is the case, he'll be ready to repair it.  Don has a plan that involves an old, beat up chainsaw he keeps just for root trimming below grade, plus I've seen how pinpoint accurate he is with that backhoe

The Last Fence Project Gets Underway

The time had come to finally finish up the fencing across the front of the ranch, including the powered swinging driveway gate, a project that we started planning roughly 7 years ago.  It occupied a low rung on the projects ladder, and we always seemed to be moving other projects up said ladder ahead of it.  But the night Xena brought Hoke back from the park sealed the deal.  I know he was just running off the dumb deer that hangs out at night, but he knows better than to cross the road and chose to ignore his better judgment.  Therefore, time to remedy that situation permanently.  Craig at Tack Fence and Fabrication had done such a nice job on Don's new place (two big sliding driveway gates, 6' chainlink and 10' field fencing), we got him out to look over our project, and they start tomorrow.  Of course, we started first, lopping limbs and mowing a path thru the bloody ivy and St. John's wort.  That was a big enough job in itself.  But it's all ready for them to set posts for the chainlink while Craig builds the custom single swing gate for the driveway.  The most visible portion of the fencing, along the driveway, will be matching wrought iron panels.  You will not really see the chainlink part at all under the trees, which is just perfect
 Ivy, before mowing the path
 If you look closely at the mulch next to the driveway you'll see white paint marking the location of the posts for the gate

 Dale took a lot of big limbs off the Dougs out front, as well as removing some of the dead madrone trees mixed in there
 First pass with the mower.  Did I mention how NOT heartbroken I am about losing some of that damn ivy?
 First pass complete, above, and final pass complete, below

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Weather Outside is Frightful

Ah, that's more like it.  Wind, rain, hail and did I mention wind?
When it's like this outside.....

 The cows take cover's like this inside

Bellfountain Heights

Eerie, creeping fog and mist - if you didn't know you weren't on the English moors in winter, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Our weather station can be endlessly entertaining.  Here, take a gander at that temperature graph for the past 24 hours.  And better yet, get a load of the rain year total - yeeeeHA we finally got some rain yesterday, over a quarter inch!!

The Cow in Winter

You should know by now that mostly, I just can't help myself.  While taking the pictures of Spud and Hilda, since everyone was standing around waiting for the chowhall to open, figured I might as well get a couple of shots of some of the other residents
 Joy (2011, Zenda X LeeLu) is really coming into her own as a really nice cow.  Her first calf, Amy (by Tali), now lives in Madras, Oregon

Sapphire  (2010, Roar X Moonstruck), aka The Hindenberg