Letting the horse out before you buy the barn door….

Or something like that.  This beautiful creature trotted into my life last week.  Here she is fresh off the trailer from eastern Oregon:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe is a wild mustang from the BLM corrals in Burns, Oregon.  She was gathered from the Paisley Desert HMA in southeastern Oregon sometime last fall, probably.  I have found a local trainer that gentles mustangs, who is going to gentle her and give her a couple more months of saddle training (and I will get some training too).  To say this is a dream come true is an understatement, but I wouldn’t have dared to do it if I hadn’t met Rachel (the trainer) who trains about a mile from the Bunion, and her amazing little mare Ember, that she trained for a Mustang Million competition over the winter.  I actually bid on that mare in the post event auction, but when she went to someone else Rachel and I cooked up our current plan, to adopt a wild horse through the TIP program, and have Rachel get her saddle broke and gentled for me. Here is one of the pictures of her I saw ‘shopping’ online…photo credit Beverly Shaffer:

burns corralsIt is not for everyone, picking a wild horse from a website and committing to it, but I have been interested in mustangs for a while for several reasons.  #1, I may not know her temperament beforehand, but I will know that my horse has a fantastic start with a great trainer, and the bulk of her interactions with humans will have been very positive.  In short, I get a horse with no baggage.  #2, mustangs have actually been subjected to environmental pressures and natural selection in typically pretty harsh environments.  The result is a sturdy horse with great hooves, good resistance to disease and parasites, good conformation, and that is an easy keeper.  #3, Horses in the wild have to live together in herds to survive, so mustangs tend to be well adjusted and good citizens with other horses.  #4 Genetic diversity.  Except for perhaps the Kiger herd near Steens Mountain, most HMA’s are a hodgepodge of horse genetics, which I like (though the Kigers with their primitive markings are beautiful too).  Some folks are biased against ‘mutts’, but growing up surrounded by the thoroughbred industry, I’ve seen the advantages of hybrid vigor and the disadvantages of inbreeding.  I grew up in Kentucky, and had my own horse from the age of 9, and I have wanted another ever since I sold him to go to college.  Plus I am the type of person that adopts dogs from the pound.  We don’t own the farm quite yet, so this is a little bit of a gamble, but with 3 months of training down the road I think the timing will work out.  What does a mustang saddle horse have to do with the farm?  Well, even farmers have to have fun once in a while, and I figure I can either pay for compost and amendments, or I can buy some hay and trace minerals and keep my own beautiful manure maker on the grass we grow ourselves.  She seems to be very level headed so far, so she may even be a good candidate for some harness work.  Time will tell.  I have named her Osprey.  She is gorgeous, very spanish looking, with lots of neck and mane and a tail that drags on the ground.

Want to know more about adopting a mustang?  There are thousands of horses in BLM corrals all over the west and midwest seeking adoption (wild burros too).  There are adoption events and competitions nationwide, and you can adopt and have a horse shipped to you almost anywhere, if you are willing to be patient and creative.  To find out more, go to the Mustang Heritage Foundation website.  There are horses up regularly for adoption at the BLM corrals,I think the newest auction opens tomorrow, April 1st.  Another place to find information on adoptable mustangs is the Modern Mustanger Facebook page.  You can also see more about the Mustang Million events in the recent movie, Wild Horse, Wild Ride.  Rachel is currently training a Murderer’s Creek gelding named Titan, who may be the sweetest horse I have ever met.  He will compete and be up for auction at the Extreme Mustang Makeover event in Norco, California in mid May.  He is also beautiful, built like a mini Friesian, all black with long legs.

mare 2270Look at that face!  I haven’t been this happy and in love since my wedding day.  :).




First Fish

Since we aren’t moving until sometime in May, we have some time to do other things….a batch of fine weather and a little time spent fishing, and my husband landed his first Chinook of 2014.  He will be in a good mood now for at least a week, and then, the fever will set back in.  Ah, salmon:  the tug is the drug, and the best cure for the disease of salmon fever is also it’s cause.  Hmmm, wonder what’s for dinner?

Happy Spring!


March Fourth, Set Back

So….our closing date has been pushed back.  To May.  We are rolling with the punches.  I have called off the CSA and cancelled my slot at the farmers market for now, and will reboot once I have the house key in my  hand.  In the meantime, my husband has built me a fabulous germination station!  This one runs on a space heater hooked up to a thermostat which keeps it at 74 degrees, but will eventually be modified to a bucket heater and a trough of water as the heat source.  It works very well.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe doors are rodent proof, and pop off for access.  The shelves are too close together, we will remove every other shelf unit.  And add an automatic vent system eventually.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are Redwing onion starts.  I started my onions before we got the news that the survey would take so long….I have a lot of onion starts!

So, I have an unexpected vacation of sorts.  More packing, more sorting, more winnowing of the stuff.  I am growing a bunch of starts for anyone who wants them, hopefully I can at least make a little income this spring, instead of laying around the house eating popcorn and watching Netflix movies.

Speaking of popcorn, I grew Dakota Black again last year.  Love this popcorn, the ears are a gorgeous deep black red.  And the popcorn is delicious.  Thanks to Anthony Boutard’s book Beautiful Corn  I can now get the corn to the perfect moisture content.  No grannies!  Here’s how you do it:  I take a 1/4 square of paper towel, and soak it in a saturated solution of salt and water (add salt to water until no more will dissolve).  Wring it out until damp, place in a pint jar with your popcorn kernels, and let equalize for a few days.  The paper towel will end up feeling dry, but your corn will pop perfectly.


The history of CSA

Even if you don’t listen to the podcast, the introductory essay is a real eye opener on the origins of CSAs, and where many of them are today. I knew the expansion of farmer’s markets had impacted local CSAs, but hadn’t really thought about the aggregators and co-ops. Highly recommended read for anyone considering a CSA share this season.

Here is the link: http://bdnow.org/?p=601

A spring in our step

A few signs of spring, and the beginning of the growing season:

Here is our newest doe Cookie, daughter of Snacks:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd here are a few of her babies, all black and brown:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn spite of my lack of farm, I have started my onions at least.  I think these are Red Long of Tropea….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI built a couple of 24″x48″ heat mats out of 1×2, plywood and incandescent rope christmas lights.  Economical (about a third of the cost of similar sized heat mats).  For seed starting in the basement they work great, in my tiny drafty greenhouse they need a little supplemental insulation or cover (I use plastic draped over the table) to stay warm in weather like we are having today (39 degrees and rainy).  Here is a link on how to build them (one edit:  I’d cut the 1×2′s to 44″, not 40″).  The downside of these is monitoring, they are not on any kind of thermostat, so the ones in the greenhouse will have to be monitored on warm sunny days.  Or I can put them on a timer once things start to warm up.

Unlike today, yesterday was beautiful, and the bees were flying.  I lost one hive this winter, but the other two look good!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the warre colony, they are on year 4!  But I shouldn’t speak too soon, we are not out of the woods yet.  I never really relax in spring until the maples bloom, but so far everyone has plenty of stores.

Hope your bees and seeds and babies are doing well!

Good things come to those who wait, and wait, and wait….


Here is the farm logo!  Thanks so much Clare for your help with this.LRF

No, we haven’t closed yet.  We don’t know yet for sure, the seller has yet to give us a real timeline, but it could be as long as late March.  Which is causing me to rewrite my business plan, and scramble for things like greenhouse space for tomatoes and peppers.  I expected to have my propagation house built by now, and I haven’t even gotten on the land yet, and may have to hire someone else to grow my tomato and pepper starts. And late March is past most of the local farmer’s markets application deadlines….should I even grow tomatoes at all (short answer, of course!!)?  But, what is farming, what is life, but rolling with the punches? Sorry little house, we are coming, I promise.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe elk visited during the snow event, and inspected the septic tank and drainfield.  The hiccup now has to do with some paperwork and the survey…the very last hurdle.  My computer calendar says I am to start early peas in the prophouse today, I am trying to stay cheerful.   They say patience is a virtue. Well, we must be iridescent with virtuousness by now!  But, this will be a good thing.  It is coming.  We are waiting.

The 9th Inning

Drum roll please…..the Septic is going in!  Here is the drainfield, not exactly where we’d asked, but it will work.  This is the final thing standing between us and closing on this property.  We are soooo ready.  At least we think we are.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd here is our newly widened driveway, the other puzzle piece we were waiting for….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf we hike up the ridge behind the property on a sunny day, we are rewarded with a beautiful view of the Patton Valley.  I have been enjoying the sun, but boy am I ready for some rain!  This has been the Winter of the Ice Fogs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd, another addition to the property this winter: a pond.  I always wanted one, and when they are built by beavers, there is no permitting required.  They are working on our firewood issue as well, those drowning alders are not long for this world….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis dry weather has been lovely, but as soon as the septic is in and finalized, I will be doing my rain dance in earnest (it may also look a lot like a happy dance).  Thanks for all your support, good people of blogland.  We are getting close!