At last! We have closed at last!

view of the barn

view of the barn

swamping out the barn

swamping out the barn

Bees moved too!

Bees moved too!

apiary view

apiary view

shoring up the old coop

shoring up the old coop

coop swampers extraordinaire

coop swampers extraordinaire

farm glamping

farm glamping

 

As you can see, we have switched out of neutral and into high gear.  Getting on the land so late means we can mostly focus on infrastructure for animals and the garden now, plus get the house liveable and functional in time for winter (we have swifts in the chimney, bees in the closet, and I don’t wanna know what might live in the basement…..).  Here we go!  The dingo and Large Marge the farm truck are already getting put to heavy use.  So far we are having great fun, and at the end of the day we all look like this:

tired farm dog

tired farm dog

cheers!

 

Slowly slowly is surely progress

Nope-don’t ask-No farm yet, but our paperwork is working its way through the county.  I am not chilling any champagne just yet, but I am contemplating buying some.  In the meantime I pull weeds and mow around the farmhouse…wash the windows, make it look like somebody cares about it.  In town I am throwing out peppers and tomatoes I couldn’t get into gallon containers or buckets, and wondering if I will get my newly sprouted squashes and cucumbers into the ground.  Hesitantly packing a few more boxes, even as I try to find my summer clothes and barbecue tools which were all packed up sometime back in February….it is odd to live on hold for so long.

On the other hand, my mustang mare is making great strides-gaining confidence every week.  I got my first ride on her last thursday…in the middle of a gullywasher but I could have cared less!  first rideShe gets more beautiful every time I see her.  Can’t wait until I can walk out my front porch and see her everyday!  I found a good used saddle that fits for a great price, and look forward to putting her in English gear (though she looks great in a Western saddle too).

The fishing has been pretty good in the Columbia and the Willamette.  This helps keep us cheerful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand berry season has begun!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHappy summer everyone!

 

A very simple DIY wax melter

Those of you who keep bees on natural comb and like to harvest the wax as well, as well as do it yourself on the cheap, here is a super simple, practically free solar wax melter.  It works anytime the temps are above 75 degrees or so.

Materials:

cardboard box

piece of recycled glass or old single pane window

large yogurt container (or two or three, depending on the size of your box)

string

cheesecloth

tinfoil

water

wax cappings and comb from honey harvest or other beekeeping activities

Take the box, line it with tinfoil.  Fill the yogurt container halfway with tap water, and top with a piece of cheesecloth.   Tie the cheesecloth on with a piece of string (rubber band work too, but the heat will degrade them in a day or two) and make an indentation in the middle of the cheesecloth top with your hand.  Pile wax cappings and bits as high as you dare, place in the box.  Place glass on top and leave in a sunny location.  It helps to prop up the box on one side to tilt it slightly towards the sun.  As the wax melts and filters through the cheesecloth, you can add more.  Every day or two remove the filtered wax that is floating on the water in the yogurt container and repeat the process until you are out of wax.  Works great, even in cloudy W. Oregon!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMake sure you have rinsed all of the honey out of your cappings and comb first (you can strain this and use the honey flavored water for making lemonade….delicious!).  And don’t use brood comb-it doesn’t work well, it has too little wax left in it (use that for fire starter when you go camping, it is awesome!  Or put it in your compost).  I use my wax to make hand dipped candles and lip balm.

The blackberry is just beginning to bloom around here, that is the main honeyflow in our area!  Summer is just around the corner….

 

Smiles everyone! Smiles.

So, closing has been pushed back again…to early June.  We are keeping our chins up.  It is spring, the weather is lovely, and everything is in bloom.  Good time of year to be a bee.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe first peace rose of the summer, in full technicolor glory.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe fourth or fifth peony…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApurple podded pea with pollinator (or possibly perpetrator, I will have to look this bug up).  This is such a fabulous plant, I can’t say enough good things about it.  You can get them from Adaptive seeds, the variety is called Sugar Magnolia.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASugar Ann peas (these were eaten moments later).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa native pollinator checking out the chives…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASancho sunbathing…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis look is uniquely Katydid:  a combination of “I am really sorry I dug this hole but it is for my ball please don’t take it away and have I mentioned how tasty this dirt is?  Love you!”

So it is hard to be down in the mouth with all these good things happening right here in our tiny urban backyard.  Oh yes, and then there is this:

under saddleOsprey was backed for the first time today!  I go see her again tomorrow.  I tried out some used dressage saddles this week, so I at least have some idea of what fits and why.  Folks always say buying the horse is the cheap part, and they aren’t kidding!  But she is worth every hard won penny….and Rachel is doing a fantastic job with her.

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!  I will be selling wine at Big Table Farm on Sunday, if you are in the area tasting wines this weekend come by!

Stoked!

The start sale was a roaring success, I came very close to hitting my sales target (which I honestly had no expectation of actually doing), and I feel like I have gotten a huge vote of confidence and a boost of energy to get this venture launched.  Riding that wave I went ahead and registered my business name with the Oregon Secretary of State, and opened my business bank account.  Whoohoo!  A few things I learned, that I probably already knew:  people love tomatoes.  My tomato table was wiped out except for a few green zebras in the first hour or so.  The greens moved well too, and I had a lot of them.  I have a lot of collards and kales left over, but rabbits and chickens love to eat those and so do I, so I am stuffing my city garden with greens of all descriptions and I will just cut and come again on those as long as I can. People like peppers, but mostly prefer sweets to hot.  I wish I had had more Padrons and more Beaverdam peppers…and I’d love to get my paws on some Gernika pepper seed. I think I have the best looking garden I have ever had, and we have been eating asparagus almost every day.  Delish!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also caught one of the nicest swarms ever last Friday….I am feeling particularly blessed as I broke even on bees this winter:  I lost one hive to Nosema, but was able to split a second hive into two in mid April.  The split seems to be doing well, I saw today several queen cells that had hatched open, I gave that colony a frame of brood, eggs and bees just to give them some extra juice (and a back up option if the new queen fails for some reason) from their super strong original hive.  The warre looks to be busting at the seams, I expect a swarm from that hive in the next week or two when the weather warms up again (though I don’t expect to catch it!  Those tend to be some high flying bees).  The local word is that Portland hives were decimated over the winter, maybe as bad as 50-75% losses according to some.  So as I said, I am feeling really lucky that my bees are for the most part doing well.  Hopefully we can get them moved to the farm before the main honey flow begins!  I was hoping to have 5 hives this season, but four is pretty good, and swarm season isn’t over yet.  Best to build up slowly anyway, I will have plenty to keep track of as it is!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe also had a new batch of kits born on Monday, haven’t gotten a good count yet but they seem feisty!  Osprey continues to make great progress….still hasn’t been ridden but now walks easily over a ‘bridge’, and has been trailered to a local arena.  I go see her again tomorrow.  Next week Rachel takes her other mustang to a competition, and he will be auctioned off at the end.  If you live in California and are looking for a really nice horse with a great foundation and a sweet temperament, you should check out Rachel and Titan at the Norco Extreme Mustang Makeover Trail competition.  I will be so sorry to see him go, and really hope he finds a good home with someone who will appreciate him.  He is built like an old school cavalry horse, and I think would look really good going english.  And he jumps 3 feet!   Scroll down this page and you will see a black and white image of a civil war era horse that looks a lot like Titan….(minus the crooked forelegs, Titan is actually very nicely put together).

Springing into May…

In spite of my lack of farm, I am having a garden start sale this weekend, to get the ball rolling, to do a little marketing, and recoup some of my seed costs.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you live in Portland and want the details, check out the Long Run Farm website for more information.  Look under the weekly post page.

In other news, Osprey the mustang passed her TIP criteria, and the adoption process is underway!  She is doing beautifully.  She is not under saddle yet, but she does accept one without very much fuss.  She also tolerates flags, although plastic bags on sticks are still suspect.  I bought my first ton of hay from a friend, and scored some cheap horse accoutrements (brushes, fly masks, rubber buckets) at the Small Farmers Journal Auction last week.  Boy was that fun!  Lots of weird old equipment, piles and piles of harness (literally), charismatic old farmers galore, and cute young farm boys prancing around in chaps and dusters that were up for auction.  Met some amazing horse farmers and teamsters, and learned a lot about equipment, harness, and auctions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe final major paperwork is through the county, we could actually be within a couple of weeks of closing….I’ll believe it when I am writing the check, but keep thinking your good thoughts!

Bees are well, I made a split of my big hive, and looked at the split today:  saw a few queen cells, the bees are starting to thin down the ends, so the ladies should be hatching right in the middle of the lovely weather we are having.  Perfect.  I also got my first sting of the season today, a sure sign of warm weather.  We have been making the most of this waiting period, my husband and I have both landed two spring Chinook so far.  Which reminds me, I’m off to pick some asparagus for smoked salmon pizza…..cheers!

 

 

 

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.  :).