Osprey has landed!

Sorry for the lack of posting-we are super busy and without internets out in the country.  But not only do we have owls in the woods and swifts in the chimney (no more bees in the closet-hooray!), we have an Osprey in the barn.  Here she is:

 alfalfa for breakfast

alfalfa for breakfast

So far she is adjusting well, doing a great job of mowing down my waist high pastures.  She loves the trail rides, and is very tolerant of the dogs, who are turning into stellar farm dogs, as long as the chickens stay in their yard and coop……we are about to tear into the house for rewiring and replumbing, I have to head back out there to pull nails out of all the trim I removed this week.  Cheers!

We have chickens!

We fixed up the old coop and moved in about 20 hens of various breeds and ages…although several of the pullets are turning out to be cockerels…a good opportunity to go visit Mineral Springs Poultry in a few weeks.  Next we start to tackle the house!

 

coop remodel complete!

coop remodel complete!

Complete with outdoor dining area....

Complete with outdoor dining area….

coop interior

coop interior

first farm eggs

first farm eggs

It is so nice to have hens again….and eggs!

 

 

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).