Tag Archives: farm tools

Hi Everybody!

Remember me?  I had this blog, and then I bought this farm, and then, and then and then….well, I am back. Let’s just say I am glad 2016 is in the rear view mirror.


So much has happened in the last year, including a big life reality check that put a hitch in all of my giddyups, including this blog.  But we survived, and all is well for now. And boy am I grateful for every sweet farmy day.  I need to go pot up peppers, but here’s a quick overview of what is happening on the farm, headed into year 3!

I went morel hunting, and finding!  This really is an R rated mushroom. But delicious-we made morel/nettle/bacon pizza.


On the farm I started experimenting with occultation a la Jean Martin Fortier, a la french intensive gardening.  Very happy with the results so far, including being able to work up some beds in spite of the relentless, never ending, ceaseless, continual rain.  Is it raining right now?  Yes, yes it is.  Heck, people on the East side of the Cascades are complaining about the lack of sun.  Like they even know…..

IMG_0607.JPGLeft to right-prepped and planted terrace, terrace with amendments but no compost (it is there at the end of the bed), terrace whose tarp has just been removed and then rotoharrowed, then a terrace that has just been mowed and covered with the tarp.  This process seems to take about a month to 5 weeks in winter, I expect that to shorten down to two or three weeks in summer, when soil biology is more active.  I have high hopes this will reduce weed pressure significantly.


I am also hoping this tarp process will help me incorporate cover cropping into my rotations-here is a bed I seeded this spring with the intent to let it bloom and grow all summer and then prep using the tarps for fall crops.


As my soil improves I can plant more intensively so I can actually take some terraces and beds out of production for a while-and I am changing my methods away from row cropping and more towards intensive planting.  Growing things with a shorter turn around time also helps me keep ahead of the gophers, though I am seriously considering introducing some gopher snakes to the farm. I had to replant almost all of my garlic, and I built a screened bottom bed just for that purpose.  But it isn’t big enough-I should have at least twice as much garlic as this.  IMG_0625.jpgSigh.  Moving on….the greenhouse is awesome.  So awesome I went nuts and planted a bunch of stuff that has matured 3 weeks early.  Oops!  Well, consider this research into season extension and a possible future Shoulder Season CSA.   Call me if you want lettuce.

P4097916.JPGIMG_0632.jpgHope everyone out there in blog land is healthy and happy!  If you want to know more about the farm and what we are up to-head over to the farm website:





forward into spring


Early season projects….


new hoophouse!

We skinned that cat, and now snug on the inside is a seed starting extravaganza-complete with heat mats, tables, a propagation sweatbox, a seeding table, and early garden beds out of the weather.  Spring break for farmers-it was 80 degrees in here the other day…..


it is all fun and games until the field voles find you….

Waiting for a break in the weather to fire up the new BCS-like all tools it is a little oversized for a 5′ 4″ woman and will take some getting used to-but I’ll get that tiger by the tail.

Daffodils are blooming, raab is raabing, bunnies are…. looking very pregnant.


Looking forward to the upcoming season-hoping to get some water catchment in place before the summer dry spell hits-El Nino will perhaps give us a little extra time on that one.  We have some big tanks in place, waiting for the smaller catch tanks to arrive before we set it all up.  Otherwise the seed trays and greenhouse are filling up quickly while we wait for the next break in the weather.  Rain or shine, we are still having fun.  Even if that means applying greenhouse plastic when you would rather be eating dinner.


wiggle wire anyone?


When I start freaking out about politics or global climate change or what the heck I am doing farming….I just stare into the heart of this Romanesco, and all is well.  It is like a vegetable tuning fork for the mind.  Or I would, if I hadn’t eaten it last week.  I am in the universe, and the universe is in me.  For the record, the universe is delicious.


Clearly it is time to go outside, rain or no rain.  Cheers everyone!


New Year. Resolution.

First we had 30 straight days and 21 inches of rain on the orchard terraces (and everything else)….then clear and frost on the beet greens,

frosty beeet

frosty beet

now, snow on the wheelbarrow.


time to muck...

time to muck…

This is supposed to turn to ice later-maybe we have enough elevation to miss out on the ice and just get more snow….

In spite of the rain the terraces have all held up well-I did a bunch of civil engineering to get water to drain and spread out along the terraces in both directions.  The baby trees all seem to be in good shape.

I also graveled Osprey’s roundpen/sacrifice area, and boy has that been a godsend in this weather.  No mud!  None!  And picking out is like cleaning a giant litter box.  It was not cheap but worth every penny, and the horse appreciates not surfing around on slimy mud all winter long.

roundpen footing

round pen footing

The pen is graded away from the barn, and the barn got gutters this summer. Then I put down road fabric which keeps the mud out of the rock so it lasts longer, 4 inches of 3/4 minus gravel, and 2 inches of 1/4 ten (‘turkey grit’) on top of that.  The grit sized gravel acts more like sand but is safer for the horse-she is less likely to eat it and get sand colic.

We finally got our wood burning insert installed in the house-we are as cozy as cozy can be.  It is a Lopi stove-burns cleaner than a pellet stove and takes a big piece of wood-24″.  We also have minisplits to keep the house warm if we leave town or don’t want to build a fire-and the stove will keep us toasty if the power goes out.  We took one chimney down to the roof line and had the other one lined.  Next for the house is a new metal roof.

bring on the wing chair...and a good book!

bring on the wing chair…and a good book!

one down, one lined

one down, one lined

I have had a good rest, and am ready to start the planning and marketing for the upcoming season-I am finding with organic seed you really have to get on it and order early or a lot of the varieties you want get sold out.  This is especially true for potatoes and cover crop seed.  I have ordered a couple of good looking farm books, and my new BCS tractor, and will probably order and build my first green/prophouse this month.

The garlic is up and says we are already on the downhill slide to spring.  The days are getting longer.  But for now, I am happy to see some snow.

winter garlic

winter garlic

Happy New Year, everyone!

Earth work

Terraces are in and look amazing!

Imageterraces tilled by husband with borrowed tractor…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbeds built by hand and amended with compost….a bcs with a rotary hoe would make this go much faster.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbeds limed, amended with micronutrients and shaped

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAfirst beds planted and irrigation lines in place-wait, what is that in the distance? Hmmm, think I know what the next big project is…..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbut enough boring pictures of dirt and thousand pound ungulates-that’s a herd of 30 or so cow elk on the hillside there….here is some spring veggie porn-

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand a new wildflower discovery-I think this is an orchid called Candystick

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand this is a sight for my sore eyes-our Portland house is all spruced up and on the market!  I get to spend an entire day on the farm today without going into town to paint, fix or clean-what a luxury!  Wish us a speedy drama free sale.

fish art not included

fish art not included


The farm ate my blog post

Busy Busy Busy…..

Here are some pics from the late winter/early spring.  We are just getting into the thick of things-our earthmoving guy comes tomorrow to terrace the hillside where the main gardens and orchards will go!  Super exciting.  The new greenhouse works fabulously-one of my jobs for today is to get the prop cabinet up and running-time to start tomatoes!  Got the onions and greens going-bottom heat for the onions and the greens don’t need anything other than the greenhouse protection and warmth….here’s some Arugula. A little leggy probably due to the big fluctuations in temperature from night to day (downside of a small greenhouse)-but they are in the ground now and doing well!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABaby bunnies are growing fast-hope to have some more on the way soon…..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd these girls are almost old enough to add to the breeding program….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe shuksan strawberries are coming along….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy kind neighbor came down with his tractor and tilled up the lower garden for me-long term plan is this is where the perennials and berries will be, also some of the orchard trees (cider apples perhaps?  or Pears).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Dingo – aka My Six Strong Men or MSSM-has been awesome for amending the beds once I built them (by hand with a shovel-some day I will have one of these).  Also for setting posts for the deer and elk fence-yet to be installed but coming soon to a farm near you!

We have for the most part been having freakishly warm weather both outside and in.  You can definitely heat a 4 bdrm house with a wood fired furnace!

too hot for me, but minnesotan husbands love it

too hot for me, but minnesotan husbands love it

The unusual weather is more than a little worrisome-will summer be hot and dry dry dry?  Or cool and wet as mild dry winters in the PNW usually indicate? More kale?  Or more peppers?  Hmmmmm.  Anyway, any sun at this time of year is greatly appreciated-it has been a gorgeous late winter/early spring.


worlds most beautiful field mower IMHO

worlds most beautiful field mower IMHO

Hope you have some fair weather to enjoy where-ever you are!  Cheers-

Busy bees

Here is what we have been up to, not much farming but the fall rains are coming and we need to get the house in shape to live in safely… to prep for the electrician (complete rewire) and the plumber (complete replumb) we pulled trim and cut the lath and plaster at 40″ from the floor throughout the house.  Then we hired an amazing demo crew to come in and demo out the basement, the loft floor in the barn, and all the lath and plaster below our cut.  This will enable the electrician to get in and pull wire quickly, we also got a good look at the framing of the house (which looks amazing for 90 yrs old!), and made sure nothing else was living in walls besides the bees.  And we got those out too-took over a week and I almost got heat exhaustion, but it is done!  Oh, and we built a new set of stairs in the barn.

this fireplace is actually soapstone or marble painted to look like mahogany....it is a pretty good tromp l'oeil!

this fireplace is actually soapstone or marble painted to look like walnut….it is a pretty good trompe l’oeil!

found this beautiful floor under some gross linoleum in the bedroom with the bee closet.  I think we will clear coat and keep it as is.

found this beautiful floor under some gross linoleum in the bedroom with the bee closet. I think we will clear coat and keep it as is.

new barn stairs!

new barn stairs!

scary basement now significantly less scary...and we find out today hopefully if this old wood furnace is still useable...

scary basement now significantly less scary…and we find out today hopefully if this cool old wood furnace is still useable…

Huge huge thanks to Der Lovett deconstruction…they did a beautiful job with the demo and left everything spotless, and finished the house the basement and the barn in something like 14 hours.  They were awesome.  Now we are working on digging a ditch to the equipment shed for power, and hopefully if I get a chance building a colony for the rabbits…who do not seem to ever tire of blackberry canes for breakfast.  And did I mention?  Mustangs love thistles.  And generate a wheelbarrow full of ‘soil amendment’ every day while mowing.