Tag Archives: horses

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!


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-

2014-A year I’ll never forget

What a year it has been!

We finally closed on the farm in Gaston last summer, and still I pinch myself everyday I walk out my front door. Especially on days like Christmas morning when I see our local herd of Roosevelt elk passing through and whistling hello.

christmas elk

christmas elk

Playing in the pasture with your very own mustang is a little like having one’s own unicorn.  She is such a fun mix of wild, wise and sweet.

no caption needed

no caption needed

And the house isn’t nearly done yet but it is getting close!  Soon I will be able to focus on other more farmy projects (like a propagation house….and a wash station….and and and)

gettin' civilized around here..

gettin’ civilized around here..

There is trim and furniture in my very near future, I can feel it!  I hope everyone has had as wonderful and exciting a year as we have, and here is to great things in 2015!  Happy New Year everyone!

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 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!


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.  :).