Monday, March 20, 2017


Today is the first day of spring, according to the calendar. And we have had a day here and there of sun and relative warmth. Whenever that happens, I dash outside and take photos of the blooming flowers, who know it should be spring... any day now.

The hellebores are happy... rain or shine...

So are the honeybees, who love hellebore pollen.

Zillions of daffodils are blooming, getting beat down by rain, then lifting themselves up again when the rain stops. The ones that don't come back up, I cut for inside flowers.

The primroses are happy, too. Rain doesn't bother them at all.

Kitty "helps" whenever I'm in the garden... if it's not raining. She thinks she should be in every photo.

The peacock is looking to see if there's something for him to eat in the barrel...

... or maybe over by the driveway where I throw out seed for the wild birds every morning. He rushes over and hi-grades it before the quail and sparrows and jays can eat it up.

The Cornus mas dogwood (Cornelian cherry) is in full bloom. Maybe it will get cherries this year if frost allows. If so, maybe we will get to eat some... if the birds allow.

The camellia's first bloom of the year...

An elephant in the bamboo!

Can you tell it's an elephant here?

A Mourning Dove enjoying some rare sun.

White crocuses bloomed early in my brother's memorial garden.

Looking toward Spirit Mtn with the horse barn in the distance, the south field was not green yet when I took this photo one sunny day, but the alders were slightly pink with catkins...

Yesterday was another rare and beautiful sunlit day. I went to the coast. A pair of Bald Eagles were resting on a log in Siletz Bay, far from shore so a little blurry in my camera.

I rendezvoused with a new friend from Idaho to search for a seldom-seen-in-Oregon bird, a Brown Thrasher that has been seen by many this winter at a coastal nature trail... and not seen by many others... including us yesterday.

But we did see my favorite coastal birds... Black Oystercatchers...

A cormorant posed in front of the surf...

And a Song Sparrow sunned himself from a perch just a few feet away, so accustomed is this Boiler Bay bird to people.

Sunny days are all the more welcome for their rarity. Rain is forecast again for the next ten days. Sigh.

I'm planning to build an ark...

Monday, March 6, 2017

Snow on Daffodils

 A neighbor who has lived here over sixty years says it always snows one day when the daffodils bloom. And it usually does. Including this year. I took a photo of our snow-covered daffodils on March 5.

And the pretty sunrise in the snow that day...

And, from under cover of my EZ Go, as I hauled manure from the horse barn to the manure pile, I took a photo of the lovely big flakes of falling snow.

And one of the many robins in the snow...

What I did not do was pay attention to where I was going with my load of horse manure. And so I got stuck. It was muddy below the snow.

The feed sack I had with me placed in front of the buried tire did not help.

Nor could I dig myself out. Johnny had to pull me out with the tractor.

That was during Sunday early-morning chores. After breakfast, I returned to the barn, as usual, to let the horses out and milk goats and clean the goat barn. It snowed even harder. I still had my camera with me so I took more photos... from under the shelter of the goat barn entryway.

Mallards in the snow...

I could not clean the second buck pen that afternoon because I would just get stuck. I cleaned the first one on Friday after several days of relatively dry weather. At least, the ground was fairly firm. My back wore out after that pen plus it started to rain so I thought I could do the second pen the next day... or the next depending on weather... That pen is still waiting and may have to wait quite awhile since we are still having rain/snow/sleet with no sign of a break. And the ground is still muddy.

But it was not too bad Sunday afternoon so we decided to drive up Agency Creek Rd. beyond our farm and survey American Dippers... and enjoy the forest and stream. (And rest my back.) So we did. And lucked out on the weather most of the time.

A Dipper cooperated for a photo close to the road in one of the traditional Dipper nesting areas.

Below it shows off its white eyelid.

Well, really it was just blinking. Most birds have dark eyelids so you never notice when they blink. The Dipper has a white eyelid, why I don't know. Neither, apparently, does anyone else. The top bird authority Sibley guide says: "It’s a basic question about a relatively common and easy-to-see bird, and it could be answered by just observing and getting to know some dippers. And that seems like it would be a pretty nice way to spend a few months."

I have spent many happy hours watching dippers and I'm no closer to knowing the why of the white eyelid. Do they blink as often when no one is watching them? Is it a signal to their mate that someone is in the area? Well, since I don't see them when I'm not there, that's a tough question to answer.

Besides Dippers, we saw a pair of Hooded Mergansers and a pair of Common Mergansers. Below are the Hoodies. The Commons floated/swam downstream too fast for photos.

We saw 7 Dippers on our 6 mile survey and heard one that we did not see. But we missed seeing Dippers at a couple of the reliable nest areas. We'll go back again another Sunday afternoon when we don't want to work and look for them.

One site must be hiked into and that one has not had Dippers nesting in their former location, near the waterfall on this rock wall, for several years. I don't know where they've gone. This is the farthest downstream we have found Dipper nests and the water level is very high now, with few rocky, turbulent areas uncovered for Dippers to dive and feed in. So maybe they gave up on this site and have relocated elsewhere.  

Our hike back out was getting very snowy. It was a good time to quit and head homeward for supper.

Supper on Sunday nights is always whatever we feel like... we don't worry about a balanced meal. Often it is just popcorn and baked apples. Last night I felt like jowl bacon (from our pigs of last year) and sweet potatoes... and popcorn. It was good! Then we watched a couple episodes of the Big Bang Theory from Season 5 (we're a bit behind). It was a nice ending to a fun afternoon.

The next morning, the ground was white with snow again. This year it is snowing on the daffodils more than just once. In fact, so far it has done so, off and on, for  a week.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Kestrel is 10!

Four days after I returned from the Washington kids and Ian's school play performances, Johnny left for California to celebrate Kestrel's 10th birthday... and to do projects, of course.

Happy birthday, Kestrel!

Johnny took photos of the kids helping in the kitchen... and eating yummy birthday food...

 But, of course, there were projects...

Kestrel has been designing and working on a model of the Golden Gate Bridge. He loves that bridge. Johnny helped direct and supervise.

Cedrus helped, too.

 Steve sent a photo of  current progress...

Pretty cool!

Since the week after Kestrel's birthday was spring vacation for the kids (known as "Ski Week" there), they all drove to Napa, California to tour a castle, a geyser and a petrified forest.

Castello di Amorosa is an authentically-built 13th century Tuscan castle and winery.

One room has equipment knights would have used and worn, like this crossbow.

That's a chain mail suit in the background.

It also had a torture chamber with this very uncomfortable looking chair...

Much of the castle is used for wine storage, of course, since this is a winery.

From there, they went to the Old Faithful Geyser of California in Calistoga, said to be one of only three old faithful geysers in the world. It erupted every five minutes while they were there.

They also went to a petrified forest. Johnny took no photos there, but I found this youtube video of it:  Pretty amazing to see trees that were toppled by a volcano and turned to stone over thousands of years.

Somewhere, not sure where... maybe in a museum at the geyser park, they found this volkswagon with an airplane engine attached!

After two days of sightseeing fun, they went home to more projects. The kids wanted to add to their parkour course, with Grandpa's help, of course. So they did. Pipes to walk on upped the difficulty quite a lot! 

And the boys continued with projects, learning lots of tool-handling skills with Grandpa's help.

Here Cedrus works on a project...

And here is Kestrel...

Johnny returned by train a week after he had left.

Meanwhile, back on the farm, I had been dealing with a sick horse and a sick sheep. The horse recovered. The sheep did not. Such is life on the farm.

But I also had a seed order arrive and had the fun of planting seeds in the greenhouse. I love planting things. Besides vegetable seeds, I planted tree seeds. There is an ancient Greek saying that "a society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."  Or when old women do. This old woman planted tree seeds that may take several years to sprout, much less grow into trees. I don't know how great that is but it sure is optimistic.

Johnny and I are done with our running north and south for awhile and I'm glad. Fun as it is to visit the kids and grandkids, to celebrate their birthdays and their activities... for this old woman, there really is no place like home.