Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Fruitful Summer


Prune plums and apples and blackberries and pears and grapes... our cups runneth over, also our freezer. Johnny has done most of the freezing of fruit and giving it away to neighbors. I am tired of canning and quit after the pears and cucumber pickles. Then I mowed dry grass fields and attempted to keep the garden watered and veggies picked, the beans and broccoli and I-forget-what-else frozen.

Johnny continues to make delicious Mountain Pies with our prune plums. Here is his gluten-free recipe...

                         Johnny Fink's Plum Delicious Mountain Pie

1 1/2 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 big eggs
1/2 cup milk

Mix and pour into 9" round pan

pit 8 prune plums and cut into small pieces, spread on top of batter

Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top of prunes

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes

The prunes magically spread their flavor throughout the batter as the pie bakes.

Johnny also makes a fruit salad as soon as we have finished off the last one he made. This is, indeed, a fruitful time of year on the farm. While he has been busy baking mountain pies and making fruit salads, among doing other things, I escaped to attend the Shorebird Festival in southern Oregon this past weekend, leaving him to milk goats and do the rest of my farm chores. I carpooled down the coast with friends Dawn and Eugenia.

We stopped first at the Nature Trail at Salishan where a bird from the eastern half of the U.S. had been seen off and on for several days. This was only the 4th time ever a Yellow-throated Vireo had been seen in Oregon. Dawn had tried her luck six times to find it and struck out every time. But this day started out with a good sign... a juvenile Green Heron flew into a tree by Johnny's shop just as I was loading the car to go. It didn't stay long for a good photo but, trust me, that's what this brown blob in the tree is: I know because I watched it fly out of the tree... too fast for me to aim my camera.


The good omen of the Green Heron proved true. After eating our lunch beside the trail, we walked back and forth with several other searching birders and, finally, Dawn spotted it. The Yellow-throated Vireo did not stick around long enough for a photo, but Dawn and I saw it very clearly with it's white belly and yellow throat. It was perched on a limb eating a bug. The flock of warblers and chickadees it was with all flew and so did the visiting vireo. But it was an exciting start to our birding adventure.

Walking back to the car, we saw a Red-necked Phalarope feeding close to shore... our first shorebird of the Shorebird Festival weekend.




That evening, after registering and moving into our dorm rooms (Dawn moved into a hotel with her husband who had driven down from Salem after work to meet her), we attended a lecture on Black Oystercatchers given by USGS biologist Elise Elliot-Smith, who initiated the volunteer monitoring in 2005 that I, and many others, have been doing ever since. Her talk was followed by an update by the current head of the Black Oystercatcher project and all other Portland Audubon Society volunteer projects, Joe Liebezeit.

It was a great start to the weekend. Unfortunately, Dawn woke up the next morning ill, so drove home with her husband who had met her there. But at least she, another avid BLOY monitor, had heard and seen the Black Oystercatcher presentation. And... drum roll... she had finally seen the elusive Yellow-throated Vireo!

Most of my bird photos from the weekend Shorebird Festival are on my Birds blog here:  http://lindafink-birdnotes.blogspot.com/2016/09/shorebird-festival-charleston-oregon.html

However, there was more to see than shorebirds on our field trips in the Charleston, Coos Bay and Bandon areas. I loved Simpson Reef with its spectacular Harlequin Ducks...


... and a few bazillion Sea Lions...






 After the field trips ended, I wandered down to the bay edge and took more photos of birds and other sights. I was intrigued by this tug boat towing a huge barge. I wonder what the barge was carrying?














The tuna and salmon were running well, we were told, and there were lots of fisherfolk out fishing. The marina was full of boats.




Eugenia and I stayed overnight Sunday and left Monday morning. We had "discovered" a little shop a short distance from the OIMB campus that opened at 6 a.m.  Eugenia could get her morning coffee and I hot chocolate. Next to that store was a pub, Miller's at the Cove Sports Bar and Grill, where we ate Sunday night. We are both gluten free and this little pub had a gluten-free menu! And delicious gluten-free clam chowder! If either of us gets to Charleston again, this place is where we will eat suppers. The food was great and so was the service.

We drove home, stopping here and there for rest breaks and short hikes. This lovely Lake Marie had a Wrentit singing most insistently while many other birds chimed in. We watched a Downy Woodpecker flitting about quite un-woodpecker like.


When we reached the farm, Eugenia stayed a bit before driving home. We watched the birds in front of the barn here... hordes of California Quail, quite a few young White-crowned Sparrows, a flock of Cedar Waxwings eating chokecherries, Mourning Doves, a Red-breasted Sapsucker, a Western Wood Pewee flycatching from a dead tree. A Common Yellowthroat talked from the cattails by the pond but refused to come into view.

It was a good trip, but like all trips, it's nice to have it over and to be home. Now to unpack... and have a piece of Johnny's Plum Delicious Mountain Pie.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Labor Day Hike


Having spent days (weeks) laboring (I have enough pears canned and Johnny has enough prunes frozen to last for years), Johnny and I took a day off to explore the hills above us where the Upper Nestucca Christmas bird count takes place every year. Our section of the count includes Niagara Lake, which we never get to on count day because of impassable, muddy roads and distance. But on Sept. 5, the roads were dry and someone had cut the fallen trees out of the way.

It had been so long since we hiked in to Niagara Lake (roads are not navigable all the way, even in dry weather) that we took a few unnecessary side trips. But eventually we arrived... at the dry lake.



Those are wilted water lilies so the lake must have water in the winter.




 Johnny said the track looked like the fore print of a black bear. My animal tracking books say he is right. The pocket knife is about 4 inches long.


Johnny ahead on the walk back out...


I hope the weather for the Christmas bird count allows us to hike in to Niagara Lake. I'd love to see it with water... and maybe birds...

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Walk Around the Farm


After sorting and canning pears on this blissfully cooler day, I escaped and took a walk around the farm...

Agency Creek

Mr. Smith

the goat barn

Jessie Ann and Nightingale
Milagro and Shirley














Monday, August 22, 2016

Meanwhile, Back on the Farm

The garden loves the hot weather. I don't. And I planted too much of almost everything, as usual.

One day's picking of cucumbers...


and of summer squash...


one lone honey dew melon of any size, so far, in the garden...

and one watermelon growing...


Delicata squash, lots of it, coming on...

And the first artichoke... hope there will be more!


Johnny and friends did one batch of cider yesterday (August!) with downfall apples. The trees are still loaded with not yet ripe apples...


So was the pear tree loaded but I picked them all yesterday... five big boxes full. They will get canned as they ripen, theoretically. Yesterday I also picked and froze one day's harvest of golden wax beans... about 15 quarts. Corn and pumpkins are coming on, tomatoes slowly ripening, lots of rainbow carrots. And more. I'll be more enthusiastic this winter when the garden is put to bed and the veggies are in the freezer or canned. Today I'm making bread and butter pickles with some of those over-producing cucumbers.

I estivate inside the house on the very hot days... we had three days close to 100 degrees this past week. Or else I go to the cooler coast to monitor Black Oystercatcher nests. Instead of reporting those trips here, I've started another blog to keep track of them for my own records. http://bloymonitor.blogspot.com/

It's supposed to get hot again in a few days. The garden will be glad.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Johnny's August Trip to California


Johnny took the Amtrak down to California for a few days of projects with Steve, Munazza, Kestrel and Cedrus. He took lots of photos of their Parkour course and lumber rack projects before his camera quit. I had never heard of Parkour but apparently everyone else has. I went to Wikipedia and found that it has become a popular urban sport derived from military training where one bounds, climbs, swings and whatever else is necessary to get over and around obstacles.

Kestrel walking across the top beam of the swing from their back yard play structure. I think it is better for me to see this in a photo than in person.


Cedrus walking the two by four. Brave children!



They took the short ladder off the play structure and turned it into a difficult to walk on bridge


Kestrel making it even more difficult by walking on the hand rails

And then he runs down the 2 x 4 to the ground. Oh my.

Cedrus walking the bridge


Those kids have good balance!

Johnny was amazed that they could walk down this skinny pipe.
 Well, it wasn't always a perfect success...



The zip line that Johnny and Steve installed some years ago is still a favorite.. and now part of the Parkour course.


Cedrus showed off another of his talents: painting.

Kestrel made a movie of the Parkour course. Here he is editing it, taking out pieces and adding music. Wow.

But they're still kids. Cedrus hugging his giraffe.
 After the Parkour course was finished, everyone turned their attention to building a lumber holder in one corner of the yard.



One of Johnny's jobs was to teach everyone how to use the new tools they had bought. Munazza learned well. Johnny said she did most of the sawing.



Here Kestrel helps his dad with the final touches

And there it is with the surplus pieces of wood neatly categorized and out of the way... ready for the next project.

On Johnny's last day, he and Steve remodeled the kids' beds as per their request, but his camera had quit by then so no photos. I think canopies were added and under-bed storage space. Johnny had a great time and it looks like much was accomplished in his few days there.

Obviously, Kestrel and Cedrus are not the kids you hear about who spend all their time glued to an electronic device. They certainly know how to use computers but they also swim, dance, camp, hike, play musical instruments, draw, paint, write, read, play games, design and build things, put on plays on their backyard stage... and now build confidence, balance and coordination on their Parkour course.