Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Welcome Home the Salmon

On Sunday, Sept. 14, we again escaped our farm projects and drove to the coast for Camp Westwind's Welcome Home the Salmon ceremony. The camp's barges took us across the Salmon River to the beach on their side of the river where we were able to tour at will through beautiful Camp Westwind, see displays of the history of that area, current ownership, and admire the lovely camp buildings and views of the ocean.

There were beach games for those who chose to participate and information on the salmon life cycle. Plus boat tours with a fish biologist on board to tell us about the life cycles of the five species of salmon that are found in the Salmon River, the story of the estuary that is being restored by removing dike after dike, and more. Our friend Nancy, a retired marine biologist from Hawaii, loved hearing from another fish biologist whose specialty is salmon. 

Back on the beach was a traditional fish weir and craftspeople and biologists who explained and demonstrated how it was constructed and how it worked... in the past for Native Americans to catch  salmon for eating and in the present for researchers to catch and tag and release salmon.

I did not take my camera, not wanting to get it wet or sandy, and Johnny didn't start taking photos until near the end of our day. The above photo of the weir was taken as our tour boat was coming back to shore. The salmon circle of people honoring the return of salmon had already started to form (in the background).

We hurried off the boat to join the circle around a speaker in the middle who talked about the importance of salmon to the ecosystem and to the people who dwell there... and to all of us who eat salmon. A speaker from the Siletz tribe explained the importance of salmon to Native Americans and their reverence for this very important fish. We each were given a small piece of salmon as we thanked the salmon for returning again to the river.

Then we broke out of the circle to feast on a wonderful meal of salmon, cooked in the traditional way, plus potato and green salads and more. Delicious!

This event was billed by the Westwind Stewardship Group as "the first annual" welcome home the salmon ceremony. We will certainly plan on attending again next year.

The Hidden Gallery

On Saturday, Sept. 6, we took a break from all our projects and went to friend Monica's Rendezvous. Every year she has a gathering of friends to celebrate the arts with performances and a potluck. This year she also had a retrospective showing of tapestries by the late Hal Painter, founder of the American Tapestry Association, in her Hidden Gallery.

The performances this year at the Rendezvous were nothing short of spectacular. Four actors (including Monica's actor husband J.P. Phillips) did a reading from the August Wilson play "Joe Turner's Come and Gone". Wonderful. Johnny snuck in a few photos. This one is of the actors inside the gallery. A couple of the tapestries are sort of visible behind them.

Also wonderful was the voice of opera soprano Erin G. McCarthy, the poetry of  Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita, and the amazing voice, whistling and guitar playing of Edna Vasquez  performing her own compositions and more. What a privilege to attend such an event so close to home in a lovely, outdoor setting, among friends all united in their belief in the importance of art.

After the potluck, listening to the nature-oriented music of Edna Vasquez in the picnic grove.

The Hal Painter tapestry show will hang in the Hidden Gallery until the end of the month. Monica welcomes individuals or groups to come view it. Most of the tapestries on exhibit are for sale ... for the first time.

Monica herself is a talented artist: weaver and woodcarver. I only recently found this video interview on youtube done in 2011, as she explains her art and, in particular, the commissioned piece she did for the McMinnville Civic Hall.


Oregon is home to many pretty amazing artists of all types. Kudos to Monica for showcasing their talents at her annual Rendezvous.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Matilda the Sheep

Three years ago this month, I sheared our two sheep. Now we have only one, Matilda. Today I sheared her. After reading my blog post of the previous shearing ordeal, http://lindafink.blogspot.com/2011/09/shearing-sheep.html, it seems I'm slower even than I was then. Back then it took me one hour per sheep, alone. Today it took one and a half hours, with Johnny's help holding her. Matilda was actually very cooperative. At least, she didn't lie down or jump around, just occasionally tried to run forward or backward to escape.

Johnny took a "before" and "after" photo. Plus he weighed the wool that came off of her: 25 pounds. That's a lot of weight to be carrying around.


A rough cut, but at least she has legs now. And, yes, her coat really is at least three different colors. Maybe I'll get my act together next year and shear her again when her wool is usable for spinning, not full of a three year accumulation of sticks and gunk.

Matilda was happy to get back to her llama friends, Lindoro and Milagro. Milagro checked her out to make sure she was still Matilda.

The guardian dogs have no trouble knowing who she is. One stomp of her foot and they back off. Matilda, with or without wool, is the boss of her little family.

Projects, People and Pear Preserves

Johnny continues to work through projects that had been on hold for years... first because he was too busy earning a living, then after his back went out because he couldn't move. Since his successful back surgery and recuperation, he seems to think he is indestructible. The latest project was replacing the cracked firebricks in our wood stove. He used the firebricks he had bought for that purpose... 25 years ago.

He also flushed out the water pipes that go through the wood stove and up to our hot water heater on the top floor. When we burn wood, we are preheating the water to our water heater, all because hot water rises and cold water sinks. Of course, we are not burning wood in this hot summer, but the nights are growing cold so it won't be long before we'll fire up the wood stove again.

Although the stream of summer company slowed with the start of September and school for grandkids, it did not stop entirely. A phone call from an old college chum of Johnny's brought Mike and his wife Bonnie to the farm overnight from Missouri on their three week tour of Oregon. Johnny showed them the new goat barn and his recent projects (outhouse, fencing, dam, chimney), then I showed them the arboretum. And we took the obligatory photos.

My projects are not as photogenic as Johnny's. I cut trails through the woods, cleaned the chicken house after the meat roosters were safely in the freezer, pruned trees, pulled tansy, but mostly, I tried to keep up with the garden produce.. plus watering the garden and newest arboretum plantings. Everything would appreciate water much more often than I give it. But, in spite of thirst, the trees and garden are outdoing themselves.

We had so many pears this year that I gave many away to neighbors. I still have pears canned from two years ago so instead I made pear preserves. Delicious! And easy. I cut the sugar in half but otherwise followed the recipe that I found online as "Old-fashioned Pear Preserves".

Soon it will be cold and wet again, with our summer projects and summer visitors in the past. Hopefully, Johnny won't wreck his back before then trying to get all his projects done.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Naked Ladies

Naked Ladies are otherwise known as Amaryllis belladonna. They are a bulb that has leaves in the spring that die down by midsummer. I never even notice the leaves in my wild mess of a garden. Late summer, tall flower stalks emerge with lovely pink lilies on top. It seems to me they bloom in a different location every year. I don't know if underground creatures, of which we have a plenitude, move them around or if, in the dead of night, under cover of darkness, the naked ladies tip toe to a new site.

My brother gave me the bulbs many years ago. I always forget about these flowers until they suddenly appear in August.

Our other mysterious flower, the Voodoo Lily, aka Amorphophallus konjac, I have no idea where came from. It is in the arboretum and currently has berries where the flowers were earlier. But the flower stems have shriveled and collapsed so the pretty berries lie on the ground.

I will be interested to check the stats on this blog in a few days to see how many people view it. "Easter Chicks All Grown Up" stands 4th in all time viewings of my blog posts with 633 visits. I suspect there are not that many people interested in chickens. We'll see how many folks are interested in Naked Ladies. :-)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Escaping the Heat

Today, Saturday, we finally had a little rain... and a lot cooler weather. Hallelujah! I am not a lover of sun. Clouds are beautiful. But before we had rain or clouds or cooler weather, I escaped for a day (Wednesday) to the coast to enjoy the lovely, damp and cool fog, which came and went. When the sun came out, the temperature may have climbed to 70 degrees, but that was at least 20 degrees cooler than at home.

After picking up my friend and tour guide for the day, Dawn, at her home in Nelscott (part of Lincoln City now), we headed for Boiler Bay where we had a picnic lunch. Below us was the boiler, partly uncovered.

Beyond, we caught a glimpse of a whale heading south. After our picnic, we headed south, too. All along the way we saw whales when we stopped. And sometimes Black Oystercatchers since we always stopped where there were offshore rocks, like this spot near Seal Rock.

Here five BLOY were visible through the fog.

At the historic lighthouse at Cape Foulweather, we spotted two whales and I managed to click the shutter at the right time to catch one spouting, and then curling its back in a dive. The interpreter there said these are resident whales that we're seeing now off the coast. Oregon has at least 200 resident Gray Whales.

Looking south toward Otter Rock, fog bathed the coastline here and there.

South of Waldport we drove inland to Eckman Lake, where we found a jillion (rough estimate) Yellowlegs and Dowitchers and possibly other shorebirds... too far away for photographs.

The Great Egret was closer.

We finished a lovely, wonderfully cool day with ice cream at BJ's in Waldport. Thank goodness our farm is only 45 minutes from heat relief at the coast.

Johnny had a different way of cooling off. Grandson Ian nominated him for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that has been going around facebook. One has to to dump a bucket of ice water over one's head... and donate to the ALS Association. Johnny accepted on Thursday. Irv helped.

I'll stick to cooling off at the coast.

Is It Work or Play?

Johnny has strange ideas of fun. Between the California kids and Suue's visit, he butchered one of our hogs. He likes butchering. I've never dared ask him why. He then smoked the hams and bacon. I'm glad he likes doing that because I love eating them.

Between visits and after, Johnny spent much time building a foundation under the old outhouse. The decrepit (or "rustic" as Johnny prefers) building now has a lovely new split-face concrete block underpinning.

Once the foundation was finished, he had to move the outhouse back onto it. Neighbor Irv had helped pour the concrete and could not imagine how Johnny was going to get the outhouse back on top of this new, higher, foundation. Irv got to help it happen... with lots of jacks, levers, a come-along, and muscle power.

Success! Irv was impressed.

In the process of cutting the bottom off to get it to fit under a huge poplar limb on its higher foundation, plus the trauma of moving, some shingles fell off the corners. Johnny is in the process of replacing those.

When Johnny finished the outhouse project (other than a few details like setting up the wash stand),  he started taking down the cracked blocks around the chimney on our house and replacing them with new. He worked at this day after day... in 90 degree plus weather. On a hot tin roof. And loved it.

At last the chimney was completed and mortared, so he took down the platform he had constructed to hold the blocks before putting them up.

And now we have a lovely new, uncracked, chimney.

My idea of fun is saner. At least to me. I enjoy cleaning the horse paddock every morning and taking my load of manure in the EZ Go out to the arboretum and putting it around my trees. But now that the trees are all well-manured, I'm spreading it on the fields. That's fun, too. I like throwing it out with the pitchfork until it makes an arc of finely spread manure balls.

Maybe the heat has got to both of us.