Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Grandkid Week, Part Three: Kestrel and Cedrus

Johnny picked up Kestrel (3 1/2) and Cedrus (1 1/2) and their parents (Munazza and Steve) at the airport on Thursday, August 26, while Kinnera and her mom and I stayed home cooking turkey and making deviled eggs and ice cream.

The weather had cooled considerably, so the boys were bundled up for their first trek to the pond that evening, where they threw rocks and apples into the water to see them go splash. And, of course, they"drove" the tractors in Grandpa's new machine shed.

Friday was beach day. Kestrel spent it building and knocking down sand castles. Cedrus helped for awhile, but he preferred having his feet buried and rediscovered about a hundred times. Pictured are the castle builders hard at work. Well, one of them seems to be sleeping.

This is the dune where Steve and Kevin grew up and, for them, climbing the dune and running down is what you do at the beach. Here is Steve sharing his childhood tradition with Kestrel.

Another Fink family tradition at the beach is the maze. The big kids demonstrate. Kestrel studies the choices.

Cape Kiwanda has a climbing wall, cut out of the sand cliff. Steve and Munazza raced each other going up... Steve with no hands. No kidding. Cedrus didn't like his mom getting that far away from him.

Saturday, after canoeing and after Kinnera and family had left, we hiked to the river (Agency Creek). Cedrus is a good hiker, but it's a long way to the creek and there are lots of interesting things to stop and look at. Munazza thought we maybe should have started early in the morning to get there before dark.

Kestrel loved following the many winding paths in the arboretum and going bushwhacking through the Ponderosas with his Grandpa Johnny.

Once at creek side, it wasn't long before both boys were in that icy water.

Sunday was llama feeding time. Cedrus was really into feeding llamas. Kestrel preferred to let him. Those animals are big when you're on the ground looking up.

Munazza joined her family for one last canoe ride before they flew home. But she nearly went swimming instead... the canoe tipped as she climbed in. Her slacks hit the drink and she almost did, too. After the ride, Munazza modeled her wet backside. Good thing she's a good sport!

Kestrel and Cedrus had inside, as well as outside, fun. Here's a video of their bed bouncing hilarity that I put on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5o4EEwmmtE4

Our marathon grandkid week ended Sunday night when we took Kestrel and Cedrus and their parents back to the airport. It's very quiet here now. A gentle rain began as we neared home Sunday night and has rained off and on since then. The sky must be missing all the children, too. I'm glad we have photos to help us remember the joy of grandchildren on the Fink Family Farm.

Grandkid Week, Part Two: Kinnera

One day after Ian left, Kinnera (along with her mom, our good friend Hazel) arrived by bus... not quite as close to Grand Ronde as Hazel had planned, but close enough for me to pick them up. It was 100 degrees the day they waited for an hour outdoors in Hillsboro for a bus to McMinnville that they missed. But the evening cooled and they revived enough for Kinnera to meet the new puppy that she had been eagerly waiting to meet. Kinnera, 11, loves animals. Mister McCoy* loved Kinnera.

*I had been having a hard time calling the puppy McCoy. And I kept referring to him as "her". Kinnera solved the problem by renaming him Mister McCoy. That works! Mister McCoy he has been ever since and I no longer have gender issues with him.

On her first day here, Kinnera hiked to the river with Shirley Puppy, met the newest baby goat, and helped with chores.

The very next day, Cedrus and Kestrel arrived ( with their parents, Steve and Munazza) and suddenly there were two small children to entertain and be entertained by. Here they are with Hazel.

On Friday, we all piled into Johnny's Roustmobile and drove to Cape Kiwanda to play in the sand. Kinnera built sand castles with the big kids (Johnny and Steve), and got herself buried in the sand.

But the highlight of the trip for Kinnera may have been back at the farm on Saturday with her first ever kayak experience. It was hard to believe it was her first, as she climbed in and paddled off as though she'd been doing it her whole life. She also took Johnny and Kestrel for a canoe ride on our pond before she, her mom, and her dad who only arrived that morning, left to attend a wedding and then drive back across the mountains to their home.

Kestrel and Cedrus and their parents stayed for another day of fun on the Fink Family Farm, pictured in Grandkid Week, Part 3.

Grandkid Week, Part One: Ian

Our grandkid marathon week began on a Saturday when we picked up eight-almost-nine-year-old Ian from the hotel where he and his parents (Kevin and Jessica) were staying for a horse affair nearby. After Johnny and Ian and I swam and goofed around in the hotel pool, we brought Ian home to the farm for his first ever visit without parents.

Ian has been coming here since he was little and always helps with chores. Now he really does help. He knows the routine, climbs the ladder to the horse barn loft, weighs out the horses' hay pellets, adds their supplements, and hands the heavy buckets down to me below so I can feed. He measures the goats' grain while I milk, helps Johnny throw hay down from the loft into the mangers, and spreads grain in front of the barn for the wild birds.
Ian loves feeding the goats melon rinds and doesn't mind being mobbed by them. This time, there was a new baby goat to play with. And a new puppy.

There was also the new barn to investigate. Ian broke up the waste concrete piles left from the foundation pour, used Johnny's big magnet to find all the nails left lying around from the concrete forms, and figured out where everything should go in the new barn.

Then there was the obligatory hike to the river, picking blackberries along the way. Ian figured out how to protect his arms from nettles... put them inside his shirt! He has graduated from throwing rocks into the water, as all children love to do, up to skipping rocks, at which he excels. But, of course, no child can resist wading in the water, even if it's as icy cold as our Agency Creek.

Sunday night we spread our blankets under the trees at Stoller Vineyard to watch a Midsummer Night's Dream by the Willamette Shakespeare company. (You can never start too young watching Shakespeare.) Ian, to my amazement, stayed awake for the entire two-hour-with-no-intermission performance.

Monday we had to return Ian to his parents... and try to rest up before Kinnera, our surrogate grandchild and the only granddaughter in our tribe... arrived on Wednesday (Grandkid Week, Part Two). Kestrel and Cedrus joined her on Thursday (Grandkid Week, Part Three). Hot, dry August, my least favorite month, became a great deal of fun this year.

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Puppy and New Barn

Our new Livestock Guardian Dog pup, a Great Pyrenees, arrived day before yesterday. So far, he's a very well-behaved little guy. Well, not so little. The breeder (Sharon McCoy, a long-time friend of mine) said he should mature at 150 pounds. That's more than most of my goats weigh! He was born and raised with Sharon's Alpines and loves our Nubians. Our goats, however, do not return the feeling. They want nothing to do with him. Hopefully, they'll get used to McCoy soon. (We name our LGDs after the people we buy them from. Finegan came from Mel Finegan, Shirley Puppy from Shirley Buchholz, and now McCoy from Sharon McCoy.)

Today McCoy was sequestered in one of the buck pens while multiple trucks, people, and a giant cement truck invaded the barn area. Our new goat barn-to-be now has a foundation! If you look carefully at the picture below (or enlarge it), you will see Johnny on his bicycle, surveying the scene, and, across the fence behind the old barn, the new white puppy, on duty. I turned him back with the goats after everyone had left.
Stay tuned for periodic barn and puppy updates and photos.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Burma Shave Signs

If you're old enough, you may remember the Burma Shave signs that lined lonely stretches of highway with rhymed messages, often with warnings for drivers. One I remember read:

He lit a match
To check gas tank
That's why they call him
Skinless Frank

Our long driveway gets considerable traffic from neighbors, delivery folk, and occasionally from people who think it is a public road. Some of them whiz down here too fast, causing the many birds that gather grit to scramble for their lives. At least one adult quail didn't make it this spring... I found him smashed flat at the edge of our driveway. Since we now have many families of quail using the driveway, I've been worried that more will go the same way. So with help from family and friends, we came up with two Burma Shave type rhymes to slow people down, hopefully. Johnny made the signs and put them up today.

As you enter our driveway you see these on the right:

As you leave, you see these:

Saturday, August 14, 2010


It is 98 degrees here right now, too hot to work outside and I'm tired of sorting all the junk on the kitchen table. (How do I manage to accumulate so much stuff?) So I'll throw together some unrelated photos and comments to try to catch up a bit on this journal/blog. I intended to write a column on all the work I've been doing on the farm, since I tend to only post our fun, coastal adventures. I was going to post a photo of the sheep and llamas before I sheared them and after. However, I've yet to shear the poor things. It's too hot to put them and myself through that ordeal. Besides, wool insulates against heat as well as cold, right?

But here is a photo of the huge mound of bushes I whacked off the driveway so people could drive down without getting smacked in the face. The box and sacks are full of thistles and tansy I pulled out of our fields. The sacks are now covered with a blue tarp because the horses were in the orchard where that burn pile resides and decided that sacked thistles must be tasty, scattering them and the sacks all over the place. I had to resack all those thistles that I'd spent many days pulling. I was not happy. The horses are now banned from the orchard. Also pictured is the driveway, de-brushed. One can even drive to the barn now without getting attacked by blackberry vines. At least until they grow back out again.

I also cleaned two buck pens that had not been cleaned in a very long time. Many many loads like this one went to the chicken yard. I have two more pens to clean, much deeper than the first two. They'll have to wait for cooler weather. One of the pens I cleaned will temporarily house the new Livestock Guardian puppy that is due to arrive next week. More about that another time.

Johnny, when he's not being dragged to the coast to assist in Black Oystercatcher surveys, has been working on the new barn design and doing ground work. The water and electric lines are laid, holes dug for posts; all's ready for the concrete people. Johnny also seems to have oozed back into working for other people a bit... small jobs... for neighbors and friends. His back is good most of the time, but not all of the time.

In bird news (and there's always bird news), many families of quail patrol the driveway and the area in front of the barn where grain magically appears most mornings. So many quail patrol the driveway that we're making signs to encourage people to slow down. More about that another time. A barn owl is nesting again in the loft... I'm not sure if it's the same one that nested earlier in the year or a different one.

And, of course, there have been those trips to the coast. Johnny has hiked a few of them with me... probably more than he should have. This sign says the first half mile of the Hart's Cove trail is rather steep. "Rather steep" is like "rather pregnant". It's steep. Period. But it didn't seem half as steep going down as it did coming back up. And we didn't even find any Oystercatchers.

The view, though, was, as always, lovely. Sea lions were sacked out all over the rocks by the waterfall. They have the right idea for what to do on a hot day.