Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mixed Emotions

It's been a week of mixed emotions. Mostly good weather has allowed for outdoor projects, which usually makes me happy ( although usually also tired). But some of those projects this week brought sadness.

Years ago, Dad and I bought an old buckboard at the Small Farmer's Journal horse-drawn equipment auction that takes place each spring in Redmond, Oregon. We camped in the back of Dad's pickup and spent the days walking around the fairgrounds taking in the sights of old time farming equipment. Dad worked with horses as a kid, putting up hay. The horse equipment brought back memories and stories. We had a good time together and came home with a buckboard that he and Johnny restored for me.

I managed to hook it only once to my "team" of horses, Mr. Smith and Polly. Polly does not like to pull and was, even then, pretty old for work. She is 32 now and the younger mares are still not trained to pull. I likely will never use that buckboard. So... Johnny pulled it out of the carriage house and set it in front of the barn last Sunday to be used as a raised bed for planting peas and other food crops that I'd like to get into the ground soon. Our garden is way too wet for tilling and planting and likely will be for months. Last year, I didn't plant until July because of the wet weather. But a raised box on wheels drains nicely and stays warmer. Plus I needed room in the carriage house for the buggies I do and will use, so it made sense to convert the buckboard into something useful. But it made me sad, too. It felt like the end of a dream... my dream of farming with horses.

On Tuesday we drove to Gates for several errands near Dad's old place, Timber Knoll Ranch. It was sad driving out there, remembering all the trips we've made over the years to visit Mom and Dad, then just Dad, then to empty Dad's house and buildings after his passing. But Jay and Cindy, Dad's good friends and neighbors who bought the place, are taking wonderful care of Timber Knoll Ranch and Dad's dog, Tickle. I felt much better after seeing a fit and happy Tickle and all the work Jay has done to convert Dad's shop/garage, better known as "The Building" into an apartment. He made the beautiful cabinets in the former laundry room, now kitchen, with wood he milled on the portable sawmill that had been jointly owned by Dad and Jay. The transformation of the dusty attic full of "stuff" into a bedroom was equally dramatic.

Times change; life goes on. Mom and Dad would be pleased that someone cherishes the ranch they loved so much.

Wednesday was my eye appointment in McMinnville. But morning chores found one of the two remaining baby barn owls in our loft on the floor of the loft, instead of in the nest box. I retrieved it and climbed the ladder to the nest box, putting the baby back inside. It seemed very lethargic. I phoned around until I found a rehab center that would take it... but that meant driving into Salem, which I did not have time to do before my eye appointment. So the owl came with me.

It was a busy day for my doctor and I waited a long time... worrying about the owl in a box in the pickup. (I took the pickup instead of car so I could buy horse feed on my way home.) Eventually owl and I were united with the rehabber, feed was bought, and I returned home. The next morning I learned that our little owl was blind and that may be why it was kicked out of the nest. Seven eggs had been laid originally and at least six hatched, but one by one they diappeared... likely weakened from lack of food and then devoured by bigger siblings better able to compete for what mice the parent owls could find in our cold, wet weather. Now there is only one.

Monday and Friday were good days spent surveying for American Dippers up Agency Creek. Tromping around in the out-of-doors, concentrating on looking for birds, always makes for a good day for me. Thursday I wore myself out working outside unloading feed, deadheading daffodils, and trying to pulverize that wagon compost that didn't pulverize well until Johnny rigged up a screen and helped on Saturday (yesterday). Although I was glad to have a place for my peas, it still made me sad to give up on a dream. But times change and life goes on. Dad would understand.

Also yesterday I rode Mr. Smith and groomed all four horses who are trying to lose their winter coats. Working with the horses always makes me happy... but also tired. I am keeping the horses out of the horse pasture outside the white electric fence because a Killdeer is nesting out there. Why her nest has not been trampled so far is a mystery. It is well disguised from eyes but not hooves. It took me a week to locate it even after seeing the Killdeer on it (from about a quarter mile away.) Standing at the horse barn, I use binoculars to spot the tiny bird on the ground beyond the end of the white fence, almost to the woods. Dried up horse manure helps camouflage the eggs.

Finding the Killdeer eggs, finally, yesterday, was exciting. But also a little sad as I realized that no grandkids are coming to hunt Easter eggs today on our farm. All live too far away now and have their own lives to lead. Times change.

Rain has returned and is predicted to remain for the next week. But there are always moments of clearing... in the weather and in our lives. I'll plant peas this afternoon during a weather clearing, dig some weeds from the muddy garden (and likely get overtired). I will also try to remember to cherish the good times as they happen and have faith there will always be good times ahead.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a really poignant spring for you, too. I'm sorry the grandkids weren't there for Easter, but hunting wild eggs had to be fun.

    If you ever get the horses winter coats out, you can come take a shot at Ranger's. She's kind of horse-like, but with more earlicking.:)