Sunday, October 21, 2012

One October Sunday on the Farm

Sometimes, the world is just too beautiful for words...

More about this owl on my bird blog:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

October in Photos

We drove a few miles up the road from our farm last Sunday and found these colorful maples. We also found rocks to protect the new trees in the arboretum. Here is the Japanese Umbrella Pine, safe from my lawnmower and, hopefully, safe from gophers.

This Seven Sons Plant, which is really a tree, no longer needs protection and is blooming now, in mid-October.

The Smoke Bushes are all ablaze in various shades of red.

But the brightest tree of all in the arboretum is Mom's Dollar Tree, so named because she bought the original, from which this is a seedling, for one dollar on sale. It turned into a lovely tree that is covered with white blooms in the spring and turns a fiery red in the fall.

 After planting the trees yesterday that I bought recently in end-of-season sales, and circling them with protective rocks,  I hiked through our property to retrieve cards from the trail cameras and see what's been visiting. Although the alders don't put on an extravagant show, I like their soft yellows behind our pump house by the creek. And they provide a nice backdrop for black Nightingale.

This Red-breasted Sapsucker diligently explored for insects as I admired him on my way past. All around him Steller's and Scrub Jays were carrying acorns to store for winter. The oak trees are heavy laden this year.

Back by the house, colors are pretty, too. October is a colorful month.

After uploading the videos off the trail cameras, I was glad to see Split Ear and her fawn are still alive and well. The fawn has grown a lot since we first saw it in the trail camera back in May.

Here they are when the fawn was new.

Of course, we are seeing many raccoons in our trail cameras. They are very plump with all the fruit everywhere this bountiful year. These were eating apples and pears on Oct. 5 (and probably every other night, too.)

This coyote in its thick autumn coat was caught by one of our cameras on October 2nd.

The young buck we've been watching grow antlers appeared in the camera on Oct.8. He is probably the culprit who destroyed one of my beautiful Alaska Yellow Cedar trees by rubbing the velvet off his antlers. I am not so fond of this buck anymore.

Although the bears have been keeping their distance from our house this year, we've seen sign up the driveway and down in the woods. One visited the pear and apple zone on the far side of our property and got his photo taken in our camera. The apple and pear crops are so heavy everywhere that the bear and deer and raccoons and coyotes cannot keep up with the bounty, as you can see in this photo. 

It's a fall of seemingly endless harvest. We are still picking tomatoes and corn daily. All of us on this farm, wild and otherwise, will go into winter fat and happy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

It's Raining!

Normally, we in Western Oregon do not celebrate rain, since we get a lot of it. But this year we have had a record dry spell: 122 days with no precipitation. This morning, about 8 a.m., it began to drip. Hooray! It's been a long time since I've seen rain drops on roses. The ground is cracked and hard and this gentle rain is exactly what we need to slowly soften the soil. And what I need to have a break from watering. I  can only keep the vegetable garden, potted plants and newest trees in the arboretum watered. The flower beds and older arboretum plantings are on their own. Gophers and voles migrate to those places in the arboretum that are damp and have uprooted or gnawed off some of my baby trees. The resident Kestrel and Red-tailed Hawk and Great Blue Heron and Barn Owls are not keeping up with the rodent population, which seems to reproduce continually during warm, dry weather.

I can't complain about our long, hot, growing season, though, since it provided the best harvest we've ever had here, in spite of the very late planting thanks to our wet early summer. We're still eating corn out of the garden in spite of the fact the stalks were frosted, as were the leaves on just about everything else. The beans and zucchini and melons are finished, but we still have plenty of melons (miniature melons but they taste good) in the house along with zucchini. Snow peas haven't stopped flowering and producing, in spite of the daytime heat and nighttime frost. Tomatoes are still ripening on their frosted vines. The freezer is full to overflowing with vegetables to enjoy this winter.

I brought the acorn squash and some of the pumpkins in before the rain. We've never had so many pumpkins ripen. And the grapes... Oh my. We almost never get ripe grapes but this year we have many bowls full.

The wild blackberries are still going strong, which may be why the bears have not been visiting our apple and pear trees. They've had plenty to eat in the mountains. Until now. This morning, the first bear poop appeared in our driveway. So our big white guardian dog who is loose at night might be keeping bears away from the goat barn but he didn't keep one very far away from our house.


When not watering, I've been cleaning and moving stuff from the old milk room to the new one. I've found things I haven't seen in years, encased in dust and spider webs. I also moved a bench in front of my milk room in case I ever have time to sit and enjoy the view.

Johnny returned last Tuesday from eight days in Southern California at my nephew Rob's wedding and then at Steve and Munazza's, playing with grandsons Kestrel and Cedrus... and, along with Munazza's sister Faiza, helping everyone cope with the sudden death of a very important and much loved person in their lives, the teacher at the preschool the boys have always gone to. Kestrel is in kindergarten this year, but Cedrus is now without a school to attend which is tough on parents who work full time.

Although I spent most of my time while Johnny was gone harvesting the garden, including freezing corn off a gazillion cobs, and moving into the new barn, I also went birding one day with friend Dawn from the coast. Since chores were taking me a very long time, thanks to the goats not being keen on the new milk room yet, she came here and we birded the farm and up Agency Creek. I have never seen Agency so low.

This American Dipper barely had to get its feet wet to find underwater insects.

October is nursery sales month and friend Velta and I could not resist taking one day to tour our favorite area nurseries. I've always wanted a tree fern, for some odd reason, and Egan's Gardens had one on sale, so I stuffed it into the back seat of my little Honda and brought it home. It's a good thing Tasmanian Tree Ferns grow slowly as it is already plenty big for my jungle room.

I am most excited about a little Japanese Umbrella Pine that I bought at Dancing Oaks nursery that day. I had never heard of it before but it turns out to be a sacred tree in Japan and, like Gingko, an ancient tree with no living relatives. I'll get photos when it is bigger and in the ground.

Now that Johnny is home I'm keeping him busy with additions and changes in the new barn, things I find I need as the goats and I adjust to it. Johnny says I add things to his list faster than he can do them. The goats are finally getting used to their new digs and McCoy seems pretty content to be next to, but not with, them. They still have a guardian dog on duty, as Shirley is in their pasture with her llamas and sheep.

With the arrival of the rain, I'll soon be able to plant out all those potted trees waiting patiently to move into the arboretum. Hopefully, the voles and gophers will leave them alone.