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.
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.