Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Our Anniversary Celebration

We celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary yesterday. No, yesterday was not our anniversary. That was two weeks ago. But whenever we celebrate on the proper day, something goes wrong. Yesterday, though, nothing went wrong (until after we returned home, but that's for later).

We didn't know we were celebrating until we were eating supper at the Marco Polo restaurant in Salem. (They have a gluten free menu.) We had spent the day on my North Santiam raptor route and it was a good day. So I came up with the idea that we should call this day our anniversary celebration day. Johnny agreed that picking a day that had turned out well was a good... and safe... way to honor our marriage. And surely, he said, we will have at least one good day a year.

It was not that we found hordes of raptors along the route to excite us. But the weather was lovely, snow-covered Mt. Jefferson spectacular in the sun (why oh why didn't I stop and take a photo?), and lunch that we ate in warm sunshine at John Neal park was delicious. Best of all, our hike around that park after lunch to find the Red-shouldered Hawks we located last month for the first time resulted in one of the Red-shoulders posing nicely for as long as I clicked the shutter and after. What a handsome bird.

 Plus there were scores of birds of all kinds along the trail and in the ponds and sloughs, like this colorful Wood Duck. What a lovely park and wonderful wildlife habitat!

A cool bridge (above), an impressive beaver dam (below)...

 ...and the North Santiam River bordering the park made for a scenic anniversary day (even though we didn't know at the time it was our celebratory day.)

After finishing our route and a bit of shopping, we ate a gluten free meal with huge servings that will feed us for another day or two. And then it was off to Farmer Rd. near Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge to see if any Short-eared Owls would be performing at dusk. We saw none, but enjoyed a lovely sunset with geese flying across the fiery sky.

Homeward bound, we drove via Coville Road through Baskett Slough, of course. In the darkening sky, a Great Horned Owl sat on a telephone pole alongside the road and ignored us. It was too dark for photos, but I took one anyway.

What a wonderful anniversary day... until we got home and discovered both livestock guardian dogs frolicking outside the fences instead of inside. So today I closed the gates to the outer fields in hopes they will stay in the near fields until I figure out where they're escaping from. But no life and no marriage is perfect so I will try not to complain about one small irritation in an otherwise very good day.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Grandma's Wash Receipt

I stopped in at the Willamina Museum of History in Willamina, Oregon, a few days ago and wandered around. This original "receipt" (how-to list) was posted on the wall with the original spelling. It was given by a mother to her daughter. For anyone in this country today who thinks clothes washing is a chore, consider this from 100 or so years ago:

1. Bild a fire in back yard to heet kettle of rain water.

2. Set tubs so smoke won't blow in eyes if wind is pert.

3. Shave one whole cake lye soap in bilin water.

4. Sort things, make 3 piles, 1 pile white, 1 pile cullord, 1 pile work britches and rags.

5. Stur flour in cold water to smooth, then thin down with bilin water.

6. Rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, then bile, rub cullord, but don't bile - just rench and starch.

7. Take white things out of kettle with broom handle, then rench, blue and starch.

8. Spred tee towels on grass.

9. Hang old rags on fence.

10. Pore rench water on flower bed.

11. Scrub porch with hot soapy water.

12. Turn tubs upside down.

13. Go put on clean dress - smooth hair with side combs - brew cup of tee - set and rest and rock a spell and count blessings.

Presumably they only washed clothes in the summer and not in the rainy winter or those tee towels would not have dried until spring. I'm counting my blessings right now.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kestrel's 6th Birthday

Johnny spent a week at our Washington kids' place, working on horse stalls. He didn't take any photos but Kevin posted some of  Ian's trampoline routines at his first gymnastic meet of the year on facebook. Ian did super well with a first and a third. The next week he had another meet, just before I left for California. In that one, he had a first and a second!

On Johnny's return, I gave him a new camera (he has destroyed the previous ones so I bought a two year guarantee with this one.) Next time, hopefully he will take photos for me to put in my blog.

A few days after Johnny returned from Washington, I flew to our California kids' place to help celebrate grandson Kestrel's 6th birthday. (Too bad our kids live so far apart!) Here are Kestrel, Cedrus (4), Munazza and Steve when I first arrived.

We took a hike right away to a nearby park that I love...

It was difficult to get photos of Kestrel because he was so much faster than the rest of us!

We rested at their favorite viewpoint, where we could look north and south across the bay... and even see a bit of their house and backyard tall pine tree.

 It's already spring in the bay area with many trees in bloom and spring flowers in the woods. Here is a Giant Wakerobin (Trillium) along the path and Cedrus with huge Acacia bushes.

Another day in another park, there were wonderful climbing trees and the boys climbed!

 We also went to Annie's, a huge nursery with scads of plants for Munazza and Steve to pick from to landscape their yard. Annie's has lots of ride-around toys for kids. Kestrel and Cedrus made good use of them, but I didn't take any photos there. I was too busy encouraging Munazza to buy this plant and that one. Annie's has so many plants that grow in their Zone 9 climate that cannot grow in my Zone 6.

Back home, Cedrus made juice out of lots of yummy fruits and vegetables while Kestrel took photos.

                                                               Happy juice faces!

We read lots of books and played lots of games while I was there, including this tower building game where the pieces to make the tower taller must be pulled from below. Very tense trying to not make the tower fall!

And every day, the boys danced to Michael Jackson songs. Here's a video of their dancing:

On birthday day, Kestrel's cake was his requested Chocolate Mousse cupcakes. Six of them. One for each of the six people at Kestrel's birthday: Kestrel, Cedrus, Aunt Fudge, parents and grandma (me). The Chocolate Mousse was delicious!

Next came the gift opening. Cedrus watched as Kestrel opened his presents.

  Kestrel loved them all, especially the go-cart! He and his dad put it together in the garage.

And then it was time for a test ride. Dad had to help on the uphills.

Cedrus joined the fun on his pedal motorcycle.

I walked along and took photos of plants I admired in their neighborhood that I think Munazza should plant... mostly because I can't grow them here! These flowers seem to bloom all winter.

Early the next morning, I flew back home to Oregon, via Alaska Airlines. I left under sunny skies but with frost on Steve's car's windshield... which doesn't happen too often there... and snow on the low hills around the San Jose airport.

I loved seeing the Bay area from the air. How little that peninsula looks where San Francisco lies at the very tip.

 It's difficult to tell how hilly San Francisco is when you're looking down from way above it.

 Farther north, as we approached Oregon, the mountains grew taller and the snow deeper. How beautiful this wild land is from the air.

It was fun visiting the California tribe, but it's always nice to be back home. Now it's their turn to visit us!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

No Rest for the Wicked

"No rest for the wicked" was one of my mom's sayings whenever she was super busy. I never understood the connection between being busy and being wicked since my mom was anything but wicked, yet I've taken to using that saying, too. This past week I must have been very wicked because I sure have been busy.

Monday was repair-the-horse-fence day which I wrote about last post. Tuesday was my monthly raptor run starting from our farm. This time we met my former (before stroke) raptor running pal Marilyn with her escort Sue part way through the route so Marilyn could revisit a couple of the "hot birding spots" on our route. She proved to be a bird magnet. We saw a distant eagle perched under about a zillion ravens at our first stop, as well as several Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks. But most exciting was this close-up view of a White-tailed Kite, the only one Dawn and I saw on our 80 mile route that day.

The next stop, at Oregon Wildlife Center, gave us a close-up view of a beautiful Dama Gazelle.

And close-up views of bluebirds although I never did get one in focus.

Marilyn and Sue headed home, then, while Dawn and I finished my route. We were surprised to find a Red-shouldered Hawk on a wire near Fort Hill Restaurant. That was the second Red-shouldered of the day. The first had been seen 3 miles north on the Willamina side of the hill.

I was tired when we got home but since I had not yet sent my monthly column off to United Caprine News and that day was the deadline, I gave my draft a quick go-over, called it good, and emailed it to the editor. Then it was off to the barn for evening chores. Sweetheart, the goat I didn't know was bred until a few weeks ago, (the buck jumped out back in September), needed help that night delivering her twin bucklings. I was even more tired after untangling those kids and helping them out. It took the kids a couple days to get the hang of nursing but they're doing well now.

 On Wednesday, I made a feed run for the last of the low-carb hay pellets that will be available until next summer. I'm scrambling to find a replacement for my easy keeper Morgans who cannot be out on our lush spring grass, come spring. It looks like my horse hobby is about to get more expensive. Ah well, as horse people always say, it's cheaper than therapy.

Yesterday (Friday) was tree planting day after my trip on Thursday to pick up pre-ordered trees from the Yamhill County Soil and Water Conservation District annual tree sale. I bought Western Dogwoods, Pacific Yews and Pacific Madrones. And surrounded each of them with rocks that we had brought out of the hills last Sunday. The rocks are to protect them from gophers and my lawnmower. The baby trees are tiny now, but so were the Sequoia and Cedar near this little Madrone when I planted them not so many years ago. Trees grow fast (the ones that survive) in our temperate rainforest climate. And tree planting is good therapy, too.

After tree planting and lunch, the greenhouse was begging for water so I provided the jungle plants with their occasional monsoon rains... and noticed buds coming again on the rick rack type cactus. It gets buds often but they almost always turn black and die. It's too cold in our unheated greenhouse for them. The cymbidium orchid, though, seems to like cool temperatures just fine and is in full bloom... more good therapy for wickedly busy me.

Today, after morning chores, I walked around the farm gathering trail camera cards. Raccoons and deer predominated in the videos. But the camera I had moved to the horse escape location where I had done temporary fence repairs on Monday had many videos of Jessie Anne, the fence tester, marching past. In one she stops and looks at my fencing handiwork. Horses are creatures of the plains, not the forest, yet all but one video was taken at night, in the dark, when no horse should be deep in the woods. The other horses must have agreed as they were not following her until the last video, when Nightingale examined the camera.

Jessie Anne must be really determined to escape again, although there is absolutely nothing to eat in the jungle on the other side of the fence. No rest for the wicked, indeed.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super Bowl Sunday

The title of this post is deceiving. We took advantage of Super Bowl Sunday yesterday to drive up into the woods where we knew few other people would be, since most red-blooded Americans would be chewing chicken wings and drinking beer in front of their television sets. And we were right. But there were a few other cars seen during the day, two with young lovers who obviously thought they would be alone up there on Super Bowl Sunday.

After our usual gathering of large rocks for surrounding baby arboretum trees to protect them from gophers and my lawn mower, we drove to the farthest of the Agency Creek American Dipper nests that we have found over the last couple of years. No Dippers were present, but there was plenty of evidence they had been there. With leaves off the trees and the weather pleasant enough, we decided to hike upstream from that nest location and see how far the Dipper evidence continued. (Dipper evidence being little whitewash splats where a Dipper sat and defecated, like on the rocks pictured below.)

The Dipper evidence continued far beyond where I reached, I'm sure. I'll search more another day. We found interesting things along the way, including these leavings from some predator... a raccoon perhaps? We think these are fish teeth and scales.

We also found a beaver slide with one beaver print not obliterated by its dragging tail. There were many beaver chewed trees but I did not take photos of them. Maybe next time.

Also along that part of the stream were these interesting cup fungi.

I wanted to have time to check some of our other known Dipper nest areas so hiked back to the van and we drove on. A short distance up the road, Johnny noticed a Gray Jay feeding on something. It turned out to be a Bushytail Wood Rat, or half of one. I've seen hawks and vultures and coyotes feeding on dead animals along the road, but this is the first time I've seen a Gray Jay doing it.

Between two known Dipper nest areas, we found a potential new nest area, judging from the quantity of splats. We'll come back later to see if we're right.

The known nest area by Asinine Bridge gave us our first view of a Dipper this day. It was sitting atop a log that crossed the stream near the old nest site. Another Dipper was downstream and out of sight of the first one. It is difficult to know at this time of year if sitting birds are hanging out near their nest site or defending their territory boundaries. Time will tell.

Farther downstream, another Dipper sat atop a rock in an area where we often see Dippers but have not yet discovered a nest. This is near what I call Blythe's Corner and Blythe's Falls, for a friend who visits this part of the stream to meditate. A Dipper often meditates with her, but neither she nor I have seen it feed nestlings. Perhaps this year I will, now that I've discovered a potential nest site within view of this Meditating Dipper on a Rock. The Dipper is the tiny black dot in the center of the photo atop a rock, with Blythe's Falls in the background. The next photo is the Dipper enlarged (and blurry).

Another more colorful bird caught my eye as I hiked. We saw two of these pretty Red-breasted Sapsuckers along the creek.

Dipper evidence was everywhere it should be yesterday, at least at the nest sites we visited. We did not hike into the last two, which are considerably off the road. We'll survey again in March and see if nests are being built or rebuilt.

Back home in late afternoon, I was unloading rocks when I heard my horses screaming. Johnny hollered that two of them were in the arboretum, pacing the fence line. I hurried to retrieve them before they destroyed my trees. Mr. Smith was calling to them from where they all should have been. The mares must have come through the fence somewhere down in the woods. Jessie Anne seems to think that fences are puzzles for her to figure out. I put the mares back where they belonged and closed the electric fence gate to keep them contained in one field until I could find the fence they had gone through.

This afternoon I followed their hoof prints... an easy task in the soft ground... from arboretum to woods to where they walked over the downed fence. Huge trees had fallen on the fence and smashed it flat so I cannot really blame the mares for walking over the top. Mr. Smith, though, must have been elsewhere when they made their escape. Since they called him from where they wandered, which was in a different direction from where they escaped, he ran back and forth along an intact fence line trying to reach them.

It would have taken a chain saw to repair the damage and a lot of post and fence replacing, so I spent several hours doing my usual propping up what could be propped up and then weaving downed limbs through standing trees to create a network hopefully looking enough like a barrier to convince the horses to stay where they belong. When Johnny has time, he will fix it properly.

It was a good Super Bowl Sunday for us, minus chicken wings and beer. Even the horse escape could not dampen my enthusiasm. After all, it was good to find out about the downed fence and lucky the horses did not get their feet caught in the woven wire as they crossed it. And, of course, any day I see a Dipper is a good one.