Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Week in Review

 On Monday, Johnny and I did our last raptor route of the season, 85 miles between Salem and Gates. Mt. Jeff was lovely on this spring day.

 For the rest of the week, I weeded. Plus planted seeds in greenhouse flats and in outdoor raised boxes that Johnny made screen tops for to keep the critters from stealing my seeds. I'll do a gardening post sometime with photos.

When I washed off my shovel at the end of each day in the spigot under the kitchen window, this hummingbird was guarding the hummingbird feeder that hangs outside that window. (Story on my Birds blog)

Yesterday, Saturday, Filigree had triplets, including this colorful little guy.

Today, Easter Sunday, I groomed all three horses, then put their grazing muzzles back on since this is the time of year when the rapidly growing grass can give them laminitis. I took their photo, with Spirit Mountain and their shelter in the background, as I walked around the farm gathering trail camera cards, as I do most every Sunday.

These pretty pink flowers are everywhere in our woods. I think they are Cardamine Nutallii, but I've always called them Spring Queens.

The first trilliums are blooming, a sure sign of spring.

As always, I sat by Agency Creek for a time before checking the third and last trail camera. This female Common Merganser was resting on the opposite shore.

Fallen alder catkins clung to a branch in the creek, looking, to me, like stranded, colorful worms.

Back at the barn, D-Ona had triplets this evening, Easter Sunday. Here they are brand new and slimy. They'll be cute by tomorrow.

This warm and dry weather is supposed to last another few days. I will be ready for April showers so I can take a break from gardening.

And tomorrow is April Fool's Day! If I don't get to bed soon, it will be tomorrow and I'll be the fool.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Almost Spring

It always snows when the daffodils bloom and this year is no different. This morning, two days after the first day of spring, we woke to a light dusting of snow over everything. It continued to snow off and on through the morning, with sun breaks. Now it has cleared up, but the mountains are still snowy and pretty.

The day before the first day of spring,  I walked around gathering trail camera cards and taking photos of almost-spring.

Indian Plum blooming against a mossy maple
The first Skunk Cabbage to bloom on our farm

Woodpecker holes that will soon disappear behind foliage

Agency Creek. A Dipper flew by as I stood here.

My favorite maple, without a trace of leaves yet.

Lily leaves poking through the leaf litter.

Red-flowering current blooming in the arboretum.

Modoc Cypress and its colorful fruiting bodies

The daffodil path from house to shop.

Here is that path this morning, after the snowfall.

Watching over all was... and is... Spirit Mountain, glistening white in the early morning sunshine.

No matter what the calendar says, it is still Almost Spring.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tragedy in the Greenhouse!

The four large Babaco Papayas on my Babaco Papaya tree proved too heavy for the tall trunk. I went out this morning to the dreadful sight of the trunk broken in half, the top half hanging by a few woody threads from the bottom half. The four papayas were on the greenhouse bench. I called the doctor (Johnny) to come quickly with duct tape (naturally). I poked a sturdy bamboo stake into the ground next to the papaya tree and held the top half of the trunk upright while Johnny duct-taped it to the stake. I don't know if my beloved papaya will survive. Nor do I know if the papayas, now resting on the kitchen counter, will ripen off tree.*Late news flash! See end of post!*

I researched (via Wikipedia) and learned that Babaco Papayas are not really papayas, which is why they don't taste like papayas. "The Babaco (Vasconcellea × heilbornii; syn. Carica pentagona), is a hybrid cultivar in the genus Vasconcellea from Ecuador. It is a hybrid between Vasconcellea cundinamarcensis (syn. Carica pubescens), and Vasconcellea stipulata (syn. Carica stipulata).  ...The babaco fruit is seedless and the smooth skin can be eaten, and is said to have tastes of strawberry, papaya, kiwi and pineapple. The fruit is pentagonal in shape, therefore giving it the scientific name of Carica pentagona."

So that is why our papayas taste "tropical" but not like papayas... and why they don't have seeds.  I had only recently learned that my papaya was a Babaco papaya by seeing a photo on the web of fruit that looked just like our fruit. I have a vague memory of buying, sometime in the distant past, a "Babaco papaya". Apparently, it did not, as far as I knew, survive, but mysteriously rose, like the phoenix, out of a deserted pot a few years ago and quickly grew to produce fruit over and over. So maybe that's a sign that this poor broken tree in the greenhouse (aka jungle room) will also survive. One can hope.

*Happy Days! I researched further ( ) and learned that the way to propogate Babacos is to whack the trunk into one foot lengths, treat the ends with rooting hormone, and plunk them in sand until roots develop and leaves appear. So I can take the duct tape off my tree and chop it up. If I dare. Also, fruits are routinely taken off the tree at the first sign of yellowing and ripened off the tree. Three of these fallen papayas have maybe a hint of yellow so there's hope for the fruit. And definitely hope for future Babaco Papayas in my jungle room. One broken trunk is not a tragedy after all.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oregon Shakes

No, we have not had an earthquake in Oregon... nor a volcanic eruption. Oregon Shakes is what some of us call the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. I am just back from four days of plays and fellowship with friends. I'm exhausted. For some reason, traveling and play going and socializing is way more tiring than my usual hoof trimming, weeding, etc. on the farm. But I had a great time. The plays were unbelievably good. I cannot imagine a more talented group of actors, directors, and tech people than those at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I would see any of the three plays again in a minute... if I weren't so tired and ready to stay home.

Two Trains Running by August Wilson was especially wonderful because our good friend J.P. Phillips was on stage nearly the entire time, sounding just like himself. I began to wonder if Wilson knew J.P. and wrote the part of Holloway just for him.

Taming of the Shrew was equally wonderful, especially the ending. I've always hated the ending of this Shakespeare comedy but somehow the director managed to turn it on its head while not changing a single word. And My Fair Lady was far and away the most fun production of that musical that I have ever seen... and I've seen many. Wow!

We also took an awesome backstage tour on Saturday. I've taken lots of backstage tours at Oregon Shakes and learn something new every time. Partly because I don't remember all I learned on the earlier tours but also because each tour guide is an actor or tech person with the company, each with his or her own special knowledge and interests.

After the tour we went to a noon lecture on Two Trains Running. We were all glad to have gone to that to understand why the director did what he did and to learn the background of the play. Friend Toni, who drove down with me, and I had read the script but still learned much from the talk. Our play going compatriots, Judy and Don and Ruth were also thankful to drink in all that information. Then it was off to the play itself.

We didn't have much time to eat on Saturday since we raced from one event to the next. After the play, Toni, Ruth and I took J.P. out to dinner at the Thai restaurant in Ashland, as is our tradition of many years.  It was a wonderful, and wonderfully full day, after which I collapsed in bed.

Photos? I didn't take many. Toni and I stayed with Judy and Don in Jacksonville and the only photos I took, other than a few of "cool cars" for grandson Cedrus, were at Judy and Don's lovely home. Naturally, I snooped around their property and followed the sound of water to this hidden bubbling creek, which marks their property line.

It was unseasonably warm in Southern Oregon for our visit and we were able to eat out on their deck in view of the entire valley with Mt. McLoughlin in the distance.

In order to see Toni, Don and Judy in the photo above, I had to lighten it which makes the mountain disappear, so below is a brighter rendition of the mountain, with our table laden with food... and the people too dark to see. Judy fed us wonderful food every day, always gluten free for me. What a pal.

At the top of this blog is Mt. McLoughlin as seen from Judy and Don's deck but zoomed up closer. It is the white speck in the center of the above photo.

Their beautiful Labradoodle Rusty impressed us, as always, with his newspaper carrying duty all the way up the long road from the paper box to their house. What a great dog! Here they are starting out on their every morning walk.

And then on the way home...

After our Saturday marathon in Ashland, I did not feel well Sunday morning so begged Don to let me weed. Strange as it sounds, the act of sitting close to the earth, breathing her smells and pulling her weeds, helped me feel much better. I am really a country hick. While I did my earth therapy, Judy and Toni and Rusty hiked their legs off around Jacksonville. Then Judy and Toni and I met Ruth, who had driven up from California and was staying in Ashland, for lunch at a wonderful restaurant, the Greenleaf, with a gluten free menu and organic food, reasonable and delicious. Don joined us for the afternoon production of My Fair Lady.

After the play, Toni and I drove home, five hours to her house and another hour to mine. The time went quickly, though, with a good friend to share it.

Yesterday I unloaded the car and did little else. Today I hiked the farm, changing trail camera cards and taking lots of photos of spring beginning to spring. I'll save those for my next blog post.

I had a great trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. But there is no place like home.

Addendum: Toni took photos, too, and sent me these. Now I can prove I was really there... on the bricks sitting on the Green Show stage. The Angus Bowmer theater, where we saw all three plays, is behind me.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Broken Back Weather

The weather has been perfect for grubbing grass and weeds out of the flower beds. But there is so much grass and weeds in so many beds that I tend to go from one bad patch to another without ever finishing anything. The rhubarb and blueberry beds may be the worst. Birds insist on burying acorns there and I don't get around to digging up the resultant trees until they are three feet tall with roots that go to China. I dug two such beasts out this past week and replanted them along the fence line in the Ponderosa Pine section of the arboretum. I broke lots of roots so don't know if they'll grow. But at least they won't grow in my rhubarb and blueberry beds anymore. 

The hole I dug in the blueberry area to get an oak tree out was so huge that I thought it a shame to just fill it back in without planting something in the waiting hole. The only sensible thing to plant in a blueberry bed is another blueberry bush. So Velta and I did a nursery run on her birthday and I bought two blueberry bushes (I couldn't decide between them.) That meant more digging out weeds in order to plant the second bush... on Tuesday.

Yesterday, Thursday, an email arrived saying my order from Burnt Ridge Nursery had been shipped. I did not remember placing an order. I dug through old emails and sure enough, I had ordered, back in January before anyone will ship to my zone, peach, apricot and nectarine trees, Dawn Redwoods, a Korean Nut Pine, and... two blueberry bushes. Oops.

Today the trees arrived and I spent the afternoon planting. I love planting trees but... there were a lot of them. And, not realizing the order would come so soon after the shipping notification email, I had trimmed Mr. Smith's hooves this morning, a backbreaking enough job.

Planting trees in the arboretum this afternoon was not bad since the ground is soft. The peaches went into the fruit and nut orchard area. Alas, there was not enough room in that area for the nectarines and apricots. So I planted them in the "orphanage" of donated plants from friends. The orphanage adjoins the fruit and nut orchard. The fruit orchard has now expanded. The Dawn Redwoods (all five of them... why did I order five??) and the Korean Nut Pine found homes in China.

I always mark new trees with bamboo stakes and ribbon but I was out of stakes, so that meant sawing down bamboo poles from the grove behind the house. That grove could use a lot more thinning but sawing bamboo is hard work. I only cut what I needed now.

The trees were finally taken care of, but where to plant two more blueberry bushes? Logically, they should go in the blueberry bed but there was no room in that bed after the Tuesday additions. The only solution was to turn the overgrown iris area next to the blueberry and rhubarb beds into an extension of the blueberry bed. That meant digging out lots more weeds and grass.

Tonight, I can slouch and type, but not much else. This weather is going to kill me.