Wednesday, July 30, 2014


We are now enjoying a brief intermission between house guests. Well, actually, we're working frantically to catch up and get ready for the next crew. Six loads of dirty clothes so far... The garden is waiting to be watered but it is *so* hot out there. Therefore, this blog entry.

The day after Jeff left, our good friends the Inmans stopped in for a few hours after Hazel's roller skating practice in Portland. It was great fun to catch up on their news, hear Kinnera sing and play the piano. What a lovely voice she has. Hazel is now in Nebraska at the National Roller Skating Championships where she is dance skating with a partner plus solo skating. Only the best qualify for Nationals so Hazel and Tim's 5th place out of 11 entries in their division yesterday was wonderful. Of course, they would have preferred to win. Hazel's solo competitions begin in a couple of days.

Since then I've been picking and freezing peas and beans, trying, but failing, to keep up with the zucchini, mowing fields and pulling tansy. And taking bird survey breaks, of course. The coast has been having lovely, fog-free weather, at least 20 degrees cooler than inland (where we are having 90 plus degree weather, which is way too hot for me).

Last Friday's trip to Cape Kiwanda and Road's End was one of those picture perfect days at the beach. We did not find any signs that BLOY are nesting at Cape Kiwanda but we did see whales... lots of them... heading north around the cape. Johnny even managed to get a few shots of tails and breaches.

A whale's back

A whale's tail

I missed catching whales on camera. The water between me and the Rock is where we saw them. The boat coming by is one of the many dory fishing boats that launch from Cape Kiwanda.

Pigeon Guillemots were easier to photograph than whales.

So were these wind-twisted tree skeletons.

After lunch at the Mexican restaurant in Pacific City, we headed for Road's End. The BLOY chick at the North nest rock was cooperative about posing with both parents. The chick's bill looks short because you can't see the black end very well. It will turn all red eventually... by next summer.

Chick between two adults

Chick on the left of the adults

But before I arrived at my Observation Post, I took photos of Johnny on his.

Johnny is on top of The Thumb if you look closely

Here he is zoomed in
And a scenic view of Cascade Head visible partway to my Observation Point.

Meanwhile, back on The Thumb... It took Johnny a long time to notice that two of the gray rocks on the big gray Middle Rock were actually Black Oystercatchers. He took this photo through the scope. You can see why he didn't notice them at first!

Even zoomed in close and cropped, they are nearly invisible.

Thanks to Ian teaching me to use Paint, I can circle the sleeping birds. Well, sort of circle them.

Later, these birds flew off and did not come back, so we assume they lost their chick... maybe to a young Peregrine Falcon that was doing maneuvers with a family of ravens this day.

More hopeful and intriguing was Johnny's notice of a single adult BLOY on the South nest rock, where we had not seen the pair for weeks and assumed their nest had failed. This BLOY flew off to forage and then return to the same spot and disappear behind a cleft in the rock. It did this over and over. Was it feeding chicks? We would have to wait for the next trip to find out.

For now it was dinner at the Thai restaurant and home... then more picking and freezing produce, mowing fields, taking goat kids to market, making ice cream and custard with goat milk. Johnny meanwhile, was doing his own catch up of neglected projects around the farm.

On Tuesday we headed for Road's End again in hopes of solving the South Rock puzzle. As I stood watching one adult at the North rock holding stock still, a Peregrine, likely the same juvenile Peregrine as had tussled with ravens last Friday, made many flights over the North Rock... and me.

Single BLOY on North Rock in watchful position, unmoving.

 No chick was going to appear with that predator close by, so I gave up and joined Johnny.

My view of the South and Middle Rocks from my North OP

The view of those rocks from atop The Thumb after joining Johnny

Happily, Johnny had seen the South rock adult take some yellowish morsel in its bill, probably a piece of a mussel, to the cleft, disappear, and reappear a minute later with the yellow thing gone. So there's at least one chick at the South Rock being fed. Hooray!

South Rock adult facing the cleft in the rock where a chick may be lurking
This time after our hike, we ate at the Nepalese restaurant in Lincoln City. I love their Mango smoothies. The food is good, too!

Today is hot again. I cleared the trail to the river (cooler in the woods), worked on my monthly goat paper column, and spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to herd a chipmunk out of the house. It gets into my potted plants and digs holes, spreading dirt everywhere. I have a lot of potted plants up here. And now a lot of dirt everywhere. How it is getting into the house, I have no idea. I finally trapped it on the staircase and shushed it out the staircase landing window. From there it ran along the window ledge and climbed down a vine. Eventually. It certainly did not want to leave and kept trying to dart past me at the top of the stairs. Brazen little thing.

Tomorrow 5 and 7 year old grandsons arrive and I would really like to have the chipmunk outside where chipmunks belong. And I'd like all the dirt in my flower pots, after I get it back into my flower pots, to stay there.

We've had an intermission from human house guests, but not from excitement on the farm.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Johnny's Projects and Jeff

Phase Two of the company summer revolved around Johnny's dam and outhouse projects. The supports under our dam had collapsed and needed replacing, which involved a concrete pour. Johnny did not want to mix the concrete himself but it was too small a job to bring in a truck. So he created more projects to use up more concrete... and bring in a truck. The outhouse had not been used for years because it would be dangerous to sit down. He moved the house out of the way and worked at digging out and redoing the throne.

Plus he came up with the idea of having cement platforms for ladders to climb down to below the dam where our irrigation pump resides. That was enough projects to warrant a cement truck but too many projects in too many places for one person and a half (I'm the half), so he invited his nephew Jeff from Illinois to come help. He arranged to do the pour just after the music festival nearby that Jeff likes to attend.

Jeff arrived on Wed., July 16, in the middle of our grandson Ian's visit (previous blog entry). We all went to the coast the next day for the sea star survey at Short Beach and checking on Black Oystercatcher nests there and at Cape Meares. Here Jeff is checking out a sea star.

That evening we invited Irv down for supper cooked by Ian... and, while he was here, would he like to help unload the hay that Johnny and Jeff had put on the hay wagon earlier.  Irv, 84 years young, was delighted to help.

Jeff put the bales on the elevator, Irv ferried them from elevator to Johnny who was stacking in the loft.

Jeff looks like he's having fun!
On Friday, after working all morning on the dam and outhouse preparations, Johnny, Jeff and Ian went to the music festival while I stayed home to catch up on things. The garden is producing and I'm picking and freezing peas and beans, cooking (and giving away) lots of zucchini, plus watering, hoeing, weeding, mowing, etc.

Saturday and Sunday Johnny worked on his own getting ready for the Monday concrete pour while Jeff hung out at the music festival and I took Ian to Devonwood to rejoin his parents (then picked and froze produce, weeded, mowed, etc.) I wish I had taken photos of the big beams Johnny used for supports under the dam, before he covered the top. They are hunks of beams from the old barn... re-purposed for the dam.

Monday morning Johnny worked furiously to get ready for the concrete pour. He decided we were getting more than we had use for so he quickly put together a bunch of forms for concrete stepping stones. Then the truck arrived...

First pour was over the side of the dam. Johnny is down at the bottom, creating concrete pads for ladders to stand on after the cement dries. That's Irv watching... before helping at the outhouse pour. The dam with its rebar grid is in the foreground.

Johnny, with Jeff's help, had dug out the outhouse hole. Johnny created a "pot" from a huge fiberglass tree pot given to us, laid rebar and made forms. The cinder blocks will go around the perimeter later for the old outhouse to rest on.

Since there would be no driving a cement truck across the dam, Jeff ferried loads of cement in the tractor bucket to the outhouse pad.

Irv and I shoveled it in, then Johnny and Irv worked it. (Obviously, I could not take photos while part of the process. I had planned to be the official photographer but... )

Here is the finished dam... I could take no photos of the operation as I was helping there while Johnny finished up at the outhouse pour.

Jeff added this to the dam.

The stepping stones used up what was left of the concrete, after pouring the dam. Jeff decorated them, too. The wood star is what he made for us last trip. He didn't like that it was buried in my flowerbed, I guess, so he elevated it to swing in the breeze.

On Tuesday, Jeff's friend Kathy drove down from Portland to tour the farm with him and take him back with her. She would take him to the airport the next day for his flight home. My last goat of the year to kid did so shortly after Kathy arrived. Johnny, Jeff and Kathy came into the barn in time to see the third kid pop out.

There was other excitement while Jeff was here but he missed it when he was camped out at the music festival over the weekend. A bobcat sat in front of the barn one morning waiting for a vole or gopher or something to pop up out of the ground.

It was disappointed and finally left. Johnny took photos from the milk room where I had called him to come with his camera when I saw the bobcat. I had been milking goats and happened to look out the window.

Always something exciting going on at the farm.

Johnny much appreciated Jeff's help with the concrete projects. Now he has to lay the concrete blocks and move the old outhouse onto its new foundation. No doubt he'll ask Irv to come help.

I'll take photos.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Grandson Ian started out our marathon company summer when he arrived from Seattle with Johnny via Amtrak on Thursday, July 10. Except Ian is not really company. He cooks all the suppers, has his menus prepared and food bought upon arrival, helps with everything we're doing, and is a joy to be around because he's always cheerful, even when I'm cranky. All this at twelve years old, soon to be thirteen. I just wish we could steal him for the whole summer.

The first night of his visit even the heavens were delighted to have him here. They put on this glorious show at sunset.

Johnny's prime objective for Ian's visit was to teach him welding and to weld together a garden gate for Traumhof. They watched instructional videos on youtube, then welded. Here they are in their protective gear. Ian, on the right, is holding the torch.

Ian cut a piece of fencing for their wire gate.

Why I have no photo of the finished product is a mystery.

Nor do I have photos of the dishes Ian prepared. Here he is cooking.

Together we made ice cream with our goat milk and his coconut sugar, topped with the fudge he made.

 And we picked blueberries.

Amazing Graze horse feeders arrived while Ian was here and we tried them out on the horses. I was hoping it would occupy Jessie Anne and keep her from chewing down the fences. Ian and Johnny also put up a chew toy for her and Ian tried to show her how much fun it was but she was not interested. However, the roll-around horse feeders were a hit. Mr. Smith learned immediately that he did not need to chase it all over the paddock. He only had to roll it one way with his nose, eat the hay cube that fell out, then roll it back the other way and another treat would roll out. It did not slow his food consumption down much nor give him much exercise.

Jessie Anne and Nightingale also learned quickly how to minimize expending energy.

On Monday, July 14, we went to Road's End to survey Black Oystercatchers. Johnny and Ian climbed up to The Thumb, while I headed for the North rim to look down on the North Rock BLOY with their chick. For once, they cooperated quickly and I was able to get this photo of the family group.

I also took a photo of The Thumb, with Ian on it, although I could not see him until I zoomed up the camera.

Ian took this photo with Johnny's camera of their view looking north. The North Rock, with its BLOY family, is the little offshore rock that the scope is aimed toward.

I took a photo of this always-lovely view that I can see on my way back.

Alas, I left my fanny pack at my observation post and did not discover it was missing until half way back to the car. I had to retrace my tired steps. We were all ready for lunch at the Thai restaurant when I finally made it to the car. But, since the day was not over, after lunch we drove on to Neskowin and looked for BLOY on Refusal Rock... no hiking involved. Found none but Johnny took this photo of me looking.

On the next day, Ian and I cleared brush along the driveway.

But it was not all work and hikes and cooking for Ian. We also played games, watched movies, and played in the creek.

Ian spent much time with the goats, petting them and just watching them. He loves the goats.

On July 16, Johnny and Ian drove to Portland to pick up Johnny's nephew Jeff at the airport, who was flying in from Illinois to help with some concrete projects of Johnny's and to attend the local music festival. But first, we all went to the coast on Thursday, July 17, to survey sea stars and BLOY at Short Beach.

Ian and I working on the Sea Star Wasting Disease survey

 Although the nesting Oystercatchers are far away and hard to see, non-nesting BLOY bathe in the creek and are close and easy to see. We saw twelve of them that day... and lots of gulls.

We also went to Cape Meares and saw one of the two Peregrine youngsters... at a great distance... and discovered a pair of nesting BLOY. We took the short hike to the Octopus Tree where Jeff wanted the three Fink boys to act like octopi with many arms in front of the Octopus Tree. It's hard to tell that's what they're doing here...

The next day the three Fink boys went to the Wildwood Music Festival while I stayed home to catch up on mowing, watering, weeding, etc. Jeff camped there overnight. Johnny and Ian came home in time to see two of the Night Blooming Cereus (or whatever they are) open in the jungle room... and smell their intoxicating perfume.

These beautiful flowers last only one night. The next day, Saturday, July 19, they were wilted. And I had to take Ian to Devonwood and deliver him to his parents at their Theraplate vendor booth. It was good to see Kevin and Jessica, but I felt a little wilted myself, having to say goodbye for now to Ian. What a wonderful grandson.