Friday, June 30, 2017


When I arrived home on Monday evening, June 19, from The Trip That Almost Didn't Happen, neighbor Paul had just started cutting the tall grass in our llama field. Johnny was helping with Paul's equipment (which usually breaks down) as he was going to take over the next day to cut our hay fields himself, with Paul's mower.

The weather report was for no rain for at least ten days so we were not yet hysterical about getting the hay in. Johnny cut our fields on Tuesday, plus the tall grass in the orchard, behind the machine shed and even along the driveway by the pond. Turn Johnny loose with a hay mower and everything gets cut down.

I worked in the neglected garden.

On Wednesday, I hiked at Road's End and to Cliff Creek Falls for Black Oystercatcher monitoring... and to escape the heat. It was lovely on top of The Thumb at Road's End, but the wind was starting to gust when I came down... just as a group of young people were climbing up.

At a tree within sight of the top was a sign saying "I DO" with an arrow pointing to the top of The Thumb and an empty box below with hammer and nails. It had not been there on my way up. More signs were farther down the trail, "Keep Going", and one I finally took a photo of: "Almost There".

Then one of the young men from the top came up behind me, barefoot, slipping in the mud, with the empty box. I said, "Oh, I only took a photo of one of your signs!" thinking he was taking them down, although if I had looked in his box, I would have noticed it was still empty.

"I just hope they stay up until the ceremony," he replied.

"Is someone getting married up there?" I asked.

"Yes, I am," he answered. I offered my congratulations and followed him down the trail. When I arrived at the trailhead, I saw another sign that had not been there on my way up. "Wedding" with an arrow.

In all my years of hiking The Thumb, that is the first wedding I've almost been a part of.

At my next site, Cliff Creek Falls, the Oystercatchers were on vacation somewhere else, while seals lolled about on their rocks.

On the way out, I met the herd of elk I usually see in that spot.

 Meanwhile, back home in the hot sun, Johnny spent the day working on his "free" rake. Another neighbor had loaned Johnny the rake that "worked last time it was used"... which may have been half a century ago from the looks of it. But another neighbor broke an essential piece when bringing it to our place. Other parts were broken or missing and the whole thing was a rusted mess. It was going to cost a bundle to fix... so the neighbor gave it to Johnny.

$600 and many, many hours of Johnny's labor later, it was usable, much to everyone's surprise... including Johnny's. I wish I'd taken a "before" photo... just imagine any piece of rusted junky farm machinery. Johnny cleaned it up and repainted it bright white and red, the original International Harvester colors.

On Thursday, in more record-breaking heat, Johnny raked hay with the newly resurrected rake.

 I worked in the garden and unpacked from my trip. It stays cool inside our house. I do not do heat. Friday was even worse. Johnny did more repairs and adjustments on the rake and raked some more.

Saturday hit 105, I think. Johnny helped a friend build an outhouse, then he came home and helped neighbor Paul bale hay. Paul's baler needs lots of help. Johnny was very hot and tired that night.

 I hauled a horse from one friend's place to another that afternoon, getting stuck in traffic with folks who were all trying to escape the heat by driving (at 2 mph) to the cool coast. The horse and I survived.

On Sunday it was some cooler so I mowed the lawn while Johnny went back to help with his friend's outhouse construction project. In the afternoon, we hauled hay, mostly because I am always paranoid about moving bales into barns before they get wet or sun-bleached or dried out or whatever. Johnny was not worried about getting it into the barn because the weather person still said no rain for another ten days. It was hot work and we left one load on the truck without unloading it Sunday night because we were worn out. There were several more loads to be picked up out of the fields but we still had, reportedly, ten more days, at least, of no rain.

At 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning, I woke to the sound of loud, rolling thunder... close thunder. We leaped out of bed and tore outside to move hay bales into the barn.  Constant thunder and lightning kept us motivated. Johnny had seen one drop of rain on his windshield and I had felt one on my face. We worked furiously. I took the EZ Go into the orchard to load that hay as I didn't think the hay wagon would make it safely across the dam.

But before picking up the last hay bale, Johnny had to jump it. That's his tradition. When he can no longer jump a bale, he says, he'll no longer put up hay. He actually  jumped this one about eight times because I could never catch him in the air.

Although we had been sure the dark and thundering clouds overhead were going to open up and drench our hay any moment, they never did. We finished loading and unloading the last of our 2017 hay, the biggest crop, Johnny thinks, that we have ever had, at 3 p.m. Without rain.

Just as we were finishing, neighbor Irv came down to ask what was happening with our hay... did it get wet?... he had a downpour at his place... one half mile up the hill from us. We missed getting our hay soaked by, well, half a mile.

And so haysteria is over for us... but now I'm stressing over no rain to fill the rain barrels and the pond from which I water the garden. Weather people say there's no rain in sight for the next ten days at least...


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Trip That Almost Didn't Happen

Those people who get my posts by email received this story, but it is not on my blog for some mysterious reason. So I have copied it from the email Johnny received. Hopefully this one won't disappear.

On Monday, June 12, of the week I was to leave for California on Thursday for Saturday dance performances by grandkids Cedrus and Kestrel (*and* their parents!), the goat Ebonita, mother of the triplets born May 23, became very sick... fast, shallow breathing, no milk, not eating. It looked like my trip was off.

I separated kids from mom but in adjacent pens with wire fencing between. I searched my goat books, my memory, and the internet, for causes and cures... with little success. Then I remembered the wonder tincture friend Blythe had given us when Johnny was sick with that miserable coughing bug that went around last winter. The tincture was made  by steeping Usnia hirta, a lichen, in vodka. That lichen grows prolifically in our woods.

With google's help, I learned that Usnia hirta has historically been used for pneumonia and pulmonary problems of all sorts... along with most every other ailment known to man. So I put a little of the tincture in Ebonita's water. She apparently does not like vodka as she quit drinking. But we have that lichen, also known as Old Man's Beard, all through our woods. So I gathered some and gave it to her. She ate it all.

Within 24 hours of eating the hirta, Ebonita's breathing had improved dramatically and she was eating again. I cut browse for her daily which she loved. And I kept feeding her kids on the other newly fresh doe, Felicity, when that doe was on the milk stand. It was a labor intensive situation and I did not think there was a prayer of getting things stabilized enough so Johnny could take over while I was gone for 5 days. But, with more usnia hirta... and a tough decision to get rid of the biggest of the triplets, plus the cleverness of the doe kid who learned to put her head through the wire and nurse from her willing mother, who had enough milk for one kid...  and Johnny's willingness to put the remaining buck kid on Felicity twice a day and cut more browse after I left, I was able to go. Bless Johnny's heart, he kept everyone alive until I returned.

And bless friends Judy and Don, my first stop on the trip, for their kindness and hospitality. They always make me feel so welcome and loved as I use their home as a rest stop before heading the rest of the way to the bay area. I had not left home until after morning chores on Thursday and was exhausted so stopped to take a nap, not reaching their home at the southern end of Oregon until late afternoon. I am sorry I took no photos there this time. This may be the last time I stay there as they have just put their beautiful home on the market... but assured me I will always have a bed to sleep in wherever they land next.

The first photos I took on this trip were of Mt. Shasta, capped with clouds.

After many rest stops and traffic angst in the busy bay area, I arrived at San Carlos on Friday afternoon. It was wonderful to see them all, happy and healthy and welcoming. On Saturday, all day, was the Dance Mode Studio end of the year performance. As it turns out, the studio is closing so this was the final performance ever. I'm so glad I was able to go!

This year, Kestrel and Cedrus are both in the "production" group, which means they go to contests and performances around the bay area. It also means they can invite a parent or sibling or friend to dance with them in the opening number of this final show. Kestrel asked Steve while Cedrus asked Munazza. They have all been practicing their dance together for weeks. Since Kestrel and Cedrus are the two youngest members of the production group, and the smallest, they were in the front line on stage... with their parents. They were all four very good! And had such happy smiles on their faces. What a delightful way to start the show.

Kestrel and Cedrus had many more dances throughout the afternoon. Johnny will get to see them when the video I ordered of the performance arrives. That is how we have seen the end of the year recital in past years. It's fun to be able to watch as often as we want, but I am thrilled I saw them perform live this time.

Although photography is not allowed during the performance, we were able to take photos of the kids on stage after it was all over. The trick was to get a photo when they were holding still.

I took few other photos. Here is one of the pretty succulent garden in their back yard.

And I took one of the four of them just before I left in the early afternoon on Sunday.

My destination was Munazza's sister's house in El Cerrito, north of Berkeley. Faiza was so excited that I was coming to visit... only the second time since she bought the condo she had been renting a room in before... that she decided to make me Thanksgiving dinner. She would not let me take a photo of her but I was allowed to take a photo of dinner. It was delicious.

The weather was turning hot. In fact, Steve said it hit 100 the day I left. It was a bit cooler in El Cerrito, but I left early on Monday to try to beat the heat that was predicted to break all records. It did. Everywhere along I5 as I headed north through California, the temperature was over 100. Thank goodness for car air conditioning.

On the way home, Shasta was in full sunshine, so I stopped to take a photo. This particular stop has a sidewalk the length of it with facts about Shasta embedded in the concrete walkway. "Does Mt. Shasta have glaciers?" asks one question. A short distance farther on the answer appears in the sidewalk. "Yes, 7 glaciers." There is a question about how many people attempt to climb Shasta every year... and how many succeed. But you'll have to go visit yourself for the answer, as I don't remember.

It was suffocatingly hot every time I stopped but I was getting very tired so I pulled into Castle Crags State Park, which appeared to have shade, for a nap. The kind ranger said if all I wanted to do was take a nap, he suggested I go up the road out of the park, in the wilderness area, and pull off anywhere. That way he would not have to charge me. So I did. And what a wonderful thing that was. Cool in the shade (relatively speaking) with a lovely view of the headwaters of the Sacramento river. I found a path down closer to the water and took more photos there than I had taken anywhere else.

Some day I want to hike in the park itself which boasts a spectacular view of Castle Crags. But this day, I wanted to get home. So on I went, in the horrid heat, until the temperature dropped when I climbed out of the Grants Pass area. I took my usual shortcut to avoid Salem, stopping at Ankeny Wildlife Refuge. I had eaten lunch there on my way south. I ate supper this time on my way north. And took photos of the Eagle Marsh area, my refuge from traffic.

I swear these goslings were half this size when I stopped on my way south.

I arrived home in time to do evening chores while Johnny and Paul started cutting our hay. The weather report was for ten days of no rain... time to hay!

I was glad to have had a break with a great trip to visit wonderful family and friends, and with all the animals still alive when I got home, thanks to Hirta usnia... and Johnny.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Busy Spring

Garden is in. Here are the raised beds before planting. F F F for Fink Family Farm.

Here is just after planting...

Johnny spent another week doing projects at Traumhof and brought home a trailer load of stuff, mostly scrap wood, for us to burn for heat.  He helped build and fence this Kevin-designed raised bed, among many other projects. I think that bed is what inspired us to create out own.

Here Jessica's sister is planting tomatoes in it.

Besides gardening, I am spending lots of time on the coast monitoring Black Oystercatcher nests or trying to find them. Look for the red bill in center of photo.

There are two birds in the center of this photo, believe it or not. They are doing an incubation exchange. Thank goodness for red bills.

The eagles are easier to spot.

Side benefit: the scenery where I monitor birds is lovely.

Back on the farm, baby goats have arrived and all was well for three weeks... story maybe when I recover...

Ebonita and one of her triplets

Felicity and her single buck

Ebonita's doeling

I have been in a major weeding frenzy, liberating blueberry bushes, rhubarb plants, and all sorts of flowers. The grass and thistles were taking over. It has been a very wet winter/spring and the grass is head high. Johnny and I also unloaded all the barkdust from the hay trailer in preparation for hauling our hay on it. Our paths were the recipients.

Johnny is working diligently on repairing a hay rake he was given. When the weather settles, our hay will be cut.

 A busy spring, indeed.