Friday, November 28, 2014

Snowy sunrise

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With our "art tree" in the middle.

We get a lot of questions about the tree (now dead) in our front yard. Decades ago Chuck Sr worried about the trunk splitting and part of the tree falling on the house. His solution? Wrap a braided steel cable around the tree. It worked and the tree never split and fell on the house but now we have a dead tree with a mystery length of cable embedded in the wood. Not something we want to find with the chainsaw. Someday we will get the whole tree cut down but for now we just refer to it as our modern art piece and how it reflects the control of man over nature or something like that...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hatch

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Late October and still warm and sunny enough for insect hatches.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall raspberries?

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Raspberries are in full swing through the end of July. Here comes Teresa in from the garden on October 23rd with these two perfect, ripe raspberries. What a growing season we are having!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Predators

Over the last few weeks, something has been hitting our layer flock. This is exceptionally frustrating as we have been trying to build up the flock to increase egg production for our Meat CSA. An occasional loss of one or two birds is no problem but predators that move in and treat our livestock as a primary food source are not welcome. In general, we hate to dispatch any wildlife and only do so when they are caught in the act of hazing or killing our livestock. This week Nathan shot 3 raccoons and a bobcat around the chicken house. Hopefully the flock is safe for now.


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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Water truck

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The well pumps are off and irrigation is done for the season. We still have birds out in chicken tractors for another week so the Dodge acts as a perfect water truck to gravity-feed the waterers so the broilers can all get a good drink.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ranch recipes: When life gives you vruchten hagel... Make vruchten hagel cookies!

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Our dear friend Hester left us with some sweet treats from her visit to our summer soiree. One such Dutch delicacy was a box of chocolate and fruit sprinkles. We were informed that it is a perfectly acceptable breakfast to have fruit sprinkles on white bread. Even the box says "fruit sprinkles for bread". Alas, I had no buttered white bread but I did make a pretty batch of fruit sprinkle cookies to share with our lovely butcher.

Vruchten Hagel Cookies aka Fruit Sprinkle Cookies

Ingredients
- 3c AP flour, sifted
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 1/4 t salt
- 2 sticks butter, unsalted, room temp
- 1c sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 t vanilla extract
- 1/4 t almond extract
- vruchten hagel (or any kind of sprinkles if you don't happen to have fancy Dutch sprinkles laying around)


Steps
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together.

3. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and almond extract.

4. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed until fluffy.

5. Spoon out rounded teaspoons of dough (mine weighed 0.7oz but I'm a little neurotic about all the cookies being the same size). Roll dough into little balls.

6. Pour sprinkles into small bowl then gently press each ball into sprinkles and place on parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle-side up leaving about two inches between cookies.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until edges just barely start to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool completely.


Spits and sprinkles

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Revisiting the pasture pens

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It's been a couple months since our first batch of broiler chickens rolled through this area in our new pasture pens. The color difference is pretty dramatic. The regrowth is a darker green and much of the older, dead vegetation has been scratched down into the dirt. It will be interesting to see the difference next spring.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

99 chickens...

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And one turkey (my little helper is pointing to the turkey). With our last batch of broilers we accidentally received a turkey poult (they look like similar balls of yellow fluff straight from the egg). It is too late in the season to raise it up for Thanksgiving and it will be too small when we harvest the rest of the broilers. Our summer helper, Larry offered to give it a good home since we already have a pet turkey.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Safflower

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The safflower crop is nearly dried down. Soon we will harvest the spiny flowerheads with the combine and run the kernels through the press which separates the oil from the meal. We'll use the oil in biodiesel here on the farm and the high protein meal is fed back to the chickens and hogs.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Moving cows

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Moving cows back to the York Place for the fourth time in as many days. The girls did not want to stay there so we ended up marching them home before they broke the fences again.

Clean up crew

Several times a day the little flock of sheep wander in to the front yard to eat the windfall apricots. Once the last fruit has been Hoovered up, they amble off spitting pits as they go.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Goodness gracious so many chickens

Back from the processor with 100 more broilers in the freezer. We freeze them down in the stand freezers because we can get good air circulation around the birds. Then we move them to bulk storage in one of the chest freezers. So far we are delighted with our new processors. One more batch of birds and we are done for the season!

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Summertime soiree

One of the biggest highlights of the year for us is when our friends gather at the ranch. The stars aligned this year and we were able to bring together most everyone (next time Amy!). Coming from three different countries and both coasts, I'm still a little amazed that it worked out.

Yes it was hot and dusty and there were bugs (Nathan even had to leave for a little bit to fight fire) but it was still incredible. We feasted on an unbelievable spread of fancy meats, cheeses, fruits, drinks and sweets. We ate outside under tents on the lawn adorned with twinkly lights. We watched the stars in a truly dark sky. We played fun board games. The toddlers were adorable and charming. The company was lively and entertaining and no matter the distance, these relationships always pick right back up where we left off. Everything was delightful. Both Nathan and I were forced to let go and just relax, to go on vacation as well. To take the time to focus on being fully present felt decadent and indulgent. I loved every minute of it and feel so refreshed and recharged.

I can't wait for next time. And the time after that, and after that, on and on for decades to come.

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The epic picnic feast

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Picking apricots as a group

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After a while the preferred retrieval method involved shaking the tree and collecting the drops on a blanket

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Turning the fruit into farm wine (also known as "swirl" around here). We ended up making about 25 gallons with all the fruit.

Our lovely friends





Thursday, July 31, 2014

Swirling whirling thunderstorm

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We had a thunderstorm move through the other day. The clouds were incredibly cool on the bottom of the cell which swirled around us for several hours. It spit rain on us for five minutes or so and blew a few big gusts, several lightning flashes and a few thunderclaps before moving on. It really didn't seem like much of a storm given the mayhem we later discovered.

It blew the combine seat cushion off the combine and down the bowl of the hill into the pigpen. No biggie. It scattered all the tidy raked hay ready for baling into a perfectly even layer across the whole field. Annoying since Nathan had to re-rake the entire field. The real doozy was that it pushed the east wheel line into the west line, then pretzeled them together over the top of each other then sheared off the west line in two places and broke the chain that drives the motor. Most curiously though the line that got twisted off was the charged line and was full of hundreds of gallons of water, it is very heavy. That empty line sliced right through it though. I wasn't fast enough to get up on the hill to take photos before they had started dis-entwining the lines so I have no photos of that.

It is always something with a summer thunderstorm. Nathan and Lloyd spent the rest of the day cobbling the two lines together into one so we can get water up and running again on the alfalfa for our third cutting.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Smoke

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This photo is from last week. The smoke has since cleared but was pretty dramatic when we were up at the hay patch that evening.


Monday, July 28, 2014

The burn

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Part of the burned area from the Ward Canyon Fire along the Antelope Highway.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fire is out!

Good weather really helped the crews snuff out the last little bit of fire. Now we can back to work! Today's task, finding where our cattle wandered off to when they got tired of waiting for us to move them to a new pasture :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fire season

It's hot and dry and and it feels like there is fire in every direction I look. Much of the week Lloyd and Nathan have been out fighting our closest fire, the Ward Canyon Fire (est 15,000 acres) along the Antelope Highway. There are also several fires out of Ashwood, Shaniko, Clarno, Maupin and on the Res with many more throughout Central Oregon.

It's hot and smoky down here in my little canyon. Here's a smattering of photos from the last few days:

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Ward Canyon Fire starts from dry lightning storm on Sunday July 13th and sends up smoke immediately instead of smoldering until the next afternoon.
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Smoke blowing west and meeting up with smoke from the Res

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A scattered thunderstorm blows through, barely enough rain to settle the dust.

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Next few days are choked with thick smoke, my life has its' own sepia filter

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Ward Canyon burning east towards Indian Creek, the disc is hooked on to the tractor ready to drag more fire trails around our crops and property as needed to supplement our seasonal "just in case" fire lines and back burns.

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Reflection of flaming pink sun in the roof of the upper granary

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Hazy, smokey days

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Changing winds give a little break from the smoke

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Another incredible fire season sunset

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Evening backfiring along HWY 293

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 The glow at night

This particular fire, as with most local fires is still burning away. BLM was out here for an evening then got called to more urgent fires. Just us locals and a rural fire protection district for now trying to keep everything in check. As long as it doesn't jump south of Hwy 293, we aren't in any direct danger. The weather is cooler with higher humidity over the next few days, hopefully this will give everyone a chance to get it knocked down so we can all get back to work. I'll share more photos as I can.