Bluemoon

Blue Moon

I’m either getting smarter, braver, or completely hopeless.

The local coyotes have been partying in the full moon, in the back pasture. We’re on about day 4 of the yipping and howling, and most of the animals are ignoring them now. Then, last night, everybody went nuts!

The alpacas were alerting, the dogs started barking, the ducks and chickens were rioting. Learning from past experience, I put my shoes on and grabbed Charlie’s big Maglite before heading out to check on things. Peanut took off toward the howling while I investigated the animal yard. With the arrival of backup (me and Peanut) the animals had calmed down, and there was nothing there that didn’t belong.

I could hear Peanut, in the distance, chasing off the coyotes, and it sounded like they were running off. Then I realized I was hearing Peanut off in the distance, but I was hearing rustling to the right, in the pasture. I scanned with the flashlight, but didn’t see anything, so I had to trek around the fence to get closer to the pasture. Oh, great! Eyes.

I call to Peanut, and the eyes don’t move. She’s still off chasing the coyotes. As I move the flashlight, it picks up several sets of eyes. I make some loud noises, but the eyes stay put.

Coyotes here are pretty skittish. If you get close, they run off. I’ve had midnight run-ins with deer, but these eyes were much closer to the ground. There have been local reports of bears and mountain lions, so I can’t just go back inside and hope for the best.

My only choice is to head down the back path. During the day, this is a nice shady path, winding through trees and fern. In the middle of the night it turns into something from Sleepy Hollow. Especially knowing there are going to be eyes at the end of the path. Lots of eyes.

I debate heading back to the house and getting Charlie and his gun, but I have the big flashlight. I’m good. No headless horsemen jump out at me. Now I just have to find out what these eyes belong to.

I scan over the fence with the flashlight and pick up the eyes again. I also pick up a large black shape. Uh oh. Maybe I should have gotten Charlie. The grass is rustling, and I can hear Peanut’s tags clinking in the distance. Now I’m worried that she’s going to head back and take on this big bear. I continue to scan the pasture to make sure Peanut is safe and I come across another set of eyes. These eyes are attached to a large brown shape.

OK, this doesn’t make sense. I’ve never head of brown bears and black bears hanging out together. I move in a little closer and realize there are a dozen sets of eyes looking back at me.

Really? The neighbor’s cows have been moved into the back pasture! This happens for about 2 weeks each summer, as their main pastures regrow grass. The noises I’ve been hearing are these darn cows, laying around under the tree, chewing their cud.

I know the coyotes are no real threat to Peanut, and the cows are no threat to anybody.  I can pack it in and go back to bed. We have just a few more nights of the full moon. Then we can all sleep through the night again.

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Pool Time!

The weather forecasters and locals are going crazy! We’re in heavy drought conditions and it’s HOT! Now, I can get on board with the fact that there’s a drought. Last year, we had a total of just under 70 inches of rain. This year, so far, we’re at a total of about 6 inches, with a whopping 1/4 inch for the month of June. So, yeah, it’s dry!

The whole “hot” thing, I’m having a little more trouble with. It’s getting into the mid- to high-80s, and flirting with the low 90s for a few days over the upcoming weeks. Not having air conditioning does make the afternoon high a little uncomfortable, but the evenings still get down into the 50s and 60s. I can open up the house and let the cool air in, and I love it! OK, ok, it’s hot. But it’s not lose-your-mind-HOT! (Remember, I grew up in Palm Springs. This week, they’re getting up to 115, and their overnight lows are the same as our daily highs.)

The trick is to balance the drought and the heat issues. I was running the sprinkler in the animal yard for a while everyday, but it’s getting too hot for that, and the sprinkler would need to be on too long. We got a wading pool for the kids a couple weeks ago, so I figured it was time to get a few for the animals.

All the kids like playing in the water, but Reta Jean LOVES it! She says, “Gabba, I love the huge, huge bathtub!” The boys eventually want to go play at the troll bridge, or run up and down the hill, but not Reta Jean. She’s a mermaid princess!

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The animals weren’t quite as sure about the pools. Even the ducks studied them for awhile. Tajo loves the water as much as Reta Jean, so he was the first to head over and check it out. The hose was his first clue that something cool was happening.

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Spike came over next, but I’m pretty sure he was just looking for food. He likes the water, but he likes food MUCH more.

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The ducks crack me up all the time. They always quack-quack-quack around together. I’ll very rarely seen one away from the others, unless one is laying an egg. They held true to form in checking out the pool. Their quacking is usually very soft and soothing. The more the pool filled up, the more excited their quacking got.

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Even though the ducks were getting loud, they still weren’t getting in the water. I decided I would need to step back and let them do their thing. Once I wasn’t hanging over the fence, more of the gang came around. Tajo didn’t want to get in, but he enjoyed drinking the water.

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I think Spike was mad at me because it wasn’t food.

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The ducks eventually got in, and then they were really happy. There was so much splashing around, Spike decided he needed to keep his distance. He was like the mom hanging by the pool with the kids, but not wanting to get wet.

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I had to hang out and watch the fun. There was another pool in the yard, but everybody liked this one. Probably because it was in the shade.

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We have chairs set out by the animal yard, in the shade of pines and a flowery plant (I still don’t know what that plant is called). It was already one of my favorite spots in the yard, and now it’s even more so. When the days get to their hottest around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, this spot is shady and cool. I sit and watch the critters playing in the water, and wait for the heat to pass.

Life really is that simple.

 

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Birds of a Feather

I’m the first person to admit that I’m, maybe, too easily amused. It’s also no secret that our animals crack me up on a regular basis. Our “old” girls and “new” girls are overlapping a bit, so we currently have about 30 birds. (Charlie can count them, but they move around too much for me to keep track.)

Morning feeding time is my favorite time of day. I have a routine, all the animals know the routine, and yet they’re always hoping I’ll feed first, THEN clean instead of making them wait.

Our male hen – ok, yeah, he’s a rooster – is always the first one to start following me. I don’t mind him following me, but if he starts attacking me, he’s going to become dinner like the last rooster. So far, he’s a pretty nice guy.

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He sends up the alert, and the girls start gathering. And gathering. And gathering.Wherever I go, they’re following. When I look down at the whole flock, surrounding me, it occurs to me it’s a good thing I’m not afraid of chickens. And it’s a good thing they know I feed them. Can you imagine if they all got mad at me at once? That would be like a horror movie. “Pecked to Death.”

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Fortunately, they’re willing to play along while I keep them waiting. Once I do start feeding them, I continue to entertain myself. I’ve learned if I scatter their scratch in patterns, the birds will make shapes for me. They all start with the first straight line, but then spread out as more scratch is put down. This day I was trying for a square.

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They almost got it. Maybe I need to shoot for more rounded sides. I’m also thinking of trying to do the whole alphabet, one letter at a time. It would take several weeks. We’ll see how ambitious I get.

The ducks join in with the chicken scratch, but they know they get fed next. Spike knows they get fed next, too. He knows he’s not supposed to eat the duck food, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. He has no shame. He even tries to keep them waiting. Tajo takes full advantage of Spike wanting to be a bird. He gets to eat his grain in peace while everyone else is following me around.

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Eventually Spike backs off and lets me feed the ducks. He’s pretty persistent, though. He acts like he’s given up, until the food is scattered on the ground, then he sneaks in, like maybe I won’t notice he’s not a duck. Or a chicken. I’ve learned to spread the feed thin, so he’s not able to get large amounts.

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People are always shaking their heads at how well our animals get along. They’ve always been like this. Sometimes the ducks and hens gang up on the rooster, but that’s because he’s trying to exhibit his manliness when the hens are trying to eat. Nobody appreciates that. Other than that, they’re like one big, happy family.

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Working the Farm

People kept telling us not to put anything into the ground until Mother’s Day weekend. At first, we thought they were maybe exaggerating a bit, but we’ve learned to listen. This weekend was it! We didn’t get as much done as I wanted, but we did enough that it’s going to hurt for a few days.

We got the beds tilled, with help from the chickens and Peanut, and all the raised beds are planted. The big field is ready to go, as soon as we can bend again. We have onions and garlic growing like crazy, and beets, radishes and strawberries are getting going. Carrots, lettuce, spinach, bush beans, and flowers went into the ground.
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The strawberries in the gutters love their home. We got flowers, which means we’ll be getting berries, and that’s a very good thing! The potatoes are doing great, too.   With Charlie’s PVC cages, the birds aren’t getting to the blueberries, and it looks like we’re going to have a good crop.

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There’s still so much that needs to go into the ground. The good news is, it has started staying light until almost 9, so we have lots of time in the evenings to get things planted.

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We also moved the birds around. The young ducks got moved into the big yard, and the turkeys and bantam chicks got moved into the run. The older chicks are all doing great, and should start laying eggs in 2-3 months.  If you’ve never seen ducks cruising around, they stay together darn near all the time. I’m very easily entertained, so I had to take a little break to follow the ducks around the yard, just so I could watch them move around in formation.

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And then, there’s this guy. Yep, this GUY. We buy day-old chicks, and the sex-checkers are pretty accurate, but it’s not unheard of for a rooster to get into the mix. When Charlie and I got the chicks, we picked out a special one for Raymond because he didn’t get to go with us.  Of course, that’s the rooster. Raymond is terrified of roosters. Maybe this one will be a nice rooster, and Raymond will learn to like it before he figures out it’s not a hen.

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I gave the duck tub a good scrubbing before moving in the young ducks. Spike and Tajo saw the hose and they wanted to play. At first, I kept moving the hose away from them. I wanted to be sure they weren’t afraid of the nozzle. They kept coming after the water, so I had to have Charlie come in and play so I could take pictures. Tajo kept dancing to get his belly cooled off, and Spike drank right from the hose, then wanted his but sprayed. Alpacas get sheared once a year, and ours are scheduled for next week. That means they’re wearing a year’s worth of fleece, and it got to 82 today.  I’m sure the cool water felt fabulous.

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While we worked, the dogs stayed nearby – mostly in the shade.

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While we were working away, this hawk started circling awfully low. Then it started calling its friends over. Charlie went in for the shotgun to scare it off, but it left on its own. Smart hawk.
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Busy day, and I think we’re going to be feeling it. We should have everything in the ground by the end of the week. After another few weeks, we’ll be able to start harvesting. Everything is off to such a good start, I’m really excited to see what we end up with. I see lots of canning, freezing, jams and jellies in the very near future. By the end of summer we should be able to feed ourselves 100% from our own hard work. Very exciting!

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Poultry Rotation

Last year, we had chicks in a brooder, then moved them to an enclosed run, then into the big yard. Boom, boom, boom, it was done. After the chickens were in the yard, we got ducks, and started over. This year, we’ve made it a little more complicated. The 3-4 month plan, which started in February, includes laying chickens, laying ducks, meat chickens, and turkeys. In order to get what we want from each of the birds, when we want it, it took a little planning, and quite of bit of rotation. The egg birds are well into their rotation, and we’ll be starting with meat birds this week or next.

The first step was getting pullets, which are female chicks that will be egg-layers. We start with egg-layers because they don’t start laying until about 6 months old. If we wait too long, we’ll be into the shorter winter days, and they’ll only just get started laying when it’s time to stop again. They’re first available in February, when temperatures still drop below freezing. Their first stop is the brooder – a metal tub with bedding and a heat lamp.

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When they’re big enough, the chicks get moved outside to the enclosed run. We keep the run close to the big yard so they get used to seeing the other animals. They stay in the run until they’re big enough to hold their own with the big girls.

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Once the chicks are moved out of the brooder, the ducklings move in.

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The chicks are 8 weeks old now, and big enough to be moved in with the big girls. The ducklings are 3 weeks old, and big enough to move into the run. Ducks grow faster than chickens, and the overnight temperatures also aren’t dropping as low.

When you move chicks, they need to go into lockdown. By closing them into their coop for 3 or 4 days, they learn that this is home and, if all goes well, they will automatically return to the coop each night. Friday, I made sure the coop was ready for them with lots of food and fresh water. I can add food and water while they’re in there, but the longer I can leave them alone the better. Saturday, Charlie and I caught them, and moved them to their new home. I checked on them each day to make sure they were doing OK, and waited until Tuesday to let them out.

I popped open the door and waited. I thought it would take them awhile to decide to come out, but they weren’t shy at all. Within just a few minutes the first chick was venturing out.

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The big girls came over immediately to see what was going on, and soon they were all scratching together. I was afraid there may be some pecking order issues, but nobody had any problems.

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Soon, Spike had to be part of the welcoming committee. He always has to be in the middle of everything! Tajo took advantage of Spike’s curiosity and got an extra helping of grain.

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The chicks made themselves at home in their new yard.

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While everyone was enjoying the beautiful day, I got to work cleaning out the coop. The common advice is to not do a real good cleaning during the winter. The bedding, food and poop which drop on the floor help to insulate the coop and keep it warmer. That’s a WHOLE LOT of crap to clean up off the floor, but with help from the girls I got it done pretty quickly.

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The ducks are now moved to the run, complete with their own private swimming pool.

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I also decided Criss Cross needs some roommates in her condo, so two little bantam chicks have joined the ranks. Raymond and Reta Jean picked them out and named them. The dark one is Cheekle, and the light one is Fif.

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Turkeys take 6 months to mature, so they’ll be next into the brooder. That way, they’ll be ready to go in time for the holidays. When the ducks move into the big yard, the turkeys will move into the run, and it will be time to get meat chickens. Meat chickens only take 4 months to mature, so they’ll be ready to process around September.

Simple, right? It’s a good thing Charlie can keep the timing straight.

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Spring Stroll

When you live in the desert, spring means it’s going to get hot. Soon! When you live in the woods, spring means everything is coming alive. I took a stroll around the house and went a little camera happy.

Can’t focus on spring and not have lots of flowers. Cherry blossoms and daffodils are everywhere!

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Besides flowers, green is filling in everywhere. The ponds and creeks are full now, following all that Washington rain.

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Here are our cliffs, with shrubs growing out of the top.  Not really. Look again. We have a few trees around here that have been cut down, or taken down by lightning. If left alone, they start growing again from the top. It looks cool though, doesn’t it?

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Charlie has gotten his seeds planted, and they’re getting ready to go in the ground.

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Last year, some of our plants were thoroughly enjoyed by the local birds and critters. We see a lot of  plastic plant tunnels around here, but we didn’t want that. Charlie did some research and made these cool garden cages. PVC and netting allows water and sun to get in, but keeps the wild birds – as well as our renegade chickens – out. (I’ll post more about garden prep later.)

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These are the “little” chicks. They’re growing fast and doing great. Another week or so and they’ll be moved into the big yard.

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The big girls have been watching me closely on my stroll, and they’re waiting for treats. I’m just food to them, but they provide food for us so we’re all cool.

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And they’re right, I brought treats. I tossed meal worms around the yard for the chickens. Then I threw some in trough so the ducks could get them, without fighting the chickens. You can see how that worked out.

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I think the ducks prefer worms they suck out of the mud anyway. They’ll just go find their own, thankyouverymuch!

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Spike and Tajo are getting fluffier and fluffier. It will be time for shearing soon, and I’ll have my very own home-grown fiber to work with.

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After I left the animals, I decided to go bounce on the dock and take fun pictures. Water, ripples and reflections.

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And, of course, I have to introduce our newest additions. Charlie and Tori picked up 6 Khaki Campbell ducklings last week. They’re very teeny, and very sweet. Raymond and Reta Jean love them. Once the chicks are moved into the big yard, the ducklings will be moved to the “middle school.” By summer, we’ll have a yard full of feathered friends…and all kinds of pretty eggs.

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What I can’t show you is the trees full of chirping birds. They chirp and sing all day. Once they quiet down for the evening, the frogs and crickets pick up the song. I also can’t show you how fresh and pretty everything smells.  All I can show you is how beautiful it is, and hope your imagination can fill in the rest.

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Redmon Review 2014

I’ve never really been one to review each year, but this one has been a doozy!  Moving to Redmon Woods in mid-2013, we had puttered around with enough different ideas that we were ready to get to work January 1, 2014. Lucky timing for us.

We started with a large empty space and a few ideas. By April, things were really shaping up. We tore out old fencing, built our goat/chicken shelter, sunk new posts, installed fencing, tilled the garden area, built raised beds, and started the garden. Yep, Charlie and I, all by our little ol’ selves.

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While we were building, the chickens got busy laying eggs. After a lifetime of store-bought eggs, we’ve supplied all our own eggs, and lots of Carly’s, since February.

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I also got into the world of fiber, and oh, what fun that has been! I had no idea what I was doing, so I joined the local Spinners Guild, met an absolutely wonderful group of people, and learned the fiber world is quite diverse. Once I was convinced I could actually learn to spin, we got to work finding a spinning wheel. Charlie is an eBay ninja, and I had my first wheel within just a couple of weeks. I learned to make felt, needle felt, spin yarn, and crochet. With a left side that doesn’t always cooperate, I figure this took me longer than most people, but that’s OK. I got it.

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In the spring, all the local feed stores stock up on ducks. We were doing well with the chickens, so it was time to give ducks a try. I don’t know if it was just our ducks, but they weren’t really happy in the water. Peanut and I decided we would need to teach them to swim before we let them romp around outside.

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The first few months of the year, Charlie and I attended every animal show there was at the fairgrounds. In an agricultural area, that means something every weekend. We learned about goats, rabbits, sheep, and alpacas. After lots of research and investigation and research, and considering my new fiber adventures, we decided we would rather have alpacas than goats. (Goats are still on the to-do list, but they had to wait.) We got involved with Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue. The two founders, Shari and Jackie, allowed us to come help with their annual shearing. We met their rescues and learned about their organization, and we were hooked. We’ve worked on a few rescues with them, and continue to learn more. Meanwhile, Spike and Tajo have moved to Redmon Woods, and we LOVE them. They make me smile everyday. Next year, we’re hoping to expand their yard so we can bring home some more. There are so many beautiful, sweet alpacas that need homes, we want to do everything we can to help.

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Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue

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Spike and Tajo Come Home

Charlie started the majority of our garden from seeds. He then did all the transplanting. Eventually we decided I would take care of everything with legs, and he would be responsible for everything with roots. Charlie’s hard work paid off big-time. By summer, the garden was producing more than we could have imagined. We were thrilled, but that meant I had to figure out what to do with all these garden goodies. I spent months harvesting, washing, freezing, pickling, and making jam. All new things for me.

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My summertime “final exam” was making lasagna. Now, I’ve made lasagna several times in my life, but this was different. This time around, I made the tomato sauce, cheese, and pasta. I added veggies from the garden and sausage from a friend who makes his own. Judging by how fast the lasagna disappeared, I’d say I passed my exam.

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The garden has long since been put to bed, and the chickens and ducks have taken a little winter break. We’ve been  busy with the holidays, and Charlie bought me a drum carder for Christmas. I’ve been working on carding and spinning alpaca, gearing up for the new year’s projects.

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So much new stuff! Hard to believe we had done none of these things at the beginning of this year. It’s been our greatest adventure, and we can’t wait to tackle our to-do list for 2015.

And, of course, through it all, these silly kids kept us on our toes and made it all that much more magical.

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If interested, many of these projects can be found in previous posts.

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Frozen Farming

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The other night, Richard Sherman was on the news talking about the weather. He grew up a California kid, but he’s getting used to playing football in “below freezing” temperatures. My first thought was, “Silly football player! It’s not below freezing. It’s 16 degrees outside.” Fortunately, my second thought kicked in with, “Silly desert kid! 16 IS below freezing!” My whole first winter here, that never occurred to me. “Below freezing” sounds a whole lot colder than “really cold.”

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When it started cooling off, and the garden quit producing, I was actually relieved. After the daily rush of picking, processing, canning and freezing, I was looking forward to a slow down. I feel like Captain Obvious here, but, DANG! A frozen farm yard brings on a whole different set of chores.

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Looking outside, from my cozy bed, it’s beautiful. The yard is covered in frost, and the ice makes everything sparkly. Now, I just have to talk myself into going out there.

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Last year, we only had 6 chickens, in a small run, to care for. This year, we’re up to 2 alpacas, 2 ducks, and 16 chickens. Plus the dogs and cats. I still love my morning chores, they’re just a little different now.

I’m a little concerned about the animals in the freezing temperatures, but not too much. They all have shelters they can go into at night. The chickens and ducks will huddle together for body warmth, and the alpacas have their fleece. While their fleece may be cold and wet on the outside, up close to their bodies, it’s still dry and warm.

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The first thing to do is putting on a pot of water to boil. All the water containers are frozen. Yesterday, I stomped my boot through the ice, only to have it all freeze over again within the hour. Today, I’ll be schlepping hot water out throughout the day.

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Trips outside take a little more prep time now. No more shorts and flip flops for me! Layer, layer, layer. Sweat pants, boots, long-sleeved shirt, hoodie, quilted flannel, scarf and gloves. I don’t mind. It gives the water time to boil.

It’s no less beautiful when I’m outside. I think. My glasses keep fogging up. Stomping on the frozen ground is almost as much fun as stomping in puddles. Everything crunches underfoot, and gives the same satisfaction as popping bubble wrap.

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Once I distribute the hot water and feed everyone, it’s on to poop duty. The frost makes the piles a lot easier to see, and frozen paca poop cleans up like marbles. Some of it’s frozen to the ground, so I hammer on it with the side of the rake. Bad idea. I’ve just created poop shrapnel. I won’t do that again.

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Chickens and their poop are not nearly as cooperative. Yesterday, the poop had frozen onto the perches and I had to use my scraper more like a chisel. I think some of the poop will still be there come spring.  Today, the chickens aren’t even coming out of the shelter. Normally, they come running out as soon as I open the door. This morning, I finished my other yard chores, and they were still inside. I guess I’ll have to come back later for poop duty.

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It’s going to be a loooong winter. If I can keep from doing anything really wrong, we should all make it. Let the winter games begin!

Bring On The Calm

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I recently returned from a week at my dad’s. I always enjoy visiting him and my hometown. I got to spend time with Dad and my son PJ, drive by the old house, see old friends, and spend some time in the sun. But California moves at a much different speed than Washington.

Everything on the farm makes me smile and relax. I’ve been home almost a week and I just got my “calm” back this morning. It’s been stormy – rain and wind – since I got home, and today we had sun. Just wandering around the property made me peaceful again.

The storm blew away most of the remaining leaves. Now, we can see neighbors’ homes that have been hidden since spring.

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Spike and Tajo get to dry out and relax in the sunshine.

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The chickens are happily clucking and pecking.

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And the creek is high and burbling away.

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No matter how many pictures I take, or how much I try to describe this life to people, I can never do it justice. We are so lucky to get to wake up to this every single day. We never know when deer are going to wander through the yard, or when coyotes are going to hang out and party at the pond. The finches are gone now, but a new flock of woodpeckers has moved into the yard. I never knew woodpeckers traveled in flocks, and maybe they don’t, but since I keep seeing the same 6 hanging out together, I’m calling them a flock.

As the sun travels throughout the day, it makes different trees and clouds light up and glow. Everybody gets to be a star. Any time of the day, I can go out and see something completely different, even though, technically, everything is the same.

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Not only are there no words, there aren’t even pictures that can do this life justice. It’s where I belong. It’s home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Babies meeting the boys

Alpaca Rescue

At some point, alpacas found their place onspike and tajo our wish list.  I had relearned  how to crochet and joined the local spinners’ guild. Not only did I want to learn how to spin, I thought it would be so cool to raise my own fiber right in the backyard. That, and they’re really stinkin’ cute!hello spike

The Pacific Northwest has a number of alpaca breeders, and there are some absolutely gorgeous animals.  Due to the rise and fall of the alpaca industry, there is a broad range of prices. A “standard” price seems to be in the $1000-5000 range.  Currently, there are also alpacas available for $250,000 and higher. Ouch, right?

In my alpaca research I learned that when the industry fell, many ranches went under.  This left numerous alpacas homeless.  Since all of our other pets are rescues, it made sense to look into alpaca rescues.  This is how we found Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue.

Earlier this year, Polk RJ and pacasCounty in Oregon was faced with a devastating situation where more than 180 alpacas were in need of rescue.  Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue, working with Oregon State University, was instrumental in learning the needs of each animal and placing them in appropriate homes.  While completing this rescue, they also became involved in a rehoming of 48 alpacas in northern Washington, and other, smaller, rescues around the state. To learn more about them you can visit their website at www.crosscreekalpacarescue.org.

After making contact with CCAR, I learned they were looking for tajovolunteers to help with their annual shearing. PERFECT! Charlie and I had no intention of bringing home animals that we hadn’t learned as much about as possible. We spent the day herding, leading and falling in love with alpacas. Our yard was still under construction, so we also took the opportunity to see how their yards were set up, and to pick their brains about what we would need to do to make our yard alpaca-friendly.

About a month after spike at snack timeshearing we were asked if we could help out with their new rescue in northern Washington. Absolutely! Another wonderful learning experience as we helped harness, photograph and identify each alpaca.

Shari and Jackie, who run the rescue, were so good with the animals and so good with us. They used every “teachable moment” to help us learn and understand. They told us stories of different rescues and alpacas. They taught, and we did our best to learn, until we all felt comfortable moving two of their rescue boys in with us.

Spike and I at shearing

Spike and I at shearing

Spike is the alpaca I connected with the most at shearing, and he was available! His best buddy, Tajo (pronounced Tahoe), was also ready to go. Jackie and Shari delivered them to us on June 18, 2014, and we love having them here.

They won’t be ready for shearing again until next May. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to volunteer with Cross Creek and continue to learn. It also gives me several months to get better at spinning!

water time