Sunday, July 29, 2007

Market Day in Bellingham

Here's a short clip of some performers at the farmer's market. It was "kid's day", so many of the musicians and vendors were young people.

And the proprietor of one of our favorite farms, Evergreen Station. He always has the most interesting kinds of greens for sale, including nettles, soup celery, dandelions, and much more depending on the season.
Another shot of Evergreen Station, under the new market building.
Birchwood Gardens always has beautiful herbs and other plants, plus soaps and other body care products. I bought a hollyhock yesterday, to add some old-fashioned garden feel to our front herb bed.
These folks always have a great selection of fruits, veggies and flowers. This booth always draws a crowd.
And on our way back to the car, we saw this Little Pony, just abandoned on the curb with its mane blowing in the wind....I'm sure someone gave it a new home.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

From the 'auld sod' - Eastern WA

Here's the lovely coop we built to match the pole barn/house. The main coop was 4x8 and 6ft tall in the front. It had a giant picture window to let in what light there was in winter. We had 7 hens and 2 roosters in it, all banties.
Here's Hrifla, our Icelandic horse. She was nearly 3 in this picture, but wouldn't have gotten much bigger. She was wild, right off the range when we brought her home, but by the time she went to her new home she learned to come running when I held her halter & lead rope up. She could walk over any kind of surface, like plywood and tarps without spooking. We could sit on her, put Mark and the kitties on her back, and she walked right into the trailer like a pro. Having her was a great learning experience, but you can see from the mud in the background the kind of damage even a small horse does to a pasture.

A flock of wild turkeys used to drop by for visits. Having a creek bottom full of cover and things to eat made it a great wildlife habitat. These guys would sometimes drink out of the birdbath and rest in the shade in the yard. We had fun 'talking' to them during mating season.
And Mark the nature bird! He loved wading in the creek when we could find a shallow sandy bank for him. He'd go in deep enough to almost swim (which parrots can't do) so we'd have to make sure we could nab him quick if he floated off downstream.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tonight's dinner!

Look at all this goodness!
Chicken soup: homegrown chicken, onions, potatoes, carrots, garlic, herbs. Salad: homegrown broccoli, green onions. Homegrown wax beans. And homebrewed oatmeal/sweet stout!
Life is good.

Countdown to March 12th 2008

She doesn't look very pregnant yet...and it doesn't help that she let herself into a fresh paddock (walked over the electronet we didn't plug in) and ate until her sides bulged. But by our best estimate, she should have her baby March 12th of next spring.

Check out all the worms on this compost!! The whole pile was cooking away, and where it wasn't too hot, there were hundreds of worms and other critters doing their part to make more dirt for Seven Trees. Won't be long until we have a closed loop for the garden - cow eats grass, makes manure, manure makes compost, compost makes veggies, etc. Now if the weather would just get back on track....

Sunday, July 22, 2007

When bulls collide...

Check out Bob and Thoreson at RDoubleD Acres in Monroe, WA. We went there Saturday for an informal seminar on Dexters and learned a lot about color genetics and conformation. Providing audio entertainment were the 2 bulls. Thoreson claimed the herd, since he had been with the cows longer. Bob was playing catchup from another field just off-camera to the left. He seemed to remember us a bit, but was more concerned about showing what a manly guy he is to the other bull. I think they sound like a cross between elk and dinosaurs!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Today's Harvest

Check this out - fresh eggs, potatoes, a nice onion, ruby chard, and a huge bunch of Inchelium Red garlic. The way the garden is growing now, we could probably harvest a week's worth of produce nearly every day! And the beans, cukes, maters & squash haven't even kicked in yet.

Another lovely sunset, viewed from the back porch. The forecast for Sunday no longer mentions cyclones, but does call for a major soaker over our area. Maybe up to 5" of rain depending on where the system parks itself and for how long...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Cyclogenesis? Here? In July??

This morning's forecast is a bit strange. Here's an excerpt:
Unseasonably strong westerly flow across the Pacific will drive yet another stronger system into the area Sat night and sun. This system will also have a long moisture fetch of tropical origins...possibly remnants from excessive-Typhoon Man-Yi but this is difficult to ascertain. This may explain the GOES precipitable waters of nearly 3 inches out near 150 west. The GFS shows cyclogenesis to occur as the system moves to 130w with a surface low deepening 997mb before curving NE into Vancouver Island. The GFS hangs the front up over western Washington through Sun night which could result in a prolonged period of moderate rain across the area. An extended period of rainfall may push rivers up quickly but it is hard to imagine a flooding scenario this time of year. Regardless...the latest mm5gfs gives 5+ inches of rain over the Olympics which would easily push many rivers to flood stage. In addition...very fast rises on all streams/rivers could catch people off guard and extreme caution should be exercised this weekend. Will need to consider a spacial statement for later today and possible flood watches as well. Continue to monitor forecasts.

Here's a technical and well illustrated page about cyclogenesis. And here is the quick version from Cyclogenesis is an umbrella term for several different processes, all of which result in the development of some sort of cyclone.

So it looks like the PNW is going to get it's share of extreme weather after all. Sounds a bit like a very unseasonable Pineapple Express. We'll post an update when the front rolls through.

A good place to learn more about the PNW climate and it's coming changes is at the website for the Climate Impacts Group out of the University of Washington. They also have links to learn about climate research in other parts of the country as well.

Tomorrow we head south (2 whole counties) to learn more about Dexter cattle. Look for more pics and commentary soon! And don't forget to check out the announcement in the upper right corner of the blog if you are in the area.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The thrill is gone...

Rambling Bob has rambled on. For all intents and purposes Stella is a single mom. We're heading south this Saturday to where Bob lives to meet & greet other Dexter breeders and learn more about the breed. Stella was upset for a while, but we opened paddock 2 for grazing and she soon forgot about her temporary boyfriend. Let's hope for an easy calving and a heifer calf come March!

On a more mechanical note, Pearl's driver side window wouldn't go up last night. I was ready to drop her off at the shop, but figured it wouldn't hurt to take a look. I managed to pull the door panel off and disconnect the wiring. After prying the back off the window switch box, I saw there was all kinds of crud on the contacts, so we cleaned that up and moved a worn toggle thingy. A little monkeying around and it was all put back together. And whaddayaknow, it worked! Just in time for a rainy night.

In upcoming news, Seven Trees is still planning a gather day on August 25th, 4pm til the cow comes home. BBQ/potluck/barter, bring food to share, surplus to gift or trade. We'll have some locally-sourced burgers and Hempler's dogs, tasty garden products like potato salad and greens and a cream ale brewed just for the Gather, plus other homebrewed tastings. There will be a firepit after dark for roasting and toasting and musicians are welcome to add to the fun. You'll have to RSVP, because this 'do is invite only. We have limited tent space for crashing too.

We plan to have gathers on a regular basis, to celebrate our agricultural heritage and mark the turning of the seasons. Join us in the fun!

Friday, July 13, 2007

News flash! Tater madness has begun!!

It wasn't that long ago I was hilling the Reddale spuds and found one the size of a peanut. Last night revealed an amazing discovery - the spuds are ready for harvest! The Buttes are still too small (since I want them to grow up to be giant bakers) but I dug a couple just to try.

In other news, as part of the Learning2.0 thang at work, I am learning about tags. I'm sure faithful readers (and fellow bloggers) have noticed there is a space to add labels relating to each post's topics. There are a few major sites that now track blog content, one of them being Technorati. Technorati automatically indexes tags on Blogger (call 'labels'), Flickr, YouTube, and many other popular sites. Check it out, there are some neat features if you want a new way to look for fun internet stuff.
Stay tuned for more updates this weekend. We have watermelons the size of peas, complete with tiny stripes! Potimarron squash like yellow golf balls! Siberian and Beaverlodge tomatoes.....well, you get the idea.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Heat wave hiatus!

It's been well into the 90's here the past couple of days. Too hot to do much of anything but complain about the heat and water the plants. Naturally it will be cooler & cloudier on the weekend if the forecast is right. It's really too hot to harvest any veggies, as they will need to be processed right away, and there is no way I'm adding any heat to the house today.
Here's our new baby rooster, Del the Delaware. We tried to name him something witty and clever, but Del just seemed appropriate. He's still young enough to peep instead of cluck, and likes being cuddled. He seems like a calm healthy guy and is settling into flock life just fine.

And Stewart, standing in for the actual attack cow. We saw the sign in a Seattle shop and had to have it.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

There's no place like Seven Trees

We decided to celebrate our birthdays by taking the train to Seattle for the day. We left at 8:30am, and got to Seattle at 11.

Here I am, heading south from Bellingham, with Samish Bay out the window. It started out kind of cloudy and chilly but got sunnier as we went.

An 'arty' shot, looking out the train window, with the Chicago-bound train reflected in the glass.

Hamming it up with SPD. Check out the sweetly restored 1970 Challenger. Nice! As were the cops.

And here's me, posing in front of a vintage fire engine. We had no idea it was the Seattle Fire Festival, and walked out of the train station into quite a to-do. I didn't get to ring a fire bell like I wanted, but oh well...

A couple of lunatics and their collection of used pint glasses, at the Elysian.

And two more wackjobs. Notice the family resemblance?
We had a nice visit in town. Shopped like tourists, wandered slack-jawed and amazed at all the people. Seattle really has grown since I was a kid.

And here's an over-the-shoulder shot of the train as we hoofed it to the parking lot. A lovely trip, but so very very nice to be home. The train left Seattle at 6:40 and we arrived at Fairhaven Station at 9pm.

Now we're back in the saddle at Seven Trees. Making sauerkraut tonight (we removed the baby earthworm that was hiding inside, but pondered leaving it so we could do kraut-juice shots a la cheap tequila with worm in the bottle), lots of gardening, took the dogs for an outing (we had lunch at the Archer), beets and chard have been harvested. Bob the bull will go home Saturday, and the new little rooster guy arrived today. He's in a cat carrier until night, because the Red Stars are bossing him around. We'll put him in with everyone at night, and when they wake up they should be a more integrated flock. It also looks like the 2 Sussexes and 3 Australorps will have a new home soon. I'm also experimenting with a recipe for lacto-fermented swiss chard stems. Speaking of experiments, we are also getting some results on veggie choices this season, and we are not happy with the carrots or onions at all. We'll be trying some fall plantings of new varieties.
Also, for you local folks, we're planning a "Swashbuckle into Fall" BBQ/party/event, so practice your best pirate accent, strap on your cutlass, and help us do quality control on some homebrew. Saturday August 25th, from 2:00pm on, and we'll have space for tents, and hopefully something yummy for breakfast. More later as things shape up. We're also starting a batch o' brew especially for the shindig.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day - Seven Trees style!

Just got 2 cords of firewood delivered yesterday. This combined with what we already have will keep us warm through the up-coming winter. What a good feeling to know we have this crucial part of our health & welfare taken care of.

Check out these Kingston Black apples! Prettier than any fireworks to me. They are an old traditional hard-cider apple and our ancestors used to consider them the best variety. They also figured 6 apple trees per person on a farmstead, to make enough for the year's drinking. We'll stick with our 3 apples trees for cider, sauce and drying. Also notice the giant berry patch in the background. We'll be scrambling to keep up with the blackberries come August, but a freezer full makes the winter so much sweeter. Not to mention jam and mead!
Happy critters sure make a stead independent from eating factory-farmed food. Stella seems pregnant enough that Bob is going home a week early. Next spring we'll have plenty of clean, fresh, healthy milk, and a calf to raise or sell. The chickens also make up a huge portion of our protein independence - eggs and stewing birds are a wonderful treat. And all the critters help us be independent from chemical fertilizers. Their manure and bedding are what makes the next picture so green and lush.
The garden. Last year it was "lawn" with a few raised beds. Now it's practically leaping over the garden fence and knocing on the back door. With some care and labor, we'll harvest and preserve enough food to keep us well-fed for a year, with plenty to share with humans and critters.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Another lovely Sunday

Check out these 2 garden inspectors! Newt is the black kitty between the chard on the left and beets on the right. Crichton is facing the lettuce/onion row. The usually hang out in the cat jungle that we silly pink monkeys persist in calling the potato patch.

Here are the barnyard inspectors, checking the stability of the siding girts of the barn addition. These kids are going on 4 months old, and should start laying any time. Unfortunately they like to lay in places they shouldn't, as the next picture illustrates.

Can you spot the 2 eggs in this picture? (Hint: click on the picture for a larger version.) One is from a Sussex hen, and we think a Black Star (i.e. Peeps or Poops) is laying too. We're planning to put up some netting to keep them out, so we don't lose egg production to hay mow accidents.