Surprise Bounty on the Farm!!!

It’s been a long time since my last post. I am happy to say it is because I have been having too much summer fun… trips, weddings, a festival, visiting friends and lots of relaxation.

So, much to our surprise amid so many distractions…. our young ladies have started laying eggs!! Mitch found 14 eggs all at once in one of the nesting boxes, collected them and then we didn’t see any others for a couple days. After some rooting around, we found that they were hiding them in the corner of their run under Mitch’s tools. Why don’t they like the nesting boxes?

Between the eggs and the zucchini, cucumbers, snap peas, tomatoes… we have a ton of fresh stuff for this harvest season!

Here is a photo summary of this last month of summer….

Gone Fishin…

You wanna know something frustrating? We still haven’t caught a fish. We have tried. LOTS of times. And there are supposed to be steelhead and salmon here. People, who know more than us (the gas station attendant in Taft, the bartender at Shuckers etc.), have been giving us the play-by-play since spring as the Salmon were on their way down from Alaska… tracking them as they apparently hit the Colombia River… and estimating that we should have begun seeing them swimming up the Siletz late March/early April. Actually, telling us all of this in envy since along with quite limited public access, we live on one of the few rivers in this area that allows fishing during the Spring Run… supposedly due to the number of fish!

Map of public access and bank fishing areas

Map of public access and bank fishing areas

As you can see…. fishermen care about this river. They talk about it, they study it, they fish on it! What are we doing wrong? We are 10 miles from the ocean and we are in the tide-water. You do want to be out of the tide-water to find where the fish hang out, but during all the salmon runs up from the ocean in spring and early summer, not only should they be passing right by us…. we have read that they should be hanging out and resting right here while the tide is changing.

You may recall a few glimpses of our efforts off the dock. Before we could enjoy it, Mitch had to machete all the overgrown grass and blackberries to make way for Fred to float it down and tie it up.

As we work away at becoming experienced fishermen, we took a break last weekend (for Mitch’s birthday!) to see how the pros do it. We went out on an ocean charter with Captain’s Reel in Newport to catch rockfish and ling cod. OK… did I mention they’re pros? Captain Chad has a fish finder radar and a bunch of friends on the radio. The result being that he knew exactly where to go to be sure that all 8 of us on board could literally drop our line and pull up either one or TWO rockfish within a minute! Mitch and I fell short of our maximum daily allowed by one (with 13!). I didn’t realize how fun fishing was… catching the fish is quite a bit more exciting (to say the least). In fact, a few minutes would pass without hooking anything and Chad would tell us to pull up the lines so we could go find some more! I thought fishing required patience…

And then it’s back to our dock for another fish-less day. We’ll keep trying… letcha know if we get somethin!

Xo, K

4th of July

Ahhh….. what a fun and relaxing 5 days of  vacation. We had our friends out for the holiday to soak up the sun, eat great food and celebrate! We celebrated America, the summer, good friends and Mitch’s birthday, which he happens to share with USA! Yay!!

Hope everybody had a good one!

Xo, Ken


Summer is Here!!

We are so excited summer is here that we haven’t even had time to post! Farming (like anything) is easy in the SUN! I can understand the benefit of working hard in the spring. Now we can just sit back and watch everything grow!

Here is an update… in photo form of progress from Mitch’s hard work, as well as the inherited cherry and apple trees that we didn’t have anything to do with. We are already enjoying fresh greens. Lots more bounty to come soon… I especially can’t wait because, frankly the grocery store/produce situation out here leaves much to be desired.

Speaking of small-town living… when we moved out here, I did worry a bit about leaving the city. I was concerned that we would be lonely and that there wouldn’t be much culture. A sacrifice we would have to accept if we wanted to get more space. Little by little, we are being exposed to how untrue that is! Of course, we are new to the area and don’t know many people, but the more we get out, we realize what a fantastic community surrounds us.

A couple of weeks ago, we visited an open house at the Jennifer Sears Glass Studio where you can blow your own float, paperweight, even glass bowl! They gave us wine and snacks and we got to meet some amazing people, including Kelly Howard, who is an artist and glass art teacher, and also manages the studio. Across the street at the Volta Gallery, there are some truly incredible pieces. It was great to see all the working artists!

Mitch then planned an incredible day that actually served to redefine my idea of culture and richness. We went on a whale-watching tour with Dockside Charters and even though we didn’t get to see any whales, Captain Lars was the epitome of a soft-spoken, informative and wonderfully caring individual.

We followed that up with a visit to Oregon Oyster Farms on our way down to an Aveda spa experience in Yahats at the Overleaf Lodge. Where from the soaking tubs, we DID get to see whales! Since I was blind-sighted by this surprise… on arrival, I was thinking, ‘WHAT is a gorgeous spa like this doing way down here in Yahats??’ But I quickly understood. I feel sorry for the spas I am used to in the city who have no cliffs with crashing waves, no whales, no beautiful drive on the coastal highway to get there… nothing!

Lastly, we enjoyed a 7 course tasting-menu at Restaurant Beck overlooking the Whale Cove on Depoe Bay. Whoa. I don’t know how to describe that meal with my vocabulary. I’m surprised how speechless I am… seriously.

We finished out the night in the bus under the stars. I don’t want to gush, but we just LOVE living out here. There is always culture… it’s obviously just different everywhere you go.

Good morning!

Good morning!

Xo, K

Coming Soon… Veggies!

Before we kick off the weekend and get back to work, I have a garden update to share from LAST weekend. The last stage of the garden I shared was a long time ago! We have made a lot of progress since then, but more importantly, we are beginning to have the right weather. It takes patience to wait for Pacific NW sun to show up!

After we tilled up the plot we chose, we started lots of seeds and then… waited.

I thought we would be putting the seedlings in the ground over a month ago. But we kept waking up to frosty grass, so we had been waiting and waiting… Mitch planted a bunch of the babies just before we left for Cali and after a couple of days of sun, it rained (read: DUMPED!!) for 2 weeks. So the conditions still weren’t ideal by then (Mid-May).

Last weekend, with the promise of sun for the foreseeable (as far as you can forecast) future, we stocked up and put some good, strong, established plants in the ground. We were lucky to get lots of naively grown veggies that were started in greenhouses around the Central Coast by some of the most skilled gardeners in the area.

The first stop was the Newport Farmer’s Market. Lots of goodies and yummies… our favorite: Gathering Together Farm with their delicious produce and amazing salsas. We picked up a bunch of herbs and some tomatoes grown by Blue Heron Farm.

Next, we went to the OSU Master Gardeners Plant Sale. This was incredible because all of these plants were grown locally by experts who were happy to share advice. Looking into the Master Gardener program when we first moved here, was where we discovered the Permaculture program Mitch is completing.

I learned that EVERYTHING around here is grown in a greenhouse during Spring. That is very good to know. A project for next year… an incredibly exciting one, that seems so obvious! We will be able to get a head start on everything and even grow some stuff year round! A solution to the 2 month growing season I am used to out here (ie. my summer garden every year in Portland which seems to yield a thousand tomatoes all in the same week.)

Planting and weeding was quick and easy (for me!) and doubled as a sunbathing session (Mitch did everything).

So, I have said this before (and revealing much about my personality), farming is a slow process. It takes lots of time and patience… but nothing could be more satisfying than watching as each thing comes together.

Xo, Ken

Sometimes you need a friend with a tractor….

Fred on the tractor

Fred on the tractor

Cali Road Trip… Northward.

After an incredible week with family and friends, we headed out of The Bay into Northern California and beyond. It was so good to see everyone… it gets a little lonely in the solitude out here in the woods. But after such a full week, we found ourselves ready for some isolation again!

We spent the first night in Mt. Shasta at the Woodsman Hotel. We were nervous about their reviews (eeek!!), but to our incredible surprise, we loved it! It is a very quaint, rustic motel that definitely makes you think of an old-timey mountain town. It’s not fancy, just cute. And very woodsy. Apparently there is new management, which probably explains why we got so lucky. We sat with Nick, the combo front desk man/bartender and had dinner and drinks and chatted. Everyone who works there are just good people. Mt. Shasta (only about an hour from where I went to college), is a wonderful community, surrounded by mountains, rivers, lakes, and healing mineral water springs. The population is filled with outdoor enthusiasts, artists, healers. Tourism is an important part of their economy, which is hard to maintain during the slow seasons. I can see that the town really struggles waiting for the summer. So that’s my little plug… to visit Shasta!

From Shasta, you have a choice between the faster, but MUCH less beautiful route up I5N and the gorgeous (I’m talking– Klamath Lake, Crater Lake, a MILLION snow-covered mountains, surrounded by evergreens and finishing up through the Columbia River Gorge –gorgeous) route up the 97. So (obviously) we headed up through Central Oregon. We camped in Madras at Lake Simtustus on the Deschutes just above the Pelton Dam and upstream from Lake Billy Chinook.

OH MY GOSH. What an amazing place we discovered!! We got a spot right on the shore, but the lake front RV resort is terraced in a way that every spot has a gorgeous lake view. They had the cleanest facilities, little community golf carts for all to use, fishing poles to borrow and such nice people! I am practically drooling as I write this. It was a perfect location.

Mitch caught a few fish, but they were all babies, so we didn’t bring home any dinner…

We finished the trip out by driving through the Gorge, Dalles to Hood River. Stopped for some wine tasting at Marchesi and had belated mother’s day sushi with Mom in Portland. A little more wine tasting at Vista Hills and 2012 barrel tasting at White Rose Sunday on the way home. We feel really lucky. Now back to the farm…

Xo, K

Back From Cali… with Full Hearts.

We are back! We had a fantastic trip north from Santa Barbara and were happy (ecstatic!!) to come home Sunday to our beautiful and well cared for home (we can’t thank you enough, Tara). It’s been raining (pouring!!) since we got here, which is a bummer, but gives us a good excuse to unpack and relax back into the swing of things here before feeling too bad about not doing any work around the farm. Besides, I can’t wait to share our adventures OFF the farm.

Last week, we flew into Santa Barbara to stay with my sister’s family. Words on a blog post can’t express how amazing it is to spend 5 nights with Melanie, Corey and Mckenzie in perfect, sunny SB. The usual fun we always have, was extra special to me because I ran my first half marathon! I ran slow. It was almost impossible. And I loved it (…starting about an hour after I finished). I ran from Santa Inez to Solvang through vineyards and lavender fields… ending with wine tasting and music! Tri-tip sandwiches and more music at Cold Spring Tavern on the way down. Yum.

We spent the weekend cooking, playing, swimming and having fun! We slept in the 1977 Airstream Argosy guest room and we were reunited with our own vintage beauty, our ’79 VW, which they have been babysitting since we left it there at Thanksgiving. One way road trips are definitely the way to go! Bye bye SB and fam. See you again soon (obviously)!

Next, we took the short drive to LA…. the longest possible way we could manage. We took the, conference call in the morning, pack slowly, wait for AAA to bring a new battery, HWY 1 via Malibu, arriving to LA in the height of rush hour long-way. So it took about 6+ hours. Ali asked me at 11am if we would make it by 5!! We didn’t.

But we did make it in time to have a reunion with 3 beloved friends who are all new residents of Los Angeles. Ali, Evan and Maddy… we love you!! And miss you so much. Thanks for the delicious food, drinks, coffee and company.

We hit the road the next day for the most utterly miserable part of the trip. The drive from LA to San Jose. It was so hot, windy, stinky and loooong (I mentioned the ’79 bus…).

Luckily! Eric, Zoe and Dylan equals… wonderful company, a gorgeous baby, martinis, good wine, (more) delicious food, hot tub and always a great time. We wish we could have stayed MUCH longer!

Actually, Mitch did stay! I rode the train to San Francisco to hang for the night with MORE good friends. Tracy, Emily and Michelle already had a night out planned so I was happy to be able to crash it without fussing with any plans! Thanks ladies!! After dinner, we acted like tourists and went to the Top of the Mark at the Mark Anthony, with incredible views of the city, both bridges and all the surrounding water. Beautiful! Next, the Tonga Room in the basement of the Fairmont, where they converted the hotel pool into a tiki lounge with a band playing from a floating stage, dancing and periodic indoor rain storms! A little cheesy, but totally fun!

Ok, this is part one. I think that’s about as long as I can hope to keep your attention. Part two will include the second half of the trip though Nor Cal, when we were on our own… camping, fishing, (more) wine tasting. We Instagrammed our way up, but there is much more to share! Thanks for tuning in!!

Xo, K

All Moved In!

Just a quick little post before we hit the road to show off our baby chicks, who have grown up and moved out. Mitch made an amazing home for them and they immediately got straight to work acting like full-grown chickens! Pecking, scratching and roosting. They even taught themselves how to go up and down the plank and they go to bed themselves right when it starts to get dark!

Now, I have heard that this would happen, but I imagined that we would have to spend a lot of time training them what to do! How can these little dummies (seriously) be so smart! Talk about instincts. I am so relieved that this was such an easy process… we are heading out of town today and leaving everyone with our wonderful new house sitter, Tara. I can’t wait to hear how it goes and to tell you all about our Cali Road Trip when we get back.

Here is the chicken habitat gallery…

Xoxo, K

Exploring the Land

With Mitch taking the Permaculture class, we have been adventuring around the property more and more to check out what exactly is going on here.

I hope you find a little walk through the property as interesting as we have. It is hard to believe the amount of natural diversity covered in such a small area.

Beginning from the beach, you cross the Siletz Bay Wetland Refuge.

Then you climb more than 800 feet in 2 miles through a collage of deeply wooded forests and clear-cuts and then quickly drop about 600 feet back down for the next 2 miles. This side of the mountain dead ends into a dramatic bend in the river, creating a secret little peninsula. It’s a place where cell phone towers don’t reach, where cable and gas companies couldn’t justify running their lines and where the mail lady can only deliver to mailboxes placed in clusters.

Going down our totally hidden driveway, you come out of the trees and into the open space that gradually drops to the river. We are bordered by a creek surrounded by old growth trees. To understand what I mean by old growth… these are old springboard notches. And there are 30+ year old trees growing out of their stumps.

From the high ground at the house, you wind down to the wetlands (which Mitch mentioned here) through the center. The land rises slightly again before dropping into the bank of the Siletz. Framed by the creek and with a yearly flood in the lower field, the property is ever-changing and we expect that these explorations will be full of new discoveries as the seasons change as well as year after year.

Studying the soil, the water movement and the sun’s path, Mitch has discovered so much about the dynamics of the property. Move ten feet and you will be standing on a completely different type of ground. These are soil samples from the upper field, the wetlands and the lower field. Once settled, they are worlds apart!

Pretty amazing, huh!? Here is what he determined about the way the property is made up….

Soil Map

I am not sure what we will end up doing with this information… guess that is what his class is for! This was previously a dairy farm. When the farm was inherited by the next generation, they retired that business and no farming was done. A neighbor told us that they used the coop to grow pheasants, which was a program set up by Oregon State University years ago to replenish the bird’s population. We also know that the rows of alders were planted in an attempt to continue to receive the farm tax credit. It seems that in this climate and location, there are very limited options for sustainable growth. That is hard to wrap my head around… looking out at vast green and abundant life everywhere… how can it be so hard? Obviously, as with everything we are trying to tackle out here, we have a LOT to learn.

The last thing we noticed on our recent trek is a little sad… this is a before-and-after series of a beautiful tree near where you enter the property. I am not sure which storm managed to break it apart… there have been so many! Although sad, it is definitely not tragic. As you can see, there is no shortage of breathtaking beauty here.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!
Xo, K

Barn Cats

We got some new friends last week! We picked out these kitties from the Lincoln County Animal Shelter… Isaac and Poblano were by FAR the coolest dudes there. An important part of this adoption because we are not really ‘cat people’. Mitch has never ever had one! I was shocked to find that out.

These really are the coolest cats. They are clean and cuddly, they don’t mind sleeping out on the porch and they are already investigating their best vantage points to hunt from! Sorry suckers… you little mice are gonna have to get moving.

The first couple of days were funny… trying to make sure they don’t run away, introducing them to the dogs, etc. Here is a quick series of some of the antics.

We have had good luck slowly letting everyone meet for short supervised visits and then giving everyone a break. So far so good! Now we can let the dogs out and the cats know to get up in a tree. The first time that happened, we thought Poblano was stuck, but he came down on his own.

THEN, we took all 5 (yes, as in FIVE) animals to the vet. That was a serious fiasco, but totally my kind of fun. Our new amazing vet, Dr. Malter was incredibly informative, patient (5 animals… remember?) and most importantly made us feel like really good parents with a whole pack of healthy pets!

Ok, that’s all the info I can give before I start sounding like a crazy-cat-lady! As my dear friend Ali aptly stated that she thought we may be becoming hoarders! Eeek… noted, thanks Ali.

Xo, K