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

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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

Visitor From the City

Our wonderful friend Dave visited last week! We don’t get many¬†visitors¬†all the way out here, so it was a very welcome surprise!

We haven’t really entertained anyone here yet… except ourselves… and my parents two weeks ago… oh yeah, and a whole slew of our closest friends for our annual Friendsgiving celebration (which was before moving here)… well, we still feel new to hosting either way. Plus, I had to work all week and it was horrible stormy weather. But that didn’t stop us from filling 4 days with tons of fun! Here are a couple of highlights.

We went to Rogue and did the whole brewery tour (everyday at 3)…

Rogue is an incredible company. Check out their farm activity… it’s amazing to see a business that has had so much growth and success, make time to pursue the slow, extended aspects and methods of their trade too!

The boys fished for a day while I worked. No camera or fish, but hopefully lots of tips and experience for next time! We also geared up and made a (seriously!!) good effort at clam diggin. Not only are we licensed and now equipped with all the important tools, we studied up on where to go and the behavior of the razor clams. We headed out with enough time to hit the beach at low tide. And… we found nothing. Not a single hopeful bubble. And did I mention it was storrrrrrrmy?

On Saturday night we enjoyed a good old fashioned dive bar hop!

Thanks for the visit Dave! Come back anytime and tell your (ahem, OUR) friends!! Hopefully next time we’ll have more luck with bringing in some bounty.

Now I am looking forward to moving these giant chickens out of here:

3 weeks old!

3 weeks old!

And into here!! ASAP (Right Dave?).

Xo, K

Perks of the Coast

Our house may be in the Woods, but we live at the Beach. What comes with living out here on the coast (along with the salt, the rust, the wind and rain) is seafood! Our five-mile drive down the hill can no longer be done without popping in somewhere for a quick half dozen-on-the-half-shell…

Oysters at Shuckers

Oysters at Shuckers

Seafood stands and markets are everywhere and there is nothing more fun (or touristy!) than going to Newport’s Historic Bayfront to eat and shop for delicious treats! Each port dock has fishing boats selling their freshest catch, receiving, sorting and processing often for the fantastic restaurants on the shore.

We are also hoping to start catching our own. Chinook and Steelhead live right in our back yard! But we just need to learn to fish… starting with getting some fishing poles and a boat! Until we get that together, we have to take advantage of all the fishing that’s already been done for us.

Soon, I’ll add a post with some of our *new* favorite restaurants. We feel really lucky out here.

Xo, K

Our Expanding Farm

What a gorgeous week we have had! The beautiful sunny weather was the perfect chance to start on our next project… the garden! Mitch tilled a 17 by 36 foot space straight out from the coop…

Then we had the amazing, knowledgeable, incredibly helpful and so so friendly family at Blake’s Coastal Nursery deliver this beautiful black compost.

Delivery from Blake's

Delivery from Blake’s

Nate (Blake’s son) couldn’t have been more patient, answering (a million) questions and giving detailed advice about what to plant and how to make it successful in this coastal region. I picked out waaaaaay too many seeds to plant and Nate pushed us to make some better, more practical choices. He also directed us to some great resources, like OSU’s Newport Extension who have done all the work in figuring out what goes in this particular area and how to keep it alive.

Today, Mitch will start a Permaculture Design Certificate course online. The course will take him through an entire agricultural design plan. He will learn how to plan around any climate, and to build a plan of any size. I cannot wait for his updates on the course and what he builds as well as all the other student’s plans.

Before we can plant the seeds, we need a fence to keep the pests out (it’s like a broken record). Also, the chickens will be moving outside soon into a heated coop, with a clover-covered run (also Nate’s suggestion! Along with a genius plan for how to make sure it can grow before the chickens eat it… stay tuned). The run will lead to the garden so that we can easily let them wander through… tilling and composting for us. Although supervised so that hopefully they don’t have a chance to eat up all the new little seedlings. Farming’s biggest challenge seems to be trying to control the circle of life/food chain to protect all of our chosen plants, animals, pets and visitors from all of the many unwanted versions. We are thinking about introducing a new predator… a couple of barn cats! I hear that they are the most effective pest control for rodents and birds and that they are smart enough to keep themselves safe. But that will be the ultimate in self-control for me… making the kitties sleep outside?? It seems so mean! Guess you have to be tough to be a farmer. And patient… what am I going to do while we wait for the these seeds to spout?!

Xo, K