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

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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

Chickies!!

These cute little guys arrived last week.

By special delivery in the mail (USPS is still pretty cool in my opinion…). We nestled them into their new, warm temporary home… the bathtub!

They’re all adorable and they are already growing FAST! We chose to get babies so that they would get to know us and so that the dogs would have some time to get used to them. I can just imagine the three dogs rushing outside everyday to bark in the poor chicken’s faces (jerks).

Well unfortunately, we already had an accident. Wilbur got one. WHAAAAH!!! I feel horrible and I can’t believe we let it happen. He rushed inside when the door was open before we could even think about it. Before then, I was letting him sniff them at a distance, with dual supervision and a grip on his collar. He was obeying, but definitely obsessed… way too worked up to be left unattended.

The ONLY good thing that came from the tragedy is the lesson learned… the dogs and the chickens are not going to be friends and definitely can’t be left together. I do want to try to make the existence between them peaceful, although separate. With barriers. Because the poor babies are never going to be able to defend themselves. And there are a lot more vicious beasts who will be trying their best to get at them… both by ground and by air. Mitch is going to have his work cut out for him reinforcing the coop to keep out coyotes, raccoons, rodents, hawks and obviously, dogs too. I am so mad a Wil, but I know this was my fault, not his.

Here is a peek into the peaceful past… before the ‘incident.’ When I was still a naïve and trusting mother.

Wilbur showing self-control

Wilbur showing self control

Ready for Spring!

I have just returned from a week in Germany. I was attending the International Dental Show in Cologne, which happens once every two years. It was an incredibly busy and productive week. We enjoyed staying near the unbelievable Dom (<–link to really well done virtual tour)

iPad snap of the Dom with snowflakes just starting to fall.

iPad snap of the Dom with snowflakes just starting to fall.

On the first day, I was surprised by a snowstorm that lasted throughout the first part of the week! I don’t think I am alone when I say that I have had just about enough of this arctic air. I returned home with high hopes of warmer weather and signs around the property that Spring is among us. While the signs were certainly not everywhere

Sure enough, we have had (very) few small, but worthy sightings…

While we wait for growing season to begin, we will continue to explore our new terrain. As I mentioned before, we live among some heavy logging. Across the way there is a massive clear-cut that was replanted a decade ago. A mile down the road, there is a brand new one… previously fresh, fallen branches are still drying out. Sometimes a Great Notion was filmed on the Siletz River up our road in 1971… written by Oregonian Ken Kesey about a typical logging family in this exact area. Read the book (if you can find the time for the 736 pages) or see the movie, which to me perfectly illustrates the time warp that can be felt all around in this area. From the rustic, weathered and rusted homes, vehicles, buildings and roads; the mentality of living off the land as a way to survive, rather than a hobby; the hard work and the skill that is required to maintain what you have; how little opportunity there is for economic stability… the 90 miles to Portland feels like a thousand. It’s an interesting contrast to experience.

Here are some pictures from our clear-cut trek on a gorgeous sunny day (hello Spring!).

Next up! Our chicks and my dad and mom are arriving tomorrow!!!

Xoxo, K

After the flood

sunsetWhenever I hear something about wetlands, it seems like it’s something about their declining health or complete disappearance. I’ve never really thought about them forming or how that would even happen. Well, one way is to have a neighbor’s culvert back up for a year and let the creek feeding the river do the rest. Our lower field, between the cabin and the river, is about 30′ below the rest of the property – and it belongs to the river. During really heavy, prolonged rains or quick melting of snowpack in the coast range, the field floods and joins the river for a while. Otherwise, it is mostly dry except for the lowest spots where the water table is teasing the surface and is a little soggy. lil froggiestadpole pods Until a couple of years ago, that is… that blocked culvert had slowly backed up the tiny creek into the field and formed a fairly large wetland area. It created a fertile area for young fish, tadpoles, birds and beavers. Even though our neighbor finally cleared the blockage, something has changed the behavior of the water because it no longer drains as it did before and has left a swampy gauntlet to cross to get to the river.new wetlands This is going to make it tough to get the tractor down there to mow once the grass starts growing. The upside is we have hundreds of ducks that overnight here now. There is also a pair of herons that like to stop by every once in a while and flocks of geese who layover on their way to wherever they’re headed. budding wetlands I may have to build a small bridge over our new wetland so that we can get the most use of the lower field but overall it think that it is a good development and I look forward to seeing it progress. -MJ

Wise Owl

Credit Image: © Robin Loznak/robinloznak.com

Credit Image: © Robin Loznak/robinloznak.com

We have a friend living outside our window. It’s either a Spotted Owl or a Barred Owl. We can’t be sure since we’ve never seen it, but an owl for sure. After plenty of research by way of listening to clips of hoots, screeches, caws and chatters, and narrowing down who may be found around here, we have decided on Spotted as our incredibly amateur hunch. Our neighbor definitely hoots. It’s actually almost a purr… Spotted Owl Call

I bring this up because owls seem to be a recurring theme for us. One hit our CAR on the way home late at night a few months ago on Christmas Eve. We thought it was a baby, but now I see that the Western Screech Owl only grows to about 8 inches tall and looks very similar to our little yellow-eyed victim (below). It happened only 2 blocks from home back in Portland at about midnight… we must have been the only car on that street for several hours. What are the odds of that exact timing? I was able to pick him up on my second attempt… on the first try, he spread his wings about 4 feet wide, which made me scream! We carefully hid him next to a tree away from the road and the next morning he was gone. Hopefully that’s a good sign?

Monday I got this special delivery from my dearest friend… which included a card with, what else? A pair of hooters (as the card so eloquently states)! A funny coincidence, but still interesting.

Housewarming/half birthday gift from Tracy

Housewarming/half birthday gift from Tracy

I am really not superstitious, but one may think there is an omen in these recent run-ins. In fact, everyone’s got an opinion on the matter: World Owl Mythology… I see that in Australia, where my mom grew up, they believe ‘bats represent the souls of men and owls the souls of women.’ If that is true, there are an awful lot of male spirits around here (which one is creepier? That, or the ACTUAL bats?).

No matter the symbolism, each one takes a visit from an owl seriously. Many eluding to death, evil and bad luck. Others, and the theory that I prefer to wrap around myself, is that the owl is here to promote wisdom. We are a family of two people and three rowdy dogs storming onto this mostly undisturbed land. It has gone over 10 years unused, which has allowed for a peaceful natural sanctuary to develop. And surely this space is even more meaningful in contrast to the logging practices that is the sole industry in the area. It’s the lifeblood of the Oregon coast, but a source of controversy for the owl as well as many other species. We have every intention of learning how to use this land to grow and make the things that we need, but we better not forget to love it back. Thanks for the reminder wise owl, to proceed with caution and to respect this beautiful place. That is my owl theory anyway.

I also think he is here to eat our mice which sure isn’t an omen, but a very welcome gesture! I hope he sticks around.
Xo, K

 

Uncovered

It’s getting warmer and the creep of the blackberries is getting ferocious. We are completely surrounded, which is actually pretty nice for corralling the animals but they are closing in on us and it’s time for action. I’ve gotten the coop cleared out and have now moved over to the back of the lower barn where we’ll have the wood shop and greenhouse set up.

I uncovered a couple old farm relics and a forgotten shed that have all seen better days. I will get the shed to stand again and the trucks will make a great start to a sculpture garden to compliment the food one. Another day and I should be around to the south side, then it’s time to think about what should replace all of those berries!

-MRJ

Chicago… the Windy, Snowy, Entertaining, Delicious City.

Chicago

Tuesday we returned from Chicago. This annual trip I take for the Chicago Midwinter Dental Meeting was made SO much better by the company of Mitch; who came along this time for some distraction and good fun.

Aside from the usual freeeeezing weather, we enjoyed doing some amazing new stuff that, until my sixth year in a row, I have never taken the chance to experience… mostly eating amazing food. An incredibly funny Broadway Show! And visiting iconic art, architecture and history.

Chicago is an awesome city. But as we reached the end of our 6 day trip… three days working and three days playing… grumpiness began to set in. I am anxious to finish settling in and getting a move on. So many ideas, to-dos, priorities… we need some uninterrupted farm time. But since I leave again in just a week for Germany, I need to learn to be patient. Luckily, at this point Mitch is the man with all the skills, the muscles and the time. He is also the one who waits till we have the appropriate materials, plans and forethought to do a project properly. I hate to admit that his week at home while I am in Germany will be just what he needs to get organized. A week without me pushing to get chickens, a greenhouse and in ground garden beds, the wood shop, new floors, a new kitchen, bathrooms, heating system, a dog fence…

Can’t we do them all this week?!

Ok… patience. One thing at a time. So… there are ten colorful chicks with our names on them headed our way next week. I’ll be patient, but a little extra motivation can’t hurt, can it?

There's a coop somewhere in those blackberries...

There’s a coop somewhere in those blackberries…

Stay tuned. For now, we are just happy to be home. Unpacking our bags and enjoying eating-in.
Xo, K

Home Sweet Home Cookin.' A little more New Haven than Chicago style...

Home Sweet Home Cookin.’ A little more New Haven than Chicago style…

Into the Woods…

Hi!! Thanks for visiting our new blog! We are excited use it to keep track of our big move.

We have been given the tremendous opportunity to get away from the city grid and out into the woods of central coastal Oregon. We will spend our time here learning the techniques of sustaining ourselves on what surrounds us. On a river in the woods, with fertile wetlands and rolling fields; the land bears thriving life in every crevice. It is a blank canvas.

We will try our best to learn to live off the land by raising, growing, building, preserving, foraging, nurturing the gorgeous resources that abound. Lovingly creating hand and homemade goods sharing the bounty of our hard work.

We are looking forward to this adventure and plan to share our experiences as they come… we hope you enjoy whatever they may be!

Xoxo… Kendra and Mitchell
(and Chase, Wilbur and Zorra)