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….

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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

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

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