A Hike Around The Homestead (Welcome to my world.)

October 21, 2011 · 13 comments

Henry took the kids to work with him today, so I was completely off duty. I probably should have been shooting a million product photos and wrapping up my recent bookkeeping marathon, but I decided I needed some fresh air and exercise, so I slung my camera over my shoulder and headed out for a hike.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to the far flung corners of our divided property too often, so I used this opportunity to visit and photograph some of the sights. I was out of the house for the better part of two hours, moving almost constantly, but I stayed on homestead turf the whole time. Below, you will find an incomplete photo documentary of my morning. 

This post is long. You have been forewarned. I also included lots of links to older posts about various subjects, so follow them if you feel so inclined. 

Above is Minnie. Her whole name is Miniandtrackhoe. She is the remaining kid from last year’s kidding fiasco. She’s been irritating me lately because I want to breed her this fall, so I can milk her starting next spring, but I can’t seem to figure out when she’s coming into heat. Because we don’t have a buck, I have to catch her during a 48 hour period (that happens every 21 days) when she’s ovulating, load her into the station wagon, and drive like 30 miles to her boyfriend’s house, so the buck can do his thing. I’ve been watching her since August, but she’s not so obvious when she’s in heat. I even took her over to the buck once, but it was just a false alarm and an extra pain in the butt. I would really like to get her bred before Thanksgiving, but we’ll see.

This is one of our flower/herb beds. I kind of love the basalt column perimeter. Currently blooming: fall crocuses.














I like the contrast between the spring-like crocuses and definitely fall-like gourds on display. We got that wine barrel from the neighboring winery. You can see a better photo of it here.

The other day, Henry went down to Crow, Oregon where our friend Travis is logging. Travis had called about a downed bee tree, so Henry pulled the colony out and hived it (kinda like this). He also grabbed a bunch of capped honey from the log, and for the most part, he’s letting the hive reclaim the honey (though we have been eating some of it). You can see here that the dang yellow jackets are getting in on the feeding frenzy.

We got a new mattress a couple days ago. It’s awesome! Above is the old piece of junk that I’m so happy to be getting rid of. It is currently sitting in the driveway and being used as a trampoline by my kids. I am aware of how trashy it is to have a mattress sitting in our driveway, so we plan on exporting it ASAP.

This is maple firewood piled at the entrance to our greenhouse. It will be moved inside and burned over the winter to keep the temperature above freezing. (You can see the old clawfoot tub/water garden that I mention in this post.)














This year’s citrus crop is coming along nicely. Some of the satsumas are starting to ripen up now, but most will come on in late November or December.

Here’s a past-prime flower of an overgrown bottle gourd plant.

Parsley going to seed.

Henry’s brother bought a tractor the other day. It lives at our house.

This is probably the best view from anywhere on the homestead, but it’s cloudy today, so Mary’s Peak is hiding. (See the same view at sunset in this post.)














Above on the left is some sort of newly planted brassica (broccoli?). The pinkish stuff around it is from a load of shrimp waste that Henry brought home a week ago. It’s super stinky, super potent stuff that’s great for the soil and not so great for ambiance. Luckily, he spread it pretty far away from the house.

Above on the right are a couple of fallen madrone berries. They’re small, about the size of a dime. When they ripen up and start to fall, the band-tailed pigeons and pileated woodpeckers move in and gorge themselves on the fruit. I’ve heard that madrone seed, which is hard to propagate, needs to pass through a bird’s system for proper scarification. I’d believe it.

Poison-oak, my arch enemy. AAAHHHHH!!














I love that our little house is always warm with a fire in the wood stove.

On the right is our driveway lined by Douglas firs and bigleaf maples.

The maples are really changing colors now. They look beautifully yellow from afar, but many of the leaves have a spotty fall fungus on them.

In the conifer-dominated forests of the Pacific Northwest, maples offer the most fall color of the native deciduous trees. We don’t get a lot of reds, but the gold of bigleaf maple is awfully pretty.

Rhubarb leaves are supposed to be poisonous, but I guess the local deer are getting desperate.

Unlike many of my friends and family members, I’m not a mushroom guru. I thought this little one was cute, but I can’t identify it. Any of you mycologist readers are welcome to chime in with the ID in the comments. (That means you, Alicia.)

Here’s a pile of yew lumber waiting for the perfect project. Yew is know for being resistant to decay when left outdoors.

I’m so happy we have a pond now. You can see the ripples from a trout jump.

Here’s where Henry transplanted his wapato.

The pond is a cool little secret tucked into a grove of tall trees.

Here’s some red alder firewood. We had to take down a bunch of trees in order to put in the pond, so the firewood and some nice logs were a byproduct of the effort.

Large bigleaf maples are home to all sorts of epiphytes. (Merriam-Webster definition of epiphyte: a plant that derives its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and grows usually on another plant I haven’t used that word in a long time. I’m glad I still remember something from college.)

This is some crazy thick moss on an oak tree. It was so lush and squishy that I had to burrow in for a second.

Western red cedar.

The last of the blackberries. I tried one of these, and it was really sour.














On the left is yerba buena. It’s a little bit minty and makes a nice earthy tea. Earlier this summer, I was all excited to do a blog post about making mint ice cream with a combo of peppermint and yerba buena, and after all the work of making the custard and hand cranking the freezer (and photographing every step), the end result was gross. (I blame the recipe not myself.) Total disappointment.

On the right are snowberries. They’re poisonous, so don’t eat them.

Our upper property has essentially no soil on the south slopes. Well, maybe a tiny little bit, but it’s just a thin layer of clay over rotten basalt cobbles.

The two photos above show decaying pillow basalts. These types of formations occur when molten basalt lava (the oozy stuff you see in videos of Hawaiian volcanos) erupts under water. As the hot lava hits cold water, a hard shell is quenched around a viscous blob of liquid rock, creating roundish “pillows” that fracture radially as they cool completely. They’re a nice little reminder that our property (40 miles inland from the Pacific and 950ish feet in elevation) was once covered by ocean waters.














Henry took down several Douglas fir trees when this road was put in. Some were turned into firewood, but we also got several good saw logs that will get milled into dimensional lumber for some future project.

This is my dog. She’s fabulous. I remember when I was unemployed (sort of by choice) and eight months pregnant with my first child, I spent many lonely days talking to this dog. She was (and still is) such a faithful companion. Life has changed for both of us with the arrival of two kids, and sadly I sometimes forget to give her the love and attention that she deserves, but days like these that we spend together remind me of how great she is.

False brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum) is a highly invasive weed with no redeeming qualities. No animal will eat it, and it can outcompete all of the native grasses. The only thing that will kill it is herbicides, and while we have sprayed some around the homestead, it would take so much chemical interference to stop its spread that there are areas of the property that we have pretty much let go. It’s sad.

More maple leaves. Each one of these is as big as a dinner plate. (They don’t call it ‘bigleaf’ maple for nothin’.)

Back up by the house, I tried to take some photos of the chickens, but they were running around and hiding. I thought Henry’s Moso bamboo in the chicken pen was more photogenic (and stationary).














This is Kai Ryssdal the goat. He and his sister Neda Ulaby are about seven months old, and I’m starting to have big regrets about allowing him to grow out his horns. His horns are hard and sharp, and even if he’s not trying to be abusive, I’ve been poked or smashed by them countless times. Next year, we’re disbudding all the kids even if it is momentarily gruesome.

I thought it would be appropriate to add a photo of myself toward the end of this post. Because no one else was home to take one, and we only have one teeny tiny mirror in the house, I resorted to snapping a picture of my reflection in the kitchen window. It’s not terribly flattering, but that’s what I look like.

After all my hiking around, I came inside and made myself a quick, late lunch: Three fresh fried eggs with a ton of parsley, chèvre, and tomatoes. It hit the spot.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

kara rane October 22, 2011 at 8:18 am

absolutely magical*


Kellie October 22, 2011 at 8:49 am

What a great post, loved it!


marni October 22, 2011 at 8:55 am

I love coming to your blog and getting a breath of fresh air and some education along the way! Kind of like a mama homeschool cyber field trip!


Laura October 22, 2011 at 9:57 am

thank for sharing. I’m going to make that tomato salad!


Mo October 22, 2011 at 10:29 am

Love! Love! Love! I want to come live with you!


Lael Braddock October 22, 2011 at 11:33 am

I always love your blog. We use to go hiking in the Smokies every fall. I’m no longer able to do that but your blog brought back a lot of good memories.


Ashley October 23, 2011 at 11:59 am

Thanks for taking all of us along on a walk with you…most enjoyable! 🙂


DionneNL October 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Hi Camille,

I live in a big city in the Netherlands. I am well adapted to the pace and demands of living in a crowded city and most of the time I really love it. But reading your blog is like taking a wel deserved hike throught a forrest or park. It gives me a positive boost to look at my surroundings in a different way.
Makes me get up and give more attention to whatever green and nature like things we have in our city. It’s not like yours, but funny enough it’s a lot more than I thought.

Keep on writing the good words and shoot those pictures!


Camille October 26, 2011 at 9:30 am

I gotta say that I’m not necessarily advocating for everyone to move from the cities out to the country. Cities have a lot to offer for sure.

It’s good to hear that I can inspire folks to appreciate what they have.


Riley Wing October 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm

I love it when you do posts like this! They’re fun.


jenn October 24, 2011 at 9:47 am

so lovely!
you must feel newly tickled whenever you have time to stroll your land. really, really special.


ellie October 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm

hooray! a picture of you finally! and, i love the idea of molten rock in pillow form. thanks for the explanation 🙂


Camille October 26, 2011 at 9:28 am

I did it just for you, Ellie.


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