The Absolute Joy of Fall in the Pacific Northwest
Oct 27, 2015
It’s been happening a fair bit lately. Rain, that is. The stuff that is legendary up here, at least to folks who don’t live here. The same stuff we’ve been missing so very badly for so very long. The stuff that causes the ‘season of hope’ as our OSU Extension Agent calls it, when the grass starts greening up in the pastures and lawns, only to stop growing at the 1 inch level because of frost and/or snow. Not that that stops the sheep or the ancient horse from mowing it to the micrometer level every chance they get.
One cow left to calve, my oldest girl and overly fat pocket cow Ruffie. Due on Halloween, I’ve been trying to think of ‘C’ names with a spooky cast for the calf. For some reason, ‘Cornelius’ keeps coming to mind. Seems to be a pretty scary name to me for some reason. Guess if it’s a heifer it could be ‘Cornelia’ instead. If anyone has a better suggestion, drop me a line.
My best pal Shelly from SoCal arrived a few weeks ago for her annual visit. She brought her Hoke and Cricket son Rowyn along of course. The first dog she got from me 16 years ago, Shae, had peacefully crossed The Bridge around Labour Day. Sad, but inevitable. They just don’t live long enough, far as I’m concerned. Far as the sheep were concerned, a certain young red dog could go right ahead a die immediately and they’d have been a whole lot happier. Instead, we worked Rowyn on them in the round pen (which is actually an oval), getting him acquainted with Georges the St. Thomas ram and his motley harem, much to their disgust. There’s a whole bunch of pictures of that circus on our puppy blog, www.morganriveraussiepups.blogspot.com in addition to the one here.
With the advent of the cooler weather and some much needed and welcomed rain, it was time to fire up the BBQ and the smoker as well as raid the wine cooler and light the firepit in the middle of the outside table and invite people over. Which we did. A rainy run to the coast for a bunch of oysters to smoke that evening, a passel of Murray Grey goodness in the form of T-bone steaks, some fine Oregon Pinot Gris and Noir as well as Rose of Pinot Noir, a hunk of Tillamook sharp cheddar and crackers under the gazebo with great friends and conversation around the firepit on a rainy evening is our idea of a fine time up here in the Northwest.
The relief of not having to drag a hose all over the place every day is indescribable. For dinner one night I whacked a fine head of ‘Cheddar’ cauliflower out of the garden along with showing Shelly how to dig potatoes. It was hard to keep her attention away from the late season ‘Tristar’ strawberries and ‘Indigo Blueberries’ cherry tomatoes. Speaking of tomatoes, it’s about that time, when I go out with all the nursery flats and start picking the green ones to ripen over the winter in the house. I have done this before and it works amazingly well. Add to that all the frozen gallon bags of ripe tomatoes awaiting a snowy or rainy winters day just right for turning them all into canned tomatoes and sauce.
All but one of the calves have gone home, to Washington and southern and eastern Oregon. The one left we will be finishing out for his buyer next year. The growth rates were pretty darn good for the awful pasture we had. Makes me feel good, knowing that I kept back the right core group of momma cows for Roar. He, of course, does his job just fine. We will be celebrating his 10th birthday here in December, not that you’d know it looking at him.
The leaves have started falling in earnest, and hubby has been mulcher mowing them whenever it’s not too wet to do so. The garden is going into winter mode, one bed at a time, under a towering blanket of mulched leaves and grass. By spring, the worms will be innumerable and the beds will be half as high as they start out in the fall. I might try converting a bed or two to ‘Hugelkulture’, a type of gardening that looks very interesting. Made more interesting by the fact that I have everything needed right here on the ranch, don’t have to buy any fancy stuff.
The days seem slower paced now. Other than feeding the livestock daily and trying to figure out where the heck the hens are laying their eggs – not that they don’t have a whole bunch of nice, cozy nestboxes they COULD use but don’t – there’s not a lot to do that seems like drudgery. Oh sure, there’s a fence and gate we have to redo once we can get the auger to actually dig a hole, the weeds will make a fierce attempt to take over everything as quickly as they can before the first frost kills them, the bee box needs to be moved a bit and the wind shield put in place behind it, and I need to break at least two canning jars before I actually start canning, but it just seems like there is so much more time to do everything now. Up here, if you’re not going to do something because it’s raining, then you’re not going to do it period. Working in the rain isn’t so bad. Out here, the rain falls in the quietness with its own orchestra. The metallic pattering on the gates and barn roofs. The soft pitter on the fallen leaves. Sometimes, the hissing of a good strong shower thru the needles of the Doug firs. Then, there is the sky and clouds. Each day brings a new picture to be enjoyed, a new wonder to marvel at. Mist, trees, mountains and clouds paint indescribably beautiful pictures, a new one daily.
It’s a welcome sound, the sound of fall in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.