Things that go bump in the night…AND the day.

Yesterday was one of those days. The kind of day when everything you had planned gets flipped on it’s head and you realize you have to just roll with it instead of trying to control every last bit.

It also happened to be one of the most dramatic days where animals are concerned in a long time. Sometimes I think God just does stuff so that I have something to write about on this blog.

It all started as I was driving to McMinnville to teach my Thursday morning yoga class. I was driving down the long country road that leads from my house to the small town of Carlton. The fog was thick, like pea soup, and I reminded myself to slow down because this is the country and anything could dart across the road and then I’d have to live with the fact that I hit something because I wasn’t being a responsible driver.

As I turned down the windy part of the road, right before you enter civilization again, I approached a sight that struck me as unusual. As I drove by, three giant black cows stood on the side of the road grazing within inches of where my tires hit the pavement.

I continued driving, cranking my head to take in what I was observing. My first thought was, ‘that seems awful close to the road for someone to let their cows graze,” and within seconds my senses came crashing back and I realized the reality of the situation. I made a u-turn the first opportunity I had and drove back in the opposite direction. These cows weren’t put there by their owner, they had gotten out of their pasture. I knew that if I just kept driving one, if not all, of these bovid mammals would probably become roadkill. Especially with the way people drive around these parts.

Just as I drove back up to the house they were settling in front of, another women has pulled in the driveway and was already at the front door of the home. I parked and jumped out of my car to hear the woman inside tell the other woman that the cows were not hers and close the door.

Not knowing exactly what to do, we decided that we needed to get a hold of someone from the non-emergency hotline (even though in my book, this was CLEARLY an emergency).  I told her that I would drive down to the Carlton City Hall and ask them for help but first we needed to get the cows off the side of the road.

I puffed up my chest and straightened my stance so that I appeared bigger then I was and began galloping at them ,waving my hands and shouting for them to get back. Slowly,  they started to back away, every so often turning around to glare.

Once I was satisfied with where they were I told the other woman that I would head to City Hall and she said she would head to where she thought they might belong.

Once I reached City Hall I got out of my car and headed in. The woman at the front desk said that she believed she knew who they belonged to and called the non-emergency hotline and  told me that they would take care of it. Feeling satisfied with the outcome, I headed back to my car and the other women pulled up and said that she had found the owner and they were on it.

We both patted ourselves on our own backs, wished each other a nice day and got back in our cars, continuing on to our destinations.

As I was driving however I had a thought. As proud as I was from preventing potential roadkill, maybe they were trying to escape their impending doom of becoming ground beef?! Crap!

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When I got home from my class and the two meetings I had following I was standing at my kitchen sink washing the dishes that were left from last nights dinner, something that rarely happens as I can’t sleep if their are dirty dishes in the sink (thanks mom). I was going over, in my head, what I needed to get done today for work when I happened to glance up and out onto the property. The weather has been incredible here in Oregon, unlike any I have experienced since moving here two and a half years ago. The warm sun lit up the sky and the leaves the color of fire and gold.

As I was admiring this place I get to call home my grateful thoughts were disrupted by something out by the dock that sits over our pond. I squinted my eyes to get a better look. “Is that a dog?” I thought to myself. I looked around to see all three of my furry companions resting on the deck. Maddy, our brown Pitbull was sitting upright starring straight out at the pond. I leaned forward as if that would help me get a clearer view. Tthe dog-like animal turned to the side and that was when I made the realization. It wasn’t a dog however, it WAS a dog-like creature. It was a coyote!

winter-coyote-319x348

Now I’ve written about coyotes on the property before and all those stories had been exciting at the time but none were as much so as this particular day.

Usually I only see them in passing, way out by the back pasture walking the perimeter of the vineyard but today, today was different. This coyote was braver, more determined and from the looks of it, he was hungry and had his sights on my flock.

After my momentary paralysis wore off, I realized that I needed to do something. This guy was way too close for comfort. He was about 50 yards from from the electric fence. I’m sure he could taste the warm blood of my favorite sheep, Money, who was grazing just on the other side.

I quickly ran out onto the deck, once again waving my arms and screaming obscenities and insults unsuitable for most ears at the top of my lung. I took off from the deck, running down the grassy knoll that leads out to the open grassy lawn. The coyote, obviously not disturbed  by my antics, cautiously turned around and began prancing away melting into the canopy of the golden leaves that make up the vineyard. Looking back to size me up, I swear he gave me a “f-you glare” that only made me angrier.

I ran back to the barn, grabbed some wooden stakes and a hammer and jumped in our RTV and drove around the vineyard to patch up any wholes under the fence he may have gotten under. Ha ha ha, see if you get through there you little bastard, I thought to myself as I slammed down on each wooden post. Satisfied with my job, I headed back to the house to finish the dishes and press on with my day.

What felt like five minutes but was actually about and hour and a half later, I was once again at the kitchen sink (sometimes I actually DO spend all day in the kitchen!). I had been keeping pretty good tabs of my sheep and knew that they were out in the far pasture and that the goats were with them. For some reason I always feel better when the goats who have big, powerful horns are flanking my flocks side. I know they can do damage to some puny coyote.

As I just finished up chopping an onion for the beet burgers I was making for dinner I went to the kitchen sink to wash the knife. I glanced back up and out the window as I always do, just to make sure everything was okay.  I noticed something way out on the grassy knoll in the middle pasture. I tilted my head to one side, squinting my eyes again to get a better look. Obviously it’s time for me to get new glasses.

The pastures are broken into three sections which is hard to describe in writing but there is the piece of land by the barn, closest to our house and it feds back to a small forested area with a grassy knoll in front and then weaves it’s way back to the far pasture by the vineyard. There was an old tree that feel down last winter that Joel, my husband’s cousin had just chopped up and left in a huge pile out in the middle pasture. To the the left of that I could make out a silhouette of something, obviously and animal.

I headed out onto the deck to get a better look. It looked, from a distance, like one of our Jacob sheep, Doris who has two horns that curve back toward her neck. However, with the days earlier event, I decided to put on my boots and head out that way to get a better look. As soon as I hit the grassy slope that lead out to the pasture I realized exactly what it was. The coyote had somehow made it’s way INTO the pasture that was surrounded by an electric fence. At this point I flipped my shit. I took off at full speed, hurdling the electric fence with height that I will admit was pretty damn impressive. At this point the coyote stood up and turned to run into the wooded area within the pasture. “Shit, shit shit shit…f&%K, f#$k, f**K” came flying out of my mouth. I ran out to the far pasture at which point I realized my flock and the goats are way smarter then they seem as that they had gathered into a tight circle.

I pulled out my phone to call my husband. Oh, did I mention that I was, once again, home alone? Read some of my other stories from the farm to see why this is so funny.

He picked up on the second ring and I proceeded, in between gasps for air,to  tell him what was going on. He said I needed to gather all the animals and get them to the barn and to call Joel. I hung up and thankfully the sheep and goats followed me with no problems. Maybe it was the little talk I had about how their was a hungry beast ready to lung at their jugular and eat their entrails OR the fact that I have been giving them lots of treats lately, but they followed in a mad rush as I led them back to the bar.

After about an hour and one phone call to a coyote trapper for advice later, I finally got ahold of Joel and he came home from the winery to help try and find the coyote. Now, you all know that I don’t believe in killing animals. If it were up to me we would all coexist peacefully…as vegans. But this one is extremely aggressive and will most likely hang around since it knows their is fresh meat on the property. Not too mention, we have two cats, three dogs and four chickens and it’s our responsibility to protect them.

So, Joel proceeded to walk the property ‘looking’ for the coyote. After about thirty minutes and no sign of the coyote, I headed out to talk to Joel. As were were standing on the dirt road that passes the pasture, I looked up onto the grassy knoll and out darts the coyote, running back into the woods, before Joel could get a good look at where it went. The mangy bastard is taunting me now.

David got home about 30 minutes later and they both searched for about another thirty minutes to no avail. By this time it was nearing 6PM and we were hungry. We decided that the sheep and goats were smart and would stay in the barn. They knew that something was out there, they are very instinctual animals, and there was nothing more we could do tonight.

However, I had put a call into a neighbor who breeds and raises sheep knowing that they had had some experiences with coyotes. She told me there really isn’t a whole lot we can do. Coyotes are going to get on the property, they can dig under fence lines, and that our best bet was to get a mean llama with great protective instincts.

Sounds good to me! I told David the news and informed him that he really didn’t get a say and he simple said, “I know.”

Needless to say, neither of us slept well last night. We left the sliding glass door open so we could hear if anything happened out in the pasture. When first sight of morning drew near I leaped out of bed and put my boots on, walking with a quick gate out to the barn. Holding my breath I stepped over the electric fence and peered around the corner. No blood, no guts, no entrails, good sign. All accounted for and present and I let out a big sign.

So, today I’m going llama shopping. It’s never boring living on a farm, that’s for sure.

 

Pacific Northwesterners and the Weather

If you grew up in the Pacific Northwest, you have a pretty good understanding of how the seasons work. The winter is long, rainy and wet, SAD (seasonal affective disorder) runs ramped from household to household and you often find yourself questioning your own sanity and why you live in ‘the good old P-N-W’.

Spring rarely exists, I’m not even sure you could call what we get spring. Summer is too short, lasting roughly 6-8 weeks and fall is celebrated because, well, we are Pacific Northwesterners after all .

We often complain of the rain and we complain of the heat. We are never truly content with any of it and the topic of the weather ALWAYS  is bound to come up in any conversation.

We just love to talk about the weather.

Those of us through the PNW had a dose of summer-like weather back in April and early May, which happens every year, causing mass confusion and too many smiling faces for that time of year.  The weather quickly turns from soggy and damp to bright, sunny and warm, and everyone pulls on their shorts, digs deep into the back of their closet to retrieve their flip flops and heads outside to get their first sunburn of the season. Because who ever remembers to put sunblock on in April or May?

Gardens are started, vegetables are planted, BBQ’s are smoking and then… WHAM! In strolls a forecast that has you cursing the weather Gods and questioning your memory. Why the hell did we plant our garden this early… again? Then, the soggy, wet, dreary rain starts again, lasting for  weeks.  Your burn quickly fades back into a translucent white and you are once again asking yourself why you didn’t take your dad up on his offer to move the family to Hawaii when you were a child.

However,  June is here and the weather is looking brighter and once again, it leaves us wondering if maybe this whole global warming thing IS actually happening. We are back in our garden, this time replanting what was planted too early. There is a new pinkish-red layer on our skin and once again, our flip flops have been moved to the front of our closet. Summer, just maybe, is here to stay.

I like to poke fun at the fact that, I too, fall for it every year. I am a born and raised Pacific North-westerner, who, like everyone else, is vitamin D deficient and cold.

When the sun comes out  so do the cut-off jean shorts  and bare feet in the grass.

barefoot

Sometimes you will even find me stopping and taking a little break underneath the big, old black walnut tree in our yard.

walnut tree

I’m desperate for signs of new life and I often walk the property looking for anything I can grasp onto that summer is in fact, right around the corner.

apples

Beets

cherries

grapes

I’m not the only one sun deprived.

Goats

But there are those that don’t always appreciate the sun. I suppose if I was covered in what I could only equate to wearing about five North Face puffy vests, I probably wouldn’t welcome the warmth with the open arms that I do.

Big Mama

jackie

Then it all brings me back to why I started this little ol’ blog. These little guys, crooning their songs on a warm summers night.

bullfrogs

There is life on the farm, lots of life. The proof is in the pudding, I think summer is here.

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hard decisions on a farm

We have another chicken with ‘hemorrhoids,’ which isn’t really hemorrhoids but merely something that I assume to be equivalent in chickens. This time it’s with our rare and exotic chicken, Doris. At least that is what I call her.

When we ordered our chickens back in August we purchased 25 baby chicks and they threw in one special surprise one, the rare and exotic one. She’s prominently white with little black specs all over her backside and I really love her. She has personality and she’s bigger then most the others.

The other one who had something similar never made it. I did everything in my power to fix her and I thought it was even getting better.  Then I made the mistake of putting her back with the others after about two and a half weeks but since it had been that long, they didn’t accept her back in and started attacking her. When I went out to check on the chickens that afternoon, I found her curled up in a little ball under one of the tires of the chicken coop shaking and bloody. She let me  scooped without a fight and she curled up in my arms, barring her head in the nook of my armpit as I carried her back to her safe little coop in the garage. From there I was forced to decide what to do next. And it broke my heart.

Who am I to decide what is right anyway?

In the end I made the hard decision that she was suffering and keeping her around was selfish on my part. We couldn’t keep her in the garage for the rest of her life and had nowhere else to put her.

When I got home from work that night, she was gone and I was informed that the next time I had to do it. We are either in it together, teammates,  or not at all is what David said. It’s only fair. It’s part of life out here and part of the lifestyle of having farm animals. They get sick, they die. Sometimes at the hand of their owner because above all else, you’re the only one who can make the right decision for them. And sometimes it just sucks.

I’m really not so sure I am cut out for this. I mean, I am a girl who will go as far as to apply Preparation H to a chicken’s butt to save its life. I am the girl that chases after her cats as they run away determined, with bird in mouth.  I’ve been known to rescue stray dogs, and not so stray dogs, and I had to stop volunteering at a shelter because I kept bring them home with me. I am the girl who has conversations with the goats as they walk by my side in the pasture. I am the girl who loves so deeply I’d go to great lengths to save their lives.

So how am I suppose to detach myself from that part of me, my favorite part of me?

Will I ever really know what is the right decision? Will I always wonder if there was something more I could have done?

Will I ever get use to having to make that decision?

 

 

it’s go time…time to harvest!

It’s been rather busy around here as we are right in the middle of harvest. D’s family was in town this past weekend for the start of harvest which is always wonderful. Last Friday we began picking a few of the blocks which is a section of rows in the vineyard. ‘We’ didn’t actually pick anything. People come in and do it for us and I have to say, I have never seen anything like it before. Really, I haven’t because this is my first year on the vineyard and all of this is new to me.

Imagine if you will, about twenty people scrambling up and down rows clipping the gape clusters as they go. When both of their big white buckets are full, they run, not walk,  to the collection bin dumping both buckets simultaneously.  Someone else is watching at the collection bin to sort through the grapes looking for damaged grape clusters that need to be discarded. They get paid per bucket full so the faster they work, the more they make.

I was out in the vineyard with my camera when they were picking and captured some of their impressive work.

From here the grapes are taken to a facility where they are sorted once more and then the magic happens.  And then we wait and wait and wait.

 

a morning stroll

I woke up this morning, looked out the window and was  greeted by the sun peeking out from behind some clouds highlighting the beautiful array of colors around the farm. I quickly put on my boots to go  let the chickens out for the day. I grabbed my camera on the way out the door…


Every season shares some sort of beauty but autumn colors are by far the most inspiring to me.

I think the animals even appreciate it as well…

 

And life is good…

 

 

 

 

 




my favorite season

September has pretty much come and gone and October is sneaking up on us. It’s okay though because this happens to be, hands down, my favorite time of year as I think it is for most Pacific North-Westerners I’ve talked to.

I always love that late August day when either my mom or I call each other and one of us says “it’s here” and we both know exactly what the other means. Fall is here. It happens around the same time every year, August 22nd, my brothers birthday. It still may be warm during the day but the early mornings and evenings have a crispness to it that screams warm apple cider, the sweet smell of autumn leaves, carved pumpkins, football, and warm sweaters. And I absolutely love it!

The last month and a half has left me longing for a slower pace and cozy days on the couch watching Lifetime television while cuddling up by the fire. To be honest, I think the last three-months have left  me longing for this. What a summer. Though I’m not complaining, I am a bit of a home body and haven’t spent a full day at home in six weeks. Bachelorette parties, Vegas (and my 31st birthday), wedding, oh my! An amazing time was had but now I say bring on the stew simmering on the stove, the crisp sunny fall mornings, cooking with apples, pumpkins and squash galore, and all new episodes of my favorite TV shows! Finally all my questions from season finales will be answered.

So my friends, let the clouds (not rain) roll in and my spot on the couch stay warm cause it’s gonna be a great long fall!

the best dang lemon bars (and they’re gluten-free)

I’ve really been into lemon desserts lately which is unusual because I’ve been known for years to devour anything chocolate and gooey and it was always my go-to sweet. Maybe my taste buds are changing or perhaps it’s the hot summer day mixed with the refreshing taste of lemon I love. Whatever the reason, I’m okay with it and I am excited to play around with the taste of lemon in future sweets.

I made these gluten-free lemon bars for a work party we had at our place yesterday. Since a majority of my co-workers are taking the gluten-free road as well, I thought I would try this recipe out on them. Success!

I originally found this recipe on Gluten-Free Nosh but changed a few things to fit my liking which basically meant adding more lemon of course!

My recipe is as follows:

For the crust:

1 cup butter (two sticks)

1/2 powder sugar

2 cups gluten-free flour (I use Bob Redmills)

Filling:

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

The juice from AT LEAST two lemons

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoon lemon zest, grated

The How To:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter your 13x9x2 inch baking dish.

2. Mix butter, powdered sugar and gluten-free flour. Make sure you cut in the butter until it is small pea-sized lumps coated with the flour and sugar mixture. Pour into buttered baking dish and pat down making sure all sides are even. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.

3. In another bowl beat eggs adding the rest of your ingredients. Pour mixture over your baked crust. Return to oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.

4. Let cool.  It works best after they have cooled a decent amount, to then put them in the freezer. Right before you serve them, cut into the size you like and sprinkle powdered sugar over the bars. Serve to your mouth-watering guest. Enjoy.

i have cornmeal pie in my big blue eyes

One of the things I love most about living in the country also happens be one of the things I dislike most. Particularly when it’s necessary to make a quick jaunt into town for something you forgot to pick up earlier in the day. We live roughly 6 miles outside Newberg, OR which may not seem to be that far but trust me, it is. Especially when it requires stopping at the top of the driveway and getting out of your car to open the big gate, getting back in your car, pulling forward, getting out again to close the big gate, and then proceeding on  your way driving about a mile down a long dirt road. I love it as much as I hate it.

The other night I was preparing to start dinner, collecting the ingredients David and I had picked up at the store early during our day of errands together. I was planning on making cornmeal pie with scallions and feta to go with our steam artichokes and crab salad.  We had purchased everything I needed. Or so I thought. I had sworn I  just saw cornmeal in the pantry the other day when I was cleaning it out so I decided not to buy it at the store. As I was rummaging through the pantry trying to find it I realized what I thought was cornmeal was in fact cornstarch. Already in an off mood, I took a deep breath but it didn’t help. All hell was about to let loose  and I couldn’t tame the beast.

I was momentarily reverted back to circa 1985. I was a curly-haired strawberry blonde five-year old who liked to go by the name Mandy. I also could throw tantrums with the best of them over something as simple as McDonald’s accidentally putting mustard on my KETCHUP ONLY cheese burger. Back then you didn’t mess with my cheeseburgers and you especially didn’t put mustard on them!

It wasn’t one of my finer moments. I’m not too proud to admit that. At times I am pretty easy-going but I have my limits, especially when it comes to food. I tend to be like a dog when someone is waving a piece of meat in front of their nose. I fixate so much that I have been known to walk for hours down the streets of Paris looking for the most specific café that serves the most specific almond croissants I had four years earlier. I want what I want when I want it. And I’ll be damned, I wanted my cornmeal pie!

I proceeded to walk upstairs to David’s office, lower lip puffed out over my upper lip.

“What’s wrong babe?”

As tears slightly started to form in my eyes I replied, “We don’t have any cornmeal. I swore we had cornmeal so I didn’t buy any today at the store.”

(I really don’t think I do this moment justice nor paint an exact picture through words, but try to imagine an almost 31-year-old woman standing before her boyfriend imitating the tantrum of an emotional, overly tired 5-year-old. That should help.)

“Hmm, I was craving that cornmeal pie too.” All being said with a grin. (I think he was trying to make me laugh)

“THAT doesn’t help matters!” (stomp stomp…yes, that’s me actually stomping my feet on the wood floor in his office) “I’m going to the store.”

“Okay, go to the store.” David replies still smiling.

“I DON’T WANT to drive all the way into town to go the stinkin’ store! I hate living in the country!!!”

“Okay, don’t go to the store.”

“But I want cornmeal pie!! We don’t have ANYTHING else to cook.” (Total exaggeration)

“Grrr, fine, I’m going to the store.” I said as I slightly tilted my head and gave him the please come with me look.

“You want me to go to the store, don’t you?”

“No, I just want you to come WITH me…You know what, nevermind, I’m going to the store alone.”

“You’re kind of cute when you pout. Can you pick me up some beer?”

A slight growl came out of my mouth as I stomped out the front door.

All in all I made it to the store and managed to make it back with the one item that caused so much grief. As well as a case of PBR, walnuts, and a slice of New York Style Cheesecake. (It’s the least I could do for myself for having to run all the way back into town)

Life Lesson Learned:  I will never leave home again without taking inventory of what is in our refrigerator, pantry, and every closet and cupboard before going to the store.

And yes, the cornmeal pie was good. Damn good!

sweet peaches, basil, and coconut ice cream

Yesterday we went to the Hillsdale Farmer’s Market in SW Portland. By far the best market to date. The street was lined with local venders with stands full of fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade pastas (gluten-free options too), homemade cheeses, fresh flowers, you name it! We picked out an assortment of goodies to try over the course of the week including these delectable sweet peaches.

It’s been very warm and quite humid here in the valley and what better way to cool-down then a homemade treat such as sweet peaches with basil, peach, and a 2005 Joh.Jos.Prum Resisling sauce all over coconut ice cream. Thanks to my wonderful love whom made the desert and took all the photos. What a treat!

country road

There is a strip of country road I drive often to get to town. It has some of my favorite views although, it’s hard to say it’s not all beautiful. For me, there’s nothing like driving down an old country road with the sun shinning, the windows down and the sweet tunes of country music blaring from my stereo.

There are fields all over full of these white flowers. It is simply beautiful.