Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Summer, and why I love living here

I'm writing this post in my backyard, with birds thrilling, bees humming and temperatures soaring to 80 degrees.  The chickens are walking by giving me dirty looks while they are panting through their beaks to cool off.  The goats can spy me through the fence and are yelling for me to give them more water.  

Summer!!!

We've taken full advantage of this weather the past few days.  On the weekend, a bunch of us wild women descended onto Whidbey Island for our friend's bacherolette party.

I love that we only have to drive about an hour West to get to Puget Sound and find spots like these:



And then, when we drive one hour East, we get to places like this:


Our boys went biking in Oregon with friends, so only Steve, Eva and I were home.  A few days ago, we grabbed her best friend and headed over the mountains.  On top of Washington Pass, we found a good amount of snow and took full advantage of it.

Snowballs might have been thrown.  Feet might have gotten wet in melting tarns.  Dogs might have been cuddled in front of a crazy-beautiful-Sound-of -Music-esque backdrop.





We had such a lovely day on the East side.  Getting treats at the Cinnamon Twisp Bakery, walking along raging creeks, playing on playgrounds, drinking cider at the Cider House, picking wildflowers, eating a picnic by the river, watching the two girlies frolic in nature...

I'm so happy that Eva has a best friend like that.  Although our daughter is homeschooled and her friend isn't, they still get to spend as much time as they can together.  











Back home, things are blooming and growing and producing.  This week, a couple of film makers will visit our homestead.  They used to make movies for National Geographic, so they know their stuff.  I'll keep you posted on their project - it sounds like a great one!

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of summer as much as we are!

Back to the patio I go.  Flowers are waiting to be smelled after all.

Oh, and I have to plant beans and cucumbers in the garden.





Thursday, May 18, 2017

Lightning strikes, mountain lions and adrenaline

These past two weeks had their share of adrenaline.  Even for an adrenaline junkie like me, it's been a tad over the top.

For example: a traumatic lightning strike at our house.  The other evening, we sat around the dinner table with friends during a thunderstorm.  We don't get thunderstorms very often here.

This particular one felt different.  It was right on top of us, when with a deafening sound the electricity went out.  Our ears rang for hours.  We smelled smoke.  After finding flashlights to investigate if our roof had been hit, we found that our phone line had literally melted.

Later, we saw that two trees very nearby the house had been hit by lightning.  Both trees were split in half, and we found big chunks of their inside flung 75 feet away.  One of the 170 foot tall trees had 30 feet of its top blown off.

This picture doesn't do it justice, but this is one of the trees that got fried, with the bark split off and wedged open.  Poor thing.




Another adrenaline-inducing event was the mountain biking adventure with my son Luke.  We want to ride our bikes over Washington Pass this summer, so we've been training.

When we went to park at the foot of Galbraith Mountain near Bellingham, a runner stopped us and told us he had just seen a mountain lion on the trail.  I shrugged my shoulders and told him that we live in a place where cougars, wolves and bears roam, and that I'm not too worried.

Turns out, I did make sure we talked loudly while we rode, to scare the kitty off.  On the way down, Luke and I whooped and hollered so much that even the most ferocious man-killing-mountain-lion would have been terrified.

We rode some pretty technical black diamond rides, with steep descents, huge jumps, and windy, rooty single track.  I'm not a very experienced mountain bike rider, but in order to keep up with my sons, I am game for anything.  

It's a good thing that I make up for my lack of endurance and conditioning with my competitiveness and sure willpower.  We had so much fun!








The week before this ride, Luke and I biked up the Cascade River road, a few miles from our house.  It's a gorgeous ride with a nice climb and views of snow-capped mountains, wild rivers and spring flowers.

My bike derailler broke on the way down, and we didn't have phone reception for most of it, so it took a while to get rescued by Steve.

I love spending time with my middle child on these bike rides.  He is such a good sport, and although he routinely kicks my butt, he's nice about it.

My oldest son Kai has been tied up with track practice and track meets, and the littlest one, Eva, just learned to ride a bike.  It will be a while til she can keep up with us.  We have a ride-behind bike for her, but I am certain I would die if I would have to haul her up a mountain with it.  My sheer will power, competitiveness and natural strength have their limits.







Allright, let's move from the ra-ra-ra Macho stuff to some tamer scenes.  Let's talk about goat babies!  They are growing and thriving, and I'm going to have to sell some.  Are you looking for goats?  I got some.

They are super sweet, of course, and beautiful, I think.  Their mamas are producing great milk, and I am thriving, too, with all the chocolate milk shakes I make.  After all, my sons are hauling my butt up all these mountains, so I have to consume enough calories, yes?

Back to goats: Eva's little friend came over one day and helped us take the goats to pasture, and since the afternoon light was so lovely, I took about 800 pictures.

Sometimes, I think these kids' childhoods are a fairy tale.  How lucky are they to grow up in a place like this, with all these animals and gorgeous scenery?  I hope they realize they could have been born in Iowa.










Spring is happening, albeit slowly.  Sure, you see my beautiful pictures of sunshine and baby goats and blossoms, but keep in mind that they were taken in the four days of sun we had all spring.

Despite it all, the garden is kicking in, and so are the fruit trees, and the chickens and ducks with egg production.

I even planted tomatoes in the greenhouse.  Imagine that.  Tomatoes!














I will leave you images from my blissful Mother's Day.  My family took me downvalley to my favorite nursery, where I got to pick out flowers for our porch.  It was such a lovely day, and I felt incredibly spoiled and cherished by my family.

I am one lucky duck.

What are you grateful for this spring?




Wednesday, May 10, 2017

In the garden, field and stream

This year, our local rainfall has busted all records. It has been a HARD, LONG winter.

But, alas! Let's concentrate on the fact that spring is in full swing, and although it's wet, we did have one sunny day with 88 degrees. That lasted for a few hours, and it gave me hope for summer.  Phew.

Cherry trees are blooming, we are eating some food out of the garden, and most vegetable starts are nicely (albeit wetly) tucked into the garden.









Things kind of feel under control on our homestead. 

At least for a minute, until the slugs eat holes into my new lettuce, the chickens get out and ruin tender seedlings with their scratching, and the goats get into their usual mischief.

The goat babies are growing, and any day now I will separate them from their mamas overnight, so I can steal their milk for our own use. They are old enough to endure nights without nursing, and as soon as I milk the mama goats in the morning, they get to hang out with them and nurse all day long.

I've hesitated starting to milk, since it's nice not to be committed to the daily routine just yet.

I like hanging out with them in the barn. As soon as the little 'uns see me, they jump on my back, nibble on my ears, and demand love. And I give it. Freely.







Whenever it doesn't rain and I have a free chunk of time, I work in the garden. There's plenty to do: weeding, digging, planting, dreaming... 

And harvesting! Harvesting!!! We are eating our own asparagus, lettuce, cilantro and parsley, and it feels so good to have fresh greens.

Pretty soon, I'll plant tomatoes in the greenhouse, but not quite yet. It's still pretty cold outside at night...











When it's not raining and when we don't work in the garden, we head to the river. The other day, we found a magical place we've never been to. 

It's a little bit of a bush whack, but once you get out of the thicket, you find yourself on a sandy beach. Little Eva swears it's just like Hawaii. I think so, too, with a tiny 40 degree temperature difference.











I'll leave you with more magical signs of spring.

Robin eggs next to our chicken eggs...

My son making us Sushi, doing it all himself, without zero help from me...

The last picture is my daughter's fairy house setup inside of a cedar tree by our house. I'm telling you, these fairies live in luxury around here.