Saturday, April 19, 2008

Farm Life

We have been so busy working in the garden, preparing for summer growing season. Yesterday, as we were preparing the fence for the garden, I found this lizard under leaves and debris. It is a blue tailed skink. So, cute. It's blue tail is to protect the more vulnerable parts of it's body, and it will break off as a deterrant if attacked. It will regrow, but usually not in the bright blue color.

This is a Black widow spider, also encountered yesterday, in the fence clearing process. She has a red hourglass on her underbelly, but we were unable to get a good picture of it, she wouldn't sit still for pictures. I have found that usually I will find her eggsack first and that lets me know that there is a widow near by. Their egg sacks contain 100-400 eggs, but only 30 will survive. Female black widows live up to 5 years. This one was pretty big, and I am guessing fairly old, though we cut her lifespan sharply after this picture was taken. Contrary to popular belief, females rarely if ever eat the males after mating. Their venom is extremely potent, 15 times more powerful than a rattlesnake's venom. Luckily they inject only a small amount of venom, and the bites are rarely deadly. It will be very unpleasant however. I hope to never know how unpleasant.

Since this picture was taken, we have built a small greenhouse in the garden, and have added irrigation. We keep intending to plant our root veggies, but we always get sidetracked with work to do. Soon, we will get some plants in the ground. We have started tomatoes, and other veggies indoors already.

This is our stray kitty, acquired in Bend, and moved out to Gazelle. She is adjusting nicely. She is learning bird calls. You can catch her any day, laying in the flower garden watching the songbirds. Attempting her own mimic of their calls.

This is the orchard, next to the barn. I have no idea what kind of tree this is. In fact we don't know what any of them are. It's kind of exciting. As we wait for them to, hopefully, fruit, they are all a mystery.

If it is said that there is a shortage of bees, not here. On a warm sunny day, there is buzzing throughout the garden. The fruit trees almost appear to be in motion with the swarm of bees around it, pollinating the trees. A neighbor has bee boxes, and they've positioned them right at the edge of their property facing ours, so we get the benefits of all of their bees, and they get the benefits of our garden's pollen. If you look closely at the picture you might be able to see the pollen sacs on their back legs, where they collect the pollen that they will take to the hive. This would be a female worker bee, all the worker bees are females.

Ah, now on to the baby chicks. We got these last week. They are growing so fast. They already have tail feathers, and their wings can spread now. We have 6 baby chicks, Auracana's, Rhode Island reds and Bard Rocks. Two of the chickens will lay green eggs. They are super cute and one of our favorite projects. We have been trying to introduce the dogs to them, so they won't eat them, but it's not going well. Sid has put them in his mouth twice, as if to carry them away to play with them, not to the chicks benefit I'm sure... So, he is no longer allowed to see them. We are told that they will start to lay eggs in 3 months, and during laying season, they will lay an egg a day.

Lastly, we found this toad while weeding the flower beds. Soon we will post pics of hummingbirds. We have a feeder outside the kitchen window, and even in the colder weather we have seen at least 2 a day. They are either green or red.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bend, "ORYGUN"

We went to Bend last weekend (I'm a little late getting this up) We were supposed to go rafting with Sarah, above, and Michael, below, but the weather decided against it. It snowed and was super windy and cold.
So, instead we made the rounds about town and had a great visit with friends. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring our camera with us most of the time so we are limited with pics, but it was a blast. Thank you to all our friends who opened their homes to us while we were there visiting.
This is our first night in town with Sarah and Michael Jo, lamenting the rafting trip that wouldn't come to be....

We were surprised how big Bend had gotten, or maybe just how big it seemed after living in the stix for a while. Not only are we remote here, but there really isn't a town bigger than 3000 people unless you drive an hour, which we never do... So, it was a fun trip to the big city.
We had dinner with our good friends Sarah and John at Toomies our favorite restaurant in Bend, caught up on all the gossip around town. Sarah just got into OHSU's Physician Assistant program, "Congratulations Sarah" She will leave John, in Bend while she goes to Portland to be a student for 2 years. Luckily John, is looking forward to "getting his fort back" and seeing her on the weekends.

Next stop, Kyle and Corey's house, where they built a chill pad for us to sleep in. Luxury at it's finest. The new guest house features all a guest could want, including a comfortable bed. We were ready to move back. They also have the cutest "sucker" baby ever (a sucker baby is one that is so perfect, it sucker's you into having a child, only to discover your child is not of same temperment), in photo above... Big Ben is maybe the sweetest child ever, excluding sister's child Addrienne. We went cross country skiing, more appropriate than the slated rafting trip, in the snow, it was cold. We had a super fun time. Kyle and Zach, not pictured, had a great time, and I'm sure will have even more fun when they see each other next time, do to the involvement of bikes. Zach has missed Kyle, they are both super active, and spend alot of time climbing hills together.
Also not pictured, Zach hung with his good buddy Tim, formerly of the well known band Rodentula... Who have played at the famous, Shang Hai Jos. They rocked out.

We had a great time, thanks to everyone who made it a great visit, and to those we missed, next time.... We'll be back for Erica and Paul's Wedding. It's going to be a blast. Until then, come visit.
Oh and a posting wouldn't be a posting with out a beautiful picture of Mount Shasta....