So much for warmer weather! It snowed off and on all day but didn’t stick around. So today was a good day to hang around in the greenhouse. The weatherman promises warm weather this weekend, but I’m not holding my breath. You can warm up fast turning a compost pile, so that’s what I did. My best (heating properly) pile had cooled down to 80 degrees. So I just moved it over and daydreamed about tomatoes, peppers and melons.
Most farm chores consist of material handling, so if I can handle it only once – all the better. We, I mean my husband cleans out our deep bedding packs with a tractor of course, but I stable my milk cow and her calf at night. So, I have at least 1 and maybe 2 wheelbarrows full of soiled bedding each morning. This winter I have been experimenting with just composting it in place in the greenhouse. Some I have sheet composted in one garden and the rest just goes to our compost area.
I wish all my compost piles were working this good.
Future post topics: HARVESTING SUNLIGHT, notes from my two part gardening class I’m teaching at the end of the month.
FAMILY COW ECONOMICS – IS IT WORTH IT? another class I’m putting together.
ALMOST WHERE THE BLACKTOP ENDS.
Here’s the lay of the land, looking west. Portland is 25 miles to the west and that is the Columbia River to the north. Mt Hood is 20 miles to the east. The Columbia River Gorge is a near sea level passage through a major mountain range. This causes high rainfall and snow down to low levels because the gorge is so narrow. You could leave the corner of our pasture and walk over the Cascade mountain range to central Oregon and never leave the cover of timber. The abundant rainfall creates ideal growing conditions for tall timber with thick underbrush. This is cougar country, lots of cover and abundant food. That’s why we calve in May, then the cougars can eat elk calves and deer fawns. Sounds cruel, I know but they have to eat something and I don’t feel like donating anymore to the cause. In 1994, the voters in Oregon passed a law, making it illegal to hunt cougar and bear with dogs. So they have increased quite a bit since then. With this much cover it is impossible to hunt big cats without such an aid. We have lost a number of calves over the years and been personally stalked by cougars. So it is a real issue for us. As the crow flies we are about 2 miles from the river. The creeks that flow from this area end up as the waterfalls that all the tourists come to see. Our neighbors to the west and east are timber companies and on the north and south, our neighbors are mostly just “acreage dwellers”, anywhere from 1 acre to 400 acres. The timber companies are much easier to deal with.
It’s hard to tell how steep our canyons are from the perspective of these photos. The flat, farmable land is on top of the ridges and the canyons are very steep and V-shaped. What that means is all the rainfall we receive is gone quickly. Despite our clay soil our ground drains well. Our water rams are in the canyons on the right side of pics. Tapped into underground springs, they use water to pump water, (no electricity needed) lifting the water 125′ vertically to holding tanks. Then it is just gravity flow from there – volume not pressure. We use one system year-round and the other one is only used during the grazing season. Hydraulic ram info: http://www.skookumco.com/ropemastr.htm