Friday, September 26, 2014

Leaving the Prairie

This weekend we hope to bring all the cows and calves and bulls in from the prairie.

View from the Southwick place

There's still enough grass, but the ponds are getting lower and muddier. It's time to go. And the Southwick place is calling us, with it's tall pines and grassy meadows.

The yearling herd has been at Southwick's half a month already, and Mike brought in one bunch of pairs from the prairie earlier this week.  I'm glad Paul was there helping out. Mike said everything went fine.

Paul and Bird and Punch gathering off the prairie

Later, I heard Chester exhibited his equine snake-killing maneuver. Mike stayed on.  It's like riding a pile-driver. One enormous leap with all four feet off the ground, rearing position, and then front feet extended on the way down and hammered into the ground like a battering ram. A big bull snake slithered away unhurt. Paul said, "Maybe if I hadn't of pointed it out he wouldn't have reacted."  

At the beginning of the month, we delivered to Portland, where we met our customers at Jon and Prairie's house. It was a pleasure to be introduced to new folks, reconnect with friends, and have this big trip off our list for the year. 
Portland delivery day - Yay we're here!

We learned more about what the people who buy our animals are interested in, as we shared stories and wrestled a lot of boxes of meat.  That evening we had a yummy dinner with delicious grapes, tomatoes and beans from Jon and Prairie's garden.

Sara enjoys visiting with a customer

I'm sad to see the days growing shorter. I miss waking up to the long early light, and the evenings with their balmy languor. Still, there's a quickening and we gather as much squash, as many onions and apples as we can. Laying by what will keep for the winter months ahead.   
We only grew two kinds of winter squashes, but we got 16!

There's a lot to do still, to get ready for winter. We haven't cut a single load of firewood yet. And our hay still needs to be delivered and stacked in the barn. But the basement larder is filling with jars, and bins and braids. And every day it seems we get another call to come get apples. I think it's going to be a heck of a cider year. 

Apple pear galette with dried red and yellow cherries and pear syrup

From Sara at Magpie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef

Saturday, September 6, 2014

About this Time

About this time of year, a long time ago, before Zeke was born, we moved into Hattie Freudenburg's house on Dobbin Road.  The day after we moved in, I woke up to the first real sunrise I'd seen in six years. We'd been living mostly in the canyon and it was hours past daybreak by the time the winter sun would finally clear the canyon rim. During summers, we usually lived in the timber at the edge of the prairie, at the Steen Place, or in a camp along a creek and didn't see the sun until it was high overhead.

Long shadows heading into fall

That first morning on Hattie's farm, I looked out my kitchen window and saw the shadows of the house and barns stretching far out across the grain fields in a light so early, flat and bright it felt like magic. Now every fall, when light arrives in the morning, with certain smells of ripening, of harvest and putting away, I remember my first morning on my first day on this beloved farm.

Over Labor Day weekend, Jon and Prairie came home to help move yearlings and put up food.  Gabe was finally getting a day off from the Somer's fire and we had a long list of jobs we wanted done, fencing, herding, and canning the bounty from Prairie's garden.  I added swimming, hiking and music to the list so we didn't lose sight of our other goals.

Pairs on the summer range

We divided and conquered.  Our first day together, Mike went to the Zumwalt to check on cows and calves and work on fence.
Jon and Prairie and I pickled beans and roasted tomatoes and took the boys to the lake.


Gathering ingredients for stone soup

This is how you make it

Next day, we got together with Gabe and Cammie and moved the yearlings. We had to fix some corrals first and the bees were not happy to be disturbed in their nesting in gates and brush piles.

Reinforcing corrals

What's the plan? (Will we ever know?)

As usual, we figured out what we were doing while we were doing it. As Jon says, too many cooks in the kitchen.

Tacking up sheep wire
Grandpa's truck always has books

The boys wandered the corrals, then helped gather the steers, and finally they took up residence in Grandpa's truck with the books and snacks.

Weston counts

Aunt Prairie reads

After that it was home to lunch, and the makings for apple and peach pies.

Mike and Sara at McCully Creek

On Jon and Prairie's last day, we took a hike up by McCully Creek. All too soon, they were headed back to Portland, wishing they had a few more days, time enough for a trip to the canyon and some of the last river swimming of the year. 
Prairie saw this cool caterpillar

Prairie and Jon, wishing they could stay another day

I'm happy to say, Mike and I did just that. We hightailed it for the Imnaha and got there in time to work up a sweat picking fruit and pulling weeds. As the moon came up, we floated in the cool river, barely warm enough for an evening swim. 

From Sara at Magpie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef