Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hiking Rainbow Falls

The next best thing to a vacation is a stay-cation, and we enjoyed a mighty relaxing one over Memorial Day weekend. Some friends came to visit from my hometown, and with one of them recuperating from a broken ankle, we decided to pick a short, flat hike to share a local outdoor experience. The Rainbow Falls overlook is about 1.5 miles from the trailhead, making it a perfect easy excursion. Parents might want to consider the steep drop-offs at the overlook if hiking with young children.

Our friends are avid birders, and I learned a lot from them along the way on our hike about the local bird life. They were excited to see some species that don't frequent the Olympic Peninsula, and noted the diversity we have in our backyard.

We also made a new friend along the way while observing all the banana slugs out and about on the trail. 

At the trail's end, a rock viewpoint juts out where you can walk out and get a view of the waterfall and the expansive Separation Creek ravine below. It's a little daunting if you're afraid of heights, but well worth it. The trail continues as more of a way trail directly to the falls, but the other hikers we met reported it was pretty rough. We were going for low-key with a mending ankle, so we were happy to stop at the view point.

These are the kind of photos that scare your mother, but there really is more of a ledge below than it looks like. I promise, Jeanette!

It's always fun introducing old friends to a new spot.

We were chatting with some other hikers and noticed something strange about this tree. It had a strip of bark peeled off all the way up to the top. We were guessing as to how this could have happened when we finally realized it was the tallest tree and this was the work of a lightning strike!

From what we pieced together, a bolt hit this tree and rather than causing a fire, the electrical current blew out the strip of bark on its way down, exploded the root out of the ground and burned this dead log where it grounded. It was pretty wild, and we were glad we hadn't been around to see it happen.

Friendships that span the years of our lives are so important. Lindsey has been a friend since high school, and through him I was fortunate to meet his wife, Carolyn. We all share a love of the outdoors, and for Carolyn it's not just a passion but a career! I wrote a story about her Eco-tour guide business last year: Hiking the Elwha with Experience Olympic Tours. Visits from them are always a treat, and I look forward to the next time we pay them and my hometown a visit in turn.

It is also important having an adventure partner to share life and these amazing places with.
I am feeling rich in the people in my life.

Here is a USFS link to the Rainbow Falls Trail:

And William Sullivan's link:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Rhodora

                    The Rhodora 
                               On being asked, whence is the flower. 

In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals fallen in the pool
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that, if eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for Being;
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask; I never knew;
But in my simple ignorance suppose
The self-same power that brought me there, brought you.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, May 23, 2015

New Growth

Whether in the garden, or in general, new growth is an encouraging thing to observe. All these little wild Arugula sprouts, for example, mean the start of something fresh. It can feel like a huge leap of faith to plant a garden. You get it all prepared and plant the seeds, and there is nothing left to do but water and wait. It's hard to imagine sometimes that an entire garden is going to emerge when there is no visible sign for several days that anything is happening, but things are constantly happening beneath the soil that we can't see. Once there are visible changes, much work lies ahead in watering and weeding before there is anything to harvest and show for our efforts. All along the way, you just have to trust the process and know there will be fresh vegetables at the end. 

Here's what has emerged in my garden this week:

French Breakfast Radishes

Dragon's Tongue Lettuce

Rainbow Lights Chard


Rouge Vif D'Etampes Pumpkins

Super Sugar Snap Peas

Fingerling Potatoes

Basil, Peppers, Asparagus, Artichokes, Rhubarb, and Strawberries, oh my!!!

There are so many lessons to be learned from gardening, not the least of which is that it takes work and patience to achieve new growth, but the rewards are well worth it. In this case, I will take my rewards in home grown salad.

Friday, May 15, 2015

DIY Garden Flags

I have always enjoyed hanging flags out in my garden, and it was time for some new ones after the Tibetan prayer flags we put up around the garden fence for housewarming finally disintegrated this winter. I discovered Pinterest not too long ago, and got some great ideas looking through garden art pins to make my own flags out of old ratty fabric and quilt scraps. I have to be honest that I am not much of a seamstress, but sewing straight lines across the top of all these fabric squares was approachable, and I manged to find a use for all those colorful scraps just hidden away in a storage bin. As it turned out, I had accumulated quite a bit of fun fabric over the years, just waiting for the right project.

My daughter who is turning out to be quite the budding artist, painted designs to add a little extra pizazz.

Some of them even turned out to look like members of our family.

Care to guess who this one might be? My daughter has quite the sense of humor!

The ratty quilted pillowcases I cut up made some very fun flags and I was  happy to give them a new lease on life.

At this point the garden is all planted and ready to go, and between the flags and Dude the Scarecrow, it's looking mighty fine.

Now on to more projects. Pinterest is going to be trouble!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

Maude is having a very happy Mother's Day. After she went broody last week, we got 5 Production Red and 3 Bantam chicks from the feed store and snuck them under her late at night. When Maude woke up in the morning, she was the proud mother hen of 8.

A mother's love knows no bounds, and Maude doesn't seem to mind one bit that she is being used as a living jungle gym. When she isn't all puffed out with a brood of little fluffballs sleeping under her wings, there is always someone climbing all over her. Maude just sits there, unruffled.

I could watch this little family for hours, but my favorite thing is when Maude finds some grain in the straw and makes funny clucking noises to let the chicks know there is food there. They all run over and start scratching and pecking just like mom. Makes a mother chicken proud.

Happy Mother's Day from our homestead to yours!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

More Chicken Chats

Sometimes I can't help but wonder what the girls are talking about. The way they cluck and carry on, I am certain it must be interesting stuff.  I wrote a post a while back called Chicken Chats about our old rooster, Paul Bunyan being such a good listener. He would really look like he was leaning in to listen and lending an ear while he walked along with the hens. The other day, I noticed a couple of the hens have a little tete a tete, and snapped a few photos of their chicken chat.

I can almost hear them saying, "Hey, hey girlfriend! What are you up to today?"

"Not much. Just enjoying the sunshine after my morning dust bath."

"Why, your cheek feathers are looking especially fluffy this morning!"

"Thank you! That comb is such a good color on you!"

"Did you hear Maude has gone broody again? I swear, chick fever's going around!"

"Well, not for me. My broody days are done and I'm just focusing on personal growth and enjoying my independence."

If chickens could talk...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Two Kids and a Dude

Every May, when the garden is prepped and seeds are planted, the kids get the fun job of building Dude the Scarecrow. Dude has been with us quite a few years now, watching over the garden and scaring away marauding birds and pests. Occasionally he gets something new, like a straw hat, or overalls when the old ones fall apart. Honestly, I am not sure where the rainbow suspenders came from, but they really pull the whole ensemble together. Every fall, he gets disassembled, un-stuffed,  and packed away for the next year.

Dude has been wearing the same wool button-up shirt every year, and aside from a few holes, it is still going strong. I can tell you with certainty that wool is hardy. We tie the sleeves shut with some bailing twine, and button it up over the T-shaped PVC frame. Stuffing it with straw is very straightforward from there. The overalls are tied shut at the ankles in the same manner, the legs are stuffed with straw and the straps are buckled over the shoulders. The bottom of the PVC frame sticks out the bottom of the overalls and slides over the top of a metal T-post where Dude sits through the summer, watching over things in the garden.

Dude has been known to loose his head at times. I think the first one was a simple pouch I sewed out of a t-shirt that we could stuff with straw and tie over the PVC "neck" sticking up from the top of the frame. When that disintegrated, and I tried a sturdier fabric. I like the red button the kids picked for a mouth that makes an "O!" expression. The sunglasses are also a nice touch that take him from being just a Dude to one Cool Dude.

I am glad to see my 13-year-olds still getting excited about putting a scarecrow together. I realize at some point they might decide it isn't fun anymore, but I will enjoy the tradition while it lasts.

At an age when they would rather do nothing other than hole up in their room with a book or spend time on the computer, it is wonderful to watch them outside on a sunny day working on our scarecrow. I have a feeling this is one of those memories they'll reminisce with each other when they are adults. "Remember when we used to build Dude the Scarecrow..."

And there we have it. Two kids and a Dude. 
Growing up on a homestead makes for some fun times.