Friday, February 27, 2015

Egg Rainbow

I am pleased to announce that this is what we're finding in our nesting boxes at the end of the day! After a few years of selecting chicks each spring with egg color in mind, our girls are collectively laying an egg rainbow. That tiny one on the right is from one of our bantam hens who occasionally produces a miniature egg.

Not only is it exciting to get this many different colors of eggs, but we are just thrilled to be getting eggs at all. There have been some sneaky, secret egg stashes going on in the woods above our chicken coop for a long time. We have tried everything from building a fancy new nesting box to putting those ceramic eggs in there. Finally what seems to be working is letting them out later in the morning on the days that I can and hoping the good habit will stick on the days that I can't.

Diversity is beautiful and delicious!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Sacred Heart Sessions

My new favorite album is being released today, and I thought I would share. The Lowest Pair , the amazing banjo duo of Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee, has recorded their second album of acoustic goodness in an old church, and aptly named it "The Sacred Heart Sessions." Some of you may remember my post about the Lowest Pair's House Concert back in June: Give Me the Banjo, when I had the good fortune of attending an intimate, back-yard concert where they played beneath a pear tree on a summer evening. I had a front row seat on a couch, and it was one of the highlights of my lifetime musical experiences. Even farther back, I used to go see Kendl Winter play solo shows, and before that as a part of the Blackberry Bushes Stringband whenever they came through town, which was always a kick-up-your-heels sort of good time. Needless to say, I am a long time fan of all Kendl's musical ensembles, and was glad to discover Palmer T. Lee's music through her.

I enjoy Kendl and Palmer's individual songwriting enough on their own, but the stuff they are writing together is really the sort of music that digs down into the soul and puts it to sound. They've been busy on the touring circuit across the country, and opening up for some bigger acts like Trampled by Turtles, so check the tour dates on their website and try to catch them if they are happening by.

You can live stream and listen to the new album here:

You can also take my advice and order yourself a copy of their album here at Team Love Records:

Monday, February 23, 2015

To Look at a Flower

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.”

~Georgia O'Keefe

Friday, February 20, 2015

Flowers in February

Apparently I'm not the only one enjoying these February flowers. 
The pollinators have noticed them too!

The wild honeybees are having a ball at the rosemary bush.

It seems that Spring is making her appearance early around here. Buds are popping, flowers are blooming and things are certainly in a buzz. Fingers crossed that we don't get any sneaky late cold snaps, but I am starting to get ideas about planting peas.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

At the Mouth of the Mighty Columbia

On our recent trip with my brother's family, we made an excursion one morning out to the mouth of the Columbia River. As we climbed up the viewing platform and took in the view around us, I was struck not only by the vast expanse from where we stood to the Washington shoreline, but by how profoundly steeped in history this place is. I thought of all the accounts I had read of the Lewis and Clark expedition and their reaction to reaching the Pacific Ocean, "Ocian in view! O! the joy," (which was actually written prematurely as they reached the estuary, but that goes to show just how exciting it was). I thought of the many tragic tales of shipwrecks in "The Graveyard of the Pacific." I thought of the complex relationship between people and the this river; of travel, trade, salmon and dams, and this led me to Woody Guthrie's Columbia River ballads. In 1941, he was hired on by the federal government to travel along the river for a month and write folk songs that they hoped would increase public support for the construction of hydroelectric dams. This is interesting, because when I think of Woody Guthrie, a labor movement hero with "This Machine Kills Fascists" written on his guitar, hopping trains and inspiring the downtrodden to stand up for their rights is what comes to mind.

That's right. This guy.

However, at a time when living conditions and poverty for the common person were a pressing issue that Guthrie saw plenty of, electricity and jobs were a concrete solution, and harnessing the Columbia to assist in bringing that about was something he could get behind wholeheartedly. Still, he did it on his own terms, throwing impromptu concerts for blue-collar workers in small towns, but flat refusing to play the songs at a chamber of commerce function. Putting my feelings about ecology, dams, and the drowning of Celilo Falls aside, I think Guthrie's awe of the Columbia and hope for improving quality of life for the common, working class person makes these songs an important part of our collective story.

"There's a great and peaceful river in a land that's fair to see
Where the Douglas-fir tree whispers to the snow-capped mountain breeze
Cliffs of solid granite and the valley's always green
This is just as close to heaven as my traveling feet have been

Roll, Columbia, won't you roll, roll, roll
Roll, Columbia, won't you roll, roll, roll 

Stand upon her timbered mountain, look across her silver strand
See the crops and orchards springing to the touch of nature's hand
And it's further up the river where your eye will meet the skies
Where you'll see the steel and concrete of the big Grand Coulee rise 

Roll, Columbia, won't you roll, roll, roll
Roll, Columbia, won't you roll, roll, roll."

~Woody Guthrie, from "Roll, Columbia, Roll."

"Green Douglas firs where the waters cut through.
Down her wild mountains and canyons she flew.
Canadian Northwest to the ocean so blue,
Roll on, Columbia, roll on!

Roll on, Columbia, roll on.
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.
Your power is turning our darkness to dawn,
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.

Other great rivers add power to you,
Yakima, Snake and the Klickitat, too,
Sandy Willamette and Hood River, too;
Roll on, Columbia, roll on."

~Woody Guthrie, from "Roll On Columbia"

Here's a great NPR story by Jeff Brady from "All Things Considered":

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Stories of Sibling Shenanigans

Continuing on with a tradition that began when we were in diapers, my brother and I met up for our annual family camping last weekend. Having hiked, biked, camped, rafted, backpacked and explored together for over three decades, we certainly have some stories to tell, and it's a lot of fun now that we're parents getting our own kids in on some of these family shenanigans.

We returned to Fort Stevens State Park since it makes a good mid-way point with a variety of things to see and explore, and they have cozy and affordable camping cabins to take shelter from the winter storms. With beaches, trails, wildlife, historic sites and museums I don't think we would ever have trouble finding something to do, no matter what the coastal weather. February is a nice slow time of year for us to take a break from homesteading responsibilities and  as it turned out, the weather this year was beautiful, so we were able to enjoy more time outside.

Not only the weather, but the tides were more in our favor than last year, allowing us to climb all over the shipwreck of the Peter Iredale, whereas last year it was a daring feat!

We hadn't realized how many parts of the ship stuck out of the sand on down the beach, and were able to get a better idea of how large it was. Once it ran aground, I can see how that ship was never going anywhere again.

With Lyla Bea another year older, and not such a tiny baby anymore, she was also able to enjoy our shipwreck explorations. 

She is at an on-the-go age, where running on the beach was very much her thing.

As well as goofy amusement...

And the occasional pirate face.

Since Colleys are not the type to shy away from danger, we spent some time exploring around the old Fort Stevens military site. It is actually much more low key than the sign makes it sound, but we felt like were living on the edge, and that's all that matters.

Lyla Bea especially enjoyed the large iron doors and insisted that we knock to see who was there.

I have to say, I am personally glad that nobody was home. Those old bunkers can be a bit dark and creepy.

We made another stop at Battery Russell and Pacific Rim Peace Memorial, which was a little more open and accessible than the main historic site, and offered plenty of nooks and crannies for exploring fun for all ages. 

With near 70 degree temperatures, we were not the only folks out there enjoying the beautiful weather. Some kite boarders were taking advantage of this spring-like day and we had fun watching them do what they do out on the estuary.

Colleys know how to have fun, and with all that fun we were having, we managed to completely tucker Lyla Bea out. I would say it was a successful adventure.

I feel very fortunate for the times I get to spend together with my brother and watching our selves and our families grow over the years. It feels good to be passing on these traditions of time together in the outdoors to our kids, and it makes me smile to think of them having adventures together with their own families in the future and having stories to tell.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Free Woodchips!

A trailer load of woodchips really is something to crow about around here!

While the chickens did a fine job of supervising, a huge thank you goes to Mountain Man Corey for collecting and spreading the woodchips around the blueberries and raised beds while I was under the weather last weekend. Little by little we're getting ready for the next growing season and it's looking to be a productive one.