Sunday, October 23, 2016

In which the moiling continues: we're surrounded by acres of gold

Mushroom season isn't over yet!

This chanterelle is about as big as my face

The true rainy season is just beginning.  This year, Patty is ready!

Patty's coat is the latest version of the Dragonwalker

High-quality Gore-tex, lots of pockets, sealed seams

Sewn right here in Washington State.
And it's PINK!

Details about Dragonwalker Coats are HERE

Today it wasn't raining, so she left the pink Dragonwalker back at the vehicles.  We headed out to Chanterelle Hill, of course.

The Fish Creek horses had vaccinations yesterday, so they stayed home
this morning, and the riders went on foot--except me!

I gathered chanterelles with the gang for about an hour, and then Fiddle and I headed out on a quick 6-mile loop.

Blue sky : quick!  Take a picture!

Approaching Bear Meadow.  We did not see bears.

She feels strong out on trails now--her gait is regular, and her ears are happy.

At the end of our loop, we met up with the Suspects and helped them pack out the loot.

We thought about sending Jim a message that we were coming home
sad and empty-handed, but we figured he wouldn't believe us.

Cleaning the mushrooms out on the back patio, we attracted an admiring audience.

Evita, Hattie and Violet:  "Hmmmm.  We could steal some of these things from the bag?"

Our dining room table often turns into a drying rack for produce and mushrooms.

Acres of chanterelles

I grew up here in the Puget Sound region, and part of my heritage is the music and poetry of the Pacific Northwest.  One of the better known regional raconteurs was Ivar Hagland (March 21, 1905 – January 30, 1985) :  folk singer, restauranteur, civic leader, punster and practical joker.

Ivar's signature song onstage was "Acres of Clams" (he opened a seafood restaurant named after the song in 1946).  When I saw the mushrooms spread out on the table, I knew what to call it...but Jim and Monica didn't recognize the reference.

Here's a good rendition of the song, written by Francis D. Henry in 1874, and performed here on YouTube with a visual nod to Ivar by Lloyd Vivola.


Tonight we will feast on roasted vegetables and garlic from the garden, topped with acres of golden chanterelles.

Life is GOOD.

Monday, October 17, 2016

In which the weather has a bright (gold!) side and Foxie hitches a lift

The bright side of all the rain:

At the end of a mushroom hunt, Foxie Loxie was tired out!

With thunder rolling above Seattle, and thunderstorms headed towards our favorite trails, the usual Sunday morning ride got pulled off the calendar.

Instead, we went to lunch. 

Duana is always happy to go for lunch!  (so are the rest of us)

After getting fully fortified by lunch (and waiting for the thunder to move further north), it's trail time!

Jim and Patty and Duana and Foxie Loxie headed out with me.

"My doppler app says it's not even raining."
"Your doppler app is on crack."

The best chanterelles hide under ferns and salal branches--and some of the salal has gotten so big that Fox can't get past.

"I will scout for mushrooms from up here."

The exercise of keeping watch over my little dog was worthwhile:

While hunting for a lost-or-stuck Fox, we found treasure, and lots of it!

The chicken-and-bean soup is greatly enhanced by our efforts!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

In which an umbrella will not be helpful for the next couple days

Predicting rain for the Swampland this time of year is a no-brainer.

I'm waiting for somebody to sell umbrellas that say in big orange letters:
"I'M NOT FROM HERE!"  (Seattle Times photo)

Still, generally speaking, native Pacific Northwesterners are not umbrella users.

In fact, Curmudgeon Emeritus Emmett Watson (1918-2001, longtime writer for the now nearly-defunct Seattle PI) who referred to outsiders as "sun-baked barbarians," noted that a mossback's status could be told by the proximity of his/her umbrella:  
  • Visitors have umbrellas in-hand, even when rain is not imminent.
  • New immigrants have umbrellas within easy reach.
  • Those who have been here a while know where the umbrella is, even if it's buried in a car or closet.  It can be fetched readily when desired.
  • True mossbacks either don't own umbrellas at all (most common) or own one or two that were gifted by well-intentioned outsiders.  But they don't know where those gifted bumbershoots are.  Maybe the basement?  Maybe the attic?

It's not that we are extremely tough, water-resistant persons.  It's not that rain is so common that we've become immune to cold clammy dripping.

It's mostly that Swampland rain doesn't just fall down.  It very often blows sideways.  Umbrellas are just not much good for that.  

There's a reason that Gore-tex remains a big seller here:  keeping our hair dry is just the beginning.  We need full-body protection from precipitation!

April showers bring raincoats.  Long, waterproof raincoats.
Good for October rain, too!

Rain is normal here.  We know how to deal with it.  We are good at rain.

We get a couple of big wind and rain events every year in the early winter.  It's kind of a pain in the tailfeathers, but usually no big deal.

So, why are the weather-guessers like National Weather Service Seattle hitting the panic button right now?

Apparently, it's all about the timing.

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the 1962 Columbus Day storm -- a killer event spawned by Typhoon* Freda blasted the Pacific coast with winds recorded at 83 miles per hour in Seattle, and passed 150 mph along the Washington/Oregon coast.  Winds were actually stronger than that...but they broke the measuring instruments, so accurate measurements weren't recorded.  

Wrecked in the 1962 storm:  branches fell on the house and also fell on power lines, which caught fire.
(Seattle Times historical archive photo)

This weekend, say the forecasters, we've got a very similar storm brewing over the ocean and headed our way.

*We don't have hurricanes in the Pacific Northwest...or rather, we do, but we don't call them "hurricanes."
If this type of event happens in our region, it's called a "typhoon."  (NOAA graphic)

First, a heavy rainstorm that will saturate the soil.  

Next, a big windstorm, the remnants of Typhoon Songda.  Depending where the wind front makes landfall, it could be a pain in the tailfeathers, or it could be lots worse.  

As in 1962, our trees still have a lot of leaves, and that makes them much more vulnerable to high winds.  Branches with leaves are more likely to break under the stress of winds, and then they go flying.  Flying branches = property damage and power lines down.

Flying branches can also kill people.

With the soil soft and wet, strong winds in leaf-laden branches are more likely to topple trees.

1962 fallen tree.  (Seattle Municipal Archives photo)

Falling trees kill people every year.  Last year we lost three people in a single November windstorm.  That was a normal storm in a normal year, late enough that our trees didn't have leaves.

With this storm, there is the potential to lose a lot more trees.  There will certainly be power outages, and there will probably be some flooding.

So, what do we do?

Well, most of it is already done:

We've latched all the outbuilding doors, and stacked up all the stuff that might fly around.  We've sealed the barn roof and the trailer roof.

Sealing the barn roof is a good task for August days.
We've stocked up on food and water.  We have plenty of firewood.

Cutting up trees for firewood in late September.

When the farm loses power, we also lose water (electric well pump), so there are big jugs of water in each bathroom for washing and toilet flushing.

The flashlights have fresh batteries, and there's a big stack of books beside each living room chair.

So now, we wait.

Maybe it won't be so bad.

No matter what, we won't be carrying umbrellas.

Goretex rules.

Stay safe, everyone!

UPDATE: 3pm Saturday
The rainstorm on Thursday was truly No Big Deal.  The nearby Stillaguamish River stayed at Stage 1 Flooding, i.e. "normal."  Stage 2 Flooding means that there is minor flooding at the usual low spots, and that there may be some road closures (again, at the usual low spots).

The power has flickered briefly over the last two days, with the only side effect being that I'm getting really good at re-setting digital clocks and timers.

We are currently 2 or 3 hours away from the wind event that is the tail of Typhoon Songda.  The most reliable of our weather guessers thinks that Bellingham and the counties north of Haiku Farm are going to get hit harder than us, and that Seattle won't be hit as hard.  It's anybody's guess about whether we will lose power, and if we do, how long it will be out.  If you don't hear from me, it might be that we have lost power and/or interwebs and/or phone connectivity.  Those are all pretty tenuous out here, so we are accustomed to doing without one or all of them for a while.

Jim has just filled up the wood boxes, and there's still 4 hours of daylight, but the wind is beginning to pick up, so I will hit "publish" on this update before we lose electricity!

See you on the far side.

Update: 10am Sunday

"Overhyped," they're calling it.

But here's what I know:  better to be prepared, and not need it, than to need it and not be prepared.

Batteries will keep, and there's no harm in having extra canned food in the house.  Theoretically, we haven't even started winter yet.  There's plenty of time for the weather to turned pear-shaped before summer.

We spent the night watching episodes from season 1 of Torchwood and wondering when the Big Storm was going to hit.  We had a few trash cans blow around, and there are tons of branches on the ground.   More than 10,000 people lost power at least briefly, and one kid in the Seattle area got hit by a flying branch and is still in intensive care.

Today, it's raining.  I'l probably go out in it at some point, but it's a good bet I still won't be packing an umbrella!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

In which there is a photo dump of a nice ride in a nice, damp Swamp

It's October. 

This year, October doesn't mean much to Fiddle and me.  We didn't compete this season, so it's not the end of the season.

There are still a few rides left on the calendar in our region, but we won't be going to any of them.

It's not a particularly stressful time of year at work, so I don't need to ride so I can avoid screaming while on the clock.

It's still too early for sn*w, so there's no question about passable roads.

Most of the bugs are gone, except for yellow jackets, and those are pretty easy to avoid if you watch where you're walking.

It's only a moderate mushroom season, so I don't need to feel guilty if I don't want to hop off and tramp through the wet weeds on every trip through the woods.

The trails are muddy and slick in spots, so trotting is just for the roads.  

If I want to explore trails with Fiddle, we walk.

A good rain jacket is an absolute requirement for October, but I have one of those.

So on a day like this,

it's nice to just head out 

and enjoy a few hours of quiet trails

with a good horse.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

in which it's harvest season and we harvest a bunch of stuff (and ride)

It's nearly winter in the Swampland.  First, we have a few (short) days of autumn 
before 'rounding the corner to the VERY short days of winter.

The sound of chainsaws = the sound of autumn

Jim and I recently spent two days cutting up alder trees in Dory's pasture in addition to cutting up a couple of fallen cedar trees at Fish Creek late last spring when they fell in inconvenient places.

Birthday present from Jim: a chainsaw of my very own!

Common wisdom says that wood warms four times:  when the tree is cut, when the wood is split, when the split wood is stacked, and when the fire burns.  Nobody ever mentions loading the tractor bucket,

but that kept us warm too.

At home, the wood is piled in the driveway.  Soon we will rent a mechanical splitter to process the whole pile (currently about 2 cords), and then stack it to dry.  The alder we took this weekend should be ready to burn by late winter.

We have dry, seasoned wood already stacked in the woodshed,
and we've already used the stove on several cool evenings recently.

Today was a(nother) apple harvest day.

Monica in the apple tree

 Jim and Monica fermented a batch of summer cider, and it was so delicious (and the apple harvest so bountiful this fall) that we decided to make another batch.

Karen showed us how to fashion an apple picker out of an empty vinegar bottle
and an old broom handle.

Near the house, Brian fired up his home-built apple crusher, and cider-making happened with our usual party atmosphere.

Chopping, then crushing, then squeezing apples for cider.
Roo hopes for apple slices (there were plenty of extras)

straining the apple juice

We aren't neglecting the horses, either.

blue skies on top + horse ears at the bottom = best kind of picture

 Fiddle was happy to see her friends Hana and Ariana at the trailhead this morning.

Monica and Duana came too.

It was a good day to be out.

 And while we were on the trail, there was something else to harvest:

Chanterelle mushrooms!

This is the time of year when the dogs (and the carpets) get sticky sometimes.  It's okay.

Foxie likes to steal apple chunks and smear them everywhere as he eats.

Later this winter, when it's cold outside 
and we're drinking hard sparkling apple cider by the fire, 
we'll be glad we did all this work!