Dear Readers -Forgive me once again for failing to keep you up to date with the goings on around here. The Summer flew by, and before we knew it, Fall was upon us. I will fill you in on the highlights, both mundane and exciting. First the mundane. After a successful lambing season, we turned our attention to getting the irrigation system ready to go. To our dismay, we had almost no water in the lower section of the pasture. Fortunately, we had the trusty backhoe to dig up the line, where we found a place where the pipe reduced in size. When we took it apart, we found pieces of melted black plastic, which were obviously from the pipe that had melted 1/4 mile upstream during the fire of 4 years ago! Once we cleaned it out, the pressure was better than ever.
At the end of May, Bill took some time off to visit his old hometown of Burns, OR. Some property that had been in his family for a long time was being sold, and he wanted to retrieve a few things. The main one being his old 57 International truck. Hard to believe, but it was still sitting in the same place he had parked it 37 years ago, key still in the ignition, windows intact and interior remarkably mouse free! The tires were flat, but once inflated, they held air, and he rolled it onto a trailer and brought her home. It's tucked safely into the back of our barn, waiting a little TLC. Our goal is to get it running well enough to drive it in the 4th of July parade one of these years.
After we got the truck put away, we turned our attention to the major project for this year: building the "bunkhouse" to replace the one that burned up in the Carlton Complex fire. It's really more of a deluxe cabin, but we still like to call it by it's former name. The first task was to cut down all the huge dead fir trees that were looming over the building site. We hired the capable crew at Lloyd Logging to come and take care of that for us. They did a great job, and once the logs were cut and stacked, it was apparent that there was some pretty nice lumber in there! So we had them take a couple of loads to a local mill and ended up with about 3000 board ft of lumber. We hope to use some of it for flooring and trim in the bunkhouse. Lloyds leveled out the building site for us, too, and then it was time to start digging, We hired our neighbor, Alex, to do the foundation and framing, and provided him with our backhoe. The concrete work looks great, the framing is mostly done, and the roof rafters are going up as I write. Bill and I are doing the plumbing and electrical ourselves, and we have the hardest part of that done. We had to dig a trench about 300 feet to bury the water and electric, so once again the backhoe earned it's keep. (Have I said how much I love that piece of equipment??) The trench got dug, water line installed, and power panel hooked up. Such a relief to have that out of the way before winter!
While all the construction was happening, the rest of our life on the ranch was going along more or less as usual. The garden got planted, and even though we had a TERRIBLE smoky August (due to nearby wildfires that burned for months), managed to produce an abundant harvest. I also found time to wash and dye a whole lot of fleeces in preparation for the Fiber Fusion show in October. I tried something new this year- using commercial dye to do multi-colored roving for spinners. It was really fun and I got some great color combinations (thanks to advice from family and friends). It was my first time at Fiber Fusion, and I had a great time. There were lots of positive comments on my natural dyed yarn and roving, and I exceeded my expectations for sales. I met some wonderful people who are so committed to raising fiber animals and working towards increasing opportunities for the small producers. I will be back there next year for sure.
That pretty much sums up our summer, except for one thing. I saved the best for last. I decided to treat myself to something very special - a handmade spinning wheel from Betty Roberts. For those who don't know, Betty is a local craftsperson who has been making handmade wheels for decades. They are truly a work of art, and I am lucky to get one. She lives north of here, in Oroville, and I went to visit her when I picked it up. In addition to being finely crafted from wood that she has collected over a lifetime, and perfectly balanced (really a pleasure to spin with), her signature is to inlay wildflowers and other little treasures that she has collected. She took the time to tell me about each flower that was used on my wheel - what it's called, where it came from, etc. My wheel has a few extra special things - porcupine quills, a rattlesnake rattle and a tiny morel mushroom. I can't wait for all the Fall chores to get done so I can just sit and spin. Wishing you all a bountiful Fall season, and stay tuned for updates later in the year!
Life on the Ranch
This Blog is intended to be a summary of the events of daily life that take place on our ranch. We hope you find it interesting - feel free to comment if you like.