It has been quite a while – too long – since I posted regularly on the blog. Through a set of unusual circumstances my attention has necessarily been directed elsewhere. While this was not a situation of my choosing, it has given me some new perspective. Sometimes you see things more clearly and appreciate them more fully when you have been away for a while.  As I walked around the ranch the past week or so, I took pictures of all the things I’ve missed the most.

Trees, fresh air, clouds.

blue skies mtn

Our fearless watchdogs – with one ear up and one ear down.


Flowers that grow wild.

foxglove close

Cows – nosy creatures that they are.


Berries growing wild. Planted and watered by God, ready to be picked by me!



Hay Field

Last week the guys spent most of the week hauling hay.


This beautiful field at the base of the mountains is one of the local sites where our hay is grown, just down the road from our ranch a mile or so.


Once again the new bale handler was very nice to have; we didn’t have to pick up all those bales by hand . . .


. . . and we didn’t have to load them all on the trailer by hand either.


While Alex and Rick were busy gathering the hay bales and loading them on the trailer, I went exploring around the field. I love old buildings and this old homestead has two. An old cabin that was the home of the packer who homesteaded many years ago, and a barn.


The old barn has fallen in and is overgrown with vines and blackberries.


The old barn was built at least partially with wood that was harvested by hand and came from cedar trees that had been through a fire.


The old homestead cabin was built with hand-hewn lumber and sided in cedar shakes. The vines had covered the cabin years ago.


At some point electricity was wired in to the cabin.


The old individual panes of glass in the windows.


At the edge of the property I heard water running and went down the path at the edge of the woods. A creek (which around here is pronounced crick) was running down off the mountain.



In the distance you can see Jordan Falls cascading down the cleft in the mountains.


As we were finishing up with the hay an interesting cloud formation appeared over the ridge.


Not bad for a trip to haul hay.

Green and Growing Fast

Now that spring has finally arrived here in the North Cascades, the cattle are on fresh grass in the summer pastures.

The pasture isn’t the only thing that is growing. The wild berry vines at the edge of the pasture are loving the warmer weather too and threatening to take over our electric fence.  Some of the canes are so big the only way to cut them down is with a chain saw.

There are places in this world where vegetation of any kind doesn’t grow unless you water it regularly with a hose or a sprinkler system. Even then it is “iffy” if the plants will survive the baking heat.  I know this for a fact; I’ve lived there.  Here in the rain forest – ninety (90) plus inches of rain per year and mild summers – it is just the opposite. Things grow wild very quickly and if you don’t want it you have to mow, chop, weed-eat, hack, chain-saw and machete it down.  At least once a season and sometimes more.

This fence looks like it has been abandoned and overgrown for decades. Are you surprised to learn it was the viable pasture fence up until 4 or 5 years ago?

Isn’t this a lovely and productive berry patch? Actually, there is a fence in there somewhere and the wild berries have completely overgrown it.

The wild berries – I believe they are blackberries, but I’m no berry expert – can and do take over in a very short time. Did you ever see that movie Jumanji where the vines and leaves grew right before your eyes through the doors and windows and took over the whole house? Sometimes these berries remind me of that.

And let me tell you those thorns are nothing to ignore. Last year, Rick and I just hacked down a narrow path behind the electric fence with our pruning shears.  I wore a heavy, long-sleeved shirt and leather gloves and still had scratches and gashes and blood running down my arms. I’m really glad we have the hedge trimmer and chainsaw this year!

Now the fence is safe from the berries and everything is neatly trimmed – at least for a while.

Wild Berries

It is still a bit of a novelty for us to find edible things growing here that we did not plant or water.  The wild berries for example.  We have huckleberries, blackberries, salmonberries, wild strawberries, thimbleberries, dewberries,  and probably more that I don’t know how to recognize.  I’ve been picking the blackberries that are growing wild at the edge of the woods.  Love the berries, hate the thorns.  And let me tell you those wild berries have some major thorns.

I wore long pants and a long-sleeved shirt and still had scratches all over my arms.

According to my berry picking consultant Rio (seen here in the bucket of Melanie’s tractor)

“You have to wait until they are all the way black and come off really easy.”  That about sums it up.  Rio has the same berry picking technique Megan used to have in the strawberry patch – he eats every one he picks.  This really is a streamlined approach to picking, no need for a pail or container of any kind to slow you down.


Can’t wait for the jam and cobbler.