What is happening to this world? There are so many crazy things happening one after another! Fires, riots, pandemic… Before I go on a rant about that I wanted to talk about how much of an amazing time we’ve been having at Crow Farm.
First thing in the morning the girls get on their warm snuggly clothes (it has been getting chilly nights and we’ve been leaving things open to cool off the house for the hot afternoons) and pop outside to our garden or their favorite climbing tree or cozy up on the playroom carpet with the morning sunshine streaming in past the wildflowers and honey bees in through the windows. It’s just so magical!
The girls are really starting to find themselves in this new setting and have been venturing farther from their comfort zone to explore. The girls and I found a neat nook of trees out in our south hayfield where I helped facilitate a fort. I was hoping they would begin to feel more comfortable venturing farther from us while still feeling safe. They are still hesitant to be there without me but they’re getting there. Their favorite spot so far is still the little apple tree not far from our main house. It’s really the perfect tree for their age with sweet tiny apples to munch on and low flat branches that they can climb and swing from. It makes me so happy to see them so care free out there in the tree.
After breakfast on weekdays the girls and I make the trek up the hill to our schoolhouse hidden in a grove of aspen trees. It is such a sweet cozy little cabin that we are slowly making our own. We have started a bug collection that has been really useful in getting to know the local critters. It has been so nice to have a separate space for schooling and will be even nicer when we have something cozy to sit on. We’re holding out for a futon so once the wildfires and pandemic are in our past, we can use the space for dual purpose. We love our little school house!
The girls usually ask to continue schooling while I go down the hill to make lunch. When the dinner bell is rung, Justin comes out from his office and the girls close up the school house so we can all have a nice family lunch on the porch. We are so lucky to have a handful of sweet little hummingbirds that just gobble up our fuchsia plant thats right next to our eating table. They are great entertainment as they chirp and buzz around sipping the sweet nectar. We much prefer them to the yellow-jackets that sometimes join our table as well. After Justin and our little one got stung on separate occasions the girls don’t exactly welcome their arrival.
The girls and I then have the rest of the afternoon to do whatever it is our heart desires. At least part of the afternoons have consisted of collecting the fallen fruit from the many apple and pear trees as well as the plum tree. In the evenings after the girls go to bed I then wash all the fruit, cut out the bad spots and prep it to turn it into various scrumptious things such as fruit leathers, dried fruit, fruit crisps, pie, apple/pear sauce or other tasty treats. I am shocked but my family is NOT sick of any of this yet. I thought for sure they’d be begging not to see another apple or pear again until fall but it hasn’t happened yet! Hurray! We also have our share of blackberries as well so picking has been a full time job. At first I was preparing 40-50lbs of fruit every 2-3 days and then very quickly it became preparing that much every night! I tell you, I have used up ALL my jars (that is saying a lot folks) and have all the frozen and dried fruit we’ll need for the coming winter plus more I think. I’m trying to keep track of how much of everything I have at the end of the growing season and then how much of it we eat over the winter to gage how much I should make next year.
Just about every morning we’ve been having fresh hot apple sauce or crisp in the morning. I wait to bake things until I get up at 5:30am so it’s hot when we eat breakfast. Did I mention our 5:15am rooster wake up call?? No, we don’t have any animals yet. He’s our neighbor’s and his name is Mr.Doodle. It’s early but honestly it’s a better schedule to be on when living on a farm anyway. Plus, it’s fun to be able to get things done in the wee hours of the morning. And having the girls wake to the smell of fresh food from on our farm is pretty amazing! The only trick is to go to bed at a decent hour so you aren’t totally zonked (I type as I’m staying up to write this, ha).
We broke in the kitchen with lots of baked goods, lots of apple/pear treats and the Thomas family came for our yearly pickling party. 50lbs of cucumbers canned by 10am isn’t bad and we had a lovely time doing it. Though, to be accurate we did prep the night before. The boys even helped for the first time this year. Rachel and I saw that the boys had nothing to do at 10pm so, we put them to work! They were good willing sports. Christmas pickles!
The girls acquired their first 3 day pets at the farm; SNAILS! Our girls had so much fun with a group of 8 snails they found near our compost pile. What a hoot! I was starting our compost when our girls came over with snails crawling all over their bodies. “Look! We’re like a playground for the snails!” they shouted.
It is always a bit sad when Justin is working but I also feel like we are very fortunate that he gets to eat meals with us, be around for the occasional helping hand and his commute time is about 5 seconds. 🙂 If he had to be working, it’s best case scenario. And, he has a lovely office which is a big improvement from his basement office in Portland.
In buying this property we understood that it was 1905 farm house with charm which also means leaky doors and windows. We figured we had until winter to decrease leaks and to figure out how to handle power outages. However, the recent wildfires in Oregon have given us a little jump start into this endeavor. Being in the country with no power means no electricity but more importantly, no water! Thankfully the previous owners left us their generator and luckily I am married to the best handyman EVER! Just as we were getting used to flushing toilets via bucket, he was able to rig a system making it so that our freezers, fridge, main house, Airbnb and pump house had power! Hurray! We obviously didn’t want to overuse the generator but it was a life saver for using our smoke filters from the hazardous air outside and having water to wash up with.
The air quality was at such high levels of hazard it was scary! During the day there was either no sun or a spooky burning red sun that we’d catch a glimpse of for an hour or so. When we went outside it was like an ash snow storm with dark brown skies. We put the storm windows on the windows that didn’t already have them to increase the chance of us having clean air inside. We had our van and camper hitched up and ready to go if an evacuation was necessary. Our sweet little 5 year old was really struggling with the smoke. We were all being effected by all this unclean air but our littlest has such a fragile little system. It was a wake-up call that we needed to up our efforts to make our home safe for our family. Since our daughter had such a bad reaction to the smoke we confined ourselves to one room in our house. At night it was the girl’s room and during the day it was the kitchen. We only had one air purifier therefore one room was all we could clean. A while back when the Eagle Creek fire was raging near Portland, Justin created a little device that detects how clean the air is and changes a little light accordingly. That little device was SO helpful in knowing when spaces were safe for our little one to be in. When Justin and I had to go outside of the clean space we wore our big ventilator masks.
The Holiday Farm Fire near us as well as the others in OR have been devastating for so many. I feel very fortunate that so far our family has stayed safe from the heat of the fire. We will, along with so many others, be so thankful when these fires have been put out. Thank you to all of the community members that are helping shelter all the displaced families and the fire fighters who are working around the clock to hold the fire back.