Crow Farm feels like ours now which is a good comfortable feeling. Each season thus far here on the farm is new to us. It brings surprises, projects and new joys.
To start the fall season off, our neighbor’s little girl, who is our oldest’s age, brought over a baby bunny to let us snuggle with. The farm was feeling a little empty with no animals and who wouldn’t be won over by a baby bunny? So, a few days later we went and picked up a bunny hutch and a sweet little white Lionhead bunny. Our 7 year old named her Roseal. She was cute as a little button and a week later we decided to get another from the litter. Meanwhile our old Portland neighbors fell in love with the idea of bunnies as well and had me pick up two for their family while I was at it! The second bunny we got looked identical to the first but turned out to be a boy who our 5 year old named Maple. So, between our Portland neighbors, our new neighbors and us, we took all but one in the litter of bunnies. We are absolutely in love! They are super snuggly and put up with being towed around in wagons, hats, baskets, the girls arms…you name it. A handful of times per week the girls snuggle with their bunnies while they listen to the keyboard, sing and dance. These little fluff balls are spoiled for sure!
We made the best out of Halloween this year at home and distance visited 2 of our neighbors. Honestly, I don’t like the whole candy thing anyway so we still got to do our favorite parts; talk with friends and dress up. The girls also made a great piñata for them to bust open and I got to fill it with lots of fun healthy treats which they were overjoyed to receive. I tell you, miso and oyster crackers are like gold to these girls! 🙂
The colder weather also brought up the subject of chopped wood for the woodstoves at Crow Farm. Easier said than found is what we discovered. Not a lot of people sell wood for a living so getting people to follow through on wood orders and offer good quality wood was challenging to say the least. We had one batch of wood delivered that was unloaded by Justin and the guys who brought it. When the girls and I came out to see the pile our oldest said, “Mama, look at that bug!! There are lots of them!” AHhhh! Termites!!! I started panicking and had the girls keep a perimeter around the pile while I sorted the pieces into piles of “totally infested, probably infested and looks okay.” Having an infestation of termites in our new home is not what I had in mind as a good time. While I sorted and the girls kept a perimeter, armed with sticks to squish the termites, Justin took the totally infested ones and started burning them in our outdoor fire pit. After one particular load was brought to the fireplace I heard screaming from Justin and our oldest. Apparently as soon as the log hit the fire dozens of termites started evacuating!! Luckily, Justin had a blowtorch handy and blasted the stinkers! What a nightmare! We ended up being about to safely save about 3/4ths of the cord. Next year we hope to start our wood hunt in the summer so we have a bit more time to shop around.
With this newly acquired 4 cords from various places we could now have cozy fires to keep us warm. We quickly fell into a routine of Justin, first thing in the morning, turning on the propane stove in his office and starting a schoolhouse fire for the girls and I up the hill. It took a couple of weeks to perfect with number of logs and airflow the fire was getting but now he’s got it down. We had a couple “abort mission” school days where it was too cold to focus on learning up there and also some “panties” school days where it was more like a sauna in there! Haha. We didn’t mind those days. It made for a lighthearted day of schooling. The girls now have two wooden school desks and I have an old teacher’s desk that we refinished. It has been SO helpful to have our own spaces where we can keep our things and the each of the girls can comfortably work independently while I work with the other. When we got our map up on the wall and the desks were in, it felt like a cohesive, comfortable schoolhouse.
Down at the main house we have been keeping the house to 60* from the oil furnace which has been plenty to keep the upstairs to a comfortable sleeping temperature. The upstairs doesn’t have any heat which I was worried about when we moved in but it hasn’t been a problem. I keep a space heater in the girls room for overnight and Justin and I bundle up in warm jammies and big blankets. The kitchen, however, since it is the room the girls and I are in most we heat by wood stove or electric heater. We found that on school days, if we start use the electric heat for a morning blast then start a wood fire just before dinner it keeps the kitchen toasty. There is a curtain that hangs in the archway of the kitchen separating it from most of the other rooms. We went ahead and moved our loveseat out of the fireplace living room and into the kitchen which has proved to be an excellent choice! I LOVE having couches in kitchens! It makes perfect sense!! We try to only use the wood stove on chilly days or special occasions but when we do, it makes me so happy!! There’s nothing like snuggling together as a family on the couch with a cup of tea in front of a fire.
Having fires in the Elf Hut on star filled nights has been a rarity, rainy weather equals cloudy skies, but so special when we can make it happen.
Besides getting and stacking wood (which is really quite fun) we have experiences some other country life living norms such as mowing the yard and doing dump runs. We are just beyond the town garbage pick up limits therefore all trash and recycling we need to bring to the dump ourselves. Poor Azul has is our dump run vehicle of choice. It becomes worth it, money wise, if we wait until we have 6 cans of trash before making a run which means we don’t have to go very often. As a kid we had to do this too but I hadn’t remembered the details of it. You literally just dump your garbage cans over a railing into a giant metal container that waits below. It’s actually kind of dangerous looking and made me wonder how many people have accidentally fallen in there or accidentally dropped personal belongings in. Recycling is free but they only accept items that are actually recycled apposed to city recycling where there is a lot of “hopeful” recycling that is saved to the side in hopes that it can be sold to other countries to recycle or our country will someday recycle it. I kind of like that they don’t take that extra stuff. It makes me think more about the packaging that I buy and how we can reuse certain containers here on the farm. I’ve found that vinegar jugs are helpful to fill with water to train our fruit trees and glass salsa jars are good for To Go liquids or to share things with neighbors.
Something that we noticed that at first didn’t occur to us as anything too extra special is that the grass here on Crow Farm is ALWAYS green!! That’s new and different from our Portland house who’s grass would be brown and scratchy by mid-summer. It is so lush here in part, I think, because of the natural spring that comes through our property from the mountain above. With this lush luxury comes the task of mowing. When we were looking to buy this property the idea of mowing our big yard was daunting to Justin. I assured him that I would be doing the yard work and we didn’t need to maintain quite as much as the previous owners had to maintain it’s beauty. However, we soon learned that mowing is Justin’s passion. That boy loved the opportunity to mow any chance he could get. I think he enjoyed the alone space and time to listen to his podcasts. We teased him about it a bit but it was very helpful.
Another funny thing we have acquired now that we are in the country is a land line. We got it so that if Justin and I are out and about around the farm and the girls need to make an emergency call they always have a phone they know where is. The other reason is to have a phone if cell signal goes down. However, this has proven to be a silly reason since our landline goes down when our power goes out. The phone company cannot explain this therefore does not know how to fix it. We’re thinking of just getting a cheap cell phone using a prepaid plan that we can mount on the wall for the girls. This way they could take it with them if they go places fairly far from us. The perk is, the girls have never used a landline so it’s fun and they get to call Grammy whenever they want. 🙂
During the holiday season the girls and I have been inspired by what Crow Farm offers to create crafts. I was cutting down some tiger lily stems that had passed for this year and got thinking they were a great sturdy but bendable material. This got me thinking wreaths! I figured we have enough doors the girls and I could really get into wreath making but do it for free! The girls helped me gather the old lily stems into rings tied with twine and we decorated them with moss and galls from our trees, found feathers, berries, acorns and a few more little things. They were super fun to make and we were happy to add cheer to the farm.
In the beginning of fall we were able to have some chilly, but nice distanced visits with friends outdoors. It was nice to have some covered outdoor spaces that are open air to make visits safe. Though with the weather quickly getting colder and the rain setting in we had to put an end to those until spring comes again.
With the rain came lots of mushrooms! This place is seriously FULL of mushrooms for better or worse. The girls would say it was for the better. The girls have been absolutely thrilled to find and identify the treasures we find. Spore prints are always like opening a little surprise the day after you find a mushroom. So far we have found one that is edible, and we ate, and only 3 more that we were able to identify without question. There are SO many mushrooms out there and they are surprisingly hard to identify. There are lots of mushroom identification books out there for edibles and poisonous ones but for the ordinary mushrooms, it has been challenging to find good information out there but thanks to a loving husband and friend we have found 2 great ones!
As more rain comes, we learn more and more about this property. It is soggy for sure! So far one porch roof leak, one ground water seepage in the canning shack and one under the door leak. The puddles in our hayfields are nothing to scoff at! We didn’t even go into the deepest one but the one puddle/small pond that formed on the mowed path we made through the hayfield is deep enough that the girls have to be careful wading through or else the water will go up and over their tall waterproof boots. It was in that puddle that I learned one of my boots is no longer waterproof. The girls are thrilled about the puddle splashing they get to do! I am thankful that we are on a rolling hill so only the hayfields get the standing water. The frogs are loving these puddles too! The croaking of frogs is often so loud we can’t hear each other from any distance when outside. I was recording a video of me singing for my Mom and had to stop the video a couple times because the frogs were croaking so loud…and I was in a building with the door closed! I love it!
In a window between rainy days we went on a hike to Spencer Butte. It was a lovely little hike and we were glad we went first thing in the morning. On our way back down we definitely weren’t super comfortable with the amount of people so we booked it down. All in all it was good to get out and pretty!
I don’t think many Oregonians are super excited when the winter rains come but I tell you, the last couple weeks of nice weather I definitely was wishing for a good stay in the house rain day. I loved doing outdoor chores but I also was itching to get some of my sewing projects done as my Inbox was adding up and the girls and I were hoping to bake lots of goodies. My wish, of course, eventually came true and soon I’m sure I’ll be wishing for sunshine again. 😛
So much has happened this year in the entire world and in our little world and I have hope that 2021 will be a brighter year for all.