Aerial photos in November

I flew my drone today. Previous flights this year included OctoberAugustJuneApril, and March.

This time, we’re done with the fall foliage, so there are just the millions of evergreen trees around us.

Lots and lots of trees, to the misty horizon:


Here’s a glimpse of Mount Hood:

Mount Hood

Zoomed in a bit:

Mount Hood

Our pond, flowerbeds, etc:

Pond, flowerbeds, etc

Pond, flowerbeds, etc

From lower down:

Pond, etc

The junk area in the corner of the property; there’s an old dinghy (that I occasionally think about putting by the pond as a decoration and duck shelter), and a bunch of rocks, pipes, wood, and other stuff, mostly buried under weeds:

Junk area

That rectangle near the bottom is an old potting shelter, that I plan to enclose to make a beekeeping storage shed. Here it is again, along with the beehives:


An angled view of the beehives, hoop house, veggie garden, etc:

Beehives, veggie garden, etc

Looking down on the veggie garden, berry cage, and chicken runs:

Veggie garden

One reason for flying today was to investigate a gutter that has come loose:


After flying, I got out a ladder and fixed it; all better now.

Here’s me and Rory on the main deck:

David and Rory

Aerial photos in October

I flew my drone today; the first time since the end of August. Previous flights this year included JuneApril, and March. This time, some nice fall foliage.

A view of the shop, veggie garden, chicken runs, back lawn, pond, flowerbeds, etc:

Veggie garden, back lawn, pond, flowerbeds, etc

Closer to the pond:


One reason for this flight was to get an aerial shot of the path to the duck house; I have a hose used to fill the duck’s waterer, which is also arranged as a possible edge of the path. Hard to see in this picture, though:

Pond path area

Over to the flowerbeds; you can see a fallen tree from the big storm that contributed to the wildfires earlier (we’ll cut it up and remove it soon):



Flowerbeds and downed tree

Part of the field and flowerbeds. The long grass in the field looks like nice soft velvet:

Field and flowerbeds

From higher up:

Field and flowerbeds

I landed the drone to change the battery, then took off again; Rory wasn’t thrilled about that:


Finally, a few shots of trees, to capture the fall foliage:




Pond and trees

Evacuation update: homestead visit and level 2

Today we took a day-trip down to our homestead (three hours each way) to check on and feed the animals, and collect a few things we regretted not bringing north.

It was very smoky down there, unsurprisingly, being a couple of miles from the nearest fire. I put on a heavy-duty filter mask while outdoors:

David with mask

I started in the workshop, refilling the food and water dispensers at the front and back of the shop, for feral cats Pepper and Pansy there. They weren’t out of food or water yet, so hadn’t suffered. I also ripped open and left half a bag of food as a backup.

Then I went into the veggie garden, and on to the chickens; they were very vocal, and happy to see me:


Here’s a wide-angle shot; you can see the smoke. I left the door to the veggie garden open, so they can go in and help themselves to treats. A bit early; normally we’d do that once we’re done harvesting the veggies, but it may have come to your attention that this is not a normal year:


They didn’t waste much time in heading in there:


The food dispenser in the new coop was empty, as expected, but the flock block was still there, so they weren’t starving. I refilled the feeder and waterer, and dumped the rest of the bag on the floor of the coop:

Chicken coop

I did the same in the old coop, too:

Chicken coop

There were lots of eggs, unsurprisingly; here is one of the nesting boxes:


We brought about three dozen eggs back up north.

I then headed over to the pond. The fenceline trees are barely visible in the smoke:


The ducks were happy to see me; they’ve all surived:


I dumped the remainder of the bag of food from the duck house onto their food bowl, which hopefully will take them a few days to eat. They were very hungry:



I also opened the pop door on the duck house, so they can go in there; there’s a bit more food in the feeder tube.

Then I went over to the cat house, and refilled their feeder; it wasn’t empty, so they’ve had small meals each day. I powered up the Camect server, so I can now watch the cat feeder (and other cams) remotely, and will feed them more if the cats turn up.

Looking over the flowerbeds from by the cat house; rather smoky, and that fallen tree will be a project for another day:


I also refilled the bird feeders, and the hummingbird feeders.

We noticed a circle marking painted on our driveway; presumably from fire or police officials surveying that we had evacuated. A convenient indicator for the looters some locals are worried about (hey, that’s what insurance is for, though we’re not too worried about that):

Driveway marking

After we finished at the homestead, we headed to Costco to pick up a prescription for Rory and other supplies. Just as we parked, we got an official notification of a change in the evacuation boundaries. Our house is now in level 2, though only barely. Here’s a screenshot of the new evacuation and fire boundaries:

Evacuation and fire boundaries

So we could go home, though level 2 is still risky — it could increase to level 3 at a moment’s notice. We left in level 2, so it doesn’t make any more sense to go back at that level. Plus it’s very smoky down there, much better up here.

We will continue to stay at Mom’s place for a bit longer, preferably until it is reduced to level 1 or all restrictions lifted. Some rain in the forecast later in the week, so hopefully that’ll help.

Aerial photos in August

I flew my drone over the homestead yesterday. Interesting to compare to when I did so in June and back in April and March.

Let’s begin with an angled aerial shot of the apple trees in the field, the flowerbeds, pond, back lawn, and veggie garden:

Aerial of flowerbeds, pond, etc

The reverse angle, with the shop, hoop house, veggie garden, back lawn, pond, and flowerbeds:

Veggie garden, back lawn, pond

Closer to the pond, with the ducks visible; they weren’t sure what to make of the strange noisy bird hovering and flying nearby:


Another angle of the pond and ducks:


And another:


GIF of flying upwards from the pond:

GIF of pond zoom

One more from lower down; I think this is the first time I’ve hovered over the pond:

Pond and ducks

The flowerbeds and white gazebo:


Beehives, greenhouse, veggie garden, chicken coops, hoop house, back of shop:

Beehives, veggie garden, hoop house

Veggie garden:

Veggie garden

Hops taking over the top of the berry cage:


The berry cage and weather wind speed and direction sensors:

Berry cage and weather sensors

Mount Hood is looking a lot less snowy at this time of year:

Mount Hood

Zoomed in on Mount Hood:

Mount Hood

Cutting the shop bamboo

Let’s take a brief digression from the usual cute ducks and other animals to talk about a nemesis of mine: bamboo.

We had a stand of bamboo between the propane gas tank and the deck at the back of our workshop, planted by some previous owner of our property:

Bamboo next to shop

If it had contained itself to that location, I’d be fine with it, but bamboo has a tendency to send out runners, spreading to unwanted places. For example under the gas tank:

Bamboo under gas tank

Under the driveway, pushing it up:

Bamboo under driveway

And even between the deck boards and behind the shop siding:

Bamboo behind shop siding

So it was time for it to go. Today, I took on that project, cutting the stalks to the ground using our heavy-duty loppers (one of my favorite tools; works better than most others).

Here’s the state partway through:

Bamboo next to shop

That square on the wall is where a fireplace vent used to be; another project on my list is to patch that, which I’ll probably do soon, now that it’s more visible.

All cut:

Cut bamboo next to shop

A view of the side of the shop; much more open with that bamboo gone:

Cut bamboo next to shop

In due course we’ll probably plant some shrubby things in that area.

The cut bamboo on the burn pile (which won’t actually be burned for several months at the earliest):

Bamboo on burn pile

This battle isn’t over; the bamboo will continue to sprout for several months. I’ll need to spray it and continue cutting it for a while, until it eventually admits defeat.

We also have another stand of bamboo on the other side of the shop, which is also spreading, and needs to go. A project for another day.

We have one more large stand of bamboo by the pond, but it is fairly well contained (using heavy duty pond liner), and not near any structures or driveways, so it can remain.

Don’t plant bamboo, people. It’s nasty stuff.

Converting the fountain into a garden, part 2

Last week I posted part one of a project to convert our fountain into a garden. Here’s the thrilling conclusion.

You may recall that I drilled a hole though the base of the fountain wall, and ran an irrigation tube across the bricks, at the back where it isn’t usually visible. To make that tidier and reduce the risk of tripping on the tube, I added a pipe cover:

Pipe cover

I added more soil:

Adding more soil

And scoria to the fountain bowl, to aid in drainage:

Adding gravel to bowl

Scoria and soil in progress:

Gravel and soil

More soil:

More soil

A much smaller soil pile; the remainder will be used in the veggie garden, and possibly elsewhere:

Smaller soil pile

Adding plants:

Adding plants

A hose valve for the tube to the top of the fountain (as seen on my What’s It Wednesday question and answer yesterday), to enable adjusting its pressure independently of the irrigation emitters for the bottom level:

Hose valve

Irrigation tubing; half inch tubing to the top of the fountain and down one side of the bottom level, with quarter inch tubing off the latter leading to emitters:

Irrigation tubing

An irrigation emitter; this style has an adjustable spread, so can cover anything from inches to several feet:

Irrigaton emitter

Pulling back a bit to focus on the plants:

Plants and irrigation

And back further to see more of the plants:


Another angle; Jenn chose the plants to be predominantly blue to evoke water, with some splashes of color representing fish. Plus taller plants at the back, shorter in front — and in the bowl, some that will trail off the edge nicely:


A last shot of the finished garden:


Converting the fountain into a garden, part 1

One of the features of our homestead is a fountain with a flower-girl statue, that was added by a previous owner.

Here’s a GIF of the fountain from 2014:

Fountain GIF

However, we rarely ran the fountain, as it tended to spray water outside the pool, and leaked, so we had to keep topping it up. Plus, after a few years the electrical supply became unreliable, popping the GFCI increasingly frequently. And without running the fountain, the pool became a breeding ground of mosquitos and such.

So, we decided to replace the pool with a garden.

Here’s the pump in the base of the fountain, which I’ve disconnected:


I had the idea of using the fountain tube to water plants in the middle basin of the fountain, so I temporarily connected a hose to check that that would be feasible:


Yep; here’s a GIF of the fountain working from that hose:

Fountain GIF

That basin has a drain hole, so it won’t fill up with water when we put soil and plants there (the drain is still plugged in that GIF).

So, after checking that, the next step was to add a new tap for irrigation tubing to the fountain. I could have connected to the existing tap next to the fountain, but I wanted to have the tubing enter the fountain from the back, where it wouldn’t be visible from the house or deck. The garden to the right of the fountain doesn’t already have a tap, so I wanted to add one.

I knew from a previous plumbing project that there is a pipe under that garden. Here’s a picture from 2015 of an overly complex piping system I added for the flowerbeds (the tap on the left is to attach a water timer and short hose to the nearby female port, enabling timed watering, with a bypass valve too). The pipe at the top goes under the garden next to the fountain:

Flowerbed plumbing

Here’s that location now; you can see the short white hose, though there isn’t a timer connected currently:

Flowerbed plumbing

When I dug down in the garden next to the fountain, I found the pipe in the expected location:


I turned off the garden water supply, then cut the pipe (a little water drained out):

Cut pipe

Then I added a tap:

Added tap

The next day (allowing time for the adhesive to cure) I turned the water back on, checked for leaks, then filled the hole:

Filled hole

The next step was to drill a hole through the base of the fountain wall, so I could have the irrigation tubing tidily go through the wall rather than over it. To do that, I previously purchased a rather large 1 inch by 16 inch masonry drill bit:

1 inch by 16 inch drill bit

Here’s the drill bit in my driver:

Drill bit in driver

Though after a while I switched to a dedicated drill. It took over an hour to get through the concrete-filled block of the wall:



The hole:


Then I added an irrigation pipe from the new tap through the hole:

Irrigation pipe

Inside the fountain pool, I added a T-junction to the irrigation pipe, with one fork going to the fountain tubing, the other for sprinkler emitters for the bottom level:

Irrigation pipe

That done, I brought several loads of scoria to add at the bottom as a drainage layer:

Dumping scoria



We inherited a large pile of scoria over near the beehives; still lots left:


Then I did a couple loads of soil:


Starting the soil layer:

Soil layer

Soil layer

That’s all I had time and energy for. I will probably finish adding the soil next weekend, weather permitting.

It was quite a workout; don’t need a gym when you have a homestead!


Garden lights after dark

Last night I closed up the duck house after dark, and took some pictures of some of the lights around the garden. It’s unusual for us to wander the garden after dark, but it’s quite pleasant.

A spinning garden ornament in the flowerbeds, with a color-changing light. This picture was taken with the flash; you can see the motion blur of the back blade spinning quickly (there was a bit of a breeze):

Garden ornament

The same ornament with my headlamp:

Garden ornament

One more without illumination:

Garden ornament

An animated GIF, showing the spinning and color changing:

GIF of garden ornament

A light next to a bridge over the stream:

Light and bridge

Light and bridge

A flame-like path light:

Flame light

A GIF of that:

GIF of flame light

I hope you enjoyed this little stroll.

Aerial photos in June

It’s been a while since I flew my drone over our homestead. I felt an urge to do so today, so did, and took a few pictures. I thought I’d share some.

Let start with a top-down view of our flowerbeds, pond, back lawn, veggie garden, and driveway:

Flowerbeds, pond, veggie garden, etc

An angled view of the flowerbeds etc from lower down:

Flowerbeds, pond, back lawn, etc

Flowerbeds, back lawn, pond:

Flowerbeds, back lawn, pond



Back lawn and pond:

Back lawn, pond

The two chicken runs, the veggie garden, and greenhouse:

Chicken runs, veggie garden, greenhouse

A closer look at the veggie garden:

Veggie garden

And the berry cage:

Berry cage

Finally, a glimpse of Mount Hood:

Mount Hood

Weeding and mowing

Yesterday I spent the day doing landscaping stuff.

I started by spraying Roundup weed killer around much of the property. To be clear, only on paths and non-food gardens — the veggie garden is weeded by hand. With 5 acres, and much of it landscaped, it just isn’t feasible to control the weeds without a spray, especially at this time of the year when I can practically watch them grow.

Roundup is nasty stuff, so I always wear gloves, boots, overalls, long-sleeve shirt, and hat. This time, I added a new hat that includes flaps on the back and front for extra protection from the spray and sun:

David with cover hat

(Paladin cameo in the closet.)

Here’s me spraying around the flowerbeds:

David spraying

And by the front door:

David spraying

After lunch, I pulled a bunch of weeds in the kitchen and front lawns, which I try to keep weed-free (and don’t spray to avoid killing the grass). This weeder is an excellent tool for this; you just poke it in the ground over the weed, then tilt it and the weed pops out:


Root and all:


Here’s me pulling weeds on the front lawn:

David pulling weeds

Lots of weeds that have been pulled; I just left them there and mowed them, since the mower has a mulcher, though I know it would have been better to remove them to reduce risk of re-seeding:


Next, I mowed the lawns, starting with the two small lawns with which I use the walk-behind mower — the kitchen lawn and dog run:

David mowing

Then I mowed the rest of the lawns with the zero-turn riding mower:

David mowing

All of that takes several hours — a great opportunity to listen to lots of podcasts.