Various flowers that are blooming around the homestead at present.
Bluebells and irises:
Various flowers that are blooming around the homestead at present.
Bluebells and irises:
Another garden project was to plant our front garden. It used to have a tall hemlock tree, but it died and had to be cut down several years ago — some large rounds of that remain at the back of the garden. We had a grand plan to add a stream and such, so left it empty for years awaiting that, but we finally decided to not bother with that, and do a simpler design.
Here’s the garden cart with the green Japanese maple tree, barberry, nandina, and Japanese forest grass, plus the empty garden:
We planted the Japanese maple tree in the center of the garden, then laid out the other plants around it:
While Jenn did the planting, I installed irrigation pipes and emitters. Here’s the result:
Manual water timer:
Another angle, showing an overview of the finished plants and irrigation; the pipes will eventually be hidden under bark:
A closer look; irrigation for the green Japanese maple:
Wide-angle irrigation for three triangles of Japanese forest grass:
Individual irrigation for barberry and nandina plants:
The view from my office window upstairs:
Much nicer than the empty garden!
We might add a few more plants to fill in some holes. And as mentioned, later we’ll add a layer of bark to give it a finishing touch.
Earlier this year wasn’t a good time for our cats; we had three cats die within a few weeks. Back in March, we lost the mother of the outdoor feral cats, Poppy. Then in early April, we lost Pepper, one of the two feral shop cats. And a few days later, our elderly pet Pippin rapidly declined.
We buried each of them in the little cat graveyard near our pond, around some grasses that were planted in memory of an earlier cat, Pixel, who loved them. Each of our cats is memorialized with an engraved stone:
It’s appropriately below a weeping willow. There used to be a katsura tree and catmint there too (yes, puns), but the deer destroyed those.
A closer look at the cat graveyard, with the three recent graves and others:
Here are all of the stones, from the most recent. Our pet cat Pippin, 2007-2021, buried next to his littermate Padmé:
The shop cat Pepper, 2015-2021:
The feral momma cat Poppy, 2016-2021:
A non-engraved stone for a black alien cat that someone hit crossing the road in 2018:
Pippin’s sister Padmé, 2007-2016:
Our last cat from NZ, Pixel, 1999-2013; he was our oldest cat, which was remarkable since he had diabetes and insulin shots for half his life:
Our first cat (who also came with us to the US, though isn’t actually buried here), Piwhacket, 1994-2007:
It’s always sad to lose a cat, whether pet or feral. Giving them a respectful burial and memorial stone gives some sense of closure.
This morning we woke up to some surprise snow. It wasn’t in the forecast (other than for a much higher elevation), but we got about an inch of snow overnight. Which is melting quickly on a sunny day.
So, of course I felt an urge to fly my drone to capture the winter wonderland in the early morning.
Here are the pond, snowy trees, back lawn, chicken runs, and veggie garden:
Looking down a bit to see the whole veggie garden:
From above the veggie garden, looking towards the pond:
Looking straight down to the chicken runs, veggie garden, and berry cage:
A bit lower down:
Snowy covered chicken run:
Above the back lawn, looking back to the grove, and chicken coop:
Some pics of the pond:
Part of the field, flowerbeds, back lawn, and pond:
Higher up to include veggie garden etc:
From the opposite direction:
Looking up a bit at the trees:
Lots of snowy trees:
This one might make a nice background:
Mount Hood and snowy trees:
Lower down, with the fountain garden in the foreground:
Back on the ground (via my iPhone), the path to the chicken coop:
Inside the chicken run; the new(ish) roof netting is holding up well:
The back lawn:
The pond and ducks:
Pond island and ducks:
Sunrise through the grove, with the brown gazebo and the chicken coop:
Finally, the cat house:
We had an ice storm last night. This morning, everything is covered in a layer of ice, with some powdery snow on top. Only about half an inch of each, but it was enough to knock out our power (and for everyone else in the region).
Some icy branches:
Tree branches weighed down; they’re normally high enough to walk under, not touching the ground:
Icy willow branches:
I lifted up a sample, looking edge on: a layer of ice with a layer of snow on top:
The pond is starting to freeze. Just slushy at present, with some liquid on the edges:
The ramp into the duck house is icy, but they can make it, so still have access to food:
Icicles on the duck house:
Icicles on the bird food box:
And the gazebo and deck:
The hummingbird feeders were frozen; I brought this one inside to defrost:
Since we don’t have power now, and thus can’t use the heater, I’m alternating the hummingbird feeders. We can heat water to make the sugar syrup using a kettle on our gas stove. They’re very hungry, unsurprisingly:
I’ll go out to the chicken coop every few hours to poke at their water dispensers, to break up the ice.
Our internet is working for now, powered by a UPS, though we’ll probably turn it off soon to preserve the battery. Fun times!
Yesterday I posted about installing the new floating duck island. Today, some additional pictures of that process, as captured by the two cameras that watch the pond.
To start, here’s me easing the cart and island down the bank into the pond, as seen by the cam near the duck house:
Another angle, from the pond deck cam:
Island off the cart:
Adding the two extra buoyancy buckets:
Moving it to by the duck house:
Removing the upturned boat:
A wheelbarrow of dirt (look next to the datestamp):
Digging up grasses next to the duck house (it was encroaching a bit too close, so I wanted to remove some anyway):
Wading in the pond again to plant the grasses in the dirt:
Anchoring the island:
Ducks investigating the island from a safe distance, an hour after I was done:
Ducks near the island this morning; I haven’t seen any go onto it yet, but at least they aren’t totally avoiding it:
While on morning rounds, I propped up the old boat with a couple of logs:
The thought is that they could use it as an additional shelter, e.g. for laying eggs:
Here it is from across the pond. It isn’t super attractive, though has a certain aged rustic charm. I might move it elsewhere, but that’ll do for now:
Some more pictures of the island:
A glimpse of ducks on the bank at the back of the pond:
I started by gathering up some tools, the two extra buoyancy buckets, and an empty bucket, and pulled it out of the workshop (remember, it was already sitting on my cart):
I also attached a couple of bungee cords to the cart, to make sure it wouldn’t slide around too much:
I added a couple of eye rings to attach the anchor cord:
Then I dragged it all to the pond, the long way around the veggie garden (as it was too wide to fit down the most direct path). I took a breather halfway there:
Near the edge of the pond:
I then put on my waders, and lowered it — cart and all — down the bank and into the water:
You can also see the anchor cord in that picture, a plastic-wrapped wire with spring clips on the ends (actually a dog tie-out cord, that I bought for this purpose). I also added a short piece of pool noodle to the cord, so it’d float if unhooked, though I later decided it was ugly and removed it; I can re-add it if and when I need to unhook it.
As I got deeper, it floated off the cart:
Floating high out of the water, just as expected:
I then inserted those two extra buoyancy buckets under the island, and used the empty bucket to add some water to the island to test weighing it down a bit.
I moved it over to near the duck house, and hitched the anchor cord to it temporarily:
Then I got out of the waders, and went and got a small wheelbarrow load of dirt:
Then a second larger load of dirt:
It was then floating lower with the weight of the dirt; just about the desired level:
Next, I dug up some of the grasses that grow like weeds next to the pond, and tossed them onto the island, with a larger one in the center:
The island could be a little lower, but I wanted to err on the side of a bit higher, to allow for the dirt to get saturated. I might add more later, once I see how it stabilizes.
Then back into the waders and into the pond, where I poked the grasses into the dirt:
The grasses are pretty dormant at present, and some may not survive the transplant, but hopefully some will. They’re pretty hardy. I can always add more later.
That done, I moved the island to the desired position, near the center of the pond, and anchored it by stringing the anchor wire through a couple of cinderblocks, that are sitting on some spare pond liner (to protect the pond floor):
Here are some more pictures of the island in position:
It’ll probably take the ducks a few days to get used to it there. Hopefully it won’t freak them out as much as the upturned boat did (which I have moved to the pond bank for now). It looks like it fits much more than that did.
My waders seems to have sprung a leak around my knee; I could feel cold water seeping in, and the leg of my work overalls and sock was wet. I guess I need to try to patch it, or buy a new one:
That concludes the duck island project, at least for now. It may get tweaks over time. I hope the ducks like it, once they get used to it being there. It was a fun little project, started almost on a whim, and mostly using materials I already had on hand.
Last night it snowed a little for the first time this season. Less than an inch; just enough to give a winter wonderland feeling around the homestead.
So this morning I flew my drone to capture the snowy landscape from the sky, plus some ground-level pictures on my morning rounds.
Here’s my DJI Mavic Mini drone hovering in front of me on our deck:
An overview of much of the snowy homestead:
Angling up a bit to capture the lightly dusted trees and mist:
Closer to the trees:
Our pond from above the back lawn:
Another angle of the pond, and a better look at the ducks:
Looking straight down:
From further back, you can see the pond, back lawn, and flowerbeds:
Back a bit more, adding the shop, hoop house, veggie garden, and chicken runs:
Looking down on the white gazebo and dormant flowerbeds; the cat house is also visible in the top-left corner:
The back lawn, brown gazebo, grove, and veggie garden:
Down on the ground, here’s the greenhouse, with a sheet of snow sliding off the roof:
Our beehives; they’re all huddled inside, keeping themselves warm. We’ll see in a few months whether or not they all survive the winter:
By the pond:
The duck house and pond — the water maintains its temperature well; it needs to be cold much longer to freeze:
The white gazebo and flowerbeds, with a glimpse of ducks on the back lawn in the background:
Finally, looking across the fountain garden towards the cat house:
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:
Zoomed in a bit:
Our pond, flowerbeds, etc:
From lower down:
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:
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:
Looking down on the veggie garden, berry cage, and chicken runs:
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:
A view of the shop, veggie garden, chicken runs, 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:
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):
Part of the field and flowerbeds. The long grass in the field looks like nice soft velvet:
From higher up:
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: