February snow and aerial photos

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:

Snowy pond, trees, veggie garden

Looking down a bit to see the whole veggie garden:

Snowy pond, trees, veggie garden

From above the veggie garden, looking towards the pond:

Snowy pond, trees, chicken coop

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

Snowy veggie garden

A bit lower down:

Snowy veggie garden

Snowy covered chicken run:

Snowy chicken run

Above the back lawn, looking back to the grove, and chicken coop:

Snowy grove, chicken coop

Some pics of the pond:




Part of the field, flowerbeds, back lawn, and pond:

Flowerbeds and pond

Higher up to include veggie garden etc:

Veggie garden, pond, etc

From the opposite direction:

Pond, flowerbeds, etc

Looking up a bit at the trees:

Trees, pond, etc

Lots of snowy trees:

Snowy trees

This one might make a nice background:

Snowy trees

Mount Hood and snowy trees:

Mount Hood and snowy trees

Mount Hood, snowy trees, etc

Lower down, with the fountain garden in the foreground:

Snowy trees, fountain garden

Back on the ground (via my iPhone), the path to the chicken coop:

Path to chicken coop

Inside the chicken run; the new(ish) roof netting is holding up well:

Chicken run roof netting

The back lawn:

Back lawn

The pond and ducks:



Pond island and ducks:

Pond island and ducks

Sunrise through the grove, with the brown gazebo and the chicken coop:

Sunrise through grove

Sunrise through grove

Sunrise through grove

Finally, the cat house:

Cat house

Ice storm: icy branches, icicles, ducks, hummingbirds

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:

Icy branches

Tree branches weighed down; they’re normally high enough to walk under, not touching the ground:

Tree branches

Tree branches

Icy willow branches:

Icy branches

I lifted up a sample, looking edge on: a layer of ice with a layer of snow on top:

Snow and ice

The pond is starting to freeze. Just slushy at present, with some liquid on the edges:

Slushy pond and ducks

Slushy pond and ducks

The ramp into the duck house is icy, but they can make it, so still have access to food:

Slushy pond and ducks

Icicles on the duck house:


The ducks:

Slushy pond and ducks

Slushy pond and ducks

Icicles on the bird food box:


And the gazebo and deck:


The hummingbird feeders were frozen; I brought this one inside to defrost:

Frozen hummingbird feeder

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!

Duck island installation via cams

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:

Island down the bank into the pond

Island down the bank into the pond

Another angle, from the pond deck cam:

Island into the pond

Island off the cart:

Island off the cart

Adding the two extra buoyancy buckets:

Adding extra buoyancy buckets

Moving it to by the duck house:

Moving it to by the duck house

Removing the upturned boat:

Removing the upturned boat

Removing the upturned boat

A wheelbarrow of dirt (look next to the datestamp):

Wheelbarrow of dirt

Adding dirt:

Adding dirt

Adding grasses:

Adding grasses

Digging up grasses next to the duck house (it was encroaching a bit too close, so I wanted to remove some anyway):

Digging up grasses

Wading in the pond again to plant the grasses in the dirt:

Planting grasses

Anchoring the island:


Ducks investigating the island from a safe distance, an hour after I was done:

Ducks beyond island

Ducks near the island this morning; I haven’t seen any go onto it yet, but at least they aren’t totally avoiding it:

Ducks near island

While on morning rounds, I propped up the old boat with a couple of logs:

Propped up boat

The thought is that they could use it as an additional shelter, e.g. for laying eggs:

Propped up boat

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:

Propped up boat

Some more pictures of the island:





A glimpse of ducks on the bank at the back of the pond:


Duck island installation!

Having completed construction on my duck island project last weekend, today I installed it in 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):

Duck island pulled out of workshop

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:

At pond

I then put on my waders, and lowered it — cart and all — down the bank and into the water:

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:

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:

Hitched to the duck house

Then I got out of the waders, and went and got a small wheelbarrow load of dirt:

Wheelbarrow of dirt

Then a second larger load of dirt:

More dirt

It was then floating lower with the weight of the dirt; just about the desired level:

Floating lower with dirt

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:


Pond and island

Pond and island

Pond and island

Pond and island

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:

Wet leg

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.

January snow and aerial photos

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:

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:

Pond and ducks

Looking straight down:

Pond and ducks

From further back, you can see the pond, back lawn, and flowerbeds:

Pond, back lawn, flowerbeds

Back a bit more, adding the shop, hoop house, veggie garden, and chicken runs:

Pond, back lawn, etc

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:

Back lawn, grove, 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:

By the pond

The duck house and pond — the water maintains its temperature well; it needs to be cold much longer to freeze:

Duck house and pond

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:

Cat house and fountain garden

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.