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

Transplanting volunteer trees behind the shop and pond

This afternoon I dug up some smallish self-seeded fir trees from behind the shop, and transplanted them around that area, and in a couple of places by the pond.

Previously I’ve transplanted volunteer trees from the “back 40”, what we call the wilderness area on the east side of our property. There are lots of self-seeded trees there, but when I surveyed them today, they were all either too big to dig up, too small, or too hard to access due to blackberry vines.

So instead I went to another seedling nursery, near the south boundary behind the workshop. There are lots of seedlings of various sizes there, so I dug up a bunch that were too close to more established trees.

Here is one of those areas, after I dug up the seedlings. There are actually piles of rocks under the grass and dirt; this area has been left to naturalize, so is rather overgrown:

Dug up trees

I put the trees to plant elsewhere in my cart:

Trees in cart

While I was there, I transplanted five small seedlings into the adjacent grass area behind the shop. I used to mow this area, but have decided to extend the wilderness area by several feet, as I want to encourage trees around all of the boundaries:

Trees behind shop

Part of me thinks there isn’t much point in doing that, since we’re unlikely to be here long enough for them to get to a decent size, but you never know. As the allegedly Chinese proverb goes, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

I transplanted four of the tallest seedlings in a gap left of pond, where we can see a neighbor’s house from the duck house. If they all survive, they should eventually provide good screening:

Seedlings left of pond

Another angle of the seedlings left of pond, plus existing trees (I know it’s hard to see green against green):

Seedlings left of pond

I added two of the shorter seedlings in another gap behind the pond, replacing a taller one that died:

Two seedlings behind pond

Finally, I was pleased to see a bunch of small self-sprouted seedlings popping up in the slope of the back 40:

Seedlings in back 40

Aerial pictures of the gardens, pond, greenhouse, mountain

It has been nice and sunny this week, so I did a little drone flying, and captured some more aerial photos.

Here’s our fountain garden area, with the bird feeders on the left, cat house under the tree at the top-left, various paths, and the defunct fountain (likely to become a planter soonish):

Fountain garden

A couple angles of the pond (with the ducks visible):



A bunch of new plants in one of our flowerbeds:

New flowerbed plants

A shot from 400 feet (the legal height limit for drones) of the flowerbeds, pond, veggie garden, hoop house, shop, etc:

Flowerbeds, pond, etc

The berry cage, veggie garden, and chicken runs:

Veggie garden

The greenhouse and environs:


Closer to the greenhouse, showing the bee water pool and recent excavations for greenhouse plumbing:


Looking more horizontally, some distant hills:

Distant hills

Trees and hills

Mount Hood is visible:

Mount Hood


Mount Hood

Zoomed more:

Mount Hood

Aerial snow

We recently had a couple days of light snow… a bit unusual for March, but not unheard of.

I always enjoy taking pictures of snow, but now that I have a nice drone, I was able to take some aerial photos of it, too.  The only downside was I needed to wait for the snow to stop falling, since the drone isn’t waterproof.

I’m looking forward to next winter if we get several inches of snow, for even better pics, but this is a nice start.

Let’s begin with an angled view of the snow on the flowerbeds, pond, back lawn, and chicken runs:

Back lawn etc

A top-down view of the field, flowerbeds, and pond:

Field and flowerbeds

A bunch of snowy trees in the mist:

Snowy trees

Just below the cloud layer:

Cloud layer

More snow-tipped trees:

Snowy trees

Snowy trees

Our tallest tree with the double trunk (as featured in a recent post):

Snowy trees

From lower down:

Snowy trees

Not from the drone, the gazebo and grove (I love that you can’t tell a difference in quality between the drone and iPhone cameras):


The next day, it snowed a bit more, about an inch, so I flew again to capture that:

Snowy aerial

Snowy aerial

Snowy trees:

Snowy trees

Snowy trees

Snowy trees

Snowy trees

Back on the ground, walking to the duck house:

Snowy bridge

Snowy trees


Ducks in the pond

The daffodils weren’t enjoying the snow:

Snowy daffodils

Snowy daffodils

I hope you enjoyed those snowy pics as much as I did.

A stroll through the woods

The east side of our property is a slope down to a valley, mostly covered in trees, about an acre in size. Yesterday I hiked down the hill, and took a bunch of pictures of the trees. I typically only go down there around this time of year, as it gets a bit overgrown in the summer, plus there are a lot of blackberry brambles, which aren’t much fun when wearing shorts in the warm weather.

This first picture gives a pretty good indication of the slope; not super-steep, but fairly significant:


A bunch more pictures of trees, with occasional comments; won’t you join me for a stroll?  You’ll just have to imagine the birdsong:



Looking across the valley at the bottom of the property:




Looking up towards the potting shelter near the beehives:








Private property sign:

Private property sign


Base of the tallest tree on our property:


Looking up at that tree, which forks to two trunks. I haven’t measured how tall it is, but I’d estimate somewhere around 100 feet — certainly not the tallest tree near us, but the tallest on our property:

Tallest tree


Blackberry brambles, which cover a sizable portion of the hill; quite the menace:






A moss-covered fallen tree branch:

Fallen tree

There are lots of ferns enjoying the shade, too:



A somewhat recently fallen tree:

Fallen tree

It landed on the boundary fence:

Fallen tree

Looking along the length of the fallen tree:

Fallen tree




Part of the slope is covered with grass, which we used to mow, but in recent years have left wild. Looking up the hill to seedlings I transplanted a few years ago; the pond is beyond the top of the hill:

Transplanted trees

On the edge of the trees is a nursery of seedlings:

Tree nursery

Tree nursery

Which is slowly spreading up the hill, including a pine tree seedling:

Pine tree seedling

And a bunch of fir tree seedlings:

Fir tree seedlings

I hope you enjoyed joining me on this small hike.

No doubt the first of many posts of aerial photos

As mentioned on my personal blog, I recently bought a new drone: a DJI Mavic Mini. It’s a huge improvement over the old Parrot one I’ve had for years, and a couple of smaller toy ones I’ve tried. I haven’t really wanted to use those, as they lack a GPS to help navigation, so tend to drift away without actively managing the positioning, and the cameras are low resolution and fixed in place, so photos and video are poor quality.

While this new drone is very lightweight and lacks more pro features like course plotting, following, object avoidance, etc, the Mavic Mini does have a GPS to anchor it in the sky and let it return to the takeoff location, a gimbal for the camera to keep it straight and steady, and a camera resolution (4000×2250) comparable to modern iPhones (4032×3024).

See that Dejus post for pictures of the drone while setting it up. Here are a couple of pictures of it in the sky:



I probably won’t keep the blade guards on long-term, but thought that they’d be helpful “training wheels” while I practice flying it.

Anyway, the drone will be fun when we go on trips, where drone flight is allowed (which is quite restricted). But I expect I’ll mostly use it to take aerial photos of our homestead.

So you can expect more posts like this one over time. Let’s take off, starting with a top-down view of our fenced veggie garden and berry cage:

Veggie garden

From a lower angle:

Veggie garden

The old chicken run (you can see some chickens by the hole in the fence between the veggie garden and their run; I don’t think they were fans of the strange noisy bird hovering above; it sounds like an angry swarm of bees):

Chicken runs

Turning a little to the right, the new chicken run and coop:

Veggie garden, chicken run, coop

Top-down to both chicken runs:

Chicken runs

The pond:


Another shot of the pond, with the pond deck in the foreground, and duck house on the right:


Another angle of the pond:


Flowerbeds on the left, back lawn on the right, pond in the background:

Flowerbeds and pond

Flowerbeds, with the white and brown gazebos visible:


Flowerbeds and white gazebo:

Flowerbeds and white gazebo

Closer to the gazebo:

White gazebo

A top-down view of the flowerbeds (could be useful for planning planting):


I hope you enjoyed seeing this unusual perspective on some of the homestead. I’m sure I’ll show other angles and changing seasons in future posts. Let me know if you liked this!

February snow

We woke up to about an inch of snow this morning, with a little continuing in the early morning. It’ll likely be all gone by end of day, but let’s take a walk around the property.

Cat footprints on the driveway:

Cat footprints

Trees and bees:

Trees and bees

Greenhouse (more on the shelving project probably tomorrow):


Chickens (more pictures of them in the snow on Friday):


Gazebo and grove:

Gazebo and grove

Path to the duck house:

Path to duck house



East-side trees fading into the distance:


North-east trees:


From the pond deck — the ducks, pond, and snowy trees:

Ducks and pond

Reflection on the pond:


Gazebo and dormant flowerbeds, with the pond deck in the background:

Gazebo and flowerbeds

Finally, the cat house, with more cat prints (more of this on Caturday, of course):

Cat house

Recent dusting of snow

Now that the snow has all melted, and we’re probably not getting any more this season (though might), I thought I’d post some pictures of the light dusting of snow during the past week. The weather forecast was suggesting we might get several inches, but it was more like half an inch. A little disappointing, not enough to break out the snow shovel, but at least it didn’t outstay its welcome.

Here’s the brown gazebo, tree grove, and new chicken coop:

Brown gazebo and chicken coop

The mostly frozen pond, with duck paths through the thin ice:


Beyond the pond, with snowy trees down the bank:

Beyond the pond

Our back lawn, with the pond off to the left, and brown gazebo in the background:

Back lawn

From a little farther back, the path to the pond deck:

Path to pond

The stream (behind the shrubs, and currently off) and cat house:

Cat house

Fountain garden, with the white gazebo in the background:

Fountain garden

A bonus cat picture of Pumpkin drinking from the heated water dish:


In front of the cat house, with Pumpkin by the dish:

By cat house

The fully frozen pond, with snow drifts on top of the ice:

Frozen pond

Our front steps and driveway circle, looking towards the veggie garden, hoop house, and beehives in the distance:

Driveway circle

The beehives; the melting in the center of the roof of each hive indicates that the bees are still alive, at least as of now; still got a few months before they’ll be able to resume operations:


Flock Friday for December 13

Some excitement with the chickens this week.

One of the chickens, Lola, was still outside when the pop door was closing:

Chicken outside when the door is closing

You may remember me describing her as the introverted chicken. She often hangs back, and on this occasion hung back too long, and got stuck outside.

I noticed her perching on the waterer when I checked the cams after I got in bed, so I got dressed again, put on a head-mounted light, and went out there to take her inside:

Lola on the waterer

Here’s me picking her up. I carried her out of the run and into the coop:

David picking up Lola

Another bit of excitement was that I opened the gate to the veggie garden, enabling the new girls to access that:

Opened gate to veggie garden

I also opened the hole in the fence between the two runs, so the old and new chickens can now mingle:

Opened fence hole

They are still laying eggs and roosting for the night in their own coops, though eventually I expect some will swap coops. Chickens are very slow to change.

A bunch of pictures of the chickens all together:


Chickens by gate





Let’s take a look at the ducks, too:






But we’re not done with the chickens: a few days later, Lola did it again, outside when the door was closing:

Chickens outside when the door is closing

Actually it turned out that there were three chickens outside this time:

Chickens outside

Chickens outside

I realized that the pop door controller was closing the door too early, before it was dark, due to low hanging branches of the tree by the coop shading the light sensor. So I trimmed some branches:

David trimming branches

The tree fought back, whacking me in the face; fortunately only lightly bruising me:


As usual, I left the cut branches in the run for the chickens to play with:

Cut branches

So far the chickens haven’t been caught outside again.  I have a daily reminder to check as it gets dark, just in case.

Misty pond, with the ducks heading into the house for dinner:

Misty pond

Finally, some shots of the hungry hummingbirds on the feeders:




Measuring tree heights

Every year at around this time I wander around the property measuring the heights of select trees, to see how much each has grown. Here’s a post about this last year.

Once again, the incremental growth throughout the year becomes more obvious when compared with measured heights from the previous year.

Here’s my spreadsheet recording the heights (in inches); I’ve added columns to also indicate the change from the previous year, e.g. the “18 ▸ 19 Δ” column shows the number of inches of growth between 2018 and 2019:

Tree heights spreadsheet

This year I used a new tool to measure the heights of trees taller than I can reach with the tape measure. Using this simple tool, I can stand near the tree to be measured, look at the top of the tree through the two sight rings, and use the mirror to see the bubble level, then measure the distance from the tree to myself, and add the height from the ground to my eyes. This gives the height of the tree:

Height tool

As I recorded each measurement (in the spreadsheet on my iPad), I took a picture of each tree, as a visual record. This time, I thought I’d post all of the photos. They are in the same order as the spreadsheet, above.

No doubt this is only of interest to me, but maybe others might enjoy seeing other areas of the homestead that I don’t normally show with the more common animal-focused posts. (There is a bonus glimpse of the ducks in one picture, though!)

A new addition to the measurements this year, the Monkey Puzzle tree (by our bedroom closet). I wish I had measured it before, though I couldn’t until I got the new tool; I think it’s tripled in size since we’ve been here. It’s also the only tree being measured that we didn’t plant:

Monkey puzzle (by closet)

Coral bark maple (by front of shop):

Coral bark maple (by front of shop)

Dogwood by pool (by dog yard NW corner):

Dogwood by pool E (by dog yard NW corner)

October Glory red maple (by dog yard SW corner):

October Glory red maple (by dog yard SW corner)

Field Leyland SE1 (nearest flagpole):

Field Leyland SE1 (nearest flagpole)

Field Leyland SE3 (east of road gate):

Field Leyland SE3 (east of road gate)

Field Leyland SE4 (west of road gate):

Field Leyland SE4 (west of road gate)

Field Leyland SW (corner):

Field Leyland SW (corner)

Field Leyland NW (corner):

Field Leyland NW (corner)

Field fir outside gate (to N property):

Field fir outside gate (to N property)

Field Leyland NE/tall (last tall going E):

Field Leyland NE/tall (last tall going E)

Field Leyland NE (by wooden pole for old fence):

Field Leyland NE (by wooden pole for old fence)

Field dawn redwood (second row):

Field dawn redwood (second row)

Field tulip (replacement) (second row):

Field tulip (replacement) (second row)

Field scarlet willow (second row):

Field scarlet willow (second row)

Field Leyland feature (second row):

Field Leyland feature (second row)

Field apple NE (4th from S); a rather sad specimen, broken by deer and elk, but hanging on:

Field apple NE (4th from S)

Field apple NW (4th from S):

Field apple NE (4th from S)

Field oak (replacement) (“Thorin 2”, center of field):

Field oak (replacement) (“Thorin 2”, center of field)

Behind white gazebo fir (N of gazebo):

Behind white gazebo fir (N of gazebo)

Behind pond fir (middle between orchard & pond), with bonus ducks:

Behind pond fir (middle between orchard & pond)

Next to stream fir (next to pond stream):

Next to stream fir  (next to pond stream)

Weeping willow (beyond pond, by cat graveyard):

Weeping willow (beyond pond, by cat graveyard)

Apple honey crisp (next to old coop):

Apple honey crisp (next to bantam coop)

Apple gala (next to old coop):

Apple gala (next to bantam coop)

Apple braeburn (next to old coop):

Apple braeburn (next to bantam coop)

Sweet gum in flowerbeds (replacement tree, center of central path):

Sweet gum in flowerbeds (replacement tree, center of central path)

Weeping cherry (in fountain garden):

Weeping cherry (in fountain garden)

That’s it!