Well I guess I'm just not much of a blogger, despite my intentions. We were blessed with a smoke-free summer this year - no major fires in the valley at all. Yay! The mosquitoes were ferocious however, and came earlier than usual. The meeting with the Yakamas was a total waste of time, so we're still contemplating plans for bank preservation. All they want to do is getting running water behind us by dredging out the ponds and all the way down through everybody's property to connect to the river below us. Yeah right. That sounds like an excellent idea, if you want to live on an island with an eroding bank. No help with advice on the most fish or neighbor friendly way to use rock. Sigh.
Strange summer weather - not very hot with an abnormal amount of rain. The snow-pack ended up being less than normal so they were calling it a drought,and the river did drop really fast. September was not its usual self - no Indian summer and way more rain than I needed. Now it's cold and we're getting more wind than normal. I was out trying to get the RV ready to roll the other day and had to come in because it was rocking so hard, it was making me seasick! I think we had 40+ mph winds that day. It cleaned off most of the trees - so long fall color.
Our vegetable garden did horrible this summer. The gophers ate our onions and root crops, the peppers didn't get enough sun and heat to produce as usual, and the tomatoes were just plain sorry. We only ate one melon and it was tasteless. The only real successes were the cukes, squash, and cabbage. Disappointing, and now Greg is really disheartened about the garden for next year. He quit weeding it before the end of summer, it seemed so pointless. I hope he gets back in the groove again, I can't even keep up with the flowers let alone take on the veggie garden by myself! We did can up some green salsa - nothing stops the tomatillos.
We had the house painted in September and, of course, everything along the foundations got trampled and abused, so it looks especially sad right now. It will all be fine in the spring.
The weather is supposed to hold for another week now - cold and sunny. We're planning to head south next week. Still lots of stuff to get done though.
I've been very busy weeding as much as I can before my wrists or my back gives out on me. Things are way neglected around here after the past few years of too much smoke to work in the yard. I'm hoping we have no fires this summer.
The greenhouse is doing fairly well, although I'm having my usual poor luck getting peppers to germinate. The tomatoes are all potted up and getting bigger, and I have quite a few flowers going as well. I'm getting the bottom watering tweaked, but wish I had more choices on the timer. It's either once a day or every X hours. I'd like it to go off in the morning and again in the mid afternoon. I'm trying every 12 hours right now and hoping they don't get too saturated. I may go back to just once in the morning and increase the time a bit as needed. Right now I have to water the stuff in the little cells twice a day anyway, until I get them potted up and moved into a tray.
The daffodils are wonderful this year - whatever bug was nibbling on them last spring is not in evidence this year. The Tiritomba are my favorites this year - so bright and cheerful!
We are still getting light frost every few nights, but it has been sunny and warm on the days that the wind isn't trying to blow my socks off. I'm wearing shorts now unless the wind has a bite.
I am finding more and more gopher damage as I clean out the beds. I think they killed both my Karl Foerster grasses and the big aster in the KK garden, and the rockery looks like a minefield with all their holes and mounds. They hit the Siberian iris hard, but I don't think you can kill those, and they could use thinning anyway. We haven't caught any yet. They've eaten the roots off a number of daylilies and other perennials in various places, but I think most of them will survive, if much diminished. We also have significantly more mouse/vole activity since both the cats bit the dust last year. I wish a feral cat would move in and take over, and then move along when we leave for the winter. I guess that's a bit much to hope for. I'm catching a mouse a day in the greenhouse, but so far none in the RV. I can deal with mice, but this gopher thing is new to me and I don't like it!
Greg is getting ready to till the garden and get the onions in and get the lawnmower fired up for the first mowing. Of course, we need a new battery first. Lots to do right now!
Mud season is officially here. The snow is mushy and melting and the ground is beginning to accept water. I walked Ruby down to the Hamster's driveway and back - it sounded like we were popping bubble wrap the whole way. We have huge mud puddles in our driveway, but the shoulders are widening out. The garage is drying up. There's still a bunch of ice where we park the cars so I drove back and forth over it to try to break it up some.
I'm busy in the greenhouse and had to hook up the automatic window openers to keep it from getting too hot in there. After spending two days cleaning and scrubbing out there, I can finally enjoy getting my hands in the dirt! I moved the water plants out of the pumphouse into the greenhouse and cut them back a bit. It looks like I successfully overwintered the callas for a change and I potted them up today. My water hyacinths came today and look healthy. Tomatoes are planted and a few other odds and ends. So far no luck with the seeds I planted at the end of January, and left unheated in the greenhouse to germinate when the spirit moved them. I'll let them stay until I need the space, you never know...
I love wearing a t shirt again, maybe tomorrow will be shorts!
I waded through snow well over my knees and pruned the maple tree in the pasture. If it had been any farther away from the driveway, I would have gotten the snow shoes. I was unable to saw through the big second leader with my little hand saw, and had to get Greg to come out and help me with his cordless sawzall.
It didn't end well for the cougar cubs. Mama got caught in a leg hold trap (grrr!) and had to be shot. That's why the three were hanging out here that day - no one to hunt for them. They ended up taking down two small goats across the river. One was shot and they told me the other two went to a zoo. It was sad, but we pretty much knew it couldn't end well with them so comfortable around humans and dogs.
It's snowing hard right now and we had -1° Monday morning. The snow and ice is not going away. I really want to start getting things going in the greenhouse, but I'm afraid the overnight lows would be too much, even with bottom heat. It's kind of depressing.
We had 3 cougar cubs hanging out here all day on Sunday. Cute, but frightening. You know mama cat is somewhere in the vicinity, so I've been packing a shotgun now when I take my little walks. They had absolutely no fear of us, despite us yelling, clapping, and popping a shell over their heads. Two of them came up on the porch with us tapping on the windows and Ruby barking. They made eye contact and seemed perfectly relaxed. One of them had the prettiest, bright blue eyes, while the other two were starting to be more of a dull blue.
I talked to the woman who was trying to trap them and she assured me that the cubs are still not a threat, but to watch out for mama. There have been 3 cougars killed in the neighborhood this winter for various reasons. The cubs look well fed so we can only assume that the mama is still feeding them. Cute as they were, I hope they move on soon. If mama gets shot, these three are not old enough yet to hunt for themselves. They've given up on trying to trap them - they kept catching the cubs over and over, but never the adult.
We've had quite a few whitetail hanging around, which could be more reason to be wary. Where there's game, there's predators.
It's March now and I had hoped to have my greenhouse full of planted flats and eagerly checking them each day to see if anything came up yet. The temps have been reasonably warm out there when the sun is shining, but with another arctic blast in the forecast, I'm leery of making too much effort in that direction just yet. It snowed again yesterday and we still have 19 inches on the ground and solid ice in the driveway and on the shady walkways. This is just ridiculous! We've lived here since 1992 and I've never seen this much snow on the ground in March.
We're a bit concerned about the spring run-off, with the mountain snow pack being so high this winter. We have a meeting with someone from the Yakama tribe next month to discuss the river bank erosion issues. I'm hoping they can do something soon, otherwise we will have to dump some rip-rap. We lost a lot more bank last year, and I'm not going to wait for the fish people to come up with a plan while the river starts running through the front yard. If the cottonwoods look they're going to fall down, we're dumping rock. I'm encouraged that the Yakamas are involved because they seem to have more money than God, when it comes to fish.
The cougar saga continues, with Sam startling one of the cubs on her back porch a week or so ago, when she let the dogs out after dark. I saw fresh tracks from their barn to the driveway on my walk around that time. I continue to limit my walks to our two driveways. I did brave a trip to the mailbox one day, but Ruby was so nervous and on edge, that it gave me the heebie-jeebies. I heard in town that another one had been shot on our road down by Carlton a few weeks ago when it came at an armed man who was walking his dog. He thinks the lack of deer is driving the males down lower, which upsets the whole territory for everyone. I kind of wish I owned a hand gun right now.
We have a Merlin falcon hanging around, terrorizing the bird feeders. The thing is a little bigger than a pigeon and can take down a quail in mid-flight. The other morning there was a small ruckus on the front porch and I saw a quail on the windowsill, like it was trying to get in the house. Down on the porch deck is the little falcon, having quail for breakfast. When I made a sound and startled it, it picked up that quail, which has to weigh about the same as itself, and flew off about 20 feet before landing and finishing its breakfast. Tough little bugger.