Clear skies – no smoke from wildfires

After nearly two weeks of bad air from wildfire smoke, it is back to work time at the farm!
Bill and Diana, armed to the teeth, head up the Loop trail to check out the status of the road. It is very important to keep it clear of fallen trees in the event a fire requires fire suppression equipment access.
I think (but don’t know) that this mushroom is Chicken of the woods, or Sulphur shelf (laetiporus sulphureus). From the internet:
“Chicken of the woods is another locally harvested mushroom. It is hard to miss, with its vibrant orange and yellow shelves fanning out on tree trunks. With a dense and firm texture and a taste reminiscent of chicken, they are wonderful in soups, stir-fries, marinades and in place of chicken in vegetarian “chicken” salad. These mushrooms must be harvested while very young and fresh before they become tough and inedible. “
Bill hefts a log to block entrance to property that does not belong to us.
Do not take the Ranger onto other folks’ property!
Yeow! A veritable field of poison oak just off the Loop trail.
The Loop trail was impediment free for the most part. Bill and Diana head across Rock Creek to examine the Creek trail.
The riparian plantings (mostly Western red cedar) look good, but the weeds make bushwhacking necessary.
The large wood placement in this area is doing its job well. Look at all the debris!
Back at the house in time to spot Sid while he’s on the roof.

Summer Workforce Makes Big Impact

Tory’s garden has never looked better thanks to Sandra, who spent August making improvements both in and out of the house.
Bianca agrees that Sandra is the hardest worker.
Nina and Alex did their share, too.
Here’s the guy who makes our summer workforce get up and at em every day.
While he puts on shingles.
Hoss would rather ride a motorcycle. Beats hunting!
An errant sapling bites the dust. Sadly, the Reed canarygrass eradication will have to wait another day.
Two patches of Reed canarygrass AND blackberries. A project for another day.
We put the game camera up in the same location as last time. Will the bear, cougar, elk and others return?
The battery pack for the fish counting folks is still next to Griffith Creek.
Griffith Creek is low.
Hard to see, but there are lots of elderberries (both ripe and green) on this skinny tree.

Wildlife galore!

I left my game camera up for nearly two months, and look at what it captured: a cougar!
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An elk! You can tell by size and by the markings on his behind. You can compare it with the deer behinds seen later in this blog.
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Deer
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Where’s Bianca, says the coyote.
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This little gal and her friends triggered a lot of photos.
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Hot, hot, hot!

Despite the heat (near or at 90 degrees F), I managed a little weed whacking near the barn/big garage.
Sid cut metal roofing material with his saw, suffering a multitude of tiny cuts in the process.
Always lots of mowing to do.
Sid and the tractor trying to scoop up the remaining rock so that this area can be mowed.
Maybe a two person job!
This strategy worked.
Loading up the pickup for a dump run.
No, they weren’t putting it back. I just reversed the order of the photos.

Late June chores

The dark purple row of blooms next to the fence along the cow lane is an invasion of purple vetch. It will choke out everything in its path, given a chance. Mowing or weed-whacking its blooms will not kill it, but will control its spread. I chose to weed whack the couple of patches found fairly close to the house.
My weapon of choice.
Because it is a vine, the Vetch has a nasty habit of winding around the weed whacker, rendering it inoperable.
Sid and Bill mow while I weed whack.
More vetch!
It’s hard to tell, but the field is full of the tiny blue flowers seen in the close up photo above.
Bianca found something dead in the woods. It was like catnip to a cat!
Bianca, watching five deer cavorting in the field.
Sid and Bill moved our extra pallets to the landing where we stack firewood.

Walking the fields with Paul

It is always a treat when butterfly scientist emeritus, Paul H., walks the fields with us. During our two hour stroll, he pointed out invasives as well as precious prairie grasses and flowers worth protecting. Here are a few:

Meadow checker mallow
Cow parsnip, a member of the carrot family. Can cause contact dermatitis. Many carrot relatives are seriously poisonous … like hemlock.
Blue-eyed grass, a relative of Iris
Paul among sedges and rushes, common in boggy areas like this one.
Monkeyflower
A huge patch of wild onion (and ox eye daisy) in a patch of prairie that has high diversity – a rarity.
White owl clover (the ones that look like Indian paintbrush and are yellow and green)
Paul and Bill look over a field white with ox eye daisies.
Mule ears
Yarrow
The bright green grass is the dreaded false brome that we MUST try to control and keep out of our prairie. It will take over otherwise.
“With seedheads that can reach 4 to 5 feet in height, blue wild rye is one of the biggest native grasses in the Northwest. Its wide blue-green blades and thick fibrous root systems can put on a lot of biomass, yet, it usually does not form large single-species monocultures in nature. Rather it tends to pop up in small clumps in open meadows and forest edges among smaller statured species such as tufted hairgrass, California oatgrass, meadow barley, and yarrow.
Blue wild rye does not form extensive rhizomes, but it can spread short distances with stolons and through re-seeding. Mostly it maintains a clumpy growth habit which provides valuable insect nesting and overwintering habitat for species such as lady beetles and ground surface nesting bumble bees. Additionally, the foliage is palatable to livestock and decent for grazing, and is a preferred food source for elk.
We like blue wild rye for its value as an erosion control plant, and its ability to muscle into grasslands, ditches, and forest edges without taking over and crowding out other grasses and wildflowers. It’s also an ideal utilitarian plant for reforestration and agroforestry projects, providing useful shelter for seedling trees and tolerating partial shade as those young trees mature.” 
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White and blue clusterlilies
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Peacock larkspur art … at last!

I have searched far and wide for art depicting our fragile and rare Peacock larkspur. I finally found a print of a painting by a local artist! Here it is, hung with great ceremony near the wood stove. Our farm art collection reflects the species that live on the farm, both plant and animal: Fender’s blue butterfly, Cutthroat trout, and now, Peacock larkspur.

City water pump

The City put this pump in for the farm because the gravity system no longer provided the requisite water pressure. The pressure gauge under the grey-colored cylindrical thing is the house pressure gauge. The gauge in the upper right hand corner is the City pressure. When the pressure to the house is too low, the pump (the rectangular machine under the electric plug) kicks in. The red handles are for workers only. They turn off the water when work needs to be done. The interior light is on a timer.