Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fall's a coming

I love fall. It's always been my favorite time of the year...something about dressing in cozy layers, smelling woodsmoke on the air, seeing leaves changing color and fog in the mornings brings me contentment. It could just be that living in Western Washington most of my life, where it rains 9 months per year, I'm more accustomed to gray, cool days than to the heat of summer...and certainly by late February/early March, I'm so tired of the constant drizzle and rain that I long for a change.

The same goes for the transition of summer into fall for me. Most people have heard we don't get much of a summer. What most people don't know is that the month of August in Washington state is drier than in Arizona. That's certainly been true this year. Our summer was very late in coming, much like last year's, but we did have a string of days where it was over 90 degrees. This girl really doesn't appreciate that! (Anything over about 74 and I start squirming, and anything over 80 brings outright whining!)

It's been really nice, therefore, to wake up each morning the last couple of weeks to ground fog and cooler temperatures. On Friday morning, it was only 45 degrees out on my way to work, cool enough to warrant a jacket. Whee! The sweet gum trees around Olympia are starting to show a little fall color, and the apple trees appear to be ripening their fruit already, more than a month ahead of schedule. (I fully intend to preserve apple sauce, and maybe even apple butter and apple pie filling, this year with our trees' bounty, but we'll be sure to let the cows snack on apples, too.)

The bad part of the ripening apples is that the deer - a doe and a 2-year old buck with a fork on one antler - have been spending a lot of time on our property, and our garden shows it. Someone (we think the buck) has "trimmed" our Caroline raspberry canes and tomato vines twice. (Is it just me, or does anyone else find it odd that all the lettuce and other greens have survived unscathed?) Paul just about blew a fuse a few weeks ago when he discovered that his prized 'Brandywine' tomato - one of his only veggie requests this year - took a hit (albeit slight). We moved the portable greenhouse over top of the tomato bed earlier this week after I pruned all the plants to remove the jungle-like, non-productive growth, so they're happily zipped in and protected from deer mouths. Hopefully we'll get some ripe year, they'll be covered all summer. It just doesn't get warm enough here to grow a bumper crop otherwise.

The cattle are doing very well. Sara has settled in and while she still hangs back from the other four (and who can blame her, with two annoying steers in the mix?), she does generally go where they go. We haven't been able to comb her yet, but with the boys going on their last "appointment" at the end of September, things should calm down even more.

In other news, we've seen a beautiful bobcat in the hayfield on our leased property twice in one week! He's hard to get pictures of because it's been as the sun is nearly gone from the valley in the evening, but we have taken the time to stand on the side of the road and watch through binoculars. Friday evening, Cowboy and Sara caught wind and treed him! I guess I really don't need to worry about Mr. Bobcat harming a calf...Highlands can hold their own.

Speaking of calves, Roxy feels like she's bagging up (filling her udder) already, more than a month from her October 2nd due date. She's very gentle and forgiving, so I am free to feel her udder and check her pins for loosening. Paul thinks her calf will be here in two weeks...I'm not so sure about that, because we know the earliest date she could have been bred. Still, girlfriend is so wide that Paul's started calling her "House Mouse," as in wide as a house (and definitely not small as a mouse!). She barely fit through the wooden chute when we vaccinated the girls earlier this month; at this point, there's no way she would. I have to wonder whether her baby is lying transverse (cross-wise) in there, and if we didn't know better, we'd suspect twins! She does have "very nice spring of rib" (i.e. a round girth through the ribs) unbred, so likely her pregnancy is just exaggerating her natural features. :)

One call out to readers - we still have a couple of quarters of grassfed, grass-finished Highland beef for sale! Contact me if you're interested...

Clyde with Roxanne behind.

Caution: wide load.

Xaralyn is such a pretty girl!

The "red on green" show.


  1. I finally built a fence around my 2 gardens this spring, used free pallets and scrap metal to set them on. Everyone kept saying the deer would jump over it but I think they couldn't see the other side so won't jump unless threatened to do so. Around the base I nailed black plastic and salvaged roofing metal to keep small animals out and further mess up the deer's vision. So far nothing has entered. When deer did get in the garden in past years, they didn't eat stuff that you would think, sometimes I watched them eating weeds and bush beans.

  2. I'm growing the brandywine heirloom tomatoes this year too. Still green and hard but I live near Tacoma so maybe is the lack of much sun here. Hoping that they will ripen soon. Love your cattle. I love Autumn. I can't wait for the pumpkins.

  3. I am a Washington girl/heat wimp too. You and I are kindred spirits, I think. ;)

    We don't have a garden of our own this year, but I garden-sat for a friend while she was out of town. The greens - holy cow. I don't ever remember them going this long before! And the 'maters, were bananas too - sort of. The plants had a zillion giant tomatoes on them, not a single one even a teensy bit ripe. ;|


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