Saturday, May 31, 2014

The saga of my compost pile.......!

When we took possession of our "last house ever" there was a small pile which I identified as compost but in reality it could very well of been just a leaf pile, near the driveway entrance.

I had added to the original pile some left over winter deer alfalfa and horse manure we got for free from the Northeastern County Fair months earlier.

From an earlier blog, Riley (our grandson) is showing Opa just how much mulch we have.

Here is the compost pile a week ago, as I start to relocate it. (WTF?)

Seems Donna thought that being near the driveway and in full view of our neighbors wasn't the best place for it. Donna suggested that I move it, "BEHIND" the garage. Ok, just to keep peace in our house I went about the next two days moving the mulch, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow. 

Here is part of the pile "BEHIND" the garage that until a day ago was much bigger. It seems when Donna says "BEHIND the garage she really didn't mean it literally. Wouldn't a better place be "BEHIND" the garage but near the firewood stack?

 Ok, Donna is probably right about this being better place behind the woodpile and next to the garden, but could we be a bit more specific next time?

Ok, about 3 1/2 square yards of mulch have been moved...for a third time...and on retrospect it does seem to be a more appropriate spot for the compost. I'm liking this back area, "BEHIND" the garage as a great place to stack 4 cords of wood but I think I'll get the ok from Donna first this time.

I put a few posts in the ground and had this piece of plywood hanging around just waiting to be put to use. Every time I pounded one of the posts into the ground I kept saying to myself "wonder where the underground electrical and water lines are"?

What we won't do to keep peace in the family, huh? It all worked out beautifully and I fully agree, now that the manual labor is done this was a much better area...out of sight yet near to where I will need it. 
I'm nearly done...WHAT?

After the original sight was strip of the compost I needed to level and then re-seed it for grass. I tried having this area classified as a federal hazardous "superfund" site and maybe get a little government help in cleaning it up but Donna said..."keep dreaming, babe" 

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Our area is waking up after a long winter and when I say waking up, I really mean it is literally burst into spring overnight.

First we woke up this morning to a hail storm that covered the property with pea size ice.

 Then I see all our bulbs, trees and plants sprouting new life.

Just hours later it was in the mid-70's and I had to take this photo for my sister in Denver who was getting hammered with!

Donna is laying low with her babies in a very comfortable blanket from her "lunch bunch" girls. As you might see from the refection in the window it was a beautiful afternoon.

If for no other reason than to experiment, I am leaving about a 1/4 acre as wild. No mowing or weeding just to see how it looks after the summer. Donna isn't too sure why, since the Washington National Forest land is only 100 feet away?

See that dark material covering the road?

That's our "personal" oiler putting down a nice layer of North Dakota petroleum to control the dust. Corbett Creek Road wraps 3/4 way around our property so no one benefits more from dust control than Donna and I. About six of us property owners throw in together to oil the road. It makes such a difference because after the fact there is virtually, no dust! I can't imagine why other property owners down the road don't do it too unless it's a matter of money.

With this photo I was teasing my older brother, who lives in San Diego, (the town with the worlds best weather) as he was sweltering in 100 plus temperatures...even on the beach. Now it's not all that humorous since they have terrible fires all over...good luck bro!

I've still not met a mean spirited person in this valley but I am amazed that with all the churches here, you'll still not find a "Southern Baptist or Synagogue" in town. 

Donna was getting claustrophobic and wanted out of the house and thought the Sherman Creek Apple Orchard would be in spring bloom. We were actually a week late. These pears were in bloom, but that's about all.

We talked to the owners and found out we were two weeks late for the apple tree bloom. I will be looking forward to some delicious "Honey Crisp" and deer apples this coming fall though.

Even in the middle of May there is still a nice snowpack in the higher elevations, and when I say higher, this mountain is probably only 6000 feet. Washington is at 100% normal for snowpack this year, something the lower western states wished they had.

After the apple orchard, we drove up a dirt road to Trout Lake.
In my opinion they could of renamed it "Mud Lake"...I did not see a trout, perch, bass or even a bluegill! It may of been operator malfunction because I did see some folks in a float tube haul fish in with every cast!  :-)


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A lesson in the "birds and...well more birds"

There are many birds in the area for Donna and I to try identifying. Seeing that this is our first spring I am hoping for much more sightings than what will be in this blog.

Colville is known as the "Wild Turkey Capital" of the western states. We have seen "gangs" of turkey's all winter and this group 25 or more, is the norm...

The wild turkey is said to have been Ben Franklins first choice for "national Bird" but lost out to the Bald Eagle..really? Ben thought the bald eagle was a scavenger not worthy of the title but pushed for the rattle snake in it's place.

Here, an immature bald eagle, takes off from the valley floor near our house after I surprised it. While not the greatest of photos, it was the talons, inches long and sharp as a knife, that surprised me.

Our Northern Flicker is taking up residence in one of my badly built birdhouse. They have a very distinctive voice and if that's not enough the "musical" note from the beak pounding on a hollow log further identifies the bird.

This Red-naped Sapsucker at the end of our property is another log pounder that sounds very much like the Flicker. 

One of the two types of swallows we have seen so far is this Violet-purple Swallow. They dive and turn better than a computer  driven F-22 Raptor. 

The Tree Swallow is slightly different in pattern and color to the violet-green swallow but both are great at catching bugs while flying. The more mosquitoes caught the better as far as I am concerned.

One of my favorites ( I have a lot) is the quail, especially the California Quail. It's soft cooing sound and silent movement makes their presence a welcome sighting. 

Just in the last two weeks we have started seeing a lot of Evening Grosbeaks. Here a male and female capitalize on the oil sunflower seeds I put out.

Here is another member of the finch family. This female American Goldfinch appropriately sat at attention near our flag.

The male version of the Goldfinch looks to be wearing a black fedora? 

I thought the Canadian Geese go north in spring but then upon research I find that they are year round residents in Washington.

We have had Dark-eyed Junco's all winter but only this spring did I see them eating seeds.

Mountain Chickadee's are another tiny year round critter. In the winter they scamper over the snow in the garden looking for fall seeds. 

The American Robin showed up about a month ago scouring the lawn for worms. It's not only fun to watch them but they also have a beautiful song.

Hummingbirds are so much fun to watch. A male will stake out a food source and defend it vigorously against all other males. He will allow all females to feed regardless of species. A Calliope has this feeder all but locked up and he has no problem allowing this female Rufous get a belly full.

The male Calliope is getting his fill at the Zwart House Buffet. He will sit on the fence three feet away and chase all males away by dive bombing and squeals! We have seen many more species since being here but I have failed to photograph many of them.

My favorite bird of all (English term) is Moonbeam at Trout Lake.

That's all for now....later.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Seasons of Change

     Our "four seasons" in the "Inland Northwest" are about as definitive as you can get on the planet. From frozen winters, down to minus 40, to warm 90 degree summer days and everything in between make this part of the USA paradise, to us at least. Good people, strong community sprit, minimal crime, (important to us old folks) farm based income, ground refreshing rainfall every month of the year and soil to die for...what's not to like!

The Colville River in January.

Again, the Colville River in April...thawed and swollen to about twice it's winter size.

Winter has its hold on our back yard.

The same yard three months later and full of dandelions. Can you believe that while dandelion leaves are a delicacy in our salads, the deer won't eat them? It's a cruel world!

The bridge crossing Roosevelt Lake (Columbia River) at Kettle Falls around September of '13

Same crossing, a slightly different angle, showing the April drawdown from Grand Coulee Dam of approximately 50 feet to accommodate the spring snow melt.

From here it looks like a beautiful property, overlooking what is normally Roosevelt Lake, with water from shore to shore. 

It is unlikely the owners would ever list this parcel for sale in April or May, during the drawdown.

The Colville Valley in the grips of some very minus zero temperatures of February. 

A little sun and warmth makes big changes land and people.

Ok, I happen to love red barns!

Donna wasn't feeling all that great on Sunday so the boys took a ride to get out of her hair...sorry, bad pun :-) This boat ramp is along Roosevelt Lake, it leads to dirt...sort of reminds me of Lake Mead in Nevada.

 The rock Riley is standing on in the Columbia River will be under 30 feet of water within a few months.

Riley complained that I was stopping and taking too many pictures so I placated him with my phone and told him he could take Opa's photo.

Riley and I made it to the Canadian border by noontime. Unfortunately, after talking to the U.S. border guards, my question as to was whether I could come back into the states if we crossed, I have a passport and Riley has nothing was a concern. They told me without documentation, Riley would not be allowed back in...mmmm, tempting but Opa decided not to cross this time.

Well, we never really left the state but we got close.

We stopped in Northport, Washington for lunch because there was this little voice in the back seat that kept yelling, "I'm hungry Opa", "Opa, I'm hungry"... "Opa, when are we eating...OPA!"

Fixer upper... cheap!

Ya...I love any red barn, regardless of shape!