Friday, August 22, 2014

Northeastern Washington Fair

As a youngster, I remember the largeness of the Los Angeles County Fair in was massive!
Years later, Donna and I spent a few summers at the California State Fair in Sacramento...and it was even larger with horse racing and water rides to boot.
Neither, and I really mean it...neither come close to dissecting a community better than a small county fair, it's all so personal.

What's a fair without a choice of local garden veggies grown by the kids in our valley.

Can't you have a summer fair without preserves! Not only do you have "Grandma Lucy's" famous apricot jams, there are many different religious groups such as the Mennonites and Quakers that display goodies that you might find on any summer day, at a roadside kiosk. 

Oh, what I would give to be a judge at the dessert display!

Local photography was well represented at the fair. I found instruction pamphlets that could help me in the future.

This Weasel, in winter white, was one of my favorites. He's a happy camper with the Meadow Vole hanging from his jaws.

Anita from the Washington State Master Gardener Program was a wealth of knowledge and information that, as a 1st year resident of Stevens County, could use. (Thank You)

A shot down the alley of information tents shows you that some weather could be on its way...yeah!

I talked to Chris and her daughter for a few minutes about what they are looking for when judging the families 4-H cattle.

Every time I see these walking beef cakes, I have visions of "flat iron" steaks. yummm

This group of young 4-H'ers are judging their own group members, nothing fancy here.

I saw this sign which reminded me of my granddaughter, also named Ashley. She's a babe, she loves beef, scarfs up bacon by the pound and is "beyond" her years.
Love you Ash...Opa.

Here ya go granddaughter...Opa will get you "Oscar". Do you like him?

Latest craze...a rat hat! Ha-ha This young lady had her pet rat from the Zoo Barn and was just taking the rodent out for a walk.

If a child can't get a rat to hang on your hat than I guess the next best thing is a "Tiger", painted on your face. 

Or maybe a skull face?

Well you most certainly can't have a county fair without the 
4-H'ers pig barn.

The pigs are not easy going animals. I saw two or three fights while watching some of the judging...nasty little characters. 

Sheep or lambs, not sure I know if there is a difference, but it's another farm animal that cannot be excluded from any of the events.

Is it weird that sheep wear "Afghans"?

One piece of advice missing on this board is...cougars! My neighbor across the street had his grand kids 4H lambs on his property for just one night last week..."one single night"...and one of our local cougars, who had a sweet tooth for lamb also, must of caught their sent. I can't say I blame him, I love "rack of lamb" too. (too is not a preposition) 

The fair concessionaires and workers all live in or around the fairgrounds RV park, which is closed to visitors during the fair.

Watching the equestrians handle a 1200 pound beast is awesome to a rookie like myself. I love horses, but have only ridden once and didn't like it!

Every day during the afternoon the fair has a local talent show, with judges. I'll assume they give the acts a pass, just for having the courage to get up on stage and perform.

This under 5 year old was so cute. Her sister ran up behind her to help when she got stuck on a verse...that's what families do, help each other out. I listened to 5 or 6 acts, although none of which could carry a tune, all were more couragous than I.

It's looking like I should skedaddle.

Final tidbit, when you have a 80 foot driveway and are as lazy as I am...this is how you bring back the empty garbage can from the road! haha

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My neighbor is clearing some of his trees off the property.

My neighbors, Lori and Kent, are among the original Corbett Creek property owners having been in their house 25 years. They have witnessed a lot of growth in the area, particularly their own lot which is 6 acres. Because pines and cedars grow slowly, the trees just kind of sneak up on you.  Kent has stated that every summer seems to bring stronger winds flowing down our mountain and the thought of a 100 foot cedar crashing thru the roof is not an image someone want right before you go to sleep.

My neighbors have a beautiful log house with a wrap around porch that is surrounded by 80 to 100 foot pines and cedars. At one time I'll bet Kent and Lori had a wonderful view of the valley below.
Recently, because of the horrendous fire damage in Central Washington this year, Kent was informed that if a fire were ever to hit our area the fire crews would strive to save houses with good fire breaks and a house circled by such large trees would not be high on their list as a salvageable property.

So because of the high winds and fire dangers, our neighbors set out this summer to open the acreage up to make it safer. At this point the area on the other side of the house has been thinned already, but as you can see the driveway is pretty dark even at noon.

 Just beyond the blue tarp used to be a sunny garden area which by noon is now in the shadows.
Here the loggers have just started a few days ago and already have logs for a couple of logging trucks to haul away.

Ron is the feller and tractor operator and from what I gathered owned the logging operation. I watched him fell 20 or 30 trees and every one dropped exactly as he said it would. Ron hit an old 16 penny nail in a cedar that caused a minor disruption in order to sharpen the damaged chain blade.

Monte is the "log bucker", which is the guy who trims off all the branches and slices the tree into proper lengths for the logging truck. Found out from talking to Monte that he is quite the poker player in Northeast Washington.

From my house is this view across the street to Kent's driveway in the morning.

Here it is again after the loggers gave it a hair cut.

Donna and I weren't the only neighbors keeping and eye on the progress, here Becky and her grandson are watching the trees come down.

The garden at noon is great for cool crops such as lettuce or beets, but lacks enough sunlight to grow tomatoes.

After a few weeks of logging... I think Lori will be able to grow all the tomatoes she wants next summer. Lori is a local caterer, so having the ability to grow her own fresh ingredients will make a big difference in her product.

Ron's tractor is all-wheel drive-steering with an incredibly powerful claw that grabs huge trees and drags them in and out of the ravines. If the tree is small enough, Ron will just push it over with the tractor.

This is one of more than a dozen cedars that was in the 100 -150 year old range taken to the lumber mill.

After the logs have been bucked and sized, a lumber truck backs in and offloads its own trailer. 

Using the same arm that uncoupled his trailer, the logger starts to load up his truck. If you look near the middle tires you'll see that he has outriggers so as not to flip the truck and trailer when loading large logs...such as this one.

The truck is about halfway full at the moment and only took approximately ten minutes for him to complete the job.

Nice load of logs off to the lumber mill. So far there have been at least 10 or more of these truck loads so far, with a few more before all is done.

The view has really opened up and made for a safer property in the mountains. As you might see from this photo, the smoke from fires 30 to 50 miles away is still a problem here in Colville.

Two months ago a person couldn't walk from one side of the ravine to the other without a machete, now look at

Kent is showing me the downside of having your land logged. While the workers down, buck and load up trees for removal, it is up to you to clean all the slash and make piles to burn in the fall. Kent is also going around the property and cutting some of the stumps down a little closer to the ground.

I'm experimenting with video on this blog so I hope all short movies play properly.

Here Ron just pushes a small tree over.

One 100 footer coming down.

Another tree comes down.

Ron is repairing the saw blade after hitting a large nail embedded in an old cedar.

Trucker is now loading his rig.

A better look at the trucks outrigger.

They say it's all about size...I'm questioning this chains size.

The End.

Friday, August 8, 2014

What's Smoky doing in town?

Driving into Colville this morning, while Donna spends a week at a Spokane spa, I see a bunch of folks out in front of the Forestry Service building.
I guess Smoky is having a birthday, at least he has a few years on me.

I thought Donna would get a kick out of this photo, but instead her pragmatic mind quickly text back to me..."what the hell is he doing in town partying while Washington is experiencing it's worst fire season in history?" "Way to let the air out of the balloon, babe!"

I'm thankful Donna didn't tell them to "let them eat cake"...because we did. ☺ (you have to be really old to know that one)

Even though I am supposed to be on a diet, how could I resist a piece of cake from Wendy, whose last name also starts with a Z.

Time to say goodbye.
I was thinking that "hey, I must be pretty important for them to wave me off" until I realized Smoky and the ranger were waving to cars passing behind me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Finding a place to park the motorhome

Last winter we parked the motorhome in a covered, but open sided shed about 13 miles from the house.

Although the top was covered and we had power to keep the batteries charged, it was a long way from our place. The Colville area has a shortage of places to park a 40 footer that is also 12 feet tall. 

While we love our motorhome and think it's beautiful, Donna and I both didn't like having our mountain views blocked.

This is what we see from our front door, kind of a bummer. I did have an idea stirring in my head, but it will require some blood, sweat and tears.

The sweat was from moving a cord and half of firewood, on the side of the garage, to a place behind the garage.
The tears were when I had to move the compost pile again. It's the fourth or fifth time I have moved it, but at least it keeps the compost mixed up.

After the wood and compost were removed it came time to tear out some bushes sitting in an elevated garden. It took weeks and hundreds of wheelbarrows full of plants, dirt and compost to get to this point. You can't imagine how my 66 year old back felt every night.

Okay, I may of told a "tall one" in the above paragraph, but that is exactly what would have happened had I not had a neighbor like Sue. Sue has this Bobcat tractor and has fun running around using it, so who am I to ruin any of her fun.

The owner/builder also laid huge blocks of some broken concrete sidewalk when making his garden wall.
It is so much easier moving the dirt and compost with one these toys...I know what I want for Christmas.

It's almost ready for our "home on wheels", as my grandson calls it.

All the concrete and compost are right back where Donna didn't want it this last spring. Lucky for me my neighbor Sue also has a dump truck! ☺ I really do need some "boy toys" if we are going to stay here full time. Lets see, my list to Santa would be something like this.
1. Quad to play in the mountains.
2. Boat so I could go fishing.
3. Electra Glide...just because!
4. Tractor so I could play too.
5. Old pickup truck.
I don't like my chances with any item on this wish list.

Five of these 8x8 railroad ties came out of the garden wall. I plan on hiring one of the local high school kids to dig a trench where the tires will be and lay the ties so 4 inches stick up, that way I'll keep the tires off the frozen ground. After that, I'll have a truck load of gravel brought in to put on top of the dirt.

When it is all finished the rig slides right back into its new home, very carefully.

It is still quite visible from the road, but a small improvement nonetheless. 

From the front porch it is much less noticeable than before and I get most of my mountain view back, yeah!

Now I can see if the UPS or the mail lady drive by. One of the things I like about the house is the ability to keep an eye out for who is driving in our neighborhood...that's what old people do, right?