Tag Archives: Orchard

Homestead Update: still waiting, but being productive

I didn’t realize it had been so long since I last did an update on the house progress until I posted about Pajii’s new garden beds and saw the half-sided house in the background.

So yeah, this picture was taken on January 26th. We haven’t seen our contractor since that day. Our house sits there, half sided, getting snowed on. We finally gave up on being able to get ahold of him and have found a new contactor to finish the job. They will start as soon as they can fit us into their schedule.

In the mean time, we’ve been keeping pretty busy around the homestead with other projects that needed doing.

We were blessed with unseasonably warm and dry weather for most of January and February.

Picnic lunch in the February sunshine

School outside in February?

We decided to take a Saturday and finish the concrete patio outside our completed well shed (I’m putting together a post on that, I promise). The existing concrete was leftovers from when we poured our house footers. We were hoping we’d have enough left over from the house slab pour, but the calculations on that were perfect. Not short, but no leftovers either. So we had to go buy bags of concrete to finish the well shed slab job.

Prepping the 4’x7′ section

IT’S ALIVE!!! This concrete mixer was my dad’s and has been sitting on this piece of land, completely unprotected, for at least 12 years. And it still worked!

Concrete work is dirty work.

We mixed 3 bags of concrete at a time in the mixer, then poured it into a bucket to schlep it into place.

It was actually really easy to move the concrete around such a small area with the bucket.

You can see the chicken wire we put down as an added strengthener. Every so often, we’d reach down and pull the wire up so it was floating in the slab rather than pressed down to the ground.

While Hubs mixed up another batch of concrete in the mixer, Pajii and I would scree the freshly poured stuff so it stayed level with our existing slab and the forms we built out of 2×4’s.

The finished slab. It makes getting into the well shed so much easier!

Another project we worked on was some driveway maintenance. We had put in a culvert last fall and it needed a bit of upkeep.

Adding and compacting more dirt over top of the culvert.

Hubby cleaning out some collected sediment inside the culvert.

There were a few gardening type things to do as well. Since I don’t plan to start a garden this year for myself, it was great to get some dirt under my fingernails, so to speak.

Spreading pine needles collected from our church’s landscaping. This area will eventually be our fenced in garden with raised beds, but right now it is a parking area. We thought it best to use decomposable material rather than gravel to combat the mud in this area. Besides, the pine needles were free and we were saving our church some money since they didn’t have to haul it all to the dump.

I had some flower bulbs I needed to get in the ground. So I made a couple new areas for flowers along the pathway going from the upper level down to the house pad.

This area eventually became a perennial flower bed. Once the spring bulbs come up, we’ll plant some more summer type perennials in this bed, too.

And, since I had gone a little crazy buying flower bulbs last fall, we had plenty left over to plant in other places as well, such as around our cherry trees.

Oh, and we finally finished the stairway that leads from the upper level down to the house pad.

These stairs are made from railroad ties that have been sitting on this property for over a decade.

And, if you’ll remember the panels that blew off the side of the hill?

We finally got them back up to the pad. All 29 of them.

Even Flower Girl was able to help once the panels were at the top of the hill. The panels are heavy for a 5 year old, but she’s strong and has a will to help.

This girl, even with a gimpy knee, was amazing in getting all those panels back to the top.

So even though we haven’t been able to work on the house, we have not been idle this winter. January and February we’re filled with a lot of time outside.

And then March blew in and winter finally settled in.

So, we’re back to being stuck inside and working on other projects.

But Spring is just around the corner. And our new contractor said it shouldn’t take much more than a week to finish the siding and roofing once they get started. Rest assured we’ll be shouting from the mountainside when that blessed event finally happens.

In the meantime, keep warm and busy friends.

Advertisements

Change of plans

First, we had to delay starting our house because we had to move to Portland for almost 2 years to help care for the Hubby’s mom. 

We ended up needing to plan a bigger house than we originally thought in order to accommodate Hubby’s folks moving in with us.

Then we had to completely move the location of the house from one side of our 40 acre property to the other because the original site didn’t have a good spot for septic.

We planned to get more work done over the winter, but the weather did not cooperate.

And here we are, having to change some of our house plans. 

Yet again.

Plotting the original corner of the house

It wasn’t a major change, we just changed the directional orientation of the house a few degrees. It amounted to moving the house about 15ft. Not that big of a deal, except that it really cuts down on the amount of driveway and parking area we’ll have. It was just feeling…Well, cramped. 
And yes, we do have 40 acres, but only about 3 of those are not on the side of a steep hill. And the house pad is carved out of the side of one of those hills. So we are kinda limited on space in some ways. 

But I digress. Since we changed the angle of the house, we had to look at where the detached garage is going to be built and how to get more space.

Which made us consider doing some earth moving in a area where we planned to put our orchard.

Which would give us much more space on the house pad, but where to put the orchard instead? 

Which made us look around and decide that the other logical place for the orchard is actually better. 

Which made us realize once again that when plans have to change for one reason or another, there’s usually a silver lining. I could go down the list at the beginning of this post and show how  because we had to do it differently than originally planned, we’re actually better off now than we would have been had our original plans gone through. 

In the Bible, James tells us that when we make our plans we need to realize that God is the one who is ultimately in control and we can only follow through with our plans if it is his will (James 4;13-15). Similarly, Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

We try to remember these truths when making our plans, and realizing that when plans change, it’s all for the best, in one way or another.

Now is the time… Again

The Hubs and I went round and round discussing if we should do it.

On one hand, it’s a great deal.

On the other hand, it represents more work for us.

And yet, could we really pass it up?

Or should we wait till the opportunity rolls around again?

Who’s to say that we’d be any more ready then?

And really, by doing it right now rather than waiting, some parts will actually be easier.

But, ugh, the extra work. And all while trying to build!

And the whole time, this blog post’s message was running through my head. Now is the time!

So what did we do?

We bought the trees.

A local nursery was running a killer deal on fruit trees. We got 5 trees for the price of 2!

Eventually, we want to plant even more fruit trees, but we want to start with root stock and do some grafting, etc. Hubs has been learning all about that stuff. But THAT is definitely a project for later down the road.

For right now? Let’s get some trees in the ground, man! Yes, it means more work, just one more thing (or rather, 5 more things) to take care of. On the other hand, we’re going to have equipment up here soon that will easily and quickly dig the holes for planting, so that will actually make it easier. And we’ve brainstormed a way to make watering a simple task. When we get it set up, we’ll let you know how it works.

When you’re developing property from the ground up and want to end up with a bona fide orchard, you gotta get started ASAP. Fruit trees take a couple years to mature and start producing. As I said in the article I linked to above, if we had actually planted trees when we first started talking about it many years ago, we would have gotten to enjoy those trees for several years before we moved. As it was, we never planted. There was always some excuse. 

And the opportunity was wasted.

And when we finally DID plant a couple trees on our homestead? We up and moved away for two years. But even then, buying and planting those two trees was worth it. We have since moved our house location away from where they are planted, but they are still there and doing well. And they have now had two years in the ground. Two years head start on everything else we plant now.

So when we learned about the sale, we debated and hemmed and hawed, and then we remembered the lessons from three years ago. 

And we bought the trees.

Now is the time. 

Maybe not the perfect time. But it is THE time. 

Because it is never going to be perfect. There will always be some excuse. 

You just gotta make it happen.

So for now, our five little trees (three apple and two cherry) huddle together near the house pad, waiting for us to decide where is the best place to plant them. 

These, the beginning of our orchard.

Oh, the hopes and dreams wrapped up in those few sticks growing out of the dirt in some buckets.

Maridy

Planting Dreams

This is another post from our time before we moved to Oregon. I found it buried on my computer. I remembered writing it, I just could never find it. It’s the continuing story of our apple trees on the homestead (for the beginning, read here).

We finally got our trees planted! After buying them, they sat in their buckets, attached to our EZ-Up shade shelter for waaaay too long.

20140529_114104

It was hard to keep them watered enough with the heat and wind. And they got stressed fairly badly. The horrid windstorms we had which ripped our shade pavilion apart also ripped the apples off the trees. The last time I saw the trees, there was only one little clump left (and now we won’t get to even partake of those few since we moved, if they even survive – sad face). So, before we knew we were moving, we finally made the time to plant them so they wouldn’t die. We have so many dreams attached to those trees.

20140622_141114

Flower Girl “helping” dig.

20140622_141117

The Hubby and my dad taking turns digging the lower hole.

20140622_144727

I know how to handle a shovel, for sure!

20140622_150434

The lower tree is planted.

20140622_170710

The girls helping tamp down the compost in the upper hole.

20140622_171624

Princess Girl actually helping to shovel dirt into the newly planted tree.

20140622_182314

Staking the tree so it won’t blow down (look how little she looks!)

A lot of the leaves, especially on one of them, were turning brown and crunchy and I was concerned that maybe they had gotten too stressed.

But I’ve learned through my gardening years not to give up on anything too quickly. And sure enough, just before we left for our fateful visit to the Northwest, I took these pictures of the new growth happening. I was so happy to see those signs that they were going to be ok.

And then, not even one week later we decided we needed to move to the Northwest to care for family. When I got out of the car after that trip and saw my beautiful little trees, I wept. Who would be there to care for them? They aren’t nearly established enough to possibly even remotely survive on their own. But once again, family stepped in and saved the day. My mom says that she’s willing to go up a couple times a week to water them. That means hauling a 5 gallon container of water up to the property with her, lugging it out of the car, waiting while one tree is watered, more lugging to get to the other tree, more waiting, then heading home. We appreciate her so very much! And now those little trees can grow and thrive, even while we’re gone, and when we move back we’ll have full fledged apple trees. Thanks, Mom!

Update: Mom sent me a picture on 4/17/15 and the trees were blooming! It was so amazing to see that they had survived the rest of that summer and the winter.

20150417_113450

And they survived the whole summer of 2015, too! Mom and God watered them as needed. Though they did get a bit stressed, they made it through. Sounds like my own personal journey. 🙂 So far this winter (2015/16), they are getting plenty of moisture through rain and snow, so that’s a very good thing. And hopefully by this summer we’ll be moved back to care for them ourselves (hey, I can dream, can’t I?).

Oh, and I DID get to eat an apple from our tree!

20140811_141343

The girls and I went back a month after our move for my cousin’s wedding. The apple was small and tart, but oh, so delicious! We didn’t have any apples in 2015 since there was a late freeze that came through and froze all the blossoms off everything. No one got any fruit last year. But, that’s life in the high desert. Hubby and I have plans in our heads of how to protect our fruit trees in the future. But first we have to BE there in order to do the protecting. One step at a time!

Another day on the homestead

I can’t believe it. I spent an hour last night writing this post (while being distracted by the homesteading videos Hubby was watching on Youtube) and when I went to publish it, it was just gone! Grrr…technology sometimes!

At any rate, I wanted to share about our last couple days on the homestead before we came back to Oregon.

Oh, it was simply wonderful to be back in the wide open spaces, with only the sounds of nature around us. To sit for hours with the Hubs and just talk and dream of our plans for the house and homestead.

We’re hoping that when we go back in December, that we’ll be able to stay in the trailer again. But then again, we’re hoping that Nevada has so much snow that we can’t even get up our driveway. They need moisture so horribly. I guess we’ll see.

Oh, before I forget, let me introduce you to our new/old membet of the family.

image
This is Obsidian (ie Sid). He’s a 6 year old black lab whom we’ve had since he was just 7 weeks old. But, for the last year, he’s been staying with friends in Nevada. When we had to move so unexpectedly, it was just too much to try to figure out how to bring him with us. But we have some wonderful friends who offered to take him for us.

image
Well, a couple months ago, their circumstances changed and they could no longer keep him for us. So, the Hubby and I talked it over with Mom and Dad and we decided that we were in a position to bring him to Oregon to live with us.

image
And so now we have a very large dog living in our small back yard. But we play ball with him. And take him for walks. And so far, he’s adjusted well. Scooter is not sure what to think of him, and the cat just avoids him. But eventually they’ll all be friends.
image

So, that’s Sid. We can’t wait till we are all back on the homestead and he can roam free again.

Ok, back to our regularly scheduled program (yes, I’m aware I don’t actually post regularly :-). Here’s how we kept ourselves busy our last couple days at Castle Rock:

image
Cooking in the outdoor kitchen. Because even though we did hook up the propane to the trailer, who wants to be cooped up inside on a beautiful day?

image
Playing. Our girls LOVE swings! And I love that our carport frame is sturdy enough they can play on it.

image
More playing. We call this area next to the driveway “the Sandbox”. The sand there is only a bit more coarse than beach sand.

image
Taking some time to just relax and take in the view.

image
Playing with bugs…well, their casings at least.

image
This is the shell of a cicada. At some point in their lifecycle, they shed their exoskeleton.

image
Do they remind anyone else of aliens? And they are everywhere! The more you look for their shells, the more you find. On branches. In bushes. On the ground. It must have been a noisy summer on the homestead!

image
As an aside, for those of you who might be wondering, this is our bathroom while we’re at the property. Not looking forward to using that in the middle of December if we are able to stay in the trailer while we’re there.

image
The Hubby decided to repurpose an old gas grill. After gutting it and cleaning it, he made it into…

image
…a GRILL! yeah, yeah, it still functions with the same purpose. So not really REpurposing. But now it is a charcoal, rather than a gas, grill.

image
And it worked great. Look at all that meat! Good thing we had a bunch a family over to help us eat that.

image
That night we had a spectacular sunset.

image
Signs of fall on the homestead. Our apple trees have survived the summer. Here’s hoping we get a super winter to keep them hydrated.

image
Princess Girl is such a good helper. I can’t believe she’s almost 10.

It was a great several days on the homestead. A time to dream, a time to rest, and a time to plan.

And now we’re back in Oregon. Now it’s time to concentrate on schooling for the girls. And working on some canning projects I’ve needed to do fo a while now.

image
Ahhh…fall. I’m looking forward to cooler weather, soups, canning, and baking.

*sigh*

I love this time of year.

image

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

Stressed

Hey there.

How are ya?

It’s been a while, I know.

Sorry about that.

Been a little crazy in our life lately.

In fact, I just added it up. In the last 6 months, I’ve traveled back to Nevada 5 times. That’s traveling nearly once a month! And they weren’t weekend trips either (well, one was). We’re talking about being gone from home for over a week, sometimes closer to two weeks!

In fact, I’m sitting in my mom’s living room in Nevada right now. Been in town three days already, and not leaving for another week.

Why have I done all that traveling? Good question. All but two of those trips were for work. But even when we came back down for other reasons, I still managed to get in some work days.

Normally I can do most of my job (about 5 hrs a week) from home on the computer. But every once in a while, the ropes challenge course I work for in Nevada needs their office manager actually IN the office. Or on the course. So the girls and I, and sometimes the hubby, pack up and make the 12 hour drive back to our second home. Who ever heard of a 600 mile commute?

To say that I’ve been busy this year is an understatement. No wonder Princess Girl got behind on her book work in school.

But, we’re trying to build a house, right? So’s I gotta make some money. Could I find a job in Oregon and cut out the monthly travel? Sure, but the ropes course needs me, and we want to see friends and family anyway, so here I am.

But it does get stressful being gone from home so much. Or is it that I like being in Nevada better and hate having to go back to Oregon after every trip?

At any rate, here we are in Nevada once again. The other evening, Flower Girl and I went up to Castle Rock with 7 gallons of water to put on our trees.

20150806_192946

The trees were fairly stressed after having gone nearly a month in the middle of summer without anyone but God watering them. Considering that, however, they actually looked pretty good.

20150806_192916

20150806_192940

I thought they’d be crispier than they were. But then, it has been an unusually wet summer here in Nevada (while the Pacific Northwest is drying out in a particularly dry summer. Go figure!)

As the water jug was emptying onto the trees (slowly so the water would soak in, not run off), I took a hoe to the house pad. Weeds were starting to pop up quite a bit and we want to keep a handle on them.

20150806_193617

I felt bad knocking down the Blazing Star flowers. I love their delicate beauty, yes, but more than that, I saw quite a few bees buzzing around them. And we all know that bees are our friends. But we are pretty serious about wanting to keep the house pad weed free, so I was merciless. Besides, there are plenty more lining the driveway.

And speaking of the driveway, I attacked it a bit with the hoe, too.

20150806_195603

All those weeds in the right hand tire track used to be in the middle of the drive. I cut them out with the hoe, but I didn’t have the energy to come back and throw them all over the hillside. Not to mention the fact that I did not have gloves and these are nothing but green tumbleweeds (ie pokey!). They’ll dry out and the wind will take care of them for me. 🙂

And then it was time for “The Show”. That’s what my parents always called a particularly spectacular sunset. And, boy, was it ever spectacular!

20150806_201122

 

Flower Girl and I were only on the homestead for about an hour, but it was enough to help ease the stress I’ve been feeling lately. (And, of course, the stress of the trees, too, since they finally got watered again ;-). )

20150806_201014_HDR

Just wishing the Hubby and Princess Girl could have been there with us. They both stayed back in Oregon since we don’t want to leave Mom and Dad totally alone again so soon after our last time gone in July, and Princess Girl went to summer camp for her first time (how is she so grown up?)

And speaking of the homestead (’cause, ya know, that’s what I’ve been talking about this whole time), look what we got!

No, not really official blueprints yet. More like the preliminary plans just to see it on paper. But it’s from a real residential designer and looks all official and everything! It’s an big step forward in our plans for building on Castle Rock. We’re hoping that the next time we come back to Nevada we’ll have actual, real live, ready-to-take-to-the-building-department blueprints.

Exciting stuff right there!

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121