Friday, August 29, 2014


The M/W Homestead

Mike misplaces something about three times a day. Usually it’s just that – misplacement. Sometimes things go missing for quite a while. A case in point was his hard shell gun case. He thought he had stored it on the farm, but when he couldn’t find it, he searched the farmhouse, the town house, and the garage/shop – all to no avail. And this went on for two years.

From the "scab patch" at June's
But the other day was a “red letter day.” Mike was kneeling at the closet under the stairs at the farm when he happened to spy his gun case parked in plain sight against the wall. I won’t quote what he said, but he was surely glad to have found it!

And I had a find of a different sort. You know how I’ve been on a quest to identify trees and shrubs at the farm, especially those that might have edible fruit to tempt son-in-law Nick’s taste buds. As I was walking the dogs the other day, I glanced down the “north draw” and saw orange/red cherry-like fruits on shrubby trees. My first thought was pie cherries (and wouldn’t that be great!), but as I approached, I could see that wasn’t right. “Chokecherries” came to mind as a starting place for research, and I believe that’s what they are.

Chokecherries are evidently ripe when purple. Ours are still red. The pits are poisonous so those have to go, but the juice though tart makes excellent jelly, according to my research source, The Rocky Mountain Berry Book by Bob Krumm.

It begs the question: have I just failed to notice the chokecherries in the past? Or, is it possible that some years they don’t bear, perhaps because of a freeze at the wrong time? Maybe a little of both.

At any rate, I was just excited to discover those chokecherry bush/trees. I don’t know if I’ll be able to experiment with them this year, but at least I know there’s another “homesteader’s” fruit option on the place.
Bess running beside 4-wheeler

Mike and I rode the 4-wheeler over to the old Senter place yesterday to check out the apple tree there and found only a few on the upper branches. No pie from that tree this year.

The "pine-apple" tree
Some apple trees have no fruit this year, and some apple trees are loaded but inaccessible. This past week Mike and I picked apples from the “pine-apple” tree in the lane and I made sauce. Too soon, I think. Perhaps I’ll try again when it’s cooler – if any of the apples remain to be picked.

What about the old pear tree, you ask. It appears to have very little fruit, and that doesn’t break my heart. I prefer to buy pears. KW

Thursday, August 28, 2014


The M/W Homestead, formerly the Julian and Ina Dobson Homestead
Yesterday (Wednesday, August 27), Mike set out on a geo-junket (day trip) to the Woodland area out of Kamiah and on to Pierce and Weippe (remote Idaho settlements). That left me and the two practicing canines here at the farmhouse.

My view from the dining room window

I keep my laptop on Grandma Ina’s old pantry cupboard where I have a view of the barn and beyond to June’s field. Now that harvest is over, I sit at my laptop and stare out the window, dreaming of hiking those trails made by the combines. Today I would make it a reality.

I prepared by exchanging my shorts for jeans, but I decided against wearing hiking boots. I thought I could make it just fine in regular shoes, and I did.

The grove -- house hidden from view
It was 11:30 and growing hot as the dogs and I left the house and moved into the field beyond the pond. Bess ran here and there with a carefree, springy lope while Nellie poked along, slow and steady.

A post-harvest scene from top of hill
Make no mistake – the path across this field is quite steep. I knew it would be. But the reward is great. Only from the higher points can we look back and see the lay of the land, and I love to do that. I’m sure that Grandpa Jack studied well in the very beginning where he would locate his farmyard. In that “bowl” is protection from the wind and the elements.

Little Canyon from June's
Uncle June (Grandpa’s twin), on the other hand, built his home and farmyard on top where the elements play unmercifully. Perhaps he had no choice. Perhaps he wanted the views. But you won’t find the house or any other evidence that a family ever lived here. The property was sold and the worn-out buildings torn down in the 1950 timeframe and the land put into cultivation.

And then we wended our way back to the farmhouse over the trail that Mike made for us by dragging a piece of wood with the 4-wheeler. Note the instant decoration on the front door. KW

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


"I like it here!"

Here’s a picture of Bess taken last Friday (August 22) as she refused to “kennel up” into the pick-up for the trip to town. We think she’s expressing her opinion that she prefers to be here. I said maybe she doesn’t like the pick-up ride, but Mike points out that when the situation is reversed and we leave town for the farm, she eagerly waits in the back of the pick-up.

The sky denotes unsettled weather as we leave the farm.
We marvel at how loving and affectionate Bess has become. We thought during her first months with us – a year ago now -- that she would be aloof, but as time goes on she really seems to like us!

So, the weekend past was full of activity for us. I drove to a meeting in Tri-Cities, WA, taking a friend with me. I go every year but thank goodness for Ms. Nuvi, the talking GPS. Without her, I would never find my way around the city. I say that, but like any GPS, she isn’t foolproof. “Arriving at destination, on left – on left,” she announced – and there we were at the back of the facility with no way through to the main parking lot. Oh well – I figured that out. On the return trip, I discovered her maps are out of date. Luckily I didn’t miss the traffic revision which now calls for a right exit instead of a left turn. “Stay left,” she announced, and just then I saw the sign that said, “Spokane – Waitsburg – exit right.” Luckily I was able to switch lanes quickly. “Recalculating – recalculating,” says Ms. Nuvi, an urgent tone in her voice. And then, in her confusion, she began to give impossible directions, but when she sensed we were headed the right way, she acquiesced silently.

While I was gone, Mike made a 60-mile bike ride with friends, and then he took in Lewiston’s “Hot August Nights” car show, a misnomer for this year’s celebration since temps have cooled a bit. That evening, we went to the B.J. Thomas concert in Pioneer Park, which we enjoyed. The temperature was pleasant but not hot –not like that famous summer of 1949. KW

Sunday, August 24, 2014


I'm noticing a trend of not being good at taking the first "before" photo. This is largely because little thought is put into the start of our projects. It's usually just me being bored with the current project and thinking "I wonder if I can..." and then before you know it, I'm mid-way through. The latest is the entry railing.

the railing was green and had decorative curly pieces that weren't executed well. Nick removed them with a Dremel tool. Nick actually ruined the Dremel tool borrowed from his mom, so we had to buy a new one to replace it.

No more curlies and sanded smooth.


Finished! The color is "oil rubbed bronze", which has metal flecks that give a nice sheen. We are VERY pleased with the outcome!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Ahh! Fall in the Inland Pacific Northwest! It’s perhaps the best time of the year here. What makes fall special? Chris opines that it’s the three “Cs” – coziness, comfort, color – and I’ll add a fourth – “cooler.” Mornings and evenings are cooler with warm (not too hot) afternoons.

Nellie in the trees above the road
And speaking for myself, I think that the activities of fall give my days better structure – sorta like going back to school. We look forward to holidays (all kinds of them), and we make plans and get ready. It all feels positive. (The trick is to get through Christmas with one’s emotional well-being intact, so we also have to look forward to activity in the New Year. Hurray for 2015!)

The yellow-jackets are bad this year, and the hummingbird feeders serve to attract them. We’ve seen only a few hummingbirds anyway, so today I took the feeders down, washed them up, and put them away.

North field from Plank's Pitch
Our friend Pepper has been with us this week, and she reminds me of a visiting child who doesn’t adjust to the family routine and whines for mom and dad. Her whine is actually a high-pitched whistle that when practiced continually becomes nerve-racking to all within hearing. I dreamt that I was caring for a whining baby, awaking to realize it was Pepper already whining at 5:00 a.m. for human contact, the human being Mike.

A favorite view from June's
Meanwhile, our own two dogs long for the comfort of their old life. While I hung the clothes, both Bess and Nellie came up for ear scratching and love pats. Nellie, however, seems to understand what she can accomplish if she’s a bit cagey, if you will. When I find her standing alone and peeking in the dining room window, I let her in.

And of course, they all three love to hang with “fun guy.” When he’s lounging outside, they curl up nearby. And when he comes in the house, agitation commences.

Don't know the way? Ask a dog.
I actually thought adjustment would not be an issue with Pepper on this visit. She’s been here several times this summer. And I do have sympathy for her because if we can’t keep her, she has to stay at a boarding facility where she isn’t exercised. Her family has been on the go this summer, so she’s had to stay behind a lot. Even understanding the need, I wish for it to be “just us.”

We did bring Pepper’s crate, but Bess commandeered it. (Such is the way in the canine world.) In order to create a place for Pepper, Mike opened the back of the pick-up, and she does seem to like it there.
A trail thru June's field

Another great thing about fall is that June’s field is harvested providing an alternate route for our walks. The pictures here were taken yesterday, (Wednesday, August 20), and illustrate our walking out by the lane and back through June’s field. KW