Wednesday, July 19, 2017


The day has a strange look to it – not quite bright somehow. I’m sure we can attribute this to smoke in the air from field burning.

As we get older, this back and forth lifestyle becomes more and more challenging. If I don’t make lists, I’m lost. Our family recently laughed over our permanent list of the things we mustn’t forget as we leave for town. We need one in town, too.

A gift from the Mile High Warnocks
I say that because Monday afternoon, we loaded the pick-up and the dogs and headed for the farm. Our first stop was at the gas station, some 5-6 miles from our house through a long construction detour. As Mike climbed out, he said, “Oh darn! I forgot my phone.” (If you think he said, “oh darn,” you don’t know Mike.) I considered it fortuitous that he remembered before we left town. We agreed that we had to go back for it. I'm just glad he remembered when he did.

The house from the lane
We had originally planned to return to the farm on Tuesday, but I suggested the Monday afternoon departure. We keep close tabs on the dogs in town, and I was ready for a more relaxed scenario.It's so much easier to care for the dogs at the farm.

The house from the north field
We saw a rattlesnake on our walk yesterday afternoon – on the road near the curve before the lane. I didn’t have the camera or my phone with me, so you’ll have to be content to use your imagination. We thought it was an older snake, given its less distinct markings and plenty of rattles. Interestingly, it appeared to know we were there but wanted to avoid us – just kept moving down the ditch. We haven’t seen as many snakes this year, but Hallie and Nick had separate encounters as they picked berries while they were here.

Central Ridge from the road this morning
We don’t see the deer so much, given the thick nature of the rapeseed fields. However, we know they're here. Last week, a mule deer buck approached the top of the lane but thought better of entering the yard. And yesterday we scared up a whitetail doe down in the draw.

Well, I’m mostly rambling in order to post pictures. Before he left, Yancey commented that the fields seemed to be browner than when they arrived two days prior, and it’s true that they ripen more and more each day, but I still see some green plants. Farmer Kyle says he’ll harvest it in August. KW

[Mike and I are so pleased with the plaque pictured above, a gift from son Yancey and family who visited recently. The custom plaque was made by artist Jennifer Borre (here).]

Sunday, July 16, 2017


In the week before our family arrived, I was already playing with Emmy, stitching up a lovely “garden party” dress for her American Girl Elizabeth. The dress is modeled here by Shirley Anne, “American Farm Girl,” who has no clothes of her own, poor thing. And yes -- she does complain about it, but always with a smile.

Emmy painting birdhouses
“I want to make something,” said Emmy on Saturday afternoon. I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant, but as we went through the patterns on my iPad, she pointed out certain ones she liked. Emmy was ambitious, but I know myself – and pretty sure I know her, too. I told her we just didn’t have time to make a chair, a quilt, or even a dress.

Bess share chaise with Emmy
“Then let’s do something with the clothes I have,” Emmy said. “We could put stuff on them.” Stuff? I was dubious but didn’t say so. We went up to the vintage sewing room, which was doubling as Emmy’s room for her stay.  
“This is my sewing room,” I said.
“Then why is there a bed in here?” asked Emmy.

Mike made Bess' collar
As Emmy dumped her doll clothes onto the bed, I opened my sewing cupboard and prayed for a miracle. And lo and behold! I found one! – a box of vintage trims. Emmy was delighted and commenced at once to decide which trim would look best on which outfit. My part was to tack and tuck and stitch as instructed.

Clint and Emmy (kite flying)
As we worked along, we visited. “What do you think of Velcro [closures] on doll clothes?” I asked.
“I LOVE it,” answered Emmy.
Well, I’ve wondered about those Velcro closure, but I guess I’ll wonder no more.

After about 20 minutes, Emmy announced she was going outside – what did I tell you? -- leaving me to finish up as instructed, but I really didn’t mind. It was an informative session. I learned that I need to break out of my conservative mold and do a better job of embellishing the doll clothes. As for today’s work, the decorative touches were super cute and made old outfits new again. It was perfect.

Grandpa & Emmy (Bess looks on)
And so, on Monday, we waved good-bye, and the parting felt all too soon. However, it’s on to the next thing. “And what’s that,” you ask. All things autumn – bright earthy colors, Halloween, Thanksgiving. If you don’t believe me, just stop by Jo-Ann’s. And as always – more doll clothes. KW
Moon over the old barn

[Somehow I didn’t take many pictures (except of the cows), but Kelly took many with her “big” camera, practicing with her new telephoto lens. I chose some of my favorites to post here. With the exception of the doll and the picture of Emmy painting the birdhouses, the rest are Kelly’s.]

Friday, July 14, 2017


Our long-awaited reunion weekend is over. Funny how that always happens. We work so hard to get ready, and then it’s over in a flash, leaving us with a quiet house and wondering what to do with ourselves. Well, I wondered, but Mike took himself on a solo adventure. [See previous post.] And – my creative muse also went missing, so I think she left in someone’s car. Maybe she liked Emmy’s ideas better than mine.

Hallie and Nick were first to arrive Friday afternoon – yes, a week ago now – but Yancey, Kelly, and Emmy arrived shortly thereafter, having driven straight to the farm after stopping to watch Old Faithful at Yellowstone in the morning. Imagine that! Remember our series on how it took several days of travel for the Dobson Family to reach Yellowstone Park in 1926? And now we can make that drive in 8 hours. (Okay, it was a long time ago, but it’s still remarkable.) [See "Yellowstone 1926" in serial posts at right.]

Trampled rapeseed crop behind apple tree.
Bed space being a bit limited, Yancey set up his 3-room tent, and Hallie and Nick joined him in the yard with their 2-man tent. Mike slept in the hammock, which he insisted was more comfortable for his back than our mattress. Whatever. I think he enjoyed staying outside with family, but he did come in when the cool of night set in. Kelly and I stayed in the house. And son Clint came in from Lewiston both Saturday and Sunday but didn’t spend the night.

Where's Hallie?
We don’t have livestock here, but the hummingbirds made up for it by putting on quite a show for our guests. They are fun to watch. Well, I say we don’t have livestock, but Saturday morning as Emmy and I walked down the lane, I heard rustling under the apple trees. The deer love to bed down there, but this sound was heavy and plodding. As we stood there, Seven cows lumbered into the field and turned to stare at us.

Hallie in a sea of rapeseed.
At the time, Mike and Hallie were riding over the country roads on mountain bikes, but when he returned, he went out to see if our neighbors knew anything about these cows. He returned with the info that they belonged to someone who lives on the other side of the canyon but has leased grazing from one of our neighbors. These were “rogue cows,” the neighbor said, and the owner had been notified that the cows had escaped and were squatting on our place. Since the cows were causing some damage to the crop, we also called Farmer Kyle, but he already knew and had spoken with the owner.

Cows in the north field
Mike and I laugh because we get kinda excited about these things while everyone else just takes it in stride. No one ever showed up to get the cows, but early Sunday morning, while we all slept, they left as surreptitiously as they had come. We didn’t see them again.

The benefit of having livestock move through is the natural stuff they leave behind, so Monday morning Hallie and I went out to the field with shovel and bucket to gather some of it for our compost bin. KW

[I took the pictures of the rapeseed field from the master bathroom upstairs. Big as they were, the cows were hidden in the tall crop. Hallie also moved around in the field hoping she could make a difference. She's braver than I am.]

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hemlock Butte Lookout

We’ve had family guests here on the farm and they all left yesterday. It gave me a bit of an empty feeling and this morning I awoke a bit at loose ends. I needed a little adventure – road trip.

I’ve logged most of the geocaches in the area but I noticed that a high school senior had placed a couple in the Pierce area for his high school project. So I loaded up the little XT 250 and headed down the Gilbert Grade to Orofino. I made a post office drop, gassed up and headed up the Grangemont Road. I’ve never seen it in better shape.

The first cache was called “The Hobo Cache” located just outside of Pierce. It was at railroad trestle where hobos used to bed down. As I parked my bike on the road under the trestle I saw a couple of older fellows walking the tracks. I hailed them and one asked if I was heading back toward Headquarters. They had broken down about a mile back and a ride would save them the hike. I told them I wasn't heading that way but I'd be happy to take one of them back which I did. My good turn for the day. Then I climbed up the bank and found the cache under the trestle.

I proceeded on through Pierce and took the French Mountain Road just a mile or so before stopping for the next cache. The same lad had hidden this one at one of his favorite childhood spots near a little spring. As he had placed it on his mother’s birthday that’s what he named the cache. After finding it I had my lunch there.

Charred Ammo Box
The next two caches were located 10 or 15 miles out off of French Mountain Road. I suppose I hadn’t gone after these before because they were a considerable ways off the beaten path. After riding five or six miles on French Mountain Road I took a Forest Service road for four or five miles leading up to “The Fairy Entrance” cache. A little scramble up the bank and I immediately spotted the Fairy Entrance in a big hollow log.

Contents - ashes
For the next cache I back tracked to the French Mnt Rd and proceeded about five miles up it. It’s a fantastic motorcycle road, smooth with lots of curves and hills lined by beautiful forest. For the last four or five miles I turned off on another Forest Service road leading up to the “Mountain High” cache. The road was in pretty good shape except for the last mile which had a bit of loose sand. I parked at the base of the road up to the Hemlock Butte Lookout and headed up the hill on foot. The previous finder said he had placed the cache under a small fir tree near a snag. Well, there was no fir tree but a lot of snags. Turns out, a big fire had swept through there since the previous log. All I saw was what I thought was an old burned oil can. After looking a while I took a closer look at the "oil can". It wasn't an oil can at all but a charred ammo box. The log book and everything in it was ashes. I hiked back down to my bike and got a micro type log (all I had) for the cache along with a few trinkets to place in the box. I hid the charred but still sound ammo can at the coordinates in the apex of two snags and covered it with a piece of bark. Then I hiked up to the lookout and looked around.
View from cache site
Hemlock Butte Lookout

I rode back through Weippe and down the Greer Grade which always makes for a great ride. Then down to Orofino and up the Gilbert Grade to the farm. 127 miles and a fun day. M/W

Flag at lookout

Thursday, July 6, 2017


The house and grounds from the lane over the north field (rapeseed)

I awoke from a sound sleep. The bed was shaking, as if someone were standing there shaking it. And the metal drawer pulls on the dresser were chattering away. My partner was sound asleep and not moving a muscle.

Searching for some frame of reference, I was suddenly nine years old, lying in my little bed at home. I awoke in the middle of the night to a shaking world. My child mind thought that you could count on some things in life – a world that’s solid under your feet, for instance – and now my bed was trembling and the knick-knacks on my shelves were rattling. Then it was over as suddenly as it began.

I heard my dad out in the hall. “What was THAT?” I called to him. “An earthquake,” he answered in a baffled tone. An earthquake! Something teachers talked about but you never experienced. Earthquakes were unreal, happening in far off places to people you don’t know. But it was real all right. It happened in Montana in 1959 (here).

The house from the road over June's field (rape)
So, almost sixty years later – has it really been that long? – I was having a similar experience all by myself. I knew Mike was tired, so I didn’t wake him. He had ridden his motorcycle into town for a physical therapy appointment, and I knew the heat alone (103 in the valley, 96 here) was enough to tire anyone, even Mike. Bess keeps a watchful eye on things during the night, but apparently a little ground instability doesn’t bother her.

And then I began to question it. Did it really happen? Maybe it was a ghost? Maybe a spaceship landed and aliens (the kind from another planet) were seeking out signs of life. Now I was spooked and unwilling to get up even though I wanted to -- a childhood phenomenon I thought I had outgrown. I realized I had to look at the clock so that I could pinpoint the time – 11:35 p.m.

And then it happened again – this time with less intensity but definitely happening. The bed was shaking as if my partner were rolling over, but he was lying still. What an eerie feeling! The drawer pulls were rattling again this time more quietly. “Aftershock,” I thought to myself, “or Grandma Ina has finally had it with me living here in her place." It was 11:40.

It took another ten minutes for me to muster the courage to get out of bed. Once I was safely back with Mike, I eventually dozed off again. At 1:15 a.m., Bess awakened us with one of her barking spells: “Don’t you dare come into my yard, you worthless smelly so-and-so. I’m tellin’ ya – stay away from here. Bark! Bark bark bark.”

The stand of trees in distance is our grove.
Mike got up to quiet her, and I told him about the earthquake. “This is a dream, right?” he mumbled sleepily.

But – it wasn’t a dream. When I got up this morning, I used precious “internet juice” to search for online news reports. And they were there -- a quake occurred near Lincoln, MT, some 250 miles from Orofino by road (Hwy 12). The time: early Thursday morning (Montana is an hour ahead of us). The tremors were also felt in Spokane. KW