Weekend’s Work

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In an effort to make our vegetable growing a little easier and less weedy, I put in some rough raised beds at the farm this past weekend. Stacy scored some low-cost salvaged 2 X 10s to keep the price down, and I think they’ll work great. Yeah, we’re off to a late start this year for veggies, but we just got too busy with other, more pressing farm projects earlier in the spring. So I’m hoping for good, warm summer weather and lots of sunshine to help make up for lost time. And if nothing else, the beds will be set for next year.

We’re also excited to be testing organic fish compost from Oly Mountain on several blueberry rows this spring. This awesome looking product is made locally in Belfair, and contains fully composted fish byproducts along with wood and garden waste. When they brought the test product, we bought some extra for the raised beds, which I think will help accelerate our growing process as well. Will report back as we watch how it works.

Now I just have to rig the watering system for the beds, repair a few spots in the blueberry drip lines, and finish staking the drip tape in the dahlia beds and we’ll be set for dry weather. Come on, sunshine!


The Mighty Angler

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After a long day of farm work, I snuck out a bit early and threw the boat in the water for a quick lingcod expedition with good buddy, Neal. We only had about an hour or so of daylight, so we gave it a shot close to home. While I fished for bait, Neal rigged up and went after the big boys. We made a couple of drifts, resulting in one nice rock cod (released) and plenty of micro-flounders (ideal lingcod bait), but at least for us, the huge tides seemed to have pushed the lings out of the spot, or took them off the bite. But man, did I put it to the flounders!

It was a nice break from farm and writing, and a great reminder of how much I enjoy any time on the water with friends, not to mention the feel of something (even trophy flounders!) biting on the line. On the way home, we dropped by Neal’s brother’s house for a beer and some barbecued cajun-spice spot prawns he was just taking off the grill. Perfect timing. Which reminds me, if you’re looking for an easy, fun way to fish the Sound successfully, Neal’s brother, Matt is an excellent guide. Here’s his website: Tyee Charters. I highly recommend giving him a shout.

And now, back to farm and word work. But it might be a little tougher to concentrate–our evening on the water has me so stoked for the upcoming salmon season, I can hardly think of anything else.


Hey, It’s Legal In Washington…

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Just kidding. This is a jar full of Douglas fir tips, for tea, after a trip through the dehydrator. I tried drying them on the table top, but it’s been so cool and wet, there was almost no change after three days. So I popped them in the dehydrator and let it run until they were thoroughly dry. Now they’ll last for as long as we want, although I have to admit we’ll probably go through this jar before long. Another bonus is that, at least to my taste, tea made from the dried version tastes even better than fresh. It seems to mellow the Christmas tree scent and amplify the citrus flavors. The kids like it with a little honey.

I think we’ll need to go pick another batch or two to make sure we have enough for ourselves, and if we have time, maybe more to give as winter gifts. Gotta hurry, though, the tips are growing out rapidly. I can already feel the acceleration of time that always starts as the days get longer. Seems like we should have more time now, but as always, the longest days of the year pass fastest. Enjoy ’em.


Firewood Bailout

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After a remarkably calm and temperate winter, the drawbacks of good weather have become apparent. No wind equals no blowdowns. Which means no firewood for next year. Which means a kind of mild panic hovered over me all spring. Of course, it’s not like we’d freeze to death or anything; we’d just have to run the heater more…and take another mortgage on the house to pay for it. And then there’s the small matter of pride to consider as well. But I digress.

You know those people who walked around outside Grateful Dead shows holding up a finger and “looking for a miracle?” Neither do I. But that’s what I felt like, and my hopes (growing thinner by the day) were answered last week, courtesy of our friends Rob and Nina. They brought four trees down to make space for a new shed, and called to see if I was interested. Interested? Me? I had to be restrained from running out the door before I hung up the phone.

But the process of actually moving said trees to our yard kicked my ass. The rounds from the base of one enormous fir weighed between 200 and 300 pounds each, and they had the twisted, fibrous grain that makes them almost impossible to split. Chainsaws, wedges, sledges, mauls, blood, sweat and tears all came into play. After a couple afternoons of destroying my body alone, I had to call for reinforcement. Then my buddy Steve and I beat ourselves to a pulp last Friday getting it all out of there. That night, I could barely walk, but I felt a huge relief every time I looked out the window at this pile of wood.

Yeah, it still needs to be split and stacked, but it’s here, and I’m grateful to have it. If Weston and I get on it soon, and the weather’s decent this summer, it might be ready to burn by January or February.

Thanks Rob and Nina for saving our bacon, and thanks Steve, for sharing the pain. I’m stoked!


Representing For TFFJ

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No, this isn’t the Sadie Hawkins dance. It’s Jeff Galbraith, longtime supporter of my work, friend and publisher of The Flyfish Journal, and me hanging out in Bellingham last week. If you haven’t seen it, The Flyfish Journal is a gorgeous magazine, and I’m proud to have written for it since the first issue. I’m also currently working on a couple of pieces for TFFJ, but I like reading it even better.

Anyway, on our way up to Lummi, we swung through B-Town and Jeff was kind enough to take time away from World Headquarters  (he also puts out Frequency and The Ski Journal) to meet us at the Harris Avenue Cafe for lunch.

Jeff and I talk and e-mail all the time, but this was a great reminder that sometimes it’s just good to get together in person. And I swear, we didn’t call each other ahead of time to plan our “outfits.”