Camping with Cats

Farragut

I know, I said never travel with cats. Unfortunately, finding cat sitters would limit our travels so we have decided our cats need to learn how to camp. In April, we traded in our toy-hauler for a smaller, more comfortable fifth wheel. We’ve taken three short camping trips to local lakes since then, and the cats have accompanied us each time. Unlike the hellish 16-hour journey from California to Idaho, we no longer drug or confine the beasts. They ride in the backseat of the truck (mostly), but are free to roam and look out the windows. They seem to calm down after the first 15 minutes, and the remainder of the trip is much more enjoyable.

Priest Lake
Sophie perches between the front seats while Chuck cries in the back seat

Trip # 1 – Heyburn State Park

Can you really call it a trip if the destination is 25 minutes from your house? Our maiden voyage in the new RV was to Heyburn State Park. We stayed at the Hawley’s Landing Campground on Lake Chatcolet. Heyburn State Park is the oldest state park in the Pacific Northwest, created by an act of Congress in 1908. Heyburn includes approximately 5,800 acres of land and 2,300 acres of water. Much of the early construction was performed by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s.

Heyburn
Lake Chatcolet
Heyburn
Lake Chatcolet
Heyburn

The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes runs through the park. The Trail of the Coeur d’ Alenes is a 72-mile paved trail spanning the Idaho panhandle between Mullan and Plummer. It was created through a unique partnership between the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Union Pacific Railroad, the U. S. Government, and the State of Idaho. The trail begins in the historic Silver Valley, continues along the Coeur d’Alene River past scenic Lake Coeur d’Alene and through rolling farmlands to Plummer. We have hiked one mile of the trail…only 71 more to go.

Heyburn
Foot bridge over lake – part of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes
Heyburn
Foot bridge over lake
Heyburn
Bird nests in bridge
Heyburn
Beaver Lodge?
Heyburn
Floating house on the lake
Heyburn
Wildflowers

Trip #2 – Priest Lake State Park

Sure we live 15 minutes from the world renowned Lake Coeur d’Alene, but we chose to drive two hours north to Priest Lake for our next camping adventure. The cats were definitely more comfortable on this trip and were feeling pretty at-home in the RV.

Priest Lake
Sophie checking out the wildlife from the safety of the RV
Priest Lake
Chuck Norris assumed this bed was his (is that a huge cat or a small bed…yes to both)
Priest Lake
Sophie enjoying the new heated, massaging recliner (there is a perfectly good cat house to her left)

Just 30 miles from the Canadian Border, nestled deep below the crest of the Selkirk Mountains lies Priest Lake State Park. Surrounded by the natural beauty of Northern Idaho and mile-high mountains, Priest Lake State Park sits along the eastern shores of Priest Lake, a 19-mile, 300+ foot deep lake. Noted for its extremely clear water, fed by streams cascading from the high Selkirk peaks, the main body of Priest Lake extends north-south 19 miles and is connected by a 2 mile thoroughfare to the remote Upper Priest Lake, accessible only by foot or boat.

We hiked the View Point trail above the campground and were rewarded with a beautiful view of the lake. So far, I have been impressed with the Idaho campgrounds and the quality of their trails. There was also an interpretive trail that continued our tree identification education.

Priest Lake
View of Priest Lake
Priest Lake
View of Priest Lake
Priest Lake
Shawn enjoying the view
Priest Lake
Tree identification
Priest Lake
Pop quiz
Priest Lake
Wildflowers
Priest Lake
Wildflowers
Priest Lake
Beach and swimming area – the water is still a bit cold for that

Painted on the pavement entering the park is the phrase “Don’t be a Guberif.” We were stumped by that so Shawn asked the park attendant what it meant. He had no idea and said no one had ever asked him before. We Googled it. In 1946, Idaho launched the “Keep Idaho Green” campaign and looking for a way to help differentiate their forest fire prevention campaign from that of other states, Keep Idaho Green invented a new character. First introduced in 1950, the “Guberif” was defined as a creature that starts fires in Idaho’s forests through acts of carelessness. Guberif is fire bug spelled backwards. Read more about the Guberif.

Priest Lake
Don’t Be a Guberif

Trip #3 – Farragut State Park

When someone told me that Farragut State Park was a former Naval training base, I was skeptical. Submarines in Idaho? The park adjoins the deepwater Lake Pend Oreille, where the Navy maintains a submarine research center at Bayview, the Acoustic Research Detachment. The land was transferred to the state of Idaho in 1949 and became a state park in 1965. Ground was broken in March 1942, and by September the base had a population of 55,000, making it the largest city in Idaho. Liberty trains to Spokane ran three times daily. At the time Farragut was the second-largest naval training center in the world. During the 30 months the base was open, 293,381 sailors received basic training at Farragut. The last recruit graduated in March 1945 and the facility was decommissioned in June 1946. It was also used as a prisoner of war camp; nearly 900 Germans worked as gardeners and maintenance men.

Now, it’s just a beautiful park with miles of trails, 4 disc-golf courses and a museum. The Priest Lake campground also had a disc golf course, so we decided to get some discs and give it a try. It turns out you need special discs (driver, mid-range and putter), not your old Frisbee. We met a fellow with a backpack full of discs. He was playing numerous disc golf courses on his travels with his dog.

Farragut
Disc Golf Rules
Farragut
Warming up on the kiddie course
Farragut
The fairway in the woods
Farragut
A small snake wanted to play through

We hiked 4 miles on the well maintained trails that took us down along the shores of Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced ponder-ay). The wildflowers were in full bloom.

Farragut
One of the wider trails
Farragut
View of the lake through the trees
Farragut
Lake Pend Oreille
Farragut
Iris blooming along the shore
Farragut
Wildflowers
Farragut
Farragut
Farragut
Poppy field bordering the camp site
Farragut
Poppies
Farragut
Poppy

We’ve visited three of Idaho’s state parks, and they have all been beautiful and well maintained (and they have super nice bathrooms and showers if you need that sort of thing). The camp hosts and volunteers have been friendly and helpful and we’ve met many fellow campers. I’m looking forward to exploring more of Idaho’s treasures, even if I have to take my cats.

It’s Our Idaversary

On March 17th, we celebrated our first “Idaversary”. It’s been one year since we retired and moved to Idaho. We have now experienced all four seasons in our new home state. Today, while we were sitting eating lunch, Shawn said “I think we’ve acclimated.” We had spent the morning outside disposing of the 95′ tree that we dropped. We dragged limbs through the remaining snow to the burn pile and worked up quite a sweat. We sat at the table in t-shirts and shorts with all the windows open and the ceiling fan on high. It is 53 degrees outside and there is still considerable snow on the ground, so yes we’ve acclimated.

We’ve amassed 3 chainsaws: the one Shawn bought me for Valentine’s Day, the neighbor’s larger one, and a spare electric chainsaw from Harbor Freight. We used to acquire electronics; now it is chainsaws.

We’ve taken a couple classes from the University of Idaho’s extension program to learn about our “Backyard Forest” as they call it. We can identity most of our trees and we’ve learned what to look for when thinning our trees. One day we went snow shoeing through our forest and found many trees with undesirable traits such as crooked trunks, split tops, rounded canopies, and dead branches. Thinning should keep as busy for the rest of our days!

The first few trees we cut down usually took two days. The first day, Shawn would cut it down and start cutting off the big limbs, and the second day, we would continue cutting and burning. We divide the tree into three types of wood: the trunk is cut into long lengths for milling; the larger limbs are cut into 16-18″ lengths for firewood; and the remainder is burned.

The tree we were working on today was 95′ tall and 4′ across at the base. We’ve been working on it for 4 days now and still have quite a bit to do. Some of the branches are bigger than the other trees we’ve cut down.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’ve started a new fashion line for chickens. All the chic chicks are wearing custom hen aprons/chicken saddles. Seriously, who thought of this? And then published a pattern and instructions? Our poor abused chicken has been wearing her apron for a couple weeks now, and seems no worse for the wear. No complaints from the roosters either.

It’s been a good year. We’ve learned a lot and had some fun. Now we’re anxiously awaiting spring. Shawn has seedlings growing for the expanded garden; the chicks have been ordered; and I’m watching the snow melt while waiting for signs of the 200 bulbs I planted in the fall.

Winter Wonderland

I had a request by one of my millions of (or maybe six) followers for an update on the snow. In a matter of days, we went from barren ground to snow-covered; up to 2 feet in some places. The predictions for this winter have been warm and light snow. The natives have been grumbling about it and reminiscing about the big snow back in 2008 when it was 127 inches in Coeur d’Alene.

You’re probably asking: are there different types of snow? Why yes, there are. There is that oxymoron snow, the dry snow. We got that first. It was all light and fluffy, and dry as far as frozen water can be dry. The following day we had winds 20-40 mph and that light fluffy snow blew all over the place. Most of it ended up in Washington, because there sure wasn’t much left at our house. The next snow fall was wet snow.

So what do you do with all this snow? You shovel it…every day. Remember that huge deck that seemed so awesome when we bought the house? Not so awesome when you have to shovel off the snow. On the third day, as soon as we had finished clearing the snow off the deck the sun came out and started melting the snow off the roof which proceeded to fall on the deck. Lather, rinse, repeat.

We finally had enough snow to try out our new snowshoes. We tromped around the yard testing our skills in powder and on our hills. I fell in about two feet of powder because I didn’t pick up my feet high enough. Shawn had a good laugh before helping me back up. It was beautiful in our little piece of forest.

I’ve been waiting for a good snow to do a little quilt photography, so I finally got the opportunity. My lovely assistant held the quilts.

One issue we have with the snow is our long, semi-steep driveway. Our neighbor keeps it plowed, but spots can be icy, especially the where the end of the driveway meets the road. This morning, when the repairmen arrived to fix our wood burning stove, they knocked at the door and asked if we had a four-wheel drive truck. Their truck couldn’t make it up the drive. Shawn had taken our all wheel drive SUV, so they trudged back down the driveway to get their tools. They made several trips up and down the driveway in the course of their work. I must admit I have been very impressed with the work ethic of the young people I’ve met since moving to Idaho. These guys didn’t complain and finished the job with a smile.

So far, I’m enjoying the snow. It’s fun to snowshoe in, pretty to look at across the valley, a good workout to shovel, and mesmerizing to watch as it falls. Of course, I don’t have to walk around in it looking for food like these guys.

2018 Quilting & Sewing Recap

One of the reasons I blog is to keep track of the progress on projects I start. Most are home and yard DIY, but it’s nice to look back and see what I’ve made with my sewing machine. I got a late start on sewing projects in 2018 because of our move to Idaho. The first project was getting my new sewing room setup. It seems like there was one setback after another getting the room done. When we pulled up the old carpet, the floor was uneven and the wood stove had been installed over the carpet so we had to dismantle the stove to put the flooring under it. Once I got my sewing center setup, the cable broke on the lift for my sewing machine so I ordered a new cable but the order got lost. That was another month of waiting. Finally in mid-August, I was ready to unpack.

Before flooring and painting
Flooring and painting done on right side of room
Moving in desk and sewing center
Sewing center setup on my mod rug
Unpacking
Getting organized and displaying my mini quilts
Ready for sewing!
A room with a view

The first thing I made was a starburst quilt top in oranges and whites. I had participated in a quilt swap where you send in any number of 10″ squares of orange fabric and you get that number back in different fabrics. I saw this starburst pattern on Pinterest and knew it was perfect for my pile of orange squares.

Piles of orange fabric
Marking white squares in preparation for making 200 half-square triangles
Years ago I bought this ruler called the Bloc-Loc. It has ridge on the underside that locks onto the seam for trimming perfect blocks.
These Clover clips are my new favorite. I may never use pins again.
What happens when you turn on the fan and you haven’t pinned the blocks to the design wall
Sewing the blocks into rows

My next project was a quilt-along sponsored by Bernina. For their 125th anniversary, they designed a quilt with embroidered motifs. I thought it would be a good way to learn how to use the embroidery features on my Bernina 765. Unfortunately, the first time I took the embroidery module out of the box and tried using it, it made a hideous noise. It went in for repairs in October and they are still waiting for parts. I hope to finish this quilt in 2019.

Most participants are using the gold Bernina fabrics designed for the challenge, but I decided to go with blues and white. I’ve been on a blue and white kick lately.

I learned how to use the adjustable seam guide on my Bernina, and these may be the best points I’ve ever sewn.
Blocks completed and auditioned on a background fabric
On the design wall awaiting the embroidered motifs
The embroidery will go in the little white square…one day.

Years ago, I learned how to make a reversible hooded flannel jacket for kids. I even taught a class on how to make it a few times. So when my grandkids came to visit, I made them these jackets. In the past, I used a Simplicity pattern but I couldn’t find it again. I ventured into the online world of downloadable PDF patterns and found this cute jacket pattern from Stitch Upon a Time. I definitely want to try more garment sewing in the future, and these downloadable patterns seem to be the way to go.

Taping the printed pattern pieces together
Cutting out the body pieces
Completed jacket for my grandson. His favorite color is green.
Finished jacket for my granddaughter. Her nickname is Pen-Gwen.

Time for some Christmas sewing. I made these Kate Spain advent stockings for my granddaughter. The point turner was my best friend while making these 24 little stockings!

Twenty-four little stockings ready to be filled with treats

One of the quilters I follow on Instagram posted this Noodlehead Range backpack she had made, and I thought it would be fun to make for my girls for Christmas. I ended up making four and keeping one for myself. Since I used quilting cottons from my fabric stash, I had to reinforce them with canvas to make the backpacks stiffer. I broke quite a few needles going through all the layers. I also learned how to insert a zipper.

Interior and exterior parts cut and labelled
Making straps and connectors
Sewing up the side seams and using the awesome Clover clips again
The broken needles pile
Blue backpacks with denim bottoms
Black and white backpacks with cork bottoms

I finished out the year with a little utility sewing. I made flannel sheets for our RV since we would be traveling in December. RV mattresses are odd sizes and finding sheets is difficult. I order the 108″ wide flannel usually used for quilt backs to make a flat sheet, a fitted sheet, and two pillow cases. No pictures of these.

I also made rice filled hand-warmers from some scraps of sock monkey flannel. Just stitch up a little pouch, fill with rice, stitch closed, and then microwave. They really work!

I got a little carried away making hand warmers

So that wraps up my 2018 quilting and sewing projects. In 2019, I’m making some sample quilts for a new class I will be teaching in June. I also need to finish up a few quilts I started in 2017. I would also like to try my hand at garment sewing.

Road to California

On December 16, we embarked on a 17-day journey from Northern Idaho to Central California and back in our fifth wheel.   The first obstacle to overcome was getting out of our driveway.  Shawn had to buy studded snow tires and chains for the truck.  Our neighbors, Rich and Kyle, did their best to help us out by plowing as much snow and ice as possible off of our downhill driveway.  When Shawn went to buy the snow tires and chains, Rich chained his truck to Shawn’s to prevent Shawn from sliding down the driveway.  It was a scary drive in the early morning darkness, but Shawn successfully navigated us down the driveway to the main road before removing the chains.

The next obstacle was the weather.  We ended up leaving a day earlier than planned in order to miss a storm.  We drove six hours to Portland the first day.  Eastern Washington is far from picturesque, especially in the winter.  We stayed at the Sandy Riverfront RV Park in Troutdale, Oregon.  Troutdale is a cute little town and their main street was decorated for Christmas.  We enjoyed dinner and martinis at Troutini.  Our waitress encouraged us to come back for New Year’s Eve on our return trip.

The Christmas lights in Troutdale

Martini with color changing ice fish at Troutini

The next stop was South Beach State Park in Newport, Oregon.  Once again we stayed at a park that we visited on our previous trip.  Living in landlocked Idaho, Shawn knew I needed my dose of ocean views.  We just beat the storm, and we were able to take a long walk on the beach.  That night, our trailer was shaking fiercely in the 35 mph wind and rain.

Winter driving conditions

South Beach, Oregon

You’ve gotta stop at Rogue Brewing when traveling along the Oregon coast

We stopped in Bandon, Oregon, home of Face Rock Creamery and the import store with all the dinosaurs.  Face Rock still makes the best mac & cheese in my book, and the clerk told us the recipe is available online.  We bought a frozen mac to go along with a healthy supply of Vampire Slayer garlic cheddar.  No additional dinosuars came home with us this trip.

A menagerie of metal animals past and present

In Gold Beach, we stayed at Turtle Rock RV Resort.  As you can see from the picture, winter RV’ing is not so popular in the Pacific North West, but the solitude makes it much easier to park!  We enjoyed an evening with Shawn’s niece and her family.

Now I know why it’s named Turtle Rock. I totally missed that last trip.

Our first stop in California was in Trinidad, a cute seaside town with an incredible smoked fish shop.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, so after lunch, we took a 2-mile hike before getting back in the truck to head to Garberville for the night.

The Cool Bus

That was the end of the relaxing, leisurely, sightseeing portion of our trip.  After that, our days were packed with visits with family and friends.  We spent the night at Cal Expo RV Park in Sacramento, had lunch with our daughter and the grandkids, and dinner with our friend Jerry.  Traffic and 5-lane freeways were a rude awakening.  The stress level instantly increased.

Then it was on to Fresno to visit our son and the Scharton clan.  Some of the highlights included sampling the local breweries, an introduction to mulcajetes, lots of good Mexican food that we don’t have in Idaho, a Zumba class led by my sister-in-law, and Christmas Eve dinner with family and old friends.  We parked in my brother’s driveway for the duration.  I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled when we packed up and left at 5:30 Christmas morning for a hair-raising drive through the tule fog back to Sacramento.

The molten goodness that is a mulcajete

Enjoying a beer by the fire at Tioga Sequoia Brewing

Gift exchange with the Schartons

We made it to Elk Grove in time to watch the grandkids open their presents Christmas morning.  Shawn’s brother hosted Christmas dinner.  Only in California can you serve Christmas dinner outside on the patio.  Sure, there was a heater and a fire pit, but we won’t be doing that in Idaho in December.

Gift exchange with the Echols

On Boxing Day, we drove to San Francisco to visit our youngest son.  We’ve always gone over the Bay Bridge, but this time we took the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was so much nicer; I may never use the Bay Bridge again.  It was a rare sunny day in San Francisco, so we enjoyed a long walk through Golden Gate Park and a Korean lunch of bi bim bab (not commonly found in Idaho).

It was fun seeing the kids decorate their trees with old family ornaments

The next two days were filled with lunches and dinners with old friends and co-workers.  So much to catch up on and to remind us how much we are enjoying retirement.  We spent four days in Sacramento before heading home to Idaho.  We picked up a cold along the way and just wanted to get home.  The return trip was only two stops compared to the five days we took on the way down.

Shawn’s nephew made some repairs on the RV while we were in town

Gratuitous granddaughter picture from Stephanie’s birthday lunch

I’d tell you which mountain this is, but I was taking a lot of cold medication at the time of the photograph

NYE back at Troutini, we just wanted to go to bed at 7PM

Kyle towing us up the driveway to our Home Sweet Home

We arrived home the afternoon of January 1st and our neighbor Kyle was waiting at the end of the driveway to tow us home.  The trip was fun, adventurous, and exhausting.  It was wonderful to see all of our California family and friends again.  Now it’s time to look through all the seed catalogs that were awaiting us on our return.  Spring is just around the corner…she says hopefully.

Breakfast & Dinner

I’m sure many of you are wondering what happened to those two cute little pigs named Breakfast & Dinner.  Come on, you knew this day would come folks.

June 2018

November 2018

*** Warning *************

There are a couple graphic butchery photos below, so just stop now if that bothers you or scroll really fast.

*****************************

Breakfast & Dinner lived a very happy, albeit short,  life at Spring Creek Acres.  They rooted up acres of pasture and enjoyed a non-GMO diet.  The sisters frolicked about and happily grunted when Farmer Shawn brought them treats every day and sprayed them down on hot days.  They grew bigger and bigger and bigger, until one day Farmer Shawn decided they were ready to become bacon, sausage, and other tasty delights.

Skinning (and no that’s not the same sled from the previous post…we have multiple pink sleds)

Sawed in half

I’m the first to admit, the killing and processing part is not fun and I was not overly involved.  Once everything was chilled and cut into less recognizable pieces, I joined the party.

Shawn sold two half pigs and invited the buyers to join in the processing.  Talk about knowing where your food comes from!

Let the butchery begin

Pat grinds meat for sausage as Heidi looks on

As you can see, we like sausage.  With some of our meat, we made Jalapeno breakfast sausage, Italian sausage, and German sausage.  I grew up eating smoked Geman sausage at my grandparents’ house on Sundays, so I was trying to recreate that.

10+ pounds of sausage meat ready for seasoning

Packaged sausage ready for the freezer

German sausage in casing ready for smoking

German sausage after smoking, ready for Christmas Eve dinner in Fresno

All in all, the processing of the two pigs took about a week and yielded over 300 pounds of meat.  Shawn also cured bacon and smoked the hocks.

Slicing Pat’s bacon

Mmmmm, bacon

Pasta with Italian sausage

We now have a freezer full of pork and chicken for the coming year, plus a bit of elk from the neighbor.  Raising and processing your own food takes a lot of time and effort, but it tastes so good.  Cheers to Breakfast & Dinner!

Layers

Yesterday afternoon it was sunny, so I suggested to Shawn that we walk to the mailbox.  This is a nice 1.7-mile roundtrip.  I put on a cotton/wool long sleeve base layer shirt with a fleece shirt over, thick athletic pant, knit gloves, and a beanie hat.  By the time we got down the driveway, which is a feat in itself, the sun went behind a cloud and I was cold.

Today, Shawn suggested a walk.  I looked out the window at the gray day and gave him the side eye, so he pulled out his phone to check the weather.  It was 36 degrees and the peak of the heat for the day.  I added some layers to the previous day’s outfit.  Long sleeve base layer shirt again, sweatshirt, fleece jacket, athletic pants, sweatpants, white cotton gloves under my knit gloves, and the beanie hat.  Instead of turning right at the end of our driveway to go to the mailbox, we turned left to go up the steep hill.  Now I had too many layers!  This matching the weather, the workout, and the layers is a delicate science that I need to perfect.

As seen on our walk:

We’ve had our first two snow events for the year.  The first dropped about 5 inches of snow after Thanksgiving.  It was enough snow to pull out the sled and find a mild downhill in our front yard.  Shawn also managed to pile together a snowman on the deck.  The first snow is so pretty because there’s no dirt mixed with it.

Black walnut tree

The weather station covered in snow. A good shake of the pole got the wind meter working again.

I found a few things to gather on the property.  We have a black walnut tree, and this is our harvest from November.  I was surprised by how many we got because I saw so few on the tree.  After shelling them, we ended up with about two cups of nut meat.  Since there were so few, we enjoyed them raw as a snack.  Next year we will hopefully have more so we can do some baking with them.  Very tasty!

Rosehips are purported to be high in vitamin C and we have a lot of wild rose bushes on the property.  I read they are best picked after the first snow.  Unfortunately, the deer ate all the conveniently located hips.

I’ve been enjoying my new sewing room.  A couple of years ago, I made my grandson a set of mini advent stockings, so I had to make some for my new granddaughter too.  Twenty-four little stockings stitched, trimmed, turned and in the mail in time for December 1st.

Ready for the countdown to Christmas!

Well, it’s 4:30 PM and dark outside, so time to put on another layer…

Fall in Northern Idaho

It was hot.  Then it was not.

We had mid to upper 90s in August, a week or so of 80s in September, then it dropped into the 60s mid-month.  On October 3rd, we had our first freeze.  That left us with a bunch of green tomatoes still on the vine, so we canned green tomato chutney.  I was a little skeptical, but it’s tasty.  Goes great with Indian food or over cream cheese with crackers.

Green tomatoes with red onion, raisins, dried apples, vinegar, and spices

We also harvested our onion crop.  We got quite a few, but they were small this year.  We will be better prepared next year and hope to get large onions like our neighbor’s.

The onions are small, but they have great flavor

Our neighbor’s onions were huge, 1-2 pounds each

Shawn grew some pumpkins, but like the onions, they came out small.  However, the few small pumpkins we got made a great puree and pumpkin bread.  He’s in the kitchen now whipping up a pumpkin pie!

Mini pumpkins make mini pumpkin bread loaves

We’ve also been doing more canning.  Our next-door neighbor got an elk and gave us some ground meat, so Shawn canned that with potatoes, onions and carrots.  While it tastes good, it was not pretty enough to warrant a picture.  I’ve been buying dried beans in bulk and canning them.  It’s very handy to have pinto, black, white, kidney and garbonzos readily available.

Soon it will be time to bottle our first experiments in fruit wine.  We will have a couple gallons each of plum, peach, and apple.

Improvements continue to be made outdoors.  We ordered seedling trees from the Pitkin Nursery at the University of Idaho in Moscow.  Shawn planted 20 Tamarac trees on the south end of the property and then potted maples, chestnuts and others for planting in the spring.  Most of our trees are evergreen, so it will be nice to have more fall colors in a few years.  We are also working on the planting area around the house.  We moved dirt to join to small hills.  Shawn plans to put a pond behind it.  I planted 120+ bulbs and divided and re-planted the existing peonies.  I hope I didn’t kill them!

Seedlings

New planting area behind the logs

Gratuitous pig photo

The kids and grandkids visited mid-October and the weather was picture perfect.  We went to Green Bluff for pumpkins and apples; we played at McEuen Park in downtown Coeur d’Alene, and we hiked the Cougar Gulch trail.  It was great having them visit!

Cougar Gulch Trail

We didn’t spot any cougars, but we found this old tractor

Cooler temps also mean more time spent in my new sewing room.  I made flannel jackets for the grandkids and started a new blue and white quilt.

While we are enjoying the changing of the seasons, we recently learned of another type of seasons in Northern Idaho.  Bug Seasons.  During the summer, we experienced yellowjacket season.  Now we are in stink-bug season.  There was also a brief two-week period of gnat season.  I’m sure you’re thanking me for not posting photos.

Fall in Northern Idaho

Six Months Later

It has been six months since we retired and moved to Idaho, and what a busy six months it has been!  I think we’ve accomplished a lot both inside and out.

Inside

  • Unpacked (mostly)
  • Removed tons of nasty carpet and wood flooring
  • Laid over 2,000 sq ft of new flooring
  • Installed new kitchen appliances
  • Replaced toilets
  • Painted about 70% of the walls, 16 of 27 doors, and 14 of 21 windows
  • Replaced numerous outlets and switches
  • Removed and replaced baseboards (in progress)

Living room before

Living room after (still needs to be painted)

Master bedroom before

Master bedroom after

Sewing room before

Sewing room after

Outside

  • Revitalized the old garden
  • Fenced and cultivated a new garden
  • Returned the old tractor to a working state
  • Felled numerous trees and trimmed others
  • Supplied power to the workshop
  • Built a chicken tractor and a chickshaw
  • Raised and processed 50+ meat chickens
  • Raised 9 laying hens and 2 roosters (we’re getting 8 eggs/day now)
  • Raised 2 pigs
  • Harvested cherries, plums, apples, cherry tomatoes, Armenian cucumbers, beets, carrots, onions, wheat
  • Canned cherries, plums, peaches, beans, chicken
  • Dehydrated cherries, plums, tomatoes, apples

Old garden before

Old garden after

New fenced garden

Meat chickens (Frankenchicks) before

Meat chickens after

Pigs in June

Pigs in September

Fresh eggs are a daily occurrence

Two of the many trees Shawn has dropped

Kootenai Electric installing the new transformer

Trenches and wire for power to the workshop

Our new lifestyle, location, and DIY projects also required the acquisition of a few new tools:

  • Snow shovel
  • Farm boots
  • Numerous pairs of work gloves
  • Loader, boom, chain harrow, and disk for tractor
  • Chainsaw
  • Chipper/shredder
  • Cultivator
  • T-post driver and puller
  • Oscillating multi-tool
  • Floor scraper (ultimate tool for removing staples in carpet pad)
  • Generator
  • Paint sprayer
  • Pressure canner
  • Dehydrator
  • Cherry pitter
  • Paper log maker
  • “No Hunting” signs

Posting our No Hunting signs along the edge of the property

The last six months have flown by, and we’re starting to get into a groove.  If the weather is good, we will work on an outside project.  Not so good, then we’ll do an inside project.  We’ve also taken the time to explore our new surroundings with a few hikes and camping trips.  We’ve taken up flyfishing (that’s a whole new list of equipment for another post), and visited many of our local breweries, restaurants and farmers’ markets.  Life is good.

Farmer Shawn Grows Wheat

We are surrounded by wheat fields, so we know wheat grows well in our area.   In early spring, Shawn planted a pound of wheat seeds in a row in our garden.  For the longest time, it was the only crop in the garden that seemed to be growing.

The green row in the center of the garden is the wheat

The wheat dwarfs all the other plants

By midsummer, the wheat was over two feet tall while the tomatoes and peppers were still taking their time to get their groove on.

This wheat thing is new to us, so once the wheat turned brown and the farmers around us began cutting their wheat and hay, Shawn knew it was time to harvest.  He cut all the wheat by hand and hung it in the garage to finish drying.

I don’t know if it’s a bushel, but this is our full crop for the year

Shawn did some internet research and learned how to build a DIY thresher.  It is pieces of chain attached to a rod in a bucket.  He uses his drill to turn the rod, and the chain beats all heck out of the wheat to separate the chaff from the wheat.

We cut the wheat heads off the stalks by hand.  I’m thinking the Amish are more automated than we were.  It took a few hours for both of us to remove all the seed heads.  The chickens were happy with any we missed.

Ready to thresh

Threshing

Threshed

The final step was pouring the threshed wheat in front of a fan to separate the seeds from the chaff.  The heavier wheat falls into the bucket and the chaff blows away.  Shawn did this process a few times.  The resulting product was over six pounds of wheat ready for milling into flour.

Shawn plans to plant an acre of wheat for next season, so we will need to work on our automation techniques!