The Pig Farmer’s Wife

Well, it’s official.  I’m the wife of a pig farmer.  This morning we drove to Cheney, Washington to pick up our two piglets.  We borrowed a crate from our neighbor Katie, and then Shawn and Malcolm filled it with straw for the piglets’ comfort.

Malcolm fluffing the straw (we did not cage the boy)

At Adam’s farm (The Backyard Butchery), we selected two females from the drove.  First, the guys lured them to the fence with apples, and then they picked them up by the hind legs and put them in the crate.  There was much squealing.

Back home, the process was reversed with more squealing.

The two sisters, Breakfast and Dinner, share a 16×16 enclosure behind the house with a plastic water tote for their shelter.  After they calmed down from all the activity in their day, they started eating the grass and rooting around in the dirt.

Breakfast
Dinner

Shawn and Malcolm finished off the pen with a gate.

I don’t think the cuteness will last too long as their mom was rather ugly; however, we should have some tasty bacon in November.

Midsummer

Thursday, June 21, was the longest day of the year.  The sun rose at 4:51 AM and set at 8:51 PM giving us 16 hours of light in Worley, Idaho.  As you can see from the chart below, we actually get more light than that because the Civil Twilight is the first and last light.  If I look out the window at 4:00 in the morning, I can clearly see everything in the yard.

Unfortunately, on the summer solstice, we had a storm so it was a bit darker than I was hoping for the longest day of the year.  This was the wildest storm I have experienced here in Worley.  I stood on the deck and watched and heard the storm approach.  I could hear the rain in the trees as it got nearer and the thunder was thunderous, to say the least.  Lightning filled the sky a few times per minute.

The edge of the storm approaches
The downpour (see Instagram for the video)

Shawn had driven to Sacramento to pick up our grandson, Malcolm, so this was my first experience staying by myself in our new house.  The power went off and on three times as I ran around looking for flashlights and wondering how long my phone battery would last.  Without wi-fi, my Grey’s Anatomy binge watch was ruined.

Since Shawn was gone, I also got chicken duty.  The layers are living outside under the walnut tree, but they need to be put to bed at night in case there are any predators out there looking to dine on them.    They are very in tune with the sun and go into the coop on their own at sunset.  I looked out the window and noticed they had gone in early.  I assumed this was due to the storm, so I went out to latch the door on the coop.  As soon as I approached the gate, they all ran out and the little buggers wouldn’t go back in until it was officially sunset.

Roosting in the walnut tree
Large and in charge
In bed for the night

We got a second batch of Frankenchicks a couple weeks ago.  I was asked why we need so many chickens.  We figured we need about 50 chickens for the year.  One chicken gives us 2-3 meals in a week and then we make about 4 quarts of chicken stock from the carcass.

Return of the Frankenchicks

Before Shawn left for Sacramento, we went to a few new places in town.  First, we went to the container store in Athol for food grade buckets, barrels and a tote for the new pig enclosure.  Next, we explored the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  We acquired a stainless steel sink and solid wood door for $30.  Shawn is going to repurpose these as a chicken butchering station.  We also tried out the burgers at Paul Bunyan Famous Burgers.

To amuse myself in Shawn’s absence, I visited a couple of the local quilt shops.  The ladies at Bear Paw Quilting in Coeur d’Alene are very friendly and they have a nice selection of fabrics, patterns, and notions.  In Spokane Valley, Washington, I visited The Quilting Bee.  Aside from Hancock’s in Paducah and Fabric Depot in Portland, I think this is the biggest quilt shop I’ve ever seen.  Between these two shops, I think all my quilting needs will be easily met.  I also picked up their 2018 Row-by-Row kits.

It is huge!

Between storm watch, quilt shops and binge watching Grey’s Anatomy, I pulled out my DSLR camera and took pictures around the yard.  The macro lens improved my flower photos, and the zoom lens allowed me to catch a few birds stealing our cherries.

Woodpecker
Magpie

Chuck Norris
Sophie in her bird watching window

Shawn returned with Malcolm on Saturday, and now we have almost three weeks to view Idaho through the eyes of a five-year-old.

First cherry harvest
The birds left us a few cherries
Driving the tractor with Papa

World’s biggest dandelion

Fly-fishing the CDA River

My dad and my brother, Craig, came to visit us this last week.  They made the two-day drive from Fresno, California to Worley, Idaho.  We had fun showing them our beautiful new state, but the highlight was fly-fishing the Coeur d’Alene River.

Craig, Dad, Me and Peeve on the deck

Many, many years ago, I read A River Runs Through It and I have been enamored of fly-fishing since.  Mostly, I like the idea of standing in a beautiful river in waterproof clothing.  What could be better than that?  Little did I know that I live an hour away from a highly acclaimed fly-fishing destination, the Coeur d’Alene River.

Craig has been fly-fishing since he was a kid, so he had all the gear and my nephew loaned me his rod and reel.  I got some inexpensive and highly effective waders and felt-soled boots.  Let me tell you, fly-fishing is one sexy sport if big, baggy, and drab-colored is your thing.

On Tuesday morning, we headed to the CDA River.  We stopped at the fly shop near Cataldo on the way to get the lowdown on river conditions and which flies to use.  The two gentleman in the shop were very friendly and informative.  When I mentioned I lived in Worley, one of them asked me if I knew Tom.  Granted, Worley only has a population of 247, but I have yet to meet Tom.

We were given instructions to turn on Old River Road at the metal bridge, go past Hippie Rock (named for the kids that sunbathe naked and jump off the rock), then go down aways past the No Trespassing signs to find good fishing.  Since there is no cell signal on the river, we relied on these old-fashioned points-of-interest to guide us.

We fished a couple spots on the CDA on Tuesday, but we didn’t catch anything.  In the afternoon, two women upriver from us caught three or four cutthroat trout while we watched.  I took a lot of pictures, but my phone died shortly after and the photos were lost.  Craig took a few pictures of me.

I look just like Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It

So after my first day of fly-fishing, I was pretty satisfied.  I got to walk around in a beautiful river all day without getting cold and wet.  The water is clear without sediment and the surrounding scenery is gorgeous.  My shoulder was a little sore from casting, but all-in-all a great day.

We had a few unseasonably cold and windy days, so we didn’t go out fishing again until Friday.  We went to the local fly shop in Coeur d’Alene the night before to find out what we were doing wrong.  Joe, the owner of Castaway Outfitters, gave us some tips, suggested some smaller flies, and sent us higher up on the river.

We found a nice section of the river with some deeper pools and spent the morning fishing up the river.  We spotted a few trout.  After lunch, we went back out and Craig caught one.  I had a few strikes and even had one on the line momentarily, but no luck for me.

Peeve is intent on making sure Craig doesn’t drown

I was surprised at how fast the time passed while fishing.  We didn’t cover a lot of ground (only about 2,000 steps according to my fitness tracker), but walking upriver in the current puts all your muscles to the test while trying to keep balanced (I’m happy to say I did not fall once in two days).  Once the fish started striking, the concentration on landing the fly in right spot was intense.  Before I knew it, 6 hours had passed.

The scenery was beautiful, and I found a few new flowers too.  There are large grassy meadows along the banks of the river and these tall white flowers are everywhere.  According to my plant identification app, they are California false hellebore.  They are about 4 feet tall.

Some type of thistle. I’d like to see it in full bloom because it was huge.

So, let me know if you’re in the area and want to go fishing…

You Can Make English Muffins?

Why yes, you can make English muffins.  I thought they came in a stack of six from Thompson’s, but then I saw a recipe for homemade sourdough English muffins and had to give it a try.  I used Shawn’s wholewheat sourdough starter.  I was a little concerned at first because it is super stinky, but the muffins came out with a nice subtle sourdough tang.

I made the dough last night and rolled and cut the muffins today
I learned that English muffins are cooked on the stove, not in the oven
They look like real English muffins!
Some are a little wonky, but you know they’re homemade
Tastes great warm off the skillet with a bit of butter

I’m learning to use my new pressure canner.  I canned a batch of pinto beans to practice.  I need to be ready when the garden explodes with more goodness than we can consume daily.  I’m counting on an overabundance of tomatoes.

The daunting pressure canner

Speaking of the garden, we are starting to see fruit on our trees.  We’ve identified the two cherry trees, but we’re still not positive what some of our other trees are.  Happily, the grapevines are alive and they are showing signs of grapes.

The green row in the center is wheat
Cherries of unknown variety
We think these are Asian pears
Grapes! I hope the deer leave a few for me.
The ever-expanding potted herb garden. All but one of the pots was left by the previous owner.

Shawn plowed a new plot for black oil sunflowers and oats.  He was busy all day discing with the tractor and raking and pulling out rocks by hand.  The chickens supervised from their current home under the pine trees.

They’re getting bigger…time to start laying some eggs!

Shawn left most of the dirt outside, but a bit made it in on his face

A busy day on the homestead.  I was also excited to learn that when my big brother comes to visit in a few days that he will be bringing my dad with him.  Time to get cracking on a few indoor projects to make our guests comfortable!

Time for a Hike

Shawn was looking like he had a bit of farming fatigue, so I decided he needed to go on a hike.  I did a quick search for day hikes near Coeur d’Alene and came up with Settler’s Grove Interpretive Trail #162 in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.  I was intrigued by the promise of walking through a grove of ancient cedar trees, so I figured it was worth a two-hour drive for a 3-mile hike.  We drove to CDA and then headed east into the Panhandle National Forest.  Much of the drive was very scenic along the CDA River.  There were lots of little RV parks on the grassy shores of the river.  We also saw a couple of flyfisherman in the river.

The last six miles of the drive was on a dirt/gravel road, and it was slow going.  Houses were few and far between.

We saw a herd of elk grazing in someone’s pasture.

Elk are ugly up close and a bit raggedy

We did not see any other cars on the road, and the parking lot at the trailhead was empty.  This is a perk of being retired and hiking mid-week.  It was also overcast with a chance of rain, so that may have kept people away too.

We have the parking lot to ourselves. Maybe it really is our own private Idaho.
Trailhead

It was an easy hike on a well-marked trail; however, it was designated as handicapped accessible.  Maybe wheelchairs in Idaho are all-wheel drive because I don’t know how they were getting over a few of these obstacles.

I grew up with giant redwoods in California, so cedars are new to me.  OK, enough chit-chat and on to the magnificent ancient cedars.

A bit of perspective

There was a fire in 2015, so you can still see a lot of the fire damage to the trees.

Massive rootball on a fallen cedar

Some of the fallen trees on the trail have been cut and you can see the rich cedar color in the logs.

Of course, I found new flowers and plants to photograph.  No clue what they are but interesting enough to deserve a photo.

Fernheads unfurling
Mushrooms of unknown type

Most of the trail ran along Eagle Creek so there was always the sound of running water while we walked (good thing there is a bathroom at the trailhead).

At the end of the trail, we had the option to continue on another trail so we did that for a bit.  We also found a letterbox in a tree stump.  I assume this is similar to a geocache.  There were notes, pens, and paper in the box.

Just as we were coming back to the parking lot, the rain started coming down so we had our picnic lunch in the truck.  Back in CDA, we stopped for a beer at Tricksters Brewing.  Their Juice Box IPA is excellent.

Then it was off to Twin Lakes Farm & Ranch to pick up 1,000 pounds of feed for the chickens and soon to arrive piglets.  We also threw in 12 compressed straw bales.

Our truck with a reasonable load
What is this guy thinking?

It was a full and enjoyable day.  I’m looking forward to exploring more of our new state.