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Winter on the Farm

We didn’t know what to expect for our first winter here.  Last year it seemed to be very cold and the few times we came up to check on the house the weather was either foggy, icy, freezing, snowing or raining.  We even got to experience something called “freezing fog”.    So…when the air is foggy, does the fog freeze?  We didn’t know, but it didn’t sound good.  We found out that it occurs when liquid fog droplets freeze to surfaces, forming white soft or hard ice.  It is basically the same as that soft white ice that forms inside a freezer.

On most mornings when I look out the windows I see a lot of fog, which usually dissipates by afternoon, but not always.  All in all, it hasn’t been especially cold this winter, but we have had a few mornings with temperatures in the teens.  We have also had quite a lot of rain, but it’s not worse than what we had in a normal year in San Jose.  In fact, the rain is very welcome, as long as we don’t float away!  With the rain we now have both ponds filled and the grasses are turning green.  This in turn has encouraged the waterfowl to return and forage for food.

It’s difficult to understand how anything flourishes here in the winter, because it is cold and foggy and often rainy.  I haven’t figured out how the deer, elk and cows can tolerate such cold temperatures.  On the morning that the temperature was 16 degrees, the cows were out in the field eating the grass.

If you care to read about it, here is an explanation from Penn State:  http://news.psu.edu/story/179081/2009/02/26/horses-and-other-livestock-can-thrive-cold-weather.  Good to know so I won’t worry about them, and I’m guessing the deer and elk have an adequate amount of food and water.

After the rains started the mushrooms popped up everywhere, but they are now mostly gone.  There were frogs singing at night, but they are gone too.  The elk have started coming down from the hills and we’ve seen them a few times here and there.  As always we have our small deer population with the three fawns growing up fast.  We also often hear the coyotes at night, and we even spotted one in the cow pasture one morning.

It’s good to see and feel this change of seasons.  It’s not a harsh change, but enough to make us more attentive to what’s happening around us.

To signal the change of seasons and the coming of winter we had leaves changing colors all over Roseburg, but none prettier than our own persimmon tree.

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Sara found these mushrooms a few days after Christmas when she took advantage of a non-rainy day to take a walk around the farm.  The first one is a black mushroom and the second is a cup type of mushroom.  Of the two major groups of cup fungi, I believe this is the operculate cup fungi, which have a hinged lid at the tips which opens when the spores are discharged. In the third photo are the “seeds” that were in the cups, which are sterile cells called paraphyses and they often forcibly eject the spores upward into the wind for dispersal.

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I found this mushroom growing on a tree in the yard.

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The turkey flocks are larger now and we see them much more frequently than we did in the summer.

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Wintertime has brought out the bucks.  Our deer (I’m fairly confident) are Columbian white-tail deer. The Columbian white-tailed deer is listed as an endangered distinct population segment in the lower Columbia River area under the federal Endangered Species Act, whereas the Roseburg population was delisted in 2003.  No matter, this is the only way deer are getting shot on our farm.

Click to access OFRI%20managed%20forests%20elk%20deer_for_web.pdf

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These were taken on the morning that the temperature was 16 degrees F.  Brrr…It was too cold for the birds.  They are waiting for the sunrise and hopefully warmer temperatures.

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Dramatic sunrise and sunset.  One nice added extra that we hadn’t counted on when we moved here is that we now have clouds!  I sure did miss them living in California.

We still have several more months of winter left, and it could get colder and rainier, but I think I’ll probably find something interesting to investigate.

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Dew on the grass shining in the sunset


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Our Italian Tenant

We have an Italian living with us,

in the barn–

the same as we had an Australian go on a car trip with us one year.

Both are machines, the latter a GPS device and the former a spiffy, new, shiny, Italian-made tiller–oh boy!!

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Bruce finally bit the bullet and bought a brand new tiller because digging in the garden dirt was a lot more work than he wanted to do.  He had rented a tiller last year, but he found he needed it several times throughout the season, so this seemed to be the best solution.

We went up to Eugene to pick it up, got it home, and then the fun began.  It looked like it would be dangerous exciting getting it off the truck, so I took photos.

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This is a BCS tiller.

Produced in Italy for over 50 years, BCS ranks as one of the world’s best selling tillers. BCS tillers have up to 4 forward and 3 reverse speeds. All models are direct-gear driven and offer the best power transfer in the industry. Other tillers use high maintenance, inefficient belts or chains, instead of precision high quality steel gears, to transfer power from engine to tines. BCS tillers also have an automotive-style clutch joined directly to the crankshaft.

In addition to the obvious benefits for power transfer, this clutch design positions the engine so that the tiller’s center of gravity is placed low for maximum maneuverability and the least wear and tear on the operator. High quality engines are used throughout the BCS line. They have solid state ignitions, extra-heavy flywheels and are certified for California emission standards. BCS tillers have lock pin adjustment of tiller depth up to 8″. They have rear tines (widths from 18″-30″) for even digging and reduced vibration. Tines rotate up to 290 rpms, or up to 50% faster than other brands for softer, finer soil.

BCS tillers have adjustable handles allowing 180° swing and BCS’s power take-off (PTO) can be controlled independently of the wheel speed. The tilling unit detaches easily so you can use your tractor for dozing, mowing, cutting, chipping, shredding or throwing snow. BCS offers many attachments for all these tasks; it has the widest selection of PTO attachments in the industry.

http://www.groworganic.com/garden-tools/garden-tiller.html

What do the initials BCS stand for?  Beneath Ceaseless Skies?  British Crime Survey?  Bayer Crop Science?  It could be any of these, but in this case it’s Bonetti, Castoldi, and Speroni, probably the men who founded the company…

It’s here on Wikipedia, but I don’t read Italian.  http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/BCS_%28azienda%29

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