Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chicken Report

Moved the chicken tractor this morning, to a more sunny location, because their water was skinned over with ice last night.

Red, who has been twice caught under the slats in a move, decided to get up in the nesting box and ride.

They've started laying again -- two eggs yesterday.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Ah, the joy of living in rural areas.  The latest human nastiness is a woman who, in spelling her name for a newspaper cut line, told me, "It's German.  I have to tell people that, because they want to spell it like some Hispanic crap."

BUT -- on the other hand, nature is lovely.  After a hard week, we grabbed the first lovely day to take a long walk on the beach and see where the river mouth had opened up a new island, and almost closed the old river, so we could get to the island.

We followed a gray whale down the beach as it fed among the buffelheads, in the deep water off the steep beach, only about 20 feet from us.  We listened to a blue heron cuss us out, and viewed harlequin ducks and loons.

The humans can't last forever; most diseases don't.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Soybean City (Who needs a goat?)

Betsy the woodstove (named after my Dad's green dodge coupe in the '50's) hard at work on tofu, soymilk and sea salt.

No, we don't let all that crap stay on her. She gets blacked every couple of months, and wiped down when she's cold.

I've never been able to make really good tofu before I began making my own sea-salt.  See how nicely it's curdling?  It's supposed to look like Clouds In A Golden Sky, and it does.

All the soy cooking isn't that difficult.  I make the tofu and the soy out of  one batch of beans. The tofu is made with the first, rich wash of ground soybeans; the soymilk is made with the second. 

I'm an insomniac, but a cup of soymilk whenever I can't sleep sends me right off.

The ground lees go partially into baking, part to the hens, who gobble the white lumps, rich in calcium and protein, like candy.

The yellow whey goes into the dishwater, where it cuts grease, and some is retained for shampoo. 

A bag of soybeans is about $25.00 and makes gallons of tofu and soymilk. Without being butted or having to put netting around all the trees.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Second day of the November storm; snow is six inches and rising. We evidently have Alaska's winter, and they have ours.  Oh the fascination of being on the Great Pacific Circling Current.

(right) Tarps on chicken tractor, to keep them out of direct wind. So far, they're surviving the freezing temperatures.

Placed a Dutch oven full of water in the nesting area.  Pour boiling water into it twice a day.  First time I did it, heard a chicken squawk.  But they're not stupid, or followers like sheep -- once is enough.

Made them suet cakes to go with their feed.  Gonna fatten 'em up for spring through autumn laying.

During the 2008 blizzard, Jim the cat was forced to live outside by his original owners.  This is him (right) going outside for a bit of a run, but keeping an ear cocked for when we call him.  No more sleeping on a damp carpet under a porch for HIM.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Elk Heart

Our neighbor called and said her husband and his hunting partner had taken two elk, and did I want a heart?  DID I?  Rinsed off the beautiful red blood, sharpened up the ulu knife, slit out the tubes, put the heart on braise in the Dutch oven and took the discard to the beach (don't want to give eagles the idea they eat in this yard, picked up some water for sea salt while I was there). Pretty piece of meat, Ja?

The seagulls thought so!

Oh, and turned the heart into a lovely terrine.  Cats like it too!  Yes, we share.

The edited and mostly unscrambled version of an email conversation.
D = me. L = the other guy.
L: I just bought 5 acres of timberland from Uncle Ray at the lake end of Hoko Ozette road, and I'll be been looking for people who blog about being mossbacks and living in Sekiu and Clallam Bay. (Or West Clallam Bay and Clallam Bay if you are a purist I suppose.)

D: (This next comment makes me think about how the foreign service has managed to get us into a situation of having our boobs groped at airport security. But I was nice and didn't say anything, because we all live at our own little table at the comicon and don't much look across to the other tables.)

L: I work for you overseas in the Foreign Service and will retire there in 20 years or so. Trying, as I am deep in the clutches of middle age, to start planning ahead I wanted to buy someplace to live long before I actually needed it. So the reason specific reason I'm writing is that I want to hire someone to keep an eye on my land from time to time, act as my agent as it were. I'm thinking I could paypal someone 50 dollars a month to walk the land every once and a while, keep me up to date on doins in the neighborhood. Do you know some high school student who might be interested in being an ad hoc forest ranger? I'd like someone who was going to be around for 20 years, I'm a big fan of continuity.

D: Put it in the Forks Forum want ads: or -- even better -- post a short, clear note on the bulletin board at the Sunset West Co-Op in Clallam Bay (that little yellow building next to Gary's boat corral).

D: I'm reading the Lake Ozette Sockeye recovery plan which sounds like it might impact the land I bought since I'm not far from Umbrella creek.

D: If it does, go along with it. You want to help sockeye recover, right?  If it's just woods, why do you need somebody to bother it? It can pretty much take care of itself. Hell, for $50.00 a month, I could drive by it once or twice a month and make sure the "No hunting" signs are up. Other than that, there's not much to do. Land left hands off for 20 years is the best thing to do to it. You could have some nice trees started and the creeks beginning to clean out nicely.
Windstorms and fires are natural. Leave it alone and let it breathe, and let yourself relax. If it all burns down I would reseed. If you just want pictures to dream on, that's another thing. Well, forest takes care of itself. If it's major, keep an eye on That should do it.

L: And of course I want to support the neighborhood and be seen as a contributor and a member of the community and not some carpetbagger who shops only at costco and never uses the local businesses.

D: Us white people are all carpet-baggers on this continent, anyway, so relax. They stopped arguing about if their ancestors got here in 1889 or 1949 when I said, "Don't do that in front of the Indians, will ya? It makes us look like idiots." Go to Makah Days and have fun:

L: I have been to the Makah rez several times and have always liked the people I met there. I am quite pleased that they didn't want to go the casino route and do their best to live the way they want to as opposed to how they should. Never made it to Makah days, at least not yet.

D: You would love the REAL Indian Gambling; slahal. Well, if you're crazy like we are. Dan's 1/16th Wyandotte, so maybe it's genetic.

L: Even though we won't be there very much, we are going to get a family membership to the co-op.

D: You don't need a membership. Everybody just happily buys there. I just keep an account, throwing $50.00 in every once in a while.

D: Before you start whacking down houses, check out Having your place declared a wildlife sanctuary can take advantage of the fact that up here is on the Audubon Birdwalk maps. Old-growth trees attract rare birds. Put in a light yurt or tent area and charge birdwatchers to visit.

L: I don't think a small yurt or a tent will work, at least not in 20 years, I'l be old and broken down by then, I'll need something to keep my walker out of the mud, and it was all clear cut twenty years ago, so sadly there is no old growth. If I find there is there is no way I'll be touching it.

D: Nice ones.

D: You could start your own stream by shaping a collection area and delicately running it down toward the other stream. Who knows? Have some sockeye come visit YOUR stream, too! Note: if your trees and ferns are big and wet, salmon eggs can literally stay damp in a "dried-up" streambed until the autumn rains set in. Clallam County is BIG on projects like this -- they give grant money!

L: There is supposed to be a wash or a gulley that may be a stream in the winter time, that is one of the big questions I have when I come out. Good idea about the grant money, although I don't really care about that part. Once I know where everything is, the idea of growing a stream, even a winter only stream, is fabulous, thanks for the tip!

D: I know an older guy here just dug a hole in the ground, and dips up the clear, tannic water for his uses. He's a kind of happy-in-a-lean-to kinda guy, though.

L: I'm not sure what we will do for water and power, my hope is that in 20 years solar will have improved that we will not need the grid, and we will either drill a well or go with a catchment system. But as I said, I'm hoping home building improves in the next 20 years.

D: WATER? You can dig your own rainwater collection pond. Solar and wind will pump you power -- and the PUD is very helpful with that, as well as with local grants and things. Build your own, simple and pure and be sure to put in your own greenhouse (and chicken run -- why tempt the bobcats?).

D: And of course I'd love to start making friends with people in the area now. I'm only up to July 2004 in your Clallam blog, but I loved the idea of Clallam/Sekiu being a designated artists community. And of course now I have an overwhelming urge to get the complete works of Barr for my library.

D: Cool! Up here nobody much respects me as an artist or writer -- they're into rural galleries and local histories, from the 1950's, not publishing or comics. I'm known as The Newspaper Lady (The kids yell, "Hi, Newspaper Lady!"), the freelance reporter from the PDN and the Forks Forum.

L: Wait, I'm confused, did you go there to get away from the fans or to weed out the less enthusiastic ones and make them interns? Given your track record I think a lot of people could benefit from interning with you.

D: Don't ask me. I'm not in control of the little freak show that is my life. And I don't need me any more interns -- I need somebody to hire me to TEACH. EVERYBODY wants what I have for FREE.

L: I read your PDN pieces, the gunfight was quite exciting, shotguns and body armor, oh my! But why are so many PDN story paragraphs one short sentence? I have not read any of the Forks pieces, I can't seem to find a search field!

D: Don't ask me. It's what they do. My pieces are that awful Associated Press style Hemingway was forced to write in, and that has tainted today's literature so badly. My newsy stories I like are at: OOH, I see it's part of Yahoo now.
L: Hope the windstorm did not treat you too harshly, look forward to hearing from you!

D: Windstorm? What windstorm? After the typhoon and 95 mph winds a few years ago, this was just rain gusts. I'm not kidding; since then, if it's not 85 mph, nobody up here notices.

D: If I didn't know tai-chi, I'd have been tossed in the river while trying to get storm shots for the paper.
L: I will look into chicken tractors in about 19 years when I'm kitting the place out, although the men in my family have a genetic fear of chickens, so I may leave that to the wife.

D: You know, our neighbor's afraid of birds! I wonder if that's because their ancestors ate so many of our ancestors.

D: Well, enjoy the new place -- put in bee hives! Plenty of beekeepers up here, working with the local feral Russian bees, including my try at them (neighborhood was too small).

D: Oh, and solar works up here. The dvd is in the library.

L: Feral Russian bees? What the heck? The bee hives are a good idea, but would I have to care for them in the intervening 20 years or should I wait? Interesting idea, and the wife wants a lot of plants and flowers and goddess knows the world needs more beehives. Do you know any beekeepers in the area you can refer me to?

D: Look up Tim van Ripper in the phone book. He has all the connections. If I were you, I'd put out some clean second-hand hives and ignore them. You'll need one of these when you get here too (co-op wants EGGS):

D: But PLEASE remember you have to make your life around the local bears and cougars. Don't be the people who harass the rutting or territorial animals, get a bit hurt and then have to kill the animal. It's their home and they're COOL (A bit of solar electric fence works nice on bears). Cougars: don't build weak fences and watch out if an idiot logging company clear-cuts next to you -- it drives out the resident cougar and all hell breaks loose. But toilet paper must be cheap, you know (feh).

L:Well, as long as the rutting and territorial animals respect my territory as well, we will be cool.

D: When you move in up here, you're moving into THEIR homes and territories. You need to keep your domestic animals protected. It's not a city neighborhood.  When the golden eagles come in we all put away small dogs and cats. If a cougar comes through, same, but also kids and all food. They go away when they find there's no food (tho' one guy had one sleeping on his back porch after getting a catfood feed). The deer EAT here; it's THEIR livelihood. You have to put up a little greenhouse with a top -- easier to garden, anyway. The wet winter/dry summer make gardening very hard. Check out:

(L made a comment about goats in rut, here, after having read a PDN story about a goat who took out a hiker.)

D: The dork who got killed by the mountains goats sent the two women down the trail -- and then, with his predator-set eyes (HELLO? Threaten the females and kids??). CAME BACK TO CHALLENGE THE GOAT. WTF? Talk about the Darwin award. Only stupid I-Am-God-It-Was-All-Made-For-Me people run into trouble with the wildlife up here. Our neighbors were terrified when they found they'd bought a place with major predators on the ridge behind them until I 'splained how we live with them. They're fine, now! They think it's cool.

L: I'm hoping no one ever cuts the land around me, but sadly that is out of my control. If I ever see it come up for sale and I have the money I'm snapping it up. Except maybe the gravel pit just west of me.

D: The gravel pit can recover, too.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November Harvest, 2010

Jerusalem Artichokes (left) and assorted potato varieties (right), including the long Ozette heritage potato (GET your mind back where it belongs!).

Monday, November 08, 2010


Here there's a big rock around that headland that BELONGS to a ruby-crowned kinglet.  There's a tree near the river that belongs to another one.  You take your life in your hands (laughing yourself to death) if you get near either.

Of course, touching the rock and leering, "Oh, is this YOUR rock?  And here?  And HERE?" can't help.  I thought the furious little bead of feathers was going to explode from pure indignation.

Teasing wildlife.  We're going to hell.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


On the Clallam Bay Beach (left).  There are ROCKS out there! 

Can you see the REALLY CRAZY guys out past the Slip Point Reef? (right)

Very high tides brought out the Rare Breed Surfers: they keep this up and they'll be even RARER.

But don't they make you want to learn to surf?  It looks like killer fun!

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Hick in Techo-Hick

 The morning's work, clockwise from upper left:

Frying crackers
Turnip greens (picked from the garden)
Jerusalem artichokes (ditto)
Homemade cheese ravioli
Homemade soymilk (in process).
Upper right: what's left of the peanut-butter cookies, most of which went to the Hallowe'en party last night.

Know how peanut-butter cookies are always too dry and easy to burn?  Especially if using white sugar?  Accidentally discovered how to make them tender and chewy: soak the sugar overnight in just enough water to make a paste.  Try it -- it's a whole 'nother cookie. I don't know if you need to soak brown sugar, but if white sugar is all you have, this works.  Hm.  Maybe add a little molasses to the white sugar while soaking?

The turnip greens and artichokes will go with rice, probably for tomorrow, but they need to be cooked today, because they're THERE.

Got too busy, let the mushrooms we'd picked spoil in the 'fridge.  From now on, the rule of hunter/gatherer is:  eat in season, eat when found (or prepare for the next day).  Keeps away food allergies, and it's how we're supposed to eat anyway.

Hm.   I feel like fish.  Maybe if the rain breaks today, after I get the last AFTERDEAD page colored (and maybe the second-to-the-last because it was VERY experimental, and frankly looks like crap, or did last time I saw it), I might go down and get me a greenling to fry tomorrow with bacon oil and Sechzuan pepper.  Yum.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Before I get going on the day's artwork, I need to take advantage of the wood stove's morning flare to do the cooking.

A gallon of sea water makes this much sea-salt (Fleur de Clallam).  It's collected from Clallam Bay, out by the far point in that picture. It's slightly damp, very white, and has a very faint sweetness.  Only enough is made for us, Christmas gifts for a few friends and occasionally to sell.  Up here they call it "Donna's Salt."

To keep from getting my clothes wet, I wear a knee-length sweatshirt dress and flip-flops.  Yes, it's cold, but it's never cold enough to freeze.  Two gallons are collected at a time, one for each hand.

Peanut butter cookies, made with the Day of the Dead skulls that didn't make it.  And the bowl of salt.

Four years ago, we lost our old cat Spuds.  All fish and seafood coming into this house went to him.  When we lost him after a long fight, to nose cancer, fishing just reminded me painfully of him.

Back on the beach, again, this time asking him to share if he wants any.  I only fish if I'm hungry for fish. Admittedly, like all fishers, the carnivore/omnivore instincts kick in, and I enjoy the fish's struggles on the line.  But if I don't don't think I will want fried fish and bone crackers the next day, I don't fish. 

I have a deal on with the fish: when I catch one, I smash up all of my mussel bait, and throw it to out to my breakfast's brethren.  No, I don't think the fish know about this deal; it just makes me feel better.

Turns out I'm good at hunting and gathering.  If I took up hunting deer, it would be for spikes or, if they ever allow it, does. Because hunting for antlers is just hunting grandpa -- and it's traditionally a practice for war, replacing the urge to kill other humans.  And bucks and bulls are in rut: YUCK.  

If I were hunting for antlers, I'd turn it into a REAL sport: tracking the same buck every year until he dropped his horns, starting when he was a spike, until he dropped his final set as an old man, and letting the tough old guy feed something that will enjoy him, like a mountain lion.  Or somebody who needs a really good, thick hide.  But collecting a life-time's horns without killing, counting a kind of coup, would really demonstrate tracking ability and courage. However:

Now for the real reason for hunting or gathering anything: putting it in our faces.

It's not necessary to fillet greenling.  Just head and cut, scraping out the bloodline with a mussel shell.  Split open.  Rinse well, salt inside, wrap in a towel and put in the 'fridge 'till breakfast time.  Rinse well, pat dry, fry skin-side down, preferably in lard of bacon grease, although any oil will do.  The best spice to sprinkle, lightly, on a greenling is Chinese Prickly Ash, also called Sichuan pepper, available at McPhee's Asian Grocery in Port Angeles, and soon to be available at Sunset West Co-op in Clallam Bay.

Dish, slip out the backbone and slip off the skin and fins.  Place them all back in the pan, to slow-crisp.  They will make the most delectable crunchy bone-crackers.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

In the middle of the day's cooking, thought I'd give these a try.  Can't find 'em ANYPLACE out here:

Can't find Calaveras de azúcar.para el Día de los Muertos (November 1)? (Sugar Skulls for the Day Of The Dead) Make 'em! Here's a simple at-home recipe: 
 Beat egg whites into soft peaks, mix with granulated sugar until the consistency of soft sand (add a bit of water if too dry). Form into little skulls by hand; use kitchen utensils to form eyes, nose and teeth. Let dry 24 hours. Decorate with food coloring or frosting. They're a great holiday activity with the kids. Sugar skulls are ornamental, and not meant for consumption. 
These are my first try; only these four survived a dozen attempted.  Do NOT try to cook these; they just fry and stick to the plate!  Be patient and dry them. 

Forming them:  make a ball of sugar in your hand, and then turn it over.  You'll be amazed how little tweaking it takes to make a little bony head.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Been over on Facebook, not posting here as I should.  First of all, today's haul:  a nice mess of Woodland Russalas, found in a park in Port Angeles while walking between busses.  They're simmering here in chicken-stock sauce, with homemade egg noodles, made with eggs from our hens, and green beans.  Took advantage of Terry Gross's latest interview, that was running while the mushrooms were sautéing on the woodstove.  When the dish was ready, I popped some fresh black pepper, a dash of lemon juice, and home-collected sea salt over each helping.  The acid combined with the sweet, hazelnut-like flavor of the mushrooms made the whole melange to die for.  Thanks, Terry!

Billions of gorgeous mushrooms this year; biggest chanterelles we've ever found.  Honeys, white oysters and puff balls.  

Hadn't gone fishing in four years, since we lost Spuds.  At his end, I'd been fishing and gathering seafood only for him, and was missing him too much to go collecting again.  Back to picking up nice little greenling off the beach.  They were only yanking the bait off my hook, until I muttered, "First one grabs it, I stop fishing for today, smash up the rest of the bait and throw it in.  So somebody come help me feed your brethren."  BAM -- fish on.  Smashed up the bait, threw it in, took the one fish home.  Nice greenling, which provided too lovely fillets and a sweet backbone for bone crackers.  

No fishing yesterday; our neighbor brought over a couple pounds of fresh halibut.  Fried up in lard with black pepper and sea salt made of seawater collected from Clallam Bay, boiled in an old pot on the wood stove.  A gallon makes about 3 ounces of Fleur de sel.  Because of its mineral and iodine content, it's entirely cut back on our salt cravings.  It's excellent when used for Live Salt (my term for the fresh grains thrown on a dish at the last moment to spark the flavor).

Built a THIRD chicken coop and it really is a chicken tractor, now.  Easy to move, a lot easier to clean, and more accessible for eggs, while retaining security.

The people we got the hens from stuck us with a skinny gray rooster -- who has grown up into a nice, quiet, masculine silver, who only crows a little at dawn, and all the girls love him.  The neighbors say he doesn't bother them. Nice deep body on him, too -- if he sires chicks, they may be nice for egg-laying.  Dunno; will have to see.  His name is Blue.  The hens are named Red, Black, Splash, and Inky.

We are SO ready for the rains -- and getting back to some real drawing and writing.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I've had to sell my bees.  Hans Barr (not a near relative of my husband) just bought them. 

If you get an error message, just click it a few times, and it will open in YouTube.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Dead Whale

Hiked to 2nd Beach on the Olympic Peninsula yesterday. Resting against a log in the sand, I couldn't stand the pain in my back teeth any more.  Thought it might be that place that needed flossing, was delicately working at it when a ghastly smell floated by.  

At first I thought it was something old stuck in my teeth; you with deep places in your teeth know how it is when you dig out an ancient shred of meat and it's gone bad.  I dug a little more and the smell oozed by again.  Realized it wasn't me; got up and began to look around.  

About ten feet away, a five-foot long black woody-looking mass displayed the remains of baby-whale-size vertebrae.  Might have been what was left of a head.  The crows were happily bouncing about on this bounty.  I stood back, breathing through my mouth, and tried to be respectful; it's  a whale, after all.

Two guys showed up who were camping down the beach.  One of them had a shovel, and they had a very determined look.  When they found the dessicated mass, their attitude was exactly that I'd seen in a guy on the beach viewing a piece of dead whale before:  "How DARE it rot on MY beach!"

What's up with that? This is nature; stuff dies and washes up. Stuff rots.  These two testicles just glowed with a sense of righteous outrage.  Maybe they wanted a mint on their pillows.

As I walked away, I saw them covering it up, and some pretty disturbed crows.  All I could do is laugh.  And laugh.

Smoggy today; literally.  The British Columbia forest fires are combining their smoke with our August fog to provide us with our own version of a London Peculiar.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Being Stupid With Bees

Note:  just because we can trot out in our jammies at night to feed our gentle tame bees does NOT mean we can re-arrange a tower of Russian ferals in BARE FEET.

Quite sick, now.  Oh, look!  I'm allergic to bees!  Anybody wanna buy some hives?  With nice strong bees?  Rats.

A colleague says we comic book people are only good at doing comic books.  Nobody else is -- it's extremely difficult and demanding.  We're just not so good at anything else.

We'll see how long the chicken business lasts before I get some stupid infection or something.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dead Animals So Far

So far, the dead animals of people I know who have taken on farming in forest or other wildlife areas:

1.  (Not quite a) Possum.  WOULD have been dead for trying to eat food on a goat/horse farm except a visiting friend and me took it down the road and found a place that looked like it had a lot of forage.  Are possums native to the Olympic Peninsula?  No.  But we saved it on principle, anyway.  The farm that tried it also stopped poisoning their flies around their barn to give the swallows a chance to build a population and control the flies (= bird food), so they get points for offset.  And they listened.  So far so good.

2.  Raccoon.  Mini-farmers from Colorado believe their chickens aren't secure enough, even though the fence would keep a horse out.  Nice people, but will never buy any rabbit meat from them.  Or promote it.

3.  Beavers.  Horse people trying to plant trees in a swamp bottom to help kill non-native grasses.  Logging company above cut all the trees, flooded the creek.  Beavers, taking opportunity to build a pond, which would have flooded out the grass, got trapped and killed.  Yeah, that's going to solve the problem. Humans not so much ever going to get me to visit their place again.

4.  Horse and cattle farmer trapped three young cougars in boxes.  Wildlife officer and he agreed that the animals, if hauled away and released, would die soon anyway.  So they made sure of it; the guy shot the cougars in the boxes (isn't he brave?). He did NOT use the hides or meat  because it "would have been too much trouble." Then he bragged about it to me, like I was supposed to be impressed (WTF?). These people sell chickens, eggs, hamburger and feed. Guess I'm going to have to get all those elsewhere -- and promote nothing they produce.  Oh, well.

5.  Fish:  Local woman letting her kid shoot mini plastic pellets into the water, where they can be eaten by local bottom-feeding fish, starve them, then rot out to kill ever more fish.

6.  Cougars and everything else:  Hilltop forest cut next to a neighborhood.  Young resident cougar, now starving, tries to get chickens out of a cage, snatches an attacking dog, and is shot.  Housing developer then files an environmental action statement claiming there will be no wildlife impact.  What timing.

7.  Buffalo.  In the way, and industrially useful.  A whole nation incurs traditional animal genocide karma. 

8.  Watership Down.  This novel, describing lovely English countryside, soon makes the reader aware the only remaining wildlife is songbirds and small predators.  Everything else has been wiped out.

8.  Me and my chickens: anything gets into their cages it's MY FAULT.  I at least have brain enough to know that if I decide I'm inconvenienced by wildlife, that's my fault for moving here, and that if we all decide we're slightly bothered by our neighboring life, we will wipe it out.

Conclusion:  I guess I'm just a better person.  Oh, well.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Yeah, we've been busy -- mostly completely repainting everything and taking care of ANYTHING that frustrated us or needed fixed.

Chicken news:  Black was being so totally broody she stopped laying.  Could not convince her to stop.

In the cartoon book, Memories of a Former Kid, by Bob Artley, he describes how to de-broody a hen:  Put her in a small cage by herself and feed her naught but cracked corn and water.

So I cracked some of Dan's bulk popcorn in a blender and put Black into the little isolation cage for chicks or sick chickens.  After 3 days, I put her back into her own pen with Red -- she not only had stopped being broody, within a day she was laying again.

See?  Cartoons solve everything!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Black Gone Broody Mad, Bitch

Our black hen, Black (yes, it's a food-animal designation) is brooding her brains out.  I even had to go get her some fertile eggs to brood, so she'd get off the nest once in a while.

Now I'm having to lift her up to check she's not brooding Red's eggs, too.  

Bad news; they managed to discover eggs are edible.  I'll go have to look up something on that.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Watch Your Kids

Some idiot, while fishing in Clallam Bay, shot a pigeon guillemot; you should be able to see the bullet hole.

If they're flipping bullets around for non-sports birds, they're flipping bullets around with depraved indifference.

There's a term we used to use for kids when I ran a blockwatch in Bremerton:  bullet magnet.  They just attract 'em.  

So if your kid catches a slug fishing on Clallam Bay this weekend, you know where to look.  Let me know: I get paid for all the articles and photos I can collect.

Sunfish in the Strait

An unusual visitor from far-off seas washed up on a beach on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, north of Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, Friday, June 4.

A sunfish, or common mola, estimated as weighing around 1000 pounds, attracted attention from residents at Vista Road and local wildlife and fisheries officers. The fish lay in the incoming surf near the Hoko River estuary, to the west of Kydaka point, on the public-access beach.

The fish is usually found in the south Pacific. Bill Riedel, of Vista Road, said the fish was probably seven feet long, five feet wide and 18 inches through the body. He said that these fish weren't usually seen in the Strait except during unusual weather patterns and warmer water conditions.

Natural Resources Enforcement officer Bill "Tuna" Williams, of Neah Bay Fisheries, and Corey Peterson, of State Fish and Wildlife, dropped by to examine and photograph the fish, partly from personal interest as well as to report the sighting to the Makah Tribal Biologist.

Mahone said h'ed never seen a sunfish in the area before. There was no evidence what might have killed the fish, which showed little damage except for a few streaks of blood on the fins.

Sunfish, related to pufferfish and porcupinefish, are commonly found in the tropical and temperate oceans. They have few natural threats, but are sometimes preyed upon by sea lions, sharks and orcas.

Their diet consists mainly of jellyfish. This makes them vulnerable to choking on plastic bags, which resemble jellyfish when floating in the water.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Let's Teach The Kids!

It's not uncommon to see someone who's caught a large fish up here laughing and sniggering while beating it to death.  While I fish, too, and clubbing is one of the quickest ways to kill a fish, I don't treat these animals who die so I can live as though they're enemy humans I want to exterminate.  And I don't fish unless I'm hungry for fish.

Right now it's Catch-and-Release fishing season up here -- that's right, tormenting animals for the fun of it and teaching the kids to do it, too.

Now is the time the big cabazons (relatives of bullheads) and other fish somebody didn't want wash up, dead of stress or worse, because somebody out there was playing with them and threw them away as so much garbage (even little bullheads are delicious, by the way).  The fisherman slash Styrofoam bait flats apart and throw them in the water -- and we all know what plastics are doing.  

Dan and I keep a beach up here clean and we know when these loser fishermen are in town.  I've even seen them leave salmon in a boat to rot while they go have a beer or dinner, because catching the fish is all it's about, not eating them. How many of us know those who hunt for bones on an animal's head and not to eat it?  And hunters and fishers wonder why they're losing support -- because they won't police their own. 

Along with the Gulf Spill, I don't know how any human dares look another animal in the face right now.  I say this as a human who tries always to use less, share and damage less at all times.  It's my idiot species, and I can't say I'm not one of them.

If this planet was a test, NO humans are going to heaven....

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bar None

We have a prison here -- the Clallam Correctional Facility.

"Correctional" gives me the historical willies. How many times have we heard a word like that used in the past?

It's interesting interacting with prison people -- or "interesting," in the way that word is sometimes expressed.  The released prisoners, in their brand-new red jackets and blue slacks, ride the buses to Port Angeles or Tacoma, their possessions, in cardboard boxes, sharing the seat with them. One of them was wearing a superb line-art tattoo of a snarling panther.  He described it as a prison tattoo, and then how it was completed.  The cover is removed from a tape-deck, and a sharpened wire attached to the wheel mechanism, turning it into a tiny mechanical tattoo needle. A lighter is held to the base of a black plastic chess piece, and the resulting black soot mixed with a medium I can't recall, but which probably wouldn't be hard to figure out, given what possibly or nearly sanitary liquids are available in a prison.

At one point, the prison administration listed their zip code as 98326, without using their 4-digit individual code. Mapquest defined the entire zip code as "prison." The listing ricocheted throughout the internet.  For a while, trying to order anything possibly dangerous -- even a weed hoe -- on the internet, was refused by Amazon because the zip code belonged to a prison.  The problem is slowly being scoured out of the systems.

I almost wrote "corrected:"  $!#!! AP style poisoning my vocabulary, like Hemingway.  A recent Pulitzer winner told me that "newspapers are circling the drain." I coulda told him that; try to get one to pay you. They get torqued off if you don't fight your way past the cops on a nasty dangerous corner to get a photo, or insult the tribe by flashing away with a camera at the funeral of an important elder (like I need that -- I have to live with these people!).  For $20.00 a photo, if I'm lucky.  Clallam County Commisioner Mike Doherty made fun of me at a community meeting to a member of the sheriff's department for how little I'm paid and how hard I work for it. I've been less available for a lot of his projects and the local meetings, lately. I have books to process for real publishers who really pay me, thank you. I get more reliable money from the ads on my blogs and sales sites.

Speaking of newspapers, credit where credit is due -- one of them DID pay me for not doing my job, because I waited in vain outside the prison in a freezing-cold truck for two hours around midnight, waiting for my editor to get me permission to enter the place.  The important story was about a guy who  who filled up one wing of the prison with smoke after deciding it would be a good idea to roast sausages in a toilet.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Next Chicken Step

Now we've got the egg production up and running -- 227 eggs as of today -- it's time for the next step.

Rebuilt the bigger cage to make it easier to access for cleaning, and got three nice new chicks (featherball stage)  from the Triple Nickel Farm on Highway 112.

The process now is:  buy new chicks when the older hens are cycling down (not yet, but will come soon enough), get a big rooster for the older hens and let 'em go on the hill behind us to have a few days/weeks/months of freedom.  Better than being slaughtered for soup or braise.  

The hill is the breeding home of eagles and other predators.  They don't hunt near their nesting area, and they keep down other predators.

I was perfectly willing to try slaughtering chickens, but when I was talking about the whole recycling process, Dan's face crinkled up in distress.  He was raised on a chicken farm, and had to kill a lot of them.  He just doesn't want to do the same with two hens he considers family pets.  So the girls will get an end-of-life vacation.

The new chicks are mixes; a black Arucana mix, and a couple of red/gray mottled things.  They cost two bucks apiece.  They're still scared, but they know where their compfy grass-lined nest is, as well as the food and water.

After a lifetime of not really eating eggs because Dan can't eat store eggs, we don't really eat a lot of eggs ourselves.  Most of them are now part of the swap system  with our neighbors, for cleaned, packaged salmon fillets and elk-burger and trout and ling-cod and halibut. Both sides of the swap think they've made out like fat rats and gotten the better end of the deal.

I'm going to check with the co-op and see if we can't just trade for milk, cheese, butter and  yogurt.  If you've got chickens, you've got a cow.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Why I quit working for the Census

They need to speak to their mid-level supervisors about making giggly remarks when “they” instruct a trainee to fill out pay-forms to reflect what hasn’t actually happened, just to make it line up with the state work laws. If the people in the offices back east make mistakes about mileage and time in rural areas, they need to work that out, not encourage employees to cheat on the pay-forms.

Signing up to work for the Census was me overloading myself again, when I have prior commitments (like my intern in July!), and having to back out before both jobs go to pieces. And I have these books to finish processing — and I can’t take forever on that, either.  It’s got to get done sooner rather than later.

Dan doesn’t know I’ve scheduled three more chickens for the back coop.  Sorry, but when one can trade eggs for salmon and elk-burger, and the co-op is asking for eggs, ya just gotta go for it.  He did tell me yesterday he'd never had such big, rich eggs in his life, that they were better than the ones his grandfather raised -- with the reasonable caveat that hens and feed were probably better today.  He did admit Red and Black are pretty spoiled chickens.  Pets, that's all.

Pet pigs, pet lambs... it's how they're treated and raised up here.  We're eating ground beef from Triple Nickel Farm on Highway 112, out of a bull the owner said, "He was my pet -- but his calves killed six of my heifers."  They were too big.  But he was a food animal, and they had to eat him. 

Anyway, the Census wasn't paying enough to make me cheat on my pay-forms, possibly get no pay for hours worked, or send me up dirt roads to find people with shot-guns.  Admittedly, they pay for all injury and hospital time -- but when one of their safety instructions is "Wear comfortable shoes, in case you have to run" (it's in their handbook!) it does tend to set off alarms.

And this on-line book thing is working, as money trickles in from all sides.  Not a huge amount of money, but certainly enough to take care of things.  Not spending money is the same as earning it -- and when, like yesterday, you run into a paint shop that is clearing for inventory and gives you enough paint to finish the inside of the house -- "Free!  Just get it out of here!" -- that's the same as making a lot of money.

I made more money in ten minutes getting free paint than I'd ever make on another job.  "Poverty is a full-time job" can be rephrased as "Independence is a full-time job." Depends on what you do with it.

Note:  new Census rule.  A "lot" (supervisor quote) of people up to no good have been impersonating census workers. If the Census worker is NOT wearing a bright-orange vest with green fluorescent stripes that say "Census bureau" down the front and on a green fluorescent patch on the back, CALL THE POLICE!  If you invite them in and they do -- it's not a census worker.  The new rule is:  NO going into anybody's home.  If they ask to come in -- CALL THE POLICE!

On the way home, I helped several people with census questions.  One guy in a business which -- admittedly -- a lot of folks with warrants patronize, was looking at his form and said, "I don't know if I want to fill all this out."  When I told him the punishment for a census worker who revealed anything about personal information was 5 years in jail and/or a $250,000 fine, and that a CW could be waterboarded before they'd give up that info to anybody, including the sheriff or the IRS, and that NO information could be released for 72 years to ANYBODY, he went ahead and filled it out. He can help out his more nervous customers, too, now.

For every census form filled out, a community brings in on the average $1400 of gov'ment money.  It's about cutting up the pie  we all pay into-- they can't come fix your roads if they don't think anybody's living up there.  Our library has been closed for a week at a time up here.  It's a lifeline for a lot of locals -- knowledge that we have so many people here will help with funding.

The numbers the census collects goes into a pool. They don't look like "The Hernandez family with six kids lives here."  It looks like: "This area is 15% Hispanic."  And that, by the way, is how you get listed -- the way you insisted on writing it.  Evidently people have put down race as "non-white" and "German." I put down "Vaguely Ethnic" and "American Mutt." If Obama can call himself a Mutt, so can I. 

Dan, who is 1/8 Wyandotte and living here where "American Indian" can bring in nice funding, listed himself as such.  It's not about the little box you belong in permanently -- it's about where people are in their lives for this decade's funding and numbers of representatives in the House of Representatives.

I asked, "What if a gay couple puts down 'husband or wife?' Is it based on laws or society?" and was told, "Put it down. It's what they say they are. Don't argue."

Thomas Jefferson said we have to do this if we live here, so might as well do it.  But -- if you got a problem, call the Census office.  They're actually pretty helpful. They just want to get this job done.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

All Those Nasty Trees Gone

Pillar Point on Highway 112 used to be shaded by big, nasty, old trees.  As you can see, the local lumber company has opened up the other side of the road, so you don't have to look at all those horrible big-leaf maples, Douglas Fir and hemlock any more.  

This is on the Scenic By-Way.  Merrill and Ring logging knows that "scenic" means teaching the iggernant citifolks what a Workin' Forres' looks like.  Tourism ain't got no money for the local economy, of course. The sooner all these in-the-way trees and fish are gone, the sooner the owners can sell to a developer and turn the place into someplace the citifolks can live.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Workin' For Da Man

Got a job with the census.  I'm expecting it to be pretty huge -- a lot of people don't have direct mail delivery out here.  And with the meth-heads, scammers and other run-aways, it just may get entertaining. But what the hell, every once in a while I have to get a job that will remind me why working in comics is so much BETTER.  And some extra cash for some of the house upkeep we're doing would be nice.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

My bees are really cold.  They're barely moving.  But THIS gives me hope.

I'll keep providing food and water and staying out of the hive.  I don't even know if the queen is alive.  Whether she is or not, I'm getting a new monarch from these guys this summer.

Start worrying about your little insects and I'll guarantee you, you'll stop being afraid of them.  All you can think of is how to keep the Girls alive.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Too Close and Not Close Enough

Out in the garden, bent over plucking some greens, I heard a winnowing sound that I'd barely identified as wings  -- in that split second wondering if it were angry bees and then a crow -- before I had to duck out from under two hurtling bald eagles. They zipped over the fence and flew off along Bear Kill Ridge on a courtship flight.

(Nobody knows who was killed -- the bear or whoever was hunting it)
About six eagles are hanging out in the area; three adults, three immatures (nothing yet from this year).  We call one of the youngsters "Bird-Killer" because she zeroes in on and takes ducks out of the water.  We think it's a female; she's big. A month ago she rose from the reef and flew toward where we stood on the beach, rising over sea-ducks feeding near the shore. 

She hovered, then suddenly dropped and powered along the waves, targeting a buffel-head drake.  The drake took off and flew for his life, Bird-Killer like a big dark jet behind him, her great wings scything through the air, closing the gap by the moment. There was a sudden explosion of spray as the drake dived underwater in full flight.  Bird-Killer overshot, then swung around.  She wafted up, watching for where he would resurface.  He came up, but no sooner than she'd dropped through the air, he dropped back under the surface. of the water.

You could almost see her shrug, before she headed off down toward the mouth of the Clallam Bay River.  She's evidently learned what she can take or not, and doesn't waste action. She's going to be a serious competitor once she gets her white head feathers.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April Is The Cruelest Month

Rats.  Our white chicken died.  No weird foaming, green droppings, nothing.  Just laid down and died.  The poultry site says, "Sometimes chickens just drop dead."

Her eggs had been getting smaller -- I thought she was just ramping down for summer.  She SEEMED completely energetic.  Her eyes are clear and bright.  Who knows? The site recommended some Baytril, which we keep on hand.  But they also said cut grass is bad for chickens -- and I'd been giving them grass (I thought chickens ate grass!).  Maybe they meant oily lawnmower grass, not hand-pulled or hand-cut grass?

We've been keeping cats for 30 years and nearly lost one to a whole WTF? episode with asthma.

And my bees aren't looking so good today.  I SHOULD have kept them warm in the house and put them in today.  I hate saying "live and learn" when other things die.

We were also calling the hen "Steve" (McQueen, in The Great Escape) because she'd got out once by burrowing under the fence.  NEVER NAME A GOLDFISH OR A CHICKEN.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Amateur Bee Rodeo

Drove two pounds of Carnolian package bees home from Sunny Farms in Sequim today.  But of course, it was cold and wet -- it always is when I have to travel or carry something fragile, like art or insects -- with occasional spring-time flashes of sun.  By the time I got home, the bees in the box were chilled, but I couldn't bring them in the house because there were stragglers clinging to the outside of the wire box.  

At the next short sun-break, I whipped open the hives and poured 'em into the hive.  That I forgot and left two of the wax frames out and had to open the whole thing again was just first-timer jitters.  Oh, I didn't tell you I was working these bees without veil or gloves?  That's how I was taught, over 30 years ago, at Ohio State University. I won't work veil-free once the bees are established, but I needed to be able to see and manipulate everything without confusion during this ticklish operation.

The bees were so cold they were balling up and wouldn't pour out of the box.  It took several tries, and by then some of them were beginning to warm up and defend their new home.  They got me in the left wrist and elbow -- but it hardly hurt.  I guess all that working with nettles for soup and greens the last couple of years has made me more immune to stings.  

They're finally hived up humming for the evening; I hope the queen is all right.  I lost about 30-40 bees, but out of 10,000 that ain't bad. When I re-queen with the more aggressive and hardy Olympic Grey this summer, I will burqa up for those babes. And if I ever have to package again, and it's cold, I'll have to make the hard decision to brush off the stragglers in a spare wooden box and take the rest of the girls into the house to stay warm until the weather clears.  They're like the cells of a brain, not individuals.  But if you've ever let a small cold bee crawl up on your finger and carried her to safety, it's hard to think of her that way.

I must get this from mom.  When camping, she paid no attention to yellow-jackets, except to give them their own little pile of food and lids of soda away from the cooking area, or to dip them out of the stew.  She called them "Mountain Kittens."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

ALMOST LOST KIKI -- file under stupid accidents

Our cats had been coughing lately, especially Kiki.  She's the cute calico we rescued up here a few years ago. After a treatment of hairball medicine, the only one still coughing was Kiki. We thought it might be worms; one of our other cats once had worms and the cough sounded like that.

In palpating her belly, our vet commented that she was tensing her lower body muscles.  He thought it might be connected to her breathing. I began to remember that she seemed to cough more when she was excited, or purring.  Could it be asthma?

We thought about what do do next.  He said we should try some cortisone for possible asthma, and it wouldn't hurt to worm a cat in a multiple-cat household.  We could x-ray.  I said we should start slow and go from there.  Our vet is funny.  He said, "Well, I can run the bill up as high as you want today."  We both laughed.

The cortisone shot caused no trouble.  She began to gag on the worm pill and then to slobber and finally to retch.  We petted her, waiting for her to keep the pill or cat it up.  Then the coughing started.  "That's it, that's the cough," I said.  Suddenly, she keeled over.  The vet's face went flat; nobody had expected that.

He picked her up and rushed her into the operation room.  I got out of the way.  I felt my heart turn over when I saw her carry her across a hall wrapped in a towel, but he was only taking her for x-rays. He put her back on oxygen, and then leaving her with a technician, called me in to see her x-rays.  They showed an airway no larger than a straw, and a small pool of vomit in the lungs. She'd inhaled vomit, then the muscles around her lungs had cramped hard, locking her lungs closed.

Each time she was taken off oxygen, the vet said, "She keeps trying to die."  As she lay there, her chest and belly muscles roiling, I put my face down close to hers and spoke to her.  Her wide black pupils shrunk, and her eyes focused on me. Each time the tech touched her, the pupils flared again.  Apologizing to the tech, I asked her if she couldn't take her hands away, in case a stranger was stressing her.  She did so, and Kiki focused on me again.  A cat down the hall began to complain, and her attention flicked toward the sound; there was a cat she was going to have to beat up.  Perhaps the distraction began to allow her muscles to relax. After about a half hour, the vet tried to take her off oxygen. She continued to struggle to breath, but the vet said it was much better.

When he thought she was "critical but stable," we placed her in a kennel, dark and quiet, and I called Dan.  Ever tear somebody's heart out over the phone?  To give her a chance to calm, I went and got the rest of my errands done, with my cell phone on (we live far away from town, and the chickens needed food and the house needed things).  When I came back, she was much better. The vet gave her a shot of antibiotics, to give her lungs a chance against the vomit, and sent her home.

She's much better today, but we're watching her.   She'll probably need cortisone once a month, but from now on everything she gets will be topical; we can't risk another vomiting episode. I told the vet's receptionist they were lucky I'd had a lot of cats and knew this was caused by accident and DNA, or I'd be going ballistic.  "Broken heart, small soul," as my character Lt. Winzig once told me.

Damn dropping oxygen levels on the planet.  Well, you know what they say:  "Cure asthma -- shoot a logger."

Friday, April 16, 2010


After the liquor store was robbed and I sent in the article, the store owner said she was mad at me because the article said the store had a safe and a computer. Wtf? Did she think we all thought she'd been carrying the store funds around in her pocket or recording inventory on a piece of bark? 

She should be mad at the employees who led me around the store, pointing things out and describing what was there and what was missing or not. They made jokes about my reporting in town and watched me writing down quotes and waited while I got 'em right -- which I thank them for, because it was very helpful. 

Now about the security -- even though i didn't have to -- Freedom of the Press -- I stopped writing when the cop requested it, as "an ongoing investigation."  I e-mailed the editor when the local informer asked to to have its name left out, and he did so.  So where was the store owner watching her employees' mouths?  Why did she not make her store security policy clear to them?  I've told these people repeatedly "You're talking to a reporter" and tried to 'splain FotP.

Journalists -- which I'm pretending to be -- have no souls.  We'll send in anything that we can put quote marks around, mostly because editors hassle for it. So watch your mouth around a reporter, especially a freelancer only doing it because nobody else will bother, because it's all meat. WHAT have I said about writers??

Anyway, I just said, "Yeah, you're right, it was an editorial call," and then bought the bottle of wine Dan wanted.  That's another thing a reporter will do -- just nod and agree.  You never know if they'll say something you can use in details for a later article....