Thursday, December 29, 2016

Waiting For Marijke (and oh yah, doing spring activities)

Hi folks and welcome back to the blog.  I haven't been updating very often, so if you are seeing this post but haven't seen the previous post, my 3,000 mile road trip down the west coast with Marijke, who I also announced last post I am going to marry, check it out here: The West Coast Road Trip & Big News .

This post covers a good chunk of life, from early April until late May, essentially the period between Marijke leaving to return to the Netherlands (her home country) for visa reasons and her return to the island and America on a new visa.  It's a time of a huge amount of work on the farm in terms of planting for the growing season, when the seasonal people start returning to the San Juans, and when the sun shines most days.   I'm making this post brief, so not a lot of stories, mostly just photos and quick captions.  Enjoy!

Spring rains keep most things green this time of year, but most of the crops are still in the early stages, requiring extra water to germinate and thrive.

The view from work, up a tree on Orcas Island looking southwest if I remember correctly.

I love finding the wild orchids that pop up this time of year, this delicate little thing was just next to the woodshop.

A small farm is a lot of work, and this season Ellen's cousin Michael decided to live on the property and join the crew. This photo was the first evening I had him down to the cabin for dinner and a little getting to know each other.  My initial impressions were good and he turned out to be a great worker and friend to have around.

Our friend Dan was celebrating his birthday, so I headed to the mainland for the first part of the party, oyster cooking on Samish Island (not actually an island....).

In Seattle I joined the main event of the party, where the celebration was for Erins birthday as well.  Most of us are friends from way back in high school, so it's awesome to still be connected and having a good time together.

Back on the island and I'm examining some hatching spiders.

Michael used to work in IT and got burned out, hence the escaping to a farm!  But his IT skills were put to work, and thanks to him I now had internet in the cabin, first time since I moved to the island about two years ago, and due to my travels, the first time I'd had internet in about 5 years! (I'll admit it was nice)

Watching the ferry boat at the Orcas landing as I commute to work.

The greenhouse is lush, green and full of promise.

As I was exploring the woods with Michael one day we came across a fawn that was laying down.  It was obviously trying to sit still, hoping I/predators wouldn't notice it, but of course I'm a curious fellow and picked it up.  I was surprised there was no mother in sight, but I guess this is actually common.

A little work on the cabin, this is notching the 4x4 uprights for the railing on the loft sleeping area.

Various brassica in the early stages of growth.

A heavy but brief spring shower as I worked in the wood shop.

After Marijke and I decided to get married of course it made the time on opposite sides of the world challenging, but with my brand new internet connection we were able to talk every day and video chat from time to time so it wasn't too bad.

A banana slug traversing the moss.

A look at the lower garden fully planted.  I love this phase, everything is so clean and organized looking!

My plan was to make all the siding for the cabin using a chainsaw mill and trees I'd felled on the property, and with the dry weather it was time to start ripping boards. I'd never done this before so it was a serious learning process, but I quickly got the hang of it.  That said, it's still damn hard work!

The completed railing (minus the trim on the ground). I'm really happy with how this project turned out; the whole thing was build using only 4x4s and 2x6 and 2x4s I ripped and routered.  Once finished, it was strong enough I could climb and hang on it with complete confidence.

Using the deluge gun at fire drill. At full blast, this can empty the 750 tank in the truck in around a minute.

Spring means chicks, and this year it was time to try a flock of meat birds as well as laying hens.

Planting lettuce.

Lots of seeding in plastic cells this time of year. Once the plants reached a certain size in the greenhouse, they would be moved outdoors.

Looking towards the Orcas landing on a beautiful day.

And more San Juan Islands scenery, this is Skull Island and the Olympics in the distance from another job site.  Yah, my job doesn't suck.

My boss Austen up dead cedar we were removing.  He is just about to take the top which I will have on a rope and control from the ground.

Like the previous spring, there was another next of swallows hatched in the pump house.  It was great fun to watch these little guys grow and learn to fly as we worked in the garden.

Yours truly, up a western red cedar to remove a huge broken branch.

The seasons new chicks all together.

This is also the time of year for our friend groups annual Beltane party.  Friends gathered at Jon and Jenns place preparing to celebrate the season ahead.

Taking Brendan up a big fir.

The main event of the Beltane weekend, dancing round the maypole.

All wrapped up.

In my whites.

Surrounded in friends, enjoying the feast.

As usual, we walked to the top of Ben Nevis hill and while photos will never capture it, were greeted by some of the most surreal golden glowing sunlight I've ever seen.  It's hard to explain, but it looked like we were all inside a warm ball.

Friends gathering to tour the garden before returning to the mainland.

The garden is filling up nicely.

A little double rainbow action.

Off to work on the neighboring island.  Man, I gotta get myself a boat....

Inside the Shaw General Store I wasn't expecting to find a photo of me holding Boomer the cat on the wall, but it was a fun surprise! Does this mean I've officially made it as a local?

Back in the cabin I was working on the kitchen area, building in the stove and making a brick accent wall.  Super happy with how this turned out.

More of the garden filling in.  This is that same brassica section from the earlier photo.

Planting seeds.

When Marijke finally does arrive back in America she will need a car of her own, and luckily I still had my Ford Explorer sitting around (which I'd replaced with the van) to give her.  However it hadn't been used in a while so was due for a deep clean.

On Orcas waiting for the ferry home to Shaw.

Looking at the deer that graze the meadow every afternoon.

The chainsaw milling continues!  The largest log I did was 26" in diameter and 18 feet long. Made for some amazing 1" thick live edge slabs.

A burn pile with friends.

The garden is really starting to take shape this time of year and it's a good feeling to look out at all the progress we have made so far.

Roping some friends up for a visit into helping.  On the left you can see the tomato trellis, and in the center squash is being planted on plastic covered mounds. Each of these systems ended up working very well this year.

And just like that it was almost the end of May and time for me to pick up Marijke up in Seattle.  I loaded up the van, drove onto the ferry boat and headed towards land, excited to see my future wife shortly.

(The next post will go from the time I picked up Marijke at the airport in Seattle, through June and into our quick and tiny wedding.  It will be a good one!)