Hello From Farm Country In The Beautiful Northwest
The photo above is of the Columbia Hills taken on my first round of the day. It's looking north from the Brown place and was taken in the spring a few years ago.
Admittedly this is a bit of over kill, but I already have the server space and it provides a forum that I can toss in a few photos. But mostly, it's the fun I've had doing it, that's the important part.
This is me holding a bobcat kitten that we rescued (at about 4 weeks old) last summer. We would've really liked too have raised her outside with the rest of the cats,(she would have been an awesome companion around the farm) but our place is too close to a traveled road and we feared someone would shoot her for sport or for her pelt. She was much to precious for something like that to happen. So after a couple of weeks of nursing her back to health, we reluctantly gave her up to a wild life relocating agency. These people will raise her wild and release her in the mountains in Idaho next spring.
I live in farm country in the foot hills of the Cascades about 20 miles or so out of the city limits of The Dalles Oregon. The agriculture here produces a large variety of fruits, vegetables and grains.The area I live in, is amongst fields of winter wheat and sweet cherrie orchards along with apple, peach, apricot and pear orchards too. Yup.... I eat plenty of fruit. In the last few years grapes have become popular and world class wineries are popping up all over in the area. The NW is beautiful country (topography with contrast) and I feel fortunate to live here. The day I arrived here in the Gorge, I knew I'd never leave.
Before Pete retired 4 years ago and his son took over the place, I worked for Pete when I wasn't haying. When I started with Pete 20 years agofarming was done with caterpillars (D-fives and D-sixes) because the fields were plowed and they where the only type of tractors that would stick to the hillsides. Today the farms are 2, and in most cases, 3 times the size and the tractors require three times the horsepower to pull the big no till drills around the field. The 480 HP Case IH Quadtrac (if one can afford it) is the tractor of choice. The smaller operators use the caterpillar challengers or still using the old steel trackers. The combines used for harvesting wheat have been modified for hillsides and are expensive. One can easily drop over 300 grand on a new machine, more on a higher capacity machine!
During most of the 60's and 70's, I was pretty mobile and worked at many different types of employment including a variety of jobs in the area of home and commercial construction, equipment operator in road construction, truck driver. I worked as a geophone placement engineer (jug husseler) on a seismograph crew in the Dakotas. Different factory jobs in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area and one of the more interesting jobs, working at a foundry (where I learned to make molds and to cast iron) In the oil field in Gillette Wy. and as an autobody/frame technician and painter in Rapid City, Lemmon and Encinitas, Cailf. My best bud in California was a custom car painter we all called Smilely. Smilely and I teamed up and won a couple of throphies in a couple of local car shows in Escondito.
Smilely lived rent free in a small condemed house on some acerage in the hills with his wife and two kids. The house looked like the condemned house it was on the outside, but he had turned the interior into a work of art using his talents and materials donated or salvaged (or borrowed?) from the condos and track homes going up all around him. The owner of the property lived in L.A. and was glad to have him there to keep an eye on things, and to run off any other squatters. Smilely was just one of the many unusual and unique people I've become acquainted with over the years.
In 1975, I started farming with my Dad and stayed with that until Jimmy Carter destroyed the export wheat market. I Quit farming about then and helped Les Wolff in Lemmon start his successful tire and alignment shop where I rebuilt suspensions, did wheel alignments and built exhaust systems.
I came out here to Oregon in 1985 on a vacation, discovered how good the windsurfing was in the Gorge and never I left. The following spring I quit the job I had as a line mechanic at the local Ford dealer in The Dalles and went back to farming and started share cropping about 60 acres of irrigated alfalfa with Pete, I've been putting up hay for more than 20 years now and enjoy the work. It's all hand moved lines and I do all of the irrigating. I figure I walk about 250 miles or so every season carrying a 40 foot section of irrigation pipe. It's hard work and getting harder for me every year,(may have something to do with these damn birthdays I keep having) but I find it an excellent way to stay in condition for the obsession I have for extreme windsurfing!
I live in Mecca for the sport of windsurfing and not having to punch a time clock has given me the flexibility to get out on the water 80 times or so in a season. I've certainly worn out or broken my share of windsurfing gear in the last 23 years of sailing! I'm a team rider for Open Ocean sailboards and Realwind sails and that really helps with the cost of replacing the equipment that I unmercifully whale on every year. Nature designed Da Gorge for the sport of windsurfing (actually, it was the Missoula floods) and during the months of March through November (on a normal year) we can get 20 to 30 mph west winds several times a week (especially April, through most of Sept.) that blow through the Columbia River Gorge.These winds blowing against the current of the river (more like a series of dams) can generate waves up to 15 feet high on an exceptionally windy day in some of my favorite sailing spots. Yeeeeha!!!!
The Columbia River Gorge could be described as the recreation capital of the world. During the winter the sking and snow boarding on Mt.Hood is excellent and there's hanggliding, paragliding, world class kayaking, world class mountain biking, hiking and of course, mecca for windsurfing and kite boarding, just to name a few. What a place to live!!!
Besides windsurfing and learning to kite board, I mountain bike, paraglide and hangglide. Unfortunately, I'm much busier these days and I don't hangglide or paraglide much anymore, but still get out in benign conditions now and then to maintain my basic skills.
In 1980 I found an old (but in good condition) Cessna 140 that had been sitting in a hanger for ten years in the middle of nowhere about 30 miles north of Rhame N.D. . I earned my pilots license in that old airplane with intentions of getting a commercial applicators rating. This was about the same time as the bottom fell out of the Ag business and there were suddenly a whole bunch of unemployed Ag Pilots around. It was an easy decision that pursuing a career in that area wasn't going to go anywhere.
When I moved out here I had to sell the old Cessna. Keeping an airplane here would have been waaaaay more expensive than I was comfortable with. I love to fly and in 1997 found something in my price range and picked up a nearly new but wreaked ultralight (the pilot survived, but barely). After I had repaired it, I modified it to handle a big 55 hp Rotax. Now, imagine 55 hp spinning a 72 inch fan pushing a 260 pound aircraft. Yup,... elevator ride! Frightening at first! Adding larger heavier fuel tanks and big flotation tires, toned down the climb rate to 1400 feet per minuet. I keep it out here at the farm in a small building I built for it and fly it off a little four-hundred foot airstrip that can be a bit too short at times. Not having a cab or even a windshield, and flying in tempertures below 45 degrees will certainly get your attention! Hopefully in the near future, I'll find the time to build something different. Something that flies faster and with a cockpit and a heater. I have the powerplant built and ready to install. It's the Suzuki G-10 3 cyl. out of a Chevy Geo metro that I've zero timed and converted for use in an aircraft. But until I find or build an airframe for it, 65 horse power with a big fan on it, makes one hell of a leaf blower!
One of the most painful moments in my life (literally) was in 1997 a month after returning from the national paragliding championships at Chelan, Washington where I flew with the guy's who have the big ones, my hats off to those that paraglide or hangglide off Chelan Butte mid-day in July on twitchy, high performance competition paragliders and hanggliders. (I fly a tamer intermediate glider) The thermals are huge and at launch, the dust devils are big, stealthy and dangerous. Once you get away from the hill though, there's a great possibility of going cross country and flying 50 miles or even 100 miles is realistic because out over the flats to the east, the thermals are fat and tall. Coring these elevators to cloud base is easy on the right day and it's cold up there (about 22 degrees). But what a view!
Anyhow, I was soaring Bingin, Wa. and tangled with some surface rotor when landing, resulting in about a 30 foot free fall. My elbow and lower back were the first to hit the ground. Ouch!!! My doctor said (when I was conscious again after surgery) that my left elbow felt like a bean bag before he began to collect all the pieces floating around where my elbow should have been. He told me that it took him 5 and a half hours or so to, screw, bolt and pin my arm back together! I still have that metal in my arm today. The injury doesn't affect me much, except my arm doesn't want to straighten out all the way, but I've adjusted. It took me a year a half to build my arm up again, and to my doctors amazement, I was soon windsurfing on the same level I was before my injury. My Doctor had suggested at the time, that I'd have little use of my arm in the future. Proved him way wrong!
In 1980 I met Alice and we have been together since. Alice and I live with a variety of house pets including, a very talented canary (what a crooner), a pair of cocktails, an African Grey parrot, (who has a bigger vocabulary than some people I know) a hybrid bobcat, two other pedigree house cats, my cow herding border collie, and Alice's yorkie terrier. We all share the house together and I love it. All our pets have more or less been raised together and get along very well. Our birds, with the exception of the parrot, (she's free to roam the house) are kept in large secure cages that they can fly around in and get plenty of exercise. The parrot is the alpha female of the house and can bite a pencil in half with little effort, so she gets a great amount of respect from the rest of the animals and they have adjusted well to being scolded by a talky bird! I've built a large enclosed pen for our cats behind the house connected to the house by a tunnel and a pet door. They need their own secure yard to play in so they can safely be outdoors without becoming part of the food chain and a meal for a coyote or one of the cougars or large bobcats that we share the neighborhood with. Around the yard, we have a pair of geese and keep a couple of mouser cats around to tamp down the mouse population a bit. I also take care of about 40 head of cattle for Pete.
In 97, I got that computer I'd been wanting for a long time and it was love at first byte. Over the years in my spare time, I've taught myself how to programm and to build databases. However, most programming is done now days over seas and it wasn't something to get to serious about. I love what the computer can do, and have learned to use CAD programs, graphic programs such as Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro and I enjoy experimenting with open source software.
At the present, I'm developing a couple of on line business websites in my spare time to capitalize on the huge potential in internet marketing. We are certainly in the age of information. Millions of people from around the world are on the web every day seeking information and/or shopping
Forty years by the calender is a long time, but it sure doesn't seem so. I turn 60 next year and next spring I'll be dragged kicking and screaming into the next decade! (nope, I'm not going easy) Time does indeed pass quickly and life is truly short.
I didn't make it to Deadwood (remember the days of 76?). Really wish I could've, but during that time of the year, I'm up to my keister in fall work and other commitments. Good luck to you all and I hope you all had fun and no one got arrested! (just kidding) Drop me a line if you'd like, I'd enjoy hearing from you.
"A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between, does what he wants to do." - Bob Dylan