The mood here in at our Oregon organic farm is slightly giddy as fresh shoots of grass and balmy afternoons make us all believers in spring. It was an odd winter. Mild with the exception of two extreme cold and snow events. I’ll post several pictures below from Oregon farms from this past winter and early spring and will cover California soon.
Temperatures dropped to zero degrees F in December in Oregon while it was raining on the Arctic Ocean. Frozen fog burned off early in the morning to reveal spectacular ice crystal formations. It was cold enough that these lasted for days.
Snow was thin enough to allow sheep to paw through to reach grass.
We enjoyed a mild January but lack of rainfall was a concern.
A set of lambs born in early February bond with their mother in a jug pen. Fortunately, the newborns were not injured when the barn fell (see below).
Heavy snowfall followed by freezing rain was too much for our largest barn. The immediate collapse of about 5000 sq ft of roof was frightening as shepherd Mac Stewart and farm hand Lyle Shuck were injured and beneath the rubble. We were not alone; many barns went down in our area on the same day. Fortunately, loss to livestock, equipment and hay was fairly minor. Mac and Lyle are back to work and recovering. Good insurance, both workers compensation and property, is much appreciated during times like this.
Very heavy and deep snow that persisted for many days, forced us to feed sheep stored forage on top of the snow pack. With two key people in the hospital, we were also glad to have many friends pitch-in to help and people willing to take on new jobs in a crisis.
Snow melt and plentiful rains kept rivers high into March. Here, a section of Muddy Creek overflows its bank and creates a temporary shallow lake among grand Oregon oaks. This area of wet prairie is part of a restoration project for Bradshaw’s Lomatium, which is pictured further below.
As spring approaches, we check on crops. Shown above is a field of fava beans being grown for organic cover crop seed. They were planted in early November to remain short-statured during the winter–a strategy that worked well given the deep cold and heavy snow we faced.
Five weeks after being born and then living through a barn collapse, the lambs and their mothers are thriving on a diet of clover and grass.
A new flock of laying hens enjoys the first day of spring by getting outside to forage. These birds were born in early November and have just begun giving us eggs.
A truckload of beef calves is unloaded by Massey Cattle Company. These young steers weigh about 550 lbs. on average and we expect them to gain 2-3 lbs per day on our pastures.
The oak forests went from flooded to wild-flower studded in one week. Above is a nice cluster of trout lilies. Blue camas will be coming soon.
The flowers of a Bradshaw’s Lomatium are now above water. I actually saw these six inches under a week before. We will bring cattle and then sheep out to this area in a few weeks, as weather permits. Can’t let the livestock get caught in standing water. The grazing is now thought to improve the habitat for a number of plant species and weaken the stand of invasive reed canary grass.
Soon we will complete the rebuild of the hay and lambing barn. In an upcoming post, I’ll share some pictures of April lambs in their new, stronger, barn.