Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

Our in-town neighbors. These two fine-looking llamas live in a pasture along a country-like lane a few blocks from our new home. We have a new address is in a small, but still-rural, town. Our  house may be suburban in style, but all around looks and feels like country. So we feel right at home.

For awhile, our cats went into hiding, because we moved their cheese. Well, actually, their food bowls — and their address. Ours, too.

We’ve spent the last month moving from the country into town. I worried a lot about how the stress of moving our household would impact our two felines, especially old, black Shadow, who’s 19.

As expected, the cats crept out of their crates into the new garage with great anxiety, then hid in plain sight in the maze of boxes. I expected them to be covert for days.

After only a day of coaxing with tuna, Shadow sullied forth. I made a trail of treats to help him find his food and water bowls.

When I peeked into the garage later that day, the younger, gray-striped cat, Mama, was there at the food bowl alongside the old gent. His presence had reassured her.

Now, a few weeks later, the cats are allowed into the backyard where they look and sniff around with timid curiosity.

Mama scrambles the fence, peeks over, then crawl-jumps back down and heads for the new back door. She’s sporting a pink collar with a bell and a name tag, so if she does wander, we have a good chance of tracking her down.

Mama cat has turned playful since we’ve begun to settle in – something we didn’t see a lot of when we lived in the sticks. Perhaps she feels safer here without all that forest — and coyotes — around.

Shadow simply curls up on the soft rug in the new living room and sleeps, or finds a windowsill and worships the rays when he can find them. (This June the sun is so rare that when it does poke through the clouds, it seems rather guilty, like a finger drawn though frosting on a just-made cake.)

Our two Labradors are enjoying the new backyard, too. The sturdy fence means we no longer have to supervise their outdoor time. Out in the country there was always the worry they’d take off chasing a deer or a duck. The hens are laying again, so all is well in their world, too.

The pets have been the leaders and teachers in our new living situation. At first, we pined for the countryside with its far-reaching views and woodland hush.

But we’re loving our new digs in this small rural town of 1,750. It’s four minutes from things instead of 40.

It turns out the country is actually only two blocks away. We hear nearby geese, a rooster and cows. And deer wander into the grassy lot next door.

Each time I walk, I try a new path in order to get to know the neighborhood. This morning Kobe and I discovered a path where pavement gives way to dirt and gravel. Around a turn in the lane is a lush and lovely spot called Half-Ass Ranch. There, we stopped to watch two llamas as they watched us back with curiosity and caution. It felt like coming home.

For my family, the recent weeks have been filled with a recurring animal lesson: Adapt and thrive. And we are.

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Even St. Patrick’s Day has its animal element. 

We attended a St. Patrick’s Day gathering where this young Irish setter, Kevin Rory (call name of Kevi), sported a Kelly-green shamrock cravat. And hoped for a morsel from the table where the theme was green, as in pesto, guacamole chips, spinach dip, minty green frosted brownies, green M&Ms and cupcakes frosted lime.

Kevin Rory is the fourth Irish setter for owners Bill and Carolyn, of Irish descent themselves. Kevi was quite the party gent, and that’s no Blarney.

Kevi came to Bill and Carolyn, who live in Oregon, through the Internet Irish Setter Rescue Group in Oklahoma. He was found roaming the streets when he was four months old.

The couple’s late Irish setters are: Toby, given to Bill as a gift by his aunt; Carnelian Dun Conor, a six-month-old pup with a genetic eye condition that the breeder was going to put down; and Donegal, a stray Irish re-homed by the Houston Rescue Group.

For many years Bill, Conor and Donegal marched in the Houston St. Pat’s Parade. (It’s a huge parade like those in Boston and Chicago.) All three sported green.

Of course, horses are a big part of Ireland and its history. So I had to find some Irish horse art, too.

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This picture seems to be all that remains of the young black-tailed buck that traveled our woods -- and helped himself to my rose buds -- for two years. I forgave his harvesting my roses when he turned and looked right into my eyes as this photo was snapped. It was taken earlier this year when his new antlers were still fresh in velvet. I imagined that rack being a yard across in years ahead. My guess is he seldom left our place. It is rather a perfect bachelor pad as bucks go: meadows for browsing; ponds and creeks for drinking; woods for hiding; and does for courting. It was his turf until poachers ended his young life the first day of the Fall 2011 hunting season. Photo by James Sherman.

I try not to use the word “hate.” I did my best to raise my son in the art of not using this four-letter word or others  like it. But I’m using that word now: I “hate” deer and elk hunting seasons. More specifically, I hate the people who cheat at it: poachers.

Where’s the sport in raising your rifle as you sit in your truck on a public road at sundown and shoot a deer on private property where faded, but readable, “No Hunting or Trespassing” signs are posted?

Yes, we live in a hillside clearing surrounded by private forests and BLM land; so we expect hunters’ rifle shots to boom through our silence. The first weekend of the fall deer season they seem especially loud. I remind myself it’s a seasonal sport and tell my husband how glad I am it’s not his thing anymore.

I admit hypocrisy here: I don’t often voice my view in our rural social circles. Intellectually, I get the pros of ethical hunting as necessary for wildlife and wildland management. It’s my heart that isn’t convinced.

I’m the mom who read “Bambi” to her son and every time skipped the part about Bambi’s mother dying. My son’s 20 now. But whenever he starts a sentence, “Remember when you…,” I know he’s about to remind me how my revisionist bedtime reading got him blindsided on the playground when friends happened on the “Bambi” storyline. Adam insisted it didn’t go the way his pals said.

That afternoon, Bambi was with us in the car on the ride home from school. As soon as Adam had clicked his seat-belt around his six-year-old waist, it was game-on. “Mom, there’s only one ‘Bambi’ story right? So how come other kids say his mother got killed? And what exactly are hunters? ”

Adam’s words were like a shot to my mom heart. I’d tried to protect him from what I considered a harsh reality. And I’d put him at a disadvantage. It wasn’t the first time I apologized to my son for something I’d said or done. It was the first, and last, time I lied to Adam by omitting pieces of the truth.

I guess you could say deer hunting is a loaded issue for me. And can I just say that I got my Bambi comeuppance this summer. My chocolate Lab, Kobe, loves to find stinky things to carry home from walks in the meadow. This time, he was lagging way behind and pulling something heavy up the hill. He was dragging a skeleton: a head, spine, and partial rib cage. It could only have been a long-dead deer or young elk, taken by coyotes, injury or illness. “OMG” was about all I could say to my quite proud-of-himself dog.

Kobe knew better than to even attempt to bring his find into the house. Reluctantly, he dropped it on our front porch. Where it stayed until Adam got home and moved it out of sight for his mother.  Yes, the whole “Bambi”-on-the-playground incident came up yet again.

As it did recently when we got disturbing news from our other-side-of-the-woods neighbor: He reported seeing hunters taking aim from the road and dropping a forked horn in our woods at dusk. I literally felt as though I’d been smacked by a rifle shot’s recoil.

The young buck was apparently standing alongside the pump house on our private property when they killed it. Did I mention they were shooting toward our house?  The poachers, trespassing, dragged the buck to the county road and heaved it into the bed of their pickup. They sped off before the neighbor could make out the mud-spattered license plate number. I’m no game warden, but I count at least three rules* of the hunting game broken. Not to mention the spirit of the laws. Wonder what great heroic story the cheap-shot hunters told their peers about their illegally taken prize?

Chances are the buck poached was the one you see in the photo. He posed in our front yard earlier this year, perhaps to show off his brand new antlers. Needless to say, he felt pretty safe hereabouts. He probably didn’t stray from our place his entire life. Born here, lived here, died here. RIP.

 *      General Hunting Rules, excerpted from 2011 Oregon Big Game Regulations

Shooting Hours:                                                                                                                                                                                             ■■Game mammals may only be hunted from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.

No Person Shall:                                                                                                                                                                                             ■■ Shoot from or across a public road, road right-of-way or railroad right-of-way….

■■ Hunt any wildlife from a motor-propelled vehicle. Exceptions: 1) A qualified disabled hunter may obtain an “Oregon Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permit” to hunt from a motor-propelled vehicle except while the vehicle is in motion or on any public road or highway.

To Report Wildlife Violators in Oreogn,  Call 1-800-452-7888 or Email tip@state.or.us

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This week’s post comes to you not from the barn or a farm, but from Australia! And, no, not because I’m a tourist there, but because one of my blogging colleagues, Barbara Taylor, lives in the Land Down Under.

She recently posted these photos of the kind of wildlife that roam about in her part of the world. Can you imagine seeing a kangaroo jumping along a roadside or across a lawn here in the states?

And the flamingo-colored cockatoos! How pretty are they? You have to love any animal, furred, finned or feathered, that mates for life as these sorbet-colored birds do. Barbara’s blog is called Passionate About Pets, and she is. You can visit her site at http://passionateaboutpets.wordpress.com

Eastern Grey Kangaroos of Australia. Photo by Bizzliz Photography

“These guys (kangaroos) were grazing in the bush at the end of our street. They graze early morning and late afternoons, so that’s the best time to see them. During the heat of the day they stay in the shadows of the trees to keep cool and snooze!

Galah, or rose-breasted, cockatoos of Australia. Photo by Bizzliz Photography.

“Galahs feeding off a bird table. They are also known as the Rose-breasted Cockatoo. They are found all over Australia, are an intelligent and social bird that mate for life and are quite common as pets.”  by Barbara Taylor


Male goldfinch getting his share of seed before the finch food frenzy begins. Photo by Karen Mendonca.

The first time I saw a colorful bird in the wild, I felt blessed. It was shortly after we moved to Oregon. A bird feeder was a monumental part of making the new place feel like home. The reward  came the very next day.

Seeing a wee bit of yellow winging in for a landing may not stop the hearts of many. The goldfinch truly took my breath away. The next day, the yellow finch brought a friend, or perhaps his mate, to dine.

Each day, the guest list grew, and more little lemon-colored finches flew in. Once, there was a finch convention of 32 vying for a place at the table of thistle seed.

That was when we lived in the valley. Now we’re in the high foothills and finchless. Seems they don’t take to  steeper altitudes. We see other wonderful birds — ducks, geese, hawks, falcons, crested blue jays, robins and blackbirds.

Still, I miss those dear little finches and the bright contrast they  brought to the landscape of greens and browns. I liken them to the pleasantness of sweet and sour lemon drops tickling bored tastebuds. By Janet Herring-Sherman

Postscript: I think God heard me pining for goldfinches. As I walked from the driveway to our front porch this afternoon, a little yellow fellow zipped right across my path and into the ravine! I think I heard myself say to the bird, “Hey You, come back.”  I’m adding this to my to-do list — a trip to the feed store for some thistle temptation — a finch favorite.  Where there’s one, there must be more, right?

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I realize not all of my devoted followers reside in Oregon, or in America for that matter. Still, I believe most all of us view bald eagles as mystical, magical–and oft-maligned. Let’s hope this was a wound of nature, not inflicted by a human; and that this majestic creature is soon healed and airborne.

Injured bald eagle awaits rescue. Photo source: http://www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/news

Bald eagle, grounded with an injured shoulder. Photo source: http://www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/news

News Release from: McMinnville Police Dept.
“On April 09, 2011 at about 1:30 pm, Officer Steve Macartney was dispatched to an animal call at 2400 SE Stratus Avenue near space #12, McMinnville. Local residents had found an injured bald eagle in some nearby brush. Officer Macartney confirmed that the injured bird was a bald eagle. With assistance from Oregon State Police, the Audubon Societycame out and took the bald eagle for rehabilitation.According to Deb Sheaffer of the Audubon Society, the bald eagle appears to be a five to six year old female with an injured shoulder. The eagle is in stable condition at this time, but the prognosis for release is guarded.  She is being treated with antibiotics and supportive care and will be evaluated day by day. She said that if the eagle recovers completely, it will be returned to the McMinnville area and will be released back into her territorial area.

Anyone with questions about the Audubon Society, their work, or this particular incident can call Deb Shaeffer at 503-292-6855 x125.  They can also be contacted through www.audubonportland.org


They mate for life; however if one dies, the survivor will accept another mate.

Their life expectancy is 15 to 20 years, but they can live as long as 30 years.

They are unique to North America. They are most concentrated in Alaska but are also found in Canada and every state in the United States except Hawaii.

They are no longer on the Endangered list, but they are still considered threatened because of poachers, habitat loss and injuries caused by man-made things, such as  power lines.

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Just for fun, during the past week, I made a note each time I saw or heard something animal-related. When I look at this list in context, I’m amazed all over again how a change in place changes our conversations. I’ve been thinking back to what the common conversation thread might have been in my past life in a newsroom. Some talk of animals would have filtered in: I did, after all, sit next to the paper’s farm reporter for many years. Mainly, any chit-chat there was time for was about our kids. I believe all of our back-then kids would have enjoyed the following animal bytes.

A  tenor-toned frog has been offering melancholy serenades at bedtime —  and on in to the wee hours. I don’t know much about frogs, but I’ve seen several Facebook posts about their nighttime habits of late. Male suitors seeking springtime mates perhaps? (One of my goals is to learn something with each of my animal posts. I just did: Frogs overwinter more or less hibernating in mud and damp soil.)

Lilly, the barn cat I wrote fondly of a few weeks back, has a tummy sagging with kittens-in-the-making. We can’t help but marvel as her stripes keep, well, expanding exponentially. Her fave napping spot is on the horse blankets atop my saddle in the tack room. I hope that won’t be her chosen birthing spot!

The cougar, North America's largest native cat. WL Miller photo from weforanimals.com

At our monthly book club potluck, mention was made of our host’s neighbor having caught sight of a mountain lion in the driveway they share. It’s not unexpected to hear claims of cougars — North America’s largest native cat, often seen screaming from a cliff in old Western movies – out here in the woods. It’s quite sobering, however, when you hear there’s one only a few driveways from your home. Driveways out here can be miles apart: Still, I wonder if it’s out there watching us as we move about our place.

Okay, I know there is a world of difference (not to mention continents) between cougars and lions. But when I found my husband watching a movie about man-eating lions in Africa the next night, I suggested his timing was quite poor. I did use the puma–in-the-neighborhood theme to my advantage on April 1. I tricked my son into grabbing his camera to take a photo by telling him the mountain lion was drinking from our pond down the hill. April Fools’!

Speaking of predator types, my husband, Jim, described a scene I

Coyotes are generally lone hunters, because they prey mainly on small mammals and rodents. Coordinated pack hunting comes into play when the quarry is large game, such as elk. John Good photo from weforanimals.com

think I’m glad I wasn’t home to see.  From time to time we hear coyotes, usually at night, their plaintive howls and cries following them across the valley floor. Jim was feeding our chickens one morning when he saw a coyote trotting alongside the woods below. He noticed another leave the woods right behind. Then, two coyotes exited the far side of the woods, moving in the same direction as the first pair. He glanced that way and saw elk grazing on the hillside above. The pack had a plan in motion.

We keep guns locked in a safe; but Jim ran inside, and was able to grab one and fire off a few shots over the heads of the stalking coyotes. They scattered, and the elk moved calmly up the hill away from the woods. Why do we feel so protective of the elk? Many farmers don’t.The half-ton animals hurdle over or shoulder through fences to graze in cultivated fields. I want the coyotes to survive, and the elk, too. I know this is all part of nature and the circle of life, and yet….


Wolves remain on America's Endangered Species list. From weforanimals.com

A similar debate about wolves continues here in America’s Pacific Northwest. Wolves remain on the Endangered Species list. For decades, they were absent from our state, historically, their home turf. They are reappearing. Experts say there are 29 in Oregon’s remote northeast. It’s ranch country with cattle herds and sheep flocks easy prey, some say. Others state that domestic dogs kill far more livestock than wolves. Our local NPR station aired a both-sides-now conversation about wolves. Here’s the link, if you’d like to have a listen.

Gotta end with a smile-maker. I attended a Faith and Culture Writers Conference with two women friends. As one picked up her Bible, the soft leather cover stayed in her hand and the bounty of whisper-thin pages of gospels and verse fell away. When she’d picked up and reassembled it all, I noticed a corner that looked chewed-on.

The dog did it, my friend explained: “We have a  67-pound black Lab puppy, named Kohl. My husband called me at work one morning to tell me he’d made a discovery: Kohl had been conducting his own version of Bible study. My husband found the cover of my Bible in our living room, and the Old and New Testaments in our family room.” Guess Kohl was spreading The Word, we joked. Now her Bible is not only well-loved, but a tad dog-eared!  I’m sure Kohl’s been forgiven: Dog, spelled backward, does spell God.

At least a baker’s dozen animal bytes remain from my week of country conversing and eavesdropping. I hope you’ll find the next collection as sweet as, well, a bear claw bakery treat.

Bear claw, an almond-flavored sweet pastry popular in America. From datasource.com

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Matilda, a rescued brood jenny, was bred every year of her life yet never fed anything but straw. Malnourishment during pregnancy is one of the reasons Matilda’s back has become so swayed. God bless Apifera Farm for bringing her home. Photo source: http://www.apiferafarm.blogspot.com/

DONKEYS. Katherine Dunn, an acquaintance of a good friend and farmer, has an awesome website and blog where she shares wonderful pieces and photos of her Oregon farm, Apifera, and life there. Katherine, an accomplished artist who is devoted to animal rescue, describes it as the place where art and animals collide.

She happily admits being enraptured with donkeys, most especially their oh-so-telling ears. She was reaching out to help find homes for nine recently-rescued donkeys (Their owner was going to shoot them, because they were in such sad shape he knew they’d bring him nothing at auction.) when I first learned about her talent, her farm and her missions. You, too, can learn more about everything Apifera at http://www.apiferafarm.blogspot.com/.

If you’re searching for a worthy animal-related cause to support, consider helping the donkeys and other critters at Apifera.

If you have an interest in providing a home for one of Matilda’s herd mates, please visit the website for Lavender Dream Farms in Washington where they are now residing and awaiting forever homes: http://www.lavenderdreamsfarm.net/

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By Janet Herring-Sherman

Doodling my way through meetings at the newspaper, crafting headlines on deadline, responding patiently to readers with a cause: This — along with shuttling our son to and fro, and seeking not-made-of-cement places to walk our dogs — was my California life. I loved it, except for the sensation of living life like a kid at the fair, rushing through one midway ride just to jump on another, then another; at the end of the day remembering little about any particular one. That was before my world began to shift north.

I’d been standing at the stove, looking at the worn sun dial in the yard and the 18 years worth of purple, pink and red roses, and the gold and violet day lilies we’d planted. My husband, Jim, had loped up the back stairs, tossed his cap – gone tan with vineyard dust — on the table and fired off the question, “How would you like to move to Oregon?” I kept stirring the spaghetti sauce on the back burner as I’d asked, “Why?” Before he could answer, I’d put down the spoon, turned and asked, “Where in Oregon?”

“The Willamette Valley,” Jim had said, not hiding his excitement. “It’s a little farm town called Yamhill. The place we’d live has amazing views. There’s so much room for the dogs — meadows, even a pond.” I, rather indignantly, had said, “You already know where we’d live?” Still, he’d captured my attention by conjuring the vision of dogs splashing into water within walking distance of our back door.

With that, Jim had pulled from his briefcase the packet of photos his boss had spread out before him earlier that day when he’d proposed the idea of Jim going north to develop vineyards in Oregon and Washington. The place in the photos appeared to be an emerald paradise. The rooms in the house even loomed large, compared to the cracker-box size rooms of our in-town Victorian. I wasn’t completely sold that first night. There were, after-all, four generations of my family where we lived in the Wine Country.

Soon after, we made a visit to Yamhill. Being there felt like coming home – to the place of my childhood. What I remember most from that trip are the roadsides: Country roads awash in blurred shades of green — lime, hunter, celadon and chartreuse – as in an Impressionist painting. Roads lined with shooting-everywhere berry vines holding hands with wild roses, their arm-like limbs stretching out to tap utility poles on the shoulder. There was even a llama loose on one of the curves. What I saw evoked memories of roads where my school bus had bumped along, and where I’d ridden bareback — before dusty orchards gave way to tidy subdivisions. As our plane returned to California, I had a notebook in hand and was listing all that needed to be done to forge our personal trail to Oregon.

Jim moved first. Our son, Adam, and I followed when school let out for summer; and after I’d said farewell to newspaper colleagues I’d worked with for near 20 years. That was harder than saying good bye to friends and family: I knew even though we’d exchanged mailing addresses and e-mails, I likely wouldn’t see most of their faces again. Thus began what I’d taken to calling Our Great Midlife Adventure when friends said, “You guys are so brave, packing up your lives and moving out of state!”

At first, I tried to make our Oregon home mimic the one in California. I painted walls the same deep burgundy, burnished orange and cobalt blue colors, hung pictures in the same groupings, and shelved our books in the same order. Becoming a true Oregonian began the day I was in the hardware store with a collection of paint chips in my hand.

Repeatedly, my eye was drawn to two particular shades of green. With a start, I realized these were the same shades of green prevalent on our first drive along Yamhill County’s rural roads. French Olive Green and Spring Green they were called. I left the store with gallons of each. When I began brushing the new colors onto the remaining walls, the strange new house began to feel like home

That’s not to say it wasn’t lonely. Once I’d set up house at our Yamhill address, I looked around and realized I knew no one. While planting cosmos and corn one evening, I confessed to my husband how very alone I felt. Looking out at the rows of vines silhouetted against the sun, setting in a rhubarb-colored sky, he’d said simply, “You need to get a dog.” (We’d come to Oregon dogless, having lost two golden retrievers to cancer not long before our move.) So I did.

That’s all it took: a chocolate Labrador retriever named Kobe. He was ever-so-sweet but needed better manners. I inquired around about an obedience class. On the afternoon the instructor, Sandy, and I spoke, I mentioned my son had just registered to attend the local high school. Wouldn’t you know: She also ran a volunteer program there.  I was soon signed up for dog and teen training! My new world suddenly seemed smaller and brighter. Sandy, as it turned out, was to become my best Oregon friend.            Through my new friend, I met several volunteer mentors at the high school and learned I had something in common with nearly all of them: dogs, horses, books or teen-age sons. I met folks at neighboring ranches the day Kobe sent a stray cat up an oak tree, and I went searching for its owner.

The following spring, I’d been thinking about how everything was working out so well and how much I was liking Oregon when the accident happened. I slipped in Kobe’s kennel, dislocated and broke my ankle in three places. Facing surgeries and months of no walking and no driving, I worried about how to get through it without my family support system nearby and Jim often gone to Washington.

I should have known better: I lived in Oregon. Dinners appeared in our kitchen the first nights I was home from the hospital, spontaneous gifts from folks down the road and up the hill. Sandy tended to Kobe – and my first-ever chicks — and kept my spirits up. Another new friend did grocery shopping and drove me to doctor visits. All this from people I’d known by name for a matter of months, not years. Prior to moving, I’d been warned Oregon people didn’t like Californians one iota. “Pshaw,” I say to that now.

This, our third summer in Yamhill, the ripples that started with Kobe have turned into waves. Through Sandy, we’ve met other Yamhillians. In fact, we’ve become part of the group of regulars who meet Friday nights at the local pizza-pub. Sometimes when we gather, I feel like I’m in the bar from the “Cheers” TV show. Then I listen to the conversation:

“We lost three chickens to a hawk.” “I planted iris around the roses, and that’s keeping the deer away.” “It got so hot, we had to make the pigs’ wallow bigger so they could stay cool.” “I got locked in the chicken coop and had to use my cell phone to get someone to let me out.” “When that big wind came up, all the horses went and stood in the middle of the pasture.”

It’s then I realize the lives of these people – our friends – are far more interesting than anything on television. Now it’s my life, too. While I wasn’t looking, Oregon became my home.

The proof? The night Adam graduated, we asked him what his best high school memory was. His answer: “Moving to Yamhill.”  Pass a slice of pizza, please, and don’t forget a doggie bag for Kobe.

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