Riparian Forest Adventures

Glimpsing Through the Trees

Glimpsing Through The Trees

It had been a few days since I'd last wandered down into our forest, and I was curious to see what changes the rain and shifting seasons had wrought in my absence. Our corner of the world is blessed with more water than know what to do with; after a hard rain, bubbling springs will suddenly appear and give birth to chortling streams. As I reached the edge of the forest, I encountered one of these spontaneous waterways.

Stream Collage

This little bourne (photo at left) originates at a brand-new spring (top right), and becomes an underground stream when it flows into the hole pictured at bottom right. I followed the underground stream to where it breaches the surface again at an old well that my ancestors filled in and then down under the roots of some old cherry plum trees.

The outlying forest is a bog, dominated by a canopy of alders and peppered with more little transient streams. This alder bog is also home to an immense patch of skunk cabbage (of which I've written before, but feel the need to document once again). There are hundreds, if not thousands of heads of skunk cabbage spreading in all directions.

Skunk Cabbage Forest

A forest of skunk cabbage

The older, quieter part of the woods has a solemn beauty that I find difficult to describe. Stands of red cedar and douglas fir are interrupted by madrone, and nurse logs feed wild huckleberries. The copses of larger trees sometimes hide surprises, and today I was delighted to find some of smallest mushrooms I've ever seen. These little treasures were an unexpected bounty, and I ventured home feeling like a successful treasure hunter.

Micro Mushrooms

Tiny Threadlike Mushrooms


Tidying Up

Chainsawing Black Locust

Chainsawing Black Locust

Some days it's best to take it slow and smooth some of the rough edges off of existing projects, rather than embarking on an ambitious new project. Today was one of those days.

Seeing nothing but steady rain on the horizon, we decided the time was right to do some road maintenance. Although we'd previously cut water bars across the road, they were never quite sufficient to stem the deluge washing down the hill. The garages and basement would flood, and we would mutter gloomily.

With today's improvements to the water bars, we were finally successful in diverting the water from uphill. We imagine eventually turning the bars into nice rolling dips.

Another old project that we've been whittling away at is the grove of black locust trees that were already felled and overgrown with blackberries when we moved in. Chainsawing them to length is nearly done, at which point the stumps will be hauled into the forest to rot at their own pace.

Lastly, we built some makeshift cages to protect our blueberry bushes from predation by local deer. They'll need larger enclosures later, at which point we can use these cages for tomatoes.

Carving channels and peninsulae
Rafts of needles float downstream
Caught for a moment on a twig or
Dammed as though by a child
At play

Fanning into a river delta
Rivulets and islands of sediment
At the end of the driveway
The forecast says 40 days of rain


Deep Hive Box with Frames

Deep Hive Box With Frames

Today made a few strides towards one of April's goals: a nascent apiary, here on our own farm. After a Beekeeping 101 Class presented by Corky Luster of Ballard Bee Company and hosted by Seattle Tilth, we eagerly began scheming the assembly of our own hives.

We traipsed out to Stedman's Bee Supplies, where we acquired many of the fundamentals — "deeps," or large wooden hive bodies, "westerns," or medium-sized wooden hive bodies, and all the necessary frames for bees to build their hives within — as well as various accoutrements.

Tomorrow we begin painting the hives. Apparently, a distinctive paint job means the bees are less likely to wander into one of their neighbor's homes. A compelling argument against cookie-cutter housing developments!