During the old gold rush days of the 1890’s and 1900’s, the "Chinook Winds" is how the mountain folk referred to the tropical systems that would barrel into the Pacific Northwest. It would send the snow level soaring back upwards in elevation by thousands of feet causing any snow accumulation to get melted and added to the deluge of rain carried by the weather front turning the South Fork Stillaguamish River from a "mere trout stream" into a roaring torrent of moving water.
Today we call it the Pineapple Express and when you get one of these systems coming through, you can be assured of a lot of action outside. Not only was a Flood Warning in effect, but due to the saturation levels in the ground from the previous couple of weeks of rain, landslides are apt to occur. In our case, you can literally watch logs floating down the river from the nearby Blue Bridge and see the sides of the sandy cliff banks fall and add to the flotsam.
I took this opportunity to drive up and see if my neighbor, who lives on the river, needed some help with his sand bagging efforts. They are in a much better state than they were several years ago when the flooding river caused serious damage to their house, totaled their car, and caused their hot tub to float down the river. (see this entry for pictures!) They have since raised the house 14 feet in the air on a concrete foundation that would allow floodwaters to pass through.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the animals couldn’t care less about the rain, although I think they rather prefer snow. These guys will sit out in the rain and chew their cud without blinking an eye, even if they have a loafing shed to cush under. Our little rooster, Marshall has taken to roaming in the garden area during the day and in between the squalls. He has become quite the tame bird and doesn’t mind me picking him up and taking him back when its time to close the chicken tractor back up. In the photo album you can see that, even though its November, our mild climate still allows a number of things to grow in the garden.
These rains have everyone on high alert. There is something so enthralling about see the environment around you swiftly change. Even the wildlife seem to be acting on heightened status. I was walking the dogs back from my neighbor’s property when they darted off into the woods across the road. All of a sudden I hear them yelping, then barking, then branches snapping, and very loud growling! Oh no, a bear! From the sound of it, a very large, aggressive bear; and he’s got the dogs! Both Shadow and Maximo could be heard at first, then nothing and they didn’t return when called! I wasn’t sticking around, that’s for sure! Quickly, I made my way back to the ranch and got in the truck to drive up the road and check the neighbor’s to see if the dogs made it up to them. He mentioned also hearing the growling bear recently. Driving back, I was shouting out the window for the dogs, and there was the branch snapping and growling again, no dogs! For sure I thought we lost our two guys today! Then up ahead I see Shadow and Maximo come darting out from the woods! What a close call! I could hear the bear in the woods, he was making sure I heard him. But it was such a relief to see that the dogs made it back out and appeared unharmed. Whew! I got them back to the ranch and notified my neighbors of the four-legged squatter who has taken up residence between them. I think it gave the Animal Control officer a good chuckle as her advice was to find someone with bear tags to hunt it ’cause it is bear season. Other than that, I’m not too worried about him coming down to our place. The llama’s siren is enough to scare Sasquatch, let alone a bear. I’ll just keep our trash secured and compost the smelly table scraps. That keeps them away in general. After all, we do live in the mountains with big animals all around us and they have the right to their wooded turf, but if he ventures down to the ranch, I might have to see about a new rug and some bear meat sausages for the freezer! After this close encounter of the second kind, I won’t be taking any second chances with this aggressive sounding guy. My heart was a twitter!
Rainy days also leads us towards other indoor activities and recently both Tim and I started a class with the NW Agricultural Business Center for new farm businesses on bringing a value-added product to market. In our case, that’s agro-tourism. We’ll meet once a month over the next 6 months and they will help us on a variety of fronts, included to refresh our business plan and delve deeper into our marketing strategies as we get closer to putting the business into operation.
Currently, we are squarely enmeshed in the county’s rezone process so we can be permitted to run a campground, and also to be zoned correctly for it. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Review meeting where my project manager, from the surveying company we hired, and I will meet with the county planner and all the relevant county persons who provided comment. From there hopefully we’ll be able to move forward, making any relevant changes they’ve requested, and go on to the Hearing Examiner for an approval.
In the meantime, I’m also working on our submission to the state for the Class B water system designation. This allows us to offer our well water to the public. There are a few upgrades we are making to our current system, like a redundant pressure tank and a source meter, that will assure that our water system will provide quality water to our guests. Let me tell you, our water is so tasty good and fresh, and clean!
So now we are preparing to enter the holiday season and I’m sure our first snow day is somewhere in the short term future. Thanksgiving has us preparing a 30 pound turkey and having over lots of guests for a grand feast. After that, it looks like we’ll be hosting another White Elephant Holiday Party, which is always a hoot.