Now entering the Marketing Phase!

06-13-10 Sunset on Mt Pilchuck 003 Market! Market! Market!  For all our fans follow us these past few years; watching our guest ranch project evolve and take on a life of its own, you know we’ve been waiting for the moment where we can say our official “Hello World!” 

Well, today we got a big boost towards that right direction with our last minute appearance on the Mel Robbins Radio Show! Mel gives advice ranging from lifestyle to business coaching.  Sure thing, we are always looking for those who can take a peek inside our box and help us out with advice.  In the whirlwind radio conversation world, the chat went really fast.  Boy, I have no idea how I even sounded on radio! 🙂  But, we came away with some more great ideas for our marketing phase (which we feel thankful to be challenged with…finally!) Really, finally, we can focus our efforts on Marketing!  We have offerings! Come public! Relax, retreat, recharge with us in our beautiful pastoral setting in the mountains. Ahhhh!

Of course, marketing comes with its own set of conundrums.   Where do you spend your marketing dollars to get the most return?  How can we spend the least amount of monies in our reserves (what little there is left after having to survive two years of county permitting process!) yet hit the most of the demographic we are serving? 05-13-10 Tour around the ranch 002

Mel came out with some pretty sound advice, some of which validating what was on our list, some of which we quickly added to the top.  We’ll be jumping on the phone this week for an easy “quickie”: extending invitations for a free stay to travel writers and local reporters, not only to generate some goodwill and buzz, but hopefully to get some coverage on what we are doing out here in the mountains.  Can you think of anyone who needs a night’s stay in our guest yurt that fits this description?  Be sure to send us any leads you have via a quick email to . 

But let’s not stop at reporters and local travel writers… who else should we be inviting out to the Paca Pride Guest Ranch for a tour?  Got some ideas?  Send them to us!  If your idea pans out, there may be a free night’s stay for you in it!  Now is the time we need to rally our support base to help us get the good word out about Paca Pride.  So if you can recommend us to your friends, relatives, Senators and Representatives, and every school child that can beg their parents to come out and visit the alpacas…please recommend away! 

05-13-10 Tour around the ranch 059Our very first marketing step since finishing our county permitting is actually going to come about this next week… our road side sign!  For the past two years, we’ve had a small A-frame sign with a tagline, “Hiker’s need good socks…Discover Alpaca!” sitting at our mailbox.  It has trickled in the passerby traffic, but now we need something with more oomph!  Our Version 1.0 sign will be a 4’x6’ sign that announces Paca Pride Guest Ranch including: “Homestead Campground” “Group Events” “Alpaca Products” “Open to the Public” and our tagline “Base camp for your Mountain Loop experience!”

Would you like a sneak preview?  Check out our Facebook fanpage for Paca Pride Guest Ranch for a picture of our roadside sign design.  While you are there, hit the “Like” button and become a fan of Paca Pride.

Much more to come from us! Be sure to put us on your radar screen for a visit.  Local to the Seattle area?  Come out for a Sunday drive and take a free tour!

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Let the camping season begin!

05-23-10 Moon Cloud and Mountains 006Memorial Day Weekend out on the Mountain Loop Highway marks the official start to camping season. This is the weekend where we see a definite uptick in the traffic on this rural road as tourists, hikers, and campers flock to the outdoors to see the wonders of nature or explore a bit of gold rush history. 

Here at Paca Pride we are in Spring mode as we prepare for new additions to the ranch for our guests.  Already, our outdoor kitchen is well underway to being completed.  This will supply the next bit of functionality and services for our guests staying at the ranch.  We’ve got the space covered with a roof and the plumbing is almost done.  Next up, we search for a stove that we can hookup to the propane making a convenient space for our campground guests to prepare their meals.  When does a kitchen become an educational opportunity?  Well, here at the homestead we take awareness of our carbon footprint to the next stage.  So, guests will learn how to separate their trash and become part of the recycling link for scrap food: from slop bucket to compost bin to garden! 

05-23-10 Baby chicks brooding in the chicken tractor 005Once we finish with some of the remaining development projects, we’ll begin to turn our sights towards some further marketing efforts.  Hopefully this will translate into a roadside sign that announces to the passerby traffic that we are here…Hello, world!  Up until this point, we’ve been relying a great deal on website traffic, blog readers, and a small sandwich board at our entrance which currently touts, “Hikers Need Good Socks, Discover Alpaca!”  That and our “Fresh Eggs” sign tends to draw up the curious who slow down enough.  But, we need to put up something larger, and viewable from a further distance, that spells out our services and accommodations a bit better. 

In the meantime, Spring also means brooding baby chickens, baby turkeys, and a couple baby ducklings (because they were too cute to refuse!) We have 29 of them brooding in the chicken tractor. Our bottomless contraption, made from recycled and salvaged materials, we drag it behind where the herd was grazing and right over the llama poop piles.  05-23-10 Baby chicks brooding in the chicken tractor 021The chickens then act like a tractor and rake out the poop while eating the bugs and weed seeds.  This little activity saves us from having to fertilize our pastures.

Spring also marks the return of plenty of Robins to the area along with our developing colony of barn swallows that have claimed Paca Pride their home.  We have white breasted barn swallows that make their nests up at the house and we have yellow breasted ones that own the barn. 05-23-10 Baby chicks brooding in the chicken tractor 008 They always come out and swoop around us when we go outside chirping away as we rustle the bugs up for them.  One little Robin decided to take their cue and has built here nest at one corner of the house overlooking the garden.  At the end of the season, we can take the nest down, but for now we’ll see if she peacefully raises her young hatchlings over the course of the summer. 


05-22-10 Robin's Nest 002

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More Press for Paca Pride Guest Ranch

For the residents of this hidden valley tucked along the Mountain Loop Highway, the month of May sees an uptick in the amount of tourism and outdoor recreational traffic that reminds them all that, indeed, The Robe Valley, has always held a deep seated attraction for those seeking to reconnect with the natural beauty around them.  So, as the season progressively warms up, and tourists venture out, our local Snohomish County Tourism Bureau revs up their publicity engine.

Recently, the newest edition of “Storyline”, a report that gets sent out to all those media relations, travel writing type folks, was issued and it focused on the wonderful outdoor opportunities in abundance along this National Scenic Byway.  What a pleasure it was for us to see the attention our homestead campground received in this!

Take a look and enjoy the read:

“Adventures along the Cascade Loop”

The Robe Valley is fortunate to have a very progressive and inspiring community living here.  This is embodied in the great all-volunteer Fire Department that supports all the campgrounds during the peak summer season.  Always in need of more volunteers, the Robe Valley Fire Department are our neighbors who will, at the marshalling of the foghorn department siren that can be heard up and down the valley, come running to aid those in need.  Paca Pride Guest Ranch recently made a special trip to their annual “Fuchsia Fundraiser” to deliver a financial donation to help support this vital civil service of ours.  As I posed with the Fire Chief on May Day, we joked that I was just returning the money most of them have already spent buying eggs from us!

05-01-10 Robe Valley Fire Fuscia Fundraiser 001

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April outside…Dancing with the Weather

04-08-10 April snow scenes 020 This time of year the weather is always all over the map out here in the Central Cascades.  Storm systems from the Pacific make their way east and can converge in very interesting ways in the valleys that head east towards the High Cascades and their peaks. Sometimes, our Robe Valley gets pummeled with squalls and the next moment the sun breaks out.  Rain, snow, slush, sleet, or a mix of them all can hit us, but the peak of Mt. Pilchuck, on the south side of this valley, acts as a great rain shadow for our plateau on the north side of the valley. 

04-05-10 Snow in April 3 inches 007  Paca Pride sits up against the southern slopes of the Green Mountain Ridge, you can see it curve eastward when you look down the pasture.  Watching the ridgeline is a great seasonal barometer.  We are quickly learning how the rising and falling snowline relates to our micro-climate here at the ranch.  You can also watch the clouds roll over the ridge from the north and gather into a squall further up the valley in Verlot. Spring slowly creeps further up its sides and we can tell when it will be fairly safe from frost to put out summer veggies in the garden (tomatoes and hot peppers are eagerly awaiting their garden plots under the row covers).04-12-10 Garden starts 001






04-09-10 April garden beds and morel 003 04-09-10 April garden beds and morel 001







Well protected from the dance of the weather, are all the garden plants safe under plastic row covers.  These mini-greenhouses really have a head start on the growing season.  While others are still waiting for their soils to warm up and dry out, we’re harvesting spinach, lettuce, giant green onions, plenty of herbs, leeks, green garlic, and more!

 04-12-10 Prepping Log poles for tent deck tarps 004At present, work is focused on some final accessory pieces of campground development.  Earlier, work began on adding three platforms for pitching tents, having an event, or awaiting a future guest yurt.  For now, we’ll finish these out complete with tarp coverings and railings around the back and sides, and stairs in the front.   The decks will feature some rustic charm with log poles at front and back to hold the centerline of the tarp. The goal is for them to look like little outposts.  Over time, landscaping will help define the space.  We’ll carry this theme of a western fort with smaller decks for yurts nestled in amongst the tree line heading down to the Roundhouse.





04-12-10 Log Poles for Outdoor Kitchen roof 002 Back at the house, more logs went into the ground in preparation for building our outdoor campground kitchen.  It’s plumbed for a sink and propane for a stove and grill, so we just need to build the roof.  It will be a shed style roof following the roof line of the house. Once complete, this area will be available for all campground guests for cooking and as a water station. Over time, trails will lead off from the kitchen directly into the garden area.

The biggest influence on getting any outdoor work done during Spring is the weather.  Luckily, there aren’t too many days that are completely rainy all day. Most of the time a quick squall comes through and then its dry again.  Some recent storms, however, really delayed the kitchen logs.  The tractor had an auger attached and was parked in the spot for the first hole, ready to go.  But, the ground was too saturated to be digging and pouring concrete.  So, it sat there for a week until the window of clear weather came.

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Paca Pride Receives Press!

It would be easy to say we are all excited here at Paca Pride because of the press we received in the April newsletter for our local Snohomish Conservation District. However, what excites us more is the cultivation of a fantastic relationship with a truly valuable organization to anyone who is doing any sort of homesteading in this area.  The Snohomish Conservation District has been a partner with Paca Pride Guest Ranch all the way back to when we were first writing our business plan in 2004.  They provided the critical transfer of technology and information through their wonderful service of developing our farm plan when we were first considering our project.  This valuable tool has informed many of our development decisions from how to design our fencing to the size compost bin we’ll need for our llama poop!Beyond helping us at our inception, the Conservation District has been out to the ranch for many visits during our development phases to provide guidance, analysis, and objective criticism.  Their assistance in worth its weight in gold!

So, yes, we’re excited out here at Paca Pride and we hope you getting excited too after reading about us in the Conservation District’s April newsletter:

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Paca Pride gets Deck Platforms (Tents and future Yurts)

03-05-10 - 03-06-10 Tent platform future yurt 016With the green light from the county, and the help of Spring-like weather, we are quickly finding momentum building the deck platforms for tents and future yurts. 

This is where we roll up our sleeves and work out those muscles that have lacked challenge through the winter; no snow to trudge through this past season. 

We plan around these days carefully this time of year because the weather still can get volatile and throw a flash snow when you least expect it. 


03-05-10 - 03-06-10 Tent platform future yurt 019Luckily, Mother Nature is favoring us to get a head start on everything this year, even the garden.

These decks are great places to pitch your tent and bring the air mattress.  Eventually, we’ll bump a yurt off the corner of each one.

For the start, we’ll offer them as tent platforms to the public.  We may even supply the tent for them to pitch! Future rentals include a set up campsite.



03-05-10 - 03-06-10 Tent platform future yurt 002

Some logs will be put to use as poles for rain fly tarps over the decks.

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Paca Pride gets Paving!

One of the main conditions we have to meet as a criteria from the county regarding our rezone and conditional use permit is paving our front apron of the road.  This allows it to be a commercially viable connection to the highway for traffic.  We had to wait for our approval to get rolling on this, but over this past week we were able to make it happen! Check out the photo album for the complete blow-by-blow, but below are some highlights.  We’re glad to check this one off our to-do list!

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 01-26-10 Paving the Front Entrance 027

01-26-10 Paving the Front Entrance 035

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Paca Pride Progresses in 2010!

For those of you who have been following our adventure these past few years to build a guest ranch out in the mountains, you know of the trials and travails we were presented with these past two years as we proceeded with our rezoning and conditional use permitting efforts with our local county government.  TO say that it has not been a challenging road to navigate would definitely be an understatement! However, 2010 is looking very bright indeed!

Just before the start of the holiday season this past month, the Hearing Examiner finally issued here decision to approve our project!  The culmination of two years of “process” finally reached its apex with the county.  This month we focus on meeting the conditions that are laid out in the twenty two pages of the approval decision.  The main condition we need to satisfy comes in the form of asphalt paving the front entrance at the road to make it a commercially viable entrance for public safety.  This requires a whole separate permit application, review, and approval process, replete with posting a construction bond and arranging for right-of-way permits.  I’m happy to report that we turned that paperwork around very quickly and the county road works staff issued the proper permits for us to construct this apron to the road.  So, sometime this week in fact, we should be having a paver come on out to create our upgrade to the entrance.

12-25-09 Dakota Family Visit 041

Finally, we can begin to feel our momentum start to pick up again!  Two years is a long time to have to essentially carry our costs with out the opportunity to establish our revenue streams; we can officially open our doors with out the permits after all.  Needless to say, the solid cash reserves we did have for further development have migrated over the the county’s coffers instead, to the tune of over $50,000.  It’s a very expensive proposition trying to start a business in this country today.  Even if your idea is a great one, there are a lot of regulatory stumbling blocks to overcome as we’ve discovered.  You would think there would have been some sort of economic stimulus or encouragement available out there for small businesses these days, but I’m here to tell you that those outside resources are few and far between.

Alas, this means that we have refocused our business strategies for a slow and steady growth plan.  We’ll have to rely more on generating revenue to pay for improvements, but at least we are well on the way to being able to offer the services to the public that we would like.  Certainly, we are entertaining the notions of any angel investors out there that have an interest in our success, so pass the word along! 

12-25-09 Dakota Family Visit 018

In the meantime we’ve observed some wonderful changes happening at the local town level of Granite Falls.  While our mailing address says we too are Granite Falls residents, in actuality we live a good ways from the town itself in the unincorporated portions of the county; in the mountains themselves!  However, we recently saw the influx of new blood infusing the town with a great energy to move forward and capitalize on the tourism opportunities that this area is known for.  The town recently elected a new mayor, reestablished its visitor’s center, and has seen membership in the Chamber of Commerce practically tripe over the past year!  I tell you all, if our dear president of our country was looking for an example of the local community stepping forth and recovering themselves, the story is out here in this small town of Granite Falls, Washington!

Interestingly enough from our Pac-Nor-West corner of the world, we seem to be experiencing a winter quite different from the rest of the country.  While gripped in a solid icy freeze all the way down to Florida, the mountain folk out this way are scratching our collective heads in befuddlement and thankfulness for the very mild winter we have had so far!  Really, to say it has been mild is an understatement!  Our only snow came in early December in the form of 4 inches which quickly disappeared within a couple of days.  Since then, we’ve had a cold snap, but its been a dry one.  However, entering into January we’ve seen our temperatures remain so mild that there have been days we beat out Florida for our daily high!  That’s right, just yesterday it was sunny and with a tease of warmth in the air that I found myself wearing shorts and a T-shirt outside!  In January! 

These mild winter days make for an excellent opportunity for tourists to drive the Mountain Loop and see the snow capped mountains (at least there is a snow pack accumulating something at the tops of the ridges!)  So, if you are a local to the Seattle area, remember that we’re only an hour’s drive from the heart of downtown; and if you don’t live in this area, but would like to visit, consider staying with us, here at Paca Pride Guest Ranch.  We may be a work in progress, but we think you’ll love what you see developing out here in the mountains.

We invite you to visit as we officially open our doors to the public this year.  May 2010 be the bright year we’ve all been waiting a long time to experience and may your journey find you travelling along the Mountain Loop someday.

03-05-09 Snowy Mountains in the sun 002

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Fall at the ranch: Harvesting and winter prep

10-02-09 full moon dusk 003

A full moon rises over Green Mountain’s ridgeline as the days get shorter.  Dusk is earlier and the leaves are really starting to respond to the lessening daylight with their flashes of fall color. We continue the transition from summer veggies to cover crops and winter greens under hoop house-like row covers in the garden.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to harvest some mid-winter delights even when the snows color the grounds white.

 10-02-09 the herd at dusk 004

The herd is officially transitioned from pasture to winter hay under the loafing shed.  They’ll get to do a lot of that…loafing around.  This year the get the full range around the perimeter of the barn, which gives them a bit more space to play and some choice areas for poop to be laid on.  In the Spring we’ll renovate their poop paddock so that it grows a nice patch of grass.  We need that poop there to help establish the soil that is virtually non existent seeing that it is mostly a gravelly ground. Even the waste from the hay they don’t eat will be added to the paddock to add organic matter to the mix. Come spring we add some lime and seed and direct the animals away to let nature do its thing.

 10-02-09 the herd at dusk 003






10-02-09 chickens at dusk 005

Meanwhile, the chicken tractor has found a cozy spot right next to the chicken coop.  We dragged this floorless coop around the pastures, following the llamas, allowing the chickens to rake out, or “tractor”, the poop piles and eat the bugs.  Now, we’ve taken all the hens that were in there and promoted them to the chicken coop leaving the roosters and the two turkeys behind.  They’ll be fattened up with some good garden and kitchen scraps, hand picked clover, and chicken crumble, leading the good life until their time is up and we whisk them off to the freezer for meat.  Perhaps this next year we’ll see little chicks from the coop, with our rooster Elvis ruling the roost, and we’ll repeat the chicken tractor again next summer.

 10-09-09 Harvest and moving herbs indoors 002

This year we’ll try to take advantage of the warmth inside the house, and some choice south facing windows, to see if we can save some container plants.  We brought in a selection of herbs: basils, sage, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, lavender, and catgrass (for kitty to munch on).  Included in some of these containers are some veggies too!  One healthy pepper plant, and an eggplant still bearing fruit, along with several containers of Malabar spinach will not only be at work increasing our indoor oxygen supply, but also producing edible items for us in the kitchen.

 10-09-09 Harvest and moving herbs indoors 004


In the kitchen, we’re still pickling with the final run of cucumbers in a crock for the last round of sweet pickles.  Jalapeno slices are fermenting in a salt water brine. We take the final zucchinis and try to save some of the best seeds from them while using their bulky mass for baking some loaves of zucchini bread and muffins.  Fall weather also makes it easy to want to have the oven warming the kitchen up so we go grab our yeast pot to make loaves of Italian style bread.  Our local yeast we captured is developing into quite the starter…very tasty and unique to the Mountain Loop!  If you bake bread and would like some, be sure to ask during a visit out to the ranch.


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10-09-09 Harvest and moving herbs indoors 007Our dahlias are still throwing forth plenty of color even though it is getting late in the season.  There were plenty to select from for a fresh bouquet in the house.  While the cooling weather doesn’t seem to be affecting them much, all our winter squash vines are starting to wither and that means we are starting to see some of our fairytale pumpkins and butternut squash.  The largest pumpkin so far weighs a whopping 45 pounds!  It is still green and will turn orange over the next month.  The only place left to put them all is out on our display wagon, so we’ll add more as they are picked from outside.

10-09-09 Harvest and moving herbs indoors 013

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Fall? Again? Really?

09-11-09 Garden and landscape 006 It seems as if summer was going to last forever this year out at the ranch.  We have an early start to the garden and still the harvest of summer veggies continued into the entire month of September.  As compared to the previous year, this was amazing.  However, when the calendar turned October we begrudgingly began to shuffle our feet towards preparations for the change in seasons.  We all know the warm weather has got to end.  So, row covers start making their appearance once more and we begin to watch our nighttime low temperatures to see if we should start to close them to protect the garden plants from too much rain, or, dare I say, frost.  My bet is our first frost won’t hit us until late this month or even into November this year. 

09-24-09 Garden Harvest 005 The herd got its annual check-up from the vet which included gelding some of the more randy alpacas.  We like to have everyone’s vaccinations up to date before the cold weather sets in.  Since there are no freebie visits to the pastures during the winter, they have to remain in the sacrifice areas around the barn.  This means close quarters through the cold months.  So anything to assure good health through the cold months is prudent. 

The chicken tractor made its way over to the chicken coop where it will remain parked this winter.  The birds did a fine job of tractoring the llama poop piles.  We noticed a significant drop in the fly population this season making this a resounding success.  Letting the birds out during the day to forage substantially decreased the amount of purchased feed we needed to give them which was an added bonus for the budget.  Now comes the hard part.  We start to harvest the roosters from the tractor to the freezer for meat and promote the hens from the tractor to the coop.  We’ll do this slowly over time taking two or three birds for processing since we do it all by hand.  Today, we started with the two extra roosters in the coop that we were hoping to be hens.  Elvis is our rooster we’re keeping so these two other guys had to make some room.  So looks like roast chicken is for dinner tonight!

09-30-09 First Snow on the Mountain As if to put an exclamation on the change in seasons, we got our first dusting of snow returning to the peak of Mt. Pilchuck, our visible barometer of winter.  Of course it came with a good dose of rains here at the lower foothill elevations, but nonetheless there is no longer any confusion as to whether summer is done dishing out its warmth. Time for some leaves to start changing on the trees; maybe the maples will finally take the hint.

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Summer sizzle time at the guest ranch…

07-27-09 Pool 2009 004Phew!  It’s hot out!  Are you hot yet? ‘Cause we’re hot outside and it seems that others think so too as the escapees from the city head to the mountains and the cool river waters to do some inner-tubing.  That’s right, if you stop off in Granite Falls you can pick up a river-floating inner tube at our local “Just Tires” store and head for a river.  Most of the rivers are at their lowest points right now while the temps are at the highest points and that makes for a gentle adventure down the river a lot of fun.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we’re watching our pennies and dimes very closely.  We’re still going through our permit process with Snohomish county and are and are eagerly anticipating our Hearing Examiners date arriving.   Once we are officially permitted, we can fling open our doors, er, tent-flaps, to campers!  But that doesn’t mean we have to suffer in this heat!  It was a welcome surprise when our own Glenn brought home a small inflatable kiddy pool to dip our toes in!  It didn’t take too long for the cold well water we filled it with to become tepid bath water, ahhhhh, let the relaxing begin. 

Our garden grows and grows and we are watching our tomato plants plump up with lots of green gems. 

Perhaps these sunny and hot days will see some red color start to entice some plucking.

07-25-09 Thunderstorms in the mountains 00307-25-09 Thunderstorms in the mountains 002 

Lots of veggies have already been harvested and the pickle jar is started for this season.  In a couple more weeks we’ll have some freshly  brined hot-spicy dills to crunch on.07-23-09 Pickle and kimchi jars started 002 Yum!

 07-25-09 Thunderstorms in the mountains 008

But even though this is full-tilt summertime, we still remain humbled and surprised at the variety of weather that occurs.  Thunderstorms and lightening, a rare occurrence in this part, were the main attraction over this past weekend. Even rarer is when you can stand out in the rain and not feel chilled.  That’s what this past weekend was like at times.  The humidity would climb up a notch and a grumble could be heard.  Then some pitter-patter on the metal roof of the barn announced the arrival of a brief little squall.  The ground was quenched of its thirst and all the greenery stored up the moisture right quickly! 


07-22-09 Mt Pilchuck view of snow almost gone 001

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Chicken Run 2009

06-21-09 Chickens come to the Guest Ranch 003Well with all this nice June weather we’ve been having, and the chicken coop and chicken tractor sitting there waiting to be put into operation, we decided to turn our attention to finding Paca Pride a Paca Flock.  If you recall from last year, we used the chicken tractor for a round of 25 meat birds that ended up living mostly in the garden space.  That was due to the chicken tractor being especially difficult to move around.  The main reason it is called a chicken “Tractor” is because it has no floor and you move it around from grassy space to grassy space where the chickens do the work of a tractor to essentially rake, till, and fertilize, of course, the soil.  But that’s the clinch pin: you have to be able to move it easily from spot to spot.  Since I had used 2×4 pressure treated wood as the base frame, the weight of the entire tractor ended up enough to make it a burden.  So, we stripped off the wood components, replaced them with some old car port metal poles as skids that would be able to slide over the grass when pulled along.  06-21-09 Chickens come to the Guest Ranch 009Initial tests look like Chicken Tractor V 2.0 will do the job and I’ll be able to take it out to the pasture areas and slide it over the llama poop piles so the fowl can do the foul job of scratching through the poop to eat bugs and weed seeds and basically help to organically control our fly population (because flies love to lay their eggs in poop, if you don’t already know this).

In addition to the chicken tractor, which raises the birds destined for the freezer, we needed to figure out our solution for farm fresh eggs.  That’s where our new coop comes into play.  Built out of scrap lumber from the construction of our log home, it matches the rustic setting perfectly!  The lucky birds that live here will be getting nice little nest boxes and roosting poles with a lovely view of the ranch.  The coop itself was designed around the most frequently overlooked aspect of having chickens: cleaning up their poop.  06-21-09 Chickens come to the Guest Ranch 005Low maintenance is key for how we design everything at the ranch for operation.  If it can’t be automated, it better be equipped to go for some good period of time before needing attention.  After all, we want our time to be spent giving our attention to our guests and not our chickens.   Looking around the ranch at my burgeoning recycle pile stash I  found an old cargo container used for luggage on top of cars and basically took it apart to act as catch trays for the entire coop.  That defined the coop’s footprint.  In the wintertime we’ll be able to add our wood ash from the wood stove in those trays to help keep their poop neutralized and not smelly.  In the summer when they start filling up, we’ll drag the trays over to the compost bin to empty them… Recently one of my more popular sayings has been “It’s all a grand experiment until you have to clean up the mess.” 06-21-09 Chickens come to the Guest Ranch 016We’ll see how the chicken poop solution works!

Thus, the only remaining tidbit to this equation was introducing the chickens!   Last year we ordered a round of 25 meat birds from a hatchery online.  They were a specific breed that grew quite rapidly and were ready for butchering within 10 weeks.  We came to realize what it meant when you read the label on the whole chicken at the store that says “Young chicken”.  Those birds were white and were a Rock Cornish cross.  This year, in order to save money and leap ahead a bit with the brooding aspect of early chicken raising, we found a more local source for chickens via a chicken aficionado who was advertising on good ol’ Craigslist!  06-21-09 Chickens come to the Guest Ranch 018 After a visit with him on Sunday, we came back with some really colorful birds for both the chicken tractor and the coop. 

The coop will feature birds that are already slightly older than those in the tractor and need no brooding.  At 3 months old already, they got popped right into their new home with some feed and water and stray in the nest boxes.  06-21-09 Chickens come to the Guest Ranch 017They will begin to lay at around 6 months of age.   Well, at least six of the seven in there will be laying eggs as one of them is a Barred Rock rooster.  A Barred Rock is basically a black stripped white chicken that looks like, well, a jail bird!  The other six hens are Rhode Island Reds and Black Sexlinks.   The rooster will allow us to try and become a bit self sustaining with new chicks for next year’s chicken tractor.  But, if he gets to be too loud, it’s into the stew pot! Rhode Island Reds and Black Sexlinks will lay nice big brown eggs.

The 20 birds in the chicken tractor are a mix of several breeds of chickens. 06-21-09 Chickens come to the Guest Ranch 012 Most of them would become roosters since it’s the boys who get bigger, and meatier, than the girls.  These guys are only one month old and still need a heat lamp for another couple of weeks until they can keep themselves warm.  However, since that aren’t day-old chicks any longer, it meant we had to reconfigure the brooding space to be in the main portion of the tractor rather than the smaller nesting/roosting cage that makes up the back part of the tractor.  Instead, I simply used the larger feeder and waterer that they would be getting and set them up right on to the grass with some straw to keep them dry.  They were all happy chickens when we last checked in on them for the night.

We You Tube Video clipped the release of the younger chicks into the chicken tractor.  As you watch the video, listen for the rain hitting the outside of the chicken tractor.  Also, as we take each chick out, we dip there beaks in the water source to show them where the water is.   Enjoy the video!

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This year’s shearing events: Volunteers needed

08-01-08 Shearing Cisco Large Web viewWith our business partner, Tim, recovering from his final chemo treatment and battle with cancer, we find ourselves a bit shorthanded with this year’s shearing festivities.  But, that only gives us a reason to through a party!  Tim will be home and done with his treatments and our animals are needing their shearing in preparation for the summertime weather.  We’ll be hosting two Saturday events, these first two Saturdays in June: 6th and 13th, from 10-5pm.  We are looking for a small group of volunteers to join us on those two days to assist with the job of shearing our herd.  It’s not difficult work, and you get an up close and personal experience with the fuzzy critters.  We need able bodied individuals to assist us.

We are also going to be having a summer BBQ with our ranch raised chicken for all the volunteers who RSVP to this event.  If you also desire to turn a day event into a campout weekend, we’ll give all our volunteers free lodging (but it’s limited to a small group and on a first-come, first-serve basis).  This is the perfect opportunity to plan a visit the ranch if you haven’t yet been out, or it has been a while since your last visit.  Be sure to RSVP ahead of time so we can properly plan for our guests and volunteers. 

If you’d like to come just to view the action, you are also welcome to attend.  Bring a lawn chair and some cold drinks in a cooler and enjoy the scene.  Again, please RSVP ahead of time with your intentions to allow us to plan properly.  (the post-shearing BBQ will be for volunteers only).

WHEN:  Saturday June 6th, and Saturday June 13th  from 10am – 5pm both days.

WHERE: Paca Pride Guest Ranch (directions available on our website:

RSVP is required for volunteers wishing to camp overnight.  Space is limited, be sure to call us first if you are considering staying!

   07-18-08 Shearing the alpacas 010 07-18-08 Shearing the alpacas 011 07-18-08 Shearing the alpacas 014

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The Season Opens…but officially we aren’t :(

Ah, the trials and tribulations of starting a small business in America these days.  It is virtually an impossibility.  On the one hand we hear how small business is the backbone of our economy, so you would think that there would be support in every quarter of our government to encourage its success.  On the other hand, going from something that is private to something to be offered as a public and commercial enterprise brings forth challenges that the everyday person cannot begin to imagine…until they try to go into business for themselves.

We are currently at the mercy and whim of a county rezoning and permitting process, a necessity if we are to offer a campground to the public.  However, during this economic meltdown affecting America, local governmental agencies have been experiencing cutback after cutback and layoff after layoff.  So, while our normal permit process should have taken a matter of weeks, we now have been going about it for literally over a year.  The current staff at the county Planning Department has been forced to double and triple their workloads to compensate for those who were let go.  This means that those county experts who’s job it was to review permits are now also staffing the customer service counters and answering the phones. It also means a lot of waiting on our part.  While we have literally bent over backward to address county concerns regarding our project, we have no end in sight for when they will finish their part so that we can move to the next step of going in front of the Hearing Examiner.

So, we wait…and wait…and wait… When you hear of all the help that is available out there for supporting small business, it’s natural to think you can find some backing to assist in either funding or simply navigating the policy waters.  It’s much more difficult than that. Recently I attended an “Economic Stimulus Workshop for Small Business” sponsored by our Congressman Jay Inslee of WA.  There was a lot of talk from the Small Business Assoc. (SBA) about the great changes in loan structures and the supportive stuff they were doing.  The IRS was even there talking about tax code implications.  Business Support Centers and Economic Development Council representatives were there touting what’s available.  All seem to express the importance of business planning and getting your cash flows down on paper and understanding your finances through and through before seeking your funding. Good points to be made.

However, once a business has done its planning and is executing its plan, what’s available to assist it through the regulatory waters with their local governmental agencies?  When asked this question, there were many nods from the audience of small business owners, some of whom stopped me afterwards to share similar pains. However, not one of the panel representatives could offer advice.  It seems everyone was well equipped to talk about how to secure loans and signup for assistance at “extremely low rates”, but as for funding say to help us with paving our front entrance to meet a county requirement for a commercially viable front to the road…nothing. 

With our business partner and housemate battling cancer right now, and the sluggishness we are experiencing trying to expedite matters with the county, we realize that the universe is certainly at work tempering our resolve.  Despite these delays upon delays and the stress of living with a battle with lymphoma, we stride to remain steadfast in our Zen outlook.  We seek to remain calm with eyes open and ears perked up that we gain the broader perspective these experiences are bringing forth upon our path.  We let the feeling of frustration act as a spiritual guide to look out of the box for the message that we may be missing.  We work in the garden to connect with the ebb and flow of the natural pace of life; to tune us to the season of growth that is nature-made rather than the pace of process that is human-made. 

Yesterday we had visitors to the ranch drop by unexpectedly who had last stopped by during the construction of the log ranch house.  They were simply amazed at how far we had managed to travel in the space of so short a timeframe.  They noted progress everywhere.  They saw a blank piece of land being brought fully to life.  They commented upon potential being manifested into reality. We were reminded just how far we had come.  Sometimes, when we feel stagnation setting in and are ready to throw in the towel, it is amazing that the universe sets teachers to cross your path and give you the perspective uplift you need at the time.  We were thankful for their visit yesterday.  It reminded us to remain mindful that to manifest something good in our currently societal reality, to strike a course that demands patience and courage, takes the resolve to remain present to the abundance that is all around us and to rise above the seemingly chaotic churn that is par for the course when giving birth to a dream.

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Spring engine is on full throttle out in the mountain meadows

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Tucked up in the Pacific Northwest on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains, the Puget Sound and its lowlands are nestled in a marine climate. That’s where you’ll find the metropolis which is uniquely Seattle.  Coffee, creativity, style and a class of its own, the locals are outdoorsy and love the natural settings that abound everywhere.  They can be found at play on the many hiking trails and campgrounds located in their own backyard.  When the winter chill has left the air, and the sun seems to visibly be tilting higher in the sky, the beauty of Springtime beckons.  Though the weather is robust and varied, its easy to tune into its rhythms and take advantage of sunny days for some exploring.

Paca Pride Guest Ranch is located in one of those getaway spots.  Only an hour drive north of downtown is the hidden gem of Snohomish County known as the Mountain Loop Highway.  Trails to the ice caves, the old Goldrush Days railroad tunnels, mountain lakes, or beautiful vistas are some of the attractions which can be found amongst the numerous campgrounds that fill up during the summertime.  Without much effort you can have your Sound of Music moment in the fresh air.

Springtime starts in the lowest elevations first, typically when the rains are abundant.  Cherry tree blossoms turn the city into a Dr. Seuss storybook land.  Slowly, Spring creeps upwards in elevation taking almost a month to work

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its way up to the foothills of the Cascades. Inching its way further into the interior of the mountainous frontier, the quickest to blossom are always the warmest of micro-climates.  Usually these are the south facing slopes and meadow areas high and away from the river valley.  It is this secret pocket of a micro-climate that you would stumble upon as you drive up through the Paca Pride log gate.

When the daffodils and tulips are already past their prime in the city, Paca Pride is presenting its Spring colors in full bloom.  The meadow grasses: fescues, ryes, clover, exhibit lush greens that only a llama or alpaca can eye with a deep appreciation as they wait in eager anticipation of grazing on such resplendent, and tasty, new growth. Meadow flowers are getting ready to blossom as the threat of morning frosts are now past.  Protected by a barrier of evergreens on all sides, the plateau that is Paca Pride is a pocket of warmth that offers an earlier start to gardening. 

While our neighbors next to the river still feel the icy chill of the melting runoff, we are already planting our summer crops.  This micro-climate head start gives us a nice growing season that rivals some lowland areas.  We still make use of plastic row covers to give our new plantings the benefit of extra warmth and protection from excessive rains, windy gusts, and chilly morning dew points.  These season extenders create mini greenhouses and warm the soil for those sun lovers like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and squash.  The month of May is all about revving up the garden engine and getting the plants that we started inside, under lights, into the ground with their drip irrigation. 

04-30-09 Tulips in bloom_6 Already we can see the bracken fern shoots coming up from their winter slumber, a good sign that Winter is assuredly gone for the year and Spring is completely in charge of nature’s story now.  Soon our attention will turn to those meadow grasses for some harvesting as fresh feed for the herd.  We don’t own a lawn mower here at the ranch. While that makes a golf course look neat and conforming, we prefer to let grasses grow into their natural form.  Some of them we’ll even let go to seed and help further populate what the herd has eaten down.  Visitors may even find that what are considered weeds on a homeowner’s lawn, are welcomed into the pastoral scene as adding diversity to the ecology. 

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Enter Year Two of the Garden

It was the first truly warm day of the year.  73 degrees outside, clear skies, sun shining, warming up the mountains for Springtime.  This will be the second growing season for the main garden beds which have been covered to warm them up earlier this year. 03-09-09 Another foot of snow in March 003


Here is what they were looking like on March 9th, when we had a foot of snow…



03-24-09 garden beds 002


and here they are only 2 weeks later on March 24th…



Now we get to see what it is actually looking like inside since this lovely weather allows us to open up the row covers! 04-06-09 Start of the garden 001

I’ve uploaded a new photo album, "First Warm Day of the Year"

Enjoy the tour of the garden and stay tuned for what’s to come!

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Sneaking a bit of Spring back in :)

03-21-09 TRC parking for Board meeting 005

It’s already been an eventful March here at the ranch.  We were happy to play host to our neighbors up the road from the gay campground.  Their Board of Directors came out to the ranch to have their first meeting since there is still a lot of snow as you go further up the road. 03-24-09 garden beds 003

Of course, Spring has a tenuous hold out here in the mountains.  The clear days allow me to get going on the garden; preparing the beds for plantings.  We’re adding a number of new raised beds this year. That means wheelbarrow loads of llama poo shoveled into place and turning over the grass and clover that I planted. 03-24-09 tulips and daffodils sprouting 002

My tulips and daffodils are pushing their way through so Spring has the upper hand for now.

03-24-09 tulips and daffodils sprouting 003






03-25-09 Winter returns 003


Of Course, Ol’ Man Winter is still pretty crotchety.  The next day, this was the scene outside as over 2 inches of snow fell during the night.  Alas, he has no power here and the afternoon will bring rains and melt that snow away right quickly! 🙂  Be gone, I say!

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Spring Ahead, Winter Back

 03-05-09 Snowy Mountains in the sun 003 

03-08-09 Snow in March 001Our typical February 02-17-09 Incredible scenic views 030brought us a break from winter and all the snow.  We had clear ground and green grass.  The flower bulbs even started to poke through the ground.   However, all that changed on a dime as we set our clocks ahead an hour for daylight savings time. Somehow, Mother Nature didn’t get the memo that this means springtime should be in the works. 

03-08-09 Snow in March 002Instead over a foot of snow fell this past weekend and battled with the sunshine and warm days to stay with us. Everything was instantly white again and we were reminded of our past holiday season.  Then today even more snow fell bringing the total up to a foot again.  Ahhh, no worries, snow that falls this time of the year never lasts for very long.  We should see the green grass later on this week again.

03-05-09 Snowy Mountains in the sun 005

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Paca Pride Receives Award from Conservation District

02-12-09 SCD Commercial Farm Award 006At the Snohomish Conservation District annual Open House event, Paca Pride Guest Ranch was honored in the Commercial Farm area for their 2008 Cooperator of the Year Award.  This award is presented in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in resource conservation.  SCD Planner Amanda Ruzicka, who was also honored as Employee of the Year, presented the plaque to David Capocci, one of three owners of Paca Pride. 

02-12-09 SCD Commercial Farm Award 009 "We’re humbled and flattered to even have been considered for such an award when we really could not have done anything without the tremendous assistance and technical support from the Conservation District, " stated Capocci. "When we started this project, we knew having a Farm Plan in place was equally as important as our business plan.  The Conservation District played an integral part of helping us establish this."

Throughout 2008, Paca Pride has worked closely with the Conservation District on a number of projects.  The largest project, involved 5 acres of fencing for animals which protected the small creek and riparian areas adjacent to it.  Paca Pride also made a significant purchase of trees and plants at the Conservation District’s annual plant sale.  02-12-09 SCD Commercial Farm Award 008"We planted numerous firs, sequoias, and dogwoods in areas such as our critical slopes to help with erosion control and reforestation.  Being able to obtain these plants at significant savings allowed us to plant even more than we had planned," explains Capocci.

Along with the award plaque, Paca Pride receives a "2008 SCD Merit Farm" sign to post at their entrance for the public to view.  The sign explains that "this farm is implementing practices to: conserve natural resources and protect water quality."

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One Slash Twenty Two

I looked at the date today and realized just how captivated I’ve been with all the current events happening that most of the month of January has already passed me by!  I’m personally fascinated by the number 22, so took a special note that it is today’s date.  As a matter of fact, 11 and 22 have been turning up as good luck charms in a variety of different arenas for me these past several years.  So curious about symbolism contained in numerology, I started taking note that maybe the frequency of appearance contained some cosmic significance.  01-08-08 Alpacas for auction in Vegas 004

Recently, I put this to test at no better place than in Las Vegas. Tim and I attended an alpaca auction down there.  We were very curious about another alpaca fiber cooperative we’ve been considering and it happened that they were presenting a seminar during this event.  So that got us on board to head down there (well, and the free rooms too!)  The auction was incredibly eye-opening in terms of how the poor economy is affecting every sector.  This sector being livestock (there’s a reason they call it "Live" "Stock", as it is an investment).  Of the 81 lots for auction, we fully expected that the going rate would hover around the $25-$35,000 mark for the pregnant females.  However, mush to the dismay of the auction planners, 46 of those lots went for $10-$11,000.  Those purchasers got some 01-08-08 Alpacas for auction in Vegas 008really great deals! But we did hear rumor that some ended up as "no-sale"  because the deal was too good for the seller.  So when your financial planner tells you to buy when the market is down, they mean it! 

Well as we sat there recording the sale prices, of course I took special note of all the elevens I was writing down.  This number is really making itself know to me.  Off I go to the Roulette Wheel!  That’s my game of choice, because it is complete luck of the wheel, but if you hedge your bets, you can stay on the lose-small/win-big side.  Needless to say, I hit eleven several times during our trip, with a few twenty-two’s thrown in there.  The highlight was hitting an eleven, cashing out at that table, going to the cashier to trade my chips in, and then passing the table on the way back seeing that no one had played since I left, deciding "what-01-08-08 Alpacas for auction in Vegas 003 the-heck", plunk down money on the eleven again (that was the last number to come up), and seeing the eleven come up once more…remarkable!  I’m on a roll!  Let’s hope we’re this lucky as we proceed through the rezone with the county.

Speaking of the rezone and permit process.  Dare I say, we’re halfway through it?  The county has had there review of our application, made their comments, we’ve made our changes, and they are resubmitted back to the county.  The next logical step is to watch for a Hearing Examiner’s date to be set.  I’m keeping my hopes high that we can open this season with some level of service to the public.

In the meantime, I twiddle my thumbs a bit because 01-22-08 Red Oakleaf lettuce head grown under lights 003there is not much work to be done outside during the winter season, but also because I’m reluctant to start any new projects (which usually means spending money) until we are sure about the expenses associated with the rezone and the conditions we’ll have to meet.  Some small projects still proceed forward:

–  We’ve reconfigured the laundry room with new  shelving and stacked washer/dryer units gaining us more useful space as a mud room

01-22-08 Mushrooms from our grow kits 002– We’re growing white button mushrooms, and shitake mushrooms, in some kits we got for Christmas presents.

– My winter garden, under artificial lights, has seen some beautiful heads of "Red Oakleaf" butter lettuce. That’s been a surprising winter treat to harvest! (the picture above is 1 head of lettuce!)

-Our seed order has been placed for this year’s garden with plans to add more garden beds, and focus on a much better solution to irrigation. 

Be sure to check out the photo album and video clips to the right for more pictures from this recent period!

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Curve-Ball Christmas!

12-25-08 The Holiday Tree 001 That’s what we’re calling this holiday season.

You’ve no doubt heard of Snowpocalypse in the Pacific Northwest, or more specifically, the foot of snow that fell in the urban centers of the Seattle area.  It brought the city to a grinding halt during the past ten days or so.  The city has no plows and didn’t want to salt or sand their roads or hills.  Buses piled up, mass transit, simply wasn’t there.

Well, it’s been equally crazy up in the mountains.  We’ve never seen a December like the one we’ve just experienced. Despite the great level of accessibility 12-25-08 Holiday poses by the pets 001provided by the regular county snow plow trucks that plow and sand the Mountain Loop corridor, we had a huge dumping of snow the likes of which took everyone off their guard.   At our peak, we reached three and a half feet here at the ranch before the official start of winter.  Lucky for us, our tractor kept the driveways all clear during the worst of it.  But as luck would have it, power outages were frequent, even if they were lasting only several hours (kudos to our PUD line workers!)

12-24-08 How winter is looking 014 Needless to say, all our planning for festive holiday events went up in smoke.  Our white elephant party? How about a blizzard warning instead.  Our Christmas with family visiting from North Dakota?  How about all the trains canceled.  Our goodies shipping via UPS?  All stored in a semi-truck until the weather clears so they can deliver them…not in time for Christmas.  But it didn’t stop there for us.  12-24-08 How winter is looking 020 The clutch went out in the car and  brought us down one vehicle for the commuters to work.  Then, just yesterday, as the snow fell off everything from the thawing temps, the unexpected occurred down at our large yurt, the dome cracked in half!  Yup, the weight of the wet snow caused the dome to break and when the snow fell off, it took the dome with it.  So, with quick coordination, I’m off to the manufacturer tomorrow to pick up a replacement which we’ll promptly be installing on New Year’s Day.  Happy New Year! 

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It’s mid-December and winter has finally smacked us dead on!

11-25-08 Woodpecker damaged trees 001 Such balmy temperatures we were having up until yesterday afternoon.  Word on the street was things were about to change.  Indeed they did, and with a big bang as well!  A huge arctic weather front moved swiftly into Washington state pushing that warm weather we were having forcefully out of the way.  By force I mean the gusts of wind we were having blew things around everywhere, including the trees.  My first instinct was to run out to the pastures to look at the woodpecker trees that had been pecked at all summer so that they were almost teetering on toothpicks.  Armed with my camera, I was filming gust after gust roar through, bending and testing the remaining fortitude of those trees.  12-12-08 Woodpecker trees fall in the winds 011They weren’t budging!  Well, just as I gave up and was walking back, another huge gust blew through and all at once those trees along with 3-4 others came crashing down.  Luckily, the winds blew these trees away from the pasture fencing!For a moment it felt like the monster from the TV series "Lost"  was throwing a temper tantrum.  Too late though for the video clip, dang it!  I can only bring the before and after shots for you along with what the next morning looked like after the snows. 

12-13-08 First snow of the winter season 003

This was a incredible showing of nature and it left us with a power outage from midnight until 8am.  Our good ol’ PUD workers got everything restored in time for breakfast this morning.  Good job guys!

12-13-08 First snow of the winter season 002 Still, the worst is yet to come!  They are predicting that after the snow stops falling on Sunday, everything will clear out making for crystal clear star gazing.  That means cold, cold, and more cold!  As a matter of fact the predictions are for the "coldest temperatures on record since 1990"!  For us here in the mountains that translates into 12 degrees for a low a night and 26 degrees for a high during the day!12-13-08 First snow of the winter season 001

So, winter is here!   The driveways are already plowed.   Time to get out the flying saucer and go sledding down the pasture hills!  Whoooooo-hooooooo!!!!!!

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November- When it rains it pours! Welcome to the wet season…it really irks the bears

11-12-08 Rainiest Day pics from around the ranch 007 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.

11-12-08 South Fork Stillaguamish-Upriver from Ranch 006 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. 

11-12-08 South Fork Stillaguamish-Upriver from Ranch 004 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.

11-12-08 Rainiest Day pics from around the ranch 002 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 11-12-08 Rainiest Day pics from around the ranch 042quite 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.


11-12-08 Rainiest Day pics from around the ranch 046 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 11-12-08 Rainiest Day pics from around the ranch 010 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!  11-12-08 Rainiest Day pics from around the ranch 019 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!

11-12-08 Rainiest Day pics from around the ranch 031 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.


11-12-08 Rainiest Day pics from around the ranch 014 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. 

11-12-08 Rainiest Day pics from around the ranch 038 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!11-12-08 Rainiest Day pics from around the ranch 037

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. 

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Summer bids adieu and Fall blusters in

09-16-08 Log posts in ground for lean-to 001

Before the ground turns soft from the rainy days as we go into our wet season, I thought I’d sink those Log posts in the ground for the future lean-to in the lower pasture area.  Now I’ll wait for a nice Fall day to do some chainsaw-milling and attach some siding; then a roof!

09-16-08 alpacas and dogs 007 It seems like all the llamas know that Fall is being ushered in.  They are slowly shifting their diet towards more orchard grass and less pasture grazing.  All the pastures will get a day here or there where the herd will visit, but for the most part the pastures need to recover and get some good growth in before09-16-08 alpacas and dogs 010 it goes into its winter dormancy.

Still, we’ll let the animals have their run of the gravel service road.  It helps to keep their nails trim and gives them a chance to stretch their legs.  For these little brown guys, this will be their first winter here at the ranch!


09-30-08 Orchard Grass Delivery 4 tons 003

Oh and speaking about that Orchard Grass hay, we had our local supplier stack up 4 tons of hay, that’s 80 bales!  In the picture you can see how efficient these guys were.  They stacked 3 bales to support this neat electronic bale elevator from the back of the delivery truck to the inside of the barn.  He’s only halfway through the stacking; will reach seven bales high when he is done.

09-20-08 at moms 002Fall also means I’m more apt to do some baking with a hot oven!  These homemade cinnamon rolls barely had a chance before half of them were demolished. I made these while visiting my mom in California.  They were such a success I might just have to make them for guests at the ranch….mmmmm…

10-03-08 Harvesting 001

The garden goes through a huge transformation as the summer veggies give way to their final harvests.  We clear a number of beds and plant some garlic bulbs.  Then load after load of magic llama-poo compost is added to the tops of the beds.  I’m thinking I might do a cover crop too.

10-03-08 Harvesting 002 Most of the tomatoes hang upside while still on the vine. I use this approach and they will ripen all the way through December. 




10-03-08 Harvesting 004

So far we’re on our second batch of brining dill pickles and I’ve already brought in three pumpkins.  It is hard to believe all these started from seed this year!




10-03-08 Harvesting 009

The tomatoes that are already turning and have come off the vine, are set in flats with some apples to speed up their ripening. 10-05-08 Making Tomato sauce 001 As I write this, they’ve all been turned into a boiling pot of tomato sauce for canning.  This is our winter marinara! Yum!   10-05-08 First Fall celery 001

Fall has a great effect on green veggies as long as we can protect them from the frost.  That means cold frames come back into play.  The celery has been small all summer, but with a bunch of compost added to them, and the rainy days tossed in, they’ve begin to really burst.  I picked a small one and even this one is two feet tall.  The fresh celery aroma is so crisp!


10-04-08 Harvesting 001

Jalapenos, which really performed well, and the last of the zucchinis, which had a poor showing this season, add to the end of season bounty.  I’ll jar the jalapenos and we’ll use them in many future recipes and Mexican-style dishes.

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Summer at the ranch

08-23-08 Garden Harvesting 005  Ah, the ranch life!  Summer here is so much more enjoyable when you have the chance to work with nature.  We’ve been tending our new garden and 08-24-08 Garden Harvesting 001harvesting some wonderful things!

Lots of onions for the picking, 08-24-08 Garden Harvesting 002plus string beans have seen a couple of harvests.

However, folks around us, especially those from the city, seem to think summer has been a bit of hit or miss.  09-05-08 Preserving and Pretzels 002The garden somewhat reflects this in its growth and development.  However, these raised beds are experiencing the inaugural planting so I fully expected to see some areas doing better than others based upon how much llama poo I was able to mix in there. 

Over the years, we’ll just keep adding more and more llama poo; black gold to the gardener!  Until then, I keep brewing some compost tea and side dress; that’s a fancy way of saying you are mixing poo with water and pouring it around the plants. The pickling cucumbers have been seriously loving it!  The first harvest is already brining with some of our garden fresh 08-29-08 Bobby Sizemore visits and meal 002dill heads for dill pickles. Yum Yum!

Nothing beats fresh pesto made with bunches of basil from the garden.  Our friend Bobby was visiting from Palm Springs and has fantastic culinary skills. He gave Glenn a break from the kitchen to cook us up a mean batch of penne with chicken and fresh veggies from the garden! We were quick to throw extra helpings of pesto to the top.


09-05-08 Preserving and Pretzels 006

Meanwhile 09-05-08 Preserving and Pretzels 001I’ve been having lots of fun in the home baking department.   I love soft pretzels and found a recipe that is a real treat.  After rising, you boil them in water, then bake.  I’ve topped them with salt, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds.  The ones with poppy seeds make great turkey sandwiches.  I am going to keep this recipe handy for future treats for guests.

I also started a wild yeast trap.  Every bread has to rise with yeast and typically you do it with the dry yeast you get from the market.  However, you can capture a bit of your own live local yeast with its distinctive flavor and use it to bake your own sourdough breads.  It’s as easy as putting a jar of water and flour on your counter until it starts to ferment and bubble with a brew of wild yeast.  Now that I’ve got my pet starter growing, I’ll keep it alive in the refrigerator where it will continue to develop in its complexity and flavor.  Our first sourdough loaf didn’t last more than a couple of hours out of the oven, so I know I’m on to something here.

09-11-08 Introducing a new section of pasture 007

The above photo is the newest grassy addition to the available grazing for the herd.  With the help of another friend we used some field fencing to follow the contour of the slope and gave them access to the grass that was growing on the other side of the service alley.  09-13-08 Preparing logs for poles 001  Down in the lower pastures, Tim and I are prepping the 20 foot logs we pulled from the under story of the woods.  We are going to set these in the holes we augured out so they become poles for a lean-to shelter when we start keeping the herd down in this area.  If you look close you can see some of them have been painted with a silver coating that will protect them when they are in the ground.

09-13-08 Painting the Main Room 008

Finally, we have some color in the house!  The biggest painting project was tackled first and that was the wall in the main room of the house.  In the picture above you can see the effect it has in making the room even more inviting and welcoming.  We can’t wait to have guests!

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The Rush that Summer brings!

08-06-08 Rainbow over the mountain 012 A lot can happen in a short period of time.  Just looking back mere weeks ago, I could not fully imagine how smoothly ranch developments are progressing. 

There are numerous balls in the air right now and yet, we are only ramping up.  Certainly, it is an exciting time for all of us here at Paca Pride. 

As if to gently remind us, the sun often sets leaving a rainbow in the sky over this valley.  From Mt. Pilchuck across the river, to Green Mountain behind us, I’ve seen a number of full rainbows.  Even double rainbows have appeared.   Perhaps there is truth to the sacredness of this majestic area.

08-06-08 Visiting some Fiber alpacas on Whidbey 010 Earlier this month, Glenn and I took a little trip over to Whidbey Island to see some alpacas.  We were given the opportunity to procure some free fiber quality boys, perhaps some potential breeding sires. 

There were two handsome fawn colored brothers, plus 08-18-08 Introduction of new alpacas 012another white one.  Then we found a black one with a white blaze on his head; from the breeding perspective that’s "throwing a little color".

They arrived at the ranch yesterday ahead of the two brown younglings that would get here. 


08-18-08 Arrival of new alpacas 009Before the youngsters had a chance to join the herd with the big boys, some herd social dynamics were about to be tested.  The four boys were placed in the pasture next to the barn.  Afterwards, I brought up our herd of nine to greet them.  It’s always good to have a fence between groups of Camelids meeting for the first time.  This allows them to get familiar with the sights and smells, so to speak, before any real fireworks begin.  Most often, any challenges are going to come from the dominant animals in the herd.  In our case, you would think that its the llamas who would step up since they are bigger.  In fact, it’s the alpacas who had to sort themselves out with each other.  Beno had it out for one of the new guys and lots of screaming and chasing commenced.  However, soon things settled down as hierarchies became clearer.  Still, I expect to see plenty of action over the next month as the boys figure out who is boss among them.  I’ll wait a few days before allowing the youngsters in with the big boys.  Hopefully by then things will have settled down enough and the sight of them familiar enough that the 08-14-08 Deer on Front Lawn 003rest of the herd won’t bat an eyelash.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there were plenty of other critters lurking around!  We’ve got a few regular deer that make the rounds through the front yard enjoying the free clover.  One mama doe and her two white spotted babies nonchalantly graze amongst the grasses.

08-15-08 arrival of BooBoo 005

Inside the house, a surprising mouse led unswervingly quick to the addition of our new 10 week old kitty BooBoo! Awww!

She is the most loveable kitty with her gold and white flecks of fur in here black coat.  Already she shows signs of a good mouser.

08-15-08 arrival of BooBoo 008

But of course, it’s the dogs that have the most to learn as they are faced with their second small animal inside the house (the first being our old little blind ferret).  Shadow is doing great, and it seems Maximo, the pup who always wants to play, is also calming down realizing that the kitty appreciates not having big wet noses stuck in her face.  Maximo has learned to tread lightly and treat her nicely.  We are almost to the point where she can sleep with him…almost.

08-18-08 Introduction of new alpacas 042 Look really closely in the picture at the left for another critter recently come a knocking.  Two giant red headed woodpeckers have been working their way through some dead and diseased hemlock trees just beyond one of our fence boundaries.  They’ve ripped out quite a lot that we’ve got to now go cut them down.  Woodpeckers are really good at finding those termite infestations.  Any trees like this have to be taken down so that others around them don’t get diseased as well.  Three nearby trees show rings of woodpecker holes all around and up their trunks.  We’ll be watching those during this winter.

08-17-08 Rezone signs posted 001 And, finally, it’s official!  Our rezone and conditional use permit signage from the county announcing the proposed land use action has been posted!

The public has by September 10th to respond.  Afterwards the county will have a hearing to review the project and we’ll be able to move forward with the campground plans.  Letters to the county of support are most welcome!  You can email me for the necessary information.

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Whew! July flies by!

I cannot buh-lieve that we are already at the end of July! It seems like yesterday that snow was on the ground and we weren’t worrying about overgrown brush dominating the landscape.  Now I look outside and everything is super lush. 

07-17-08 Chicken Tractor 002 With summer in full swing, we turned our focus to a brand new project: raising a round of chickens for meat.  We never raised chickens before and I wanted to incorporate them as an organic bug control in the pastures.  The thing I like about raising broilers is that you only do it for a short 10 week period.  This is enough time to rotate their "Chicken 07-21-08 BabyChicks arrive 001 Tractor"  through the pastures and over the llama poo piles.  They’ll scratch these and eat all the bug eggs and larvae and hopefully save me some time in dealing with the deer flies.  After they are fully grown into young chickens we process them right into the freezer.   I’ve read and studied as much as I could about chicken 07-21-08 BabyChicks arrive 003processing and I know that it is not a pretty job!  Luckily I was able to locate, and reserve, some poultry processing equipment so that we aren’t hand plucking all 25 birds.  So, we’ll see how it goes. For now though, its all about the  baby chicks!  Awwwww!  They are so cute!  We thought about 07-21-08 BabyChicks arrive 007naming them: Teriyaki, Grilled, Butterfly, Kebob, Stuffed… They say not to name the birds you intend to butcher as you’ll become close to them.  Well, no worries about that here…Marinade, Fried, and Roasted.  But, I  will say it was neat that the hatchery include a free "rare 07-24-08 Baby Chicks 003and exotic species" bird with our order.  Glenn named him Marshall.  He’s got a little pompadour feather head.  We’ll probably end up keeping him.  That means I’ll probably have to figure out some sort of housing for the wintertime after all (which was what I was trying to avoid until I was ready for egg layers…ahhh well.)

07-18-08 Shearing the alpacas 017 Living in the mountains with our mild summers we don’t really feel pressed to get the alpacas shorn for the summertime heat.  So shearing has been a little later than typical.  This is year number two for shearing practice.  I still feel like a drunk poodle groomer when I look at them.  This year we had some clipper challenges that sent me back to the drawing board a bit to figure things out. 07-18-08 Shearing the alpacas 014 I ended up ordering a DVD about shearing so that I can bone up some more on this skill set.  I know I’ll get there, but right now its still a little touch and go.  At least I didn’t cut any of them with the clippers!  Poor Cisco, or brown alpaca, was the only one not to be shorn because all the blades became too dull by the time we got to him.  We did his neck by hand, but he’ll have to wait until the new blades arrive.  All that dirt in their fiber really can dull you clipper blades fast!  I’m thinking about how I can wash him before we clip him next to see if that works better at removing the dirt in his fleece. 

07-24-08 First Fennel Bulb 001 The seemingly slow start to the summer is reflected a bit in the garden vegetables.  Everything is really taking its time.  I think part of the reason was the cold snap in June.  However, we have been harvesting…some baby greens here and there, some Romaine lettuce, even our first head of scrumptious Fennel! The real treat has been the freshly picked peas!  WOW!  There is a serious difference between the taste of peas fresh from the garden 07-20-08 Garden Peas 004versus anything you will ever buy in the store.   We found this great recipe for preparing freshly shelled peas that includes layer the following in a sauce pan: oil, chopped romaine, chopped green onion, peas, and a sprig of mint and parsley.  The romaine lettuce was a surprise to us. It really adds a bit of green leaf to the peas that is just right.

07-20-08 Garden Peas 006

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Oh Deer! He’s wearing Velvet!

07-05-08 Deer visit the lower back pastures 003 Our July here at the ranch is filled with sunshine; dare I say too much? My tan from all the outdoor projects is really deep.  As with all our sunny days, we feel a bit of Northwest guilt if we don’t go outside and do something.  Well, July has had a lot of "somethings" being done.  So here’s the latest recap, including two new video clips on You Tube and a new photo album.


07-05-08 Fencing the lower back pastures 006Tim and I are so glad to have this project finally behind us.  While we were jones-ing to let all the animals down there to explore the huge swath of newly enclosed, and very green, land, they had to wait because we didn’t want their fleeces to become entangled with all the added debris until shorn.  However, we did get plenty of curious onlookers while we were completing the project.  07-05-08 Deer visit the lower back pastures 010 A mamma doe and her two babies came cavorting about; not shy at all.  The next day they were followed by a doe and a 2 point buck doing a mating dance just for us.  I was prepared this time with the camera and caught their prancing antics. It is simply amazing that these wild creatures come right up to us and investigate what we are doing.  The young buck was so close you could see the velvet clearly on his antlers.  That was very cool!


Since summer has finally arrived and the night time temperatures in the mountains are rarely dropping below the upper 40’s, its time to do some shearing.  We have to shear both the llamas and the alpacas, however, our first 07-10-08 Shearing the llamas 004focus was on the big guys.  We were only going to shear their main blankets.  This allows us to put on their pack saddles without fiber getting caught.  We leave their legs and haunches unshorn because it actually offers some pretty good protection for them.  We leave their necks unshorn, because their much better looking.  In the end, the get a nice "show cut" and feel all the better for it. 

07-10-08 Shearing the llamas 001 Once the llamas were all shorn, I could separate them easily from the alpacas and send them gallivanting down to the lower pastures to explore.  This is an entirely new experience for them and was fun to see not only how they’d react, but also see if they would be willing to come back up to the top.  Well, I’m please to say they’ve settled in quite nicely, and they will actually return to me when I call them. Of course, shaking some grain in a bowl doesn’t hurt either!

Next up this week, we shear the alpacas.  They’ve been hanging in the upper pastures where it is much cleaner.  We’ll get to them later this week and we use a restraining table to hold them calmly in place while we shear.  It works really well for them versus the chute we use for the llamas.


07-14-08 Drive to Barlow Pass 004 With the Mountain Loop Hwy actually looping now, Glenn and I decided to take a non-busy weekday (lots less traffic than the weekends!) and drive on up to the pass about 20-ish miles further up the road.  I took a bunch of pictures to give you an idea of the fantastic scenery that is secretly nestled into this gem of Snohomish County.  07-14-08 Drive to Barlow Pass 021 Honestly, the Granite Falls side of the Mountain Loop Highway is one of the best kept secrets of the Northwest!  Steeped in rich history, visitors are able to pick and choose from a variety of hikes, picnic areas, scenic vistas, and river shorelines.  All the meadow flowers are in full bloom and all the songbirds are singing.

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The Summer Push!

06-28-08 9am preparation for open house on Mtn Loop celebration 045 It’s time to check in and see what’s happening at the ranch!  We’ve discovered a default rule around here: when the weather is nice out, it is a joy to work outside.  We’ve had LOTS of good weather days lately; heat wave of sorts, complete with deep tanning in the intense sun. While it means I’m out happily tending my garden, it’s definitely hindered my virtual bandwidth so, I’ll see if we can cover a good set of highlights…


Of course the critical path for our project is dealing with the county to obtain our proper permitting.  After going through their initial "Pre-application planning process", we recognized the need to engage professional services to prepare the official application. With that in mind, there has been a bevy of work going on with our surveyors and biologist.  They’ve prepared a new site plan for us giving the contour intervals and locations of buildings.  By the end of the month we’re expecting to file, and pay fees of course, then the official announcements of proposed development go out. 

In the meantime, we had a visit from our water systems engineer whose working on preparing our Class B water system application for the state. This is to allow us to offer our most pristine well water to the public for drinking and hot showers.

06-28-08 9am preparation for open house on Mtn Loop celebration 036 Then there is our structural engineer who is reviewing the plans for the large yurt and coordinating getting it properly permitted.  At first glance the county did not require a permit for the deck we built, but once we put the yurt on it, they wanted a permit, so it meant getting an engineer to stamp the plans and submit them. 

As we await the rollout of these processes, we turn our attention to projects at the ranch.


06-21-08 Visit to TRC 029 It’s hard to believe that this is the picture of what’s left of our old yurt deck at Triangle Recreation Campground up the road.  It’s being taken apart and reused in other construction.

We had removed the main portion in early 2006 and relocated it up to 06-28-08 9am preparation for open house on Mtn Loop celebrationthe ranch prior to the start of construction.  It was the very first building to be built here!  Now it has morphed into our concept guest room for the Mountain Loop celebration.  Soon we’ll put a small ranch store in there. One of many yurts to come!06-28-08 9am preparation for open house on Mtn Loop celebration 019

06-28-08 9am preparation for open house on Mtn Loop celebration 022

 MOUNTAIN LOOP CELEBRATES06-28-08 9am preparation for open house on Mtn Loop celebration 026

06-28-08 9am preparation for open house on Mtn Loop celebration 002  …we prepare, just in case.  With the grand re-opening of the Mountain Loop Highway at Barlow Pass, having been chopped off there for a few years due to geography rearranging itself during some serious flooding,  we thought it best to prepare for potential visitors.  So we took the yurt and configured it as a guest room.  We also placed a kiosk of alpaca hiker socks out for sale.  The road was really busy that beautiful and sunny Saturday. 06-28-08 9am preparation for open house on Mtn Loop celebration 040 A few people stopped in to check us out, but until we fully roll out our road signs and advertising, we don’t expect too much.  Still, it was a nice stake in the ground for us to complete a few projects around the land in anticipation of visitors.


07-02-08 Jack on skidder pushing stumps 005 One of those projects you’ve been following has been the development of our lower, back acreage.  It originally was all stumps and logging debris and now we’ve got grass growing; dead logs yarded from the under-story for use on the ranch as poles, planks, and firewood; stump piles composting into hillocks.  Our neighbor, Jack, was so kind to come over for a visit on his log skidder.  What a machine!  07-02-08 Jack on skidder pushing stumps 006 He focused a couple of hours consolidating the lower two stump piles together.  It will be so nice when we can get this lower portion all fenced in.  That’s next on the list.  The fence posts are already in and the rolls of fencing staged to be stretched into place.  Its a good thing we pulled in all the logs or it’d be a challenge with a fence in the way.  Once we get this fenced, the animals will have another 4-5 acres to graze.  Of course we still have to tame a number of bracken fern, salmonberry and blackberry bushes, and other miscellaneous invasive weeds.   I’ve uploaded a video of Jack hard at work so you can see some heavy equipment in action.  Be sure to check out the scenery and see how well the grass is growing too!   I’ll leave you with the latest pictures of the views from the front porch…

06-25-08 Mt Pilchuck and Green Mtn 004

06-25-08 Mt Pilchuck and Green Mtn 001

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Moving our guest yurt-slash-ranch store

06-11-08 Moving the guest yurt to its new location 010 Well, it was finally time to address our very first structure we put up here on the land, our little 14′ yurt.  This was the yurt we had been trudging up the road for several years past to the gay campground for the summer camping seasons of yon.  It’s what establish our love of these unique tent-like domiciles.  When we were ready to start construction, I tore down the deck we had at the campground and relocated it to a spot which would serve as my onsite office and bedroom for two years.  I knew we have to relocate it on to a proper deck at some point since I just laid some plastic down and threw the deck frame on top of it.  Now is that time! 

06-11-08 Moving the guest yurt to its new location 014 We decided to move the yurt closer to the house where it will serve as our ranch store location seeing as the fire marshal had issues with us putting the store inside our house.  Ok, so we show some flexibility and problem resolved.  After building a new deck to place the yurt onto, we took down the yurt, power washed it, and moved it to its new home where it was welcomed with a nice new wood laminate floor.

My next steps are to build a wheelchair ramp, landing, and stairs to the deck.  So now that the big thrust to get the yurt up there is done, I can focus on those items.

06-11-08 Moving the guest yurt to its new location 011 Eventually, we’ll be adding a series of large decks that are attached to one another.  Some will be entertaining spaces, others will house our future amenities like the sauna made from a wood barrel, and the hot tub (also from a barrel), as well as the steam room.  We are striving for a bit of spa like escapism in this reinvention of the rustic motif.

So enjoy the new photo album, you’ll also see some pics from a couple of other items we’ve been working on…outside…where there is no laptop to blog from… waaaaaa 😦

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