Feeding Ducks


IMG_5759It was a lovely fall day….part of the time.  The rest of the time, it was showering violently. We took our daughter Patsy, and nephew, Jake, out apple picking.  That’s not where we ended up.  The first time we tried to go, the heavens opened up and a torrential rainfall fell on us.  So, we went on an errand instead, and we hoped it would quit.

We had very little time before we had to pick up one of our older daughters, but wanted the kids to have some fun. We stopped at a pond to look at ducks and let Jake run around a bit.


The kids were joyful to see that some kind soul had put peanuts along the railings and on the ground.  They had the best time cracking them open and throwing them to the ducks.  Last time, we took some old bread, but didn’t have any today, so they were delighted that there was something to feed them.  They decided to leave some for the squirrels and ducks to eat on their own.


After getting back in the car, we drove back towards home, hoping to pick apples and needing to pick up another daughter.  The closer we got to the apple orchard, the darker the clouds got, and again, the rain came down heavily.  We took the hint, and didn’t go to the apple orchard.   I was so glad the weather had cooperated long enough for the kids to get out for a little while, run around, and enjoy feeding the ducks!  We will have to try apple picking another day.



Catching and Canning Crab on the Oregon Coast


We had extremely good luck catching crabs in Newport, Oregon, when we were there celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary.  Over the weekend, we pulled in over 30 crabs that we could keep, and of course, many more we could not.  It was very fun and rewarding.


We cooked the crabs, gave away a lot to friends and family, and I cracked out the remainder.


Then, I canned it in little 1/2 pint jars, as it was more than we could eat.  I wrote about the exact process here.


We had a wonderful time, and are feeling very blessed by the crab, but even more so by the 35 years to marriage together.

How to Buy an Albacore Tuna From the Docks, What to Do With It, and a Trip to Newport, Oregon.


On Wednesday, we took our nephew, Jake, and our daughters Lovana, Ja’Ana and Patsy down to Newport, Oregon.


Rob did some surf fishing for perch, but did not catch any.


The big girls huddled in blankets because it started out foggy.


The younger kids dug for hours, tried to dam up the little river, and otherwise enjoyed the beach the way kids should.


We then visited the Mark Hatfield Marine Science Center.  It was awesome, as usual, and we loved the new exhibits.

After that, we went down to the docks.  We looked for signs advertising tuna.  We found a couple of places that had tuna, one for salmon, black cod, and a couple for crab (Dungeness).   We parked and walked down to one that had tuna.

We asked when the fish was caught, and it was very fresh (caught the day before).  He said it had been cooled very quickly after being caught, which is important.  It was $3.45/lb, and you needed to buy the entire fish.  For an additional $4, he would filet it out.    He was very busy, which was a good sign to us, and the people before us bought over $300 worth of tuna (4 big ones), and around $75 worth of crab (4 medium-sized ones).  We were able to see how nice the fish looked, and get our questions answered by watching.  (The other 2 times we have canned tuna, we had our son-in-law get it for us, and it came frozen)  There were people behind us waiting, but by that time, we knew what we wanted.

We asked for a good sized fish  (1), and he gave us a choice from his huge icy bin of tuna.  Ours was a little over 20 lbs. and he quickly cut it into 4 large pieces with no bones.  He gave me the belly fat, too, as I needed it for the best canned tuna.  He gave Rob the carcass, as Rob wants to do some crabbing soon, and will use it for bait.  We put the fish and carcass into a cooler with ice in it.  If you don’t go prepared, your fish will lose quality quickly, and maybe even rot before you get home.  If you buy it on a whim, you need to plan on purchasing an inexpensive cooler and some ice.  The young man had plastic bags for the fish pieces to ride home in.  We popped them right into the cooler, and then kept the fish well-iced all night as we returned home too late to process it that night.


There was not much waste at all.  The young man was clearly an expert.  Later, at home, Rob cut it into pieces that would fit into the crab trap bait box and froze it.

The next day, I cut pieces that would fit into my 1/2 pint jars that I keep for this purpose.  They are shaped similar to a tuna can you would buy, but are canning jars.  I added a piece of belly fat to each jar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I did do a couple of wide-mouthed pints, too. Then, I put lids and rings on, and carried them out to the pressure cooker on our outdoor porch.  I was able to get 3 layers, separated by racks, in my extra-tall cooker.  It’s designed for layering.  I can get 2 layers of pints in, but these jars are so short I can get more in.  I put about 2 quarts of water in the bottom, fastened the lid on, and brought it up to 11 lbs. of pressure.  It had to stay there for 100 minutes.  Yes, an hour and 40 minutes!

At our house, someone always watches the pressure cooker canner, and we both wanted the job.  Rob had been organizing and cleaning in his shop all day and I’d been canning, and we both had been watching Jake–taking turns.  We were tired.  Rob got the job this time, and I did some other things I needed to do.


After they were finished, we let the canner sit for about an hour to let the pressure completely go down.  They came out beautifully, and all sealed.  What a rewarding process.


In case you want to do the math, this kind of tuna is not cheaper than the kind from the store.  We got 2 pints and 22–1/2 pints.  So, it’s around $3/jar.  There is more tuna in there than you get from the little cans at the store and the quality is amazing!  It comes out in a large piece/ or pieces– if I filled in cracks on the sides with pieces once I dropped the large piece of loin in the jar, and is full of the Omega Fatty acids that are so desired, since I put that little piece of belly fat in each jar.  There is no comparison to the store-bought tuna at all.

I use this tuna for sandwich filling, patty melts and could make fish cakes if I wanted to.  I mix in my home-make sweet pickles or relish and some mayo and go from there.  That’s our favorite way to eat tuna.  Our oldest daughter got us started doing this a few years ago.  This is the 3rd time we’ve canned our own tuna, and we are very pleased with the results.  The people in front of us were going to freeze it– that’s what they always do.  The lady 2 people behind us only wanted a carcass.  She wanted to make soup and go crabbing.  I believe that young man gave it to her for free.


Silver Falls State Park


This past week, we camped at Silver Falls State Park, near Silverton, Oregon.  It is a very large park, filled with miles and miles of hiking trails.  During the Great Depression, it was used as a site for out-of-work young men to do a huge work project.  So, there are many stone steps, some bridges, a lodge, and more.  Many of the buildings and trail improvements are from that time period and some have been added since.

One of the most interesting trails is the “Trail of 10 Falls.”  We hiked part of that trail one day, and another portion a different day.  A third time, we did another small portion.  We  ended up seeing 9 of the 10 waterfalls.  They were beautiful, as was the surrounding forest.



On one of the days, my sister, friend and little Danait came up to enjoy the fun for a day.


There was a nice swimming area we visited after our little hike.


The second half of the week, Jake joined us.



He was far more interested in lighting the marshmallows on fire, then waving them around to put out the fire he had created, then he was in eating them.  Fine with me.  It was well worth the dollar to see him having so much fun.  But, any boy who has so much energy should go on a hike, right?  So, Lovana, Patsy and I took him on one.  It was a little longer than I though it was.  After all, Rob dropped us at the lodge and was going to pick us up a the bottom of the trail, skipping much of the trail.  5 miles later……….


Everyone was still having fun!  I never would have taken him on such a long hike if I had been thinking clearly.  Lovana ended up carrying him a couple of times, but we all made it. It took us almost 3 hours.  We saw many waterfalls, and handed out Oreo cookies at the top of every big hill, of which there were many.  We ran out of Oreos, but continued on, eating peanuts by the handful.   Jake had a ball whacking the bushes with his stick, throwing rocks into the water, collecting sticks and pine cones, and all those things little boys like to do.  Lovana, Patsy and I loved the hike as well.  There were some places where long flights of stairs had been built from stone, which made the steep parts easier to navigate.  There were charming little bridges here and there, and of course, waterfalls galore.



The trail even wound around behind a few of the falls.  We had a good time hiking.  That is the main activity at Silver Falls State Park.  Some of the trails were quite easy and short, such as the one to Upper North Falls.  Others were much longer and steeper.  There were several times when the switchbacks were quite strenuous for me, but were definitely manageable.  Lovana, powerhouse that she is, marched right up them, even jogging up the stairs at times.  For our long hike, having Rob drop us at the lodge, and traveling down the canyon was a little easier than doing it the other way around, I think.  There was still quite a bit of climbing, as the trail led down into the canyon, and back out again, and went up hills and down hills several times.  I’m hoping we can go there again. I hadn’t hiked there for many years, and I had good memories of the beauty found in the area.  I was not disappointed!

Ft. Stevens State Park-2017


Ft. Stevens State Park is up at the tip of Oregon, by the ocean.  We love to camp there because there’s so much to do in the surrounding area.  The park has a lake, Coffinbury Lake, where we like to fish.  Even on a “bad” fishing trip, we usually catch something.   On this trip, we went fishing 3-4 times, and caught a total of 5 trout.

For the first 1/2 of our stay, Rob and I only had 1 child with us, Patsy.  That is such a difference from our “norm” that I did nothing but sleep and fish for the first day!  During the second half of our stay, our nephew, Jake joined us, giving us a little more excitement:)  By then, we were rested up, and enjoyed doing things with both kids.



Rob helped Jake catch a little bass, but we did not keep it.


One day, we went crabbing off a bridge in nearby Seaside.  We got 2 keepers!  A kind man who was cleaning his freezer drove by the bridge where we were crabbing and offered us some old clams and some clam guts.  We gratefully accepted and that’s what we got the 2 keepers on.  We pulled up lots of females and too-small crabs on our usual chicken, but there were so many traps in the water that the larger, male crabs must have been in the mood for a change.


We were disappointed because we were not able to catch razor clams this year.  Last summer, we had so much fun and got a lot.  We brought all of our equipment, but were informed that razor clamming was closed due to some kind of toxicity in the clams.   Sad as we were, we did not want to take any chances eating unsafe clams, so we did not follow any (bad) advice we were given by several older men to “just do it anyway” because they ate them and were still alive.  No thank you.  It may open again in October, we will see.


Instead, we visited nearby Battery Russell, and the Ft. Stevens military museum and the site where the actual fort had been.  Most of the information dealt with defending the coastline during World War II.  Jake especially loved the guns, tanks and other military items.  It was his first time there.


We saw deer, squirrels, birds of all sorts, and elk!  Several elk were meandering through the nearby town of Hammond one day while we were driving through.  I’m glad I don’t have to contend with those coming near my garden!!


Of course, no beach trip is complete without digging in the sand, for the kids, at least!


We went down by the wreck of the Peter Iredale, which is the carcass of a ship that’s been down on the beach near our campsite for as long as I can remember.


We went to the mouth of the Columbia River and the kids fed the seagulls the old pancakes that were leftover from breakfast.  We got to see several boats, some of which were going out (maybe fishing) and some coming in (probably bringing in cargo).

We drove over the 4-mile bridge that separates the state of Oregon from the state of Washington.  We always enjoy doing that and the kids love it, too!  Between all of those activities, the kids built Legos, watched movies, and read books.  They listened to stories on c.d. from the library while we drove.

On Friday morning, we packed up early and headed back home.  It was a fun, busy, educational week, packed with lots of outdoor activities.  It was especially satisfying because we had wanted to give Jake experiences he did not usually engage in, and boy, did we succeed.  He wants to go camping some more, and that’s just how we wanted it to turn out!

Outdoor Fun–Week of June 10, 2017


We’ve spent quite a bit of time observing nature this week.  The older girls I homeschool are in the middle of a project for Biology.  They are observing plants, birds, trees, animals—whatever they can find and making a notebook for their end-of-the year project.

The younger crew found this dead dragonfly on the deck and enjoyed it for quite a while.


Many birds have been seen.  The crazy woodpecker gave entertainment, along with ducks, geese, blue jays, robins, Rufus-sided Towhees, crows, and many more.


The flowers are blooming like crazy and the garden is growing like mad!




It’s a great time to be outdoors!  I go out as often as I can, even if I have to dodge raindrops!  Trust me, there’s plenty to do!!  That weed is purslane, and I continue hoeing it out–the purslane in the picture is gone now, thank goodness–I have been hoeing.  The garden is sure loaded with it.  I no sooner get it out then a new batch comes up.

Detroit Lake State Park-Memorial Day 2017


We went camping at Detroit Lake for Memorial Day weekend.  We stayed 3 nights, and were blessed with exceptionally nice weather.  It was especially welcome since we have had such a rainy, wet spring.


The wild rhododendrons were in bloom.


There were a couple of unusual strains of Scotch Broom–usually it’s just yellow.


There were many ducks and geese, but not as many as we have seen in years past.


Even this chipmunk was cooperative when I wanted to take a picture!


Some geese had babies.



Patsy and I had a great hike one day, circling the campground.  One side runs along the road, but they’ve done a great job of making you feel like you are more secluded than you are.  The other side runs along the lake, and that is always a treat.  We talked to people who were fishing, and some caught fish, but we did not this time.


We did enjoy some quiet time next to the lake, though, in the early morning on Saturday.  It’s rare for Rob and I to get any time alone, so that was one of my favorite times of the entire trip.  I also enjoyed time spent with family members who came up to visit us later that morning, and enjoy the lake as well for the day.  Rob cooked chicken over the fire, which is a favorite of everyone.  People pitched in and brought some things, so we sat and happily munched on chips, veggies, and melon.  One evening, we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire.  On Sunday afternoon, I got a big nap.  All in all, the trip was just what we needed–some time to get away from the hustle and bustle that our life is, and just enjoy some time out in God’s beautiful creation.