Christmas 2021

Here we are seven months since my last update.

We have survived the Delta varient of the Covid virus and the pandemic is still with us. The latest varient is Omicron. It is more contagious but initial findings are that it isn’t as dangerous. We are vaccinated and have our boosters including grandson Aiden, one of the Children finally allowed to vaccinate.

We lost my step brother, Don, in October. He contracted the virus and also had a number of other serious health issues. He died just weeks after he went to the hospital for Covid. Lincoln City Hospital sent him to Corvallis’s big Hospital, but when he was stable they sent him home with Hospice care, he died a few days later from heart failure. He died in his sleep. Fortunately he didn’t suffer from the suffocation experienced by so many CoViD victims. And since he died at home he didn’t die alone, as so many have. Making the decision to send a person home when it’s clear they can’t be helped is really difficult for healthcare professionals, but in Don’s case his heart issues made the decision less difficult.

We couldn’t be there for any services and must pray for his immediate family from far away. As we miss him this holiday, I am reminded of the many “Cooper Christmas” parties we had here at the farm. Filled with family and food and laughter. We haven’t had a Cooper Christmas since my mother died in 1985. We continue to have family reunions in the summer, and for a time my sister Sharon took over the Cooper Christmas reins, but when she died and family had moved far, it became harder and harder to bring people together during winter months. One of my favorite Cooper Christmases remain one where only a few of the girls made it to the farm. We opened a bottle of wine and hunkered down. It was great.

this year I am missing those family get togethers very much. We had planned to have a family reunion last August but due to pandemic we cancelled. It would have been the last time I might have seen my brother. I can hear his “hello”, a very distinctive voice that I can’t copy but hear so clearly. His son Keith sounds like him and it’s a real joy to hear him.

This year we hope we can find a way to still connect with family even though we have been separated for so long. Those of us who are especially vulnerable, with my damaged lungs from previous pouts with pneumonia, will need to remain careful with extra vaccinations (for Covid, Flu, pneumonia etc) and continue to mask up when we venture into interior spaces with crowds. But that’s OK we can do that.

Over 700 children have been killed by Covid’s impact. It’s the saddest outcome I can imagine. While comparatively rare, it remains no less tragic for those families and communities. Our empathy is needed and seriously lacking. The entire nation is witnessing our nations worst self. Filled with fear and selfishness that I have never witnessed and would not have believed had I not seen it with my own eyes.

Here at home my family remains protective of me. Very careful for me, testing when necessary and making sure my environment remains appropriately bubbled as needed. We have expanded somewhat. Joanie, my step mom, and I have brunch at a restaurant every week. And every other month we get our hair cut. We also take a break by visiting a local nursery to buy plants we don’t need. And we really don’t need any more plants. We can’t help it. We love new plants. They make us happy.

For Christmas I wasn’t up to par at all. We put up only two decorated trees instead of the usual four or five. But I still have the six additional trees that share the space most of the year. I also added a new Pendleton wool tree. It’s fun! I haven’t put up the clear glass tree, or the charlie brown tree or decorated the Northford pine. (I can’t believe I have kept this tree alive! Yahoo!)

I did put up the real feather tree and covered it in Grandma’s feather tree ornaments. Grandma never had a feather tree though. She had the wild firs grandpa brought in. They were a bit spindly by today’s Christmas tree orchard standards but they were as lovely when decorated as any tree I have ever seen.

Our Christmas decor 2021, sad but mine

The Feather tree

below are pictures of our current Christmas home.

The front door
framed and lighted wreath

Opening Up

As more people get vaccinated stores etc. can open.  But everyone continues to wear a mask because we don’t want vulnerable people who can’t be vaccinated to get sick.  Being careful a few more weeks or months is worth it to protect our most vulnerable.  Of course some of our most vulnerable aren’t vaccinated because of health reasons but because they are mentally unbalanced or have irrational fears.  But they are also our most vulnerable just the same and so we must protect them too.  Asking them to prove that they haven’t had their vaccine and are without justification is just too embarrassing for everyone.  So, if mask wearing maintains our community, then so be it.

That brings us to today.  Rainfall remains at record lows.   But it did rain today.  Please let it be an unseasonably wet summer,  Dear God I pray. 

This is still spring and I am in the garden trying to remember what normal feels like.  For fun I copied all the family photos, I used fake moss to decorate stuff.  I used fake flowers to perk me up, I planted flowers, I decorated around the house with things that were fun and useful, or just art for the arts sake.  I put up more photos of family and we are planning for a family reunion in August when everyone is vaccinated.  Life goes on for us.  Everyone was not so lucky during the last year.  We have lost friends and family.  We have learned that this wasn’t as bad as it might have been and wearing a mask isn’t our Anne Frank moment.  Nazis were not hunting us, it was just a disease, a new one and a disaster but still just a disease.  Most of us made it through with new insight and new appreciation for the need for human contact. Empathy is a very necessary human quality. have empathy for those who can’t experience empathy is important too. Empathy doesn’t mean we excuse how they behave but we need to be kind to these poor souls.

The Vaccine

The Pandemic has taken more than half a million people. Even now children in Colton and Estacada are testing positive. How many will stuffer from the inflammation disease we aren’t told. None have died here but other zip codes were not so lucky.

When the vaccine was ready to emergency use we had to wait for all the health care workers and elderly high risk population to get shots. It took a month. When the over 65 group were eligible we were lucky because the distribution system had improved. Joanie got her shot in the 80+ group at the Safeway store in early March. Rick and I in late March at the Walgreens and had both shots by April. I can’t tell you how great it felt to feel safe from the danger.

What we learned bwasvthat the repeat infections of bronchitis and pneumonia I have suffered through for years didn’t happen during the lock downs. Masks, distance and good hygiene prevented these and gave me a chance to getter better. My first new cold wasn’t suffered until this month. Someone got careless at Aiden’s school. But it was just a cold. My colonoscopy was cancelled but other than that nothing else bad happened. I got over it in about three weeks with not extra illnesses. I am tired but will get better this time I think. Yeah!

Things we did during the pandemic, grew long hair, wore masks and had fun with stars wars characters


As if God has a sense of humor beyond the platypuses, we were hit with a terrible ice storm. In fact not our worst, but certainly in the top five. What made it worse was it was wide spread across a fifty mile area including the valley and mountains. Normally we would have had snow from such an even, but we haven’t had enough real cold for snow and strangely little rain. So, add ice to the story. Of course thousands lost power. No power no pumping for gas. I had asked Rick if we had gas for our generators and he said “yes”. But apparently his idea of “have ice” was significantly different from mine. To his defense we never know how bad the ice might be, how wide spread or for how long the power would be out. We were out eleven days and Mom, Joanie, was out two whole weeks. We have generators and generally are good during a power outage. But the hwy way north was closed and there turned out to be no power south.

The search for gas and water. Because Joanie had no generator we had to find her sufficient supplies for a long haul. And because our Jerry can supply wasn’t sufficient for a long haul either Joanie and I ventured out to find her water, or at least containers for water and gas to fill five Jerry cans. Glad we did given how long we would require private generation. But Joanie and I discovered the problem was far more wide spread than we knew. First no gas or electricity in Molalla, or Canby, or Aurora or on the Hwy I5 truck stops. No power or gas in Woodburn. We found power at Kaiser, OR. It took a search to find a has station and when found a 45 min. wait to fill up. Then we went to target to find Joanie water and bought the last two cases. She also bought a car charger for her phone.

On our expedition we found a place for purchasing food and found people who were looking for hotel rooms to take a shower. Fortunately we weren’t ready to take such an action, yet.

Both Joanie and I have wood stoves and with enough water can flush toilets and wash with warm water. But I understand how much a warm shower can tempt one. Joanie did need to have her water jugs filled several times and just as we were about the rent a room at the B&B the power came on. It took an hour for the water to heat and we could all shower. Joanie would have to wait another two days for hot water! There must be a better way to help her prepare. Must think on this and have a plan by September.

Copper watering can

After the Fire

While the fire continued to burn for weeks, away from us, thank God, we waited for the air to clear. Rick returned home to water the stock. Everything was fine. Roads were closed and crazy neighbors sat in the driveway to warn off non existent looters. Fear is a terrible thing it makes people irrational.

You can see the burned for needles, the black water in the bird bath. The ceiling was smoke covered in the great room and had to be repainted. We threw out the outdoor cushions, rugs etc. And then went about cleaning the creosote residue off everything, furniture, walls, deck, walk ways etc. It wasn’t easy. The tar like residue isn’t like ash at all. It continued to be blown in on the burned needles all winter. It’s now May and I am still washing it off things. We have found large burned bark pieces in the hay field and forest. Any of these might have started a jump fire. We were even luckier than I thought.

In the media post you can see the smoke and in another taken a week later you can see the smoldering of burned areas in the distance. No, it isn’t fog, it’s smoke of burning stumps. You can also see the burned forest floor near us on Shibley road. The burned mail box, the home was saved. It was to close, way to close.

As I write this months later, my fear has subsided a bit. But this spring has seen the lowest rainfall on record, another dry year. See the section on ice for more bad news.


On Wednesday we would be officially evacuated. But we didn’t wait. On Tuesday night the ground was covered in burnt fir needles. Overhead flaming debris was floating like rain from a fireworks display. We decided to bug out now before we found ourselves caught in a jump fire. We had our ready to evacuate stuff ready, but we had no way to prepare for this level so quickly. We had to leave our cows, horse and goat and chickens at home.

We went to Beth’s late at night, in the dark. The early pictures of the burning sky fixed in our mines. The smoke was heavy. Highland still had power. When we got to Beth’s we settled in and started looking for news. On Wednesday Molalla was evacuated, and the Canby fair grounds where farm animals were placed was evacuated again. Too. Turns out there were even more fires than we knew. Fires on the coast, to the south at Detroit. Even at home there was the Unger Road fire, the Mulino fire and the Beachie fire and others, many others. Like me we were surprised that everything could burn so quickly. And the wind, the wind was, for us, unprecedented. It was like the California winds. Western Oregon doesn’t have wind like this, our Mountains protect us from the southern winds. But not anymore.

In Wednesday morning the wind was worse. The fire fighters were pulled from the fire because it was moving too fast. The smoke was too thick for air drops and the wind to fierce for take off. By the evening a jump fire was spreading near Estacada. It was moving toward us at an alarming rate down the Springwater drainage. On Thursday morning it jumped Shibley road. Miraculously by noon the wind calmed down, and even more of a miracle it changed direction! Our coastal winds came in, cool and cloudy bringing rain. Not much moisture but the wind change saved us. The fire stopping just a third of a mile from our home. We have zig zag boys, a fire fighting crew, to thank for saving dozens of homes and barns too in the path of the fire but hundreds were still taken. See the pictures in the media section for a clear view.

The Fire

On Monday after Labor day weekend a fire that started over the weekend up at Three-Links was out of control. The small town was burned and the fire was moving fast to the Northwest, toward us. The wind was weird. Hot wind like this doesn’t happen here. It can’t get over the mountains. This never happens. Never. We live in a temperate rain forest. We get over 65 inches of rain a year. Yet this year is short on rain fall but the mountains didn’t get shorter. But here it is, the impossible happening. The fire is moving toward us at alarming speed. About ten miles a day.

On Tuesday the world around us changed. The state hwy north was blocked. A constant parade of trailers were going by the house. I was going to town, they let me by. I stopped a PU and asked what was going on. Elwood was being evacuated. Everything east of the Hwy. I made my trip to Estacada and picked up some supplies, see the media posts for pictures. The sky was filled with smoke. A fire up river, a fire at Eagle creek, a fire in Redlands. The upriver fire was named the Riverside Fire.

2020 disaster year

It’s December 2020, I’ve lost an entire year. Last year in September 2019 I contracted pneumonia. I was sick thru the holidays. Then a new CT in January showed I was still having trouble, followed by another round of antibiotics, more nebulizer and inhalers. Then told to wait and get retested in July.

What they didn’t know was that by March the entire planet, and I mean the entire planet would be crushed by a pandemic, the Covid 19 pandemic. At first we thought it might be controlled by taking measures to prevent the spread. But the President of the country is a complete idiot and decided that measures of control would hurt him politically, so he decided to kill Americans instead. He went to rallies and told his numnut followers that the Covid wasn’t a big deal and that mask wearing was stupid. Now in December 2020 we have over 300,000 a dead in the US alone, 1030 in Oregon.

A bus load of seniors dies every two days in Oregon, and while a vaccine is approved we are getting a few thousand when we need 3 million. It’s insane, especially since those health issues remain a serious concern for me personally.

The fire: September 7, Oregon caught on fire. It’s a blur at this point. The state had a weird experience with the Santana winds. We never, and I mean NEVER get these. They blew in on Saturday and by Sunday there were multiple fires burning across the State. Our fire was called the Riverside fire. It started up by Threelinks. It stopped 1/3 of a mile from our farm. We were evacuated on Tuesday, late. We had to leave without moving our stock. The fire was moving so fast. An aquaintence lost there house on Wednesday. They only live a few miles from us. By Thursday it crossed Shibley Rd. But then the wind changed. It just stopped blowing. We were safe. We had evacuated to our Daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law’s home in Portland. The smoke remained unbreathable for two weeks as fires continued to burn in other areas. Our fire changed direction and moved East instead of west. Burning back on itself on the westside. In the end thousands of people lost their homes from Medford to Estacada. Absolutely awful. And that’s just Oregon. Thousands more lost homes and loved ones in California and Colorado. It’s a nightmare!

While all this was going on, a man named Floyd was killed by police back-east some where. It was caught on film, every one saw the poor man murdered. After that there were huge protest to stop how police do their job. Portland too has had many problems in this regard, every big city has. Then anarchist started their own violence hiding among the protest. The President made everything worse by saying there wasn’t a problem and blamed demonstrations for any lawlessness. He apparently thinks anarchist are liberals, which isn’t possible by definition.

The Pandemic is still with us. Actions have been taken to try to stop police from bad actions and the President was NOT reelected and it’s been raining! Our insurance covered the heavy smoke damage in the house (ceiling got painted and living room was cleaned).

my garden wasn’t tended and it’s ok because the hot wind and smoke would have killed it anyway.


Summer 2018

Ok, blogging is more difficult than I expected. I have tried to tie a pic to this post for 30 min., no luck.

Therefore I will insert the pics later. In the mean time here is what’s going on at the Farm.

First, it’s haying season. Every year we spend weeks looking at the sky trying to decide if we will get five days of no rain. In Oregon this is always a gamble. Many farmers guessed wrong two weeks ago and their hay was ruined. Those who have a hay fluffier only need three says and a few were lucky and got it up before the thunder storms rolled in. As for us, we are waiting. Think we will cut Saturday. Sure hope so, the waiting is killing me.

Why hay. Because that way we can be sure our animals get clean, unsprayed, varied grass and legume, healthy feed for the winter.

We rotate our pastures for feed but come winter the grass will stop growing and this hay will feed our pets.

Footnote, our cows, horse and goat are all pets. We use to do beef cattle, but ever since we bought these lowline cattle, well they are too cute to eat. We bought them assuming we would eat them, but they are so tame, so sweet, we just can’t. That was the point of course, to have cows that won’t test the fences all day, looking for a weak spot, or throw their heads at you just for walking by, like the Angus. With the Angus you had to watch their boundaries all the time. Don’t approach from this angle, not so close from here to get them to more there. You had to really pay attention. But these low lines, wow, they don’t care where you are ” just scratch me please” they say.

Now I have been around cows on and off most of my life, but I haven’t met cows like this. Even a pretty tame cow likes her space. Not these. You don’t herd them. Rick just walks in front and they will follow, or he will call “come baby” and here they come. Like a dog! Ok, they still weigh 800 plus pounds, but they are so gentle and careful around you. Even with the grand baby. Aiden is only two, but has learned to call them. At first he hid a bit when they come running but now he knows they will stop so he waits with his hand out, they lick him good and he gives them an apple for their trouble.

So that is why we need good hay. Because great cows deserve great hay. Or yumyum, as Aiden says.