Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumping gas in Oregon

Many of you know that my blogging friend, frugalmom, over at Fancyin' the Farm Life, came to visit me in Oregon in September. Of all the stuff I thought she'd be impressed with and all the Oregon differences I thought she'd be interested in, the thing that boggled her mind the most was this (photo by marcee):

Yes, that is a young woman, employed by our local Chevron gas station owner, pumping gas into my car for me.

Apparently, Oregon is one of only 2 states in the country (the other is New Jersey) that specifically prohibits, by law, pumping your own gas. I wasn't previously aware of this, nor would I ever have given it much thought, had I not seen the look of shock on frugalmom's face.

See these guys here? Gas station attendants. Note the matching coats and caps:

Self-service gas stations are illegal in Oregon. A law banning self-serve was passed in 1951, presumably for safety reasons although it was supposed to reduce unemployment rates at the time, too. Ever since, oil companies and gas station owners have unsuccessfully tried to have the law repealed, but with no luck. The last time the choice to repeal this law was on the ballot, circa 1982, Oregonians shot it down. We really and truly don't want to pump our own gas. Oregon Statute ORS 480.315-320 states that I could even be fined $500 by attempting to pump gas on my own. (One exception: motorcyclists may pump their own gas in Oregon. Don't ask me why.)

Regardless, I wouldn't want it any other way. I really appreciate the gas station attendant who comes up to my car window when I pull in, asks me how he/she can help me, and immediately gets down to it:

I *love* that I don't have to get out of my car to pump or pay when it's cold/rainy/snowy/windy/etc outside:

I even love overhearing the conversations attendants will have with each other when things are a bit slow. Here they're talking about who to help first when multiple cars arrive at once:

I also love all the things that I am able to get done while someone else fills my tank. You see, I'm one of those gals who perpetually multi-tasks. I love turning on the dishwasher or washing machine before I head outside to do chores because I know stuff is getting done inside as I'm working outside.

Well, it's the same for me when I'm at the gas station. I'm able to get all those little things done that never seem to get done when I'm back at home. For example, quite frequently, while waiting for my tank to be topped off...

I'm able to get a head start on cooking dinner:

I can finally hold still long enough to paint my nails a most dazzling farm girl shade:

I'm slowly but surely catching up on all those Anita Shreve novels I haven't read:

...and the other day, I was actually able to shave my legs:

So, you can see why I feel that Oregon's no self-serve law has allowed me to become a more efficient individual. I get more things done now simply by NOT climbing out of my car at the gas station. I really believe the rest of the country should consider passing legislation similar to Oregon's. I believe, as a country, we would all be much more efficient.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'll only mention it briefly....

...but today is my one year blogging anniversary.

What an incredible year it's been.

And that's all I'll say about that.

So now, here are a few of my current favorite photos.

Games you play with your dogs:

Ooooh, scaaaaary front porch:

What you don't want to find in your chipmunk trap:

Don't tell my mom I'm standing in the middle of the road:

Farm pup faithfully waiting for her master:

A lovely fall harvest:

Donkey with a mohawk:

Ein Apfel:

Oh yeah. A chicken ramp:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Knoblauch is the German word for...

I've decided to try something new this year.

I guess this isn't really big news, since pretty much everything I've done in the last year has been new to me. So, adding to the list of
- Quitting my job
- Selling my house
- Moving to the country
- Buying a dozen chickens
- Becoming a foster mama for a group of donkeys from a national donkey rescue
- Giving penicillin injections to calves
- Plowing a 20 acre field with an discer hooked to an International tractor

I've grow garlic.

I know, another big step, right?
But, I love smells good, it tastes delicious, and it looks pretty when braided. Until about 2 months ago, this was pretty much all that I knew about it.

Since then, I've done a bit of research. Garlic supposedly grows quite well here in Oregon, so the only thing delaying me was where to plant it and what kind to plant.

I found what I thought was the perfect spot for it in an upper garden plot that I hadn't planted anything in this year. It's up against some big rocks, so I hope to use some passive solar heating to my benefit here:

After turning over the dirt and amending it with a bit of compost and chicken manure, I figured it was ready to go:

All I had to do now was obtain my garlic sets. This was harder than I would've thought - none of my local farm/agriculture stores carried them and all the nurseries close to me didn't have any. What's a girl to do?

My pal, Angie, at Children of the Corn, was, as usual, able to help. "Go to your local farmers market", she stated matter of factly. So I did just that and I scored big:

I came home with five different varieties of garlic all grown locally here! Four of my choices are hardneck varieties, the fifth type (the Italian) is a softneck variety - just what I need for my garlic braids!

The next step is to break each of these heads into individual cloves for planting:

It's important to select the largest and healthiest looking cloves to plant and then plant the cloves pointy side up and about 1 to 3" deep in the soil:

Now that I've found my garlic and see how many individual cloves I've got, I'm clearly going to need a bigger patch of ground!:

Wouldn't it be fun to have my garlic garden ultimately look like this? (not my garden):

Do you have any obsessive personalities in your life? If not, you do now. Me. Those five varieties of garlic weren't enough for me, apparently. When I happened upon a local nursery yesterday afternoon and saw they not only actually had garlic sets but even some new varieties that I hadn't seen yet, I just HAD to get a few more:

The Nootka Rose is a Northwest Heirloom variety of garlic and another softneck variety (more braids, yay!):

The Inchelium Red is labeled as an "Artichoke Garlic". I'm not really sure what that means, but it is another softneck variety that has won taste tests, has a bit of "hot" to its flavor and stores very well:

And, being the good half-German that I am, I needed the German Porcelain variety. It supposedly does well in any environment, which if all the others fail, may be the only type I wind up successfully harvesting:

Of course, I will be diligently charting how each variety does, how much I harvest, and which ones taste the best - similar to my egg counting/weighing nerdliness that I have been engaged in since early July.

So, keep your fingers crossed that by next September, not only will we be making the most incredibly delectable garlic dishes, I may also have a few of these hanging around:

After that, I can work my way up to making these!:

Ja, es stimmt: Knoblauch macht Spass!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Farmgirl Farming

You'll probably never guess what I did on Tuesday.
Give up?
I drove one of these:

My friend, Dale, the local dairy farmer and supplier of my donkeys' hay, needed help plowing 20 acres of pasture and he actually called me!
Well, what do YOU do when a friend calls asking your for help? You go and help them, right?:

So I drove a 1980's International tractor:

...pulling one of these:

It's called a "discer" (disc-er) and it is used for chopping up big clumps of dirt and preparing the soil for planting:

After being given about a ten minute overview on how to drive it, I was left to my own devices. So off I went:

Take a ride with me? I promise to be careful:

Now that wasn't so bad, was it?
You felt safe, right? Good. Because you wouldn't believe how complicated this thing was to drive. This pedal is the brake for the RIGHT tire:

This pedal is the brake for the LEFT tire:

This pedal's the clutch:

To my right, on the floor, were three levers. The far left one raises and lowers the discer blades. I never did figure out what the other two levers do:

To my left was the gear box. The far left lever puts the engine in high or low, the right lever then sets the specific gear:

And up on the dash is the throttle:

I fortunately manipulated all pedals and levers correctly and in the right order, and managed to avoid winding up in the creek:

At the end of the afternoon, the field was "disced":

There will be oats planted here:

And that was my Tuesday.

Somehow this post wouldn't feel complete without a few gratuitous, cute animal photos, so here they are. This little cutie is one of about seventeen, small, barnyard cats running around Dale's farm:

One of Dale's very cute calves born this spring:

and who can forget farm doggy, Roxy, here in the sunshine with her chickens: