Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Real Update!

Things are finally starting to come together here at the Coatney household. About three weeks ago we finally got our wood cook-stove hooked up again, after hauling it up here with us from Colorado, having it in storage for almost a year, and then taking up a huge chunk of our mudroom. Well, it is finally in place.
We also spent a good deal of the summer getting our house insulated. Through our remodeling efforts we realized that there was no insulation whatsoever, giving us a big clue as to why our heating bills were so high. So we preceded to tear out all the slat and plaster off the exterior walls, insulate them, and then Sheetrock, mud, texture, and paint them.
During this time we restored the ceilings to their original nine foot height, opening the rooms up a lot more.
I have spent the last two days cutting firewood with friends who have offered their services, really blessing us with a much needed heat supply. I simply cannot go another year without investing in a chainsaw. It is hard having to rely upon others to take care of thing for you.
Last week I had to replace the fuel pump in our suburban for the third time in fourteen months, (I am becoming quite proficient at dropping the gas tank), only to find ou that the sending unit was bad, meaning dropping the tank yet again. Fortunatly my boss, Mike, took pity on me and came by to help me change it out. (I think he actually did most of the work.) Now I just need to replace the tires when I can afford that....
our most current project, (there are actually a lot of them, this is just the most immediate), building a set of bunk beds for the girls, complete with built-in bookshelves and dresser drawers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Another New Member of the Clan

I would like to introduce everyone to the newest member of our household, Mithrandir.

We have been discussing off and on about getting a companion for our dog Dulin, and here is the result. He is half Newfoundland and half Labrador Retriever, and fits right into our family. The dogs get along really well, especially since Dulin let it be known who was top dog, and they wrestle and play and are slowly kicking that excess weight off of each other.

All the kids love Mithrandir, indeed they have actually found a new interest in Dulin now paying him the attention that he so needs and deserves. He is very gentle and loves being around the kids as well, as can be seen from the next two photos.

In fact the only problem we have with him is that he really wants to eat Thalia's cat, going so far as to actually get her in his mouth. So she is now stuck in the girl's room and we are introducing them to each other slowly in the hopes that they at least come to an uneasy truce.

He came with the name Bowser, but being a family of Tolkien lovers we all wanted something with a bit more character to the name and after running the gamut of well known names (Frodo, Aragorn, Legolas, and the like), I started throwing out some lesser known ones, and Mithrandir was agreed upon. for those of you who don't know, Mithrandir is Gandalf's elvish name and means the grey pilgrim. And while he is not grey he does like to wander so at least part of the meaning fits, right?
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Friday, June 3, 2011

Learning Leadership part I

I have now been living and working in Idaho for just over a year and I am finally starting to feel like I fit in my role as Sous Chef. The title basically means that I am right under the Head or Executive Chef, which in this case is also the owner. When I say fit in I don't mean the actual work. Learning the menu, ordering, taking care of the physical side of the business are all pretty easy for me. The slow process for me has been earning respect from my fellow employes in the role of being their boss. Part of the reason I feel that I am getting somewhere is that a few months ago I started reflecting on people that I have previously worked for and how they handled others. Now I think it is time for a more in-depth study, and for me that means writing it out. Which also means that I will share it with my fellow bloggers and hope that maybe it can be of benefit to others as well.

This will not be an exhaustive essay on everywhere I have worked or everyone I worked for, but is meant to include only those persons and places that have impressed me in ways that relate to what I am doing now. I am not including any of my construction work as I was either working for my father-in-Law (who treated me more like a co-worker), or self-employed.

My first job after the lawn mowing/fence building antics of a twelve to thirteen year old was as a dishwasher at a pretty nice place called the Greenhouse. I don't remember the owners or manager well enough to be of consequence, but the Head Cook, well he has his place. I was a few weeks shy of my fourteenth birthday and my main impressions of his character were crude, grumpy, and a heavy drinker. He was easily upset and many a time I had to dodge pans flying through the air towards the dish pit. I was a pretty quiet kid and at first he scared me, but I eventually got used to him. At this time I had no thoughts about a career in the business but I knew that whatever I did, I would not be like him. After about a year he was gone, but as I got older I would see him around and while he would make fun of me, I could tell it was becoming more of a comradely way and I began seeing him more as a person with problems, likes and dislikes and all that. It culminated one day (I was about twenty-six or so), when going to do a catering job for a friend. He was there to help out, and as I was in charge of the food I found myself having to tell him what to do. I could tell he balked at the idea from his comments at first, but he really tried, and by the end of it I think we both had a new found respect for each other.

Back at the Greenhouse the replacement was the husband and wife team of Bob and Krista. He was a professional Chef and she knew how to run the front of the house, the bookkeeping, and the baking. Together they turned that place around form a typical steak and burger joint into a classy yet affordable place to have a nice meal. Bob was the kind of guy who commanded respect by his attitude of respecting others. He had a cheery disposition that only hinted at what would happen if you got on his bad side. He was smart and confident and seemed to know just what you were capable of. He loved playing hackey-sack and would be out there with us kicking it at every opportunity. Bob wanted to get me on the line and learn the real cooking, but I lacked the confidence in myself at the time. There was a lot that I learned from him but I truly wish I had known how important his knowledge would have been to me. My biggest lesson and also the only time he ever scared me happened thus. I lived about twelve miles away and rode my bike to work each day. There was a time while riding, it became very stormy and I took shelter for ten or twenty minutes. By the time I got to work I was about five minutes late. He took me out to a private table, quietly and calmly said that he did not care what happened, but if I ever was late again, thereby showing him disrespect, I would no longer have a job there. This affected me deeply and to this day I cannot let myself be late to work.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gardening at Our New Home

Lets talk about gardening and where we are with it this year. We are a bit rusty seeing as how we did nothing last year (hard to do when you're in a tent in a RV park,) but now that we own a house the gloves are on and we are digging in so to speak.

The place came with a starter for us with two large apple trees in the backyard. Apples being one of our favorite things we are very happy about this (we love hard cider!). These are in full bloom right now, giving the yard a wonderful aroma. One tree is so heavily laden with blossoms that we will have to thin it out some, but we will use those blossoms to add a delicate flavor to our first mead since we moved to Idaho. Now these trees have not been taken care of in who knows how long and are in need of some heavy pruning, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it earlier. Besides trying to make the time, (very hard), it is rather intimidating to me. But I am thinking that after getting to know the trees I will feel better about doing it next spring. There are also some young apple trees along our fence line that don't look like they will be blooming this year. They seem to be wild as they are in a jumbled cluster that don't really point to being put there on purpose. Again, hopefully by next year we will be more familiar with these trees to where we can steward them properly.

Yesterday we planted a sour cherry tree. An Almaden Duke on Gisela 5 rootstock to be precise. This is said to have a sweet and tart flavor combination, is easy to grow, and has high yields. This was our first time planting bare roots and it was amazing to see the root system and to carefully lay them in their new home. Quite an honor actually to feel entrusted with it.

The south edge of our property borders a frontage road with Highway 200 on the other side of that, which means we have a lot of visibility and noise from just twenty yards away. Most people who know us know that we are pretty private and quite folks. So being here has been quite a challenge for us. To combat this we are doing a hedge between the frontage road and our soon to be fence. This area is about one hundred feet in length and about six feet wide with a ditch right against the road. Seeing as how our eventual goal is self-sufficiency we did not want just any old hedge plant. We want something that will have other uses as well. so we decided on a blend of mostly blueberries, some bilberries a.k.a. huckleberries, and possibly some Oregon grape bushes. We got four of the blueberries planted a few weeks ago, and another three yesterday. We have seven more to put in today. These are a blend of early, mid-season, and late producers with specific names of Reka, Bluette, Toro, and Jersey.

I plan on building raised garden beds this summer but to get us started and to give us practice growing in this clime we dug a 20'x4' bed. All that is left before planting in it is to work in manure that we are getting from our friends that also supply us with our raw milk. Here we will plant lettuces, carrots, and all their veggie friends. I will also be constructing a small raised garden bed this week (hopefully) for herbs and strawberries. We also have two raspberry bushes to plant today, once we figure out exactly where we want them.

Well that is all for now, but I hope to have an update in the next week or two as things progress.

Friday, April 8, 2011

First Day Out

So after three full of months of slow remodel work on our new home we decided we needed a small break. Our idea was to go out and scout around to see if the morels were doing anything yet but in reality we just needed to get out. Eventually we end up at Green Bay, a semi-remote spot down Sagle Road. It turns out to be a fairly nice day as well, giving us all some of that vitamin D we have been craving.

As far as morels go, we found nothing, about what was expected. but we did find a few other things.

We were amazed to find that our Wood-Ear log that we were harvesting from last year was covered in both old and new specimens! We thought these were just a fall crop, but it turns out that in the right conditions they can grow in the spring. We checked our other Wood-Ear spots to no avail.

I Believe this is Sarcosoma latahensis or the Black Rubber Cup. Very cute and very tiny. I would like to find some of these as they mature more to get a better identification.

This is Gyromitra fastigiata or Thick-stalked False Morel. this is the first time we have seen this little guy. At first I thought it to be the Snowbank False Morel, which we have found lots of back in Colorado, but with a lack of snow and a quick examination it was proved to be the Thick-stalked.

It is so exciting to be able to get out now. Just can't wait for the morels to start popping up!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Baby Tatiana

ok. Here she is. Tatiana Michelle Coatney. 3/23/11 @ 07:58 am
21 inches, 7 pounds 1.6 ounces. Everything went extremely well but with taking care of mom and family I have not really been able to make a post like I wanted. Hopefully soon though.
Thank you all for the prayers and well wishes!

Mommy and Tatiana up and about

Thats me and baby!
The Good Doctor

I love these times

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Here comes baby!

Just a few thoughts I want to get out before little Tatiana is born. It is strange, but I am more nervous now than with any of our other births. Most of it can be chalked up to the new environment we are in, new house, new town, and especially new hospital and doctors. We have had our previous four back in Durango Colorado, seeing the same midwives every time. Here it has been a bit harder for me to be a part of it, with Dawn going to most of the visits by herself, leaving me without the comfort of really knowing the staff.
The other reason is with all the craziness going on in the world today it seems like there is going to be even more of a challenge raising five children to be able to survive the circumstances that might happen.
I would love to write more but have to leave for the hospital now! I will get some pictures up soon my friends.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Startlingly Late News! (at least for my fellow bloggers)

Sorry folks. I believe I have let all of my followers down. (Sounds a bit conceited)! We are pregnant again and our due date is only three weeks away and I have yet to inform this small, yet dear circle of friends about it. I posted it on facebook but forgot about you. For that I apologize. In my defense I will say this. I had planned on it being a part of a blog about our life so far in Idaho, but after working on it off and on for almost three months and only have a few hundred words of it (out of the two thousand it might be when finished) I kind of forgot about the time sensitive material it was to include. So here we go:

We are having a baby girl! The name we are shooting for is Tatiana Michelle Coatney. We have a c-section scheduled for the 23rd of March. Our last two were emergency c-sections making it almost impossible to have a natural birth. This is our 5th child and the plan is to do a little work inside her during the operation to keep this from happening again. It is a bit weird to think we are having a baby again. It took us almost seven years of trying and thinking that maybe we couldn't when we finally got pregnant with our first. After that is seems like they came along in a steady stream. And each and every one of them has been a unique blessing to us.

Just so you know, I have two blogs in the works right now, the one is talked about above, while the other is a very large one that is close to being finished about a big hike a few years ago back in Colorado.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Peak 1 in Idaho

It was September now and I had been in Idaho for five months now without doing one of my favorite things, mountain climbing. I had so many things going on and when we did get out it was more exploring the general area as opposed to going somewhere with a destination in mind. Another factor was the children. We couldn't get more than a mile down the trail before one or all of them would want to go back because they were "tired".
With the arrival of autumn we were blessed with the arrival of my Brother-in-Law, Duane, and his wife Tracie. Now if you have read some of my previous posts you know that with their presence I now have one of my two hiking buddies here with me. So of course we planned a hike.
The day we chose promised to be nice, being the only clear day for-casted for a while. It was noon when we parked at the trailhead at the the top of the Pack River Road, later than we wanted, but still leaving us with plenty of time. Our plan was to climb the Beehive, a rather unique looking mountain just a little ways off the road.
Setting off down an old road we are thinking about trying an approach from the north when we see a sharp looking mountain that has a hook to the peak looking only a couple miles off. Pulling out the map we find that it is Harrison Peak and that there is a lake below it aptly named Harrison Lake. Back where we parked there was a trail going to the lake and on the map it looked like it took an indirect route there, but the road we were on pointed almost straight at it. Figuring that if we just kept in the same general direction once the road ended we could get to the lake quicker than taking the trail, we quickly abandoned our idea of climbing the Beehive (it would always be there for another day), and we decided to try for Harrison peak.
Once the road ended it turned into a trail following an old overgrown logging road that was still going in the direction we wanted. Well, we figured that maybe this was a kind of backdoor shortcut to the lake, something only known by a handful of locals, and here we were, making our way down this secret path. Pretty soon even the trail was becoming more overgrown and it was getting hard to progress. After finding a small but happy handful of Wood-Ear mushrooms the trail comes to a creek. Wondering which way to go we notice what looks like the old remains of bridge pilings. A quick crossing with a steep climb up the other side brings us back on the logging road, more open than it has been for a while. After a hundred yards or so it is overgrown again and seeming to be heading a different direction than the lake so we decide to just start off on our own.
We climb a grassy hill and are soon making our way through a thick low brush which is easier to travel than the road was, eventually leading us into a dense forest. After pushing our way through this we find ourselves on the old road again. As we make our way up it we find it getting more and more overgrown and eventually we decide that perhaps we should leave this road again and angle northwest towards the trail. We knew we should be near the lake by now, so finding the trail should be easy, right? Well, it pretty much became a constant struggle uphill through almost impassable brush, (the locals call it Tag Alder) the only easy parts being the occasional deadfall that we could walk on like bridges. We quickly learned to search these out, greatly speeding up our travel.

a constant struggle
it just keeps going

Eventually we despair of ever finding the trail, especially when we come to an open area that finally affords us a view. Looking around we spot the hooked mountain that is Harrison Peak. And it is a lot further East than it should be. Obviously the old road did not go to the lake and we way overshot it. Above us a slope climbs up towards a ridge that looks like it might connect with the Peak, so we decide to keep going up.
Soon we are moving through a large boulder field and we are quickly hopping from rock to rock. After a hundred yards or so of this we come to a small stream of water sliding down the long slabs of granite that we are now following up. Looking down we see it drop about twenty feet into a very inviting pool. Wishing we had more time to go down there we decide to follow the stream up, maybe to find its source.

I can't help but wonder how many people have ever seen this pool?

It is very relaxing to trace the water like this, over bare stone, seeing it slide around through the ever so slight channel that it has carved over who knows how long. The higher we climb the smaller it becomes as we cross tiny tributaries that are little more than smears of dampness over the rock. Reaching the top we find a small trickle that is soon lost in the grasses from which it emerges. Sights like this are inspiring to me and after slowly making our way up into a new forest I feel rejuvenated.
The ridge we were heading toward was a false one as we can now see the land steeply rising past the forest. We find a good vantage point and are given our second disappointment. There will be no climbing Harrison today. The ridge above us does not connect easily with it and it will take us hours to traverse. Hours we do not have. But we still feel the need to be high so we decide to climb the ridge and enjoy the view.
We continue to climb higher, moving through a forest now, and once out of it we are given a cheering view, there is a peak in front of us! It is not on the forest service map we have and it looks to be smaller than Harrison, but hey, let's do it. First we must get to the base of it which involves a three-hundred yard climb up a steep rock face. This actually turns out to be quite fun and slightly easier than it looked. It was swept clean by glacier work leaving grooves and small pits making the footing pretty secure.
Reaching the top of the ridge we find ourselves to be on the Selkirk Ridge, the major dividing line of the Selkirk Range, and it is a wonderful view. Now we follow the ridge a short way and we are at the base of this unnamed peak. It looks to be lots of large sharp rocks with some tough little trees hanging on its north-west side. we take our time climbing, there are a lot of loose rocks with big drops (sorry mom, I won't say how big) under them. About ten minutes later and we are at the top. My first peak in Idaho. Now it feels like I really live here.
And now we see why we missed the lake. It is in a bowl almost directly under us and looks fairly easy to reach. The view from here is astounding. Three-hundred-sixty degrees of mountains around us. Looking north we are looking directly into Canada. West and we can see Priest Lake with the state of Washington splayed out behind it. To the east is the Cabinet Range, straddling the border of Idaho and Montana. Looking south we can see parts of Lake Pend Oreille.

Here we are!
Me, with Harrison Peak in the background
North-West, North, North-East
North-East, East, South-East
South-East, South, South -West
South-West, West, North-West
Looking down on Harrison Lake

As we drink in the awe of being able to look at three different states and two nations I notice the shadow of the mountain we are on imposed over the lake. We both begin waving our arms and jumping up and down in the frentic hope that we can see our own shadows down there, but to no avail. Now it is time to make our way down. We decide to descend on the south-eastern slope (we came up from the west), which is rather steep with a lot of loose rock, but we do this without much difficulty.
Soon we are standing on a ridge above the lake. It should be fairly easy to follow the ridge down past the lake and get on the trail. But we always seem to have trouble staying away from lakes. We want to walk along the shore as we head for the trail. It doesn't look that hard to get down to it. A bit steep, but we are used to that. it turns out to be not so easy. We keep pushing on, telling ourselves (and each other) that it will get better, but it never does. It doesn't take long before we realize that it will be safer to keep going down than to try and climb back up. Finally, after all the cliffs, chutes, dead trees, broken roots, and falling rocks, we are at the bottom. Of course it took so long that I think we could have been half way to the truck had we stayed on the ridge instead of the few hundred yards we had just traversed.

One of the easier parts where we actually
are in very little danger
A reflection of Harrison on Harrison
Looking back up at some of what we came down
Now that we are at the lake I can see that it was worth it. There is something very soothing about a backcountry lakeshore or riverbank to slowly stroll along. (Strange considering my aversion to actually getting in the water). We now make our way to the eastern end of the lake where there is a small stream issuing from it and using my water filter, we fill up our water bottles and proceed to deparch ourselves. This is the creek that we thought we were following earlier in the day, but seeing how small it is I think I can remember seeing it dumping into the larger creek we were following and giving it little thought.
Leaving we find the trail (Harrison Lake trail #217) that takes us back down and we marvel at how easy it is to move, having a real path under our feet. The trail we are on is a steep one, but after about half a mile it splits (going left takes you into the Myrtle Creek area), levels out and widens, giving us the chance to walk side by side and recount some of the day's adventures. From here it is two or three miles to the truck. These pass by quickly as we are mostly focused on getting out now. About half way down we encounter a young moose that decides not to hang around once we are seen, so we stop and watch him disappear through the forest as I am still trying to soak in the idea that I live in a place that actually has moose!
Not long after this my mushroom trained eyes spot something. It turns out to be a beautiful specimen of the highly prized Boletus edulius, or King Bolete if you rather.

Duane displaying the prize
Soon we are back at Duane's truck, making it about five hours of hiking in some great new terrain. If there is one thing that I learned from this trip it is that I have a lot to figure out about the lay of the land. Back in Pagosa Country I could tell what to expect with a brief study of the land in between me and a mountain, but as should be obvious from this hike, it doesn't work quite as well here. From a difference in how the mountains were formed to the different plants, bushes, and trees, I look forward to my new education.

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