Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2021

Winnowing Quinoa From Last Autumn's Harvest

I've been putting off the final steps in harvesting our quinoa. We still needed to winnow our quinoa, which is where the chaff is removed from the seeds. This is the second year we've grown and harvested quinoa, and so I knew from past experience that it takes a bit of time and patience to winnow quinoa.  And so, rather than dealing with it at the time of harvest, I put the dried quinoa into a big paper bag and saved it for later. Before getting into how to winnow the quinoa, I'd like to show you how beautiful quinoa plants are in the summer and autumn. Above, the quinoa plants are the tall orange-red plumes in the middle of the garden. That was how the plants looked in mid August.  Earlier in the summer, the plants were green, as shown below. I love how quinoa changes color as autumn approaches, similar to how leaves on deciduous trees change to vibrant yellow, orange and red.  The garden above also included other vibrant colors, with marigolds, cosmos, zinnia and sunflowe

Everything Survived

The sun is back out and all the snow has melted.  It feels like spring is on its way.  We are relieved to report that everything in the garden survived the cold spell we had last week.  While many areas across the U.S. experienced extreme cold, temperatures here only dipped down to about 27 degrees F during the evenings, which is a lot warmer than had originally been predicted.  I'm pretty sure we might have lost some of the garden if temperatures had gone as low as the teens. Mother Nature was kind to us this time around. We're grateful to still have the winter garden going strong. It's much warmer this week, getting up near 50 degrees. With our home facing the south, the sunshine streams into our windows, allowing us to turn off the pellet stove to take advantage of the natural light warming the house.  Even though it's cold in the morning, I wait to build a fire until later in the afternoon, when the sun has dipped behind the trees and a cold shadow falls on the hous

We Didn't Escape the Polar Vortex

We've been hearing that the Polar Vortex that is impacting the east coast could affect us as well this week, all the way out here in northwest Washington. The Olympic Rain Shadow often protects us from a significant amount of moisture falling, but every once in a while there is enough rain or snow moving through the area that we get hit hard.  Predictions indicated that one inch of snow would fall and that we'd have unusually low temperatures, getting as low as 18 degrees F at night.  The predictions weren't spot on this time around.  Last night and into this morning, four inches of snow accumulated.  So far, the nighttime lows have been easier on us than anticipated, only getting down to the upper 20s. I had to scrape a path out of the hen house this morning to get the birds to come outside.  Miss Prissy Fuzzy Bottom has been the most exuberant of all the birds, standing in the snow so she can gobble up as much of scratch grain and layer pellets as she can. Normally there

Exploring Forks and Rialto Beach

On Sunday we were feeling restless and needed to get out of town, and so we decided to do a little exploring outdoors and take a drive out to see the Sol Duc waterfall. Forty five minutes into the drive, we reached the Sol Duc turnoff from highway 101 and discovered that the road was closed.  Well, that was unfortunate for us, but we were determined to continued on to explore somewhere, and we ended up in Forks where we enjoyed seeing Bella's truck and exploring the Twilight information in the Visitors Center.  At the suggestion of the friendly host in the Visitors Center, we continued on to Rialto Beach.  What a beautiful place!  I thought I'd share a few of our photos.  Rialto Beach, and Forks for that matter, are definitely worth the drive.   As soon as we parked in the beach parking lot, we were amazed at the huge piles of logs that had washed in from high tides.  We were also curious to find that this is a black-sand beach made from volcanic material. On our way back, we s

Will Our Winter Garden Survive?

Our winter garden has been doing really well up until now, but we've had a fairly mild winter to this point.  We could see devastation out there in the garden later this week, though, as we are heading toward nighttime temperatures dipping down into the teens. Ahead of that happening, I wanted to capture "before" photos of the plants in the garden.  Then we can do an "after" comparison once we get through the frigid temperatures.  I'm curious about the hardiness of our cool season crops here in garden zone 8b.  What will survive the multiple nights of lows in the teens, with no row covers to offer protection? I'm hopeful a majority of our cool season crops will make it through the bitter cold. Above is the main portion of our winter garden.  It's looking tidier than ever before.  I've been going out there nearly every day to add more compost and mulch, putting it right into the garden as we have it.  While I'm only spending about 15 minutes e