Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chinook Fish Hatchery

We took the kids out for a church service project 2 weekends back.

It was at a fish hatchery - so that makes it blog-worthy, right?

This hatchery in Chinook, WA was the first one on the west coast - 1890-something. It was in pretty rough shape because of lack of funding.

After 2 hours the 340 or so volunteers wiped the fishrun clean!

It was alot of fun and made a big difference. New smolt are already using it = more fish (fishing!) to come!

Nerd Nodes

Ok, this one is kinda nerdy, but it has been fun.

In July some of us got our HAM license (Tech level) and with a new TNC modem, I've been goofing around with Airmail - a free app to let me send/receive email with my handheld.

The radio is on the right, TNC under the laptop. Email on the screen.

Pretty cool.

Last Bit of Fishing

As good as salmon fishing has been, we never quite got enough.

Last day of the regular season was a good day - trolling we picked up a really nice steelhead.

A big silver (coho) was also a bonus, and finally this fat chinooky.

This year was all about new colors - new lures and colors never tried before all did well!

Fish-n-Game openned up the lower Columbia for an extra weekend, and we got a nice afternoon on the river. Alot of fish caught, and we got 2 nice ones, too!

Nice, peaceful, fun day to wrap it all up. Peaceful until we went to the boat launch, but we knew that was coming.

Fish on!

Hornet Trap

Skinning fish or canning fruit brings in the hornets - bad!

So, a simple trap we use is easy to make and works great.

Over a 5gal bucket, we hang scraps - fish skin works best.

At the bottom of the bucket is water, with a bit of dish soap in it.

The greedy buggers load up on food, and often drop into the water where they quickly drown.

After just an hour or so, the bucket starts to make a dent on the pests.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Canning Season

When it rains, it pours.

We got a BIG order of produce in from Tri-cities... peaches, pears, tomatoes, peppers, apples, etc.

Just as we started in on it all, the grapes rippened!

Yeah! You can see that many of them split open in the recent rains. Hornets have been thick, too - time to juice them!

The outdoor propane stove is a huge help - extra burners and it keeps the heat and steam outside.

We put out a hornet trap while picking the grapes to keep the pests down.

It worked great. The hornets were so 'drugged' on sugar, they were quite docile.

Alot of the corn from the garden ripened this week, too.

We picked and blanched more than 100 ears, and froze them whole.

Lots of tomatoe soup, salsa, and other pastes were produced and canned.

Six boxes of peaches we bottled and dried.

Very good peaches this year again.

Here's a new one for us - roasted tomatoes.

These are the big 'hit' of the year - blended up or just added on top of everything.

Seasoned and heavy garlic. The whole house smells great!

We eventually tired of the rotten fish smell, and turned on the 'other' hornet deterrent.

Fun to hear the zapper go off periodically...

Very busy around the place... and we always swear off ever canning this much again, until we spend the year eating so well, and then it is all worth the 2 weeks of crazy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Solar Power Revisited

Last year we built a custom circuit to charge a car battery off a small solar panel we had.

It worked fine, but consumed alot of power itself.

Now we have simplified the entire circuit with just a by-pass diode: it allows power to flow to the battery from the solar panel, but prevents power travelling from the battery to the panel at night or low-light.

It is working well.

Soon we'll rig the solar panel (in the window) outside and angled for best light in the day.

The battery (for the backhoe) trickle-charges, and also powers our lighting in the garden house at night.

Works great, and simple... the way we like it.

Drain Water Storage

In prep for putting up a retaining wall back by the boat house, we wanted to do something to collect (and use) all the rainwater.

So, using 2" PVC (soon to be replaced by ABS) we made a simple fitting to capture the rain off the roof, and pipe it underground into a fish trough.

A simple reducer moves the rainwater into a 1/2" poly pipe we buried to keep it out-of-sight.

Remember our potatoe-digging crew? Yep, he's also an A-1 irrigation pipe digger.

The poly pipe travels a few feet back to empty into the trough.

Works nice and easy.

A few weeks ago we buried drip-lines to the berries and trees, and we will soon tap into the trough with some valves to feed those lines off the trough.

The goal is simple - automate the collection and distribution of rainwater as easy and sightly as possible.

Misc Winterizing for Rain

We sealed alot of asphalt cracks this week, in prep for the eventual rains...

but who wants to read a blog about asphalt cracks?

Here's a better project - hammering arrow heads from nails.

The boys have quiver fulls of arrows, and have been experimenting with flint, shale, and now iron for arrowheads.

Simple to do with a hammer, anvil or hard metal surface, and teenage energy.

They fly well, too.

Garden Update - Beans, Potatoes, and Grapes

The hot temperatures lately have signaled its time to pick the dry beans.

Most of them are dried nicely.

Last year when the dried ones got wet, they started to sprout, so we picked after several days of dry heat.

These were fun for picking.

In a few weeks they will dry and split open, spilling the beans.

Many of the potatoe plants were ready to harvest, since some of the spuds had started to "emerge."

We have a great spud-picking crew this year.

We harvested 8 of our plants (the ones needing immediate attention) and ended with 46 lbs of nice spuds.

We will wait for the rest of the crew to be out-of-school to dig the rest, so they can have some of the fun.

This week many of the first grapes are sweet!

It will probably be another 2 weeks before we start to pick them so more are ready, but we are all getting excited.

Mom also started ordering installments of the canning foods.

Only a few boxes of peaches, pears, and tomatoes this week so we can pace ourselves!

While we are talking grapes - back early in August we had to prune many of the vines back to keep the cranberries from being overrun... and we attempted to create new vines.

Some of them took! We had alot of success after potting them by keeping them in the bucket with at least 1/2 inch of water at the base - these new starts have vigorous roots already.

What is really interesting is that these vines, clipped from the base growth, first put our new baby grapes before putting out new leaves - just like the new growth on the existing vines.

I expect these vines will be much more robust and productive than the vine starts we created from "end-clippings".

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fall Chinook 2011: Salmon Smack

Fall fishing this year turned out great. We only fished 5 days this year, but they were fun and action-packed.

Though you can't tell by the sleeping crew...

Pikeminnow fishing also turned out good, though very few of the fish were long enough to be "money fish".

Oh well, there were lots of them and it kept the kids busy at slack tide.

Beach combing was good, though alot more folks camping on the island this year cut back on the good haul.

Nice candle...

The boys had kayaks this year to play with, and put them to good use.

Then of course there was the fishing - it was great!

We limited out almost every day, with nice sized fish.

Every one of our fish had heavy gill net scars...

As usual there were alot of close calls with folks messing up anchoring, pulling their anchors into others, etc.

Not as many boaters this year playing chicken with the big boats... like this dude.

That is WAY too close to stay on anchor! All for a spot... not even a fish!

The usual lures didn't work as well as expected, but we quickly found some that did.

Blues were much better for us this year than in the past.

This one in particular really earned its keep!

Boys don't mind lifting heavy objects alot when they are fish!

Many of our fish were at or near 30 lbs.

The kids caught so many, even Dad got to reel a few in!

It was very fun with the boys running the boat and netting fish more this year.

The crew is really getting the hang of things.

Weather was beautiful for the week we camped. Calm winds and clear skys in the night and AM were new this year, too.

Usually it is cloudy and cold until the sun comes out at noon.

Mosquitoes were a bit more of a problem, and of course hornets.

The hot summer sun felt good - recharging the vitamin D to get ready for back-to-school.

This last picture shows the fire smoke from the central Oregon fires, pulled up into the Columbia River Gorge.

A nice, calm evening to close the year's fall fishing.

Deschutes River Rafting!

We hit the Deschutes River again above Maupin for another annual trip. The same old veterans were there, along with some newbies!

The weather was great, the river was fast.

With 5 vessels there was plenty of water fights this year.

Those bailing buckets sure came in handy!

We rode the White River shutes again, too.

Alot of drunks and rowdy folks on the river this year. Not as family friendly as years past... maybe because of the fires?

The overlook on the White River was hot and sunny.

This year we only rafted the 1 time, and then drove back to the Mt Hood area so we could camp with a fire.

The Bear Creek Campground was basic, and too close to the highway, but it worked out fine for one night.

We also stopped by Timberline Lodge on our drive back to PDX area. It was beautiful up on top - out of the fog bank.

Rafting the high desert one day, playing in snow the next.

Great fun in the Pacific Northwest.

We stopped by "Calamity Janes" on the drive back too, and enjoyed milk shakes and their ceiling 'art'.

The almond roca shake was awesome, and everyone liked the cinnamon, rootbeer, and raspberry ones, too!

Another great trip.