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Portland At Last

(Photo: Dry Creek Falls)

8/18-8/28

I arrived in Corbett, Oregon on Sunday evening; its a picturesque sleepy farm town about twenty minutes west of Portland right off the Columbia River. Its part of the Columbia River Gorge which has endless hiking trails, waterfalls, the Pacific Crest Trail and Bridge of the Gods, which was featured in the movie Wild. Its an outdoor mecca flocked by many Portland residents each weekend. And it was my privilege to stay at the Kadinky farm for my last woofing destination before heading back east. It wasn’t’ the largest farm I stayed on, but they did have the largest cultivated acreage to maintain in comparison to the other homestead farms I worked on. Its been said that the work is never done on a farm, but I would add that the work is rewarding giving a farmer renewed purpose every day.

When I arrived, I was welcomed by Susan, Janet and their son Jude. They gave me the tour of the farm which included a barn with a kitchen attached (for me to use), a fenced in chicken coop (the ladies weren’t laying eggs just yet) and three patches of garden. The main one was on the hill below the barn and used to be full of produce for Janette’s restaurant. While I was there only a portion of it was being used for personal consumption and the rest of the plot was fallow. They had kale, swiss chard, cucumbers, zucchini and other veggies along with dill growing next to giant sunflowers. The second garden was a decent sized pumpkin patch further down the hill. The third garden contained rows of beautiful flowers; Susan collected and dried flowers for decorating wreaths. They also had a sizable green house with more edible plants, a lush garden next to their house with grapes, roses and apples, and a patch of Oregon (non edible) natives. The untouched areas of the farm were full of blackberries just coming into season, ripe and ready for the picking. I was encouraged to eat as many as I wanted and to harvest and eat anything I’d like from the garden. It was a vegan dream!

They showed me the area on the far side of the farm where I could set up camp in a clearing near the outdoor bathroom. I picked a spot under a tree mostly surrounded by blackberry bushes. I ate some every day, and they are by far the best I have ever had! The outdoor bathroom was still a work in progress as the sink didn’t function yet and I think they had plans for a roof which wasn’t on it yet. It had barnyard wood walls and rubber mats on the floor, which kept most of the dirt off. And it had a compost-able toilet for solids only; I was given permission to pee anywhere I found privacy (I had my spots). The shower had black hoses leading to it which were coiled in full sun, so the water was supposed to be warm. But the reality was that it was cold for the first two seconds before it was completely freezing. They offered for me to shower inside as an alternative; but I only took them up on it twice, once was on a rainy cold day, and the other was when they hosted a group of campers on the property. Otherwise I showered in the late afternoon when the sun was beaming right onto me. The cold water was still shocking, but glorious. Have I mentioned that I love outdoor showers? I could see Mt. Hood from the bathroom and gaze out onto the neighboring flowering fields in absolute privacy.

Janet and Susan worked in Portland most days. Janet’s restaurant is in really cool part of North East Portland on Alberta St., and Susan is a school teacher. Jude was four and went to preschool. I worked most days with Charlie who also lived on the property. Our first project was to create extra insulation for his A-frame house against the heavy winter winds that blow up through his floor boards. With Charlie’s father’s help and direction we positioned twenty-eight cement blocks along the structure, filled them with earth, sealed up the cracks with insulation and laid grasses over top.

We also worked on projects in the garden. We spent several days weeding in the main garden and the native patch. We harvested and blanched broccoli for freezing. We prepped the soil of another bed clearing it of weeds and planted root vegetables. We also cleared out a portion of an old chicken run full of wild growth more than six feet high. Thats where I got burdock in my hair, right at the top of my head! Even with some help, I still needed to rip out a whole clump of hair to get rid of those nasty buggers. Now I have bangs, and I opted to wear a hat each day after that.

Charlie taught me about different plant families and new techniques for mulching, harvesting and planting. He was a delight to work with; he’s a gentle soul, a hard worker and an artist. We exchanged life stories over glove-fulls of weeds and hoisted heavy wheel-barrels full up and down the hill. It was daily exercise just going up that hill to the kitchen barn. It was exhausting at times, but I loved it.

On the weekend, Charlie joined Anuk and I on a hike to Dry Creek Falls which weaves along a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Sadly many of the trails in the area were still closed from the devastating fire that destroyed much of the wilderness two years prior and even forced the Kadinky Farm to evacuate. Jude still spoke fearfully about fires. Anuk handled the the five or so miles like a pro! Then we grabbed lunch at a brewery in Hood River which is a cute dog friendly town along the Columbia River.

My days flew by, and my evenings were quiet. One of my goals for this trip was to finally visit Portland, which I did a few times. I spent time on Alberta Street and Mississippi Avenue, both great areas for shopping, dining and walking around. I even went to the REI downtown which was a nightmare in traffic, but Anuk had popped my air pillow so I made the heroic journey into the most crowded REI I had ever seen! Then that night Anuk popped my air pad; I was frustrated to say the least. I ended up sleeping on the ground for a few nights before I ordered a mat that she couldn’t pop, which I picked up from an REI south of Portland. Portland is a great city, full of clever and creative people, who are open-minded and chill, with amazing food, stellar breweries and friendly people. And before I knew it, it was time to leave again.

Highlights:
Fresh blackberries and produce every day
Outdoor shower
The time and space to play with Anuk each day
Hiking in the Columbia River Gorge
Great vegan options in Portland
How green everything is

Lowlights:
Anuk popping my camping gear

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