If we’re in Dallas, Oregon! Here’s a quick reminder about this house and the pets, so familiar to us by now. During our two stays last year totaling about six weeks there were three cats and one female black Labrador that we came to love.
Since then one of the cats had passed away, one of our very favorites, as much of a character as a cat can be. That meant we had one dog and two cats this time.
This homeowner was going on a four-month trip to Alaska. Since she would be going through some back-country areas, she might be out of touch for days at a time. If anything went wrong with the house during those times, we would be responsible for making the decisions needed.
That sounds obvious, but on almost all of our house sits, there was a way to get in touch with the owner if something awful happened. We try hard to keep things going smoothly on the home front: our specialty is no drama. But anything can happen.
Jim had the first five days here alone as I was still in Lincoln City with five cats. The owner finally made it back to Oregon from her long trip: all was well, and I joined Jim for our second extended house sit.
We’d already been in Oregon for six months and would be there another four! We could probably qualify as residents if we did some paperwork.
Time for Gardening!
Remember all those seeds I planted in Lincoln City? It was finally time to move them into their summer home. That was one of Jim’s initial tasks those first few days – digging up the garden bed and getting it ready for a transplanting session.
As soon as I arrived, I greeted all the pets and spent the next few days planting my seedlings, adding other vegetable seeds and even some potatoes!
The plants at the bottom left are purple beans, the Swiss chard is in the middle, and there are some kohlrabi and basil plants at the top.
I also planted some carrots and sweet peas, but they aren’t up yet. If you look carefully near the bottom right corner, you can see one baby potato plant!
I know it seems pretty bare in this photo, so early in the season. But just wait, good things are on the way!
I put the four zucchini plants in a garden plot away from our bed since they grow into such monsters. I didn’t want them to take over. They are good at that come July.
We were grateful the owner left us a raised bed to work with (she knew how much we liked gardening). How often do house sitters get to grow a garden, start to finish? Since we were already watering every day and tending to the yard, we just added gardening to the list.
Okay, that’s it for the garden for quite a few weeks, we just have to be patient!
Our Old Pal
You remember her, right? Our old friend and still cheerful and sweet as ever. One change with her was that now she slept indoors given her advanced age. That meant she needed to be secured at night, away from the cat food and litter box, as she loved getting into both of those!
She clearly remembered us and was overjoyed to have Jim back. Why? All those long walks through the neighborhood, morning and evening. Whenever we so much as touched her leash, she started spinning with joy, always ready to go, rain or shine.
There are many ways to a dog’s heart: walks, food, grooming, and play. This gal was a little old for playing and didn’t care much about the grooming for groomings’ sake. However, get involved with the walks and food, and you’re her friend for life.
The Big Guy
If you’ve read our posts, you might remember this mighty feline! Twenty pounds of Ragdoll love! It did take him a few days to warm up to us and was soon up to his old tricks.
What are the old tricks, you ask, chewing on his foot out of nervousness for one. Thank goodness, he stopped that soon enough and wanted lots of affection and as much brushing as we would give him.
As with most felines, he loved to recline. Look at him. He often slept like this! He took over a lot of room when he did that, let me tell you!
The Other Feline
This sweet girl behaved decidedly different with the third cat gone. She had been a bit stand-offish last year. Now, she wanted a lot of affection and would follow me around the house telling me to pet her. It was so sweet to see and a nice change for her; I guess sometimes one less cat is better.
Neither cat liked the dog even though she was the sweetest and gentlest creature ever. She would try to get close enough to nuzzle them, and they would just walk away every time.
The Nightly Chase
The cats needed to be brought in at night. At first, it was easy as we’d just call them, and in they came. After about a week, it got more difficult as they would both resist. We began offering a treat, and they would run in when they heard the container shaking.
After a while, that didn’t work, and we’d have to go out after them. The big guy didn’t run away, but we’d have to go pick him up: no resistance, but no cooperation on his part. As for our little friend, well, she’d run and run and just refuse to come in, staying far out of reach.
It was quite the event every night. We eventually got her inside, but it took some doing. We were moving further into the summertime and figured the cats also enjoyed the extra daylight. Who wouldn’t want to hang outdoors?
You Know What Time it Is
Last year we arrived mid-June, and all the berries were ripe. Coming a month earlier meant no ripe berries. I hate waiting, especially for my favorite things like fresh berries! I watered and checked on them every day, and it was fun to watch the daily changes.
There were only two blueberry plants here, but it’s still terrific: two is way more than we’d ever been around, which was none.
The newest addition to the berry family – Marionberry plants. Never heard of them? Neither had we until we came to Oregon. They were developed nearby and are a cross between at least two types of blackberries.
Since Oregon State University, just south of Dallas, had a large hand in their creation, the berries get the name of the County – Marion. There’s your horticultural lesson for the day.
These plants have the longest tendrils and could easily grow up the side of a house, seriously. The thorns are very prickly though and hurt! Berries usually grow thorns for defense, but these were more like offensive weapons. There weren’t any ripe yet, but they were coming along.
If you’ve read all our posts, you should know what the photo above is, right?
The Raspberry Wall!
My absolute favorite part of staying at this house aside from the animals! As with the other berries, they weren’t ripe when we arrived. As you can see, they start out a bland white color, rather unattractive really, and don’t turn red until they get a lot more sun!
Though the growing season in Oregon is short – by our Southern California standards – it is intense. Daylight comes early, well before 5 am, and stays around until nearly 10 pm. That’s a lot of sunlight, and the berries loved it. The photo below was taken at 5:00 am!
Yup, still working on it. We retrieved a lot more of our stuff that we were storing up in Portland at Jim’s son’s house. We still had enough to fill two cars and began again trying to whittle away at it. Our goal was to get down to one car full by the time we left in September. Goodwill, here we come!
We noticed that as we get rid of more and more belongings, we want to get rid of even more. It turns into a contest, at least in my head – just how much do we need, what else can we do without, why do we have so much stuff!
A Wonderful Trail
The trail near the house is just what you might come up with if you got to design it yourself, especially for walking a mature dog on summer evenings.
It was long enough to get a good walk in, quiet enough to hear a stream gurgling along nearby, shady enough to get out of the summer sun, curvy and flat, passing by enormous trees and colorful vines, and most of the time you could have it all to yourself.
With a Wonderful Dog
Once you have the perfect trail, you might as well have the perfect dog to walk with you. We had just the girl for that: always to the left, never tugging on the leash. She came to walk and walk she did – no sniffing at every tree, no wandering around. Walk. The faster, the better.
Her one unusual trait? If another dog passed us, going the other way, she would turn her head back for a look, always walking forward. She would do that several times on each side. Maybe out of concern, fear, possible friendship, or just to keep tabs? We weren’t sure. Soon enough, the attention was all straight ahead. Exquisitely trained this one was. Walks were a pure joy.
As you can tell from the photo above, we got rain quite a bit during the first weeks of our stay. Last year, we arrived after the rain had come and gone, right in time for the hottest summer in years. This summer was much milder, and a little wetter. More typical for the area, or so we heard from the locals.
It was splendid to be back at this house and for such a long stretch of time. We both loved the house, the pets, the neighbors, the yard and gardening work.
It was great to slip right back into familiar routines with the animals and feel so comfortable in the house. As the homeowner once said, it’s our second home! It sure felt like it by now.
What’s Next – A few adventures
You know you want to!