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Killin Wetlands Farm

USA | Thursday, 29 May 2008 | Views [589]

After Kings Valley we headed for Banks, Oregon where we were going to stay with TJ, who we'd only just met a few days earlier, but as it turned out that's the direction we were driving and she was just so nice and invited us. She may have been joking but we took her literally and off we drove to Banks, getting there on Thurs 29th May. Banks is a tiny little town with not much going on, but it's in a beautiful area with a lot of character. TJ, Marilyn and John greeted us warmly and made us feel so welcome in their home. Renault was also staying their whcih was cool- it's always fun to have a Frenchy around. TJ, being the generous girl she is, gave Jo and I her room while she slept in the wool shed outside- a room she swore she preferred, despite the cold. I felt so guilty, but loved loved loved having another comfortable bed and a room to myself!
Killin Wetlands is the name of their farm, a sheep farm with probably 20 odd sheep, plus a few adorable lambs. They have about 20 acres but only 4 have been cleared for their home and farm, the rest was wild forest, very green, very beautiful, with a river running through it. Their home has such a peaceful feel about it. John, being an architect built their home, and it was amazing. Marilyn was director of the child care centre for Nike- they have a huge office just nearby- we heard it's like a little city with fort walls and all! And TJ is an incredible girl, so kind hearted and in tune with nature. She would just walk through the woods and collect wild plants for the salad for dinner- this is something I wish I could do so I vowed to learn more about edible plants when I get home. Australian plants seem to be so different to those in the US though, everything in the US seems to be edible!
It seemed like multicultural week in the Harrison household with a traditional french meal one night, then what we called 'Australian cuisine' the next and a traditional Sunday roast with one of their lambs on the menu- delicious! We worked on a nearby organic farm that TJ volunteers at, just around the corner. Greg ran the farm which was on land owned by Dianne and her mother Jean. While there we got to shovel mule poo, and lots of it!, fertilise and plant rockmelon seedlings, make rope from twisting yarn, weed (a never ending garden job),feast on the magnificent lunches provided, drink beer and have fun in the sunny afternoons. Greg was an awesome guy- told us lots of crazy stories about when he lived in Alaska and got us really pumped for our trip there. He made us swear to send him a postcard from 'The Salty Dawg' an infamous pub on The Spit in Homer.
We checked out Portland while at TJ's as well as it was less than an hour away. Portland is a cool city, kind of similar to San Fran in feel. Not like the typicsal US cities full of chains, fast food and everything being so huge! Portland has lots of character, individualism, and has a hippy arty feel. It's also a uni town and they're always winners. We crashed TJ's brother's birthday drinks at a microbrewery and then checked out what was going on in town. We went to the markets, looked at the rose festival parade floats, visited Powells book store and the city library. Then we met up with TJ's friend Emily again and headed to a bar for a drink or two then this awesome Cuban restaurant for dinner where just about everyone at the table spoke Spansih and I feel incredibly uncultured. Great food, music and decor though!
One of the most significant learnings on my travels to date was at Killin Wetlands when Marilyn took Renault and I on a arts day in her home. She showed us how to card wool that they shear from their sheep, and told us the process of cleaning the wool. Then she showed us how to prepare that carded wool for spinning, then we learnt how to spin! Spinning is not to be underestimated as just something little old grannies do- I love it! I'm not so crash hot at the drop spindle but give me a spinning wheel and a glass of vino and I'm happy girl! Renault and I also learnt how to knit but I think I am still learning that even now. Poor Marilyn never got a chance to sit at her spinning wheel with me in the house- it's just so relaxing and soothing. This is a learning I am very grateful to Marilyn for- she was such a wonderful teacher and I think she appreciated Reanult's and my interest in it. She's since bought another spinning wheel so next time visitors drop in and steal her wheel for a week they can do dome spinning together. We all made felt wool balls as well, so we learnt the process of felting; warm water, soap and agitation- that's about it!
A sad thing happened one day we were there though. One of their sheep died- Molly. It was a really sad time, Molly had a difficult birth so Marilyn and John had intervened and thus were very close to her during her life. They found her lying dead one morning- Jo and I think it had something to do with how big her gut was- she was as wide as she was tall- it didn't look healthy- but we don't really know much about sheep. Even John had to fly out of town for a couple days for work so we couldn't even bury her immediately because we needed the tractor- which only John drove. Then the rain started. It rained for a couple days and John's flight was delayed a day. So, one day, with no other option, Marilyn went out to start digging a hole in the mud when she got home from work. Joe and I went to help. Skunk plants, bugs, mud and a smelling sheep. It was pretty gross- and the mud was so heavy. But we did it. It was horrible dragging Molly into the hole- an awful smell. And then Marilyn tried to burst her stomach which was grotesquely distended- but the pick did not pierce her stomach so we just threw mud back on top of her, all the while listening to the horrible airy sound in her stomach as the mud bounced off. Gross huh? But we did it and Molly was now resting- I think it made Marilyn feel a whole lot better- no need to worry about coyotes getting her anymore.
Our time at Killin Wetlands was memorable- a beautiful home- TJ was building an empire of a garden which drove my desire for my own garden even more. The Harrison's are a wonderful family we were so happy to have met. We were there a week and then it was time to move on again.

Tags: banks, oregon, sheep, spinning, wool, wwoofing


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