New Arrivals: Outbuildings Bountiful

Mule Springs Wood Shed and Outhouse.

December 8, 2011, 30 degrees, fog beginning to lift, and it’s calm.  Spider threads, silken frosted strands, hang from lichen-crusted white oak branches, and Western scrub -jay fluffs in the pale winter sun.  –Mule Springs Birding Journal


New Arrivals: Outbuildings Bountiful


Workers hustle to get the buildings around the barn completed before the weather turns and the holidays arrive.  This Friday will be our workers’ last day until the Christmas season is over.

Beginnings of pigeon loft and chicken coop.


By now The Dalles should have experienced wind, rain, and snow, but fall has extended its normal reach.  Though we’ve had some fog and hoarfrost our days are rain-free.  Neighbors seem a little less pleased than I am about winter’s late arrival.  Those that cultivate vineyards and orchards say it has been “too dry.”


The fair weather has allowed the builders to finish the pigeon loft, chicken coop, wood shed, and an outhouse.

View of pigeon loft and the aviary--note-- built to look old as dirt.


The pigeon loft and chicken coop are in a building divided from each other by a wall.  The chicken coop will not be done inside until the spring, but the pigeon loft, and the aviary is bird-ready.


Keeping in step with our progress- packed style, I made sure birds arrived the day the loft was ready.


On Monday four aerial performance pigeons, known as oriental rollers, were carefully placed into a special air travel box, and shipped overnight from Grand Rapids, Michigan to The Dalles.  Oriental Rollers have a distinct flying style: they “show a variety of different figures in the air” “single. . . [and] double summersaults, rolling. . . . , rotation with open wings,” free fall glides, and “nose dives.”  These birds are terrific fun to watch as they perform in the air.  Plus their lively personalities and color varieties make them a pleasure to raise and work with around the loft.

An almond colored oriental roller flies out of the shipping box--wings awhirl-- a taste of acrobatics to come.
Marveling over this tame and beautiful black oriental roller pigeon.


Though not as exciting, but certainly useful, the woodshed provides shelter for rows of stacked wood, and the wood will fuel a small stove in the tack room and another small stove in the sleeping loft inside the barn.  Most of the woodshed is made from the old farmhouse floor and other materials lying around the barnyard.


Since the new house is not built yet, we will need an outside privy. The outhouse is connected to the woodshed, and the compartment is well insulated, has a great view of the lower pastures, and will have a comfortable, though unheated, toilet seat.  Still, I’m not sure everyone in my family will use it.  My mother grew up in rural West Virginia where outhouses were fairly common.  She left the country, in part, so that she and her kids could have modern conveniences, so as you might imagine she wasn’t overjoyed when I told her our new farm was going to have an outhouse.


Author’s Note:  I haven’t been able to keep up with weekly postings recently, because of all the added activities and duties associated with the holiday season.  I may post short pieces during the next few weeks, but plan on getting back on track after the holidays are over. Wishing everyone a happy holiday season and a Happy New Year. 


What would you like for Christmas?  If you could give a gift to the world this season what would it be?  Describe a traditional holiday meal you share with your family. 


Our traditional meal: roasted prime rib of beef, garlic mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, green vegetable, salad, and Margaret Atwood’s lemon custard cake for dessert. 


16 thoughts on “New Arrivals: Outbuildings Bountiful

  1. Can I come for Christmas Dinner!!! All my fav’s!! 🙂 I will be making probably the same except for the dessert, sounds amazing though!! For Christmas I would like Peace…Peace of course between nations but also within families, wouldnt it be amazing for one beautiful day we all could come together in this world and truly have complete peace..That is my wish for Christmas.

    I wish for you and Bruce and all your families a beautiful loving Christmas and a very Happy New Year!! Thank you for sharing your spectacular posts and updates with us!! I so enjoy reading and seeing the progress!!
    Mary Moyer

  2. Speaking of families!! My dad is 92 years young today and going strong!!! Happy Birthday William (Bill) Miller Brown!!

    1. 92 that is something to celebrate. Wonderful. I hope you enjoy time together over the holidays. We will get some time with Bruce’s mom who is an amazing 99 and going strong too. I really appreciate older folks. Libby laughs all the time and says the neatest things. Happy New Year too.

  3. The fact that you have your pigeons again brings a smile to my face.

    I can appreciate your new outhouse. A pleasant view from one’s privy is essential. 🙂
    Our outhouse in Vallenar has a dutch door that looks out on the bay, a corrugated, plastic roof, and a sweet toilet seat with fishing flies embedded in it. To top it off, I decorated the interior with old style metal signs. Makes going potty so much more thrilling!

    My wish for the world this holiday is mental and physical health.

    Our traditional holiday meal occurs on Christmas Eve. We invite friends, and family to celebrate with us. After dinner we have a fire outside, and then inside for games, and conversation, and dessert.

    I hope this holiday is full of what your heart desires most.

    All my best,


    1. Thanks Ardy– wish you could see the fliers. I forgot you are part of the “I have an outhouse” club!
      Your celebration sounds wonderful. Enjoy your meal and time with friends and family. We will too. Sher

  4. Pigeons, huh? I know little about them. I know people do keep them in South Africa, but mainly for racing, I think. What prompted you to get some?
    Our Christmas lunch will be roast chicken, maybe a cooked tongue, maybe a gammon too (I’m visiting family in another province, and not part or party to the preparations); roast potatoes, veg.
    Traditional Christmas pudding – the steam pudding bursting with fruit (but we don’t make them, these days we buy them from Woolworths, so much easier and just as delicious) probably ice-cream, and custard; maybe a trifle or a fruit salad as well. Way too much food, but Christmas does come only once a year …. just as well!

    1. Alison-Thanks for sharing what will comprise your meal. It sounds wonderful and so different — I have never had tongue even though it might have been a menu in my mom’s rural West Virginia family, and I don’t know what gammon is. Is Christmas pudding a British tradition? I’ve also never had a pudding but would enjoy trying all these new delicacies. Also have never done a lunch for Christmas. A nice idea to get everyone back home before the roads freeze up — just kidding, I know you won’t have any frozen roads.

      I am back into pigeons. I had four lofts in Alaska and 32 birds. I had to give them all away when we moved to Oregon, because I was not coming to a situation where I could keep birds, and we were so unsure of what was in the future. We did not know about Mule Springs. I kept a tumbling breed, oriental rollers, and homing pigeons. I loved keeping birds, and, so I am happy to begin again. They are marvelous creatures– much to know and to appreciate about them.

  5. these buildings are just perfect! i still love outhouses. when i lived in eureka montana many years ago, most folks around those parts didn’t have indoor privies.
    the views were spectacular and even though the nights were bitter cold- wow! the stars! good times good times -haha.
    so what i want for Christmas, is to hear you sing ‘ sweet fern’
    and what i would give the world is ‘ a sense of gratitude’

    our family tradition is a Christmas eve smorgasboard of meats, cheeses, shrimp, breads and crackers and assorted sweets. we open prezzies in front of the fireplace and play games afterward.
    in the morning i roast a ham and cook up piles of eggy bread. saddled with real maple syrup, strawberries from last summer’s harvest and whipped cream.
    of course there are pots of coffee and jugs of orange juice to swill it all down with. heheh.mmmm. can’t wait.
    God Bless you and your family with peace and good cheer during these holidays of holidays.

    1. Hi Gigi
      I had forgotten about Sweet Fern! We must revive it. I am glad I asked about what your meal is like and your tradition. Your Christmas Eve smorgasboard is such a neat idea. And, I love the idea of Christmas breakfast– wow, that sounds so good. Just wonderful. See you real soon. And a joyous bright holiday to you!

  6. Peace and good will to all people… A pipe dream, but still a wish.

    Thank you for your stories and pictures over this past year. It was great to visit your establishment and see your progress a couple of weeks ago. Glad to see those birds congregating in their new home. Look forward to when you get those donkeys so they can pack the load while we wander around the surrounding hills.

  7. Nice progress on your place. I know you’re happy about having birds again! My holiday meal…you should know. You have been the chef for the last few years. I miss the prime rib…I had Rudy & Mary’s lasagna this year, yum! Hope your holidays are full of joy, peace, and tunes!

    1. Thanks Terry; I thought of you last night as we sat down to our meal. Teal and Jamey came and Libby too. Eight pound prime rib and that wonderful lemon souffle you love so much. Rudy and Mary’s lasagna was much missed though. They are great cooks!
      You remember how things were last year though– I am so glad not to be in the ER again….
      Yes, I am really delighted to have a few birds again. It will be a different experience flying them here in Oregon. Raptors galore whereas I didn’t have to worry much about this in Alaska. So, we will see how it goes. Happy New Year and thanks for reading. 🙂 Sher

  8. This was a lovely insight into the huge amount of work you are doing on your new farm. It is so interesting!

    Probably a silly question, but I know nothing about birds: How do you make sure that your new pigeons return to the aviary, and that they do not fly back to where they came from??

    1. That’s a great question Reggie! Right now the birds are sitting on a nest in the loft. The eggs they are sitting on are fake, but when spring comes, I will allow them to sit on their own eggs, and when babies hatch, and they have raised some young at my loft, they will be bonded to my loft. So, when they fly out, they will want to come back to their new home where they have a nest and have raised young.

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