Vol. 13, No. 3




Sharing Skills and Fun: Homesteading Fair
Schilling Road Fire Hall Update
Thank You...
The Good News Is…
Goodbye To The Neths
Klickitat County/High Prairie Fair Report
Name That Animal
Weasels Galore
Fire Lines: Seeking High Prairie Heroes
Wood Cutting
Ups and Downs On High Prairie
Help Home At Last
High Prairie Harvest Picnic


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Fern Johnson

It’s time once again for the Northwest Homesteading Fair, brought to you by High Prairie’s own Fern Johnson and Amanda Richards. Mark your calenders for Saturday, September 21st! Don’t miss this free day of workshops, food, and fun family activities, from 9 to 6 at the Lyle Greenspace and Activity Center.

The Fair features many High Prairie residents!

Ilya Perry will be leading a workshop for parents who would like to learn more about Homeschooling. She will share her own experiences and decision to homeschool and address common concerns that families have about Homeschooling. She will be available to answer specific questions and share resources as well.

Debbie MacDonald will be sharing her many years’ experience growing and preserving garlic. She will be giving a presentation on her own farm and will discuss varietal selection, soil and nutrient requirements, harvesting techniques, year-round storage, and preservation methods. Come learn to grow your best garlic ever!

High Prairie’s own famous bratwurst maker, Myrin Bentz, will be demonstrating how to make your own sausage! Myrin welcomes all ages to join him as he shows you how to mix in your seasonings, stuff your casings, and prepare your sausages for the smokehouse.

Terry Hess will be sharing his wonderful Pioneer Living hands-on children’s museum again this year too! If you haven’t visited this before, it is a real treat for all ages. Old-fashioned games and toys to play with, history boards to read and explore, grain to grind, gold to find, and fun to be had for the whole family. We found teens really liked to try their hand at the blacksmith puzzles!

And the High Prairie Fire Department will be visiting! Bring the kids down to try the fire hose and knock out the fire.

The Fair is a free family event and we hope to see many members of the High Prairie community in attendance this year. In addition to the offerings of our neighbors, the fair also has alpacas, a goat cart, live music, the Bookmobile, booths for shopping – including antiques and vintage items, free activities for the kids, and much more! Come dance to the Strawberry Mountain Band. RSVP now for the Toe-up Sock Knitting workshop (you only need to know basic knit and purl stitches). The full workshop schedule is posted on the Fair website: http://nwhomesteadingfair.wordpress.com/

The Homesteading Fair is a wonderful community event and is being put on entirely by volunteers. Workshops can be added last minute, as can vendors. If you’d like to share your skill at vermicomposting, pasta making, quilting, sewing, chainsaw sharpening, or such skills you can still sign up. We are not requiring insurance this year, so anyone can vend for only $15—free for workshop leaders. There are lots of other roles for volunteers as well. Just contact Fern or Amanda at 509-637-5465 or nwhomesteadingfair@gmail.com.

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Philip Haner

The High Prairie Fire Commissioners have been putting together the specifications for the new Schilling Road firehouse. We had an extra planning meeting on August 6, and have been making good progress. Our goal is to be able to put the specs out for bids in the next few months.

We are also working on the financing. We have identified several finance options, all involving lots of paperwork and time, but again, we are making progress. The plan is to take out a loan to pay for the building and then use the additional property taxes collected from the levy lid lift approved February 12, 2013, to make the loan payments and maintain both fire stations. The additional property taxes will not be collected until 2014, but the Fire Commissioners hope to get the loan and begin construction as soon as we can.

If anyone has any questions or would like to know more, please come to the Commissioners’ meetings the 3rd Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Struck Road Fire Hall.

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…to our volunteer firefighters who have been putting in extraordinary hours and hard work keeping the area spared from the “out of control” fire danger as we have observed in other areas.  And thank you also to the volunteers who spent a couple days at Florence Johnson’s home, cleaning up all the debris left over from the fire at her home.  She has been very appreciative.

We are all created equal, but only a few become firefighters. —Author unknown

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Instead of a meeting in September, the HPCC is having a PICNIC—on September 22 (see full article).

The other good news is that, as a reward for coming to the HPCC meeting in October (the 24th), there will be FRESH HOMEMADE PUMPKIN PIES. Come and enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie, hang out with your neighbors, and congratulate yourself for caring enough to show up and be part of the planning and decision-making.

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Audrey Bentz

We will miss you, your apple orchard, your leadership on the Schilling Road Fire Station, and all your other areas of participation on High Prairie!

The Neths will be living for a time in The Dalles until their new apartment is completed in Belgrade, MT (near Bozeman). They have sold their beautiful home and property to Glen and Trudy Pritchard from St. Helens, whose daughter and granddaughter will be living with them as well.

Evelyn was guest of honor at a fun going-away party on August 26. Twenty-two women (and two brave men) enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the Cazalet/Stallings home. Pictures of the event follow.

Update to the Neth’s moving saga: The very day that neighbors helped finish packing the moving truck, Evelyn fell and broke her arm and shoulder. The timing couldn’t have been worse! Fred had to drive the truck to Montana, and wasn’t expected to return until September 6. Evelyn had surgery on September 3. She’s doing fine and has been resting at their temporary home in The Dalles, with help from her daughters and members of her church.

Overheard at Evelyn’s farewell party:

One person announced that the Farmers’ Almanac predicts a very cold winter coming up.  Another asked, “Is that why the trees have produced such a huge supply of acorns this summer for the squirrels?” Reply: “Maybe the squirrels are watching to see how much firewood we are stashing, too.”

Someone else related a conversation that went like this: She’d been sharing how she uses the herb marjoram on a certain vegetable for a great taste. A gentleman (a bit hearing challenged) replied “Oh, I much prefer butter to margarine.”

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Audrey Bentz

High Prairie must have been the “wow” for this year’s fair! Take the Perry family for example: All five members (Ilya and Anthony plus their three children) had winning entries of some kind.

The family entered three breeds of turkey, Blue Slate, Bourbon Red and Royal Palm, taking several blue ribbons, and won a Director’s Choice Award for their display of ducks with a pool of water.

Xander got the Rate of Gain award on one of his two lambs.

Quinn had a Grand Champion turkey in his breed, and got a Showmanship award for showing a turkey. Little Farm Poultry on Harms Road bought one of his turkeys at the Market Sale for $210.

Riley got Reserve Champion on Showmanship for her ducks (second to her brother Quinn’s Grand Champion). In Livestock Judging, Riley won the award for Best Judging in her class (which was sponsored by Doug and Dona Taylor; they also bought her lamb).

Loretta Lindsay didn’t show this year, but her granddaughter Desirae showed her goats, getting 7 blue ribbons and 5 class Champions!  And she also was awarded the best meat goat overall.

Then there was Terry Chabbert who broke her previous records in the Still Life categories with 20 blue ribbons, plus two purple, and a reserve class for her quilt.

And finally, Pat Parr also got numerous blue ribbons on her sculpture entries. Her highest award was for a trio of carved musicians (even though one got broken while on display), and also blue ribbons on a clay sculpture of Albert Einstein, a carved replica of a wooden Indian head nickel, and a two-faced cat!

What talent we have here on High Prairie!

Please forgive me for those who did not get reported and for any less-than-accurate reports on the above. Our congratulations to all High Prairians who have participated in the County Fair this year.

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Gwen Berry

Not long ago Damaris Estrada spotted this odd creature walking across her lawn. It was so unusual she got out her cell phone and took a quick snapshot before it left. She reported that it walked across her yard at a moderate gait, not loping like a ferret. It had rather long hair, dark brown on the back and lighter brown on the sides. Her photo shows black hind legs but no other markings. She did not get a look at the face, but the tail was not ringed like a raccoon. It was at least as large as a big cat. They found tracks with with long claws.

She mentioned it to Madelon Taylor, who told Jake Jakabosky, who passed the story and picture on to wildlife biologist Bill Weiler, who passed it on to his “go-to wildlife guru.” Bill and his guru agreed on what it must have been, and then it was obvious from pictures on the internet. Can you guess what it was?

Here’s Damaris’ snapshot:

Unusual animal photo

Here’s a similar one from the internet:


And here’s the answer:


It’s an American Badger!

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Bill Stallings

Our house is a permanent work-in-progress so, of course, we have lumber piles, in various stages of decay (because I do not work quickly), that have become home to an array of critters, from voles and field mice to our little sunny-day lizards.  One woodpile hosts our short-tailed weasel, who every now and then decides to play hide and seek with us, popping up at one end of the pile, then the other, then here, then there, as if he has a notion that since we are too big for dinner, he might as well play with us. We found on the Internet that if winter is snowy enough, his coat turns white but for his black nose and tip of his tail, when he is no longer called a weasel, but an ermine.  We have not seen our ermine yet, I guess because our snows do not last long enough.

A couple of months ago I turned out of our lane onto Schilling Road and as I was cresting the hill by the Honn’s place a big cousin of our little weasel loped across the road in front of me, then sat up on the shoulder to watch me pass. We each got a good look at each other. So upon my return home I hit the Internet and what I saw was a real live dead-ringer for a black-footed ferret. The size was right (about 20”long), the shape was right (same as our weasel), color and markings were right and gait and posture were right.

There are only two problems with my identification:

1)      black-footed ferrets were declared extinct in 1979 (until Lucille Hogg’s dog dropped a dead one at her door in Meeteetse, Wyoming in 1981) and were extinct in the wild from 1987 until captive-bred ones were released 1991–2008;

2)      the closest reintroduced population to us is in north-central Wyoming, about a thousand miles from here.

Then, two days after my ferret sighting, Diane and I were returning home. As we approached the Honn’s place on Schilling Road a big fat cousin of our little weasel loped across the road in front of us and then alongside for a bit. This critter was too chubby to be a ferret, about 30” long with dark red-brown fur. It looked like a fisher to me, but fishers like forests and the Honns’ planted patch of tree-lets hardly qualifies. So we have a pair of mustelid mysteries.

(Editor’s note: For more about fishers on High Prairie, read “Weasel Words,” by Martha Hamil, in the September 2011 edition of the High Prairian.)

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Jake Jakabosky

Fire volunteer posterMeet High Prairie’s own Philip Haner. Married, with two active sons, he has a demanding career as an electronics technician in fisheries research with USGS. Yet he also finds time to play an important role in the safety and security of his neighbors on High Prairie (and beyond). As a volunteer fire captain, Emergency Medical Technician, and Fire District 14 Commissioner, Philip has made the commitment to be there when things get rough and people get hurt, and to keep High Prairie’s fire district running strong. And Philip is just one of several of our neighbors who have sworn to protect the lives and property of others and keep our community safe.

Everyone has made big commitments, to get married, raise a family, buy property, start a career. Each one affects yourself and a number of other people. Choose to become a firefighter and you potentially affect everyone in your community! There are very few jobs that have the same consequences, or the amount of community trust, as firefighting does. You’ll be appreciated in the community as a member of a dedicated, well-trained team ready to respond when need arises, and rewarded with big Thank You’s from the fire, accident and medical victims you’ve helped.

Your High Prairie Fire Department needs you! It needs all kinds of people, men and women, with different abilities and skill levels. You don’t have to be the one that goes into a burning building. Yes, we need able-bodied folks that can pull a hose or climb on a roof. But there are many other essential tasks, both at the hall in preparation for an incident and at the incident itself. You might direct traffic or help move an accident victim, lay out fire tools and regulate water pressure at a fire scene, assist in the rescue of a hiker that has fallen, even set up a landing zone for victim transport by helicopter. You just need the courage and dedication to do the job and a desire to help a person in their time of need.

This is the opportunity to join a great team and help save the property or even the life of one of your neighbors. You will become expertly trained and equipped with the necessary safety clothing and other gear. Opportunities for advanced training as an EMT are available, or you could be “Red Carded,” a certification that allows you to go on State-administered wildfires and get paid. Don’t forget, women make good firefighters, too. The Lyle Fire Department has several highly qualified women on board who respond on High Prairie calls.

The Fire Commissioners and the Fire Chief have done a great job outfitting the Struck Road Fire Hall with outstanding engines and equipment. Now they’re working on plans for a new hall on Shilling Road to cover the east side of the fire district, so new recruits are especially needed from that area to help staff it.

People like Philip Haner are willing to drop everything to come to the aid of their fellow High Prairians when needed. Consider making your own commitment to be there for your community when crisis happens. Why not start on your way to what may be the greatest adventure of your life? Call Jake Jakabosky at at 365-0025 or drop by the Fire Hall at 7 p.m. on the 1st, 2nd or 4th Tuesday of the month.

Check out the inspiring video at the following link: http://www.justbethere.info/.

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A couple of tractors, a UTV, a Toyota pick-up, two wood splitters and a half dozen or so men all squeaking, creaking and groaning as firewood was cut and stacked at the Earl Kemp homeland.

—Ted McKercher

Photos: Doug Taylor

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Audrey Bentz

There will be a memorial service at the Community Center for Paul Henry Parrish, brother of Ben Parrish, at 11 a.m. on September 21. Henry grew up on High Prairie and is remembered by many who have had some history here, and especially for Ben and family.

Martha Hamil, former High Prairie resident, is reportedly doing well after surgery on her lungs. Ruthie Woods and others have been assisting her in her recuperation in her Northwest Portland residence.

A wedding reception for Rachel and Kris Johnson, who now live in Martha’s Oda Knight former residence, was held at their home on August 31. We congratulate them and hope they find continued joy living on “the Prairie!”

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Most of you know I am on the board of Home At Last Humane Society (HAL) in The Dalles and we’ve been busy the last 3 months taking our mobile RV Clinic to various rural areas like Rufus and Odell to do low cost Spay/Neuter & Shot Clinics. Our goal is for one per month during the good weather months. We are currently getting ready to go to Maupin and then Goldendale.

HAL provides many other services for our community as well.   We’ve been involved in several rescues in the surrounding counties, like the Shar Pei rescue near Goldendale, or the Shih Tzus in Sherman County. Another example of how HAL helps the community was the recent fire south of The Dalles when we gave shelter to dozens of dogs and cats displaced by the evacuations and continue to work with owners of lost dogs.

The point is that we need your financial help to continue our mission of offering low cost spay/neuters for dogs and cats and help minimize the overpopulation of unwanted animals. Any money you can contribute would go towards our goal of monthly rural and local Spay/Neuter/Shot Clinics in the greater Columbia River area.

Please help us meet our goal and send a check for $10, $25, $50 or $100. Any monies would greatly help us keep our mobile RV on the ROAD!

Send checks to:

Home At Last
200 River Road
The Dalles, OR   97058

Please stop by the shelter and visit with our Executive Director, Kris Boler, and ask her how you can get involved with HAL!

Thank you,
Andrea Ellingson, HAL Treasurer

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Fun! Games! Food! Music! And More at the
Sunday, September 22

Kelly Blanchard

PicnicThe HPCC will host a High Prairie Community Fall Picnic on Sunday, September 22, from 4–7 p.m. at the High Prairie Community Center at 704 Struck Road. We’ll be putting up the big tent and setting up picnic tables.

Please bring any extras from your fall harvest and a potluck item to share while we enjoy some fun with our neighbors and friends. There will be hot dogs and corn for everyone, as well as an ice cream sundae bar for dessert. A watermelon eating contest and an egg toss will let children and adults show off their country fair skills. : ). Bring musical instruments if you’d like to share your musical talent; otherwise, we will have some sort of tunes playing.

Questions? Ideas? Contact Kelly 415-319-1072 Bonsantelmpwa@gmail.com.

We hope you will join us.

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