The Life of Riley Ranch is located outside of Arlington, Washington, toward Granite Falls.
We are at an elevation of just over 700 feet, and get quite a bit more snow than the surrounding areas. The county is building a water tower on our road, as we are one of the highest points in the county, and they want the water tower located here to serve the area surrounding us. We are unsure if we will go onto county water, or stay with the well. We have not had trouble with the well, and prefer the taste, not to mention the price! Our summers here feel short, and don’t seem to get going until well after the 4th of July. Last year, our garden was not the best, as the weather was so poor until nearly August. The corn was a dismal failure!
Unfortunately, we cannot make a living on our small farm, so Doug works full time supporting our family and farm as the Director of IT (CIO) at Skagit Valley Hospital. He is a wonderful boss, and works tirelessly for the organization, even when it is a thankless job, and then comes home to enjoy his family and farm where he can “de-stress”.
We are a family who works hard together, whether it is mucking out stalls, stacking hay, hauling wood, caring for animals, working in the garden, processing milk from the Dairy Goats, or playing badminton or volleyball or Capture the Flag in the woods! We all enjoy music, and are involved with the North County Music Program, where Tina teaches band and choir to about 200 kids, most of whom are homeschooled.
We homeschool here, with the help of DVD’s, family, and a tutor, and really enjoy homeschooling, though it is challenging. We have a pretty rigorous school schedule, and really work hard to stick with it, though farm life does occasionally interfere – but then it is usually a great educational experience, from delivering goat babies to putting out fires to freeing stuck horses to catching pigs in the flower beds to chasing loose cows and then repairing the broken fences!
We are also involved with our church in Granite Falls – Christ’s Community Church. Doug is an elder there, and Tina is involved with children’s ministries. Doug plays piano for Worship Team, Tina and Tami sing, Tiffany sings and plays bass, and our son Dean is lead singer and plays guitar. Our daughter-in-law, Noelle, is the drummer, and Kyleyah runs the sound system and power point. It is a great family opportunity to serve the Lord by serving and leading His people in worship.
Dean and Noelle were recently married, on November 11, 2011.
- We have many animals here on the Life of Riley Ranch. The goats are a big focus here. We are involved in 4H with the goats, and enter several fairs each year, showing the Dairy Goats. Our Dairy Goats are the breed called the Oberhasli. Oberhaslis originate in Switzerland. They are a lovely medium sized goat that are bay colored with black legs, belly, backs, and face markings. Check out our goat page for more details.
- The other animals we have here are the dogs (see dog page), horses (see horse page), cows (see cow page), pigs (see pig page), farm cats, 2 ducks, occasional turkeys, and chickens.
- We also have deer come through here often, and a cougar was here years ago. Bear scat has been spotted on the road, too! We try to limit the rat and raccoon population when possible, as they eat up or spoil our farm feed quicker than you would think.
- Each year we put in a large garden. We try to put it in the first week or two of May, but the weather does not always cooperate! We plant corn, carrots, lettuce (head and leaf), radishes, LOTS of beans and LOTS of potatoes, onions, zucchini, cucumber, pumpkins, and the occasional sunflowers. Grandpa, who is the Master Gardener around here, plants and grows tomatoes in the hot house, as in this part of the country we don’t have much luck with them outside.
- We do the planting as a family, and Doug tries to do most of the heavy plowing/tilling of the garden and does some weeding when he can. Grandpa Riley does most of the weeding, though we are having the girls help with more and more of that. I (Tina) can or freeze as much produce as I can, and Grandma Riley does a large amount of the canning, too.
- We have a small orchard with about 10 apples trees, a cherry tree, 4 or 5 pear trees, and this year we are adding 2 peach trees that are supposed to grow well here… we’ll see! We also have 4 or 5 blueberry bushes that bear well, and we will continue adding more blueberry bushes. We have one big boysenberry bush that was transplanted from Great-Grandma Riley’s garden in Idaho! There are a few raspberry bushes in the orchard as well. We enjoy making cider out of our apples and pears using our cider press, can applesauce and pear sauce, and use the berries for jam and snacking.