Friday, March 14, 2014

Shovel Ready

Hello Dear Friend –

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ~!  As my friend Miriam says ~ “He will lead us in this world and eventually out of this world if we let Him.

It has been nearly a month (-/+) since I have checked in with you.  I’m still here.  This winter has been long, and the cold weather here in northern lower Michigan is hanging on with a firm grip. 

Yes, we are shovel ready – we carry a shovel everywhere – outhouse/dog yard/our foot trail into the cabin/everywhere there is snow.

Speaking of the cabin.  We still have 4 dogs in our 15 x 20 cabin, having morphed into a routine of “in and out” for the two who need to still be tethered just outside the cabin door.  The other two are collar-less and stay put on our main core of our 40 acres.  I had to laugh today after lunch when hubby Russ headed out into our woods hauling a bright green plastic sled to haul back a load of nice Maple hardwood from a dead tree he downed earlier in the week.   While Russ headed out on the firm 4’ of snow base, our large smoke-colored wolfy dog, Mordecai, stretched out his large body by the woodstove, sighing a deep sigh of contentment as Russ clicked the cabin door shut upon his departure.  Mordecai’s harness hangs in the feed room, unused.  Meanwhile, Russ will haul sled after sled full of wood throughout the afternoon into evening.  Oh well, perhaps next year the dogs will be put to work full time. 

There has been a few respites of warmth (above 20 degrees) among the frigid temps.  On those days, my spirits soar.  It’s not only me.  On the first bright sunshine warmed day, baby bunnies spilled out from under our cabin, hopping about under our window and tree feeders.  At least once a day I take yellow dried corn cobs and toss them down the snowy “rabbit hole” that burrows under our cabin.  I just hope it doesn’t entice a skunk to take up residence, as has happened in the past.  Skunks are brutal to rabbit kits.  Pure savages.

It amazes me how our free-ranging rabbits have bunnies year ‘round.  On one below zero morning I went into our feed shed to get a flake of hay for a dog I had moved in the dog yard.  Upon lifting the hay flake from the bale, I discovered a “bunny nest” full of newborn kits.  I gasped and quickly covered the rabbit hair-lined swarm.  I was saddened knowing the temps in the next days would plunge to –30, with little chance of survival for the little creatures.  It wasn’t until a couple weeks later, Russ mentioned the bunnies were hopping around inside the feed room.  How amazing they survived.  Rabbits aren’t like some “mama’s” where they snuggle to keep warm.  They only visit the nest a couple times a day, if that, due to their milk being so rich.  (And if some of you are wondering why we didn’t just scoop them up and take them into the cabin to bottle feed – the mortality rate is high when you “mess with nature”.)  Anyone who knows me knows I abhor it when folks think they can do better than the “mama” and kick “mama” to the curb and take over.  ‘Nuff said.  A positive note is when the babies are big enough to make their appearance out and about, it is entertainment to see them follow Mama around and squirm under her belly, flip on their backs and kick with their little legs to position to get a good grip on the “milk bottle”.  {Smile}

Chickens have also come out of the barn and free-ranged all over our cabin area, enjoying the sunshine during those warm days.  A few eggs have even been found, announced by a proud chicken.  A preview of what’s to come.  It will be good to have a frequent supply of fresh eggs again.

The sled dogs {total count of 13} have certainly had the winter “off”, for the most part.  I gave up trying to snowshoe a trail.  I strapped on the webs several days (3) in a row and then we had a warm up and heavy snow and drifting.  I lost the trail.  However, I did find several nights of inner upper leg “Charley Horses”.  The worst.  Thank the Lord I have a good liniment (J. R. Watkins) that swiftly takes care of such nuisances.  Note to self:  pick up another bottle at my favorite Amish store on my next visit.

However, just because the sled dogs haven’t been running doesn’t mean there hasn’t been excitement in the dog yard.  A couple weeks ago we had a bit of excitement once darkness fell.  It wasn’t even my bedtime when I was alerted to a commotion in the dog yard.  Dogs were whining, uneasy.  One of the dogs was barking an alert bark, telling us there was an “issue”.  Russ was sleeping, I was fully awake.  Earlier in the day, I had commented to hubby, Russ, that our back gate that leads out into the woods was opened about a foot, due to deep snow, allowing a dog to get out.  Or, perhaps a dog to get in.  It looked like a super highway from our dog yard to the woods, showing there had been some activity.  Coyote in the dog yard?  I shined my searchlight into the dog yard and met with a pair of eyes near the gate.  All other dogs were where they should be.  Oh no.  I grabbed a light, my Ruger, and shovel and hit the dog yard.  After much shoveling, I secured the gate and looked at our elderly gal who was in full-blown heat.  She smiled.  I groaned.  Upon coming back into the cabin, I marked the calendar for April 15th – 63 days.  We’ll see.

I mentioned reading Kathrene Pinkerton’s “Wilderness Wife” written back in the 1930’s.  I can’t say how much I’ve enjoyed this book.  It’s as if she mirrors my very thoughts, especially the contentment she feels in her rustic cabin, in the wild.  I feel that way here on our ’40.  As I type this on my non-Internet connected computer, I see the birds at the feeders in the reflections on the screen.  Smartwool socks hang over the woodstove for a final drying.  We don’t live fancy, but it is real.  And it feels right. 

I’ve settled into such a routine this winter, baking cookies and bread, sorting through paperwork to fill our burn barrel.  I am actually allowing myself to actually “relax”.  I have been “retired” from a very busy State job for three years and it has taken me this long to “chill” out.  I get wide-eyed when I look at my old Franklin Planner and the life I used to lead.  I’m so blessed to have been able to follow my plan to live a simple life.  And daily, I struggle to get it even more so, as LESS IS MORE.

I don’t travel in the winter, and hadn’t planned to go south to a hearing for Baker’s Green Acres, (fighting to keep his pigs despite a Invasive Species Order from the DNR saying his pigs meet the characteristics of Feral…) but the near blizzard weather we had that day made me feel better for missing it.  (I attended last July.)  Turns out, it was canceled.  Watch this video – you won’t believe what happened at the next hearing, before the Judge entered the courtroom, as folks discussed the previous cancellation due to snow.  Be prepared to be disgusted.  Dicky Bird – a must see for you.

Until next time, dear friend.  Lord willing.



Dicky Bird said...

You are right, disgusting and disrespectful! Smart wool socks - love them. I try to buy WigWam socks made in Sheboygan, WI. Baby bunnies - nothing cutier. I share your wisdom with interrupting with nature. I often tell people about things that happen out here - especially with chicks - they will say "well, didn't you do this or that?" I just say, that hen knows how to be a mama hen better than I do! That usually silences the nay sayers... Coyote mix pups, might be cute! Until next time, continue in His grace! Blessings from Ringle, WI.

Stephen said...

You always leave me with a smile. Tell Russ I said hello. God bless.

Sherry Sutherby said...

What can I say, there is just something about Blogs, isn't there? I hope to be able to touch base with you folks even more and check in with your life, as I love to do. I feel so "one sided" since my jaunts to the Library are so few. Thank you Dicky Bird (we are such parallel friends, one state away) and Stephen. Blessings to you both!