Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Night Thief

It’s nearly 3 a.m.  I’m sitting on a low stool, crouched next to the woodstove, hugged by the creosote steel doors that threaten to wrap around me.  I work the fire, attempting to bring it to life.  Coals are not willing to give heed to the wood that is placed on them.  I wait…tired and wanting to be back in my warm sleeping bag.  I’m wanting to be warm.  Wanting to forget what happened just a half-hour earlier.

An hour earlier, I rose to a quiet, cold, still night.  Stars filled the sky as I stumbled out the cabin door, heading to the outhouse with Zip, our Blue Heeler, in tow.  Our cabin kitty, now living outdoors, was nowhere in sight.  She usually greets us on these middle of the night treks. 

Upon entering the cabin, I set to work on getting the stove going.  Within minutes, one of our female sled dogs, who is known for her “tattle tale-ing” set off with a frenetic warning bark.  She continued on for several minutes, not liking the fact that whatever was out there, wasn’t taking her seriously.  Realizing my best (and only) headlamp was defunct, I shined a weak light out the side window to let her know I heard her warning, and to stop barking.  She paused, but then continued with a renewed fervor.  I then told her “o.k.”…and she let out a heavy, grunting sigh, as if to say “…o.k.,  I tried to warn you.  Whatever happens, it’s on you…”

Sitting back down on the handcrafted cherry-wood stool, I fiddled with the fire some more.  Then I heard it.  I squawk…not really a squawk, but a bleat – a cry for help.  Grabbing my defunct headlamp, I slammed the batteries in, making it temporarily work, and headed outside.  I could hear the cry/squawk/bleat as it retreated from the cabin area.  Every thirty or so yards it let out a sound.  It was traveling by foot.  But not on its own accord - it was being carried.  I realized by now it was one of our chickens.  It was one of the worst sounds and situations I’ve heard.  I couldn’t image the terror of being roosted for the night only to be snatched by a coyote’s toothy grip.  Carried away, to certain death.  Every thirty or so yards, I heard it, until they disappeared into the south woods. 

I shined my light into the fenced dog yard and verbally thanked Skunk, the sled dog, for her warning, and headed back inside.  Upon sitting down once again, I hung my head in sadness.  It had to be one of the young batch, hatched earlier this summer that roosted on their own, not willing to enter the safety of the latched chicken coop door that held the flock. 

As I finally got the fire going, I also had come to a another realization.  Although taught by the Mamma hen, that young bird had made a choice to not pick the safety of the flock, and also our oversight each morning and night as we open the door of the coop to let them out, and tuck them in at night.  It had mistakenly believed it was safe out on its own.  And now it was gone, dying a frightful, confusing death.  The analogy was clear.  We, as intelligent humans, are given God’s word, in the form of the Bible – God breathed and God inspired.  Jesus tells us we are safe in His arms.  As His sheep, we are safe in the arms of the Good Shepherd.

In the book of John, Jesus tells us:  Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.  I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 

We, too, have a choice.  It is free for the taking.  All you need to do is come to the Father…the Good Shepherd.  Do you hear Him calling for you?  He leaves the 99 to gather up the one – the lost sheep.  If you are lost…seek Him.  Peace will flood your soul. 

May peace be to everyone. 

Until next time…Lord willing,


My Best Buddy

We live on a small farm on 40 acres.  Fields and woods.  We also have sled dogs.  Life is good…life is simple.  And I’m blessed to spend 1/3 of my waking hours in a blissful setting – in the woods. 

Heading into the woods, I take my “best buddy”, Ruger.  I used to go alone, but now, I always take my trusty companion.  It’s second nature.  Ruger is always at the ready for my command.   The other day, I had Ruger along as I headed out to do the morning check of our trapline.  I walked through a dense area, and came out into a clearing, overlooking a vista.  I always stop in this particular spot to peruse the land, looking for anything out of place, or perhaps some critter who is traveling through.  As I was scanning the horizon, a large coyote climbed up out of a hollow in front of me.  He also stood, looking about, scanning the perimeter.  As his head was on swivel to the left, he spotted me out of the corner of his eye.  Upon confirming me standing there, he shot off and sped across the land, making a wide arch, returning to our property, in particular the area of our sled dog kennel.  I had put my hand on Ruger upon sighting this big coyote, but my intention was to see his reaction upon seeing me.  It also gave me time to admire his thick coat, and compare it to several of our thick coated Siberians, which reside in the dog yard.  Once this interlude was completed, I headed back to the cabin to get another trusted companion – Marlin. 

Although not my best buddy, Marlin is a good companion to have in the woods.  Easy to travel with, and always at the ready.  Ruger also joins us. 

Last month, I took another companion with me in the woods – Winchester.  Even though I had new companions, I always took Ruger.  Having Ruger with me is second nature. 

Now I’ve expanded even more with my companions.  Barnett is a new tag-along.  A big boy to be sure.  But much quieter, which is nice when you are in the woods and desire solitude and silence.   Even though Barnett is a suitable companion, once again, Ruger comes along too. 

I can’t imagine not having the ability of taking my protectors along with me.  They provide so much.  Peace.  Security.  I take good care of them, and they take care of me.  They only act {or react} upon my command.  Never early, never late.  I am in control.  I like that. 

So this morning, as I returned from checking the trapline, I entered our cabin to be hit with the warmed air of the wood stove.   I was happy to have made it back home and beat the rain coming our way.  I said hello to our aging cattle dog, Zip, who was keeping the wood stove company, as I put Marlin away, and unbuckled my best buddy, Ruger, to put up for safe keeping within arm’s reach until the next time I head to the woods, a couple hours from now.  

I grabbed a cup of coffee, snagged a homebaked cookie, and took a seat in front of the woodstove, and gave thanks for all the blessing in my life.  Peace, security, and the ability to live a lifestyle I love, Lord willing.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – 
In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Drifter

It's official.
I'm back home.

Home to blackberries coming on.

Also spent a day catching up with a dear friend, Joann, at her unique sled dog kennel, 
Coyote Run Kennels.  
Larry/Joann/ and Ana

I got to meet their new litter of pups.
8 total...4 of each.
Born on the 4th of July.    
I never knew how much fun pups could have, 
tugging and twisting on the hem of my skirt.  {}

I've missed my simple life.

And I've missed touching base with you.

Lots to report about getting back into the woods.  
It's not cold enough yet to run the dogs, 
but I'm doing a different kind of running.  

On foot.
I took a step and became an official "fur harvester".  

I'll spell it all out...soon.

Until then, 
I'm looking forward to traveling to Clare {Michigan} tomorrow
on a 
"girl's shopping trip - Amish style" 
with some of my BBF's 
(black bonnet friends
and driver/farm friend, Heather.

I'll catch up soon...Lord willing.
Until then, enjoy the end of August.  


Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Pilgrim

Although my great (x 12) grandparents, John Alden and his bride-upon-landing Priscilla Mullins arrived on the Mayflower, I hesitate to share their sense of adventure. 

I did, however, inherit the love of the land and God.

As I walked our wooded trails yesterday, I pondered why I/we don’t like to leave home.  It’s been over 12 years since we had someone else do our chores while we left our land.  

Perhaps it is because our simple ways provide me with all I need to be content.  What is contentment?  

For years, I was like a animal-on-the-go…always running.  But to where?

Now, I bask in the contentment of His word.  His teachings.  His LOVE.

On that walk yesterday, I stopped at our Bear’s Den cabin and snagged a small one-person-percolator to brew my coffee while up north during my weekly stays.  Yes, I could opt for a Keurig coffee selection every morning, but something tells me I am going to want a little bit of “home” with me, in the form of a camp coffee pot. 

The countdown is on.   See my Blog "Daylight in the Swamp"...

It is 7 days before I begin my trek north each week, only to return home on the weekend.  Even my Mother, the recipient of my travels, was shocked I would leave my lifestyle.  It will be a journey.  A pilgrimage of sorts.

I will miss our broody hens, showing their chicks all the nuances of our property, causing me to alter my walking route each morning. 

I will miss being in the dog yard, handing out their breakfast treats as Russ scoops and waters.  I know they will miss me too…my heart aches before I even leave.

Then there’s Zip.  She’s my daily shadow.  What will she think?

Russ.  He will remain busy from dawn to dusk, as usual.  However, he will miss me showing up with a fresh-popped pan of popcorn at the end of the afternoon, or warm cookies from the oven mid-morning.  And I will miss him also, as we trek each night on our trails, talking over our lives and His promises.

I will miss the land.  My feet connecting each day, feeling drawn to every change, which takes on a new look every day.  Even last night, as it was chilly, I told Russ that as much as I can’t wait until Spring, I’m really looking forward to Fall.  I love it so.

But then, we are just all pilgrims passing through.  

This home, however beautiful or however flawed, is not our home.  Our home awaits, for those who know the Son of Man.

Do you know Him?  I pray you answered “without a doubt”.  

If not, please take time to get to know Him.  The love you will feel will be like nothing you have ever experienced.  The King is Coming.  And He’s coming for you…

Until next time, dear friends.

Lord willing,


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Daylight in the Swamp

All through my childhood, I heard those words – Daylight in the swamp...  They were spoken to me gently - early in the morning, by my father, as he knocked softly on my closed bedroom door.  Upon hearing his “wake-up call”, I would rise to the adventure that would begin well before the sun made its appearance.  

Many times, it was to alert me that the VW station wagon and boat trailer would be leaving soon, heading to the Bay to troll for steelies – steelhead trout.  Sometimes it was just to rouse me for school.  But it didn’t matter, as it was a treasured moment just the same.  

Oh how I miss those days. 

This morning as I woke in my little cabin, I could hear the percolator coffee pot starting its brew.  Hubby Russ is a creature of habit, never deviating from his schedule in the morning, so I knew in a moment, he would be turning down the burner under the coffee pot, and heading outside to wait for it to perk and settle.  As I rose, I thought of my Dad and his way of waking me.  I had to chuckle, as our cabin feels like “daylight in the swamp” – it takes a lot for the light to shine in – as we are in the woods. 

I suppose I’ve been thinking a lot about life growing up on Little Traverse Bay {Lake Michigan} lately.  At the end of the month, I will be starting a new adventure.  Each week, I will be spending the lion’s share of the week days with my Mom, at her beautiful home.  I will come home on weekends, and then head back "up north" each Monday.  This is for the snow-less months.  

Needless to say, this is a huge step for me.  One that I don’t take lightly.  I will miss my mornings with the sled dogs, doling out treats, brushing the Siberians, and doing all the maintenance a dog yard requires.  

I will also miss our daily walks in the woods, my connection to our animals and wildlife.  

I will miss Russ, who will have a quiet existence without me there, to provide meals, laughter and meaningful conversation.  However, that being said, Russ encouraged me to go.  Upon praying on the decision, I felt called to go.  So I will be obedient and do so. 

 Hebrews 5:9 {Regarding Christ}  And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. …”

And so I head my hometown.

It will be an adjustment, to go from a cabin with no running water, and an outhouse, to my Mom’s beautiful home.  I will be living like “royalty” in many ways.  I will have my own private area, and the door leading outside spills out into a wooded area that connects to Bear River – complete with walking trails.  When I was there on Mother’s Day, presenting this idea, a red cardinal kept appearing on the porch railing, and a doe and last year’s fawn stepped out and were a few feet from the door.  {I have always dreaded leaving my 40 acres of wildlife, but it appears I will see more, in this setting!}  Plus, I grew up living one block from her current home, so this is where I spent my childhood playing, dreaming, and growing up.  {This past May would have been my dear Dad’s 86th birthday – he passed quickly (diagnosed in late July, and died early September) with brain cancer at the age of 60 – he was an amazing man, incredible father, and my best friend.}

This new change will start the end of this month, Lord willing.  It is requiring some changes in structure, but I’m optimistic that it will work out as God’s will.

More on that later…

Until next time, Lord willing,


P.S.  Yes, I’m still battling, as I have been for the last two years, the issue of remarriage.  {See “The Seeker” Blog for the entire story.}  I struggle with marriage being a covenant with God, breakable only by death.  Hence, there is no room for a 2nd marriage, if your first spouse is still alive.  And so it goes.  I am praying for clarity to come soon, but I know the Lord will reveal His truth to me when I am ready.  And only then.

P.S.S.  And yes...I will write about May's Amish Auction soon...  I am heading to see my Amish friends this week.  

Friday, June 5, 2015

Prepper or Subsistence?

 Prepper or Subsistence?

Ever wonder how you are living?  Would it be a Prepper…or living a subsistence lifestyle?  Or perhaps something entirely different.  

I assume if you found our online journal, you are either interested in living simply, farm animals, my travel to Amish communities, or are fascinated with living and working with sled dogs.  I’ll try and explain what we are, in the simplest of terms. 

If you look at Webster’s definition, you may not even find the word “prepper”.  But under prepareyou will find “to get ready beforehand”.  That about says it all.

Under “subsistence”, you will find “means of subsisting: the minimum (as of food and clothing) necessary to support life”.  Ahhh…yes.

We are in the latter category.  Not that we don’t try to prepare for what is ahead, i.e. firewood, butchering a hog, putting up hay, etc.  But for the most part, we are subsistence folks, living a minimal lifestyle.  Minimalists, as sometimes referred to.  Or on our way to being…

Jesus told us in Matthew 6: 24-34, that we are not to worry about food and clothing.  He will provide for us.  “But we need to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  {paraphrase}” Hopefully, you can take a peek at the scriptures to see the beauty of this passage, and more.

Speaking of my Bible.  I always have it within reach.  It isn’t hard, as our cabin is only 10 x 15.  But I suppose it wouldn’t matter how small our cabin would be if I didn’t have the desire.  I praise God for that desire…for that hunger.  Of His Word.

I also have my Ruger within reach, although it is secondary as to effectiveness in how to deal with this world.  My Bible wins out.

Today as I checked the game trails for last night’s activity, I pondered on how blessed I am to have the freedom to do so each morning.  It wasn’t always like this…  For years I was plugged in, working many hours and sometimes multiple jobs to buy the finer things in life.  Trinkets, really.  Now I find joy in living with less and less, and seeing the freedom it brings. 

I just noticed I wrote the word freedom twice in that last paragraph.  I seem to do that a lot – refer to my life as being “FREE”.  Freedom comes in many ways.  Let me see if I can share what I mean by this.

As for our lifestyle, we started with 15 acres, and slowly added more land around us until we were at the number of acres we were satisfied with owning.  40.  Russ built every building on our place, himself, using recycled materials mostly, until the acquisition of his portable saw mill.  This cabin, the Bear’s Den, on our “back ten”, was constructed by logs taken from our dog yard, making the way for a kennel in the earlier years.  This is not the cabin we live in, however it makes a nice “get-a-away” and I enjoy stopping daily on my walks and smelling the wood smell that only that cabin can claim.

As for our “main cabin”, in my last post “Deer Camp Livin’”, I had casually mentioned we were living “mortgage free”.  After I posted online, and left the Library and headed for home (we do not have Internet on our property), I wondered if I should have done that…shared that bit of information.  But then I thought it might give others the courage to set out and live a life like we do.  (Or a similar life, since our cabin does not have running water, hence the words “simple life” take on a new meaning when you head to the outhouse at 2:00 a.m., wondering if that is a black and white rabbit, or something more odorous...also black and white.) 

Simply put, we don’t have any mortgage worries, so we don’t have any PMI worries, nor do we have to worry about regular house insurance payments.  Pretty simple.  {That’s not to say we don’t have to pay for the land…} 

And, if we were to lose a cabin due to fire or natural (…or man-made) disaster, we would simply move to another on our property.  Would we be as comfortable?  Perhaps not, but it would be doable. 

You may be thinking…but how would you refurnish all that you lost?  Since Russ makes most of our rustic furniture, he would simply replace what we need.

Everything…is just stuff.  Truly, our treasure is in heaven.  The Lord tells us so.  Once a person truly feels that, it is easy to let go. 

For several years, we thought we would opt out of having a vehicle also, but in training our horses, we found it wasn’t going to be a solution for us.

Side bar:  My Amish friends smile and shake their head at my fear of horse travel, as I'm always refusing to ride along with them, opting for meeting them at our destination by my own mode of travel - my 2002 Ford Ranger truck tooling down the road. 

Here is another way to cut expenses, and bring more freedom to your life.  For years, we have only had one vehicle.  That means one insurance payment – and one registration/plate/license cost that hits us as a yearly "birthday present".  For us, we prefer an older vehicle, with fewer “bells and whistles”. 

Another way to access freedom is to have one phone (we do not own a smart phone) per family.  Yes, only one.  One bill – ours is less than $40 per month.  More on that later… 

I know this may sound peculiar to some folks, but the freedom it gives to be beholden to less, is intoxicating.  The more you do it, the more you will find it to your liking.  And the more creative you will become in doing so.

I had to laugh as I opened a bag of feed this morning and saved the string.  I “pooh pooh’ed” my husband for doing this years ago, but since I’ve been reading about what it was like in war time, such as in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, it makes sense to be “ready”. 

Perhaps we are “preppers” after all…

I’ll go into more depth next time.

Until then, Lord willing,


P.S. turkey for me. May came and went...  Next time... {Is that a smile I see on his face?@!}

P.S.S.  Our two hens hatched out 14 chickens.  One hatched 4, and the other 10.  This bump adds significantly to our original 9 hens with one rooster.  Needless to say, with the worry about Avian Flu coming to Michigan, we will keep our flock closed, as we do not need to acquire any further chickens for our use.

P.S.S.S.  I’ll update soon about the Amish Auction I attended a couple weeks ago.  My Amish friends attended for the first time, as did my “farm friend” who graciously drove us all so we could experience more comfort and leg room.  Thank you Heather!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Deer Camp Livin’

This photo was taken several years ago, when we still had horses.

The last two weeks have been exciting around here.  Turkey season opened on May 4th, which found me strolling the woods cradling my 20-gauge shotgun.  What a blessed week that was, alerted to the sound of the “long beard” calling his gobble/gobble while strutting and fanning his feathers.  He and I had some exciting moments, as I called to him with my home-made call (using my voice) and him responding, but he remains elusive to me.  For my efforts I ended up with many miles on my soon-to-be worn out shoes.  In addition, I got to see the woods change before my eyes.  The week started out cold and wet, which make the woods come alive for me.  I like walking “stealth” and wet leaves accommodate this ideal.  Towards the end of the week, hot and humid weather was upon us, making the gun seem heavier, the trails longer and me not so enthused.  (I’m a cold-weather gal.)  But I pressed on.  My hopes were revived when a turkey came to mingle with our free-range chickens, only to find it was a hen.  {Did you know hens can also have beards?}  I still have until May 31st for this 234 Michigan hunt.  We’ll see how it plays out.

We did have some additions to our poultry this week.  One of our broody hens finished her task, producing little black fluffy chicks, spotted with a dash of yellow.  I immediately went to work hard-boiling some eggs for the new little ones and Mama.  It’s a good source of easy {and perfect} protein for the newly hatched chicks.  I look forward to seeing how many chicks are produced from the next broody hen, who has 11 eggs under her.  She still has that “broody” look – squatted down on her nest with eyes producing that 1000-yard stare.  It should be soon.

Russ and I were heading out to check game trails the other night {sans dogs} and began to weave past a sea of bunnies.  Our land is filling up with the newborns who enjoy darting out from firewood and lumber piles.  At once I noticed a huge skunk barreling straight for us, on a full run, in the middle of the bunnies.  I wasn’t armed, but Russ was, so this situation was brought under control real fast.  There was a little confusion when I was yelling SKUNK, SKUNK, as we have a sled dog/cabin dog named Skunk, and an adult rabbit (loose) named SKUNK.  Finally the real reason for my yelling became evident! 

Skunk, our sled dog, after a training run.

Skunk, the bunny, who is now 5+ years old, and runs free.

As I was out walking this morning, again checking our trails for signs of wildlife, {with my friend, Ruger – who I always carry when walking alone} I reminded myself how blessed I am to be living so rustic.  Although I am anxious about moving into our “extended” Wee House this autumn, I tell myself to be thankful for the main cabin we do have, that provides a warm (unless it is –43), dry place.  This past week was one of celebration!  Our water finally thawed – it’s official – we have H2O on the porch.  No more hauling water from our Wee House to the “main cabin”.  Granted, we haven’t had water IN the cabin for well over a year, and don’t ever intend to, but the steps to retrieve water have gotten shorter in length.  God is good indeed!

"The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head."
Matthew 8:20

As for living rustic…I liken it to what one feels when you are at “deer camp”.  If you have ever been, you know what I am speaking about.  You feel free, alive, at one with Mother Nature.  Rather...Father God.  You can relax.  Worries tend to stay at bay.  Your only concern is to live in the moment and enjoy everything around you.  The stew simmering on your makeshift woodstove comes alive with flavor.  Your conversations with those present take on new meaning and joy.  Your sleep is hard.  You don’t concern yourself with primping, unnecessary clothing, or anything of the world.  It feels raw.  Challenging.  But peaceful.  All at the same time.  That describes our life. 

Although we take it one step further, as many of you do also.  We rely on Father God/Son of Man to provide all that we have, and will have.   In the last few years, while we chose to live with less “money” than ever before, {my early retirement from state employment} we have both been consumed with being good stewards of what comes our way.  God has blessed us beyond our desires, with what He provides.  And He always provides.  It may be in His time, but He is always there for us.

Is it easy?  No…it’s not what you call “simple living” but it is “living simple”.  It’s not about how much money you make - the more you make, the more you will spend.  It’s about what you truly need.  We are told in Proverbs “…the borrower is servant to the lender.”  {All you have to do to test this truth is to borrow money from a friend or relative.}  Try to walk away from borrowing, if you possibly can.

So it comes down to living within the parameters of the money you bring home.  I would much rather live mortgage free, as we do now – living simply, than owe vast sums that would hang over my/our head.  There is such a freedom that comes with having time on your hands.  Freedom comes in many ways, my friend.  Take a step now to pay off a debt and never go that route again.  The freedom you feel will overpower any desire to obtain a “treasure”. 

Speaking of treasure, my Dad was a true treasure, for many and all who met him.  Earlier this week (May 12th) would have been my dear Father’s 86th birthday – he passed quickly (diagnosed in late July, and died early September) with brain cancer at the age of 60 – he was an amazing man, incredible father, and my best friend.  I will always miss his presence, this side of Glory. 

Until next time, when I write about traveling to the Amish Quilt Auction with several of my black-bonnet friends, driven by my farm friend.  A van load of excitement indeed!  Oh what fun awaits.

Lord willing…