Friday, August 11, 2017

Simply Sled Dogs



This past week, with August upon us, I shuffled around some dog equipment to get ready for Fall Training.  While hauling an armload of old harnesses to wash up to sell, I hoped none of the remaining six dogs would notice as I tip-toed past the dog yard.  Anyone who has had a sled dog, or a dog for that matter, knows how just a “jingle” of a leash will send a dog into a frenzy of excitement.  It’s that way with sled dogs.  Even the sight of a harness will stir them into action. 
I, too, get excited this time of year, especially when a full moon approaches.  (Hello to my full-moon musher friend Shannon…J) 
It is nearly 9 years ago that Iditarod/Yukon Quest “Mega” Champion Lance Mackey (from the incredible Mackey family of mushers) was here for a full-moon weekend, giving his testimony about all things dog.  His presence still lingers, and I hope someday it would be possible for him to return.  Lord willing.  {Lance is truly one of a kind, as is his record in both the Iditarod and Yukon Quest.}
Once I sorted through the maze of harnesses, I ended up with working harnesses for four.  (Two of our dogs are going on 16 years of age - their pulling days past.)  I took the semi-clean harnesses out back to my cabin in the woods and hung them by the front door, under the protection of the porch.  There  My cabin was complete.  My hickory rocking chair sat in the opposite corner, across from the harnesses that brought plenty of memories.  Inside the cabin is the bunk I now sleep on - the same bunk Lance Mackey slept on when he visited for 3 nights.  Some nights I lay in the darkness and hear my sled dog Skunk let out a sigh of contentment from her comfy dog bed near the front door.  I wonder if her dreams are like my dreams…of the incredible life of sled dogs and folks like Lance Mackey, who fill our hearts with an amazement and awe of a lifestyle like no other.  Once you have experienced it, it’s hard to let go…but you still have the memories.
Memories like this…
Waking at 5, I beat the rooster’s demands.  I attempt to shake the hold of a good night’s sleep, as I scheme a plan to stay warm.  After deciding there is little I can do from my vantage point, I leave the comfort of warm flannel sheets and heavy comforters.  Scooting off the end of the bed, I take one step to begin my early morning decent down the sturdy cabin ladder.  Knowing each rung results in a five degree temperature dip, I grit my teeth and make a hasty departure from the loft. 
Once in the heart of our small cabin, I scramble to throw on my morning clothes.  I hold each article of clothing next to the open door of the wood stove, hoping the smoldering embers will provide some heat to my chilly wardrobe.  Again, I grit my teeth as I decide this process is getting me nowhere and I should just get dressed, sans fanfare.  Layer, layer, layer, cotton kills, cotton kills, cotton kills runs through my head as I hastily dress for the cold winter morning. 
After fidgeting with the woodstove, I’ve managed to create a good fire.  Two fat and aged lab-mix dogs are happy with the results as they settle closer to the woodstove and uncurl.  Not being a coffee drinker, I have to rely on rote skills to get me started in my sequence of chores.  Breakfast will wait.  The rule in this house is…animals eat first.  I grab my headlamp from the hook by the cabin door, fit it over my fur hat and begin to venture out into the dark snowy morning. 

I stop to fill two five-gallon water buckets at the spigot on the cabin porch.  It’s a relief to hear water surge up through the pipe.  My city-turned-country 15 year-old cat greets me by raising her head from her porch bed. 
Once outside, I’m amazed at the snow received the night before.  My warm bunny boots are silent, but clumsy, walking on the fresh powder.  The only sound is the small plastic red sled, floating behind me in a serpentine fashion as I glide over the wind-sculptured snow, carrying two buckets of sloshing water.  The quiet is interrupted by the first howl of greeting as I exit the woods and approach the dog yard in the clearing. 

The dogs knew I was coming, before I even put my foot on the last rung of the cabin ladder.  Astro, our blue-eyed Alaskan “gate keeper” can peer the 100’ from his sentry by the dog yard gate.  He sees through the naked deciduous trees and into our main cabin window.  Once he sees light and movement in the cabin, he announces my arrival to the others.  {We put Astro by the front gate so he could overcome his shyness.  It worked.} 
Now the dogs can hardly contain their exuberance as I fight with snow to gain entry into the front gate, knowing the snow would be too deep at the feed room door.  Once inside, I can scan the 30 dogs in the dog yard, and make a light beam contact with each pair of eyes.  10, 20, 29…where’s the 30th dog?  Oh yes…one pair of eyes fail to beam back.  Our current blind dog, Buddy Jr.  However I can still see his excitement of being “shined upon” nonetheless.  (We have 14 more dogs…they are up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, running the trails, with Russ riding the runners - training for possible future races.)

TO BE CONTINUED: 
Side Bar:  So many things have changed.  The two “cabin dogs” (Satch and Hootch) have long sinced passed.  Satch at 18 and Hootch nearly that.
The cabin kitty also. 
And on a brighter note…I now drink coffee – started late in life.  Wish I had started sooner….  I wish a lot of things.  But the memories linger...
Until next time, should the Lord tarry -
Sherry

 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

My Daily Gift


 

It’s still early morning as I sit on my little cabin porch, enjoying my Amish-made hickory rocker.  Thinking back, it’s been 25 years or so since I first hauled this rocker from mid-Michigan to northern Michigan.  It has served me well over the years with comfort and memories.  (It bears the chew marks from my Border Collie pup, years past.).  But I digress…
I’ve been up for hours soaking in, and studying the Word of God.  John 1:1…”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  I fell asleep last night doing so, and began once again upon awakening.  I feel like I’m working on a Master’s Thesis.  And in a way, I am!  About the Divine Master, my Lord and Savior.  Actually, when I attended college, right after high school and then later on, I studied hard.  (Unlike high school…).  I even made the President’s list for a perfect grade with 12+ credits per semester.  In addition, I was asked, and joined, Phi Theta Kappa (a smarty girl’s honor club).  But that study was NOTHING compared to this.  I’m studying as if my life depended on it.  And it does! 
A friend of mine wrote these words: 
“The grace of God, and the leading of the Holy Spirit will always direct our lives to full obedience of the established principles of God’s word.  This is the true freedom in Christ.  Any other direction is tragedy indeed.”
So far, my Berean Bush Living is working out as planned.  A beautiful setting for God’s creatures and creation – and to study His precepts.  As I write this (by hand, later typed for your retrieval) my morning visitor lets me know it is breakfast time.  A chipmunk waits for his morning snack.  I started putting cereal, or walnuts on one of my logs on the wood pile.  Now it has become a ritual.  (I adore “chippy’s”.)
This morning a couple hours into my study I needed to stretch my legs.  Upon stepping off the porch I thought about retrieving my side arm.  I thought twice.  Naw…I’m just going to the clearing – no need.  I can sprint back to the cabin if necessary.  (Oh how our minds trick us…me sprint?? J)  So I headed out to the clearing, surrounded by nearly neck high green ferns.  I scan the vast area, looking for any sign of deer.  (One time, myself and my dear “cattle dog” Zip came into that same clearing and saw a buck’s antlered head “floating” on the ferns.  At least that is what it looked like.  The deformed antlers on one side added to the floating “creepy factor”!)  Today I only saw a cloudy, rainy sky to accompany the cold northern Michigan weather.  As I was about ready to return to the cabin, I saw to the east a large animal swiftly emerge from near the base of the ferns, cross the lane,  and enter the woods.  I had to blink twice.  I t looked to be the size of a wolverine, but the large (and I mean large) white stripe gave it away.  I stepped into the woods for a better look and watched as it headed in the direction of my deer blind area.  This summer, several skunks have found their way into a live trap, so it is time to get it reset.  (Skunks are notorious for devouring our baby bunnies.) 
Barely a day goes by when God doesn’t share one of His wonderful gifts with me.  Wildlife, or sign of such.  Raw beauty abounds in my wooded abode.  The nightly dance of the firefly brings awe.  Who can deny thy creator?  Not I…
I was getting to the point of asking God for a daily gift and I had to stop myself.  (Something along the lines of…”God…would you please send a deer through so I can see its beauty?”)  But He does it anyway!!  He knows how much it pleases me.  I can almost imagine His smile (we are told we are made in the likeness of Him) when my heart beats faster upon seeing a deer or smelling a possible bear while walking at the cabin at dusk.  All are gifts.  From Him.  Thank you Father.
But my greatest gift of all is His Word to me.  To YOU.  It’s contained in His God-inspired Word.  Dive in.  Read your Bible.  Start where you wish.  I don’t follow a routine, I go where I feel I need to that day.  I use King James Version (KJV) only.  I do not use a study Bible (one that has notes written on the page next to God’s Word, by people hired for their opinion.)  They are not God-inspired.  They are someone who needed a writing gig.  {Very dangerous to lean on a study Bible.}  Remember the serpent in the Garden…ssssssssssssssss…”Ye shall not surely die…SSSssssssss”
Your Bible is a gift – open it.  Read it.  Live it.  Some people say it is Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth.  So true.  And if you desire information on how to order a nice, but not expensive, KJV Bible, contact me.   I can assist. 
I hope you enjoy your gifts today!  However small. 
I’ll check in soon, should the Lord tarry…
Sherry
P.S.  When reading the Bible…keep your ears and eyes open to His still small voice.  So that means…No TV, NO phone beeping interruptions, NO radio, NO distractions.  Only you…and GOD.  Blessings to you!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Night Scare



My journal continues…
Tuesday, May 30th

A nightly visitor shows up at my cabin.  The question is...who?  Or what?

I wonder…  Coyote tracks and deer abound, but who is breathing near my head on the outside wall of the cabin?  In the still of the night, that can be quite disconcerting. 

That was just the beginning of my "scary nights".  I had a different scare the night before.  I brought fresh-from-the-mill wood scraps to burn to take the chill off the night air.  Well…my stove “took off”.  Upon opening the top lid, an ember floated down beneath a crack in floor boards.  Also a crack appeared in the chimney leading to the heavy shiny insulated chimney.  I held my breath as the fire took its time to settle down.  The little cabin heated up like never before!  The next morning I realized I dodged a bullet with a smoldering log and a perfect storm for carbon monoxide.  Needless to say, I'm looking forward to my new stove getting into place soon. 
Wednesday, May 31th

Figured out my nightly visitor.  I awoke at 2:30 a.m. last night to something hovering on my porch – making lots of noise by my door.  Nails scratched on wood, schuffling leaves ensued, twigs breaking, etc.  Once again, I held my breath as I aimed my dim flashlight toward the door.  Yep...a porky was revealed.  He lumbered off, looking over his shoulder at the inconvenience of being “found out”.  He returned some time later to say “hello” on the other side of my bunk wall.  My thoughts, of course, go to when I begin bringing sled dogs out to visit.  Porkies and sled dogs don’t mix.  NOTE:  He's probably the one I came across last deer hunting season.  I was heading home after a night of hunting, and I saw a porky ambling down the lane ahead of me.  I got as close as I could and chatted with him for a while.  Well, he bristled and I chatted.  I had my .30-.30 and my side arm, but it wasn't an option.  He wasn't hurting anyone.  Yet...Lord willing. 

Until next time, should the Lord tarry…  {I’ll eventually get current...so much to tell!}
In His Love -
Sherry
 

 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Where I Lay My Head


And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.”  Luke 9:58
 
 

Checking in again, my friend.  My previous journal notes were from April.  I’m months behind, so I’ll try and catch up.  Before I do, I had a thought.  This cabin living can be done on any level.  If you dedicate a “prayer closet” in your home, you can make it comfortable.  Even with this cabin living, I’m keeping my supplies at a minimum.  I procured a “bear barrel” from the local resale.  {Nothing can get in this old-timey canner.}  But I’m being careful not to have too many distractions around me…food or otherwise, so I don’t lose focus on the reason I’m there – to study the Word of God.  However, nature always has a way of capturing my attention, if not on the 10 acres I’m on, then on the other 30 acres that the property entails.  Here’s a small sampling…
5/9/17
I’m filled with gratitude for 4 new bunnies at the main Wee House.  Grey/black/Blonde/Merle.  Later named Frosty, - , Pumpkin, and Snickers.  {Their “mama” is a big white Californian, and their “papa” is a big orange/copper rabbit (born here) who is called “copper bunny”.  They are both loose on the property, but live at the Wee House.}  The little black one was too daring/dancing/darling – and unfortunately met her end before she could be named.  That hurts the heart…to see them get to such an age, only to have the laws of nature come down upon them.  I believe it was a fox. 
The little black bunny wasn’t our only loss.  Our special rooster was taken out also, along with my favorite pure-white hen who faithfully gave us a blueish-green egg. 
This morning, as I stood and watched the white Mama rabbit fill its mouth with twigs, grasses, and leaves, I had to smile.  She was going to kindle soon – giving us another batch of newborn bunnies – in the woodpile next to the Wee House.  As I watched her, something caught the corner of my eye along the berm of our property to the east.  It was a huge healthy-looking fox…trotting with a purpose, coming closer, weaving in and out of brush.  He was headed for the area of the dog yard.  Hence…later that day, our remaining 3 hens were moved to a safer enclosure.  We also have 1 broody hen sitting on 5 eggs.  We hope one of those 5 eggs hatches out to become our new resident rooster.  This will keep a 4-generation line of roosters, starting with a beautiful and kind, Java rooster, who was eventually snatched just feet from the coop in broad daylight, by a coyote.  It causes a heavy -  living so close to nature.  There are times when I desire to cage them…to keep them safe.  But at what cost…?  Short life of freedom, or long life of bondage?  It’s a tough call.
5/10/17
End of the day. 5:00 p.m. at the cabin.  The Hermit Thrush and Pileated Woodpecker vie for air space.  One melodic.  One a banshee scream.  But both beautiful to my ears.  The crow also.  I love the crows…and they know it.
The woods are alive with greenery, bugs and beauty (no skeeters yet…)  I nearly stepped on an adult snake 2 days prior while cutting through the woods enroute to the cabin.
It has been cold, but sunny.  Today is warming up.  I’ve been sick, but now feeling a tad better, and hacking/coughing less.  Hauled the last of 12 cord of firewood to my new cabin home.  And my new icebox (you put a block of ice inside to keep food cold) was wrangled in the door.  Cabin now feels like home.
5/27/17 
Up very early.  Auction day in my community of friends (Old Order Amish) for a family who is moving to a new “daughter settlement”.  I will be leaving soon for the hour trip.  Upon looking out the back window of my 8x8 cabin, I do a “double take” as a big doe steps out and crosses across the back.  Wow…I didn’t even have to leave the cabin to view her!  Later, I saw tracks circling the cabin.  Lots of deer activity at this time. 
Earlier this morning, I curled my cold fingers around a cup of steaming coffee as I stepped from the woods into the sunlit field to warm myself in the morning sun.  I scanned about, looking for the deer that makes its presence daily.  Sure enough…I hear a foot stomp the ground in disgust.  {I must be interrupting HIS morning routine!}  He topped it off with several LOUD snorts to show his final word on the subject.  Hmmm…I had already received a scolding from the red squirrels in trees circling the cabin, as I exited.  Now I hear the caw of the crow announcing movement in the woods.  To balance this out, my ears are delighted with the sound of the Hermit thrushes singing their heavenly/harmonic melody, and more.  One calls, another answers.  And so it goes, up and down the scale of notes. 
Earlier, I found a young snake in the outhouse.  Hmmm…where is HIS mama, and slithering siblings?  I shudder at the thought, as I scooped him in a bucket and take him farther out into the woods to a new home.  As I leave for a busy day of friendship/food and good conversation with my Amish friends, I marvel at the “stimulai” I’ve already experienced this morning.  My new Berean Bush Living is anything but boring.  And the night hours provide even more curious investigations as I figure out my “visitor”. 
I’ll check in soon, with continued journal posts, should the Lord tarry,
Sherry

 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Berean Bush Living...Begins



Wendell W. Price said this:

“There are many activities I must cut out simply because I desire to excel in my pursuit after God and holiness.” 

This describes my living deeper into simplicity and solitude.  Berean Bush Living.  

{At the Bear's Den...}

In the Book of Acts 17:11, it is stated that the Berean’s looked deeper into God’s Word (scripture).  I want that…

For me, it boils down to small cabin living.  Essential living only.  Lots of quiet time – no outside stimuli such as TV, radio, computers, or Smart phones.  {I still have a radio, but that is “wearing thin” also, and will soon be the last to go.} 

Nope, just my Bible and books.   And what is needed to continue my card (snail mail) ministry that has become so important to me.  {And hopefully others…}

This past April, I spent my first night in my 10-acre wood.  Despite going to sleep hearing the crackle of a wood fire, I awoke to seeing my breath.  April still holds onto winter on the 45th Parallel.  So does May…June...

The mornings are beautiful.  I’m awakened by increasing light, accompanied by melodic bird songs.  I start the small woodstove to perk coffee and make breakfast (oatmeal, dotted with granola given to me by a friend who makes it and sells it). 

While waiting for the camp coffee pot to perk, I turn my devotion toward God’s Word.

The Second Night

I arrived at the cabin after dark, thankful for the lighting made by flashlight.  The cabin is sans (minus) electric or plumbing.  I quickly started a fire to take the chill off and then settled down to read before retiring to my bunk.  It had been a long day, moving more items into the cabin.  Over the years I have made my life very simple with regard to material items.  My books will be my greatest bulk, and even those are scaled down to just a very select few.  I’m very appreciative for the rustic hand-made bookshelf that newly adorns one wall. 

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt , and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21

The cabin living resembles my “normal” living situation for the last 16 years, although this time without electric.  Outhouse isn’t as “fancy”, but it is adequate. 

Wood is put up for winter already – that is a good feeling.  (Thank you “AC Ellen”.)  Twelve cords should bring the winter into spring.  I hope. 

A new stove also sits, waiting to be swapped out.  (Again, thank you “E”.)  Heat is good.  And wood is something I’m careful not to covet.  Oh, how I love a stacked pile of wood. 

As I write this in the early a.m., the sun is streaming in.  I hear the resident pileated woodpecker knocking out the bugs in a nearby tree.  Earlier this morn, before the sun rose over the trees, I heard the gobble of a wild turkey.  This is the first year in the last three that I haven’t bought a hunting tag for the Spring season…  He has no threat from me.  (Did he ever?)

Once I’m settled and get used to the rhythm of the woods, I’ll bring a dog in for the night.  Come winter I’ll definitely bring one of the sled dogs.  They will enjoy the outing.  And the warmth of the woodstove. 

Third Morning:

Arrived at dusk last night.  Much better.  No fire in the woodstove needed.  Settled in to read, no clock to limit me.

Woke to the “Tom’s” calling the hens, circling the ten acre wood.  Lots of deer tracks (sign).  My stand (which is actually a “sit”…) is just steps away through the woods. 

My smaller space feels good.  Very good.  I like tiny cabin living.  Just the essentials – know just where everything is.  My mind goes to “Temple Grandin” and her “hug” machine.  Yes…I am MORE than content to live in an 8 x 10 cabin.  It feels like it’s giving me a HUG.  

I’ll sign in soon.  Lots of wildlife to report!  I had a nightly visitor…with 4 legs.  Can you guess? 

Plus, I had a visitor in the outhouse with NO legs.  Can you guess?  YIKES!!

Until next time, should the Lord tarry…
Sherry






Friday, May 12, 2017

Berean Bush Living


It's official.  I'm all moved in for the summer.  Ten acres of solitude.  Lots of quiet study awaits!

I've been writing...and will fill you in soon. 

Until then, enjoy spring! 

Sherry

Monday, February 27, 2017

Turning the Calendar Page


Winter is marching out...

And with spring around the corner, new ideas emerge. 

I'll be laying these out soon.  Stay tuned. 

I've missed you all...

Until then, if the Lord tarries...

Sherry