Magic woods

I love my woods.

It is not really “my” woods. The woods is within the boundaries considered “my” property, but the woods belong to nature, to God … I am somewhat a caretaker but mostly they have taken care of me, of Karl, of Bob and now of Bear and Auggie.

During Karl’s last months, he and I were out 2-4 times a night. We walked and sometimes Karl just wanted to lie down and I bundled up and lay down near until he was ready to go in.

I have since marveled how comforting those times were, even in the midst of knowing that his time was probably short (my greatest concern) and that the nocturnal hunting creatures were out and about (I really did not think of this at all during those times). The woods and especially the woods at night – that winter and early spring – they were peace to me. I believe to Karl also. It is hard to explain how I embraced those moments of quiet … outside … in the night… in the woods.

This last weekend, two woodsmen: Fred Buck and his nephew Sean, worked in the woods. They took down 6 1/2 standing dead trees, split the wood, cleaned up and also cleared other downfall.

I’ve got firewood!

They felt horrible that they could not stack the whole bit.

The problem was that the motorhome would not start so I could not get it out of the way.

The second day, Fred brought some gadgets and we got her started and moved out of the way so 1 load of splits did get stacked. I made the decision for them to mostly work on getting up downfall as I can’t do that alone. Moving and stacking firewood – I can do that and it is good exercise and I enjoy doing it!

Fred and Sean will be back for a day in October when open burning is allowed. They will burn the slash pile and babysit the first day’s burn … it will burn/smolder for 10-14 days likely based on my previous experience with a large slash pile. But that first day, when the large pile of slash burns hot … I do NOT like to be on my own and will be grateful for experienced woodsmen to supervise. We will do this on a day when surroundings are plenty wet, but still.

Meanwhile, Auggie has a new venue for exploring!

So beautiful!

The area down the “hill” had been a tangle of downed trees.

Now it is clear.

I – they … leave plenty of “stuff”: stumps, and sticks and other kinds of downed debris – for critter homes as well as to decay and feed the woods. It is a balance of removing fuel that could cause the loss of the woods to fire and leaving enough to keep a good balance of life.

I have been fortunate to have the advice of several long time Montana woodsmen.

It was hard to be inside, hearing the saws and the BOOM of trees coming down and the truck…

It was exhausting :) !!!

Before Fred and Sean left, I said to them: “Ok, I know you will probably think me a crazy lady, but… do you think this woods is extra special … like magical in a way?”

And they said: “Yes.”

I don’t remember their exact words after that except that they did not think I was crazy and expressed that it was a joy to work here.

Magic woods.

Fall hath arriveth

The first day of Fall 2016: September 22, 8:21 a.m. MDT.

It was a gray and rainy morning, i.e. good napping weather.

Fall means pumpkin and and other winter squash.

I cooked my first pumpkin two days before official Fall and some of that pumpkin is in that little loaf of bread.

I add pumpkin to Bear’s food, any soup or stew or sauce for me … good stuff!

This year – pumpkin in the electric pressure cooker!

Give it a scrub, add a cup of water to the cooker and set the pumpkin on a steam rack.

Thirteen minutes at pressure with natural release and the skin slides off.

Perfect pumpkin!

Fall hath arriveth.

This ‘n that: catching up

I have been working hard… VERY hard! With some tight deadlines and a decision to shift gears to a different set of tools (read old dog must learn new tricks – again!!), the work days have been somewhat intense. Not longer hours, although here and there a long day followed by short day – just days that required the brain to be firing on all 8 cylinders. So spending more time dealing with photos and writing, just wasn’t how I chose to spend my down time.

But, I missed it (blogging) and I know that I enjoy being able to look back and see what was happening: what was the weather like, what were Bear and Auggie up to, what was going on at the house and in the yard? Riveting, I know :) !!

So, in no particular order, except mostly by order of photos taken: catching up…

Skunk round 1.

At this point, I didn’t know it was a skunk, but one morning … in an area that I knew was a mouse entry-exit as well as home to a wasp colony … there was a new excavation with a hole about the size of a large tin can. I blocked the area daytime to keep Auggie out because I felt sure that seeing the hole, he would enter and I didn’t know if something had taken up residence or ??? Plus, the wasps.

I uncovered at night so as to not trap any nocturnal being under the house.

More later…

Auggie and Bear post Labor Day Weekend.

Labor Day weekend – it did not go as planned. I planned on taking the Friday before off and had a daytime excursion planned with Bear as company. Thursday afternoon, I started feeling not 100% and ended up with a short Thursday and abandoned the Friday excursion.

BUT, I felt 100% on Saturday – yea!

However, Bear started showing signs of an internal distress, which got gradually worse and by the wee hours of Monday it was clear that it was not going to get better on its own. When he could not keep water down, we headed for the ER – 3:45 a.m. on Monday.

Thankfully, xrays showed nothing dire and with the absence of fever, blockages, etc. the theory is something akin to food poisoning. Medication returned all to normal during the coming week but as you can probably imagine, there were a few days of anxiousness – for me.

But, all’s well that ends well and that is not an “under the weather” Bear, just a napping Bear.

The living room has been a bit reorganized with a LOT of rugs and the mattress…

…and the step to the chairs. All to make it easier for Bear to get up and down and be comfy for sleeping time.

I spoke to the ER vet about the up and down difficulties and he said that although Bear had some arthritis, his spine was in excellent shape (per xray) for his age and just to keep things as easy and stress free (joint-wise) as possible. On the report he noted that Bear got around very well for his age and size.

Back to the skunk.

There was a second excavation about 4 days after the first and in the debris, I found remnants of the wasp nest. Thank you skunk for taking care of my wasp problem!

Backing up to the wee hours… Bear and I were out for a quick round about the house: 4:00 a.m. ish and we saw the back end of the skunk in that 2nd excavation, hence I.D.ing the visitor as a skunk

Meanwhile, I had been having conversations with a local wildlife person about whether we should put out a trap. But after a week passed from the second excavation with no new activity, we decided that the skunk had eliminated the food source and not taken up residence under the house (under my bedroom!).

On the advice of the wildlife person, I should fill the area with gravel and top with the excavated soil.

Thanks again for my neighbor with not only a backhoe, but also some gravel. I asked and it was delivered.

I asked for the drop to be by the dirt ramp with the thought that any extra I could use to make the dirt ramp a gravel ramp.

Perfect!

I followed instructions and “sealed” up.

As of this writing, which is 10 days since the last visit … no activity, neither skunk nor wasp: win-win!

The remaining gravel I spread about the Beardog Hill dirt ramp. It is Auggie approved.

The herbs, coleus and impatiens.

I am unclear why, but the spearmint of all things, succumbed to my brown thumb early in the season. All else is fine.

Fushcia!!! Once again, the fushcia have been beautiful and a joy to take care of and enjoy.

Meanwhile, we head toward official Fall and with sunrise about 7:15 a.m. we have our beloved dark mornings back.

Weather: it has been cool and rainy, cool and sunny, warm and sunny – today it is cloudy, balmy and drizzle has given way to rain.