Journal Entry / Thoughts For Today 05/02/2018

And Now The Work Begins

It is now officially spring in the woodlands of Central Northern Michigan. The Grosbeeks have returned to the Rollin’ Rock. We mourn their migration each August. It just makes it all so final. Oh, I’m sorry, if you don’t know what a Grosbeek is, it’s a beautiful bird . All of the ice piles have melted, the ground is soft enough to till, and there are daffodils blooming in the butterfly garden in the east20.

We are so excited and overwhelmed to get this new year of planting and reconstructing started. There are so many loose ends to tie up and projects to finish up and put in motion, but we are motivated by the warmth of the sun and the soft gentle breezes.

The wind generator will rise into the east20 with the help of friends from Tennessee, the garden is expanding, a new cowboy to raise (puppy), hopefully a few more livestock, the completion of the storage shed, build a beehive hutch, solar collectors have to be moved and completed and a host of other projects.

I’ll keep you posted as we get started. Cabin life isn’t for everyone, but I’m sure glad we’re here!

All In A Days Work

This weekend at the Rollin’ Rock we had guests and so there really isn’t much time for ┬áme to do anything besides hostessing and caregiving, not complaining, just explaining. I’m not feeling great and there are a few things I’d like to get done since there still is no snow. On our last day, I manage to get some time to repair the row covers for the blueberry bushes. Apparently the wind had whipped them around vigorously and twisted the light weight row covers into useless hours of already completed labor. So, I needed a better plan. We do have a more permanent solution on the drawing board along with the other projects waiting for completion, this just couldn’t wait.

I’m standing out in the garden area we call the east20 and the sun is peeking out just a bit. Not bad for a cold rainy weekend in November. I’m trying to decide how I’m going to make these row covers work to my advantage on a temporary basis. So I gather my tools and cut yards of twine and proceed to cut some small saplings just outside the brush line around the garden area and up runs our woodland cat, Chance. We make conversation and she wants to be loved, so I take time to pet her. She follows me around and plays with the twine I toss to the ground as I’m working on the row cover. I cut six saplings to about 18 inches, pound them into the ground along each side of the row and then stretch the landscape fabric over the top and tie it down. I always have to do and redo because as I’m working I always come up with a better idea, so I’m constantly tweaking as I go, sometimes starting over multiple times. By now, the wind is starting to pick up and the sun is just starting to set. The row covers are blowing in the wind, my hands are freezing, nose is running and I’m a little frustrated, but I’ve got to get this done. Okay, first row redone. I step back to admire my work and Chance takes a flying leap and jumps right on top of the row cover crashing everything to the ground tearing the ┬álandscape fabric at each corner. She is having the greatest time. She thought I had created the best cat carnival she could could ever imagine. As I tried to get her off the kitty hammock ride, she grabbed ahold of my arm and bit my hand and made it known that she would leave when she was ready, and she was not! I was not amused, but she is a cat and she could care less how I felt. After removing her from the row cover, forceably, she decided to move on, for a while anyway. She disappeared into the brushy boundary of the garden to play with something else. First row repaired, again, second row done, third row almost there, and here she comes again. I’m watching her close to make sure no repeats. Alright, third row done. Oh sh..there she is right in the middle of row one…..again! I’m going to…….cuss and swear and fix the damn thing again and call it a day. Vigor has left the body.

Anticipated, but not Expected

Our cabin is located in an area of Michigan that has an unpredictable weather pattern. We are about 100 miles from Lake Michigan which has a great deal of control over our weather. Another factor in our weather is the terrain and the dense canopy inwhich our cabin is located. There are times when the wind is blowing high in the trees and we can hear it coming but never feel it because the terrain is rolling and the trees are tall and thick with leaves in mid-summer. Sometimes when it rains you can hear the drops on the leaves but can’t feel them until the water is so heavy the leaves can no longer bare the weight and it all comes crashing down through the thick foliage. So to say the least about living where we do, it can be challenging. There is a saying that goes something like, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes and it will change”.

I’ve kept a journal since we’ve started our cabin life journey so we have a record of weather patterns and bird migrations and the comings and goings of the wildlife in the area since 2008. Last year in October, we had already had snow, twice! The weather this year has been exceptional. A great growing season for the garden, the woods and the wildlife. Fall was ushered in with the usual rain, cool temperatures, some beautiful sunny warm days and then fantastic displays of color. You can never have enough warm, sunny afternoons in October when the trees are in full color.

We have not been to the Rollin’ Rock on a regular basis since the middle of September. Our obligations to our family were bigger than time would allow and we knew the planning of our daughter’s wedding would take time and energy, and it did. We pulled it all off in the last moments and the time and effort is now just memories in the bank of our history. I’ll have to say, she was a gorgeous bride!! Ok, well anyway, my point was that we have really done nothing in preparation for winter. Time ticks by and the anxiety of knowing it’s coming and you’re not prepared lays heavy on your mind.

We had heard the weather forecast was for some snow showers in our area, but you can never quite trust what you hear. All the factors I mentioned earlier all come in to play. So we sit and wonder, will we get it or not? When you need rain and its forecasted, we are always just on the outer edge, no rain here! So, sometimes with snow, it’s the same. However, this time, they were dead on. We got blasted with heavy wet snow, covering the ground within minutes. It was beautiful…and stressful, at the same time. Beautiful, because the woods is a quiet and peaceful place to be in the winter. Stressful, because we are not prepared. There was so much more we wanted to accomplish before the cold and snow came. Expanding the garden, working on the addition to the cabin, blowing leaves and general cleanup, the list goes on and on. But just like all the other years when we were caught off guard, it will all be there waiting for us.

So, bring on the snow, no more complaining! I’m getting the snowshoes ready. It’ll be a while before I can use them, but I can at least be prepared for when that time comes.

 

Daily Prompt: Millions

There are 42.2 million American people or 13% of all households in the US that are food insecure.

In 2012, the USDA census reported 915 million acres of farmland in the US with only 4.5 million or 4.5% being used to grow vegetables. There is over 170 million acres of land being used to grow 2 crops, corn and soybeans. Although, both products are used in some food production, primarily they are used for unhealthy processed foods or products that aren’t food at all.

It’s time for people to take action and become food growers on their own. It doesn’t take much space, time or energy. You can grow food on a patio, window ledge, or your kitchen counter. It will save time and money and you will be able to share valuable resources such as experience and knowledge and pass it on to others so they too can become more self-suffient and less reliant on someone else to supply them with nutritious food. 

We started our quest for self-suffiency in 2015, just 1 growing season ago. Our first garden consisted of 2-55 gallon drums cut in half and a couple of shipping crates. Anyone can do this. You provide drainage, some good soil, your seeds or plants, a little water along the way, and you will have enough to eat and share! 

We, here at the Rollin’ Rock, have doubled our garden size this year and plan to increase again for 2017. There are many challenges to our location in the forest, but we are determined to continue gaining in knowledge and experience. It is exciting to be able to share our bounty with family and friends, as do all our good neighbors here in the north country.

A New Blog For A New Year

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Skinner Lodge is an off grid 12×24 Amish built cabin on 30 acres in beautiful northern Michigan. We are off grid currently using solar with a wind turbine waiting for installation. We are miles from the nearest utility pole, so electricity is not an option. Our bathroom remains a nicely built privy with a shower not far from the cabin. No indoor running water, but the well we had drilled in 2011 has been one of our greatest assets so far. As we develop our garden it helps to have available water on site instead of trying to carry it all from the city, which was very painstaking and costly I may add.

Our goal was to retire to the Rollin’ Rock in 2019, but things just haven’t quite worked out that way. My husband has taken an early retirement and as of this writing we are not able to live there full time due to family obligations, but soon, we hope!

I’ve started Cabin Life News for the new “blogging 101” class , to get blogging once again and to gain new tips to become better at what I like to do. I thought this would be a great way to share up to date progress at Skinner Lodge and the Rollin’ Rock in general, some new things I’ve learned over the past year and introduce some very interesting and talented people we’ve met. Most of all, I’d love to promote the beauty of northern Michigan and all it has to offer.

You can also follow our historical journey, in progress, at SkinnerLodge.com.