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.

 

It’s Been A While

 

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have been away from our home for almost 2 weeks. Staying down state has been cost effective but very anxiety inducing. There had been a couple of storms which produced freezing rain and a couple of inches of new snow in our northern region and we have been stressed about the food in the refrigerator and the condition of the driveway and the amount of propane left in the tank. The only good thing was that we had enough foresight to bring the kitty back with us knowing our stay down state may be more than just a few days. Thankfully she settled in to the tiny apartment like a champ!

We’ve had the worst luck with our vehicle. First the accident, then a mechanical failure. Not just a simple mechanical failure, it had to be the ultimate out of our budget kind of mechanical failure. So we look for a simple solution, which really there isn’t one, and we purchase a substitute vehicle to get us by until we can make the needed repair to our Trailblazer. Finally we can make the trip home after struggling with getting this, new to us, vehicle on the road while also managing grandkids sporting events (in which we like to participate ).

The Cowboys are crazy to get back to the freedom of the woods. However, they are apprehensive about the new ride. Dish is particularly anxious. He has been really scared to ride since the accident. Now we’re loading him up into a strange vehicle and he is visibly shaken, won’t even take a treat. We had to physically lift him in.

The ride north seemed really long and loud. There are some tweaks that need to be made to the new ride.  As we pass the Cedar Springs exit, the snow on the side of the road is increasing. By the time we get to US10, there is a considerable amount of snow.  As we turn onto our road, it is ice covered and with a soccer mom van, it’s pretty scary. Upon arrival, my husband Les, has to shovel the end of the driveway before our first attempt. First attempt is a failure to get in, then a second and a third failure.  Time to get “Pinky”. Les hooks up a tow strap to the back of our vehicle and after many attempts with the tractor, finally pulls us up the driveway. The very first thing I do is open the back and let the boys out.

Before I can even get to the cabin Newt is circling the picnic table. His eyes are crazy and he is sniffing the ground and running around that table. I walk over close and see an animal under the table and I’m hoping for a raccoon. Nope, it’s a porcupine. A big “porky”. The porky doesn’t seem too ruffeled, but both dogs are excited and trying to get under the table. I yell for Les and he is able to get Dish into the cabin and after numerous attempts, I am able to snatch Newt by the collar, barely, and get him into the cabin too.  We stayed inside while Les took care of the porky, I’m not a participater in the elimination process.

I hate even the thought of killing an animal, even a mouse, but porky’s are very destructive. During the winter for the last two years they have eaten the tender boughs at the top of several hemlock trees which eventually kills them and have destroyed many trees in the compound by eating the bark off. They are also notorious for eating the siding off cabins and outbuildings causing thousands of dollars in damage. Most often, I make Les trap the raccoons and one time, even a skunk (under his most adamant protest) and then release them out of harms way. But a porky is a different deal. Their tails are down right treacherous. One swipe and you could be pulling quills out of your legs or arms or the nose and mouth of your dog for hours. Or worse yet, a stressful, costly visit to the vet or ER to have them removed properly so infection doesn’t set in.

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So, with the porky now deceased and dusk setting in, I cook dinner, and we can finally crash for the night. The end of  yet another interesting day at the Rollin’ Rock.

Saturday brings sunny skies and warm 39 degree temps. On go the snowshoes and off we go into the snowy northern woodland we call home. The dogs are at their best running free through the snowy forest. I can tell I’m 2 weeks out of shape, but it’s great to be home again, even for just a short while.

 

The Cowboys

I would like to introduce you to the canine buddies who share our life and our tiny home. They are Dish and Newt, “The Cowboys”.

First, we have Dish. He will be 2 years old in March of this year. He was from a rescue group who provided medical care after his owner surrendered him for lack of cash for treatment. He was 20 weeks old when we picked him up. He is beautiful dark brindle with a white patch on his chest that stretches up under his chin. Dish is a Mastiff/bully mix weighing in about 90lbs now. In comparison to his body, Dishs’ head is huge, and with his mouth open he looks like a land shark. He is a lean, mean muscle machine. When he runs through the woods, he is as graceful as a gazelle. I’ve owned greyhounds in the past and they too are powerful, graceful runners, but nothing compared to Dish. He is completely comfortable running and dodging trees at full speed. He loves the woods with all its’ smells and the quiet sounds of nature. But with all his grace and beauty, Dish is not the brightest bulb in the box. The early extreme medical issues caused him some developmental problems.

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Second is Newt, he is going to be 1 year old in March. Newt is a smaller Mastiff/bully mix weighing in about 45lbs so far. He is a beautiful fawn color, with a white patch on his chest.

Newt is a handful, still a pup, he is a chewer and a digger, with a keen sense of smell. He can dig up a mole a foot under ground. Newt, like Dish, loves his time in the woods. Chasing chipmunks is his favorite thing to do. He races through the woods with his ears on high alert listening for the chipmunks whistling back and forth and his nose to the ground not missing any scents that have passed through. Newt is not graceful or agile, but he is a protector.

We live in an area that is surrounded by absentee owners, sportsmen who use their property three or four weeks out of the year for hunting or cutting firewood. We also have a huge tract of state land that lays untouched by humans a good share of the year. Because of the absence of homeowners or other cabin dwellers, we have a vast array of wildlife that travels around and through our property including black bear and coyote. Although it hasn’t happened yet, I’m sure Newt would have no problem facing down a bear. He is fearless.

We get many questions about their names. Well, life is all about compromise, so we decided that if my husband picked the dog, I would name it and vice verse. Well this time I chose the dog, I mean dogs, so he got to name them both. Their names come from the movie, Lonesome Dove, my husbands favorite, and Dish and Newt were cowboys in the movie. My Dish and Newt are just as rough and tough as you can imagine any cowboy  in the old west were, so their names are very fitting.