I promised myself that I would add one of these stories here every time I told one. I tell them at one point or another throughout the summer. There will be no chronology - not yet anyway - nor will there be much of a schedule. You never know; I might add a story every day and I might not. This is my life. Every day is an adventure.


Thursday, May 17, 2012


I went out and did some raking again today. I'm trying to get some of the Fireweed stalks raked up in the hopes the areas can be mowed. This time I didn't wear my wool shirt and I lasted much longer than last time. I lasted until a sneezing fit drove me into the house to wash my face. I've grown allergic to spruce trees when they dust their pollen all over the place, and early spring is when their dust is the thickest. Left over dust from winter doesn't help though.

During my raking I discovered a few clumps called Niger Head grass. I cringe every time I hear that name but if they have some more official name, I don't know it. Niger Head can get quite big - big humps of root clumps. Found out on the trail or on the perimeter of a swamp especially during the winter, they can dump a snowmachine over unless the trail is already packed and such lumps are compensated for. I don't think I'm going to have that kind of trouble with these little clumps. The lawn mower or the weed eater will have something to say about that.

All around the edges of our yard is last year's native grass, now all dry and laying down. Once was the time I'd go out and collect that dry grass by the haystack to use for the chickens and ducks the rest of the year. At the time I wished for a hay baler because finding a dry place around here to store a haystack isn't easy.

Of course, the vast majority of our yard is the normal yard grass most everyone has in their yard. Personally, I prefer the wild grass kept cut. You can't cut that short like you can lawn grass. Maybe if it was cut every few days, but I doubt it. Cut short, the wild grass is not so green and rather course. Cut kinda long though, say six inches or so, and it's really quite soft and rather lush. Course, if you don't cut it, it doesn't take long for it to reach six feet and a tunnel would be necessary to get to the outhouse.

Domestic grass really must be kept short. Allowed to grow long, it's no less lush but it lays over and can trip up one's feet. Sadly, it rains a lot here (usually) and cutting the grass in the rain really sucks in so many ways. The grass, however, loves the rain and positively explodes with growth, so waiting for it to dry enough to cut between showers just might not be possible. Therefore, it's either cut the wet grass when the opportunity knocks or wait for an extra long sunny break. Needless to say, such days don't always happen, so cutting the extra long domestic grass is a huge pain involving a good deal of raking.

This all leads me back to today. Though I'm concentrating on Fireweed, much of the rest will get my attention too, until I have to go to work, and if the ground isn't dry enough to rake before then, well, maybe I'll manage to get it raked up before we need to mow again. The whole thing is complicated this year. We dropped two trees in the yard last winter. I'll likely get the branches moved sometime this summer.

In case you're curious, there's still some snow here and there. There's still water running across the trail and now the ground is starting to thaw out there so it's getting really muddy. I'm taking the raked up grass and walking it into the mud. It helps, and with luck, enough seed heads are present to start some grass growing there. The roots will help to stabilize the mud somewhat.

It still freezes at night, but just barely, and the water in the river is still too low to drive a boat anywhere. I guess we should have kept the jet boat. It might have been eighteen feet long but it drove well and it could manage this level of water.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Need a Cat or Two

My first experiment with a picture. Let me know how it works out for you. Yes, this is what the snow has left for us on the sunny side of my house. You can see in the upper right hand corner the ladder, right above that is my satellite dish.

These are mouse tunnels all carefully insulated from the snow by the grass they packed against the top of their tunnels. There are a few places where the tunnel goes down into the ground. I never see these little buggers, but there must be quite a few of them. What do you think? Do I need a cat or two?

I haven't had cats here for four years now, and though our dog catches a mouse or a shrew now and then, she obviously isn't keeping up with the population explosion. I love cats, but over the years I have increasingly grown more and more allergic to them. However, I have been thinking. There are other things I had been growing increasingly allergic to, apples being one of them, but since I started to lose weight last summer, eating apples was one of the pleasures I was able to re-indulge in. I know one allergy is not connected to another, but dare I hope?

Every day on Facebook I see the most adorable pictures of kittens and cats all doing what kittens and cats do. It makes me miss them all the more. I think, therefore, I am in the market for giving it a try. Allergy or not, I want another kitten around here. This place is just too quiet.

My only concern is, old dogs scarcely tolerated my other cats. They were mine, therefore they weren't to be chased, but that didn't mean she didn't REALLY want to. Same with the chickens I had back then.  Since I have decided I won't be spending great chunks of time away from here in the winter, having assorted animals around has been something I have been longing for. Maybe not so many as before, and maybe not chickens. I'll have to think about that one. It got to the point where an egg averaged about $2 when cost of feed was figured in to how many eggs I ended up with. Then there's the damage they were always doing to the yard.

I can do a cat or two. Maybe if my kids will read this, they will bring me one or two this summer. Do my kids read this? If I get a kitten this summer, the answer will be yes. haha We'll see.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Pleasant Stroll

Actually, my day started out with another little surprise. When I let the dog out this morning (at 6:30 in the AM), I saw my first little tweeter bird; I haven't seen any all winter long. I know the harsh cold had to have taken a hit on them. I found a little frozen body some years ago that looked like it had been blown out of a tree. I didn't find any such thing this year, but the absence of their cheerful chatter said that either they had migrated (I hope) somewhere further south, or that something much more dire had happened to them. I have yet to hear them twittering to each other so this one little guy doesn't have anyone to sing to yet.

But in other pleasant news: Since we have been expecting to need to babysit the boats through breakup, I have been doing my best to make it down to the boats from time to time. It's been unnaturally warm over the last couple weeks, and the snow has been melting fast. I have also kept in contact with the lodge for river news. Since the entire winter was so abysmally cold all winter long, we expected breakup to come with the roar of an ice dragon (note, I didn't say 'lion'). Instead, unless it somehow isn't over yet, it came rather like a kitten, leaving the water quite low.

I walked down there on the 30th of April to discover that pretty much all of the portion of river I could see was clear leaving only our runway floating free but still in one piece. Surprise me, but if I didn't know that there was probably a lot of intact snow still blocking the narrower channels further up river, there might have been enough water to drive the boat completely out. But I say that just as an indication of what the level of water was, not that it was at all drivable.

Knowing the snow on the trail was soft (it hadn't frozen at night for several nights in a row), I wore my snowshoes. I took the dog with me too; she does take her duty as guard dog quite seriously and gets upset with I take off without her. She is getting old and she was having some trouble with the soft snow. Where she was having the most trouble, the snow was only around knee deep for her but she's kinda stiff now and she wasn't at all anxious to trot on ahead.

There's a place along the trail that fills with spring snow-melt every year. This time there was only the highest ridge of left-over trail above the water. I side-stepped across that part, managing to break it down for her to walk across, but she didn't follow me, opting to wade across the icy water that was nearly neck deep for her.

When I went down there again day before yesterday, I left the dog behind. I was planning on trying to find a way around all that water and I knew the walking would be that much more difficult for her. I would likely be going through deeper snow and it wouldn't have been packed before. As it turns out, going around the water wasn't as easy as I'd hoped, so I'm doubly glad I decided to leave her behind.

The river day before yesterday was a surprise. After only two days, the runway was completely gone, leaving behind only a handful of truck-sized chunks of ice stuck along our side of the river right in front, and the water level about two feet lower than it was before. I called the lodge to learn that most of the main ice was still there, so breakup wasn't over yet.

Planning to walk down there again yesterday, I called the lodge for another river update to learn that he already had a boat in the water and had made the drive up to Skwentna. Was breakup over already??? and without the normal water levels rising and lowering three or four feet (if not more) four or five times as jams shoved their way down the river, getting stuck from time to time. Well, okay so I didn't bother to walk down there today. I had dug out a pair of waders to wear and I didn't relish walking in them. I don't get along with waders very well.

So, I headed out this morning wearing only my snow boots, figuring I'd turn around if I couldn't get across that spring run-off spot on our trail. Much to my surprise I could step across where the water was running in one spot and in another spot, I made it across water that was only ankle deep. Surprise, surprise. When I reached the river, it was to see that I had missed another bit of breakup. More ice had been shoved up onto the island out front and some of it was stacked up on other chunks. There was even one spot where a third piece of ice was on top, though I can't imagine how it got there unless it was already on top of it's perch before it all got deposited down here. The water had also gone down another foot or more. Sigh - I can't go anywhere until the water comes back up. Not to mention that the water is so unnaturally low. That is an indication that one or more of the rivers upriver from us has yet to cut loose, but it could also be an indication of just how dry the snow was this year. Who knows; it's still early. I don't NEED to go anywhere (work) for another two or three weeks at least.