Monday, November 4, 2013

Hunting with Dora and Sally

Poor Dora.  Grouse season opened in September and she didn't get to go hunting until yesterday.  She did a great job, though, despite the neglect.  We went up the road a mile or so and took a trail that we don't explore very often and had never gotten to the end of. 
Dora taking a break

Dora cooperated with me, quartering back and forth across the trail, investigating likelier areas more thoroughly than those less likely to hold birds.  Shortly before reaching the end of the trail, she bumped a bird that was so far away I didn't even think of trying for it. 

On the way back to the car, we took the wrong fork in the trail.  We stumbled on some more lovely cover that didn't look well traveled but still didn't hold any birds.  We got back to the fork and I decided to do the obligatory photo of the dog and gun, despite the lack of bird. 

After the photo, I took a closer look at that old stump.  Do you see what I saw?  Hmm.  Where was the bird that left that behind?

Look at the upper left corner
I took my dog and chilly feet back to the van to warm up the feet and switch dogs.  I decided to hunt the same trail again for two reasons.  One, I hoped the grouse Dora had bumped was stupid enough to come back after a little over an hour with us gone.  Two, it was a very pretty trail that will be fun to snow shoe this winter and I wanted to retain a better memory of it. 
See the film of ice?

I didn't get my feet dry and wasn't smart enough to switch shoes before going back out with Sally.  It made walking pretty uncomfortable after a while.  Here is a photo of one of my new shoes: 

Predictably, Sally and I didn't find any grouse down that trail.  She did have a number of non-productive tentative points.  I don't know what she thought was there.  I've seen her point where a grouse had been; this behavior was different.  Perhaps some woodcock had stopped there on their way through the area. 

On the way out, I heard what sounded like a small dog barking.  Strange, as there aren't any houses behind this area of forest.  I held Sally's bell so that I could hear better.  It was more than one animal.  I wondered if maybe there were a pack of coyotes out there.  Did I really want to walk in their direction?? 

I listened some more.  One of those critters sounded suspiciously like our Tucker, the most vociferous of our pack.  I marked the time and asked Scott what he had been doing then when we got home.  He took two teams of dogs for runs with the training cart, a sure fire way to rile them up!  

Some people might find a pile of bones creepy or even nerve-wracking.  What puts me on edge is seeing my dog freeze while staring off into space, then turning quickly to rush back to me.  Sally's ears were back, her ruff was raised, and her tail was in the submissive but ready for action position.  Even though we hadn't made it all the way to the end of the trail, I decided to head back for the car.  

There weren't any birds, but Sally and I did stumble across an old wolf kill.  There was nothing left on the bones, which were bleached very white.  I forgot to check for gnaw marks.  However, I doubt there are many Gnaw Wolves in our part of the world. 

Happy hunting!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Close Call in Balkan Township!

The citizens of Balkan Township don't know how lucky they are to have Dora Flea in residence!  The Wicked *itch of Balkan, thought to have been vanquished 13 July 2012, was seen late yesterday afternoon in the company of the Wicked Witch of Chisholm. 

Intrepid photographer Scott Dahlquist snapped a couple of photos.  In the first, the two can be seen relaxing on the edge of the Superior National Forest:

The Wicked Witch of Chisholm Contemplates Mischief and the Wicked *itch of Balkan Evaluates Potential Danger
The second was taken hastily, with our photographer barely escaping a horrible curse:

The Wicked Witch of Chisholm Preparing a Spell while the Wicked *itch of Balkan Prepares for Battle

The battle between Dora Flea and the Wicked Witch and Wicked *itch was fierce.  It lasted several hours.  In the end, though, Dora Flea was successful in her defense of home and township.  She was last seen digging a hole large enough for her war spoils. 

Dora Flea and Her New Shoes

Wicked *itch of Balkan -- Ch. Caniscaeli Sally Goodin, JH
Wicked Witch of Chisholm -- Herself
Dora Flea -- Fiddlin Off She Goes

Monday, October 7, 2013

Early Season Run

I started with Dora and Tucker in lead, because Dora is usually very good there and Tucker has been.  Unfortunately, Tucker was much more into investigating the trees than staying on the road, reminding me that these guys run better in the dark, with fewer distractions.  
I put Tucker in wheel and moved Wylie up by Dora.  I am not very smart.  I KNEW Wylie liked to run all over the place and would probably bump into Dora and she doesn't have the temperament to deal with it.  
Wylie dragged Dora off the road, where they somehow ended up going around a tree and back under the gangline behind Lichen and Shady:
l - r:  Lichen & Shady (team dogs), Wylie & Dora (lead), Tucker & Declan (wheel)
I finally had the sense to put Lichen up with Dora.  By then, she was mentally worn out.  Scott was still with us and stayed a few feet in front of us with the van and trailer, giving the dogs something to chase home.  
It took half an hour to travel less than four miles, but it was a very educational run.  Now I just need to retain what I have learned. 
Happy trails!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yearling Stacks

Lichen Head
The babies are a little over a year old now, and it is long past time for us to have new stack photos.  So, here they are:

Lichen Front







Shady Front

Shady Stack


Tucker Stack
Tucker Front









Wylie Front
Wylie Stack

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Gigi and the "Real" Motobecane
You know what they say about short cuts.  I have a couple new rules for myself:  First, when exploring new road bike routes, do it in the car first.  That way you don't have to back track several miles when you see, while riding your relatively new road bike, that the road turns to gravel.  Second, when inevitably exploring new routes on bike, anyway, TURN AROUND as soon as you see the road turns to gravel.  Back tracking adds extra miles for a better workout and avoids the washboard effect. 

"Gigi's Gears Sound Funny"
If you are still foolish enough to continue, or just don't want to ride past that large growling dog again, bring a map of the area because your GPS unit will not have sufficient battery power.  In this way, when you have realized that the compass on your watch hasn't been calibrated (and you don't remember how to do it...) and you don't have a "real" compass, you can look at the road intersections and avoid going half a mile in the wrong direction at the T. 

Not So Bad...
Furthermore, couples should both have cell phones.  That way, when it starts raining while you are still on the gravel with your once shiny pink bike, you can call your partner to let him know that you are having the time of your life being chased by Redwing Blackbirds and exploring mushroom villages.  You don't need him to come to your rescue.  Alternatively, he can call to find where you are rather than drive up and down the WRONG highway looking for you.

Finally, when you are together and dry again, head for the local drive-in for burgers and root beer floats!

Happy trails!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How to Take a Shower When the Well Is Dry

The Empty Well
First, you need water.  This isn't always easy to come by, especially in winter.  Today is the official beginning of Spring but this is the upper Midwest and the temperature is about 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  The yard is far from green.

There isn't any actual available water in our immediate vicinity.  Therefore, we had to find some potential water.  It looks like this: 
Potential Water

Water-to-be looks like this:

Buckets of Snow
Here we are "creating" water:
Melting Snow On The Stove

Sure, you say, now you have water.  What does a few pots of water on the stove have to do with taking a shower?  That is a great question and I have the answer:

Super Solar Shower
Most of you probably know that it takes a lot of snow to make a little water.  We don't really feel like melting snow for the rest of the winter/early spring.  So, we contacted a Professional.  He had a couple of suggestions, including drilling a new well, but we opted for the band-aid approach for the time being: 
Mark's Well & Pump Truck
Filling the Well

Filling the well is, of course, only a temporary fix.  Heck, it may be very short-lived and possibly a waste of money.  After all, if water seeps in to fill a well, what keeps it from seeping out?  It was almost worth it just to have a full shower this morning!

The dogs aren't as fortunate as we are.  This is how Dora bathed on Monday: 
Dora the Retrieving Setter

Happy Spring!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mush For A Cure

I've done it again!  I, the non-musher and owner of bird dogs, have roped Scott, the recovering musher, into helping me with a mushing event.  It isn't just any event, though. 

Mush For A Cure's mission states [participants are] to raise awareness of and raise funds to find a cure for  breast cancer through annual pledge/tribute runs by dog team.

Mushers at MFAC not only raise money to help with breast cancer research, they do so with one of the most entertaining FUNdraisers ever!  As you might expect, there are dogs involved, nearly all of them real sled dogs.  There are also contests:  There is the perennial favorite "Bald, Brave, and Beautiful" contest, best dressed team, a human sled dog race, crowing of king and queen, and much more. 

Dora, Shady, and Sally are ready to run!
Mushers hail from Louisiana to Washington to New Jersey to Maryland and many points in between.  All are brought together by a love of mushing and a desire to help the National Breast Cancer Foundation find not only better treatment, but also a cure, for breast cancer. 

Please help me raise money for this important cause.  You can do it on my personal donation page.  The site is secure, fast, and easy to use.  At the website you will be able to choose an amount to donate and receive email confirmation of your donation. 

Thank you and happy trails!

Susan, Scott, and Team Fiddlin'