July 25, 2015

Pre-Puppy Jitters

Ignore, if you will for a moment, the fact that I've been away from posting for a few months.
Life has been full and I've been busy with so many good things.  Not a day has gone by that I haven't thought of my blog or the wonderful blogging friends I've made through it.   I will be catching up.

But first, what drew me here to a keyboard to type out my thoughts late this evening.. is a puppy.   

I guess word is we're getting a puppy tomorrow.  
Our house is full of excitement.  The kids are beside themselves with anticipation.  Beau has been unable to fall asleep the past couple of nights.   He says he's just too excited.  

I, on the other hand, am a basket of mixed emotions.  

I think the excitement might be rubbing off on me, but I keep wondering if my heart is ready.  It's been nearing 14 months since we lost McGee.  Often times, thinking of him still brings me to tears. 
We were at the enjoyably spoiled stage with him, the dependable, mature, good-old-lazy dog stage.  Any longing to start over at the puppy stage hasn't come to me yet, but it's time. 
Ready or not, we need a dog.  

Since early spring we've had problem after problem with pests and predators infringing on our home.. (We're well aware that it's likely we're just as much infringing on theirs.. I'm sorry for that.)  First we had weasels, lots of weasels, who diminished our small flock of beloved laying hens to just one lone, terrified chicken.  I found myself commenting on the carnage around here much this spring. 

After we'd dispatched what we hope was the last weasel, we had a pair of beavers arrive and take up residence on our little pond.
Oh, they were fun to watch at first!  I so appreciated their industrious character.  Until the yard was flooded from their damming up the outflow of the pond, jeopardizing our driveway with flooding as well.  Every day Johnathan and I would go out with mud boots and shovel to take a notch out of the dam and allow water through.  Every night the beavers patched it up like the brilliant engineers they are and they'd gain on us a little.  We tried hard to coexist.  Mostly if we could just keep the water down below flooding, we thought they'd be ok.  

And then the 60 foot trees began dropping.  Beavers don't care what trees they chew down, or where they will fall, if there are buildings or power lines nearby.   They were speedily clearing trees galore.  Big ones, little ones, even one of our favorite little oaks.  The carnage was not in the form of chickens now, but trees!   Each day when another one fell, I agonized!

As summer moved on and trees were still coming down, our strawberry patch took off bearing ripe fruit.  One day Lilly said, "Mom, I saw a black cat going into our strawberries."
The strawberry patch grows against the south length of our house.  Lilly was jumping on the trampoline a few yards away.  We don't have any cats around the area, so I thought it odd.   Later that day, I too, saw a black tail that looked like a cat going into the strawberries, so I went to investigate.  
I got a good look as the creature lumbered away slowly and looked back at me.  It was not a cat!  Turns out it was a fisher (often called fisher cat.)  
Fishers are extremely agile, ferocious predators.  They are one of a very few animals that can kill a porcupine. And apparently they like delicious, home grown, juicy strawberries. 
Rarely seen, they are super neat animals... BUT, not so neat to have around kids in the yard, or in the strawberry patch where they might cross paths or accidentally corner it, and those paths are within arms length of our house.
And at this point, we'd gained confidence that we'd secured control over the weasel population, and had gotten a few more hens.  A fisher is a much larger member of the weasel family, and sure enough, the adored and friendly Pippi Longstocking was the next casualty.  
She want alone, next a dismembered turtle was found left in the yard.  And all the robin eggs and nestlings we'd been watching disappeared.  Seeing the fisher next to the house or passing through under the trampoline during the day became a daily occurrence, along with more carnage.
Also - that fisher scream!   16 summers sleeping here with the windows open and I've never heard anything so chilling.  I would fly out of bed at night and run for the windows to yell at the crazy snarling banshee thing to be quiet, wondering what it was fighting and killing this time.  (A horrible sound!)

Throughout all of this, the army of weasels, the chicken slayings, the flooded yard, fallen trees and loveable but incredibly destructive beavers, the hijacked strawberry patch and flying out of bed from a deep sleep to predator screams in our yard...  throughout it all we found ourselves saying again and again,  "We need a dog."
Just like we did all those years ago when we were overrun with skunks and had a nuisance bear.  That's when I went on my mission to find a red dog with a black nose and we ended up with McGee.  He kept the coyotes at distance, and the bears steered clear of his scent.  Beavers came to our pond a few times, but moved along when McGee showed great interest in them and prevented them from coming on land to chew trees.  He didn't keep all the raccoon out of the garden, but he sure helped.
A year after his absence, we've got critters coming from all directions! 
In the woods, on a farm, and in many places, a dog's presence serves a purpose.

Yes, we need a dog. 

This evening Beau was talking eagerly about the puppy to us and I again shared that I'm not sure how ready I am.  This development came on pretty quick and has been all Mitch's arranging in the past week.  For the record, he's been interested in this kind of dog for years and we'd been considering one as a second dog when we had McGee.. so it's not a brand new idea and we've done our research.  But still, the reality of it is a very new thing that came on quick. 
Anyway, when I said this about not being ready, Mitch said that he wasn't ready for a dog at all when we got McGee (who was all my arranging) ..but he sure liked him a lot.  Then I had to scoot away before Beau saw my eyes tearing up, because yes, we sure liked him a lot. 

And I know I'll love this puppy, too.   
There are the pre-big day jitters running through my mind.. Am I ready for 2 am wakings (Hopefully not for long. I don't remember those with McGee, who was a breeze to house train.) For the commitment that this life will be part of our lives every day for the next several years, ready to share my home and offer patience and care, for better or for worse, through chewing, digging, or whatever challenges come our way?  Ready for the fact that it may break my heart one day, too?  It may seem silly to wonder these things, but we're getting a puppy.  It's a big deal.  I wish every pet owner thought through these things. 
When we adopted McGee we had to fill out a lengthy application that asked some really tough but good questions.  I joked that we had to sign our lives away, but it really is a commitment not to be taken lightly.

I don't recall if I ever particularly felt this way, but I know it's not uncommon for expecting parents to wonder if they can love a second child-on-the way as much as the first, or if they'll have enough love or attention to spread to multiple kids.   A part of me has worried a little, can I love this dog as much as McGee? 

I do remember as an expectant mother worrying about this and that, regarding "being ready."  In our case, with each added child, it was the rush to get a vehicle that would fit us all, or the ridiculous-but-real-to-me-at-the-time question of "where will this baby sleep?"   Puppies are different than human babies, I know. (I do!)  But I'm feeling similarly, the nester in me doesn't feel "ready" for this puppy.  I haven't had time to prepare this or that, or really anything.  But truth is, like a baby - it will all be ok!  There will be room and it will be loved.

We already chose a name for her.  That kind of sealed the deal.  (Yes, it's a her!)   

Ready or not, we're getting a puppy.  They're so excited.   I might be too.

Peace, Love, and Puppy dog tails,

Update:  Kids were up early with huge grins on their faces and we are en route, with a puppy bag packed and many miles ahead of us today.
I've never attempted to post from my phone before and am attaching a photo but don't know where it will appear.  This is not our pup, but one we visited last year at our local humane society.  We'll introduce our new family member asap.   

Blogger Tricks

April 8, 2015

Manitou Falls | Pattison State Park, WI

We crossed the bridge to Wisconsin last week and headed for Pattison State Park, located nearby in the northwest corner of the state.  
The park, at a glance, looks very... park-like.  There are large groomed grounds for picnics and playing, and some good old CCC buildings for gatherings, all near a small man made lake (which is a strange concept coming from northern MN.)  The campground looks nice.  But what drew us were the waterfalls beyond the recreation area.
Pattison State Park features the highest waterfall in Wisconsin.  At 165 feet high, Big Manitou Falls is roughly the same height as Niagra Falls (but a great deal skinnier!) and is claimed to be the 4th highest waterfall in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains. 
The Native Americans who originally settled in the area around the falls believed they heard the voice of the Great Spirit within the roaring of the falls and gave it the name "Gitchee Manitou."

The kids and I stopped here with family last fall, but it was a hurried visit, and we missed the smaller falls.  This was a great day to return for a closer look.  With spring thaw there was plenty of rushing water while still some nice ice formations. 

Approaching Big Manitou Falls..

Nearing the drop off, a long way down!

(Photo above taken last Fall.  Spring 2015 below.)

Viewing of Big Manitou Falls is limited from lookouts on the wooded rim.  There is no access to the gorge, and climbing in it is prohibited.  These limited vantage points make for deceiving photos taken at a downward angle.  It looks so much larger in life!
At the bottom of the falls, the Black River quickly disappears, hidden by treetops in the rugged gorge, flowing on toward Lake Superior.  It would be amazing to look down and see the depth of the gorge and the river winding along, but I appreciate that it's been left wild and full of trees.
(Photo of the gorge and horizon also taken during our Fall visit.)

We had a pretty good view from the other side of the gorge. 
Notice the ice arch over the falls, really cool!

Headed upstream to Little Manitou Falls, which did not disappoint! 
Little Manitou Falls drops just 31 feet, but makes up for height in width and open views. The falls form a bit of a punchbowl before the river moves on.  I'm guessing that in summer months when the water is low, one might be able to climb around in this open area.
We walked downstream along the river.  Spring runoff had created huge frozen veils of ice coming down the sides of the ravine.

Back to Little Manitou Falls, I climbed down a steep wooded hill for a better photo opp. 
If you've been around for any of my other waterfall adventures, you'll notice I never think to bring a tripod along, but prefer a longer exposure for moving water.. so I have to make do. 
All of these photos were taken with my camera wedged on a stump or rock.  They aren't great, but I'm always pleased that they're better than I expect, given the circumstances.  Holding still is hard!
I found a place to sit between trees and watched and listened for a while.

"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water."
— Loren Eiseley

I took some short video clips to capture the movement and sound.
I don't usually do video, I hope it works!

A little history:
Martin Pattison was a lumberjack and miner who began logging the Black River in 1879. He eventually sold his lumber interests, but in 1917, he heard about a plan to build a hydroelectric dam on the river which would've destroyed the waterfall.  To block the development, he secretly purchased 660 acres along the river, saving Big Manitou Falls.  In 1918 he donated this land for public use, saving the waterfall and surrounding forest.

"In being able to grant this site to the public, I have accomplished one of my chief ambitions. For years I have spent much time amid the surrounding of the falls and have received so much enjoyment there that it gradually became a part of my life."

Our thanks to Mr. Pattison.  We had a great day here! 

Peace, Love, and the Voice of Gitchee Manitou,

Sharing with Our World Tuesday

April 5, 2015

Spring Finds

Mitch and I found ourselves crossing the bridge to northern Wisconsin Monday. 
We enjoyed a visit to Big Manitou Falls (Wisconsin's highest at 165 ft) and Little Manitou Falls in Pattison State Park.  It was quiet there, we saw just 3 or 4 other people from a distance. 
Ice on the river was breaking up and we found water rushing nicely. 
Finding time to explore together is one of my favorite things.

I found this stump in the shape of the letter "C." 
It had me thinking of all I have to Celebrate this week.  It's been good. 

I also found this small nest on the ground, reminding me that Spring is time for building new.
Birds do it year after year.  We can, too, if we choose to.

To our surprise, we found a chicken on our front porch this week.
This is Matilda, the first chicken to perch on our porch or park herself on our doorstep.  (And she doesn't budge for visitors who wish to enter.)  

This afternoon I found an onion in the garden, left from last year.
It's amazing to me that it wasn't withered from the deep freeze of winter.
Just a little peel of its outer layer and it was all bright, shiny & beautiful.

Tomorrow morning our kids will find Easter Eggs hiding all about.
However you celebrate Easter, I hope it finds you well!

Sharing with Friday Finds