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A big WELCOME to my blog. Yes, this means YOU, from me: Ken Laninga
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Saturday, Dec. 30, 2006. There had been no additional snow since our last visit but today it was drifting a lot. After lunch we took a short drive north. The road to the new gas lease was smooth and had a thick layer of ice from the water truck. In other places, roads are paved with ashphalt but here, they use ice using water which they buy from John after I stopped them sucking water out of the beaver pond. It now looks like a Zamboni has been working the road.
icy road

I guess when there is enough ice they'll haul in the oil rig to start drilling. We had a lot of snow so there was not a lot of frost in the ground; hence the need for a thick layer of ice. In spring it will be a terrible mess when all this melts.

We took 27 "Scout" sticks from the shed, to take home. I had bought a string  of Christmas lights and removed all the colored lights, and put two clear bulbs on it for us to read by. There were lynx tracks by the brown shed.

Sunday, Dec. 31; I should be home to show the annual SUPER sticks on my website tomorrow morning, as I do every January 1. While I was waiting for Marie to get up I noted a cow moose browsing 150 yards south of the cabin. Eventually she lay down there and stuck around until about noon. The two young whitetail deer on the other side of the cabin did not hang around long. When I walked down the road the moose did not leave and when I went to the JOG (shed) to dig around in some sticks she did not seem to mind either even though I was then 75 yards from her.
cow moose
Even when I hauled in a load of firewood and made a lot of noise she put up with me. On our short drive north and back I remarked to Marie, "I can't get over all those dozens of moose we have not seen." For lighting this trip, I hung up the exterior Christmas lights; a string of 25 lights with all the bulbs removed and two clear, un-colored ones on it. Each bulb is 7 watts and all we got out of the Terminator PowerBox was a bit over 5 hours. Another disappointment. The days are short; only 7 hours of daylight now.

Monday, January 1, 2007!!! At 7 AM, the outside temp was +4C. Time to go back to town and show the "Best" sticks to all the good people looking for them this morning.

As soon as we take our first trip for 2007, I'll delete this page and start a new one for 2007. HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!!

Trip 14: Only 4 nights up there this time. Snow was 15" deep. We saw 11 road-kills on the way up; 4 deer and 7 moose. At the cabin we saw only two moose and 3 deer. We got stuck once, about 2 miles north on an "ice road" made by the oil industry to where they plan to drill for gas soon. Here are a couple of the pictures I kept: A "Pine Grosbeak" and Yours Truly, bringing some firewood:

Pine Grosbeak

Hauling firewood

Trip 13: Friday, Oct. 20:  When we got to the cabin we saw a "bunch" of deer in my field. The road was very muddy and the van is dripping mud all over. I went to the beaver "workings" and cut some stumps for a customer. 


During supper we saw 25 deer on my field and later at least 2 more came out of the bush.

Saturday: Last night I got up at 3:45 AM to attend to the call of nature. While attending to that chore, I admired the black, star-studded night sky. Quickly I noted a couple of metorites. Intrigued, I kept watching and kept seeing more of them. In all, I saw at least 30 and one of them was incredible. Large, fast, bright and leaving a huge long tail. After admiring that long tail for a moment or two, I got Marie up to come and see it. She did. Then I admired it with binocs. That smoky trail hung in the darkness, clearly visible for at least 20 minutes. Nearly all were seen from the south-facing kitchen window. The main window, facing east, was poor due to the Northern Lights. The morning was foggy. There were two small Whitetail bucks 50 yards from the cabin sparring for about an hour.The mud which had dripped off the van was nicely frozen so it picked up with rake and scoopshovel very nicely. I walked to the beaver dam and threw a lot of fresh poplar tops down to the water for the beavers to eat. We chatted about a million things including my idea of building a tower for viewing wildlife from the cabin.  

wildlife viewing

Sunday: As it got light this morning I put the binocs up and counted 38 deer + one coyote in my field. The fog had moved off so my field is clear. The one deer closest to the cabin is about 100 yards away; the 3x3 Mulie I've been watching for some weeks. 

Mulie buck

He seemed to be surprised to see so many deer out there, with maybe a thousand buffalo just across the fence that he stood watching a very long time. I checked the mouse-traps set around the cabin and found another new record: four mice. And while I was resetting those, the fifth trap caught a mouse. 

mouse traps

Ken Anderson had suggested using raisins for bait so that's what I've been doing this time. Seems to be perfect. John told me that Beno once had TWO mice caught in one trap! The 3x3 and the 4x4 Mulie bucks were very near the cabin and I took pics. I set up a 5-gallon pail to trap mice. First I put varsol in it but I think the smell chased mice away. Later I filled it with dead leaves.


They were very unafraid of me, even when I approached them with camera on tripod and called to them, asking them to pose for me. At that point I counted 29 deer in the field.

Monday, Oct. 23: Three of my mouse traps had mice in them ( one caught by its "toes" only) and two traps were gone. I fastened a wire with a long spike and ribbon to each of the other 6. After lunch we went and photographed 300 sticks to sell at C$10 each.

Diamond Willow

Tuesday, Oct. 24: Early in the morning, the coyotes were yelling so close to the cabin that even I, with my less-than-adequate ears, could hear them well. 

Wednesday: This evening I'm tired; after lunch I took a hike far north which must have been at least 4 miles. Saw several muskrats in the beaver pond up north. Downloaded my pictures to the laptop but all the muskrat pics were blurred. I had accidentally pushed the focus button from "automatic" to "manual."

Thursday: Looks like we will go home today. We did. Hours after I got home, Rick called to come and sign me up for the pipeline project which will go through my land.

On Oct. 10 we went to the cabin and had some great weather for some long hikes but then it turned wet and cool. After a week of temps to 42C in Arizona, that was hard to take. We never saw so many deer in my field; once I counted 33. There were 4 moose at one time also. Here are 4 of my favorite pictures from this trip; the very dark one of the "3x3 buck" was taken too early in the morning, as that buck was only about 15 feet from the window.
only 15 feet from the cabin

on my field

grazing on my lawn

Whitetail buck

Tuesday, Sept. 12: I came up (alone) to meet Bob Burns and Steve Pollard from Minnesota. Bob is making his 3rd annual visit to collect my Reject sticks. A little later 3 combines arrived and within a few hours my Canola crop was harvested. A big Muledeer buck with 2 does was in the field before they were finished combining. A little later, just as it was starting to get dark, 400 yards east of the cabin a BIG Muledeer buck came out to feed in my field. By dark the crop was harvested and I went to bed.

Wednesday: Got up at 6 and it was chilly enough to need a fire. My thermometer read 4C and Grande Prairie radio reports 3C there. When the sun was up I drove out the driveway and turned north to take a look. There were 4 moose and at least 4 deer very close, on the road. I took pictures and drove on; going to the end of the road; 2 miles. In all I saw about 6 moose, 14+ deer and 8+ elk. 

at my driveway

Driving a bit further I saw a nice buck; possibly the same one as shown above, again and took this pic of  him:

nice muledeer

Then I drove to the east end of my land to view the ditching job. The ditch is not nearly as deep as I had expected nor is the berm as high as expected. There is no "carpet" in the ditch so only time will tell, next spring, if it will erode badly. 

erosion control

Saw only about 3 deer in that area. On the way back I saw 3 coyotes together just south of my granaries. There is still one small buck on the wrong side (south) of Orrin's fence, trying to get north across my field and into the bush. Maybe the 3 coyotes are going to try for him when he gets worn out. Today I started skinning the dead/dry sticks collected earlier this year. Of the 80+ I did about 15 and another 5 or so became Rejects. Tonight I could see two Muledeer bucks on my field and at the far end was a black bear with 3 cubs. It got very chilly this afternoon. We even had a very few drops of rain. A coyote was relatively close to the cabin:


Thursday: Up at 6 and the weather was still very nice. While waiting for Bob Burns and Steve Pollard to arrive from Minnesota, I wandered around a bit and cut a few more sticks for Bob. The small (2 little forks) Muledeer buck which was "stuck" in Orrin's pasture south of my west quarter was still there. He was in the corner by my granaries and stayed there, nervously, as I approached. Clearly, he was asking me to let him out. No way could I help him. Two hunters from Slave Lake came by and we chatted. Around 1:30 PM, Bob and Steve arrived. By about 6 PM, after making the trailer taller, they had their (almost 1000) sticks loaded and were on their way. 

load of Diamond Willow sticks

load of Diamond Willow sticks
 I left immediately after they did. Snow was coming down pretty seriously. Back to Gp.

I had to make a quickie trip to the cabin to see about the erosion control work the week earlier and noted this house going down the highway:

House move

Rolly Girard was hard at work on my new ditch:


Thursday, August 17: First thing in the morning, I applied coat number 5 of Varathane to the batch of 30 sticks I'm finishing now. Then a $285 dental appointment. It was a beautiful day. Hot. After we unloaded the van  I went looking for sticks near the  cabin for the special order I have from Bob Burns who takes all my REJECT sticks. I got 20 sticks near the cabin. He plans to come up in two weeks and would like 1200 but I have only 600. Then I drove the van north a mile and went into the slough area there. I came back with 37 sticks. On the way up, a  very nice buck crossed in front of me and on the way back, a doe. Back at the cabin I noted a very nice Muledeer buck in my crop and a doe Whitetail nearby. The temp was about 28C and it was too hot to work hard. There were buffalo in the field south but none were in my crop. After supper I cut another 9 sticks for Bob but left them out there to retrieve later. When I came out on the field, the big buck was there as were a Whitetail doe with twins. We had not put the shower bag out so there was no hot water for a shower. There were 9 Ruffed Grouse hanging around the cabin all the time.

Friday: We went out together, with the StickShaw to find some more sticks. We had a big load on by the time we got back. Then I went north with the van and got a load; then another hike and found some more. At one point as I was stumbling through the bush, my right foot slipped. I knew without looking what that was. When I dared look, my thought was confirmed. A big pile of slimy, sticky bear poop. YUK! No, I did not stick my finger in it to see if it was still warm. There is bear sign all over the place. The Whitetail doe and her two spotted fawns were in the park right behind the cabin. We took a big load of skinned, dry, "2005 harvest" sticks out of the shed to take home. In later evening we saw from the cabin: 5 antlerless Muldedeer including 2 fawns, 2 antlerless Whitetails and at the far end of my field, almost a mile east, eight antlerless elk.

Saturday, August 19: First thing in the morning there were 5 Muledeer at least a half mile east feeding in my lousy Canola crop. Two were does and one a VERY big buck. Too far to get pictures but I tried. We have noticed that the Muledeer are light brown in color now, and the Whitetails are a "reddish" brown. The temp at 7:30 was only about 8C before the sun hit the thermometer. Got more sticks today for Bob, so now I have collected 245 this trip plus Marie's 12 plus 5 for myself to keep. I now have 952 sticks to show Bob when he comes from Stillwater, Minnesota. I made several trips out for sticks today. In the evening there were 11 deer at the east end of my field, including a big buck, and 2 Whitetails south of the cabin. Coyotes howling tonight; Marie says there are several and they are close; I can hear very little of it. This afternoon I saw a cow moose on the edge of my field, about 400 yards east.

Sunday: Two deer in the field, a long way off, at 8 AM and 3 coyotes about 175 yards east; a family group it seems. Even though the lawn is nearly all mowed, no robins have come to feed on it as they did in previous visits. Finally a few bluejays showed up at the bird feeder. First thing this morning a small hawk or falcon was around the cabin and he made a half-hearted attack on a flicker. I could not get a decent picture but tried. We'll go back to the city today. (on the way home I saw 3 more coyotes; must be my day for coyotes.)

No pictures worth keeping this trip.

Tuesday, July 11: Marie and I arrived around 3 PM; the road was muddy and the sky threatening rain; a few drops off & on. Stopped at John's place to dump off some parts from the tent trailer that I had demolished. Another oil well is being erected on his land. I had not been feeling well for a few days and my temperature was up so I wondered about the sense of going up here now. The weather forecast was good though, and I needed a bundle of Scout Sticks for a customer in California. On the way out of town I had mailed out two packages of sticks to Illinois and Indiana. We had made a one-day trip up here to take the Argo into the bush for two 16-foot diamond Willows that I wanted and marked with ribbons on the previous trip. We got them out fine and tied them on top of the van. At home I had them skinned (not the diamonds) in less than an hour.

Wednesday: I went to bed right after suppertime with my temperature clearly too high. I figured we might just have to leave in a hurry so we went out and loaded 100 sticks from the 2005 harvest into the van (second load; 300 to go) and then picked through the Scout Sticks for my special order. Then, surprisingly, the aspirins seemed to kick in and I felt much better. Marie baked another cake; this time we had a fire going in the wood stove so she used that rather than the outside firepit. It worked fine.

Thursday: Got up at 5 to take 2 more aspirin, hoping to stop the alternation between shivering and drowning in sweat. It worked. Makes me wonder if maybe there really is a "Male Menopause." (after all, they call it that and not "Womenopause.") I had assumed that that perceived or actual phenomenon manifest its existence by old geezers such as I, going out and buying red convertibles with racing stripes. Maybe not. (NOTE TO SELF: Google "Male Menopause; fact or fiction.") I hate to take too much aspirin after long ago, I had a man die at my feet from an aspirin overdose. John dropped in with a sample of the fish he caught at the coast. He has a fishing hole of his own on his own land but he never eats the ones he catches there. He catches the trout, kissed them on the nose and thanks them politely for being so kind as to let him catch them, and then gently puts them back.

Friday, July 13: very nice-looking day, finally. I had not slept all night, alternating between hot and cold and headaches. There was one or two buffalo in the field south of my land again/still. South of the cabin about 200 yards were 3 Whitetail bucks. At one point I noted them coming to the cabin but I had not even bothered to bring my camera in from the van so could not take pictures as they went right past the window. The largest one, a 4x4 but still growing passed within 20 yards of me. Later I noted that all 3 of them were in the park, laying down. This allowed me to sneak out of the door, tip-toe to the van and get the Panasonic. Then I slowly slid open the window on the north side and took several pictures of them.
After a couple more aspirins, I began to feel much better and wondered around outside a little. I figured if I'm going to get better, best I get some excercise. Before we got as far as I'd hoped to go, I could feel the strain so I told Marie, "If you have to drag me back, please drag me by the *shoulders* and not by the ankles." She told me she had already chose which of my various little appendiges she would be using to drag me back. That motivated me immediately to hike like I was in perfect condition. Lots of big game sign, including bear. In the cabin hangs this warning:

Visitors are encouraged to wear noisy little bells on their clothing so as not to startle bears that aren?t expecting them. It is also suggested that you carry pepper spray in case you encounter a bear. It is also a good idea to watch for fresh bear activity. You should recognize the difference between black bear poop and grizzly bear poop.

Black bear poop is smaller and contains a lot of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly poop has little bells in it and smells like pepper spray.

When we found a large pile of bear poop, we inspected it very carefully; we could not see any little bells in it nor did it smell like pepper-spray so we assumed that it had been left by a black bear, not a gizzly.

Saturday: another bad night. Awful headaches. The deer were out and I was waiting for them to come closer but dozed off and Marie went outside, scaring them away. Now to load up and head for the city again.

Monday, June 19: Marie and I arrived at the cabin about 4 PM. As Marie made supper and put away things, I planted 25 tiny asparagus plants (extras from home) on the west side of the cabin. We were dismayed to find that the one strawberry which had been red when we left, had been eaten by somebody. Now we don't know if birds are the problem or insects. Either way, we have a problem. The crop needs rain. I took a hike on Tanner Creek Road with the camera but there were more skeeters than photo opps. I had brought a new 20-pound bottle of propane so, as usual, filled 3 empty 16-ounce bottles for the campstove.

Tuesday: first thing in the morning I saw two whitetail deer behind the cabin in my park; one was a buck and the other was a doe; the very obvious nipples made it clear that she had a fawn nearby. Further to the east was a muledeer. We did some work on the strawberry coop and then took a walk on one of my trails; we found 9 sticks and some fungi on willows. Then it drizzled a bit of rain and we came back with our jeans soaked. I noted that the carpeted floor in the van was wet; apparently one of the numerous water jugs we had brought with us had leaked. Late in the day it cleared up, warmed up and we were able to leave all the van doors open so it could dry. It was enjoyable this afternoon to watch the various birds around the cabin: juncoes, robins, flicker, sparrow, and swallow. 


Marie baked a cake (from a mix) on the outside fire; her third attempt and this time she got it right; not easy. There are now 308 green/live sticks peeled and drying. I'm reading "The Scandal of Scientology" by Paulette Cooper. Looks like THAT is one organization to stay far away from!

Wednesday: The spider(s) had made two webs for me in the tree where I put them and I tried to steal their webs but I messed up; on my last trip I tried this for the first time and I did better; the trick is to cut the strands which hold the web in place, after pushing the (black) paper up against the paint-coated web. Marie washed all the cabin windows today; inside and out. It is truly amazing: you can now see the OUTside, while you are INside! What a thrill. I chopped a bit of wood and repiled some firewood. Then I sauntered around the yard trying to take pictures of pretty little butterflies and bumblebees but they just won't hold still for me. 

blue butterfly

I did see a pure yellow bird but it did not stick around to have its picture taken either.

wild strawberryThe tiny wild strawbery tastes a million times better than any you can buy in a store but they are so tiny that it takes an awful lot of them to make a dozen.

antsAnts are a constant problem.


I hope these girls produce a lot of honey for the owner, Jim Hale this year; maybe I'll get a small sample.

A couple of squirrels; one large and one small; they are not a problem so I'll leave them alone. Marie got into the strawberry coop and weeded like nobody ever weeded before; not a single tiny weed left in there. After lunch we went sticking. I forgot my Treasure Maps but we went to the same place as the last few trips and we got a big load. At one point I found a single "clump" which had 4 fantastic sticks on it. I had to call Marie to come and admire it before I started cutting. Absolutely incredible sticks there. I stumbled over an old rotten log and noted that we had, apparently, scared a bear off his hunt for insects; the log was ripped to smithereens. Now, this year, of the 308 sticks, I have about 5 absolutely incredible sticks. From the load we brought in today, a few were "Bob Sticks" a.k.a. "Rejects" and some were for my dead/dry pile (to be skinned in the fall) and about 30 "good"ones and one Rail. The sun had done a good job of heating the water for our much needed showers.

Thursday: in the morning I skinned yesterday's sticks and Marie weeded the strawberries again. After lunch we went north to check out a couple of my treasure maps. We covered a lot of ground. At one point, a buck Whitetail deer ran across the cutline 50 yards in front of us. We did not find any really good places for sticks this time but did manage to get a decent load. At one point I saw one of my old ribbons on a tree and found I had put it there some years ago to mark two absolutely gorgeous but very large diamond willow. I took the ribbon and left them. Back at the Argo, I was still thinking about them and suggested to Marie that we go back and have another look. She was suitably impressed too. I cut them down. Two very thick pieces about 4 and 6 feet long, the idea being that maybe they would look nice made into coffee or end-tables.  Here they are, full length to allow for splitting ends, before and after skinning them:

Diamond Willow Diamond Willow

Back at the cabin a snooze and cold drink and then while Marie made supper I sorted out our catch. Some were "Bob Sticks" (a.k.a. Rejects) and some were Scout Sticks and a few were for the "dead/dry" collection and the rest were "real sticks." In the afternoon we noted two buffalo in the field south of my west quarter. Then Marie and I started skinning the big ones. The Diamond Willow; not the buffalo! We spent quite some time on them. I got mine done.  Next is to let them dry and hope they don't split. The count of skinned sticks now stands at 336.

Friday: I skinned the sticks brought in yesterday and Marie cleaned house. She made lunch and we took that with us in the Argo for today's stick hunt. We are working our way through my Stick Treasure Maps quite nicely. We went north and east and while we did not find any one great place, we did get a decent load. No more Super Sticks though. It was a hot day; no wind. We did not see any buffalo today but there was a fellow on a quad running around in that field. While skinning the huge piece of Diamond Willow for her coffee table, Marie cut her thumb. It bled a lot. The previous day she had cut her wrist. Hope this is not habit-forming. In the evening we could see 3 Whitetail bucks 200 yards south of the cabin and simultaneously a larger one 50 yards north of the cabin in my park. Then a very small Muledeer buck was in the park and a bit later a very nice colored brown bear was feeding on my Canola crop 200 yards east of the cabin. I managed to sneak, in slippers and pyjamas, to about 100 yards but my pictures were very bad. 

brown bear black bear
I took this one from the cabin window; he was 200 yards away; below is the same picture, cropped and full-size: This one was where I had sneaked up to about 100 yards away from him/her in my slippers and PJs.
brown bear

I was reminded today of the old expression: "the good die young." Maybe that is how it is with Diamond Willow too. Sometimes I find a stick that is so loaded with diamonds that it is hard to believe. Then, I find it is completely rotten. Enough to make a stickmaker cry. Over the years I've saved a few of the really nice pieces and scraped the bark off them. Some are sanded too. Maybe I'll sand them all and varnish them, simply as "artwork by Mom Nature." 

Diamond Willow

The count of green/live sticks skinned so far this harvest now stands at 358. There are not a lot of ferns in the woods here but we saw one a few years ago and every time we are nearby we think we might take one home. Today we were going past that spot and Marie had some plastic bags along so we stopped. Then we saw that there were at least 15 or more so we filled the bags and when we left there were still at least a dozen. We parked them in the shade behind the cabin and put a note on the dash of the van reminding us to take them along when we go home. Marie wants them in her garden and I'll put one in my front yard too.

Saturday, June 24: Another fantastic day. While both of us were inside, with the door wide open, one of our friendly (?) Juncos flew in, through the porch, into the "livingroom" and hovered there for a second and then went out again. We saw half of an eggshell below their nest so it appears congratulations are in order. The mosquitos are NOT a problem in spite of all the rain we had early in this season. This trip we have not even set up the tent. I can skin sticks outside with no problem. This morning I skinned yesterday's catch. We went out after lunch; before we got to the place I'd intended, we checked out another area and got a small load. I found one clump of three big ones that were unbelievable; huge diamonds and twists from top to bottom. We did not cut it but made a note of the location. I saw one willow that had 7 white fungi on it; most I'd ever seen. The sun again did a great job heating the water for the shower. I did cut two large DW to use in the little coffee tables that we are working on. I hung cardboard in the window of the little bedroom to darken it; Ken Anderson told me, quite correctly, that if you dry DW in the dark, there is less danger of split ends. There was one buffalo in the field south of my west quarter today. At bedtime I set a moth trap, hoping to catch a Glover's Silk Moth. (saw one last trip) I hung a bedsheet between the bird feeder and the birch tree and set a chair facing that. With two flashlights (one is the new "wind-up" type) ready, we went to bed. At 1:30 when I got up it appeared to be about as dark as it was likely to get; not very. I turned on the two flashlights and set them on the chair, lighting up the bedsheet a little. When I got up at 4:30, both lights were still on but there was not a single moth on the bedsheet. I cut the string holding the sheet to the bird feeder and let it hang on the birch tree.

Sunday: This morning it looks like a ghost got hung on the birch tree. So much for that excercise. I skinned the remaining sticks and decided that enough of them were no longer easy to skin that best I call it a year/harvest. Marie cleaned up the piles of bark on the east and west sides of the cabin (the sun chases me around) and after lunch we took the Argo north to where there is a large patch of willow that is terrific for large ones; few are of walking/hiking stick size there. We cut down a few and followed some cutlines north and west. There were some swamps and I drove standing up to better view what we were getting into. Before I knew what happened, we were into a swamp with open water. The grass/weeds were high and it was hard to see. But, the Argo performed flawlessly and we went right through it all. We were looking for an 8-inch willow for our table project but the chainsaw was so dull as to be useless. We did cut a few smaller pieces simply because they had incredible diamonds on them. We covered a lot of ground and found another swamp that has good potential for sticks. After supper John dropped in, he rode his new Quad here. Beno just got one so he had to keep up with Number One Son. John had just short another of Orrin's buffalo. Then Marie washed the top half of the Argo and put Armorall on it, making it look better than it has for years. We even put Chain Lube on all the chains.

Monday, June 26: A scorcher; 33C all day. Early I went east with the Argo to look for some big DW for our table project. I ran into some big ferns so came back to get Marie, shovel etc. We went back in and by following the many ribbons on trees that I used to blaze the trail, we found many ferns there. One bunch of 8 were in a circle so we dug that out and carried it, sweat pouring down, back the 200 yards or so through tangled bush, to the Argo. Every time I step into a spot where some very large animal has been resting, I wonder what it was that just left his bed as I came close. We left the ribbons for a possible future collection there. l did get 4 pieces of 8" willow for the tables. Then I took a hike to search for more large DW and found a neat collection of fungus on a tree. If I knew I could keep them from "wilting" I'd take the chainsaw in there and cut out that chunk of the tree. But I doubt if there is any way they can be preserved. 

fungus on a tree

Later we were sitting on the front step when 3 birds came by. They landed in the birch tree beside the cabin, let me take some pictures and then flew on. No idea what they are. Here is one: (I suspect it is a Cedar Waxwing)

Cedar Waxwing

I tied a string between two trees, hung an old bedsheet over that and set my lounge under it; plan is to sleep there, in the park tonight. The stick count is 409.

Tuesday: Well, sleeping in the park did not work. There were not a lot of skeeters but only one can interrupt a perfectly good sleep so by 20 minutes after midnight, after a bit of sleep, I went back to the cabin. This morning there is one buck close to the cabin and 6 deer feeding in my Canola at the east end. By 8:45 AM the thermometer is already at 30C (in the sun). The buck rested and fed in the field much of the day with one more at the east end. There was a buffalo on the road south of the cabin 3/4 of a mile. I took a walk up north to look for just the right Diamond Willow to use for making a clock. The one I found just *had* to be a long way off and carrying it on my shoulders over deadfall, windfall, waterfall and just about every other kind of fall imaginable was quite a chore. It seems, if it does not split while drying, it could be used for 2 or 3 clocks. Then Marie and I took a long hike; just over two hours up northeast a mile or more. One interesting sight was a pile of chips from spruce cones left by squirrels feeding on a twig above the pile:

squirrel pile

We went in on various trails and on the way back went through the bush some of the way. We did find two of my ribbons unexpectedly and so brought home 3 stick; two of them dead/dry. One ant-hill in paricular had very recently been torn open by a bear; I guessed within the hour. It was super hot like yesterday (30C in the shade) but the wind made it bearable. I did some maintenance on the wood stove door and stripped a screw that helps hold the glass in place so now we have no stove; not that it is terribly important with these temperatures. On our walk we had gone past the big fungus I had found earlier and now, a day later, it was hardened a bit. I broke it off the tree and we left it on the trail, near the cabin. Later I walked back there to get it and noted some very pretty birds. I went back for the camera and as I was waiting for those birds to return, a Flicker came to see what was going on so I got his picture also.  Here is that Flicker:


The other little bird there was this one (what is it?)


After supper we played a game of "Ring Toss" similar to horse-shoes. Marie beat me "hands down." 

Ring Toss game

Note the diamond willow stick Marie is holding; it has a hook on the end for picking up the rings.

Then clouds rolled in, a rainbow was visible and Marie heard thunder. The much needed rain did come but we got so little that it was not even measurable on the rain gauge. We checked the "Reject" sticks and found we are now up to 605. I skinned one more so the count of regular sticks is now 410.

Wednesday, June 28: The rain was better than expected; 3/10 of an inch. Today was warm, dry, windy. I dug up some more wild strawberry plants and put them into containers on the deck. Squirrels were a problem again; making a hole in the shed door and getting under the van where they could cause very bad problems. So, reluctantly, I did away with one of them. Dragged the buffalo skull closer to the cabin now that it is 90% cleaned off. This is from the one I shot last August. After lunch we drove the van to the end of the road to start a hike to see if that area is good for sticking. Immediately I spotted a large burl on a poplar tree. The tree had a diameter of about 5 inches but the burl was about 14 inches. So, we hiked back to the van, drove back to the cabin and went in there with the Argo instead. Then we cut it down. I collected a few sticks as well but the are was no good for that. There are, however, two very large ones I'd like to take out sometime. The bear tracks in the area were about 4 inches wide and the other evidence showed that the bear was active very recently. I made a Treasure Map to remember where they are. The stick count is now 413. Tomorrow we go back to town.

Monday June 5: Arrived at cabin with Marie about 5:15 PM and mowed the yard in 2 1/2 hours. I left a small patch of wild strawberries on the yard and the patch of Birdsfoot Trefoil because Marie loves the beautiful little yellow blooms. Crop finally showing in rows now. Yesterday John and I got back from a little fishing in the Northwest Territories, almost 1,000 km from home.

Tuesday: We had about 1/10 inch of rain overnight so we waited until after lunch to go to John's. John and I loaded the little trailer behind his pickup and brought the Argo back from Andrew Olson's. Andrew suggested C$20 so I gave him $40. We brought it to the cabin and then I went back for Marie who had stayed at John's house. We puttered around the cabin all day; got a few little tiny spruce trees; replaced a dead one along the driveway and planted 2 more at the end of the driveway. We hauled in a bit of dirt for the strawberry patch and cleaned out the sheds. The day was quite nice but not hot.

Wednesday: A bit of rain overnight again so we read our books and magazines most of the morning. Then we re-installed both batteries into the old pickup truck and inflated the two flat tires. The truck started fine. Then we used the winch on it to pull two bison-destroyed trees from the yard. With the Argo we went and got two replacement trees and planted them. I hauled a bit more soil from the field and Marie removed whatever topsoil she could from the trees we pulled out, all for the strawberry coop. Then we went around to most of the damaged trees and cut off the dead branches. I was happily cutting away on my "clump of 17" when I noticed a birdnest inches from my face; it had two baby birds in it;  The adults look like sparrows but have some red on the tops of their heads. 

birds in nest

We got a screen ready to screen the topsoil for the strawberries. Then we took the Argo north and west to a favorite slough and came back with a few sticks; I got 16 live ones and skinned them. I also found 2 more fungi on willows and brought them back. A native told me last fall that the fungus off willows can be dried and then burned to give a nice smell in the house. 


Two others people have confirmed that since. They all tell me that it is only the ones from willows; the ones from birch and poplar/aspen are no good. So now I have 5 or 6 hanging in a mesh bag from the ceiling, drying. Then we cleaned the Argo rather thoroughly; Marie was not afraid to dig into the greasy guts of that machine to scoop out leaves, twigs etc. 

Argo All Terrain Vehicle

Gilles was spraying my field today. The sun did a good job of heating the water for our very necessary showers.

Thursday, June 8: Today I cleaned the diamonds out of 15 of the 16 sticks brought in yesterday. Now that the Pentacryl is used up, I'm leaving my sticks extra long so it will be possible to trim off any split ends later. Many are 6 - 7  feet long. After lunch we went to work on the second Strawberry Coop. This time we'll do it RIGHT. We found 4 more 8' 4x4's and put 2x4s on the corners, 64" high; the idea being that we'll put two "rows" of chicken wire, one above the other around this coop. We put down the garden cloth and we screened all the dirt we brought in. When we leave we'll lay some old clothing in there to keep deer from walking through it and messing up the garden "cloth."


We took the screen onto the field and screened some soil right there. We now have one 45-gallon barrel full and two half-barrels full, and covered up with the side panels off an old washer or dryer, rocks on top. Now Marie wants to put down a layer of buffalo chips for fertilizer. In fall, after all the runners on in our current strawberry coop are well-rooted, we'll move all the strawberry plants to the "new, improved" coop. I also took two dead trees out of the park; a spruce killed by bison and a poplar which I killed years ago by removing a 6" strip of bark; it was only inches from a nice spruce tree. I skidded it out with the truck and winch. The sun had heated the shower water very well today also; we had to let it cool for an hour before using it.

Friday: A woodpecker did his blogging at 6 this morning and woke me up. (S)he must have been tapping on a board on the firewood bins or on a shed to make such an awful racket. But, a blogger must do his blogging. That got me up so, as we had a heavy fog part of the night, I went out to look for a nice spiderweb. Long ago, I Googled the term "Spider Web" +preserve and got lots of hits. I sounds like a neat little project and I've been ready to try it for a long time. But, all I could find was the "funnel" webs all over my lawn and those won't work.


Just before lunch we took the Argo north and west again; about a mile, and then down a narrow cutline. The mist/fog had lifted but the relative humpty-diddly must have still been at 99.9%. When I went into the bush, I left Marie at the Argo and told here, "If you hear a scream, coming a-runnin' with the axe. If it is a BloodCurdling scream, just get out of here as fast as you can and forget me." We gathered a small load of sticks and went back. On the way back, at a large swamp, Marie drove the Argo as I stood ahead of her taking pictures.


Mosquitos were getting bad so we set up the screen tent in which to skin the sticks. One was a very, very nice long "Rail" or "Huge One" of 16' 10" but I could not get it into the shed without trimming it to 14 foot. I skinned it but left the diamonds. Marie meanwhile, cleaned the cabin. In the evening we went to see the beavers which have a nice dam and lodge about 100 yards from the cabin. There was one small beaver out but he must have been a lodge member because that is where he went. On the way back, we were on the yard, going past my little spruce forest and we saw the largest, most beautiful moth we had ever seen "in the wild." 


Thanks to Don P, I learned that this is a "Glover's Silk Moth" ("Hyalophora Columbia Gloveri")

There are now 152 sticks skinned. Later in the evening John came over; he and "Jim" had just shot 3 big buffalo bulls and butchered them. Shortrly after he left we watched a Whitetail doe which spent some time on the lawn, not 30 feet from the window.

Saturday: As Marie and I walked to the beaverdam last night, I watched for spider webs. I found one but it was full of "fluff" from trees. This morning, first thing, I went there again to see if that spider had read the book which states that spiders make new webs every day. Evidently, he had. He was snoozing in the center of a large new web, in precisely the same spot where yesterday's web had been. I went and got the black paper and silver spray paint. I caught him first and then sprayed the web and brought the black paper up against it, tearing it loose. I got a good impression of the web on the paper. I let the spider go free much closer to the cabin and marked the spot with a ribbon; maybe tomorrow he'll have a new web there. When Marie was "Up and At 'Em" she went to John's with the van for a load of manure for the "New Improved Strawberry Coop" and I painted wood preserver on the logs along the driveway and also got 4 buckets of dirt from a wet spot in the field, using the Argo. We noted Jim Hale setting up a bee yard on my field so I visited with him a short while. Then Marie and I went Sticking; going up Tanner Creek Road, then on Crazy Trail and then north on the M2 line. We got a few sticks. This afternoon I saw a wren but could not get a picture of it. Had never seen one here before.

Sunday, June 11. I got tired of cleaning out the diamonds on the new sticks so will skin them only from now on; harvest time is going fast and it was slowing me down too much. After lunch we took the Argo north again and got another load of sticks. 


We keep a large tub in the Argo as a sort of "jockey box" and it has a piece of plywood bolted underneath so that we can set it on top of a load of sticks and the tub holds the sticks in the Argo. We had taken it out on a cutline in order to load more sticks. I went back into the trees and Marie brought up the Argo. When I came back out, I found that she had left the tub sitting on the trail! On the way back I patted her on top of the head and she wondered why. I told her "Just making sure you did not forget it back in the bush." I did find one very large Diamond Willow that was just too good to leave out there; it is 14' long and half way it forks. 

Diamond Willow Pole

It appears that there are some elk about 1 1/2 miles east of the cabin on Jerry Richard's place. We noted that swallows seem to be nesting in one of the birdhouses.

Monday, June 12: Another beautiful day but windy. In the morning I skinned sticks and Marie cleaned and tidied all over the place. Now I'll never be able to find anything again. After lunch we went by Argo north with several of my "treasure maps" to find ribbons on sticks. We found the place but no ribbons. Nevertheless, we did find a lot of good sticks there and got a big load. We even found a few ferns which we dug up for Marie to take home. On the way in and back, on the cutline, is one particular slough which is bad to cross even in a dry year. Now, with more water (in most places) than I've ever seen before, that slough was a fearsome sight but I ran right through the middle of it, even with a big load of sticks on. No problem for the Argo. It was so windy that the water bag for the shower was not heating so I took out the box for it, with glass cover. That heated the water so much that we had to let it cool a long time before we could use it. We are still drying buffalo manure and topsoil for our strawberry coop and cover it all for the night just in case it rains. We will bring three 5-gallon pails of sand from Grande Prairie next trip and mix it all and then pour it into the coop. And at this time, the count of live/green sticks skinned is 213. Several bird families are nearby; swallows have moved into a birdhouse behind the cabin, juncoes are raising their little ones on top of the bat-house (unused) tacked on the front of the cabin. 


Small sparrow-like birds have 2 babies in the little spruce on the front lawn and robins cannot be far away; they are on the lawn, hunting meat constantly. I'm reading "The Philadelphia Experiment" now; a very strange mystery.

Tuesday: By noon I had finished skinning all the sticks so after lunch we took a run north, without taking my treasure maps. We checked out one of the new trails and soon had a decent load. In the evening we took a run north with the truck but it died 1 1/2 miles away so I had to walk back to the cabin, get gas and come back with the van. I was almost back when I met a bull elk on the road; it was in a dip in the road so I could not get a decent picture. The truck still did not go so we went back for supper. Later we went and tried again but it still won't start so there it sits.

Wednesday, June 14: a hot day. At one point the thermometer read 28C. I skinned sticks all morning and after lunch, rather than worry about the truck still parked (keys in the ignition; doors unlocked) on the road, we took the Argo to the same area and continued Sticking there. We left the long stick full length and came back in short order with a big load. Again, we ran through that wide, deep slough without any problem. This turned out to be a particularly good area. I was surprised to see that I had been in there x years ago, evidenced by sticks sawn off. I even cut one about 4 foot high, which I had cut years ago, leaving the bottom 4 feet. I guess at that time, I was harvesting thinner sticks, not realizing people want big sticks. Sometimes they want sticks so big that jokingly, I ask them if they are building a log cabin or a fence. Seems to me that by carrying such a huge stick, you'd waste a lot of your hiking energy. Late in the day it got very windy so I took down the tent and skinned sticks on the lawn. Beno dropped in after supper. He showed us pictures (using his camera) taken by his wild life camera; it attaches to a tree and is set off by motion. He came back a little later (after the hockey game) and we towed my old pickup back to the cabin. We saw 3 deer on the way. Beno offered to come back later and we'll tow it to Olson's for repair. Seems to be a fuel pump problem. Beno tells us that a large grizzly bear has been spotted about 18 miles west of here; knowing they range a large territory, that does not make me feel any better. Next trip I must make sure to remember to bring the 30-30.

Thursday: Looks like it is about time to go back to Grande Prairie for a day or two; we're running out of stuff and my wrists badly need a rest, however brief. The count of live/green sticks skinned so far: 287 (not including Rails, Rejects, canes nor dead/dry ones) I skinned the last of the sticks brought in yesterday but have not counted them yet. The Reject Sticks now total 179 for this year's collection alone, never mind the ones I had before this year. I see that the baby robins are now flying as are the little sparrow-like birds. We'll go back to town now and get back here with supplies as soon as possible.

Sunday, May 21, 2006: Marie and I got out of town about noon and arrived at the cabin a couple of hours later. One deer was 250 yards from the cabin before we were done unloading the van. We hiked into the bush and got a few sticks. In the bush I jumped two Whitetail deer. Back at the cabin I skinned one very nice Rail. Then we had supper and then went north with the van to get some Rails. We had barely exited my driveway when I saw something big and black on the road. With binocs I confirmed that it was a black bear. Just beyond it a little was a pickup truck and quad. I backed to the cabin and got my 30-30 and camera. Then we went back up the road. The bear crossed into Bertram's field. At the pickup we met the fellow who introduced himself as "Jason" who works for Shawn Pinkett, the Guide. He was working on the baits and had seen the bear. He figured that it was a 300 pound boar. He also thinks that within 3 miles of my cabin there are at least 20 - 25 bears. Every night on the baits, the hunters see an average of 8 bears. Last year they took one of which the skull measured 20 5/8 inches. (My record is 20 2/16") Marie and I went into the bush not far from where the bear had gone in and we found 4 of the 5 Rails which my treasure map showed. It was a beautiful but windy day. In the evening there were 2 deer in my field even though there was not even a hint of green from my crop coming up. There was almost zero rain after my previous trip. Just before 10:00 PM Beno dropped in on his brand new quad.

Monday: I was up before 7 and after a cup of tea, bowl of Kenola and cup of instant coffee started skinning sticks. The mosquitos are not bad yet. After Marie got up and was ready, we took the Argo about 2 miles north to check out one of my treasure maps. We got a few sticks. On the way in we had to cross a little beaver canal and the front of the Argo went down to the point where we got stuck. We had to winch out of that hole. On the way back we filled the hole partly with logs and sticks and made it through no problem but there was a problem starting the Argo. I'd almost given up when it went again. Back at the cabin I trimmed and skinned and Marie cleaned the cabin very thoroughly and made supper. We dug up 3 wild strawberries, screened some soil and planted them in ice cream pails, fertilizing one with buffalo poop and two with moose poop. Maybe we'll get some Poopie Strawberries. After I quit skinning, I went into the cabin, looked out the kitchen window and saw two muledeer which had obviously watched me going in the door. I went back out with the camera and walked toward them. I came within about 10 meters of them and took pictures even though they look shabby at this time of year.


The solar heated shower was a blessing; it was fairly hot day. No  bear hunters today. They don't use every bait every night. Marie baked a cake (from a mix) on the fire-pit in the lawn.

Tuesday: overnight it started to rain. And all day it rained. A slow, drizzling, soaking, million-dollar rain. Puddles can be seen on the field. A few short periods when it was possible to go out for a few minutes and then more rain. By suppertime there was about 1 1/2 inches. I soaked the ends of the sticks and now the count (NOT including Rails, Rejects nor dead/dry ones) is 57. We kept a fire going all day. Around noon a white truck went up the road; presumably bear hunters. They can't be having a very good time with all this rain; they came a long way (USA) and spent a lot of money to shoot two bears each. And they have to spend most of their time in a wet tent in the rain in a muddy area and travel miles from there on very muddy roads to where they actually hunt. My cabin would be just about as close to perfect as you could get for bear (or other big game) hunting as you could get. You can get from the cabin to their tree stands without even going onto the muddy road at all, using my private bush trails. I feel very blessed.

Wednesday: No rain overnight; we had almost 1 1/2" yesterday. It was very wet; the relative humpty-diddly must be close to 100 cement. I emptied out the stove and started fresh; it was a chilly morning but there was finally a bit of sky in the clouds. There was a small Whitetail buck in the park. Marie worked on her jigsaw puzzle and I read my book: "Ruffles on my Longjohns" by Isabel Edwards, 1980. (ISBN 0-8839-102-1) A good true story of homesteading in the early 1900's near Bella Coola, B.C. Then I took a hike about a mile north on the road, then into the bush on a new, narrow, winding cutline made this winter. It was VERY wet. I did carry the 30-30; this was in the general area where we saw the bear on Sunday. I got about 18 pieces cut and left them to bring out later. I saw some very nice Rails but did not touch them, (save one that I did cut) and 3 deer (which I did not touch either) Back at the cabin we had lunch and then I skinned the sticks from before the rain. After supper I mowed the yard. It was a long, tedious job and when I was finally done, my hands tingled so much I told Marie, "It feels like there are a thousand giant Madagascar hissing cockroaches doing pushups on my palms."  In my book, I was reading how Isabel and Earle managed to drag a dead moose out of a lake: they used a "Spanish Windlass." Marie and I read and re-read that part and then cut a piece of string and two little sticks, used the scissors to represent the moose and my binocs to represent a stump on the shore. We figured out how this very smart contraption worked.
windlass  windlass   windlass

Quite late in the evening John came over to tell us Gordon Neilson from Devonian Botanic Gardens had called to say the Gold Panning Workshop was canceled. What a relief for me! Now my plan is to quit doing them altogether.

Thursday: Bedroom chatter: ken: "Please tell me it is not raining." marie: "It's POURING." ken: "I asked you not to tell me that." And it is. So, I'm very glad I mowed the yard and skinned the sticks yesterday. Only wish I had here, at the cabin, the 18 pieces left in the bush yesterday. So, today we start building an Ark. It drizzled all day so Marie worked on her puzzles and I read my book. As for her jigsaw puzzles, I keep telling her, "Put the whole pile of the 1200 pieces into a bag and mail it back to the company and tell them, 'YOU cut it all up, YOU put it back together' but she won't. I did take a hike into my bush between downpours and later went to the nearest beaverdam to watch the two beavers for awhile. I tried to encourage one to nibble the end off a poplar branch as I held it, as I did some years ago, but it did not work this time. The bear hunters are at their posts today. I soaked the sticks I skinned yesterday and the count now is 69 sticks. Late in the afternoon we enjoyed watching a Whitetail doe on the lawn. Marie bemoaned the fact that I cannot hear the birds anymore so she tried to whistle like one. I told her, "That sounds more like a Rocky Mountain Double Breasted Nitwit."

Friday: A bit of rain overnight and in the early morning there was a lot of blue sky. I cut (and Marie piled) the firewood we had brought back a few days ago. After lunch we were going out to cut sticks. No sooner were we leaving than the rain started again, very lightly. We waited a few minutes until it stopped and then I told Marie I'd go alone rather than see her get soaked. I walked a long way and cut about 12 pieces and left them out there so now there are about 30 pieces out there. We had 2/3 inch of rain this time. In the afternoon we enjoyed watching a small Whitetail buck close to the cabin. In the bush today I noted (again) some willows growing up (as they should) from main stems which had, some years earlier, been knocked down so that they were more or less horizontal. Such pieces might make very nice natural canes. I told Marie and suggested, after supper, that we could take a look within 250 yards of the cabin, for some pieces like that. We were just about to go out when I saw out of the corner of my eye, a dark flash going by the window and then the collision of a bird with our window. I rushed out and found a stunned robin. We held it and chatted with it, and encouraged it and it finally flew away.
Then we went and found seven of those "natural canes." There had been enough sun so that the water was warm enough for a very necessary shower.

Saturday, May 27: Generally a nice day; at 7 A.M. it was 8C. All morning I read and Marie did her puzzles. After lunch I started a long hike north and west. Found some good sticks and now have close to 50 set up out there. Also brought back two fungi off willows. Plan is to let them dry (they are hanging from the ceiling in a net bag from oranges) and then burn them for the pleasant odor it allegedly produces. I was gone 3 hours; saw only one deer. Marie had walked the the beaverdam north and watched two deer. I found some morell mushrooms too and saw what appeared to be an eagle.
morrell mushroom
Then Marie and I took a short hike in my own bush and I brought back 6 long sticks, tying them into two bundles with willow bark. We saw one Whitetail and one Muledeer. After supper we saw two deer about a half mile east along my field and they came to within 50 feet of the cabin; two Whitetail bucks.
There was a vehicle on the road this evening and it actually raised dust. Yet the ruts on the road north of the cabin are still full of water.

Sunday: The day started breezy and cool and stayed that way. I skinned the last couple of sticks and after lunch we went north to collect all the sticks I had piled up in various places out there. The Argo started fine but I was a bit concerned about the problem with the solenoid. All went well though; we went through some very bad areas and swamps and soon had a big load of sticks on. Finally we came out on the "road" straight north of the cabin about 1.5 miles. Then we had to go in on a new line to pick up the last 16 pieces. There was a very bad swamp near the road and I tried to walk in, around that, to carry the sticks back out to the Argo. That was incredibly tough going with deadfall, water and junk all over the place. We decided to drive the argo in, but backwards making it easier to get back out. First, we unloaded all the sticks. Halfway through the slough we got stuck. The Argo was basically floating and high-centered. I could not step out because the swamp was over my boots. Instead, I managed to climb onto some willows and pick my way to a tree. Marie threw me a long tie-down after tying the winch cable to it. I fastened that to a tree and Marie dug out the control knob for the winch (it had fallen off a few years ago) and she ran the winch with one hand while holding the knob with the other, a good stretch for her. Then she drove the Argo while winching, back out of the swamp as I watched. At one point the tie-down snapped and hit me in the leg. Then we used cables and chains to get the rest of the way out of the water. Then the Argo would not start. The solonoid problem had come back to haunt us. I should have had it fixed. We carried the sticks back to the road by hand after all. We used various cables and chains with the "powerpull" or "comealong" to pull the Argo to the "road." This took a long time, inch by inch. Then, with the Argo back on the "road" we turned it in the correct direction, again with the powerpull, inch by inch. There were two bad mudholes between us and the graded part of the road but we decided to go get the van. (The truck is not running yet) This meant a hike of about a mile. Back at the cabin we got whatever chains we could and drove the van back to the Argo. I raced through the two mudholes and did fine. Then we loaded all the sticks into the Argo and pulled the Argo back to the cabin with Marie riding in it to keep it from veering off into the bush. We lastly used the powerpull to winch the Argo into the JOG (John's Old Granary) which is the Argo shed. The number of pieces of wood brought back was 62 and some are fifteen feet long or so. Three quads were on the road going north and Jason with a female came back out. We noticed that a pair of junkoes have a nest on the front (south) wall of the cabin, on top of a small, old, useless bat nest I put there 20 years ago.

Monday: First thing in the morning Marie noticed a deer (no antlers) resting in the park, 50 yards from the cabin. As I moved around making a cuppa tea, the deer could see me but she did not get up. John came over and asked if I wanted to go fishing at Fort Province, North West Territories. Sounded like a plan to me. He said I could use his truck/trailer to haul the Argo to Olson's for repair. Marie and I drove the van, in awful ruts, pushing hard boulders of dried mud, to see Andrew Olson and he said he could look at it. Back at John's we loaded the trailer behind the pickup and went to the cabin and loaded the Argo. Then back to Olson's and back to John's. By then the morning was shot. After lunch I debarked all the sticks. There are now 74 with diamonds scraped out and ends soaked in Pentacryl, 2 more same but not soaked, and another 46 skinned with diamonds not scraped yet. So that makes 122. Fitting in a fishing trip will slow things down but I gained 3 or 4 days by not having to do the Gold Panning Workshop. (the 122 does not include the 30-40 Rejects, prox. 25 Rails and prox 15 "dead/dry" ones). I walked to the beaverdam but they were not interested in being seen. On the way back a Whitetail doe preceded me into the driveway. She went right by the cabin but Marie, sitting at the window with her puzzle did not see her. Later in the evening I noticed several animals a half mile from the cabin, along the edge of my field, along the bush. With binocs (Nikon 10-22x50) I could see that there were at least 5 coyotes in a pack, headed our way. We watched them as they finally went back into the bush about 150 yards from the cabin. I'm reading another book now; just finished "Tracker" and now on "Three Against the Wilderness" by Eric Collier.

Tuesday: Rain overnight. If John and I are going fishing, it is time to go back to town and get ready for that.

On the way back we saw a van which had just hit a deer. What a mess!!
roadkill   roadkill

Monday, May 15: By 7:20 AM I was fuelled up and on my way out of town. I have a lot of "stick treasure maps" to go through. One road-killed moose only 5 miles north of the city. Stopped at John's for a moment and was at the cabin by about 9 AM. Clearly, my land has been seeded; to what I do not know. Beautiful day; all the rain barrels were full. I planted the 17 strawberry plants and then went looking for sticks. I cut 3 by the cabin and they skinned well, so I took the Argo north a bit and brought out a load of 31 pieces. There were good-sized fresh beartracks on the trail. Back at the cabin I skinned a few of them; some did not skin very well. Bear hunters went by. After a bit of supper, John came for a visit to show me, on his laptop, pictures of the very fancy deer-blinds he had made this week with Kelly and Beno. After John left it was starting to get dark and quite cool; I started a fire in the stove. John had an interesting event this week too. Gilles Plantinga had contracted with Agricore that they would apply an unusually-high rate of fertilizer to one of Gilles' fields. C$50 per acre on his Timothy, hoping for a good crop of seed. turns out Agricore went to the wrong field; one of John's hay fields and applied it there. They still have not even called John to tell him or apologize. It won't hurt John and could be helpful to him. I brought up a couple of mosquito repellers but mine does nothing. I gave John one too and he tells me he can hear his but not mine; maybe the battery that came with mine is dead. I bought a set of 3. I wanted to meet the new bear hunting guide, Shawn Pinkett, who bought out Mike Ukrainetz so I drove the Argo north a mile to where they had parked the pickup. They had gone into the bush and I had no way to leave a note so I cut a few inches off a rope and stuck that in the windshield wiper, thinking he would come and ask me what that was all about. But he didn't. Here is my first load fore 2006:
huntin for Diamond Willow sticks

Tuesday: On radio CFGP, Grande Prairie, Gordon Sharp (one of my former tax clients) tells us that it is going up to 28C today. It was cool  in here at 5:30 so I cranked up the fire again. Noticed a coyote trotting through my park. Skinned the sticks I'd brought in and then took a long walk up north looking for a few more; carried the 30-30 this time and got a few sticks; left them by the road; too tired to carry them home. After a nap went back with the Argo & got them. Set the first 27 in Pentacryl for an hour and a half and then turned them over. One of the new sticks is very incredible. No sign of any bear hunters today. Very hot.

Wednesday: Another fantastic day. Got up at 5:30 and was on the Argo on my way into the bush at 7:30. Took a few sticks and then started skinning them. Having just sold over 100 "Rails" I am concentrating on them now too. Took home a few fantastic ones. A truck went by so soon after I went north with the van. I saw them heading NE on a quad but they did not see me. This time I left a note. Later, Shawn and his wife Jennifer came in. We had a good visit. Then I went out with the Argo again and got a few more sticks, rails, and some firewood we had piled up in the bush last fall when we had to straighten out some of my trails. I jumped 3 muledeer and one was unusually unafraid; even when I shut off the motor, she did not run. Nor did she take off when I walked closer, to get the firewood pile.

By the end of the day, I now have 41 sticks skinned (all diamonds scraped out) and the ends soaked 1.5 hours (more or less) in Pentacryl. Also about 10 Rails, 6 dead/dry ones and a few Rejects. I am keeping most of the rails long and am planning to change the price on them from C$16 per Rail, to US$4.50 per lineal foot. I'm skinning the Rails but not scraping the diamonds. After all that I fell asleep in my chair and did not wake up until John pounded on the door.

Thursday: a beautiful day again but rain is still forecast for Friday evening so today is the day to go home.

Diamond Willow Stick

May 3, 2006: (Wednesday) We left town at 11:00 AM.  We stopped at John's to announce our arrival. At the cabin we unloaded and then photographed all the remaining "Rails" and found there were only 89 left after two large orders. Then we raced down the field with the Argo, trailer behind, and loaded up the remains of the buffalo that died along the south side of my field last fall. We threw all that into the bush on the north side of the field so there is no danger of coyotes dragging bones into the field where they might wind up in a combine. Then we got enough dirt from the field to fill the "coop" we made for the strawberry plants which we hope to find someplace. I took the dead/dry sticks from the white shed and went to work skinning them; these were a few picked up late last fall. One of them turned out to be an absolutely incredible stick. One of the very best I've ever seen if not the best. I took a short hike through my park to the creek and jumped a deer.

To think this stick nearly wound up in my "Rejects.....!"

Thursday:  First thing, I took all the "Reject" sticks out of the lean-to and bundled them in 10 bundles of 20, set them plus all remaining "garbage" sticks up and photographed them. Marie told me that while I was doing that, she saw a moose about 100 yards from me but I didn't see it. Then I went back to skinning the few dead/dry sticks on the deck. Some Canada Geese flew over so low that the wind from their wings almost blew my hat off. Then John came over and we visited awhile. Before he left, Gilles arrived also, and still before John got away, two fellows from the seismograph company came to see what work was left for them to do in terms of cleaning up any mess left by their crew this past winter. I told them what to do. Gilles stayed for a couple of hours. He wanted me to be sure to photograph the erosion mess at my east end so Marie and I drove there and took pictures. I noted that the van had a flat tire so figured out how to change that. Then we drove north and east to get some sticks to for the garden back in town; we bent them around a 45-gallon barrel and tied them there to dry in the curved form. I finished the dead dry sticks; there were 7 and one was still green, one became firewood, one became a "Reject" and 5 became very nice sticks; one of them absolutely magnificent. An absolutely gorgeous, hot day. No wind. Gilles plans to get onto my field tomorrow. At 8 PM we drove to John's.  He and Kelly Kent are building two magnificent hunting blinds on steel posts. SUPER nice. We saw 3 deer on the way to his place. On the way back we stopped at Beno's to admire his 52 inch CRT TV set. After supper we walked a half mile east along the field, then up a line through the bush to the M1 line at the north edge of my land, then back west and then south coming out at the park behind the cabin.

Friday May 5: I got up at 6:25 and saw the moose in the same place where Marie had seen her yesterday. 

Here is one pic I took from the cabin window showing the roof of the van and my 3 steel granaries at the SW corner of my land.

At this time of year, they are very shabby. Soon there was a squirrel on the lawn, a deer 200 yards east and a moose 130 yards south. We left around 9 AM.

moose from the cabin

Enough people who enjoy the OUTDOORS, NATURE, WILDLIFE and DIAMOND WILLOW sticks have indicated that they would like to follow a "day by day" diary of my stick-hunting activities in 2006, so here goes.

Here is my cabin in wintertime:

cabin in winter

At my cabin, there are no "facilities" of any kind so I take my laptop computer along and keep a diary and when the battery dies, I hope that my new powerpack will recharge it. Here is that powerpack:

power pack for lighting

The cabin is in northwestern Canada and happens to be in the middle of the best Diamond Willow country I've ever seen and I've looked for it as far away as Alaska.

This bird feeder is a good example of how a nice piece of Diamond Willow can be used. It is at my cabin and took a surprisingly little amount of time to sand and finish.

In summertime, things look very different and we do have summer too; albeit short ones:

cabin in summer

Parked in front of the cabin is my 8x8 Argo, amphibious All Terrain Vehicle which I use to bring my sticks out of the bush.

So, this blog will be a sort of diary of our experiences up here in the summer of 2006. If all goes well, I'll live to tell the tale. There are, of course, significant risks of an unhappy encounter with a bear or other dangerous wild animal. More about that on other pages of my website.

The Diamond Willow sticks I hope to harvest by the end of July 2006 (when the sap stops running) will dry in the shed from August 1, 2006 to January 1, 2008 when they will be for sale on my website.
Diamond Willow Bird Feeder

When I add new blogs, I'll add them above the previous blog. Expect lots of pictures.

April 19, 2006:
We left at 10 minutes before 7:00 AM on Wednesday, April 19 and arrived at the cabin at 8:30; there was a dead squirrel in the stove. Over the years we've had two dead birds in there but never a squirrel; hard to imagine how he made it up to the metal chimney on the metal roof. We had a wonderful trip; we saw 2 moose, one coyote and about 10 deer on the way. The weather was perfect; we did not want it any warmer; about 19C. We loaded up the 100+ "Rails" for two customers, in WA and MN. Then we took a walk to inspect the beaver dam but there was no sign of life there. We put some soil in the strawberry coop but I had forgotten the ignition key for the Argo so we could not use it and decided to bring in more dirt next trip. Then we took a walk up the road and picked up some of the garbage left by seismograph crews. The little beaverdam along the road, just a wee bit north of my driveway seems to be holding back a fair bit of water so I suspect I have beavers again. Hope so. We cut a few sticks and wrapped them around a barrel to make hoops for the garden back in town. We saw only one mosquito all day. It is very dry for this time of year so we hope there won't be a big crop of them. We had pizza for supper and then went home.

April 16, 2006:
We (Marie and I) were at the cabin in February for a short visit; we had not brought snowshoes and snow around the yard was 14 to 18" deep so it was tough to get around. We left the van on the road and used a special toboggan to haul our stuff to the cabin.  A lot of seismograph work had been done so a lot of new trails were left in the bush; perfect for "Stick-ing."

Plan now is to go up on Wednesday, April 19 for a short visit. I have to haul back a big load of "Rails" ( ) for customers in WA state and in Maine.