WELCOME from me, Ken Laninga

I'd rather go to my cabin here in northern Alberta, Canada, than any other place in the world, including Hawaii.

INDEX to blogs for ALL the years at

2009 visits to the cabin


Trip #11:

Thursday, Nov. 19; We picked up the Argo at Red Line and loaded it on the little trailer. Then off to Superstore for some grub. We were surprised to find about 7" of snow so could not drive in. We unloaded the van onto the trailer and pulled it to the cabin with the Argo; the hitch did not fit the ball though. I tied it on. The Argo had been in for repairs.

Argo trailer

After unloading, I put the Argo away for the winter. I took out 4 Rails for a customer and then hauled 16 bundles of sticks to the van. The temp was about -6C. No bison to be seen. I brought some of the dry DW sticks into the cabin to start skinning them.

Friday: It snowed most all morning and by noon there was about 9 inches on the ground. There are, again, plenty of flies. This time we are testing Pro Magic Mist PY9 Insecticide spray. It works and does kill flies. I sprayed some on the electric light/lamp and flies drop dead all around it. I hung a scrap of rag in the window and sprayed that; there too, flies were dropping like............ like flies.

Saturday: Up at 6:40 and the temp in the cabin was down to 51F. Got it heated up in a hurry.

Sunday: clear sky overnight and I saw one meteorite this morning. I skinned more dry sticks; looks like about 4 days' work left to finish them. There are rabbit tracks around the cabin, first in a long time. Beno came by to go skiing but it was too cold.


Monday: time to go back to town. When we left, the temp was -12C and two miles down the road it showed -10 so I told Marie, "at this rate, it will be about 100 degrees in Grande Prairie!" There was a flock of Hoary Redpolls feeding in the birch beside the cabin:

hoary redpoll

Trip #10:

Saturday, Oct. 17: a nice day, not freezing, virtually no snow to be seen. We immediately went to work cleaning the park from all the branches which had broken off during a recent snowfall. Even a large pine tree had lost a lot of large branches. The brushpile is now as large as it has ever been. Going to be quite a fire when the snow is deep enough to make it safe. That snowfall started September 29 with most of it coming down September 30.

house flies

Two bison in the field south of mine. A coyote in my field and one deer on the next field.

Sunday: After re-photographing all the RAILS, we tried to drive up some of my trails but that was impossible; there were trees down EVERYWHERE. Once back, we spent time in the birch patch and salvaged about 15 sticks. After that, I cleaned out part of Tanner Creek Road and Crazy Trail. As soon as I got back, John came to deliver some bones from a bison he had just butchered. The flies in the cabin are terrible; I've never seen so many. And both 9-volt batteries for the bug vacuum are dead.

house flies

This is particularly weird because early this summer there were zero flies and we were astounded by that fact. In the evening I put on my Thinking Cap and tried to develop some fly traps to hang on the window. I got 2 done and hung up.

house flies

Then one more. None worked.

house flies

During the night, I dreamed up one more. At suppertime, two does came out into my field.

Monday: First, we cut some firewood so that one bin is full again; good security. Then I walked a ways up some of the trails and cleaned out a lot of trees. I used a little hand-saw, leaving the larger ones to cut out with the chainsaw. Mom Nature sure goofed with that early snowfall; all the trails are entirely impassible. Some trees have been split for considerable lengths Clearly, no matter where I search for Diamond Willow next spring, I'll need to carry the chainsaw.

Tuesday: We decided to go out. We went out with the Argo (dead battery) and chainsaw to clear some more trail but the chain came off the saw so we continued with small hand-saws. We did cover quite a distance but the number of down trees is overwhelming. This could put an end to my Diamond Willow sticking forever. I noted one poplar tree (about 8" diameter) which had split so that a long curved slab, bark on one side, concave, smooth surface on the inside, was sticking straight up so I cut it and we carried it back; a piece about 18 feet long. Not sure what to do with it.

Wednesday: I have set my Camera (Canon S5 IS) on "16:9" aspect ratio to match my new 55" Samsung widescreen LCD TV. This new aspect ratio seems to be the way things are headed these days. This means that in the camera, the top and bottom of the picture is cut off before you take it. So, you have to compose the picture a bit differently from the former 4:3 ratio.


Trip #9:

Oct. 5, 2009:
Cabin trip was fast, good; traveled "in convoy" with Ken & Roma Anderson; brother John & wife Diana came over so we had 6 for lunch up there. My van was FULL of stuff; old "easy chair" and carpet that was still "ok" etc. On the way back I had a full load of Diamond Willow plus a half dozen 10-footers+ tied on top.

While I was loading up Rails for a customer "the other Ken" set some of my squirrel snares; he has been a trapper for most of his 74 years. Somehow, one of the snares caught a squirrel this summer even though I had turned it down so as NOT to catch any. It is still hanging there but does not worry other squirrels around there, and I do NOT want them around the shed where I keep my Argo. I did see a large squirrel nest IN that shed and just NOW remember that I forgot to tear it out. While we were so occupied, the ladies saw something "very black" come out of the bush on the edge of my field. They wondered if it had been hunters as there were 2 hunters' vehicles parked at the far end of my land; a mile east. I'll hope it was a bear; I hate hunters on my land.

There had been a heavy, wet snowfall some days previous and as most leaves are still out, and green, the weight of that snow did awful damage.


hard to image that thick a tree being broken off completely by snow on the leaves


and such thick branches too


they were all over the place; big cleanup due


this is left from that snowfall; just a hint


Trip #8:

Wednesday, Sept. 23: Four miles from the cabin we saw, in an oatfield, a very large black bear:


Then we saw a coyote in a herd of cattle and when we were a mile from the cabin there was a bull bison running around:


House flies are terrible now; early in the year we were amazed that there were so few. Now they are making up for that. After lunch we took a hike on my trails. We had a SBB on the trail, hopping along from 3 to 8 feet ahead of us. It kept going, a long way. Finally I grabbed it and we (Small Brown Bird) inspected it. It seemed fine but when I tried to set it on a tree branch, it fluttered to the ground again. So we left it: (I don't know what sort of bird it is)


In trying to identify this bird, I went to the forum at and "Treehawk" replied with his/her opinion that this is a a Lapland Longspur as I had figured, from Sibley's book.

The hike was great; a mini version of the more "Official" hike Marie and I did with Wapiti Trailblazers last Saturday; see the details fo that here:

Connie and Marie

On the way home, I hung the "wanted" poster of John on the Fourth Creek Community Hall door; that should get him some feedback!


For more info on "Wanted" posters, see my page at


Trip #7:

Thursday, Aug. 27: We arrived at the cabin about noon; there was one bison on the road about a half mile west of John's driveway. The thick crop of weeds was being swathed and baled on my field. I loaded 10 Rails for a customer who is coming up next week or so, and some beaver stumps for a teacher in the USA. No sign of any mosquitos but there are a lot of flies now.

Friday: The sun came up bright red due to smoke in the air.

red sunrise

Saturday: Today we are planning a trip with my Argo, Beno's quad, Ed's quad and maybe John with his quad, to the river, several miles north on old bush trails. Again, there is smoke in the air. We boosted the Argo because the battery was dead (not charging) and loaded the Argo.

loading up

We went as far as possible with the 2 trucks.


Then we unloaded and went down the narrow, twisting, rutted trail far down to the river. This is the PEACE RIVER.

huge canyon

That was from the top, before we started down; this is half-way down:

6x6 elk

There we picnicked, skipped stones on the water and even tried, without luck, a bit of fishing.

Peace River


Then four of us; Marie, Beno, John and I, hiked up the big canyon a mile or so. We checked out the remains of a little log cabin which had almost disappeared from sight; Beno had seen it on a previous trip:

old cabin

The only wildlife we saw was 3 little garter snakes. Ed enjoyed racing through the water on his quad, with Jenna holding on:


When the sun was getting low we headed back up the long steep hill to the trucks and went home.

Sunday: Another hot, dry day. We took a long walk north and east along a creek but it was too hot and we got back worn out. Found a little tiny bit of fungus. This time I carried the 30-30 and there was plenty of bear sign. So far this trip we have not seen a single mosquito but the flies in and around the cabin are very thick. On the lawn we are seeing robins and a few flickers.

Monday: In the afternoon we took another hike, with me packing the rifle again. Plenty of bear sign and beds of large animals. Only one tiny fungus this time. I sat in the Green Room watching a squirrel which, at one point, was under my chair.

green room

I was savagely attacked by a wild mosquito; first one I saw this trip, and was forced to end her miserable existence and return her to the dust from whence she came. The red thingy hanging there is a bag of bait for squirrels; hopefully they will provide some picture opportunities. I keep the chairs upside down when not in use so that sticky cones won't fall on them.

Tuesday: I loaded the Argo to haul it home. On my first attempt, BOTH 2x6's broke as I was about to get on top of the trailer. At John's place we tied a large piece of old carpet over the back window of the van to protect it from flying rocks. We dropped the Argo off at Red Line, to be repaired.


Trip #6:

Sunday, July 26, 2009: Dave and Jackson were here so four of us went north. There was a beautiful sky:


We also enjoyed fresh strawberries; they are doing quite well. After the sun went down we took out the spud gun and had some fun with that, shooting old 35mm film cans filled with gravel. They went VERY far.

Monday: Another warm day: We went fishing in John's dugout, for perch. Jackson caught the largest perch, only about 6 inches long. We did not keep any. After lunch the 3 of us took a 1.6 mile hike on my trails. We noted some places where elk had eaten the bark off the poplar trees, making them white; in time they will turn black as you can see here:


Tuesday: another hot one. We went into the middle of the patch of spruce and pine trees on the yard and cut branches off to make a little clearing for some chairs. There we can now sit in the shade. That will be our Green Room. All it needed was a coffee table so we made one.

green room
making a coffee table

There were some mosquitos though, and quite a few flies.

green room

We counted the Reject sticks and there are 408.

Wednesday: We took a 2.6-mile, 1 1/2-hour hike on my trails. We saw a nice 6x6 bull elk.

6x6 elk

We had supper early and went back to town.


Trip #5:

Monday, June 22: Got to the cabin mid-afternoon. The field next to mine on the south side, for the full mile, must have had a thousand bison on it. They seemed to be everywhere. Sorry, no luck making a decent panorama picture.

NOTE: this picture is 5000 pixels wide! You will need to scroll horizontally for it!


Tuesday: I got up at 5:30 and saw one Whitetail buck 250 yards away feeding in my field and another 150 yards north of the cabin in my park.


It was only 8C outside and I got the stove going. We took a very long run north with the Argo and checked out a lot of willowy places. Picking was very slim. In one area, I felt sure I'd never been there before.......... until I found a very nice Rail with one of my old ribbons on it.

Wednesday: Up at 6:30. One thing is really weird this year: no houseflies.

Thursday: rain overnight but I fear that for farmers, it it Too Little; Too Late. Up at 7:40 and there was a buck Muledeer in the field.

Friday: More rain overnight. Cool and windy. It rained off and on all day. Beno noticed a Flicker on my lawn so I took a few pictures of it.


Saturday: Up at 6:40 whent the driveway alarm went off; nobody there; must have been a bird. Darn! The bison in the field next to mine are slowly, like clouds, drifting around that field, which measures one mile by one mile. Huge bulls lumbering along and cows with small, brown calves running ahead of them. I don't doubt that there are now well over 1,000 bison there.

We spent some time in the Waterworks Department.

rain barrels

When John saw all that, he asked, "Do you have an instruction manual for all that?!"

Monday, June 29: A clear day to start, breezy and about 7C outside. Up at 5:30. One Whitetail buck around the cabin with two smaller ones.


One of them was a doe:


John arrived around 9 so we boosted the Argo to start it and then went about 2 miles north to my favorite spot for Rails. We had no trouble finding a load and it weighed the Argo down big time.

load of rails

In the evening Marie and I checked out the beaverdam close to the cabin and cut two little holes in it to let at least a little bit of the water out. I wish they would move; already they have chewed down three poplar trees again. What a mess!

Tuesday; I made a willow bow and arrows so if another bison comes near, I'll use that on him. I set up the solar cooker to try heating water; not great success:

solar cooker

In one of the books I just read, I got an idea for protecting the garden from rabbits and such; maybe deer too: push some mothballs into the ground, slightly. In another book I got the idea for cooking potato: slice the potatoes thin, heat some oil very hot, make a batter of flour, water, baking powder, salt and mustard, coat the potato slices and deep fry them. Not half bad. John tells us that the next few days will be rainy too so we will go home in the morning. I went to hang up a bit more chicken wire on the birch beside the cabin, to protect it from the sapsucker. Unfortunately, there was a bat hanging behind the ladder and I hurt him. I picked him up and moved him to the bat house where he took hold of the screen and eventually climbed up into that house; there are two bats in there now. Mid-afternoon, we noted a pickup truck on the road south of us and a lot of yelling; we assumed there were some drunks; a rare occurrance. A bit later I noted that nearly all the bison were gone. At least, I could see only a very few. Later John explained that the bison had been moved across the road, west, to the next field which had some feed. Apparently, the bison know that if a gate is being opened, new areas of feeding are being offered. Late in the evening, I noted a huge bull bison 200 yards from the cabin. Eventually it lay down to rest.

Wednesday: More rain overnight. The bison bull is still there; he eventually got up for breakfast and as I type this, he is feeding 210 yards east of me, with a deer near him.

bison and deer

I am concerned that after we leave this morning, he may come to the cabin and damage the yard again. But I sure do not need meat so am not in the mood to shoot him. There was one more mouse in one of the 15 traps. Only about the 3rd one this year so far.



Trip #4:

The fourth trip to the cabin in 2009. The second trip was not a great success as far as stick-hunting went. It was cold and threatening rain so we went back to the city early, after 10 days. There has been so much in the news of late about the USA's "AirForce One" flying over the Statue of Liberty for a photo op, and causing panic in the streets that I thought it would be nice to invite Air Force One to visit at the cabin for a real Photo Op. So this is what we got:

Air Force One

It is always so nice to get out of town and all the frustrations. Lately I've had a terrible run-around with Travelocity. I had booked a Mexico vacation and then the Drug War there go out of hand, followed by the Swine Flu etc so I told them to cancel. But I had paid the $2,600+ cost so getting that back turned out to be virtually impossible. They are TERRIBLE to deal with as I explained on my website at

One very neat thing that happened was that John Gilbertson in MN was kind enough to want to SHARE his findings with the world so he snail-mailed me a CD with a lot of super photos, a letter and a wood template for a cane handle. THANK YOU, John! I've put the whole story at my new page at

That page resulted in my idea to sell bundles of Diamond Willow Sticks specifically for canes and that page now lives at

ANOTHER neat thing was that literally hours after returning from the cabin, Dyle and Nancy from Glenwood, Iowa dropped in. Dyle had printed out and put into a binder much of my website. They were on their way to Alaska and stopped in to pick up a few Diamond Willow Sticks. Dyle is Mayor of Glenwood. It was really neat to meet them and I hope they have a super vacation.

YET ANOTHER neat thing that happened was that my friend Ted Cardelli and his wife came all the way from Montana for a load of sticks. It was very nice to meet them.

If that was not enough, I had a good chance to finally get some good pictures of Bohemian Waxwings and learn how to tell that beautiful bird from the Cedar Waxwing. That meant some updates (still to be made) on my BIRDS website at

But it was finally looking like better weather and to try "Stick-ing" again.

Thursday, June 4: we got to the cabin shortly before noon; the first thing I noticed was that my field had *not* been worked. Too bad; no crop this year. The second thing was that the young moose is still stuck in the bison pasture. I hung on the wall a copy of an old auction poster:

auction poster

We ran the Argo north a mile or more and went to where my maps said there were some sticks. We did find some but no good DW sticks; only Scout Sticks and a few Rails. We did notice several particularly nice "Huge" ones so I am keeping maps of where to find those; so far, I have located and mapped 9 Huge ones.

Friday: After lunch we went north again by Argo to get some sticks. One of them, a Rail, might come very close to being the most fantastic piece of Diamond Willow I ever found. I believe I might keep this one forever. Took a pic of the big birch tree in order to use it on a website to sell birch sticks:


That page is at

Sunday: again, a frosty morning. Thermometer at 6:30 AM was at about 1 degree C. In the pasture where the moose is stuck, there is now also a bison. I presume he jumped the fence to get in. Here she is trotting along the fence again, while keeping an eye on a bull bison nearby:


No mice in the traps again today. I cut down one small birch tree to make a couple of poles and a hiking stick. They skin pretty easily now and I have a very nice stand of many small birch 50 yards from the cabin. In the R & D Department, a year ago I buried a diamond willow stick in the garden in town. Dug it up and brought it along this trip. I tried carving away the wood around the diamonds and it works very well. This is really good to know; now it is much easier to make sticks like the one shown on my website at After supper we tried making a pair of snowshoes using only willow sticks with willow bark for lacing. At least they LOOK like snowshoes................

decorative snowshoes

Monday, June 8: this is the day we've been waiting for. Finally, plan is, to try to get into an area of willow about a mile NE of the cabin. It is hard to get into and we've been waiting for what looks like a nice day. This could be it. It was a cold, windy day. Frost on the picnic table. At 9 AM we left; I took the chainsaw in case I needed to cut my way in. We did not need it. The creek had eroded and one side was caved in but Marie hopped out and I drove across without problem. It was very, very steep getting back to level ground but the Argo performed flawlessly. When we got to the rock-pile (which we refer to as "Le Pile de Rox") I had to scout around on foot awhile to find the trail. Once found, I cut and moved a lot of dead wood off the trail so the Argo could use it. Eventually that was done and we were, to my surprise, able to travel a long way (300 yards?) up that trail. Made a stick-carrier from a golf cart.

golf cart

At noon we ate the lunch Marie had packed. We stopped in many places and I hunted sticks. We finally had a load and headed back. At the creek I was afraid to go across the way I had come because of the huge load on the back. Thirty feet further, it looked like the Argo could cross and while Marie watched, I crossed it and kept going some way to try to get back up the hill. It went very well.

Tuesday: A very nice day; a bit windy but warm. I skinned sticks outside all morning and after lunch we set up the old screen tent so I could skin them and not be bothered by mosquitos.

screen tent

When I had only 22 left to do, we ran north with the Argo, about 1.5 miles and did some sticking there; we got a surprising catch there. And I had been there before. I found two large Rails that were too good to leave (Marie reluctantly agreed that it would be sinful to leave them).

Wednesday: Needless to say, the young moose is still walking the fence. I skinned sticks all morning and Marie came out to tell me that the fridge had quit so the propane tank must be empty. After a quick lunch, she drove to John's place (nobody home) and then to Gilles' place where Gilles suggested getting more propane at the Blueberry store. She was soon back with a full tank. Meanwhile, in removing the dry tank, I noted that it was far from empty. I turned the fridge on again and it worked. I told Marie, "I farted into the tank so got it running on methane." She did not buy that. I filled several small bottles from the new full one.

refilling propane tank

Then I finished skinning all the sticks we got yesterday. We went into the slough south of the cabin and cut a lot of small, new willow growth and took it all to the fence and stuck it into the fence so that the moose could feed. She did.

moose food

Friday: Skinned sticks basically all day. The moose is finally gone. In her place, in that field, now, there are several hundred bison. I skinned one Rail today that was absolutely incredible.

Two apple trees are in bloom; probably crab-apples. A few strawberries are blooming too.

Saturday: Correction: the moose is *not* gone. Must have been hiding. Marie walked to where we had left all the willow for the moose, and carried back all the leftovers. There must have been 40-50 skeeters in the kitchen window. Funny, they are normally very hard to swat but when they are on the screen, on the inside, you can very easily crush them with a fingertip. No hurry needed.


Sunday: Another gorgeous day. Did not see the moose today but at suppertime a cow with last year's calf came running out of the bush and into the field, far end. They crossed the field, got to the fence and ran west, toward us.


The moose is definitely gone now. We took the Argo north and got a small load. We came back via Crazy Trail; our first trip on it this year. Fortunately, the two bridges needed very little fixing and there was no problem.

Tuesday: My hands are so sore now that I can't do any more sticks for a few days. After a morning of reading and puzzling, we went home and on our way picked up some bedding plants at John's place, leaving him another Rail for his deck.

rails for deck


Trip #3:

Friday, May 22: First nice day in weeks. John has 3 bear baits out now and all 3 have had a bear on them. We saw no big game on the way up but once in the cabin we could see a moose in the field next to mine. We took a hike up the road and cut a few Scout Sticks but they were, surprisingly, not skinning well so we gave up on that. Yes, we did pack the 30-30 rifle this time; awkward though. Last week there was a black bear attack on a 15-year old boy who was in his tent at the time. This was at Roche Lake, maybe 200 miles from here. Back at the cabin we set up all the Rails and re-took the pictures of those as well as the new ones harvested in 2008.


There were only 2 small bundles of Scout Sticks left up there, so I loaded them to take back to town; I had just completed a sale of 50 to a customer in Maryland so am anxious to get more of them soon.

Saturday: up at 6:50. There was a meteorite shower; the "Lyrids" last night but I was super tired and slept through it. There was a bull bison across the road, about 200 yards from the cabin. On the way back, the bison seemed to be on his way into my bush. My freezer does not need refilling so he was having his Lucky Day. The moose is still hanging around; she is a young one and stuck behind the bison fence. I saw that it was near my granaries which are a few feet from that fence so I carefully walked there keeping the granary between her and myself. Finally, at 50 feet, I stepped out and took a few pictures of her.


We saw something on the edge of my field. It was a big black bear. With binocs I could see that she had 2 cubs.


I walked out there with camera and rifle to get pictures but I walked right past them without seeing them. In the bush Marie noted a lot of deer hair and sure enough, I quickly found the head of what had been a young muledeer buck.

buck head

In the evening, John and Diana visited awhile. John was quite pleased to see the "Wanted" poster of him hanging on the cabin wall. (from

Sunday: First thing this morning there was a doe Whitetail near the cabin.


No mice in the 14 traps. The moose is still traveling back and forth along fence, dreaming of a way to get over it and cross my field back into the bush. There were two birds this morning, and even after checking Sibley guide, I cannot see what they are; they are black; I must go to the forum and ask. Here are both the male and the female:

bird bird

The guano under the bat house shows that there is at least one bat in the bathouse. For too many years they avoided it.

bat house

Monday, May 25: No mice in the traps this morning; that's a very good thing. The moose was still stuck behind the fence; a bad thing. I cut down 5 small birch trees and skinned them to make poles and hiking sticks. After lunch we took a long hike and saw a robin's nest with eggs.

robins nest

We happened to stop by a small tree which had a bird's home with a unique entrance; it had baby birds in it. No idea what they are, but I could feel them when I stuck my fingers in.

bird home

Late in the evening there was a Whitetail doe on the yard. It rained VERY hard. Any skinning I did today was IN the cabin, not outside. We bundled up much of the bark to dry and burn for firewood.


Wednesday: I noticed a coyote approaching the cabin; (s)he had gotten wind of the kitchen scraps and enjoyed a bit of that as I very carefully opened the window and took many pictures of that gorgeous creature.


I saw something big and black along the edge of my field a half mile away, exactly where the bears had been earlier. Binoculars showed that it was a big bull bison. He kept slowly ambling along headed our way. Finally he was at the edge of the lawn nuzzling the pile of bark I dumped there, from skinning sticks.

bison bull

bison bull

bison bull

bison bull

Fearing he might damage my trees, I took the rifle and walked to within 50 feet of him. I yelled, waved my arms and threw a rock but that did not bother him at all. Finally I fired a rifle shot into the ground beside him. He moved 50 feet and turned to look at me. Finally he moved into the park. I went back in. I remembered my little pencil-like flare gun so loaded it and went into the park with that. He did not like my looks and trotted away so I did not waste a flare on him. I hope he comes around in the fall when I'm ready to do some butchering.

Thursday, May 28. Again, the day started beautifully. I still have a few of yesterday's Rails to skin. I'm doing all the work inside now so it is VERY messy in here.


We drove the van up the road. BIG mistake. As soon as we got going it was very clear that the road was not ready; very greasy. But there was no way to turn back nor turn around so with effort I kept going. Finally, at the end of the road (2/3 mile north and 1 mile west) I tried to turn, but, of course, could not and got very, very stuck. We left the van and headed back on foot, stopping at all the willow places and cut Scout Sticks which we left in 6 places along the road.

One cool thing on this trip was to see some Rose Breasted Grosbeaks. We very rarely see those and I'll put them on my BIRDS website at soon.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak

Friday: We took a trip NE with the Argo and then walked quite a bit to an area where my "treasure maps" showed I had put up a lot of ribbons but we found very few. We put two little piles of red pepper on the seat of the Argo to give any visiting bear a thrill. We did carry the rifle on our walk. Back by noon. Beno came and pulled the van out. Then we took the Argo up north and collected the 6 stashes of sticks.

load of sticks

Saturday: cool and windy. I skinned sticks all day, mostly inside. I made bundles of the strips of bark and hung/set them to dry; they make great fuel for the stove when dry in a day or so.

Sunday: We went north a short way to look for sticks; one mudhole was long, wide and deep.

mud hole

It really is a weird springtime. Usually, we would have hundreds of houseflies in the cabin; this year, there are almost none. And no mice. And the mosquitos are not bad at all. And the willows are not in full-leaf yet.

Monday: the outside temp in the sun, at 6:45AM was only 4C. The moose is taking her morning run along the fence. I had a bad night; could not get comfortable; aches all over from skinning and cutting sticks. Caught a big, black and red spider on the deck last night; here he/she is:


Ice on the birdbath and frost on the picnic table so we'll go home for a day or two and wait for nicer weather.


Trip #2:


Thursday, April 2: Time to get another load of sticks from the cabin back to the city. It looked like the depth of the snow had gone down close to 5 inches, leaving something like 24 inches around the cabin.

Friday: Snow........... more snow and snowing. It snowed most of the morning and some in the afternoon. After lunch we took our trek; Marie on cross-country skis and I on snowshoes, breaking trail again.


It took an hour for the 1-mile trek. I learned that to make the snow-shoe-ing easier, ski poles are useful, particularly if you change the rings near the bottom of the poles so that they do not go down into the deep snow so far. I am getting quite interested in making a pair of snowshoes.


Now I'm thinking maybe I could make the snowshoes with thin birch trees and not cut them lengthways at all.

Saturday, April 4: heavy fog this morning; visibility less than 100 yards.


Went to put some stuff into the van and noted fresh grouse tracks; a bit later I saw the grouse nearby.


Beno came over at 3:30 on snowshoes and so all 3 of us took the usual 1-mile trek. At the creek he decided to cut down the thin tree that was bent over the trail. In doing so, he clobbered himself on the back of the head with his snowshoes.


He got quite a lump on the back of his head!

bear claw marks

We watched, again, for trees with bear-claw marks on them like we did last trip but all the trees we saw with them, were too thick for a nice coat-tree.

This one is about 8 inches in diameter; too thick.


Beno used his skis most of the way. It was a bit wet so we sank fairly deep once off the track. On the track our skis were about 15 to 24 inches above ground level.

grey owl

It was -8C here this morning but Beno heard that some places in the area reported -15C. Sometimes we can hear coyotes howling. We saw a grey owl almost a half mile east along my field.

I took this picture of him/her from the cabin window.

Sunday: a beautiful day; only about -4C to start the day. Time to go back to the city.


Trip #1:

Friday, March 20: Marie and I left early afternoon. The first 30 miles or so were very bad; blowing snow and cold and sometimes it was a virtual "white-out" but I kept going. The further north we got, the better road-conditions got but it did get a bit cooler. At the cabin it was about -6C. We walked in on showshoes; there was not much crust so with every step I still went down 8 to 12 inches.


I pulled the toboggan with our gear. I got a fire going and in about 3 hours we had the temp up where it should be. I hauled 3 bundles of sticks from the sheds to the van. Snow around the cabin seems to average about 29 inches deep. Without the snowshoes, though, we would never have made it from the road to the cabin.

Saturday: Outside temp this morning about -13C. I hauled more sticks to the van so that there was barely room left in it to haul our "stuff" back to the city.

hauling sticks

My friend Ted C is coming up from Montana in May for sticks and if the weather should happen to be very bad, at least I will have many hundreds of sticks in the garage this way. After lunch we tried to take a walk but the binding on one of Marie's snowshoes was tearing, and rather than get stranded far from the cabin, she turned back after going only 100 yards. I trekked about a mile. It was tough going; sometimes my snowshoes went down as deep as 14 inches.


Beno visited; he wondered if it would be a neat project to make a coat-tree from a poplar tree which has bear-claw marks up it.

Sunday: snowing again. The calendar says it is spring but maybe that calendar should look outside for a different opinion. After lunch we took a long hike, on the track I made yesterday. This time, Marie used cross-country skis and that worked very well.


I came back exhausted. She did better than I did. I watched for poplars with bear-claw marks and there were dozens of them but even the thinnest ones were at least 7 inches in diameter; a bit thick for a coat-tree. It snowed non-stop all day.

Monday: Another beautiful day. Spent most of it reading. We brought in another toboggan-load of birch firewood and we took another long hike; this time both of us used cross-country skis. I found that with snowshoes, you use leg and 'bum' muscles a lot and with skis, you use upper torso and arm/shoulder muscles; very different. Again, we used the track I made on the first hike.


Here is Marie as we were back out of the bush and on the final leg of our trek, along my field, back to the cabin which you can see a half mile ahead. (speck to left side of her head)


It is amazing, how much wildlife we have *not* seen this trip. I saw the one grouse and on the yard we saw one or two chickadees and we heard a crow or raven and that is all. There has not even been a Bluejay at the feeder. Rumor has it that there will be a lot of mice this coming spring; the deep snow has protected them from predators.

Tuesday: a bit warmer today. Finally, there was one Bluejay at the bird feeder. Late morning we took our usual hike again, this time both of us on skis. The track is about one mile in length and it takes us an hour.

Here is one of the tracks we left on one of my private bush-trails.


By the time we got back, it was snowing so it is time to get out of here while the roads are, probably, ok.

Roads were super. We took the old gravel road through the Saddle Hills.

Diamond Willow stick

Diamond Willow Sticks

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