Winter Preparations

With the onset of the fall rains and the maturing of the garden, we’ve launched full into winter preparation mode. The friend we garden with down on the Columbia came up to Enterprise this week with a full load of garden bounty, a bunch of it too much for us to eat before it passes its prime. So in the next couple of days freezing stuff is going to be happening. My canning tools are in Portland and they will probably need to go to our friend’s house for maximum usage. Guess I need to devise a preservation traveling kit.

But with the coming of the fall rains also means that we can be back in the woods to cut firewood for the winter. Between going out with our friend and going out ourselves, we cut 2 cords of wood in four days–basically a half-ton pickup load of wood each day. That filled our first firewood permit of 4 cords. We’ll probably cut more during hunting season but it won’t be as rushed now–this last stuff was lodgepole pine instead of fir, and lodgepole burns a lot nicer than white fir. We’d like to have about 6 cords to get through the winter.

While the guys cut wood I blocked out a short story about gnomes–or maybe brownies, I’m not certain which yet. I want it to be about gnomes but maybe a brownie would be more appropriate. I just don’t particularly want to use the term “brownie.”

Grouse season is open but we’ve yet to bag one. Not for lack of seeing grouse, but the ones we’ve seen have been skittish and quick, and we’re just getting up to speed on the hunting thing for the year. One of the factors of cutting wood with our friend is that we were also scouting locations for deer hunting season coming up in October. We decided where we’re going to hunt and where we’ll set up hunting camp. It’s been years since we’ve been out in hunting camp and this one is going to be luxurious–a wall tent with woodstove inside. Of course since we’re scouting for deer season that meant we spent two whole days out in the woods. Oh shucky darn. Being out in the woods after the first fall rains is SOOO hard to do–not! The huckleberry brush burns flame red right now and the aspens have been changing on a daily basis.

Since the boys wanted to go out all day, I had to rush to the barn first thing to work with Miss Mocha. The first rains were cool enough to leave a dusting of snow on the high Wallowa peaks, at least until the sun melted it, which meant I had really nice views when working on Mocha’s hooves or working with her. One morning we had a very nice and sedate ride in the arena and in the hay field.

The Girl is hairing up quickly. When I pat her back and rump, she feels like a fuzzy velvet teddy bear. Her ongoing aches and pains appear to be heavily arthritis and soft-tissue with hints of anticipation of pain shaping her behavior–nearly a week ago we hauled her to the vet for lameness testing. Results of hoof testers and flexion testing showed her as very mildly lame, nowhere near as bad as her behavior made me think she was. So we’re starting her on Adequan injections next week to see if that helps.

We’re going into one of the nicest times of the year to be in the woods, and I’m loving it. Crisp cool days with a hint of dampness, colors changing daily in the aspen, huckleberry brush, and tamarack. Moody blue-gray clouds over deep canyons, and the deep bellow of elk bulls in the distance or a coyote howl. Haven’t heard the wolves yet.

Winter is coming. But this season of preparation is one of the sweet times, and I’m enjoying every bit of it.


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