Finished filling up – mostly – my only empty wood shed yesterday. You can make firewood as easy or hard as you want, I guess. This was the hard way. But not a bad way. Several trees up the hill behind our house blew down years ago. Most were still sitting horizontally having blown over at the roots. So off the ground. I thought about trying to drag them down with a series of chains/straps/rope with the truck, but then thought I’d encase them in muck and then have to cut thorugh that with my saw. So I bucked them in place, and rolled each one down the 70 yards or so to the creek, then one by one across the 3 log bridge. Then split the rounds by hand, and wheelbarrow them down the driveway another 40 yards to the woodshed. Got me in many hours total of exercise, and this was welcome in another year of little snow and poor or non-existent cross country ski opportunity that I could get to and from in an hour or two of light at lunch hour. The wood I put up this week we’ll probably use starting year after next when it will be good and dry.
While they are freezing back in the homeland in sub-zero temps in Bolivar, it was in the high 40’s here. Ron and I went to his spot to try for rock fish and halibut on Friday. I caught an octopus in the first little while after anchoring, and then nothing the rest of the day. We really missed having John Auth with us as without him, that made me the youngster so I had to pull the anchor. We had to beat into the waves back to Amalga Harbor but we just took it slow so as not to need dental work. Turns out a couple left Lena Pt to go to Shelter Island – basically the closest point you could launch from Juneau to get to Shelter – on Friday, too, and something happened. Not sure what, but they both perished. One found ashore at Horse Is and the other on Admiralty near Horse. So sad. Sara made crab cakes, coleslaw and sweet potato and russet potato fries for Valentines Day. Wow. Was that good. I finished the shower work this week, too, so love all around.
Took Samuel to a local university workshop to work on his pinewood derby. I took a bunch of hand tools – coping, hack and wood saw, files, etc.- to do the work. When we got there, the kids were lining up for the band saw. They’d draw their car on the block, and the shop supervisor would cut it for them. Samuel wanted to do that at first, but I got him to use the hand tools. He drew a car on the block from another’s pattern. His first cuts were crooked, but as the first hour turned into a second, he gained confidence with the tools. He got a rough cut out of the wood block, then went back to straighten out his cuts after seeing how the coping saw could make bending cuts in the soft wood. I was going to put the final touches on with the belt sander but saw he was getting it with a rasp. We stopped on the way home at the hardware store and he picked out some paint. He put two coats on it, putting away most of a pizza in between coats. Later, I watched the Bengals choke away a sure victory over the Steelers – for no other reason that having too many millionaire punks on one team. I feel bad for their coach.
A guy stopped by my office today after reading my trapping article in the paper here. He grew up in Arkport, and wanted to say hello and said he’d love to go trapping some time. Got me to thinking about the ruralness of NY again. Although not thought of by many as a rural state, NY state is 2nd in maple syrup production, 2nd in apple production, 3rd in grape production, 3rd in milk production, and 4th in cheese production of the US states. The whitetail deer harvest is about 240,000 in recent years. In 2014, 239 deer were taken in my little hometown of Bolivar.
Bob Bang and I went deer hunting this morning. It was in the teens and cold but not much wind. When we launched the boat, the engine did not want to start. Finally, I kept cranking longer than I had been doing and it finally caught and ran smoothly. We headed down the channel and it was pretty flat. As we turned the corner and got across Stephens Passage, the waves picked up with the winds coming right out of the Taku River. That explained the 20 mph wind reading at Pt Bishop and the calm reading at Marmion Pt. Freezing spray coated the port side of the boat but I could see out of my starbard window. When we got to our spot, it was well protected and the tide was flooding all morning – so perfect for throwing out the anchor at the beach, tying a line to the anchor and running the line up the beach to the trees for an easy retrieval later. We headed into the woods. I thought we’d try to stay in the woods and skirt the muskegs. We saw tracks but no deer. As we worked our way up the slope, I stepped into a little depression. I heard the ice crack and I slowly sank. I thought it would just be up to my calf or something. And then I was in over my waist. As I tried to climb out, I broke more unseen ice under the snow and was floundering. Luckily, Bob was right there and was able to lend a hand. Even then, it was a struggle to get up out of this tiny pond. I immediately thought: I wonder if I could have gotten out of this if Bob wasn’t here, and would have just frozen in. There wasn’t much to do then. Start back to the boat and keep moving. I had fleece on so it didn’t retain much water. The only thing cold was my feet in my xtratuffs. It didn’t take us all too long to get back to the beach, and luckily the anchor came right in by the line without hanging up, and I was feeling okay and not hypothermic. I had extra clothes but no extra socks- those are going into the boat today before I put the boat away. The fire was still going in the woodstove when I got home. I loaded it, undressed, and right into a hot shower. No worse for wear.
Wow. The 028 Stihl dad bought me when I came to Alaska is still running strong. I have to start it with starting fluid because the choke/air filter replacement I got I can’t make work to choke, but once I start it once it will start the rest of the day. I also just had to replace the oil pump which was no big deal. I just wish I could master sharpening the chain. I have an electric sharpener, hand sharpener, etc but never seem to be able to get is as sharp as when I take it to the store for sharpening. I’ve got an older smaller Stihl at the cabin that still runs great, too. Anyway, starting to get wood down from up behind our garage. It’s maybe 50 or 75 yards up the hill. A couple big trees blew over a few years ago in a wind storm. They also knocked down some dead trees. I’m taking them all, punky or solid. I’m cutting them into sections I can end-over-end down to the creek behind the garage. Then I’ll buck them into rounds there, roll them across the bridge and down the driveway, then split them at the woodshed and throw them in. Lots of manual labor and good exercise which I need more than the stove heat.