Monday, January 25, 2010

Rain in January

This is Lee reporting for Paula while she is in Illinois helping her daughter remodel her basement since she doesn't have much work here right now. Winter is always slow.

Rain in January is not ideal for the mountain girls due to it creating more icy conditions. The first picture is the creek coming down from the back of our house. At the bottom there is a picture of the creek across the street from us that used to be the beaver pond.

You can see that we still have a little snow and the roads are still ice covered. Places that the sun hits the roads everything has melted for the most part. The part of the road that doesn't get plowed is extremely icy at least in Leetonia. I didn't take a chance to venture further down the road. I was on edge just going to downtown Leetonia with studded snow tires.

Pine Creek at Cedar Run went from 2 feet this morning to almost 9 feet the last time I checked. Our pond in the back is full and the overflow is raging. It seems like Spring in January. At this point winter sports are out of the question here unless you want to ice skate on the roads. When I went by the pipeline today the snowmobile trail was completely gone or icy.

You can see the road in front of my house in the other picture featuring Spec the new addition to our family. He is a real sweetheart and quick as a rabbit. Paula rescued him from the SPCA in Wellsboro. I always wanted a lap dog that is actually small enough to fit on your lap. Scooter thinks he's a lap dog at 90 pounds. UGH! Also in the picture is the back of Leo on the left and Thor on the right.

I recently got back from a trip to Tucson which was very nice. The weather was perfect while I was there. I love the multitude of cactus. Tucson is a very pretty interesting city surrounded with beautiful mountains. It was nice to visit but I am glad to be home to our mountains. There really is no place like home. At least for me.

Time to settle in with the boys. If anything of interest comes up I will post again. Mountain Girl Lee (AKA Riverbear) logging off.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Warm up!

The grandchildren have been up this week keeping me running. It started out cold -10 at night but today is up in the 40's and melting the snow fast.
Sam pulled a large icicle down (first one on left) and Reilly decided to make herself into a icicle unicorn.
The youngest of the four is four and the oldest 13. I can tell you keeping up with them is harder than any construction job.
I think my neck is permanently in a kink trying to keep track of them while pulling them on the sleds behind the four wheeler.
A lot of people are up for the weekend hoping to snowmobile, however the roads are marginal. Still I am sure they all will have fun unless we get the freezing rain Sunday. Lee is coming back from Arizona today and I am headed off with the grandchildren to Illinois on Monday to help them remodel their basement. Work has been slow here so it is a good time to go help. Guess it is Lee's turn to hold down the fort.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Remembering Jack

Jack, a year old, rescued brindle and white Pit Bull came to live with us shortly before we moved to the Leetonia in the fall of 2002. Jack, picked up as a stray in the city, didn’t know the first thing about being a mountain dog. The back of his canine teeth were unusually worn down for such a young dog. He showed us how he wore them down when he bent the metal door off his dog crate. I suspect he escaped many a fenced in yard this way as well.

Jack chased rabbits, squirrels, birds, bears and unfortunately his share of porcupines. His first summer in Leetonia he only caught porcupines and snakes, due to his inexperienced hunting style. I called it burn and churn. He would run fast and loud scaring everything away. Animals hid in the sharp multiflora bushes designed to protect them from predators. Fearless, Jack just viewed this as a minor slowing down as he tore through the bushes, the bushes tore of pieces of his ears off and left thorns in his coat. Later, when I petted him, the thorns would stab me. Daily, I pulled them out one after another. Fearlessness can be bad.

Jack worked with me everyday and kept all the animals out of the area. He thought he was protecting me but sometimes the way he defended me was down-right dangerous. I drove home for lunch, and it was time to go back to work. I opened the back door to walk to my truck. As soon as Jack stepped out the door he snorted and ran to the front of the house. I heard some noise and realized what ever he found he was chasing around the house.

There is a creek that runs close to the edge of our house and then a garage sits at about a 45 degree angle to the house. The garage at its closest point is within 15 feet of the back of the house. Set this way the garage funnels anything that comes around the house toward this narrow point. The point I stood at when I saw a 100lb adolescent black bear coming around the corner, ahead of Jack and directly at me. I had no time to think of anything but the feeling of what a 100lb bear hitting me running at top speed was going to feel like. I braced for impact and the bear lunged over the lawn tractor next to me. Jack gained ground as he passed me he was within two feet of grabbing the bears back leg.

I yelled, “No!”

He stopped and came back to me letting the bear run to freedom. He seemed to smile with pride as he looked at me. If he could have talked I am sure he would have said, “I showed that bear who was boss.”

This wouldn’t be the last time Jack tangled with bears and I feared one would kill the 50lb dog. It was the only time he tried to run me over with one.

We used to keep bird seed in the van to feed birds. Something we stopped doing because of the number of bears it attracted. The bird seed also attracted squirrels, Jack’s favorite thing to catch. Jack’s skills at hunting improved greatly his second summer, fewer thorns and a more thoughtful approach to hunting. He would often sit by the bird seed post and wait for chipmunks. He learned to sit motionless and let them move around a bit. Then in an instant snatched them and placed them in a pile while he waited for another one. It wouldn’t be uncommon for him to have five squirrels in a pile before the rest caught on to him. He was so intent on this nothing would distract him. Not even a female jogger who went within ten feet of him jogging up the mountain thought Jack was a statue. On the way back she jumped when she saw Jack’s ear move. Statue no, smart squirrel dog, yes.

Jack often followed me when I got bird seed out of the van, ready for any little critter that might be in there. This day he would hit the jack pot. As I opened the door, a red squirrel scampered inside the van and Jack leaped in after him. Jack and the squirrel went round and round knocking over everything then the squirrel flew out. And yes, it flew out right at me. It thought I was a tree and started circling and climbing my left leg. Jack flew out as well and was chasing the squirrel around my leg as it climbed higher and higher. I remember holding my breath getting ready to feel the bite of a squirrel or dog. Just as the squirrel got to my waist it flew off into the bushes with Jack close behind. Both the squirrel and I escaped injury or death by a narrow margin on that day.

This was just a couple of Jack escapades; I am hoping to write them all up in the future. But after sharing these stories last week with someone I wanted to share them with you here on the blog. This last picture shows Jack's first encounter with a porcupine.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A day in the life

Another cold start to the day. A day when I thought I would be getting some paid work done. But, alas it wasn't to be so. I needed to use my generator at the site since there is no electric and it was too cold to start. I got blocked on another job that the money didn't show up for so I spend the day inside doing home work.
I spent the day sorting through stuff I never get the time to sort. I filled three garbage bags with papers and junk to get rid of. Then decided it would be a good day to defrost the freezer. I didn't have to worry about the food melting...I just put it in a box outside in our outdoor freezer. The high was only 22 so I think it was colder then my inside freezer. The ice had gotten nearly 3 inches thick in some places and it took a lot of boiling water to melt it all. Between melting ice, I kept putting wood on the fire to stay comfortable. In this windy, freezing weather tending the fire is a full time job in itself.
Called the gas company and it seems they aren't making it up the road. I told them to go around instead of up from Cedar Run so we will see if I get propane. Our cook stove, water heater and dryer as well as a small space heater run on propane.
The first year we were up here I had 100Lb individual tanks. We went through six of them that winter and since there was no delivery...we ended up hauling them horizontally in the back of the Subaru since I didn't have a truck that year.This is not the safest thing to do and those tanks are a challenge to get into place. After that we went to a 500 gallon tank, which we use up in about a year. We use half in the winter and half in the summer. Right now it is half full and we are just starting the coldest part of winter. If they don't show we might make it. But it is nice not to have to worry about it.
Scooter decided today would be the day he would roll in something nasty so he got a bath. He was lucky the house was warmed up by then. I started cleaning the library and sorting through old books and magazines. I finally decided the ton of old building magazines I have must go to make room for life. I think the library is at least a three day project.
My daughter and grandkids are trying to come up the end of the week for a visit providing no major snowstorms. She just told me her golden retriever got a little too close to their wood burner and her daughter noticed the dog's tail smoking. She said they put it out before any damage was done to dog or house. Never a dull moment. Tomorrow the plans are to do some electric work at a neighbors it is in an unheated garage so it will be long underwear day. Time to hit the hay as they say. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.