Monday, October 29, 2018

2018 Weird Job: The Big Dig

We usually try to find an unusual seasonal job each year to stimulate our senses for a month or three. This year we decided to skip the paid work and hire ourselves for a pond building project on our property.

We spend a lot of time in the spring summer and fall each year maintaining and improving our forest, wildlife habitat and recreational access to our property. It's actually more fun for us (at least for now), and definitely more physically demanding, than just about any hiking or other recreational activity we could do.

Due to some poor logging jobs done about 30-40 years ago and terrible land management over the past 80 years, there's always improvements to be made on our property. Clearing brush, thinning trees to remove disease and select for the best genetics is always on the agenda. During this process, we discovered a natural depression in the landscape about 50 yards to the north of our boondocking spot. It is a perfect spot to build an entrapment pond.

It took about six months (over two summer seasons) of part-time work to clean up the area by hand and go from this:

To get to this:

It wasn't all just hand work. We also made a new 52 HP addition to the family this year.

But we had gotten as far as physical labor and a 52 HP tractor could take us, so we called in the heavy equipment to finish the job. After one day of digging we finally had something that was starting to look like a pond.

We even dug into some seeping groundwater veins. Surprising, considering what a relatively dry site we have. 

After laying down 27,000 pounds of sodium bentonite clay, it was time to roto-till it into the soil to create the liner.

Of course, all of this work, the hardest parts of the project, ended up being done on the hottest, smokiest days of the Summer. But after we were done, the first little bit of rain we'd seen since April came down and started filling the pond...and the liner held.

As it fills, the pond looks like it wants to have the emerald green color characteristic of the lakes in this part of Idaho. Since we're only putting rainwater and filtered well water into the pond, it's still crystal clear. The aerator can still be seen down in about five feet of water.

We actually won't know if the liner is holding until we come back from our Winter travels next March. It can take several wet seasons for a bentonite clay liner to develop and hold water on a permanent basis. We've added an additional 15,000 ponds of bentonite in certain sections to improve the liner further. We're counting on the snow and rain of Winter/Spring to do the heavy lifting and get us closer to full and the potential depth of 15'. We're ready for a five month travelling break from this work!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Different Kind of April

We came back to Northern Idaho earlier than normal this year to attend a forestry conference in Moscow. We were able to move back onto our place by March 29th, and that has made for some fun in the snow this year.

This is hardly any snow by most measures, but it was enough for us. The forest this time of year is free of brush and the visibility through it is amazing. A nice quiet walk through the woods during or after a snowfall is one on life's great pleasures.

Jake and Wesson seem to like this a lot better than the desert.


 Magic Hat has new spokesdog.

The snow is all gone now and it's time to plant some seedlings!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Prelude to... a Return of "TailS from the Back Seat"

ˈprelˌ(y)o͞od,ˈprāˌl(y)o͞od   noun
  1. 1.
    an action or event serving as an introduction to something more important

Although a 25th wedding anniversary is quite momentous in itself, the celebration and gift exchange between John and Susan last May was truly just a prelude........

The historic origins of wedding anniversaries date back to the Holy Roman Empire, when husbands crowned their wives with a silver wreath on their 25th anniversary.  A silver wreath is a metaphor to represent a place where love can be found. The connection is drawn in the fact that wreaths are actually made of sticks and such which birds use for their homes. Thus, a silver wreath is a representation of having your heart open and allowing your true love and you to build your home around it. 
Hence, a 25th Wedding Anniversary is known as the "Silver Anniversary". 

So what special gift would John and Susan share for their 25th wedding anniversary??? 

Surely a shiny, silver Smith & Wesson revolver would have been appropriate, 
but they decided to forego the Smith (this year) and just present.....


Wesson was born in Fox Lake, Wisconsin but she ain't no Green Bay Packers fan!

The anniversary present was to include a relaxing 2-week Midwest sightseeing adventure in the RV traveling from Idaho to Wisconsin to pick up Wesson, but a broken axle on the RV took the relaxing out of the equation and added to the "adventure"...for all of us!!

It is usual for puppies to exhibit separation anxiety when leaving their birth family, 
but Wesson is anything but usual.....
she immediately embraced her new family and the open road!!

"Sweet Dreams"

Back in Idaho, Wesson also took to her new environment with ease.....

Maybe too much ease for Jake.....

Just how long is she going to stay with us?

Wesson soon made friends and the training in all things dog began....

...and it was quickly clear that Wesson and Jake would live happily ever after....
just like Susan and John...

"What a Wonderful World"


          I see skies of blue, 
        And clouds of white. 
        The bright blessed day, 
        The dark sacred night. 
        And I think to myself, 
        What a wonderful world.

   The colors of the rainbow, 
   So pretty in the sky. 
   Are also on the faces, 
   Of people going by, 
   I see friends shaking hands
   Saying, "How do you do?" 
   They're really saying, 
   "I love you". 

  I hear babies cry, 
  I watch them grow
 They'll learn much more 
 Than I'll ever know 
 And I think to myself, 
 What a wonderful world. 

       Yes, I think to myself, 
       What a wonderful world. 
       Oh yeah.

Stay tuned for a return of "Tails from the Back Seat"!