Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

November at the Lodge

Well, I'm not doing too well on my goal of posting to this blog on a weekly basis. Maybe it will be a New Year's resolution and I'll improve after the first of the year.
November started out as a very wet month. We had 23 inches of rain in the first 15 days.Every fall, it seems like the big storms combine heavy rain with super high tides and waves from Chatham Strait to float the boardwalks. We've learned to make sure the boardwalks are tied down when we get here in the fall to prevent them from floating away.

We also had several windstorms which blew spray off the wavetops in our normally protected bay.

Of course, working on the firewood couldn't wait for good weather.

Although it hasn't been a big snow year yet, November did give us a few dustings that necessitated getting the snow shovels and snow blowers out. In December, I can't wear slippers when I do snow removal.

Something strange happened in the last half of the month. We had 10 days in a row of clear, dry weather.

We got outside projects done around the lodge and finished up our boat projects.

The tarps came off the wood shed and wood pile to get the firewood as dry as possible.

Jen and I even got in a little kayaking.

Kayaking in front of Baranof Falls.

Headed home.....that's the lodge in the background.
MORE WILDLIFE
This belted Kingfisher lives around the lodge and is usually found on top of the barbeque on the boat when we go down to the dock.

We have a large group of river otters that hangs out around the lodge. We often see as many as 8 of them swimming around, hauling out on the dock, or sliding on the snow.

This otter got a shrimp somewhere under the dock.

We had a lot of Varied Thrushes hanging out this fall. This one was eating stink currants.

This female merganser got a nice sculpin for breakfast.


Feral Bueller continues to prowl the grass looking for field mice and shrews.

She was such a good sport about wearing her "moose mount" when we found her infested with fleas. She was pulling all the fur out of her tail and hindquarters, so we would slap the mount on her as soon as she started to scratch.

It was tough for a while, but we ended up getting some flea medicine and flea foggers flown into a hatchery 14 miles up Chatham Strait and the flea problem finally seems to be gone. See our post, "Fleas in Paradise".
Feral, normally not a big fan of being held, got used to tolerating it as we would do a"flea search".
She loves it now that the snow is back.

And she still has the best scratching post in the world!





Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner

We were invited to go over to "town" (note--we call the community of Baranof with 12 cabins and 1 full time resident "town") for Thanksgiving dinner, so I volunteered to bake some pies and bread. Since we have plenty of bowls here, I decided to do them all at once.

Jen hates it when I bake because it's very messy.

Three loaves of sourdough, three loaves of sourdough egg braid, one pumpkin pie and one apple/rhubarb/blueberry ought to be enough to hold the 5 of us at dinner.

Isn't it amazing how many dirty dishes baking entails? Luckily Jennifer cheerfully volunteered to do the cleanup.

OK--I might have been stretching it a bit on the "cheerfully" part.

Thursday night, we kicked the evening off with a toast of "Baranof Elixer," Christine's homemade specialty, which was suprisingly good (but I don't want to know what's in it)!

Christine--our "Hostess with the Mostest"!

Carving the bird.

Luke and Hank dishing up.

Dinner is served!

I think Hank liked the apple/rhubarb/blueberry pie (that's pie filling on his nose)!


Thanks for a great dinner, Christine!


Fleas in Paradise!

We were considering putting this version of Feral in the lodge's great room to join the wide array of mounted exotic fish. But circumstances intervened and we were forced to use the "Moose Mount" for a higher purpose.

Feral Bueller, the formally wild cat who charmed her way out of the bulkhead and into the house has always been known for her thick gray coat and bushy tail.
We took a hike up to the hydro intake the other day. Feral always likes to come along on hikes, so she followed along, running alongside and on top of the hydro line.
As she zoomed past us at one point, Jen said, "Is that a bald spot on Feral's hindquarters?" (She didn't actually say "hindquarters".)

On closer inspection, Feral did indeed have a large area of thinning fur.
Her tail looks like a squirrel! (This is Jen)

When we got back to the lodge, we pinned Feral down for a thorough inspection and were very suprised to see small shiny critters scurrying around the isolated hairs on the problem areas. As far as I know we don't have many fleas in SE Alaska--the winters are still too cold for them, although that may be changing. We found out later that a dog from down south, living here for the summer, had arrived with some bloodthirsty hitchhikers. The dog was treated but evidentally some of the eggs hatched out as soon as they smelled fresh blood in the lodge.

We had one treatment of flea medication with us, hidden amongst some of Feral's outfits. We applied that to the back of her neck and in the 12 hours it was supposed to take to kill every flea on her, we vacuumed every bit of floor area in the house and washed everything that Feral might have come in contact with in the last several weeks. The numbers of fleas we found on her dropped over the next couple days, but we were still finding hearty fleas on her and she continued to chew, scratch, and lick with a frenzy.

What do you do in this situation where you are 90 miles by boat from the closest pet pharmacy?

Home Treatment! We were told that a bath with Dawn dishwashing detergent would kill the fleas. You can see Feral eyeing the sink as I told her that she would have to stay in the bath for 5 minutes. Our plan was that I would lower her into the water for a good soak, then I'd pull her out and Jen would lather her up with the Dawn. See that smile on my face? It disappeared as soon as I grabbed her by the scruff of her neck and began to lower her into the water. She freaked, as any normal cat would do when being lowered into a vat of water 4 feet deep, and turned in to a frantic windmilling outboard motor. Spray, fur, and foam flew as the planned 5-minute soak turned into about 5-nanoseconds. (By the way, Jen photoshopped my picture to make me look balder than I am!)

This is Jen: I used to bath both of my cats, but always in the bathtub, and only in about 6 inches of water, and I was in the tub with them. There was no way to do so here, with only showers available, and we didn't think Feral would be too cooperative up at the grotto in the hot springs. When I noticed that Rick had filled the commercial grade sink in the kitchen to the very top, I may have even mentioned that he didn't need so much water, but wasn't wise enough to boss him around as usual and tell him to drain all but 6 inches out. Poor Feral! Can you imagine eyeing a huge vat of liquid, and then--not being gently cradled and lowered towards the evil substance--but grabbed by the scruff of the neck and unceremoniously propelled towards it? You bet I'd get the hell out of there in record time! Yipes! If you could have heard the hissing and spitting and splashing and yowling in those few seconds! The miserable meowl- yowls erupted every now and then during the luxurious lather and rinse, but on the whole Feral was a pretty good sport.

She calmed down quite a bit after clawing her way out of the sink and was actually pretty good as Jen lathered her up with the Dawn. (Now Jen really made me look bald! Everything above my eyeballs is gone!)

Feral especially liked the drying phases of the bath.

A secondary tounge bath by the woodstove is part of the drying and healing process.

The Dawn bath did seem to help with the itchy skin, but we continued to find fleas on her for several days (undoubtedly the abbreviated length of the bath was the reason for lack of results). We didn't have access to one of those cones to keep her from licking and scratching any more of her fur off, so we settled on the "Moose Mount".

It has been very effective in keeping her from licking and scratching too much and taking any more fur off. She sleeps in it.

She watches humans eat in it.

She hangs around the house in it.

Yes, we know the moose is on upside down, but that's the way she has to wear it to protect the remaining fur on her backside. Her tail is starting to look a little like a french poodle's. The next boat or floatplane that comes into the bay should bring the flea medication and some fogger to eradicate the little suckers.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Beach logging for firewood

One of our priority fall projects is to lay in a big supply of firewood. There's nothing like being out shoveling snow all day and coming in to a warm lodge with a nice fire going in the wood stove. Keeping Jennifer at or near her comfort zone is also very important for marital tranquility.


Jen joined me on one of rare dry days we had in October. I had scouted out a few logs I wanted to get, but rough water in Chatham Strait changed our plans. We went instead to one of the bights that is actually inside Warm Springs Bay and was protected from the strong northerlies.


On the beach, I take a hammer to check the condition of any log that looks good. If it rings, it's good wood. If it thunks, we leave it right where it is.


Some logs are small enough that I can roll them down the beach with a peavey.

If they're too big, I tie a line around the log so I can pull it off the beach with the skiff when the tide gets high enough.

These logs are ready to go--I'm just throwing the tow lines into the skiff. When I have all the lines on logs, Jen will come in and pick me up.

We pull the logs into the water one at a time.

When the logs are all floating, we tie them to a bridal on the stern of the skiff and start the long, slow tow for home.

Towing logs is a lot like herding cats--they usually want to go a different direction than you want to go. We had a lot of trouble with the big log on the left--we finally cut it loose and just took the others in after doing two long slow 360's. We came back for it after dropping the other logs off at the lodge. We had to tie it alongside the skiff to be able to tow straight.

I like to get back to the lodge just before high tide.

That allows me to get the towlines up by the woodshed and pull the logs up as much as possibble before the outgoing tide leaves them high and dry.

This was a good day of logging on a nice high tide!

If the tide's not high enough to float the logs to the woodshed, I use a chainsaw winch (you can see it next to the big plank in the photo) to pull the logs up the beach. In the good old days, my back didn't mind carrying the rounds by hand (or should we say by back) up to be split, but those days are gone.

Bucking up logs before the tide comes back in.

Splitting rounds with a maul.

The wood stack fell over three times until Jen came out and helped me do it right. The only thing more fun than stacking wood once is stacking it 4 times!

We had a stretch of nice dry weather in late November and were able to get the tarps off and the wood nice and dry. We're running out of places to stack it, so I'm sure we'll have enough now for the winter. Good thing too, as the weather is supposed to get colder in a few days with snow in the forecast. Life is good!