Hi! I’m back!

I’m supposed to be sanding and mudding drywall right now. Last week, Jenn and I finally started doing something about our half-finished living room. In anticipation of the upcoming work we packed up books, took down pictures and moved furniture. Our couches – all three of them – are now in a heap outside our front door; they resemble the jams of ice that occur in rivers in the spring. To make the moving of them easier, I cut the largest of them in half with a circular saw: I went up one side and down the other, the teeth of the saw clipping staples and chewing through the leather. There is a certain satisfaction that comes with cutting up your old, dog-chewed furniture. There is also a certain satisfaction that comes with the prospect of a newly redecorated room and the promise of new, respectable furnishings so why can’t I find it in me to walk the dozen or so feet into the other room and get to work?

I would like to say that my lack of posting recently is because nothing of note has happened. This is untrue, of course. In fact, it is precisely because of all that has been going on that has led to my forced hiatus.

It is now the beginning of December and our furnace has yet to come on. Although this sounds like what might be the beginnings of another post related to the shortcomings of our house I am pleased to say it is not. Our furnace hasn’t come on because we’ve had the woodstove going full bore. I am so happy to have that thing working again that I think I have already burned two cords of wood. Smoke billows out of our chimney like a ship leaving port. The stove has even been inspected, approved and insured.

The difference that the stove has made in the house is incredible. Not only are the floors warm because it is in the basement, but for the first time since we have lived here, we do not have water in the basement. The stove has made sure of that. My one complaint is that the living room, being so cut off from the rest of the house by a poor design – narrow hallway and two opposing ninety degree corners, one left then right – is colder than normal because of poor air circulation. However, it is nothing a hole in the floor can’t fix.

Much of the wood for the stove will come from our property. We have been hit unusually hard by spruce budworm for the past several years and with the high winds we seem to get every spring and fall, there are a great many trees down in the bush. One area looks like a logging operation, mid-cut. If I had to guess, there are over fifty trees down in an area that can’t be more than two acres.

In getting the woodstove working again though, I have made more work for us. Now we need wood. Wood that needs to be felled (or at least) cut, split and stacked and where am I going to stack all of this wood? Well, I guess I need a woodshed. One that I haven’t built yet. I would like to have one put together before the real snow comes, but if I were honest with myself, I would just accept the fact that it’s not likely going to get done until the spring. I will just have to put up with snow-covered wood for this winter, a major pet peeve of mine.

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Dogs in the truck.  Stay, dogs, stay.

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Dogs on the trail.  Go, dogs, go.

The dogs have been doing amazingly well. We have been training for almost two months now and have split our dogs into two teams: the A team and the B team. Naturally. The A team is one hard-driving, fast moving, never-say-quit bunch of dogs that are a pleasure to run. The B team consists of some of our older dogs, four dogs belonging to a friend and a two year old that needed a bit of extra work. They, too, are a pleasure to run but for different reasons. Both teams are reliable and good natured and they have given me a lot of confidence in them already.

We are all anxious for snow around here. We thought we’d received our first snowfall a week ago, but the recent warming that brought rain with it pretty much killed that idea. Now with temperatures falling again, we are expecting a lot of ice to form on the ground where the water has collected. This will make training difficult until a suitable base of snow forms. We rely on the dogs to start the fourwheeler: we leave it in neutral and then pop it into gear when they start pulling, very much like starting a standard car with a dead battery. The last training run, however, had just enough snow to make the tires of the fourwheeler skid instead of catch on the gravel so I had to run the team with no engine. The problem with this is that the team is strong enough to pull our fourwheeler faster than what we aim for as our top speed but more importantly, I had no brakes. Our actual brakes are broken. They don’t work at all. Never have. What we do when the engine runs is to use the gears of the fourwheeler to control our speed: the higher the gear, the easier it is to pull and the faster we go. When we need to slow down, we just gear down, making sure we’ve counted properly and don’t accidentally shift into neutral. Not so this past run. I was at the mercy of the dogs and trying not to let them know it. We flew down the trail in neutral, swerving around corners with the fourwheeler going sideways at times. My only lucky break was that I could shift into first gear on the downhills and the tires would lock up, so the dogs would have to actually pull the fourwheeler downhill, rather than just running full out and gaining momentum in the process.

And that’s how things have been around here. I really ought to get sanding…

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Being chased by puppies

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Hunter and Action

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