Saturday, August 19, 2017


A morning walk in the north field

Before practice: "Hey! I'm waiting out here."

After practice: "That was fun! Let's do it again!"

After lunch: "I'm waiting here. Don't you want to shoot?"

At 3:45: "Ah, come on! It's so much fun!

Friday, August 18, 2017


Cottonwood Butte
Teakean Butte

For years now, Mike has baked fat-free oat bran muffins for himself. It started as a means of combating high cholesterol, and he continues to eat two per day. Taking a recent batch from the oven, he set them on a low table – actually an upside down wood box – on the porch to cool, and Bess helped herself, evidently thinking they were fair game. Mike scolded her soundly, then showed her that only what’s offered on the floor is for her.
Nellie at Canyon rim west of house

Later, I approached her as she sat dejectedly in the yard.
“Did you get into trouble,” I asked.
“Oh man, did I ever!” she said. “I don’t even want to talk about it.”

Last week, Bess bit a bull snake on the head, and that struck terror to our hearts because of the rattlesnakes. The lesson is that she must leave snakes strictly alone. Once again she was scolded.

“Oh, I can’t do anything right,” she said.

My hunting friends
In the wee hours of the morning Bess barked, and then the strong scent of skunk assaulted our slumbering nostrils. We were relieved this morning to find that she wasn’t sprayed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a skunk here. But then, I’m sure there are many animals here that I haven’t sighted.

Bess & the target thrower
Last year Mike treated himself (and me) to a wonderful battery-operated clay pigeon thrower, which has become Bess’ favorite thing in all the world. She can’t wrap her dog brain around the principle of its operation, so she sits beside it – even naps by it – in order not to miss any action. But she knows that when Mike gets his shotgun, it’s “show time,” and she can't contain her excitement. 

Here are some pictures of Bess at the thrower. She points the machine, every muscle at the ready. The moment Mike calls “pull,” she turns tail and runs after the soaring clay pigeon. When it hits the ground, she runs back to point the thrower again. It's just a game she plays with the thrower. She could do it all day, I think.

And Nellie? She’s retired, you know. When Mike gets out his gun – any gun – she hides in the utility room by the water heater, seemingly oblivious of her hunting pedigree. At nearly 14, she still (mostly) enjoys our walks. She lags behind to explore, then trots along to catch up. KW


Tuesday, August 15, 2017


A westerly view over the canyons

I tried to beg off the afternoon walk on Thursday (Aug. 10). It was so hot – 96 or so here in the country. I wondered aloud if it would be another hot autumn.

“It will cool down for sure just before dove season opens,” Mike opined.

Looking north over the north field toward Teakean Butte
We went back to town on Friday (Aug. 11), where our unofficial thermometer showed the afternoon high at 110. We took the dogs to the beach for exercise and a cool-down swim.
Elderberry bushes look good this year

Frankly, I didn’t think much about the predicted cooling trend. So it’s going to cool down ten degrees or so – big deal! As for the smoke, the cooler air would have little effect, they said. Some may move out but more will move in.

At first, you know, the cooler temps just feel pleasantly refreshing. Saturday evening we heard a few distant thunder claps and opted to walk the dogs instead of going to the beach.

To the northwest from the north field
But – Sunday morning, it commenced to rain. We drove to the farm in intermittent rain, and it rained here most of the morning. And now it’s cooler. I know some don’t like to hear that autumn is on the way, so I'll just say that late summer is definitely upon us. The sun is still warm, but mornings and evenings are cool. Today’s high was in the low 80s while the lows are in the mid 50s. We dug out warmer pajamas, and we enjoy a lightly warmed bed.
Little Canyon -- still hazy

As for the smoke, it did clear out here in the upper country. I can see Teakean Butte to the north and Cottonwood Butte to the south, and even Little Canyon is fairly clear.

Bess practices her hunting skills
We have just a few hummingbirds visiting our feeders. And today Mike saw tiny baby quail. He says they must hatch ready to run. We sight deer frequently – both whitetail and mule deer. 

Of course, harvest is over. We enjoy hiking the fields, but it isn't easy. The rapeseed stalks love to trip me. 

Oh! One more thing. Sunday I announced that on Monday I would make hawthorn jelly, but Mike said, "Why not today?" Well, I thought about it and decided maybe I should do it. I added a cup of service berry juice to the haw juice, and the end result was quite tasty. KW

Friday, August 11, 2017

Motocaching the Lochsa

There are quite a few geocaches scattered along the Lochsa River from Kamiah east to Montana. Over the years I’ve found most of them but there were just a few that I lacked including a couple of new ones. I planned a motorcycle trip to try to get the ones I lacked hoping Clint would accompany me. Due to his work schedule he wasn’t going to be available so Wednesday, the 9th, I struck out on my own.

Anticipating the trip I had ridden my Triumph Tiger from town to the farm the previous Sunday. So Wednesday I departed the farm at 6:45 a.m. descending the Gilbert Grade to Highway 12. I gassed up in Kamiah and made my first stop the other side of Kooskia at one I had attempted before called “Big Rock”. There are many huge boulders along side the river at this point and I was unsuccessful again. I’m going to need some help on this one.

Lochsa Lodge Grounds
Moose Wallow
I picked up a new one called “Dead Mule Flats” to break the ice before hitting the cache rich area at the Lochsa Lodge. I passed up a couple along the way to have some stops on the way back. Right near the lodge parking lot I found one in a stump. Next I rode a short distance to the Powell Campground to find one that surprisingly hadn’t been found in over a year. Now I had to backtrack to the lodge for a trail hike to “Moose Wallow”. I probably hiked ¼ mile or so to the wallow. The hint was “in a woodpecker tree”. As it turned out there were two “woodpecker” trees and I searched in vain before finally seeing another one nearby and quickly found the cache – no moose though.

Cache at White Sands

Tight Squeeze

Now my travel was on gravel roads back toward the White Sands Campground. As it turned out I didn’t take the intended route (imagine that) and I had to pass several “Road Closed to Thru Traffic” signs with barely enough room around the locked gate to allow my bike through. However, I finally made it and picked up the two caches near the campground and small lake. I had lunch at the campground.

On the Point
The Cabin
Next I headed back to Hwy 12 on Elk Creek Summit Road which is the way I should have entered. I passed one cache and stopped at another near the top of the Lolo Summit called “On the Point”. I had a little trouble finding my way out to this one but finally found a trail leading along a narrow ridge to a point featuring a beautiful view. I got back on the road and stopped at the one I had passed called “The Cabin”. It was an old cabin used by sheepherders long before the road was built. It certainly doesn’t look like sheep country to me.

The next closest cache in my GPS was “Large Tamarack” which I didn’t have on the list I’d made so it was apparently one I had entered at an earlier date. It was billed as one of the largest tamaracks in Idaho. It was located more than 6 miles off the highway. I was a little uneasy attempting this alone but I decided to go ahead anyway.

Let the adventure begin. The first mile or so was on the Elk Creek Summit Rd which I had been on earlier. Then I turned off on a narrow Forest Service road which ascended up the mountain. It was narrow with some switchbacks but relatively smooth until the last ½ mile or so. Certainly better than the 21 mile Orogrande to Dixie road Clint and I had done the previous Saturday. I could see the big tamarack up ahead so I stopped a couple of hundred feet before it where I thought I could turn around. It’s not easy to find a turnaround place on a narrow road on the side of a mountain. The cache was supposed to be in a hollow tree across the road and just up the five foot road bank. However, there was no hollow tree anywhere around, just a downed and burned tree that had been there for some time. I looked all around for some time before giving up and heading back to my bike. I later found a comment that the owner suspected it was gone due to fire but I hadn’t updated my GPS since the comment was made.

As I backed up sideways on the sloping road I became overbalanced on the downhill side and I could not keep my bike up. Now I know from experience there’s no way I can pick that 440 or so pound bike up by myself without injuring my already bad back. Clint, where are you? It’s now past mid afternoon and at least 6 miles to the nearest help. The chances of anyone else being on this road are slim and none. Okay Mickey, keep calm and think. So I found about a 3 foot piece of wood along with a long pole from a nearby slash pile. I drug the bike around 90
After 3 years
Back up with levers

degrees so it was lying uphill and then I lifted it enough to get the smaller piece of wood under the crash guard near the front of the bike. Using it as a lever I pried the bike up enough to get the larger pole under the guard. Then using one hand to lift up on the back of the bike and the other to leverage the front of the bike up with the pole, I managed to get it up so I could lift it the rest of the way. The only damage appeared to be a broken reflector although I’ll undoubtedly have to spray some paint on the crash guard. That’s been done before.

So off we go, bloodied but not beaten. I stopped for a cache I had passed on the way up and found it fairly quickly. Now my last one was one that hadn’t been found in over three years called “Lookout! Deadend!”. It was across the river from the road and to get access (unless you had a boat) you had to go back a mile to the “Wilderness Gateway” campground where there was a bridge. Then you had go back downriver in the campground where there was a trail called “Deadend”. The trail followed the river until the cache site just before the trail end a ½ mile out. I made the hike and found the cache in good shape after a three year dormancy.

Then I hit the road toward home, stopped in Kamiah for gas and called Kathy to tell her I was on the way. I arrived at the farm about 6:30 p.m. having covered 304 miles. What a day!

After posting the caches on line the owner of “Large Tamarack” contacted me and said I could count that cache as a “find” as the container had been destroyed by fire previously and I had found the tree which was the point. He hadn’t been able to replace it because it was raining whenever he was up there. So that gave me 11 finds for the day. M/W

Thursday, August 10, 2017


House and grounds from south this morning (Aug. 10). Smoke is worse each day.

Mike left early Wednesday morning (Aug. 9) to motocache along the Lochsa, so the dogs and I had a quiet day. Our morning walk was “out west” – behind the house to the canyon rim. As the morning was slow to warm up, I baked cookies. About 10:45, I closed the house, picked up my picker’s pail, and invited Bess to join me in picking hawthorn berries at the draw. Initially she seemed interested, but uncertainty set in and she decided not to chance it. (She is Butchie’s granddaughter, remember.)

Haws -- August 2
So, down the lane I went to pick berries by myself. I found some lovely reachable branches loaded with berries. Apparently the “haws” are a favorite of the birds because they are disappearing rapidly. As I picked, a little bird sat on a branch within the tree and scolded me.  

Neighbor's place before harvest
I picked about an hour and came back with plenty – about three quarts. Subsequently I poured them into a stockpot, covered them with plenty of water, and simmered them for 20 minutes. The haws are pithy, seedy, and bland, but the homesteader in me just can’t pass up available berries. The first cooking didn’t yield much juice, so I added more water to the berry pulp and cooked again, then strained the juice through cheesecloth. I now have a quart of “hawberry” juice.

Having finished my work, I settled down to quiet activity in the afternoon. While Nellie snoozed on her pillow, I crocheted. Bess was outside.

Taken from the kitchen porch
“Bark. Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark.” Bess’ tone was urgent, but I figured someone was coming in. Tossing my crocheting aside, I ran to the door, and the moment I opened the door, I heard the telltale rattling buzz of a rattlesnake. I called Bess, and she obediently came immediately. Then the three of us – Bess, Nellie, and I – stood in the dining room and watched the snake through the window. Mike doesn’t like to kill the rattlers, but when he isn’t here to carry them away, I have to protect the dogs. Long story short, that’s what happened.

Bess in June's field, looking north
Well, you might think that was the end of the story. Certainly it was enough excitement for one day. Mike came home, and Bess tried to tell him all about it. I filled in the gaps where language failed her.

Grain harvest concludes on neighboring farm to the north
Then, in the evening – about 8:30 – Bess warned again, this time from the other side of the house where the raised beds are. I heard the rattle from the open living room window. Mike called Bess into the house and grabbed a light. Cautiously the three of us followed the sound, which I located as coming from under the tire with the strawberries. We could do nothing about that, so we left it alone.

My dad believed that rattlesnakes came in pairs. He would search for the second one and sometimes find it. KW