Growing Fruit on the Homestead

It’s planning season. This year I’m planning on growing fruit. Or more fruit, I should say. It’s the time I plan the garden, how to expand the orchard, thinking more about growing fruit – what’s going to go where, and a lot of things I think I’m going to get done this year but won’t.

Growing Fruit

Remember the apple trees I planted last year? The tree we planted at the edge of a food plot at Peter’s camp had an unfortunate incident with a brush hog. I’ve ordered another and will tie a lot of bright pink flagging tape on it.

I tried blackberries two years ago but the canes died. I love blackberries and hope each year that the wild berries will be abundant. They usually aren’t so I’m trying again. I ordered Nelson, a midsummer variety hardy to zone 4, maybe 3. The USDA Hardiness Zone Map says we’re in 5 now I’m not so sure. I’m less concerned about when growing fruit like strawberries because I can cover the plants with a thick mulch of straw but the trees and canes do concern me.

Two hundred strawberry plants isn’t enough when the rhubarb is ready and the strawberries are still more than a month away. I like Sparkle but it’s not an early variety. I’ve ordered 50 Annapolis plants.  Hardy to Zone 3 and they are supposed to produce even in cold years. I hope so. We could live on fresh strawberry rhubarb pie.

All but one of the rhubarb plants looked a little iffy at the end of the growing season last year so I’m adding a new plant. Glaskins Perpetual is low acid so it should taste good from the early Annapolis strawberries through Sparkle.

Purple Passion. I don’t know how I feel about that name but I’m adding this variety of asparagus anyway. Two years ago I read several articles about tossing asparagus into a ditch, covering it and forgetting it. The authors made good cases for this method. I read it on the internet so it had to have been true, right? It didn’t work well. About a third of the plants grew. We like asparagus a lot so I’ll plant it correctly this time.

growing fruit, homestead, Asparagus berries, asparagus seeds

Asparagus berries

I’m going to grow grapes. I ordered one Worden to have fresh grapes. It sounds promising. From the Fedco catalog: Heirloom variety. Large long broad tapering clusters of medium-sized round dark purplish blue-black berries with a heavy bloom, thin tender skin and greenish translucent flesh. Juicy sweet mildly foxy flavor with excellent fresh-eating quality.

Kristin and I are starting a wine project. We’re growing King of the North grapes. It’s supposed to be great for home wine makers and is catching on in popularity commercially. We’re going to grow them on the long high tunnel. We’ll take the poly off, run high tensile wire between the ribs, and turn it into an arbor. We’re starting small, only five vines, and we’ll add on from there. It’s going to take at least three years before we have fruit. Until then, we’ll make other wines.

I didn’t order peach trees to replace the two that died last winter. I want peaches. Maybe next year. Or maybe not.

What fruit are you growing?

Ice Fishing on Upper Oxbrook Lake

Steve and I were ice fishing on Upper Oxbrook Saturday afternoon when the storm moved in. It started out as a sunny day, warm at 24*F, and a slight breeze. We left by 9 am, stopped to watch a cow and calf on the way in, and had seven holes going by 11:00 am. Steve brought the hand auger; the gas auger is acting up. We fished until the snow was heavy, pulled our traps and headed home. It snowed off and on along the way but not as hard as on the ice.

Upper Oxbrook is a 422 acre lake with a maximum depth of 16 feet. There are no bass in the lake but it does have a few rainbow trout. The shallow water warms too much in summer and it lacks enough habitat for good trout spawning so trout fishing is probably marginal. It’s a non-motor lake so we’ll kayak to fish there this coming summer.

Upper Oxbrook Lake

upper oxbrook, Steve Follette, hand auger upper oxbrook, English Shepherd, ice fishing upper oxbrook, ice fishing ice fishing, upper oxbrook lake upper oxbrook, ice fishing onWe kayaked here last summer and I thought it looked like a good place to catch white perch. The family ice fishing there caught a few trout.  This isn’t going to be my favorite place to fish in summer because it doesn’t have bass but catching trout will make it fun. Upper Oxbrook is limited to paddle crafts. Motors are not allowed so it’s a peaceful lake.

ice fishing, upper oxbrook lake Upper Oxbrook lake, ice fishing ice fishing, Oxbrook lake

rm moved in

I'll never apologize for being a hunter

I’ll never apologize for being a hunter, but I will answer questions

I’ll never apologize for being a hunter.

I’ll never apologize for being a hunter. Eva Shockey said it well. “I am Eva Shockey and I am a hunter. As hunters, we need to stand strong, unite as one and NEVER apologize for being who we are! We should focus our energy on being the best hunters we can be by challenging ourselves to be ethical, respectful and responsible so as to humbly uphold our proud heritage. Now, let’s get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!”

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There are a lot of thoughts on what hunters and huntresses should and should not share. I take opinions into consideration and sometimes change my mind based on what someone else has to say. One thing that will never change is my unwillingness to apologize for being a hunter. It’s part of who I am. I have been told “You should apologize…”  “…for being cruel.” “…for promoting cruelty.”

There’s a lot of work for me as a hunter. I think about it daily. I study the habits of the animals I hunt. I look for tracks and signs. I watch them, learn about them, make comparisons and take notes. I study their habits. I fail to take an animal most of the time. We spend time and money putting in and maintaining food plots. My success has been small but it’s rewarding.

Yes, I do feel bad that an animal dies but pulling the trigger is not difficult. I feel worse about a bacon cheeseburger if I go out to eat.

I will apologize for sometimes being snarky about people who choose to eat factory farmed meat but not for pointing out where that meat came from. I will work on losing my snark.

Hunters are often told, sometimes by other hunters, that we shouldn’t post photos of our kills. I make no apologies for sharing my photos. They represent my accomplishments. They are reality. Maybe if we posted a photo of factory farming with each recipe we share we’d thinking differently about photos of humanely harvested wildlife that lived a natural life. I won’t show random blood and gore but I did share photos of my sister Melissa and her boyfriend Kenny while they were field dressing a moose. We should be conscious of what we’re eating and the deaths it causes.

Even vegans and vegetarians cause animal deaths. The idea that their meals are “guilt free” are demonstrations of denial. Maybe a photo of the maimed, suffering and dead voles, moles, mice, fawns, moose calves and birds placed beside a bowl of “guilt free” mashed potatoes is in order. Animals die in food production. I’ve accidentally killed rodents and baby birds while harvesting potatoes and garlic by hand. It happens. I feel bad but when we’re honest we admit that it happens. I’ll never apologize for being a hunter. Will they apologize to society for the deaths they cause?

I’ll never apologize for being a hunter, a member of the community of outdoors people who put the most money, time and effort into conservation. I pay to do the labor, to buy the seed for the food plots and the fruit trees, for the soil amendments, the equipment… Hunters, huntresses, anglers and others like us do more for conservation than any other group of outdoor enthusiasts.

As always, I’m willing to answer questions about what I do, how and why I do it, and other aspects of being a hunter.

Turkeys Came to Visit

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see. Thanks to Amanda for [thismoment}

Twenty-one Eastern Wild turkeys came to visit this morning. I almost missed them. A blob in the road caught my eye as I approached the bay window. A turkey, fluffed up against the cold, left leg pulled up to warm, almost asleep in the road. They own the road, you know. Or at least they think they do. Eastern Wild turkeys are beautiful birds, weary and sharp sighted, and some of them saw me through the window even though I stood back ten feet.

It’s a mix of jakes, toms and hens, but no longbeards. It looks like a close to 50/50 split between males and females. If they have a good nesting season this year (no torrential rain that floods the nests) there will be a lot of poults running around. We didn’t see the turkeys here after the January ice storm last winter until they slowly made their way back in May. We had a lot of snow and ice they didn’t want to trek through in the woods. We have little snow this winter, and a bit of bare ground so they’re moving more.

The ducks and chickens were late getting out this morning because I stayed in until the turkeys were gone. Ninja rooster will have to wait another day to fight the seven to eight times his weight turkeys.

Turkeys!

Eastern wild turkey

Shhh I was almost asleep

eastern wild turkey 3 eastern wild turkey 2

Ice Fishing – Annual Weekend

Ice Fishing

Oh the fun you can have while ice fishing! Taylor and some of her friends came home for the weekend to go ice fishing. Connor Shaw and Grainne Dougherty were here last year, and Joe Feely, Kiki Bell, Brandon Cross and Liam Mellaly were here for the first time. Kiki and Joe were new to ice fishing!

Grainne and Taylor got their exercise running after flags. Their traps were farthest away away and they had a lot of flags.  They’re students at Unity College. Laura and Gilman Phelps, friends from home, joined us on the ice and for supper Saturday night.

Grainne Dougherty, Joseph Feely, ice fishing weekend

Grainne watches Joe pull up one of his many fish.

During a break in the action we had lunch. Saturday’s high was 7* and the wind blew all day so a hot meal was especially nice. A lot of folks have questioned our sanity because of the cold but as Steve said, “We have so much gear we looked like a sporting goods store out there, and the Girl Scout (me) made a big fire. We could warm up in the shelter if we needed to. It’s all good.”

ice fishing, lunch

We kept two bass, a few yellow perch and a few pickerel. We planned to keep a bass each (the legal limit) and more perch and pickerel on Sunday but the plans changed because of the weather. I didn’t want Taylor and Grainne to have to drive back in the dark in freezing rain so we ate a huge late breakfast of venison and pork breakfast sausage, pan fried potatoes and fresh eggs from Laura and Gilman’s chickens, then went to the gravel pit. Joe has a new shotgun to learn to shoot.

ice fishing, Eskimo shelter

Taylor graduates Unity College in the spring with a degree in wildlife biology. We don’t know where she’ll be a year from now. If she’s too far away to come home for the weekend we’ll still welcome her friends home. I don’t like to think about an end to our annual ice fishing weekend. If she can fit it into her schedule we’ll spend a weekend ice fishing at camp this winter.

ice fishing, Taylor Follette

ice skating, ice fishing, Laura Reay Phelps

Gilman cleared more space while Laura put on her skates.

ice fishing, Connor Shaw, Maine Guide, Liam Melally

Connor and Liam.

Taylor Follette, Kiki Bell, ice fishing

Taylor shows Kiki the ins and outs of ice fishing

Taylor taught Kiki the ins and outs of ice fishing even though Kiki didn’t fish. Kiki also learned how to use the auger with help from Connor and drilled two holes.

Brandon Cross, ice fishing, smallmouth bass

Brandon pulls up ANOTHER nice smallmouth bass

Liam Mellaly, Connor Shaw, Maine Guide, ice fishing

Women in Hunting Camp

My first article at 1800 Guns and Ammo (we slid over from Weby Shops) went live today. Women in Hunting Camp – sure to ruffle a few feathers, make a few heads nod, and give all hunters and huntresses something to think about. This is the new normal. All women hunting camps are gaining in popularity. I’m hosting friends at an all women’s bear hunting camp this year.

Please take a look and if you’ve got a moment, leave a comment. I’d love to make a great first impression. It’s a new site. Let’s drive some traffic their way.

Chickens Are Like Goats

Chickens are like goats

Chickens are like goats. If there is a tiny hole in the fence they will find it and escape. They will probably not find it again to let themselves back in.

I looked out the window early yesterday morning, only 20 minutes after letting the chickens and ducks into the pen for the day, and saw three bantams scratching frozen ground in the garden. We lost a lot of our snow to rain and warm temps over the weekend. The door to the poultry pen is broken. It was on the to do list, and it’s still there. I blocked it closed with a few small rocks from the garden, the snow came, the ground froze, and all was well until our 36 hour January thaw arrived.


 

chickens are like goats

On the wrong side of the pen

The chickens, two hens and Ninja the rooster, were allowed to be free for the day. I checked on them off and on and at sunset they were pacing at the door, ready to go up to roost for the night. By the time I got to them 15 minutes later one of the hens was missing. Ava and I looked around but since I’m still very careful of my healing bones on the ice, my search was limited. We didn’t find her. I hoped for the best, that she found a hiding spot that would keep her safe and from freezing to death. The forecast called for 0* overnight. Buff silkie hens weigh a pound and a half to a pound and three-quarters. I wondered about her during the night.

It was disappointing and a little concerning that she wasn’t scratching in the garden when the sun rose this morning. She wasn’t around when I went to the hen house. I found the gap in the chicken wire and jammed it closed, propped rocks on it again, and was satisfied that they chickens were not going to escape again. She showed up a few minutes after I took off my coat, hat, mittens and boots so I put them back on, cornered her and put her screaming self in the hen house.

It took them until noon today to figure out how to get loose. I heard crowing on the back porch. Ninja has lived up to his name. I don’t know how they escaped but Ninja and the same hen that spent the night outdoors are loose. I put them back in at 1 pm and fixed the gap in the door again. Any bets on how long it takes them to escape?

Facebook, you’re hogging the conversation

FacebookDear Readers,

Facebook is hogging the conversation. I hoped comments would be shared here but it rarely happens.  I’ll still share links from Robin’s Outdoors at BDN and from Weby Shops when my articles are published there.

I hope you’ll will start commenting here and that you’ll subscribe. It’s very simple. I NEVER SPAM. NEVER. You’ll get an email telling you when there’s a new entry in the blog. You won’t otherwise hear from me.


 

If you’d like to subscribe with Feedly or another reader you can do that using this link. http://robinfollette.com/feed/

I’m still on Facebook and interacting! We’ll see what happens.

Thanks for reading!

Robin

[NeighborWoods] Fire On Ice

Fire On Ice

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

fire on ice

Fire on ice on a frigid day of ice fishing.

Catch of the Day

Catch of the Day

We had a great day of ice fishing in spite of the high being only 7* and the wind blowing. My first fish of the day was this 18.5″ smallmouth bass, and it was my last fish of the day. I stayed close to shore where it wasn’t as windy, hung out by the fire and warmed up lunch in the shelter. More photos later. It’s time for a spaghetti feed.

Smallmouth bass, smallie, Patten Pond

Smallmouth bass

My Blogging To Do Lists

Blogging To Do Lists

I decided a few months ago to get myself and my blog better organized. It’s a slow process. Habits can be hard to change and develop. Life and its issues get in the way. Other things come up that have to be done first, and since the blog doesn’t provide a good income yet, it’s the first thing to get pushed aside. I’m working on it, slow and sure. Lists help me stay on track.

I have blogging lists. Each link opens and downloads a .pdf file. I change the lists as necessary.

blogging to do lists, blogging to do listAm I missing something on my lists? I’m open to suggestions that will be me be more productive.

When I have my act together I go through the daily, weekly and monthly blogging to do lists every day. I usually only look at the weekly and monthly lists and on the pre-planned day, tick things off them. Glancing over them keeps me on track. I keep things fresh in my mind without having to try to remember everything.

When I’m not blogging I’m writing for a small business and one large business. I’ll introduce you to the large business soon. I’ve submitted my first article and am waiting to hear when it goes live. I’m also working on “the book.” I have lists of sorts for those, too!

Menu for an Ice Fishing Weekend

Menu for an Ice Fishing Weekend

We’ve been planning the menu for an ice fishing weekend. Oh how I love this time! The annual ice fishing weekend just two days away. Taylor will be home with about ten friends on Friday night, and Laura and Gilman will join us. I’m looking forward to this weekend a lot. Everyone is self sufficient. Friends who haven’t been here yet get the 15 second “welcome.”

“Welcome home! The glasses and plates are here. The fridge is full. There’s the bathroom. Towels and washcloths are here. Make yourself at home and help yourself to anything you want.” We mean it. This is home away from home and they are welcome to do whatever they’d like. Taylor makes sure there’s something everyone likes when we’re planning a menu for an ice fishing weekend. There are no fussy eaters so it’s simple.

ice fishing, patten pond, unity college, menu for an ice fishing weekend

Ice fishing weekend 2014

Ice fishing is a big deal in Maine. It’s one of our biggest outdoors activities. It’s a means of having a lot of fun, spending time with friends, having fresh meat for the table, and enjoying all nature has to offer us in winter. We can cross country ski and snowshoe if we want. It’s sometimes necessary to take the snowmobiles to our destinations, though this weekend we’ll be able to drive almost all the way to the pond. We’ll walk a quarter to half mile at the end, towing gear in sleds behind us.

Preparation started when Taylor and I planned the menu. I’ll start cooking Friday morning. We’re going to have soup and chowders on Friday night. I can make it early and have it ready whenever they arrive. It could be 8-9 pm before they get here depending up who’s coming and the time of their last classes. I’ll make huge pots of all three so we have enough for a hot lunch on the ice Saturday afternoon.

We’ll have a hardy breakfast Saturday morning. Connor offered to cook one morning so he’ll have Sunday. Homegrown pork sausage and eggs, pan fried potatoes, and fruit will fill us up one morning, and pancakes, moose sausage and fruit the other morning.

Spaghetti and garlic bread is on the menu Saturday night. I’ll make the sauce Friday and will use hot sausage from my deer. There’s a storm coming in later Sunday into Monday. If they stay over Sunday night we’ll have chicken, potatoes and veggies.

Feeding people is one of my most favorite things. Good food, hot and ready, warming anglers under a big sky, cooking over an open fire on the ice. How wonderful is that.

menu for an ice fishing weekend

how to make salt pork, pork belly, making salt pork, salt pork recipe

How to Make Salt Pork

How to Make Salt Pork

How to make salt pork, step one. Get piglets. Or ask your farmer or the local butcher for pork belly. If you tell him or her that you’re making salt pork they’ll know exactly what you need.

Piggies, piglets, duroc, bacon seeds

pork belly, how to make salt pork

Pork belly

Cut the pork belly into six to eight inch slabs if the butcher hasn’t already done so. If you know another size is better for your use by all means, go with that size. I’m giving you a place to start. I use salt pork in baked beans. A six inch piece fits perfectly into the bean pot.

You may use a  crock, plastic, glass or stainless steel container for your salt pork. I wanted to use my crock but discovered a large crack. I’ll replace it and use the new one next time. For this time, I’ve used a food grade plastic bucket. You do what you have to do when you have to do it, right? Not ideal but it’s temporary.

Salt Pork Recipe

For five pounds of salt pork mix:

1 pound, 4 oz (by weight) Kosher or sea salt
2/3 cup sugar
2-3 tablespoon pepper

Wash and dry each piece. Liberally cover each piece of pork belly with the mixture.

Put a 1/4″ layer of this mixture on the bottom of your container. Pack the salted and sugared pork belly in layers. Sprinkle more of the  mixture on to replace any you lose as you transfer the pork belly from the counter to the container.

how to make salt porksalt porkThe container is sitting at the bottom of the stairs, at the entry to the cold cellar. It’s holding at around 38 degrees. I’ll check the salt pork in a week and weekly after that until it’s been curing for a month. When it’s ready I’ll wash the salt and sugar mixture off each piece, dry it well and vacuum seal it for freezing.
how to make salt pork in a five gallon pailsalt pork, close uphow to make salt pork, pork belly, making salt pork, salt pork recipeI’ll probably get impatient and try the salt pork after a week. Some of the modern day instructions I’ve found say it’s ready to use in two days. The older recipes used when salt pork was a necessity on the homestead call for aging it a month or more. Of course, in the days before refrigeration and freezing, they stored their salt pork in crocks for months at a time.

Next, I’m going to experiment with lardo. I’m kind of excited!

[NeighborWoods] Bear Scratching Back on Tree

Bear Scratching Back on Tree

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

bear scratching back on tree

ahhhhhhhhhhh Scratch that itch!

An Outdoorswoman’s Food Addiction

I was going to start blogging about getting fit outdoors at my Bangor Daily News bog on January 1. We were going snowshoeing, shoveling snow for cardio and weight bearing exercise, and maybe even cross country skiing with me. We’d ice fish! Then I fell down that flight of stairs in mid-December and my plans changed. It worked out when I started co-writing today’s blog with Jim LaPierre for his blog, Recovery Rocks. food addiction

Recovery Rocks is a good hint at what we’ve written. Recovery suggests addiction. It’s food addiction. I couldn’t quit a food addiction the same way I gave up cigarettes – cold turkey. I’ve gotten control and I’m doing things outdoors now I hadn’t done before. Start off at my BDN blog and in a day or two we’ll get on to using the outdoors as your gym.

Prepared for Writing

Prepared for Writing

I am prepared for writing. Sitting down to write anything takes a little prep work. I’m prepared for three months, or maybe four months, we’ll see, of concentrating on writing with limited interruptions and distractions. I’ll get up just like always, start coffee just like always, get in the shower just like always, do chores just like always. And that’s where “just like always” ends. When I sit down to write I’ll turn off the world.

I’ve posted my last week in {this moment}. Even though I enjoy it a lot I’m going to concentrate on [NeighborWoods]. I’m also participating in Wild Photo Challenge sponsored by Rewild Your Life.

prepared for writing

Writing by hand on “old fashioned” pen and paper. Then typing…months later.

Facebook has had a tune up. I unliked a lot of pages, mostly those I didn’t see in my newsfeed anyway. I need less distraction. I added notifications for the pages I most enjoy so I don’t miss their posts.

Ties with freelance work that proved to be more hassle than good have been cut. I don’t have to be chased down to do the work; I won’t chase people down to get my pay. A new freelance client seems to be on the ball and on top of everything. I have high hopes for this working relationship. prepared for writing

Electronics – elec-whatics? I think everyone knows I hate the phone  and seldom use it as a phone. I like the camera and I text. My only other electrical device is my laptop. I’m going to spend less time on it in the evening. I’m going to spend more time knitting and reading.

I took the feed out of Feedly. I’ve pared down the number of blogs I read to a large handful. I’ve added a few blogs I adore, one of them called Tootie & Dotes. prepared for writing

I am prepared for writing, more now than maybe ever before. I’ve started a new project. It’s a lot of note taking, not really a lot of writing, but it’s quite interesting. We’ll see where it goes.

[NeighborWoods] Wolf Moon

Wolf Moon

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

The Wolf Moon

Wolf Moon

Wolf Moon

Monday Night Musing

Monday Night Musing

Monday night. Supper was leftover Chicken Marsala with green beans and butternut squash. Little cooking, little clean up, a little wine. It is an easy Monday night.

seasonal stream, Monday night, robin's thoughts

A seasonal stream flows through our property, drying up after spring rains.

I woke up earlier than usual after a somewhat restless night. My shoulder hurts from my fall and I’d been sleeping on it, probably for quite some time. The base of my skull is still sore enough that I don’t sleep long on my back before I roll over. I was nervous when I went to sleep, something that’s unusual for me. I’m not a nervous person. It’s wasted energy. I was nervous when I woke. Today’s the day to pick up the pork. Taylor would drive me to the slaughterhouse in Alexander and she’d have to load the meat into the truck with help from the butcher. I was going along to make sure the butchering had been done correctly and to pay the bill. We got light, fluffy snow yesterday, then sleet, then freezing rain. It’s slippery…and I am healing my broken bones by being very careful. I was nervous about falling, re-breaking my pelvis, doing more damage. I’m comfortable indoors right now in spite of being a devoted outdoors woman. I’m safe in here.

As it happened, Steve picked up the pork. I am grateful. Taylor tended to the poultry this morning but I went out this afternoon when I thought I saw blood on the snow. Turns out it was a piece of red plastic. The snowplowed way to the hen house wasn’t slippery. I have a little bit of freedom. I can tend the birds twice a day. It’s a few minutes of fresh air.  This time spent healing is a little difficult. The saving grace – our wind chills are going down to -35* to -50*F the next few nights. Days might not get up to 0*F. Horrible weather to be out in but good ice making weather. We’ll be ice fishing soon. We – if I can go. They – if I cannot.

The freezers are beyond full. We have more food and firewood security than ever before. All of the things I didn’t get done in 2014 are easy to let go of when I look in the wood shed and think about the food. I will concentrate on vegetables and herbs and fruit in 2015 with just a little meat production. I have sources for pork and beef; pork because maybe…probably I won’t raise it again, and beef because I’ll never have cattle again.

The season stream (above) that runs through our property is probably frozen solid today. The small natural spring in the backyard has been frozen for four days. The ducks miss it. They seldom get to have a bath in spring water in early January. I usually have to take a water tub outdoors and lug water for them. Ducks have to be clean to be able to stay warm. As winters go, it’s been an unusual one. Early snow, then no snow. Frigid, then 50*. Ice skating ducks, then swimming in the garden ducks.

I’m content. 2014 was an incredible year. I have high hopes and big plans for 2015. How about you?

Why I Didn’t Send Christmas Cards in 2014

Why I Didn’t Send Christmas Cards in 2014

I didn’t send Christmas cards last year. Oh I bought Christmas cards. They’re still sitting here on my desk, staring at me, wondering what happened. I didn’t just buy cards, I bought two kinds of Christmas cards. It looked at every box of cards in the store. If I bought a Happy Holidays card that should suit everyone, someone would be offended. If I bought a Christmas card someone else would be offended. If I bought a generic card someone would be offended. Damned if I did, damned if I didn’t.

There’s a cute snowman with a hat and red scarf, standing by the front door. “Sending you warm winter wishes.” On the inside it says “Joy. May it fill your home and warm your heart.”

The other card is pretty. It has Mary, three wise men, a little boy with a lamb, a farmcollie, and baby Jesus lying in a manger. “‘Tis the season for Joy because Christ has come to earth! Let us offer Him our praise and celebrate His birth.” Inside, “Rejoicing with you this Christmas.” And Psalm 126:3. “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”

Chances are, according the stuff I see on Facebook, if I send the wrong card someone will be offended. IT’S CHRISTMAS! Forget Happy Holidays. There is only Christmas. Christmas is ours, too. Happy Yule! Oh. My. Goodness.

I don’t believe the only holiday in this time period is Christmas. Hanukkah, Diwali, Bhodi Day, Pancha Ganapati, Yule, and Kwanzaa matter, and there are probably more I haven’t heard of. Happy Holidays isn’t incorrect. If I’d thought I could send a nice card to everyone and have be accepted by everyone as a nice thought and warm wishes to them I’d have done it.

I was a little annoyed with myself when I turned the boxes over and learned both cards are made in China. That’s offensive.

It’s overwhelming. I don’t keep track of who’s what. Some are obvious, others not at all. I bought the cards and thought I had it all figured out. Or mostly figured out. Then I fell down the cellar stairs, broke bones and didn’t get around to the cards. I lied to myself and said I’d get them out between Christmas and New Year. I pretty much knew I wouldn’t

I don’t know what I’ll do this year. Maybe if I sign the cards now, address the envelopes (I’d put stamps on them but gees, I don’t have any and I’m not supposed drive because of the whole broken bones thing) and have them ready for the day after Thanksgiving I’ll get them out. Maybe that’s what I’ll do. I do know I have no intentions of letting this overwhelm me ever again.  I also have no plans to fall down the stairs or otherwise injure myself again. That will help.

 

Guide to Ice Fishing

Guide to Ice Fishing

It’s that time of year and out here, the ice is thick enough to go ice fishing. This guide to ice fishing should be helpful.

Kristin Follette Coulombe, ice fishing, pickerel, patten pond

Steve and Lyle went out to a pond I’d never heard of and now can’t remember the name of (I’ll come back and fill it in when I remember), and found 10″ of ice. They were able to drive in since we don’t have any snow so it might be a good option for me while my broken bones are healing. I can’t go on the ice but if we get a little snow I can snowshoe onto the pond. I won’t be drilling holes but I think I’ll be ok pulling up fish. They’ll be under my 5-10 pound weigh limit.

Kristin and Matt will be up for a weekend of ice fishing in February. I’m looking forward to it. We had a lot of fun last year even though all we caught were pickerel. We’re hoping for a few big smallmouth bass this year.

Taylor Follette, smallmouth bass, guide to ice fishing, ice fishing

Taylor with a small mouth bass during a weekend home from college to ice fish with friends.

I looked over the Guide to Ice Fishing. It’s very good, has lots of useful information.

Taylor and around 10 friends are coming home for a long weekend of ice fishing. I’m hoping to be able to go with them. If not, I’ll stay home and cook and have the house warm for them when they get back. They’ll send pics and bring home fish. It’s nice to have a houseful of wildlife biologists and conservation law (future game wardens) students. I never have to clean a fish with them around.

Take a look at the Guide to Ice Fishing. I’m sure you’ll find something useful!

guide to ice fishing