Bear (Bacon) With Me

Time for a big, 2+ week catch-all.

I haven’t been up to too terribly much since turkey season ended. Once turkey season got done, it was just about time for finals and final projects, as well as another spurt of warm weather & being busy with work. When work hasn’t been busy, the weather’s been utter crap. We’re going at a rate of about 3 or 4 nice, warm days to every 4 or 5 chilly, rainy, windy ones. Before this last weekend, it was cloudy and rainy for a week and a half straight. Oh, Springtime.  Just last night, we had frost, after having temps brushing the 80s last weekend.

What I have been up to can be summed up in a few pictures.

Forest in the spring

Forest in the spring

Tilling up thick sod and picking medium-sized granite boulders? Check.

Tilling up thick sod and picking medium-sized granite boulders? Check.

We tilled up the food plots at the cabin. Matt’s grandad had, sadly against our wishes, sprayed everything with RoundUp. We wanted to be able to but down seed right away, but eyebrows and concerns are being raised about the safety of glyphosate. Anyhow. Grandpa was supposed to throw down the seed we bought that next weekend, which at this point would have been two weeks hence (we tilled 3 weeks ago). Matt is heading up this weekend (with the Ditchboat! Engine being put in!) to check to see if the seed was dropped, and if not, to seed it himself.

We spent that whole Saturday tilling and picking rocks, an activity I never had to worry about, having grown up on the prairies where there is thick, black soil. Not so in northern Wisconsin. The smallest were about the size of my fist. The biggest of the rocks we had to pry loose from the ground was probably over 90 pounds, and lodged from the surface to about 2 1/2 feet deep. It broke both of our shovels. But that was still better than breaking the tiller. We did some hinge cutting in the previously-clear-cut-now-unbelievably-thick-birch areas and found wolf poo (nothing we know craps that big and it for sure was not bear). All of that culminated in probably the coldest bath I’ve ever taken- in a spring fed stream on a day that was in the 60s. Matt’s brother had the luxury of a hot shower waiting at his in-laws. Not so Matt and I. However, being clean of sweat and free of grit and saw dust (the soil there is pretty sandy) made us feel 100% more human.

Matt’s grandad did some clearing, too. Matt almost had a tree fall on him, and grandpa managed to break the track off the skid loader, as well as break the hydraulic lines to the claw that picks up trees. That was a wasted  fun three hours.

Bear bacon!

Bear bacon!

For breakfast the other weekend, I made pancakes (Matt is a pancake eating machine) and the first of our bear bacon. I have to report, it was sadly faaaaaaar too salty. Probably sat too long in the cure, and I would also bet my ratios were off. Besides needing a full 16 ounces of water after each strip, it tasted good. I plan to use it for making baked beans and maybe bear and bean soup or something. Failing that, there’s always the dogs. Speaking of dogs:

From last Wednesday

From last Wednesday

Training is moving right along. The trainer had a spot open up early last week. Somebody came and got their dog cause their kid was missing it too much. Sadly, Nyrkki got himself a hotspot from staying wet the whole time we were up at the cabin. It took over most of his neck on his left side. It’s better as I’m writing this (if pink and a bit scaly-looking. At least no longer raw and weeping), but the trainer said to use my own judgement on when to send him away. I’m thinking next week. I’ll wait for the hair to come back. It was almost certainly a combination of runaway staph on his skin, as well as a slight ear infection. I used a staph-specific antibacterial gel on his skin every day, and cleaned out his ears, and it cleared up within a week.

He was a pain in the ass last Wednesday at training. Pushing every boundary I had, even though the trainer admits I’m not soft on him. I’m getting a crop for home training this week. He was also introduced to ducks for the first time. He was out of his mind excited, and clearly did not understand why. He’s got an excellent drive with his marks.

Trout "stream"

Trout “stream”

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And finally. Matt went up to that same buddy’s in Pepin county, who almost always says No Gurlz Allowed, to hunt turkeys. He saw plenty o turkeys, but no bird. While he did that, I tried some trout fishing at the stream you see above, in Mt Vernon, Wisconsin. This is Frye’s Feeder. I had my doubts, and they were founded. Soft, silty bottom. Narrow as can be at first- maybe 3 feet near the parking area. No fish, though I had one, teeny tiny brookie strike my lure. The hook was bigger than his head.

We’ll be float-testing the Ditchboat this week to make one last final test of the hull, as well as get it on the trailer straight, before Matt takes it up to put the engine in. He’ll also be replacing the tires on said trailer. There will be pictures and hopefully video from that. We’re thinking Wednesday or Thursday.

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