Thursday, December 29, 2022

Oh, What a Merry Christmas it was!

 And just like that, Christmas is over. No more Hallmark movies, no more Christmas songs on Pandora, no more decorations and no more tree. Decorations went up the day after Thanksgiving, they come down the day after Christmas.  That is the thing about Barb. Once she is over something, she is over it. She has moved on. No second thoughts, no mercy, the tree is tossed out the front door and she moves on. I just hope she never gets over me!

Christmas arrived with mild temperatures reaching a high of 38F. Balmy compared to the previous few days. The girls enjoyed opening the gifts Santapaws left them. Well, Zoey did. Dakota is much too mature and couth to lower herself to such over-commercialized displays of excitement. 

I have a video for you this morning! The first part is Zoey meticulously opening one of her presents. I think she was more interested in the wrapping paper that what was actually inside. The entire process took several minutes so I sped it up. The second part of this video is of both girls when the spirit of Christmas finally got the better of Dakota and she just had to play with Zoey. 

Zoe Belle true to her bratty nature would play with a toy, but when she saw Dakota enjoying one, she had to stop what she was doing and go take that toy away from Dakota. What a fun sucker, she is going to make someone a good wife someday!

Of course, the girls had to pose for their annual Christmas pictures, they were both thrilled to do it!

Christmas eve day, we spent the day at home watching football. I worked out in the shop finishing up the electrical for the additional outlets and the heater. Yes, I finally have permanent heat out there!

That night, it was just the two of us. Barb cooked a fantastic meal and we both overstuffed ourselves. 

The next day I woke up about 3am excited to see if Santa had come yet. He must have been running late. I saw that he had delivered Barb's presents but forgot to leave mine. Or perhaps I was on the naughty list?!?!?  Later that morning when I was in the bedroom he came back and dropped off mine with a note that he got me confused with another Jim Nelson who was on the naughty list. Another drawback of having such a common name!

Santa brought me several Sitka hunting clothes items, some Kenetrek boots and a slew of ice fishing items! Jessica and Shane sent a vintage shotgun shell box and lures for my collection!

Forrest and Somer sent me a 1000 lumen flashlight for my apocalypse zombie killer. Watch out zombies, I am ready for you! They got Barb this precious ornament with photos of several of our past and present furbabies on it. Barb absolutely loved it!

Santa brought Barb a set of Wuesthoff steak knives and a pasta attachment for her KitchenAid mixer. Gotta love it when everything your wife asks for are kitchen related. Win/win!

We received these photos from the kids. We love getting photos from the kids. This first one is from Forrest's family.
Jessica sent us these photos of their kids (Apparently, she and Shane are camera shy). The first picture is of Kendall with a cookbook that she wanted. The next picture needs a little explanation. Dylan, like many 13 year olds, wanted money. When he opened our gift and saw a $100 bill, he thought it was a fake. He had never gotten a $100 bill before and was beyond excited. Next to him is his sister who looks like someone just stole her favorite toy. Even though we spent just as much on her, apparently getting $100 bill trumps $100 in gifts!

That evening we went over to Kevin and Cheryl's. Cheryl made an incredible ham supper with corn pudding, cheesy potatoes and green bean casserole. They had gotten us some awesome engraved bar glasses!

Neighbors Jim and Carmen made me this awesome hat with our brand on it. 

Jim is does incredible leatherwork making custom holsters, bottle and glass wraps, coasters and other leather items. Carmen has a laser engraver and is able to laser some incredible things with glass, leather, wood and other items. Jim sells some of his work at a local shop in Hot Springs which you can see here. 

Last but not least on the Christmas parade is this visual evidence that I have paid off my debt to Dino. 2 cases on beer. I only owed him a case (plus 15 cans in interest). I sent Lisa money to buy 2 cases just in case the interest rate went up overnight!

You would think all that beer on the lap of a guy who just had hip replacement would hurt. Maybe he didn't have surgery after all and is just trying to get our sympathy!

We had a scary moment with Zoey this past week. I let her out to go to the bathroom. We usually go out the door and to the left, down the sidewalk where she steps off, does her thing and walks right back in. This time she turned right, rounded the corner and saw all the deer. The chase was on! The deer took off and she was hot on their tails. Up and over the hill and into the forest. She was out of my sight in seconds. I ran after her but could not catch up. If this was not bad enough, this was last Thursday. Yes, that last Thursday when the high for the day was still well below 0F. As I crested the hill, I saw a deer bolting to the left back out into the field and caught a glimpse of Zoey behind her. I yelled and ran that way. Luckily Zoey stopped. She just stood there exhausted, out of breath lifting one foot and then another. She was froze up. We have had this happen with two of our other old dogs; Daisy and Mario. They would just get too cold and freeze up, could not move. I picked poor Zoey up and started walking back to the house, she was shaking uncontrollably, huffing and puffing from her run. Barb held her in a blanket in front of the fireplace for about 15 minutes before she stopped shaking. We were a glimpse or a random turn away from her freezing to death out there. The entire incident took less than 2 minutes, and she was freezing up. She would not have lasted 5 minutes. Lesson learned!

Later in the week the weather was incredible with highs in the 30's and 40's! The snow is melting pretty quick and will probably be all gone in a few days. I got out ice fishing with Doug and his son Sam, it was nice having a 17-year-old along to pull the sled!

We fished for both perch and trout. The perch were a little on the small side, but Sam managed to catch a few bigger ones to make a meal. 

The trout on the other hand were much nicer averaging in that 16-18" range. We came home with 6 eaters, I think I am going to smoke them this time. 

The next day was in the 40's again so I hit the forest to cut some firewood!

In a first for us, we saw this buck show up on 12/27 who had just lost his antlers. Generally, they lose their antlers in February and March. I am wondering if the extreme cold weather had something to do with it. Nature has a way of adapting when energy/nutrients are needed elsewhere. It looks painful but it really isn't, the energy to maintain the antlers is just diverted so the joint between the antlers and the skull dries up and the antlers just fall off. I went out and looked for them but no luck so far. 

As I said at the beginning, just like that, Christmas was over. Fear not, we have a lot planned for the week. A certain someone has a birthday tomorrow. A BIG milestone birthday. I won't tell you who it is, but he is a quite talented and dashy person! Then comes New Years, we are planning on having a get together on both Saturday and Sunday. Next week will probably be a much-needed recovery week, but then again, probably not!

Thursday, December 22, 2022

How Cold is Too Cold?

Last week I told you two things, both were apparently lies. The first is that it was our last post before Christmas and here I am writing another one before Christmas. But as many of you know, sometimes you just have to write and today I just felt the need. The second lie was that it was we were going to have a night with a low of -13F. Well, that has now changed to -22F with a high the next day of -11F. But really who cares, once it is that cold does a few more degrees really make a difference?

Frostbite starts in about 5 minutes if your skin is left unprotected. Birds and other forest creatures require a lot more nourishment just to survive.  I did a little research on how cold like that affects birds and deer. Most of the articles said they should be fine if they are healthy, not too old and have plenty of food. If they get wet; all bets are off. The first thing to go are ears and tails. Then it went on to say that the reproductive organ of males are next. Brings a quite literal meaning to freezing your xxxx's off! 

As I write this now at 7:20am on 12/22, the thermometer reads -23F. We have had a fire going all night but despite this the temperature inside the house kept dropping from 68 when we went to bed to 60 when we woke up. It was then that we discovered that the in-floor heat system was not working with an error message saying to check gas and venting. I checked the vents and propane level: and both were good. I did a little research to find out that propane will not freeze until -44F but in extreme cold the pressure in the tank drops dramatically. I reset the system and it now seems to be working again. This unit is not only our only heat source (other than our fireplace), but also our hot water source. Fingers crossed it keeps going!

You really cannot do anything outside in those conditions, so we spent a lot of time inside reading and watching movies. It was during one of these times, I was upstairs reading a book in Barb's large comfy chair that I looked out the window and stopped..... and stared. The view out that window was incredible.

The temperatures over the past few days have been so cold that it has frosted over all the trees. A sight that we have taken for granted. But the view at that window was so incredible that I just had to go for a walk in the woods and field. Bundled up so only my eyes were showing I went for a walk. 
When it is this cold, it is dead quiet. The only noise you hear is the sound of your own footsteps. It reminded me of when I was 13 or so and I had my paper route. Walking the route day after day before sunrise in the snow with nothing but a sack full of papers and the sound of the crunch of the snow with each step. 
On this day I saw no wildlife other than a few magpies and crows flying out of a depression in the field. Even they were silent as they flew away as this bundled mass of man approached. 

I could only take my hands out of my pockets long enough to take two pictures at a time before they started to numb up. What was it that these magpies and crows were so interested in? 
As I got closer, suddenly, two bald eagles arose from the depression. The adult flew directed away from me, but the juvenile gave me enough time to get my phone out of my pocket and take a picture. 
Not the best picture, I wish I would have brought my Lumix. As I dropped into the depression, I saw what was of so much interest to these scavengers. A deer lay at the bottom. It looks like it had been there a day or two providing much needed nourishment to others in this frigid weather. Such goes the circle of life. 
Looking at the carnage I picture the coyote curled up beneath a dense cedar bush awaiting darkness so he could return to his feast. Or the bald eagle, feathers ruffled high in a pine tree, it too thinking about the meal that awaits once the sun crests the eastern horizon. Birds and wildlife require 30% or more food during these colder temperatures to maintain body heat. 

We put out a new bale for the deer which was a challenge in itself. My tractor would not start, the neighbor's tractor would not start so I had to improvise and drag the bale behind the jeep to bring it out where they are now hitting it pretty hard. 

We also put out extra bird food in the feeders and on the ground and they seem to be eating every bit of it up. The turkeys and juncos seem to focus on the food on the ground while the chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers focus on the seed and suet in the trees. And this, a first. A Flicker visited the feeder. We see them a lot in the summer, but this is the first one of the winter. 
The articles go on to say that you should not introduce new food sources until you are able to maintain them for the long term. Luckily, we have plenty of bales and hundreds of pounds of seed. The animals that are not as lucky are those living in the areas that just received 30+ inches of snow. They will have a hard time reaching any food sources. 

Instead of hiding from the cold, my friend Doug and I decided to embrace it by going ice fishing. There was about 18" of ice so we were able to punch through pretty easily. Although they were not jumping out of the holes, we did manage to bring home three for the fry pan. 

Meanwhile, Barb just hanging around anxiously waiting for Christmas.

Not to be outdone, Zoey wanted to get in on the action. Afterward she said it was not nearly as much fun has momma made it look. 

Dakota wanted nothing to do with testing out the new hoist in the workshop. Huh, go figure. 

Barb has also been playing her accordion. She is getting better and better. She used to not even let me the house when she played. Now she practices with me in the house, but I cannot watch her. Unbeknownst to her I recorded her with my phone So at the risk of catching hell and having all my Christmas presents returned, here is a sample. No video, just audio.
We also got out for a jeep ride. Most of the forest service roads are closed so we headed out to two of our favorite local spots. Deerfield Lake and Miner's Brewery!

Barb and I will spend the next couple days indoors watching more Christmas movies. My friend Ray sent this to me the other day, I thought it was hysterical and so appropriate for the end of this post. 
So, this is our last post before Christmas, I promise. Barb and I want to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas, hoping that you can spend it with your friends, family.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

'Twas the Week Before Christmas

And not a creature was stirring, not even an over-stimulated French Bulldog who has the zoomies several times a day. 

Well, it is not quite the week before Christmas, but this is our last post before Christmas, so it is close enough. This is a typical morning at the J-B with Barb on her computer reading blogs while the girls on their respective beds just hanging out. 

Cold and windy are the words for the week as we had our first major snowstorm. The bulk of the snow missed us, but the wind, cold and snow did not. 
The winds are 25-40mph the past few days and the 7-day forecast does not look too promising either. 
The snow did not miss everywhere however. Just an hour north of us, some areas received over 30"s of snow.  Here is a video that someone up there posted on Facebook that shows just how deep it got in some areas. 

Then we received this video from our niece up in Spearfish. That is her FBD Sophie bouncing through the snow. 

Speaking of Alana, Ryan and Sophie. We went up there last Sunday to watch the Vikings beat the Lions. Sophie is a huge Vikings fan while, as you know, Zoey is a fan of whoever is playing the Vikings. Both of the girls were dressed up and ready for the battle. 

Dakota made the trip as well. We brought a rug for her to lay on. She just hung out there all day and watched the festivities around her. 

Alana and Ryan have a cat (Ollie) as well which Zoey harassed the entire time we were there. Seriously, Zoey did not leave this Ollie alone. The entire day went something like this; Zoey was chasing Ollie, Sophie was chasing Zoey and Illie just kept swatting Zoey on her face.

Ollie sought refuge behind my head, but that did not stop the harassment. 

Then Ollie discovered Dakota's tail. Then it was Ollie harasses Dakota, Zoey harasses Ollie, Sophie harasses Zoey.

By the end of the day everyone had settled down and Ollie was actually grooming and licking Zoey while they both sat quietly on the couch. 

Sadly, the Lion's beat the Vikings and when Alana was not looking Barb dressed Sophie up in the Lions uniform. Alana was aghast and quickly ripped it off her poor humiliated dog. 

Barb and I spent two days making venison sausage and stick. First, we had to grind up the venison, adding 25% pork fat. 

Then we had to add the spices and run everything through the grinder one more time stuffing it into the casings. 

After curing in the fridge overnight it was time to smoke them. 2 hours for the sticks 5 hours for the salami. They both turned out delicious!

That night was bowling night for Kevin, Cheryl, Dan, Bonnie, Barb and me! The teams were boys against the girls

The person with the lowest score on the 5th frame had to buy shots for everyone. Then at the end of the game the losing team had to but the next round of beers. Needless to say a good time was had by all but the highlight of the night was Kevin's dance moves.....

As much fun as that was what I did the next day was even funner! I went to the Chiropractor for the very first time in my life. I had hurt my back back in October while up at the farm. No, I was not working when it happened, I was actually duck hunting and I know exactly when it happened. In the 6 or so weeks since then it has not gotten better, it has actually gotten progressively worse. So Barb talked me into going to the Chiropractor. When I described the pain to the doctor, he said that it was a pinched nerve at the L5. 20 minutes later I was walking out feeling like a new man! it is not 100% better but I would say it is 80% better.  

Look at that, an entire post and I did not talk about one house project! All our current projects are outside, and it is way too cold out there!