Sunday, October 17, 2010

Exhilirating and Terrifying

We had a family stop by after church today. They are trying to decide which puppy they want. They spent an hour or two hanging out, talking, and of course snuggling with all the cute pups. When the family left, we decided to put in an hour or so clearing scrub oak from our over-grown ATV trail. That stuff grows fast, tall and thick right before your eyes. Izzy and I grabbed some loppers, Ike grabbed a hand saw and MacGyver grabbed his trusty chainsaw. I jumped on the ATV and the kids jumped into the back of the truck and we headed into the woods. We cleared about 1/2 mile in about an hour and a half. Not bad. Along the way we spotted several piles of bear scat, some elk scat and some assorted pieces of skeleton. A leg bone here, several back bones there and we even found a piece of the jaw bone with about 12 teeth in it. We think it may be a bear after looking at the teeth! And the kiddos contemplated. What kills a bear? Other bears. What else? Moutain lions. I noticed the kids stayed a little closer after that. A little less adventurous. A little less wandering. We cleared brush, rocks, and even bones out of the way and made it up to the third meadow. Then we decided we were all hot, thirsty and getting hungry. We headed back down the mountain and back out to the road. Izzy jumped on the back of the four-wheeler with me and Ike jumped into the truck with his dad. They went up the road a bit to turn around and decided to take some pictures along the way. Izzy and I didn't wait around; we just headed home. I knew there were hungry pups that needed to be fed before we headed into town for dinner. As we were heading down the hill, I got about 100 feet from the cabin and thought I saw Tank sniffing around by the camper. I slowed down trying to make sense of how Tank had gotten out. Did the kids forget to put him up? About that time I realized it wasn't Tank. This thing was twice Tank's size. It was the mountain lion. And Maggie was headed straight for it! I called Maggie back but it decided we were too close for his comfort (or maybe Mr. Elusive just didn't like being seen) and started mosying right past our cabin into the pasture right in front of our house. Now by this time, my adrenaline was in full swing. I had stopped the ATV but was just sitting there sort of shocked. Izzy was holding on for dear life and hiding her head between my shoulder blades and my strong, protector of a husband was nowhere to be found. Remember? He was taking pictures? Eventually he made it down the hill and pulled up to me sitting in the middle of the road waving my arms like a madman. He had no idea what in the world I was doing, much less saying. I was trying to show him the mountain lion hanging out in the pasture, just standing there. As if. He hops out of the truck, looks and realizes it is still there. He reaches back into his truck to get his gun, right? Nope. The camera. What? Are you going to throw it at him? Who reaches for a camera? And then he takes off after it trying to get a shot, ooh, wrong choice of words...a picture. OH MY GOODNESS! And guess who follows? Maggie, me and both kids. Yes. Insane we are. Insane. All of us. I whispered to the kiddos to grab some rocks and instructed them if we saw him again to stand your ground, yell and scream and throw rocks at him. I think I saw Izzy's lip quiver. Wow! Supermom, I am. It eventually disappeared behind the barn and into the woods, but not before shaking up our nervous systems! Wow! Equal parts terrifying and exhilirating! We called the DOW guys that have been out here researching, tracking, studying their behavior. I couldn't tell if he was "their guy" or even if he had a radio collar on. My senses were on overdrive and I was definitely not taking notes for questioning later. He suggested we might have a fresh kill site, or that he was stalking for the next kill site. He said they will hang around for a day or so if they get a deer or up to four days if they get an elk or llama. Woah. It took us several hours to talk out the "I can't believe it...Ooh, that was scary...Do you think he'll be back...We saw the mountain lion...Do you think we should move the cat food...maybe we shouldn't leave cat food out for the little or big cats" and finally realized that was pretty scary. In broad daylight! And moved onto...I think he is stalking our dogs. They were all out just an hour and a half prior, running around, playing, doing pretty much what dogs do. And I'm sure he was just licking his chops watching and waiting for us to turn our backs. Shiver. Plus, when the puppies get going, they sound just like an injured animal with their high-pitched squeals. We set up outdoor kennels with lids just because of this very reason. It makes me feel justified. It's not out of the realm of possibilities. In fact, I think the stakes just got a little higher. I'll be double checking the gates as we close them up. I'll be more careful before I open the door and walk outside. Or let the dogs out. Or worse, send my kiddos outside on an errand or chore. Shivers. A friend of ours saw one sitting on his barn where he was heading to feed his horses. Another came home to find one asleep in his driveway sunning himself. The ranch behind ours raises cashmere goats. She's seen a mountain lion haul one of her goats over a ten foot fence. No kidding. And after tonight, I realize they are much bigger in person than I ever realized. Our new motto...Noone left behind. Catchy, huh? We stole it. It just isn't worth the risk to leave anyone out there alone or let the kids go and do whatever it is kids go and do in the woods...Freaks me out. And cool, all at the same time.

I want to see if any of the pictures turned out. Unfortunately, we left the camera in the truck and I am NOT about to run outside to get it. Not tonight.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

5 weeks old

The pups are now 5 weeks old and their play drive and personalities are starting to shine through. AND they get cuter every day. I've got my eye on 5 of the 8 that could be good potential working dogs. We'll see...

Here are some of the latest pics.









4 Tons

Want to know what 4 tons of firewood looks like?

We recently picked up some mulch for our dog runs and part of our backyard. The Tree Guy became very interested when he learned we heat our house with wood, primarily cottonwood and aspen. Evidently, Tree Guy is a misnomer. A better description would be something like Loggerman. The guy is huge, and runs a one man show. He even has a little crane attached to the trailer he uses to load the beasties. He probably doesn't even use it. I think he could pick up a car by himself. Anyway, he wanted to know if we wanted to take 4 tons of cottonwood off his hands. We jumped at it. Free wood, already bucked...that's a no-brainer. Jackpot! So, MacGyver picked up the trailer on his way home from work. Our truck did pretty good pulling this massive beast, until he hit our road. Evidently, four-wheel drive became a necessity to get it up our road. I have never seen anything like it! The cottonwood tree was three feet in diameter. Each piece must have been 150 pounds...and they were cut in 1-2 foot sections.

I think we are going to have to cut each section into thirds just to get it into the splitter. We spent an hour unloading (or rolling them off the trailer, really), sorting and stacking by size. We have another pile of wood that is waiting to be bucked and then we'll have to rent a splitter and get serious. I think we probably have our necessary 4 chords of wood to get us through the winter. One step closer to being ready for winter! It seems odd that we were having 75-80 degree days and now it is rainy and cold. But I'm not compaining! I'm thankful for delaying the inevitable for as long as possible.

And then Ike decided he wanted to take a stab at breaking up some of the pieces. Check out the concentration! What he doesn't know is as he gets better and stronger it won't be a matter of trying it will actually become one of his chores!


He was big man on campus!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dog Stories #3

I forgot to write about what happened a couple weeks ago. We are training a new medical alert dog and contacted the local university/medical training hospital to get some information. The doctor that returned our call began with "I am here because of a dog". We weren't sure if he meant Colorado, the university, became a M.D., or was alive because of a dog. It was an amazing story; the kind you can't believe you are hearing. And so I thought I'd share the shortened version of his story here...

His mother was from Germany. Evidently, when his mother and her two sisters were young, they were arrested and taken to a concentration camp called Auschwitz. There these three sisters were forced to work through the winter digging tank traps so that the allied forces would drive their tanks over these traps, fall in them, and be easy to overcome. One day, seven of the ladies working decided to try and escape. They ran to a barn, hid behind the giant hay bales and the three sisters were able to wedge themselves between some of the boards of the barn and hide. The Nazis had trained German Shepherd guard dogs and were able to track the ladies to the barn. Four of them were located, brought in front of the work crew and executed. At one point one of the dogs came face to face with his mother, sniffed her and for some reason walked away. The soldiers spent three hours searching for the sisters and then decided to call it a night. The sisters were able to get to safety and eventually his mother moved to America where he was born, raised and became a doctor. As a result of this dog "looking the other way" he is alive today and he talks very passionately about working dogs of all kinds. We talked extensively of his area of expertise but what I remember most about the conversation was him relating the details of this incredible story. It isn't every day you hear something so amazing!

Fire District

MacGyver forgot his wallet the other day at work. He was in his "lounge wear" or shorts on when they got a call. Since he was driving, he grabbed his wallet, jumped in his gear and ran the call. When he got home he realized he had left his wallet in his bunker pants. We were out and about running errands and ran by the station to pick it up. We live about 40 minutes from his department, and therefore don't live in his district. But I always find it interesting to ride with him through it. He points out the latest gang activity here, the car that was wrapped around that pole, the lady that lives in the middle of a tree business that heats her home with the wood the company provides, the house where the guys helped build a fence or repair a garage door, where the governor lives, the round building which is a tight-knit Russian community. This time he pointed out the homeless man that caused them grief on Labor Day. The guys were out collecting for their annual Fill the Boot day for MDA and this particular gentleman became angry and even aggressive because they were infringing on his territory and collecting money that he felt belonged to him. Hmm! Every community has a story to tell. It is so very interesting to get the real story from the guys who regularly come in contact with the people who live in it.