Saturday, April 30, 2016

Walk in the woods

I live on 58 acres that I haven't even looked at in 3 years. Basically I've been ignoring it out of emotional baggage.

I got an inquiry from someone who would like to possibly hike, hunt, and camp on the land with their family, so I figure it was time to toss the baggage out the window and get up there on the hill. I was glad of the excuse to force myself to tackle land responsibilities I've been putting off, like clearing and marking trails and putting up new posted signs. These are things that are easy to ignore.

This time of year things are drab, but that's the best time to clear trails and prune, because bushes and grass are not yet overgrown. First task I wrote down: get someone to mow the fields and brushhog before the grass gets high this year, and get rid of all that honeysuckle.

I have an occasional friend who asks if they can walk the land. They can never find the path to the cabin. Apparently "go into the forest and turn left" isn't helpful. So I took flagging tape along on this trip to mark the Cabin Trail. I'll need to get different colored flagging for the Bear Trail and the Cathedral Trail.

Way on top of the hill is my cabin. Looks cute, huh?

Pity a tree fell on it and the roof is leaking. Sadness...

I'll need to paper the roof and run the kerosene heater in there for a long, long while. The white carpet is leftover from the Overbearing Hunter days, when a gentleman who had permission to hunt for meat (no trophy hunting) basically tried to take over my land, the cabin, and even my barn where he started parking his ATV instead of taking it home. I finally tossed him off the property in a yelling rage. I got awfully tired of waking up in the morning to discover him standing on the porch so he could ask me to warm up his coffee in the microwave. What kind of hunter doesn't own a thermos? What kind of hunter carpets a cabin with a white rug? Argh! Well, now it's a beautiful shade of green and I'll have to drag it down the hill to the dumpster.

The woods are full of dead wood, and I worry about fire. I used to have fits over the bonfires Mark and his friends would have. Now I realize those "stand around the big fire drinking beer" bonding experiences had kept all the small dead wood out of the forest, because the guys used to drag it all out to burn in the yard or field (with lots of water standing by "just in case"). So I have come to believe that men who love bonfires and beer are actually a product of farm forest evolution.

Nonetheless, I'll be breaking up the small wood to take down to the house for kindling, rather than burning it on the hill, as I'm too much of a wimp to start a bonfire so far from a fire engine.

With the Cabin Trail marked, Molly and I hit the Bear Trail on the way down. The bears follow the small gorge and end up in my back yard, therefore the name.

Clearly I need to invest in a chainsaw. High winds have brought down a ton of trees.

People have tossed tires from the road above into the gorge:

But the stream is still as beautiful as always and will be prettier still once I haul out the debris and trash:

Our walk down the Bear Trail concluded in my back yard. It goes straight from forest to yard:

And we both arrived home happily tired, and discovered a present for the cats on the porch from Jo (rescuer of Pepper and Timea):

Four cases of wet cat food! Bless her, because I was six cans away from being totally out of canned food.

People always say "Wow, I'd love to own that much land" or "Gosh, I'd love to have a cat rescue." But it's a lot of work. You can take the best care of everything, and wham, a windstorm comes along and suddenly there are six trees to clean up. You can take the best care of your cats and then, wham again, you get a litter of kittens that look fine, and suddenly break with ringworm right AFTER you took them out of quarantine.

One thing I try to remind myself is to take a deep breath and enjoy. To remember why you wanted to be in the country. Why you wanted to rescue cats. Remember those things are still there.

Whatever it is you do. Whatever it is you love.

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