Monday, March 13, 2006

Cabin fever.

Here we are well into the month of March, and winter just won’t go away. We had a short false spring, just enough to encourage some of the trees to begin to bud, then winter came right back to us again. One storm after another rolls in from the coast. I’m still very limited as to where I can go with the pickup. The mountain roads are still closed due to the snow pack, and anything other than a plowed County Road is pretty much out of the question. That limits me to a few roads right here on the valley floor.

I’ve been coming down with a powerful case of cabin fever, and made up my mind that I was going to get out and away from home for at least a little while today. I decided to take a short drive over to Mill Creek Canyon and cruse an area where deer are commonly seen wintering. It started to snow before I got away from the house, but I hoped it wouldn’t amount to much. I loaded a couple of dogs in the back of the truck and kept a video camera on the seat in the cab.

I drove through the wintering area in low gear, watching for deer on both sides of the road. It was snowing pretty good by now, and I didn’t see any kind of wildlife moving around. Walking in the snow doesn’t get a guy wet like rain does, so I decided to take a short hike up a road toward some timber company land. The last time I walked this road there were the tracks of a big bobcat in the snow. There were still a couple of inches of snow on the road, so I parked the truck and turned the dogs out. We hiked up to a bad washout in the road without seeing any fresh sign at all, so I retraced my steps, loaded the dogs back in the truck, and drove back through the deer wintering ground.
I was just about back to the main road when I saw a small herd of cattle bedded on the edge of a field up next to the timber, and there were 2 deer feeding almost next to them. The deer were feeding along, oblivious to the falling snow. I parked the pickup and secured the camcorder to a window mount support for stability, and shot several minutes of footage. You can download and view a short piece of streaming video by clicking on this link.
Be aware that this is a 3.4 mb download, so if you have a dialup connection it will take quite awhile.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Old dog - old horse - old friends.

A couple of weeks ago I had to say "Goodby" to an old dog. Casey was my first Airedale, and 100% hunting dog. Over his lifetime he looked up a tree at many a bear, bobcat, and cougar; as well as lesser game. In his last couple of years he began to fail badly. I think it was his heart that finally gave out. One evening he was fine, and the next morning he was near death. The stout heart that had carried him over many a mountain had given out. He was about 3 weeks short of 13 years old.
Smoky was a little Appaloosa that I purchased from a friend when he was about 11 years old. For a small horse, he was a walkin’ son of a gun, and he carried me over many a mountain trail for the next 10 years. When it became obvious that the longer trips with bigger and younger horses were beginning to tell on him, I let him go to a good home were he was well cared for through his retirement years. I learned yesterday that the old pony had passed on. I was not informed immediately, and as near as I can tell he must have died at very nearly the same time that Casey did. Smoky must have been nearly 30 years old.
Will Rogers is credited with once saying that "If dogs don’t go to heaven, I want to go where they go". I would like to say the same about good horses. It would please me to think that maybe a good dog and a good horse are keeping each other company somewhere while they wait for me. I hope so anyway.