Sunday, December 05, 2010

We finally got a morning when it wasn’t actually raining or snowing, although pea soup fog. I thought that if I wanted to get out with the dogs, this was the day to do it, so I decided to take a little walk to a spot behind a local ranch and set up a calling stand.

As I drove past the rancher’s house there was a little bunch of deer out in the field. I would have liked to have shot some video, but I’ll have to do that some day when I don’t have Chigger along. He is at the stage now when anything he sees is fair game. Bear was in the back of the truck, but Chigger was up in the cab with me. When he saw those deer he went into orbit! He wanted out in the worst way, completely out of control. I didn’t stand a chance with the camera as he tried to claw his way out. We have some work to do. I can’t blame him entirely, as I have been turning him out on anything that crosses the road, which up to now has mostly been squirrels, but I obviously need to get a better handle on him. Saying he was wild is an understatement. Airedales are terriers, and the terrier blood sure boiled this morning.

Farther along the road I parked the truck at the gate and turned the dogs out. It would be a little walk, so I left the electric caller in the truck. I thought the video camera and tripod would be enough to carry, and I always have an assortment of mouth blown calls in my pack. There were still patches of snow, and I saw a few deer and squirrel tracks. When I reached the spot I wanted to call from there was a bobcat track.

The track was to old to do anything with it, but I set up to see if I might call something up. I kicked the snow off a down log and put a plastic grocery bag on it so I would have a dry place to sit. The last time I had called from this spot a coyote had come in behind me from a field, so this time I set up with the camera facing that direction. I had the dogs tied to a couple of trees, and Bear was watching in more or less the same direction while Chigger paid more attention to the timber behind me. I thought I had the area pretty well covered, but nothing showed up.

There was another spot that I would have liked to have tried, but the ground wasn’t frozen and was water logged from rain and melting snow. I knew the rancher wouldn’t appreciate me tearing his road up, so we called it good for the day and poked along home. Now the clouds are rolling in thick, and it is beginning to sprinkle. Looks we are going to get it again.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

In case there is any doubt....

Ready or not, winter is here. I woke up this morning to 8 inches of new snow on the ground. Heavy wet stuff, the kind we usually get here. At least that means warmer temperatures. It has been unseasonably cold lately for so early in the season; breaking records in fact.

It hasn’t been very long ago since I posted a photo of a few deer in the field behind my house. This is what that same field looks like now.

Snow field

My pigeons come out of their loft for a short time in the afternoon. I can’t chase them out of there in the morning.

Snow birds

We had a little excitement in the neighborhood yesterday. A 2 story house on the hill across the road from me burned to the ground. Fortunately it was unoccupied. I don’t know the people who lived there, but I learned today that the house was for sale and vacant. Our fire department has a poor record of putting out house fires out here in the country. They usually arrive in time to save the foundation.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Neighborhood pets

We got our first snow of the season this morning. Not a lot really, less than an inch of dry powder. The guys who get paid for guessing what is coming say there will be more tonight and over the next few days.

There has been a little group of does and fawns hanging around here all summer. I happened to see them crossing the road this morning and grabbed a couple of shots. Not the best, as I was using pretty high telephoto and bracing the camera against a door jam. Didn’t have time to even think about the video camera.



Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chigger and the squirrels

I didn’t plant a garden this year, so I haven’t been shooting the ground squirrels around here. That’s a mistake! It doesn’t take long for them to get out of control, and recently at least one decided it would like to spend the winter under my house.

A few days ago I saw one sitting on a stump in my back yard, so I picked up a .410 which was handy and shot it right out of the window. Of course the dogs knew I had shot something, so I turned Chigger out. The digger hadn’t dropped right where I shot it, but crawled off down toward the creek. Chigger found where it had been and trailed it up. He didn’t have to go far, but he found the squirrel and ragged it around. Then I set a cage trap where I had seen the squirrel going under my house.

That evening Chigger was laying where he could look out the window, and he started whining and growling. I looked out, and the trap had been sprung. I turned him out, and when he found the squirrel in the cage he went nuts! Thought he was going to tear my trap apart, rolling it all over the yard. I finally pulled him back and shot the digger with a .22, then dumped it out. Chigger practically tore it apart. I was able to get it away from him and hung it up on a clothes pole. Chigger was trying to tear the pole down, but I kept fooling with him and he started barking treed. He was eventually able to get the squirrel down, and by the time I was able to get it away from him again there wasn’t much left of it.

That was several days ago, and the weather has turned cool and nasty since then. I haven’t seen another squirrel - until this morning. Chigger was laying near the window again while I was sitting here at the computer. He started making quite a fuss, so I went to see what was going on. The trap had been sprung again! I picked up the .22, and a camera this time, and turned Chigger out. He went around the side of the house in attack mode, and had hold of the cage before I could get to him. I was trying to get it away from him before he cut his mouth up, and wasn’t entirely successful. HE’S STRONG!

I finally pulled him back long enough to shoot the squirrel and dump it out on the ground. I let Chigger rag it around some, then had a time getting it away from him. I hung it up on the clothes pole as I had done with the other one, and Chigger started treeing hard right away. I petted and praised him, and he treed even harder. He was able to get the squirrel down off the pole, and by the time I got it away from him again there wasn’t much left. Now I see a problem. If I want to shoot a gray squirrel to eat, I’m going to have to tie Chigger back first, or there won’t be much left for me. And now I have to do some repair work on my trap before I can set it again.

Chigger barking treed

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Last of the pack

Setting up

Sadie was the last of the old pack of Casey, Kelly, and Sadie; all hunting Airedales. She passed on in her sleep last night, not unexpectedly. She would have been 15 years old next month, my oldest Airedale so far.

Sadie was a little female that no one wanted until she arrived at my place at around 14 months old. She had been passed from owner to owner for various reasons, but when she got here she stuck. When she found out what bear hunting was all about, she discovered her place in life. Like her running partners she really preferred lion, but there are generally more bears around to run and that is where she shined. She loved to run and tree a bear, and if one felt like staying on the ground that suited her just fine too. She generally changed its mind and made it rethink the matter. The bear usually ended up in a tree. In her later years, after Casey and Kelly were gone, she accompanied me on many a calling stand. That is what we were doing in the above photo; setting up to call coyotes above a place called Horse Thief Meadows.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Signs of fall

I headed up the mountain this morning with the notion of giving the dogs some exercise ahead of the forecast change in the weather; and of course to set up a calling stand or two. I put Bear and Chigger out in front of the pickup and let them hunt the road ahead of me. It was cool this morning, and the dogs moved out at a good clip. I had high expectations of them treeing a squirrel or two, but nothing seemed to be moving. When I thought the dogs had enough I loaded them in the truck and drove to a good location to call. I couldn’t even call up a blue jay! With the cool weather and approaching storm front I thought game would be moving; but we saw neither fur nor feather all day.

We’ve had frost a couple of mornings, and the trees are starting to show off their fall colors. I parked by some pretty maples to eat my lunch.

Fall maples

The dogwood are turning from their summer green to fall red.

Fall dogwood

I’ve heard the clang of cowbells passing my house the last couple of nights as cattle are making their way home after grazing in the mountains all summer. The bear are coming down to lower elevations too.

Bear track

The clouds have been building all afternoon, and it is starting to sprinkle this evening. The forecast says the rest of the weekend is going to be on the wet side. A good rain and some frosty mornings should make a difference on what goes on in the woods.

Regular readers here might notice the new logo at the top of the left column. OUTDOOR BLOOGER NETWORK. This is a new site with a directory of blogs devoted to the outdoors; hunting, fishing, and other outdoor pursuits. Just click on the logo to go there. Check out the directory for the various subjects and blogs available. I’ll bet you find some you would like to read. I did.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Backyard deer and a fox

deer,blacktail deer

The trouble with wildlife photography is that the wildlife doesn’t always cooperate. Several days ago I saw this little bunch of does and fawns in the field right behind my house. I happened to have a still camera handy, so I grabbed it and took this shot. Several shots actually, but this was the best. For the next few days I kept the video camera set up on a tripod hoping the deer would be back. A couple of times I saw 1 or 2 deer in the field, but to late in the evening to shoot any video. So far there has been no further sign of them.

A couple of days ago I took Bear out to set up a couple of calling stands. Drew a blank on the first stand. On the second stand I was using the electronic call, playing cottontail distress sounds. Only a couple of minutes into the call and I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye. There was a fox in the brush, but it saw me at almost the same time I saw it; swapped ends and beat it out of there. I didn’t even have time to turn the camera on. Bear had seen the fox too, so I turned him loose for the run. At least he had some fun out of the deal.

Friday, October 08, 2010

A near miss

It was cloudy and cool this morning, so I took a dog along and hiked to one of my favorite spots to set up a calling stand. Had the video camera on a tripod, and before I even started to call Bear was telling me there was something down the hill in the timber. I called just a couple of minutes with an open reed mouth blown call, and Bear really got excited. Took me a few seconds to see it, but it was down the hill right in front of me, standing just at the tree line. A coyote or fox, I couldn’t be sure which, but I think a coyote. I thought I had it in the view finder when I hit the GO button, but I must have jarred the camera out of position. Bear couldn’t stand it any longer, and he started to bark. Whatever the critter was, it ducked back into cover and out of sight. I let Bear go for a little exercise anyway. When I rolled the tape back, all I had was a shot of the hillside. $%^&! Oh well, you win some and lose some. Better luck next time.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Private property woes

It looks like the timber company that owns most of the property behind me is going to be hard to get along with. That property has historically been open to the public for hunting and about anything else short of pot gardens. When I moved here, over 34 years ago, another timber company owned it. They were good neighbors and easy to get along with. A few years later another company bought it, and aside from discontinuing firewood cutting permits, everything remained pretty much the same. The present owners bought the property 3 years ago.

The last couple of years saw no changes to speak of. Now suddenly in the last 2 - 3 weeks, roads have been gated off and NO TRESPASSING signs put up. They can’t close the main road leading up the mountain, as it is public access to a trailhead, and has been recorded as such at the County Courthouse since 1938; but they are gating off the side roads and posting the property. The company has, or had, an office in a nearby town, but the telephone has been disconnected. A company representative lives down the road from me, but is making himself unavailable. Won’t answer the phone or return calls.

This morning I headed up the mountain as usual to set up a couple of calling stands and maybe bring home a squirrel or two for dinner. As I said, this road is public access. It was down right spooky up there, considering this is deer season. Didn’t see another soul or even hear another vehicle. When I came back down off the mountain I saw a sign that I either hadn’t noticed on my way up, or it was put up behind me. NO TRESPASSING, HUNTING, OR FISHING. I guess you can use the road to reach the trailhead, but if you step off it you are technically trespassing. Time will tell what develops over this, but the present owners of the property have made an awful lot of enemies.

Friday, September 17, 2010

It's berry picking time

Normally I would have already picked my elderberries by now, but this year the powers that be conspired against me. First there was a crew working on the road that leads up the mountain behind my place, and the road was closed to traffic. Then I became involved in a minor capacity in a search and rescue operation. That is a rather sad story, and I really haven’t felt much like posting it here. It could have turned out much worse than it did though, and I may still write about it, but at another time. Now, this being a Friday, the general deer and bear seasons open tomorrow, and I really don’t want to be out in the mountains this weekend. Maybe not this entire week. So I put off the elderberry picking for now and went after the black berries today.


The berries are as numerous as ever in my favorite patch, but they seem smaller than in previous years. I have a berry bush in my back yard too, and it isn’t doing well this year. I have to cut that bush back every fall to keep it from taking over the back of my house, and maybe I over did it last fall and it put all its energy into new grown instead of producing berries. Or maybe it is just a bad year for black berries. Be that as it may, the berries where I went today were really in need of picking. Bordering on over ripe, some would fall off the bush at the slightest touch; but full of juice and sweet as honey. I have the purple stained hands to prove it. I came away with a pretty good haul.


Tomorrow I will run them through my sieve to separate the seeds and any small stems from the juice and pulp which will be turned into jars of black berry jam. Then I’ll see about those elderberries.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Chigger's day out

I started out yesterday with a plan to check out a little used road on private timber company land. There are a couple of good spots up the road to set up a calling stand, a creek where I might possibly wet a line, and an old trailhead several miles farther up the mountain. The road and surrounding property are all owned by the timber company, and the road is not maintained. If there are no plans for a logging operation, the company isn’t going to waste money keeping the road up. The gate across the road had been closed all last winter, but with summer here and deer season not far off, I thought it might be open now as it usually is at this time of the year. No such luck! The gate was closed and locked, and I had to back down the road to a wide spot to turn around. I had another place in mind where I wanted to try calling.

I had Bear out with me the last time, so this was Chigger’s day. When I started up the dirt road I soon ran into bear sign. There were tracks of several different bears along the side of the dusty road, and bear scat was prevalent where they had been eating manzanita berries. There was more bear sign here than I had seen anywhere so far this year, and I stopped to shoot the video below.

I parked the truck where an old skid trail leads up a ridge. I took my camera pack with me, turned Chigger lose, and began hiking up the trail. There was some bear scat here too, but I also found old fox scat. Not surprising, as the spot I was headed to is one of my favorite places to call from. I have called fox there many times, plus a couple of coyotes and a cougar. It would really be unusual not to find fox and possibly bobcat scat along this trail.

The trail up the ridge leads to an old road that has been washed out for years and is inaccessible to traffic. A hundred yards along this trail and I walked down another old skid trail to the place I wanted to call from. I sat down on an old stump, tied Chigger to a handy tree next to me, and set the camera up on a tripod. I chose to use an open reed mouth blown call made from a deer antler; a gift from a custom call maker several years ago.

I was only a few minutes into the call when I heard a slight sound to my left. The fox had come in behind me, right down the skid trail I had walked in on. It was within 6 feet of me before it saw me, and I saw it. The fox stopped for a few seconds, gave me a hard look, then jumped sideways and beat feet down the hill and into the brush. Naturally this all happened to fast to even turn the camera on, let alone catch any of it on video.

Chigger had seen the fox, so I unsnapped him and let him go. To my surprise the fox was still right there in the brush! It hadn’t run off, and Chigger took it for a little run. He wasn’t gone long and soon came back up the hill to me. Then the fox began to bark at us! This was ideal, and Chigger went back down the hill again. He stayed a little longer that time, but it was really hot by now, 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon, and Chigger was soon back with his tongue hanging out. It was enough. Not bad or a dog that hasn’t quite turned 13 months old yet, and this was the first fox he had ever seen.

Still more scat

Farther up the mountain, as I hiked to one of my favorite calling locations, I came across yet another kind of scat. While I may seem to be preoccupied with different kinds of scat, paying attention to this sort of thing is a good indication of the kinds of animals living in or passing though the country. While tracks are a good indication of recent activity, they may not last long or even be visible on hard ground. Scat may lay around for a long time, and the knowledge of what animal left it, and what that animal has been eating, is useful information to a hunter or wildlife observer.

A different kind of scat

Yesterday I took Chigger out for a little calling experience which I will go into in another post. While driving up the mountain, I came across more bear sign than I have seen anywhere this year. Judging from the different sizes of tracks, it appeared that several bears had been feeding there in the last few days. I took the time to get the camera out and shoot the following video.

Monday, August 30, 2010

More lion scat

Here is a video that I found on YouTube that some may find interesting. It shows the use of a trained dog in a study to search for mountain lion scat for DNA testing.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I had in mind taking Bear out for some exercise today, and a little 1 on 1 without Chigger along. I’ll be doing that a lot this year, just taking 1 dog out at a time. Bear is the older and more settled dog, while Chigger still has a lot of pup in him. When I take them out together Chigger has play on his mind more than anything else, and he really doesn’t learn much that way. Without another dog to occupy his attention, Chigger pays more attention to me, and I might be able to actually teach him something. Anyway, today was Bear’s turn, and I think he really enjoys being away from that rambunctious pup for awhile.

I got off to a false start this morning. I started up the road that leads to the mountain behind my house, and as soon as I left the pavement I found that the road had been freshly graded. A little farther along and there was a really big sign that proclaimed the road was closed to all but emergency vehicles. This land is owned by a large timber company. I suspect they are about to start a logging operation, and there will be logging trucks running up and down the road. Nothing for it but to turn around and go somewhere else.

My next choice was a piece of BLM, or publicly owned land, a short drive away. By now it was starting to get beyond warm, but I put Bear out in front of the truck to let him stretch his legs. A couple of miles up the road, and he had about all he wanted, so I picked him up and continued up the hill to a spot where I wanted to set up a calling stand. I parked out on a ridge, and from there it is a short walk to the spot I had in mind.

A short distance from the truck I found there had been a fire, probably started by lightning. It was so recent that there were still hoses left laying on the ground by the fire crew.


Only a small area had burned, and I was soon past it. The spot where I call from hadn’t burned at all. By now it was really getting hot, but we found a good shady spot, and I set up with the camera on a tripod and Bear laying next to me. I have called fox from here several times, quite a few deer, and seen lion scratch marks; but have never called a lion from this spot. As hot as it was by now I had little hope of calling anything in, but stranger things have happened, so I played with an open reed call for about 20 minutes.

As I expected, I didn’t see anything but a couple of blue jays. As I usually do after finishing an unproductive call here, I took a little walk around the area looking for any fresh or old sign. I found some; not fresh, but proof that the cats had been here. I shot a short piece of video showing what I found.

Monday, August 16, 2010

For Grimbo

Predator calls

In answer to a request from the other side of the pond. This is a photo of some of the various types of mouth blown predator calls that I commonly carry in my pack. Some closed reed, some open reed. Some made of plastic, some of wood, and one made from deer antler. These are all commonly available in this country.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2nd camp, 2010

My second camp this year was a little cooler than the first, thank you very much, but not as enjoyable in some respects. There is more than a little of the hermit in me, and I enjoyed the solitude of my first camp. This time there were far to many people and to much activity for my liking. The dogs had to be kept tied much of the time. There are public corrals and an outhouse at this camp, but more conveniences means more people, and there really was no place else to camp nearby. There were a few times when I seriously considered packing up and going someplace else if it hadn’t been so much trouble; then things would quiet down as people either packed up and headed up the trail or went home. I had peace and quiet for awhile, at least for the time being.

Fishing? Well yeah, kind of, considering there was no chance to fish at all at my first camp. It was an eye opener for me though. I have been geared up for fishing the high country lakes or many years now, and it has been a long time since I fly fished a creek. I spent considerable time learning all over again. I used the same rod, reel, and line that I used back then, but to my dismay I found that I couldn‘t see the fly much of the time, and unless the light was fairly good I couldn’t even see the line. The old eyes aren’t as good as they used to be. For a short time I rigged up a spinning rod with a small Panther Martin spinner, and caught a trout on the first cast. I kept fooling round and soon hung up on the rocks and lost the spinner. The only practical way to fish a creek like this is with a fly. Spinners would have to be very small and light, like a tiny Colorado spinner, and then count on losing many of them. I caught enough trout to keep me interested, and to fry up with bacon and eggs for breakfast, but the truth is I lost more than I caught.

No excuses, but I was really limited to only 4 pools where I could fish. On the first evening I was there, before I even started to fish, a party of local people came in off the trail. A couple of teenage boys grabbed their rods and headed for the creek while their parents unloaded and unsaddled their mules. Those young fellows could scramble over the rocks where I couldn’t or wouldn’t attempt to go, and reach places I couldn’t. They caught several fish in the short time they were there. A few days later a neighbor of mine brought his family up for a one night campout and some fishing. Again, 2 teenage boys. Those kids not only scrambled over the rocks, but waded right down the middle of the creek. They did quite good, where I had been able to catch only an occasional fish. Ah to be young again! By the time I left that camp and headed for home, that section of creek had been pretty well fished out.

Shacklefored Creek

Once in awhile I would saddle Sis and take a short ride up the creek, prospecting for other likely places to fish. I see some changes I need to make. I have a couple of pack rods that break down into 4 pieces and fit in medal cases to carry them; but with these old eyes it takes me forever to rig one up and tie a fly on the line. I need one of the small telescoping rods that fold up to little more than a foot long. That way I can carry one all rigged up and ready to go. Then I could ride up a creek to a likely looking spot, fish for a little while, then fold the rod up and ride on to the next spot. Also, I have another fly reel here at home, loaded with a different color line that is easier to see. That should help a lot. It’s a learning process.


There were things besides fishing that occupied some of my time. As I said, people would come and go at this camp, and at least I knew some of them. A couple of commercial packers made some trips, packing people to the high country lakes. Cattle belonging to a local ranch also graze these mountains. One day the packers came into camp with a tale to tell. A dead cow was laying in a spot far to close to the trail, and 3 or 4 bears were feeding on it. One of the packers got a dandy picture of a bear, taken with a simple cell phone camera; the bear standing with its front feet on a log and looking right at the packer. The packer had a pistol with him, and he fired a shot into the log. The bear just stood there, and none of them ran off. They weren’t about to leave that carcass! From then on we tried to warn all back packers we possibly could to beware of those bears.

Later I was told that a troupe of Boy Scouts were camped somewhere along the Pacific Crest Trail, and an adult in the party had suffered a heart attack. A Wilderness Ranger who I have known for years happened to be nearby. She had a Forest Service radio with her and was able to call out. A CHP helicopter was flown in and the man was airlifted out.

On one of those rare occasions when no one else was in camp, and the dogs were sound asleep, I was flaked out in the shade and reading a magazine. I happened to look up, and there was a dandy buck standing about 20 feet from me. Of course he saw me, but didn’t seem to have a care in the world. Naturally my camera was in the truck! The deer calmly walked up the road to the hitching rack I had been using for Sis, and trying to act as nonchalant as possible, I tiptoed over to the truck for the camera. I had to crop a large section of the photo out, and enlarge the important part, so it may not be as sharp as I would have liked; but here is the result. This fellow better smarten up pretty quick. Archery deer season opens a week from Saturday!

deer,blacktail deer

Saturday, July 24, 2010

1st camp, 2010

WOW! When Mother Nature decided it was time for summer she really turned it on. Temperatures have been hovering right around the century mark, give or take a degree or two. My solution to hot weather is to set up a camp somewhere in the mountains, at elevations higher than here at home. It’s still hot, but not as hot as it is here in the valley. Much of the high back country, that accessed by trails in the wilderness areas, is still inaccessible due to the lingering snow pack; but there are still areas I can reach with the pickup. I can’t make the long rides necessary to reach the high back country by horseback anymore, and my hiking legs are pretty well shot too. If nothing else, this trip proved that beyond doubt. I have a simple choice to make. I can take it easy, keep the rides short, and continue to enjoy it as much as I can; or throw in the towel and give it up entirely. I’m not ready to do that yet!

I pulled out of here on a Monday morning, truck and horse trailer loaded with camp gear, horse, and dogs. I was on my way to Lover’s Camp located in the Klamath National Forest, and only a short drive from home. When I arrived in camp I found that someone else was already occupying my preferred spot; the first time in all the years that I have camped there that I found someone there ahead of me. As it turned out, it was for the best. There was way to much activity around the main camp to suit me, and for what I had in mind. I turned right around and went back down the road to a spot where a packer used to camp while he packed deer hunters into the wilderness area. Hardly anyone camps there anymore. It lacks the convenience of an outhouse, public corrals, and running water from a spigot; but I had the place to myself. So I had to pack water from a creek and take a walk with a shovel when nature called, but there was no one around to bother me and I could turn the dogs loose without anyone complaining.

I set up my camp the way I usually do; stretching a tarp out from my horse trailer for shade and protection in case of rain. My camp stove and water container sit on the fender of the trailer, and my cot and bedroll are inside the trailer. Ice chests containing food are placed in the shade, and sometimes covered with an additional tarp for increased insulation.


I set up my portable electric fence as a corral for Sis. She is an old hand at this, and a good camp horse. She probably wouldn’t go anywhere even if she did get out; just crop some of the grass around camp.

Sis in camp

With the work of setting up camp done, and my animals taken care of, I was free to kick back and enjoy the surrounding country. Just lay back in the shade if that was all I wanted to do. This trip was ideal for Chigger; one of my main objectives and the reason I wanted to camp where there was no one else around. For once I could turn him loose without him getting into trouble or bothering anyone. He was free to be a dog, and do whatever dogs like to do. He had plenty of room to burn off excess energy, which he has plenty of, or just lay around camp. He learned a lot about being a good camp dog.

Chigger at camp

The trails out of Lover’s Camp are practically bridle paths until higher country is reached. Nothing that I would call rough at all. I was told that there is a bad spot on the trail to Sky High Valley where there was an avalanche last winter. I have been to Sky High many times, and fished Sky High Lake, but that is well beyond my capabilities now. The old knees and hips can’t take it anymore. I settled for easy rides every other day, and kept them short. There was a time when I chuckled under my breath at old timers as they climbed up on a stump or big rock to get aboard their horse. Hey, it isn’t funny, and I’m not laughing anymore! I’m that old timer now. Not only do I have to get up on something to climb aboard, but if I ride to far I darn near need help to get off!

Canyon Creek trail

There really wasn’t much chance for fishing on this trip. Not only are the lakes above Lover’s Camp beyond my reach these days, but there is only one place where it is possible to get near Canyon Creek where the trail to Red Rock Canyon crosses it; and then for only a few yards in either direction. It was a good place for the dogs to water up and cool off, but not much of a place to wet a line.

Dogs at Canyon Creek

This is steep country, and although I had a creek right at camp there was no chance of fishing it. It is a fast moving little creek that tumbles off the side of the mountain and runs under the road through a culvert where I filled my buckets for camp water and led Sis to drink. From there it splashes down the canyon behind camp, so steep that someone had tied a rope to a tree so they could climb down and back up from the creek.

In all I spent 11 days in camp, mostly by myself with my dogs and horse for company. An old camping buddy came up to visit for an afternoon a couple of times, but he wasn’t prepared to stay and camp. I would take Sis and the dogs out for a morning ride about every other day, but afternoons were best spent flaked out in the shade. I caught up on some reading material I had been saving. I had meant to stay a couple of days longer, but I ran short of feed for the horse. I’ll have to take along a little more hay next time. So I’m home again, at least for a week or so while I get caught up on things around here. I ran into trouble with my well pump immediately upon getting back home, but I have that fixed and have running water to the house again. Bad time for pump troubles with afternoon temps still at 100 degrees or more. I’m already making plans for another trip to a different place, hopefully with some chance for fishing this time.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sugar Lake

lakes,wilderness area

I had an urge to see some mountains, different from the one behind my house, and a brand new fishing license burning a hole in my pocket; so yesterday I loaded Sis in the trailer and Bear and Chigger in the truck and drove over to the Russian Wilderness Area. It’s about an hour’s drive from my house to a trailhead, and another hour and a half on Sis up the trail to a lake.

The trailhead is unmarked, and the Forest Service abandon the trail years ago. Not to many people know where Sugar Lake is, just a few of us local yokels, which makes it a nice little hide-away. It’s rare to find anyone else there, and I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the times that I have encountered anyone. There are enough of us who visit the place to keep the trail maintained after a fashion; but you are pretty much on your own in there. This time when I pulled up to the wide spot in the road that serves as a trailhead I saw tire tracks where someone had parked a truck and trailer, and there was a pile of road apples, so I knew someone else had ridden up the trail. I saddled Sis and turned the dogs loose, and rode around a corner to where the actual trail leaves the road. There was a pickup truck parked there in a shady spot, so I knew that at least 1 or more backpackers or day hikers was somewhere ahead of me.

It was already getting hot by the time I left the trailhead, and I shed the sweat shirt I had been wearing. We were soon in the timber and gaining altitude, and I was quite comfortable in short sleeves. Dogwood was in bloom on the lower section of trail, but we soon climbed above the elevations it prefers.


When we reached the lake no one was immediately within sight or hearing, and I assumed whoever owned the truck back on the road must have gone somewhere else; but while I was putting my fishing rod together a big yellow dog came from around the side of the lake followed by a young couple with a papoose in a back pack. The young man was carrying a fishing rod, so while the dogs got acquainted I asked him how the fishing had been. He said he had caught a couple of small brook trout, but it was pretty slow. These folks were just day hiking, and they were soon on their way back down the trail.

Sugar Lake has always been hard to fish. The timber and brush grows right down to the water’s edge, and in the 3 years it has been since I was there last the couple of spots where I usually fish had become over grown. It was hard to find a place where I could get a line in the water. Chigger didn’t help any. This was his first trip to a lake, and there was more water in one place than he had ever seen. He couldn’t stay out of it, and was constantly getting tangled in my line. I managed to catch a single brookie before I gave up in frustration. I fried it along with my bacon and eggs for breakfast this morning.

While I was putting my fishing tackle back in my saddle bags, Chigger and Bear had their first serious disagreement. Chigger is still of an age where he believes the world rotates around him! I sat down with my back against a big boulder to take a little rest, and Bear laid down beside me. In a sudden fit of jealousy, and like the big dumb pup that he is, Chigger flew into the older dog. They really made the fur fly for a few seconds, and there wasn’t much I could do about it. It ended almost as fast as it started, and I’ll have to call it a draw. Neither dog would back down, and they stood glaring at each other. I could get them separated then without getting bitten myself in the process, and no serious damage was done to either dog. Once started back down the trail, Bear took up his usual position, ranging far out ahead of me, while Chigger stuck closer. By the time they got back together they had forgotten their differences.

I was feeling the effects of the ride long before we reached the truck and trailer. I don’t do long rides at all anymore, and this little trip had been enough. I’m 72 years old now, and the old bones are getting tired. I still had to drive home and do the normal evening chores. It’s much easier when I have a camp set up at or near a trailhead. When I ride into camp all I have to do is take care of the animals and fix something for myself to eat. The day’s work is basically done, and I can sit down and relax. I’m waiting for a hay delivery right now, and I know better than to be caught camping anywhere over the 4th of July weekend, but once the holiday is over the next time I pull out of here with the trailer I should be on my way to set up a camp somewhere and stay awhile.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mystery solved!

To make this post I have to refer back to a blog entry I made some 8 months ago. Here’s a link to that post.

I never did find that skunk. There was so much skunk odor around here for awhile that it was impossible to pinpoint any source where it might be coming from. The odor finally went away, and I just assumed old stinky had gone off in the woods somewhere and died. I knew it had to be dead, and was surprised it even made it out of my yard after taking a shotgun blast up close and personal.

Yesterday I moved the few remaining bales of hay I have left in order to make room for the 3 tons of new hay that I will be getting in soon. Of course there is quite a bit of old hay scattered on the ground that I will rake up and use to mulch some potatoes that I planted a few days ago. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. This morning while I was outside doing the usual chores I saw Chigger over there digging around where the old hay stack had been. He grabbed something and ran over on the lawn shaking the daylights out of it. At first I thought he had found a dead chicken that had crawled under the haystack; then I saw the black and white color. It was the old dried up carcass of that skunk! Amazingly itstill had a little odor left to it.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Scared pup!

Yesterday evening I hitched a horse trailer to the pickup, and this morning I saddled Sis and headed up the mountain to a trailhead. The last time I checked the road it hadn’t been graded yet. Quite a bit of rock in the road, but passable. The single horse trailer is pretty low to the ground, and I thought I might have to stop in a few places to move some rocks. Not to worry. The road has been graded, so we moved right along.

There wasn’t another soul at the trailhead, so we had the country to ourselves. I unloaded Sis and turned Bear and Chigger loose. There were horse and man tracks in the mud of the trail, so someone had already been up the trail. Maybe a Forest Service trail crew cutting out deadfall, but I saw very little work that needed to be done. Bear knew exactly where he was, and he headed up the trail in high gear. Chigger spent his time running ahead trying to catch up with Bear, then running back to me.

Chigger made it past the first creek crossing, but the second one stopped him. It was running high and swift, and he had never had to cross anything like this before. The creek through my property is running higher and faster, but he doesn’t have to cross it. Bear was somewhere up ahead by now, and Sis picked her way across the slick rocks like a good mountain horse should. Chigger sat down on his butt and began to bark. I rode a little farther up the trail, but not out of sight, and tried calling him. He wouldn’t budge, so I rode back to the creek and tried coaxing him. No deal! That fast water had him spooked. There was no one else around, so I decided to just leave him there to work it out by himself. I thought the worst he could do was go back to the truck and wait for me there.

Bear had his first run out, so he came back to me and just tagged along with an occasional side trip to check something out. In places the trail resembled a muddy creek bed more than a trail. There was water running everywhere from the melting snow pack. I rode a couple of miles up the trail and began to pass some still unmelted patches of snow. I could see the snow on mountain ahead of me, and I knew it would be impossible to make it up the switch backs to Campbell Lake. Even the rock pile leading up to Log Lake would probably be slick and treacherous, so I decided to head back and check on my missing pup.

I heard him before I saw him. I don’t know if he had been barking non stop since I left him, or if Bear’s appearance ahead of me set him off again. He hadn’t gone back to the truck, but had finally picked up the courage to cross the creek. He just didn’t know enough to trail me up. He was a happy pup to see everyone, and he had the creek crossing thing down pat now. He crossed without hesitation on the way back down the trail. I ate lunch at the truck, then headed back down the mountain toward home. It had been cool, on the verge of being chilly in the mountains. The farther down the mountain, the warmer it became; and the dogwood and lupine were in full bloom. When I got home, the thermometer on my front porch said almost 75 degrees. Now it is getting cloudy, and they say rain again tonight and tomorrow.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Creek's up!

We had light rain most of the day yesterday, then it got serious last night and really poured. Still cloudy today, but warm. The creek that runs through my property is running swift and muddy, which means snow is melting in the high country. Shouldn’t be to much longer, and it will be worth hauling my mare up to a trailhead.

I made a quick run into town today, and on the way back home I happened to see a buck with new antlers about 3 inches long, standing along side another creek in a patch of yellow wild mustard. I had a camera in the glove box of the pickup, and it would have made a dandy picture. The buck would have none of it though. He saw the truck stop and back up, and he moved off before I could get the camera out. One of those picture postcard scenes though.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Two squirrels.

I’m basically passing time on a real nasty day. It’s trying to rain or SNOW here past the middle of May! A strange year for sure.

Anyway, I’m experimenting with different ways of posting video here, and using different hosts. Here is a piece of video showing the 2 most common squirrels found here. It was actually shot last fall when the squirrels were gathering acorns from an oak tree in my yard, and was taken right out of my dining room window.

The squirrel on the stump is a California Ground Squirrel. You might compare them to the prairie dogs of the Midwest, except that these squirrels don’t live in so called “towns”. They dig their holes or burrows indiscriminately, pretty much scattered all over the place. They can really be pests, and neither gardeners or hay farmers are very fond of them.

The other squirrel, the one busy burying acorns in my yard for later use, is a California or Western Gray Squirrel. The Gray is a tree squirrel, and rates high on the menu at my table. I know of no one who eats the ground squirrels, although I have no doubt that the local Native American Indians weren’t as picky and ate them in years gone by. The ground squirrel’s habit of living in burrows makes them prime candidates to carry mange, and in some cases plague. Of course plague was unknown here until it was introduced from Europe by fleas, carried by the rats aboard the early sailing ships; so up until that time it was probably pretty safe to eat the ground squirrels. If push came to shove, and I was really up against it, I’d still eat the ground squirrels today. After all, the chance of catching plague is pretty remote, and as long as the squirrel shows no sign of mange it is probably safe. But until then I’ll continue to avoid the ground squirrel and eat the tree squirrels.

Friday, May 14, 2010


As usual, the seasons tend to change almost over night around here. Yesterday morning the thermometer on my front porch read 40 degrees F. By mid afternoon it was 78. After lunch I saddled Sis, took Bear and Chigger along, and went for a little ride on the mountain behind my house. Old Sadie wanted to go too, but she is 14 years old and just can’t make it anymore. She still has all of her teeth, sort of surprising at her age, but she has cataracts in both eyes and doesn’t see well. She tires quickly, and a short walk is about all she is up to anymore.

I’m far enough along with spring chores now that I can take a day off to play now and then. As warm as it was, the dogs stayed pretty close instead of ranging out hunting. I wanted to check out an old logging trail to see if it was still open, or at least passable. It is getting pretty overgrown with young trees and brush, and there were several down trees, but by making a few detours through the timber we made it through. I stopped in a clear spot to snap this picture of the mountain valley where I live. This is the kind of scenery I get to look at every day.

View from the ridge.

Today I will run a rototiller over a garden spot. I don’t intend to plant much of a garden this year, but I may put a few things in the ground just to see how they do with minimum care. If things go according to plan, I don’t expect to be around much this summer. The mountains are calling, and I’d rather be camped somewhere than scratching in the ground.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


Spring is a long time coming this year, and winter just doesn’t want to go away. I’m getting itchy feet though, and today I decided to check the road to a trailhead up on the mountain. The Forest Service usually grades that road in April, but the way the weather has been I knew they hadn’t got around to it yet. I heard from a neighbor that there was a bad spot in the road that might be impassable to a truck pulling a horse trailer, so today I loaded the dogs in the truck and headed up the mountain to check things out for myself.

I had hardly left the paved road and started up the mountain when it began to rain. It rained most of the way, but the sun was out at the trailhead. There was some loose rock in the road in spots where it had slid off the banks, but the road was a long way from impassable. A piece of cake really.

While I was still a mile or so from the trailhead I turned the dogs out and roaded them in front of the truck for some exercise. I left them loose at the trailhead while I walked around and looked things over. A couple of dead snags in the corral had snapped off, but little damage had been done to the fence. Someone with a chain saw will soon cut that up for firewood.


I had to chuckle at a notice that had been posted on the Forest Service sign board. I guess there really are some people who need to have this spelled out for them. The notice is under glass which picked up my reflection as I took the picture.


There were still a few patches of snow laying around, so I know it would be a waste of time to haul a horse up there for awhile. If there is snow at the trailhead, there will be a lot more of it just a short distance up the trail. Deep rotten snow that is treacherous to try to cross with a horse. Oh well, I still have plenty of spring chores to do around home, and I can get in a little riding time just up the hill behind the house.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The other side of the mountain.

I made an extended shopping run to a town on the other side of the mountain yesterday, which always results in a very long day. I don’t do it any more often than necessary, but there are times when it simply can’t be avoided. While over there I stopped to take this picture.

Of course this is Mount Shasta, taken from just off Interstate 5 south of Yreka. The mountain is over 14,000 feet tall and dominates the landscape over there. In the summer months hikers and climbers come from all over to have a go at the mountain, but there are always a few who just have to try it in the winter. Injuries and rescues are common place, and unfortunately fatalities are far from unknown; including one just last month.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring surprise

Just when everyone thought it was spring! This was the view from my living room window this morning. Added up to about 4 inches. I had an appointment with the dentist in town this afternoon, and by the time I left home it had stopped snowing and turned to a slight drizzle. When I arrived back home it was blowing snow again. According to the forecast tomorrow might bring more of the same. Oh well, it’s still March. If you don’t like the weather just wait a minute.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Fire places may be pretty to look at, but they aren’t very efficient when it comes to heating a home. Unless they are set up properly most of the heat goes right up the chimney, and they burn wood by the cord. When I moved into this house, almost 34 years ago, there were 2 fireplaces. They were all metal, including the flu which was painted to look like a brick chimney, so there was little fire danger; but the design of the fireplace was about as bad as it gets. The back and sides were, and still are, straight up; so about 90 percent of the heat went up the chimney instead of into the house where it was needed. The first thing I did was block off both fireplaces with sheet metal and install woodstoves on the hearth of each with the flu running into the fireplace through a hole in the sheet metal. 34 years later I still have the same setup. Woodstoves have fireplaces beat hands down when it comes to putting out heat. One stove is in the dining room/kitchen area where I spend most of my time, and the other is in the living room. The stove in the living room is actually rarely used, except during prolonged power outages that occur during the winter.

This morning after breakfast I was relaxing with a final cup of coffee when I heard noises coming from inside the fireplace in the living room. Uh oh, it’s that time of year again! I knew exactly what it was, because I go through the same thing at least once almost every spring. There was a bird trapped in the fireplace. Apparently the birds are looking for a suitable place to build a nest, and they manage to fall down the flu. They end up trapped in the fireplace behind the woodstove where they can‘t get out or back up the flu.. It is almost always the fireplace in the living room because there is no fire in that stove, and therefore no smoke coming out the flu.

There were a couple of times, years ago, when I went through the process of moving the woodstove away from the fireplace to get the bird out. That stove weighs 325 pounds, and it didn’t take but a couple of times until I tried something different! The solution is simple. I open the door of the stove and put a trouble light inside the stove, aimed toward the flu where it passes through the metal plate and into the fireplace. Sit back and await results. Usually within a few minutes the bird is attracted to the light, makes its way from the fireplace into the woodstove, and then out the open door and into the room. I’m left with a badly frightened bird, flying madly around the living room trying frantically to find a way out. I open a door or window and the bird makes its escape. This time it was a European Starling as it almost always is. I wonder what it is about that chimney flu that is so attractive to them?

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I wrote the following for a group that I belong to. May as well post it here too. Might give someone some ideas.


Fire, and the ability to create it anytime and anywhere, is what
separates man from the animals. Sadly modern man often falls short in this

There are a few of what I call essential items that you will seldom find me
without. I like to make up a little kit that weighs practically nothing, but
that can be a life saver. It consists of wooden strike anywhere matches in a
water proof match safe, a disposable cigarette lighter, a flint and steel
striker, and a few cotton balls. This makes 3 different ways of starting a
fire, and I like to have at least 2 of them with me; preferably all 3. All of
this will fit in a little water proof pouch, and you will find such a pouch in
every back pack I own, in my saddle bags, and the same items in the glove
compartment of my truck. I also have a little pouch that I can hang over my
shoulder in case I should become separated from my horse. It contains a small
digital camera, a cell phone, and a cigarette lighter. Admittedly there are
places in these mountains where a cell phone won't work, but there are lots of
places where it will. At my age, and considering some of the places where I
find myself, it's a good idea to have one along.

Another item that can come in handy is a piece of candle or some cardboard
soaked in wax. There is a home for disadvantaged children in town, and they
make and sell a simple fire starter as a fund raiser. I won a whole box of
these at a raffle once. They are nothing more that cut up pieces cardboard
soaked in wax. They must have a form of some sort that they put the cardboard
in, and pour the wax over it, as they are all about the same size and shape.
About the size of a large biscuit or small pan cake.

Several years ago some friends talked me into riding to a high country lake for
some late season trout fishing. It was November, and we had no business going
up there, but you know how it is when ya just gotta scratch the itch. We
saddled up and made it up the mountain, but when we arrived at the lake there
was 6 inches of snow on the ground and the lake was mostly frozen over. Manuel
immediately set to work breaking dead branches off some trees and peeling some
cedar bark. He had some matches, but he couldn't find enough dry tinder to get
a fire going. I had a cake of that fire starter in a plastic bag in my saddle
bags, and I tossed it to him. In a couple of minutes he had a fire going, and
we could all warm up. Here's a link to a photo taken at that spot.\

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The education of Chigger

Well so much for the weather forecast. After the fog and the frost burned off it turned into a beautiful day. Still cool enough for a jacket though. I hitched up a horse trailer, saddled and loaded Sis, and took Bear and Chigger out for a little ride.

This was Chigger’s first time out with a horse. Of course he knows Sis from here at home, but he has always considered her to be just a big playmate. Fortunately Sis is good with dogs, and has the patience of a saint where pups are concerned. She will go out of her way to avoid stepping on one. The biggest danger is that Chigger, or any other pup, could grow up believing that all horses or mules are like Sis. Believe me they aren’t, and I’ve known mules especially that would go out of their way to kill any dog they could catch. On the other hand, I used to ride a mule that was almost as good with dogs as Sis is. You just never know, sometimes not until it is to late.

Anyway, I went just a little way down the road to get away from the houses, then unloaded Sis and turned the dogs out. Chigger headed out with his Uncle Bear just like he had been doing it all his life. Of course he has been out with Bear and I before, just never with a horse. He made the usual puppy mistakes of stopping to smell things right in front of Sis, expecting her to step around him. That is where a horse like Sis really pays off. Every pup I have ever raised has to eventually learn about horses the hard way. They are big and heavy, and it hurts like heck when they step on you; even if it is an accident.

I kept the ride short. I’m soft, Sis is soft and of course carrying winter hair. The dogs are in somewhat better shape. At one point we jumped something from the timber below us. The dogs didn’t see it, and I wouldn’t have either if Sis hadn’t seen it and alerted me. I only glimpsed it through the trees, and I honestly couldn’t tell if it was a deer or coyote; but I’m thinking coyote. We made a little circle and ended up back at the truck and trailer without any wrecks. Chigger did well for his first time out with Sis. I’ll leave the trailer hooked to the pickup for awhile now. There isn’t anyplace I need to go with the truck anytime soon that I can’t drag the trailer along if I have to. The weather forecast still says rain or snow showers in the near future, but I’ll take advantage of the nice days to get in a little riding time.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hard to believe!

According to our local gossip sheet and the Forest Service, our snow pack is 146 percent of normal, and the water content is 129 percent of normal. This is in the mountains at the south end of the valley, where they normally take the measurements at 5 different locations. More is expected before the end of the season. You could have fooled me! I haven’t had more than an inch or so of snow on the ground at any one time all winter, and darn few times at that. From where I’m sitting there isn’t enough snow on the mountain behind my house to mention.

We’ve had some beautiful weather lately, at least in the afternoon. Got my mare up and brushed her the other day. Yesterday I saddled her and climbed aboard just to see if I still could. I had in mind hitching the horse trailer to the truck and leaving it that way for awhile in anticipation of doing some riding. Now they say the rain or snow is coming back, starting tonight and tomorrow, and continuing off and on all week. Hard to believe. There isn’t a cloud in the sky this evening.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Season's end.

Chigger's favorite position at 5.5 months old. LOL.

Today was the last day of the 2009 - 2010 squirrel season. The morning started out with pea soup thick fog, so I waited until it burned off and the sun came out. Squirrels usually do the same, and wait until it warms up a little before they start their foraging. I loaded Bear and Chigger in the pickup and decided to go across the river to a place where I haven’t been for awhile. I reasoned that there would be less snow than on the mountain behind my house, making it easier to get around. I was right about less snow, although I did manage to get into some, but there was sure plenty of mud. I had to use 4WD to get up the road.

Once past the last of the houses, and in some pretty good squirrel country, I put Bear out in front of the truck and roaded him about a mile to sort of take the edge off. After a bit I decided to put Chigger out with him since there was no other traffic on the road. This was Chigger’s first experience roading, and he was thoroughly confused. At first he started right up the road with his Uncle Bear, and I thought this was going to be a pieced of cake, but he soon turned around and came back to the truck. I waited a minute to give him time to start back to Bear, then I happened to look in the rear view mirror and saw him running back down the road in the direction we had come from. I knew he was looking for me, and didn’t realize I was in the truck. I stuck my head out the window and called him, and he came right back and started up the road with Bear again. Pretty quick he turned around and went running back down the road looking for me again. He just didn’t seem to connect the dots, and that I was right there in the truck. He did this a couple more times, and I thought it best to put this off for another time. Chigger is still very much a puppy, despite the fact that he weighed 54 pounds the last time I weighed him which was a little over a week ago.

I put Chigger in the cab of the pickup where he could sit next to me, and he was a happy pup. I continued roading Bear until we came to a place where someone had cut a down tree out of the road. Just past that was a snow drift that no one had broken through yet. I didn’t particularly feel like being the first, so loaded Bear in the back of the truck and went back the way we had come. I took another dirt road heading back toward home, and roaded Bear, still hoping to find some squirrels which we hadn’t seen hide nor hair of. I passed another pickup parked along side of the road with what appeared to be a family gathered around it; a man and wife, and a couple of kids. The woman was carrying a shotgun, so I assume they had the same idea I had. Hope they had better luck. When I hit the paved County Road, I gave it up and headed for home, ending the season with an unsuccessful hunt. When I got home and pulled into my driveway, there was a squirrel chattering in a pine tree right across the road. Figures!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Storm report

I suppose everyone who watches or listens to the news has heard about the storms hitting California. You know the old saying, “When it rains it pours”. From a 3 year drought to floods. Locally it’s been no big deal. We’ve had some much needed and welcome rain, and some but not enough snow in the mountains. One doesn’t have to travel far from here to get a much different picture.

Not far south from here the towns of Weed and Mount Shasta City are virtually snowed in. Interstate 5 was closed yesterday due to blizzard conditions in the Mount Shasta Area, and heavy truck traffic was held back as far south as Redding. Only limited traffic getting through today. All I know about southern California is what I hear on the news, the same as everyone else. Heavy rain, high winds, down trees, and power outages.

More stormy weather is predicted over the next several days, but apparently the worst is over. It was clear and icy here this morning, but starting to sprinkle some this afternoon. There is nowhere I need to go, and I’m snug and dry in a house with a couple of Airedales curled up near the woodstove and heater.