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.