Around here, autumn is our busiest season as we gather and squirrel and ready ourselves for winter deep.
Juniper and I hung out on the trailer, in the road and under a tree, while good ol' pa cut:
Then we switched and good ol' ma chucked:
Firewood. My theory has always been: wood warms your body three times in it's lifecycle. Once when you cut & chuck, once when you split & stack, and once when you burn. How's that for efficiency? And speaking of efficiency, my man's big ol' road hog has been getting 23 plus miles per gallon. That's way more than your average truck and, sadly, just a hair behind today's average car.
Sigh. I wasn't with him. Wish I was (although after hearing about how gnarly the terrain was...maybe not). I was a vegetarian for ten years before I became a hunter, but this is my second year running that I haven't gone and I miss it. I don't feel whole without it. It's just as bad, if not worse, than not having a vegetable garden. Last year, I was a good 8 1/2 months pregnant (or, in rifle season, had a newborn slung to my chest). This year, we are in limbo. We are no longer Montana residents, but not yet Wyoming residents and we could only afford one nonresident deer tag. So my man hefted his pack to bring home the bacon and Juniper and I stayed home and ruled the roost. (Or rather, cleaned it as my parents were expected that night! More on that in a minute.)
If hiking and backpacking are like taking a guided bus tour of a foreign country, hunting is like moving there and learning the language. There is no other way of truly, deeply, being in the woods. I never knew that until I became a hunter myself. Like parenting. I remember rolling my eyes when my step-brother told me, You think having a DOG is cool? Wait until you become a parent. I never believed it until I became a parent myself (full disclosure: Osa, you *are* cool).
This year, my man did something we never, ever, ever, do. He killed a deer his first day out. He boned-it-out in the field, packed-out all the meat and was home just after dark. And, spent the next five days paying for it. Even now, his big toenails are black and blue from a steep, cliffy, hike out.
^A nice, big, mule deer to boot!^
The not-so-funny joke among hunters is that the work starts once you get the meat home. After an elk last year and a moose the year before, this mule deer didn't seem so bad. We had him tightly cut, ground, wrapped, labeled and in the deep freeze in no time.
Besides potatoes, the only real fall harvest we had was spring-planted garlic. The white stuff is last year's, the purple is this year's. Not bad for a May planting, eh?
Not a part of our usual fall harvest and gathering, but I figure the time I've spend house-hunting is probably comparable to the time I would normally spend weeding, cultivating, harvesting, blanching, canning and freezing a garden as well as picking, mashing, boiling and canning berries for jams and jellies. And guess what? We still haven't found The One. At least not in our price range. But we have seen some crazy, huge houses in our range, which is mind-boggling. And we can't help but get excited about a big house, until we wonder how we'll heat the thing. And then there's this: we still haven't made the in-town or out-of-town decision.
My dad and step-mom came to visit for a week. Holy heaven. They could be my guardian angels in disguise. They cooked glorious, scrumptious meals. Dishes were always done. They played with june bugs and I actually had a chance to sew and, under the tutelage of my step-mom, nearly got a project completed. This was my step-mom's constant refrain: What do you need done? I'll do it. (Perhaps we will buy the bigger house!)
We celebrated two out of three (early) birthdays. Should have done all three but, sigh, next time.
Like grandfather, like granddaughter.
My dad and step-mom have always seemed more of the animal-lover types and prior to Juniper, I would always joke to my husband that they would be more excited if we got another dog (or a pig or a goat or something) than if we had a baby. So it shocked me when, almost a year ago, they grabbed their new role as grandparents and ran with it.
Senior Pato, on the other hand, may need a little more adjustment time.
One morning during coffee my dad announced: Juniper, you're going to stand today. And yeah, she's been standing here and there for a while, but that day she started doing it ALL THE TIME and hasn't quit.
C'est tout. Have a great weekend out there!