Second winter visit

(The first winter visit being at NYE with Emilie and Anthony.) We spent the last three days at the estate to get away from it all. The weather was very mild (barely below freezing) until last night when the wind howled through the less-than-airtight cabin. We could walk across some of the bays without too much stress, but the puddles on top of the ice in the middle of the lake were a bit nerve-wracking.

Some highlights of the visit:

  • We got about 30 ft from three beavers that were fully out of the water, eating up on the ice. Unlike summer, they didn’t seem very shy at all. Then again, it was easy to spot them in contrast to the snow.
  • We started harvesting some logs for future mushroom spawn inoculation. (Liam wants to try growing mushrooms)
  • We got large pieces of birch bark from a doomed set of trees (see below) for the purpose of providing some privacy for our outdoor shower. The pieces still weren’t big enough, but we wove them to make entire walls.
  • We saw wolf tracks.
  • Pileated Woodpecker sighting
  • Nina encountered what we believe to be a muskrat living under the cabin. A brief inspection makes it unclear how he got under. But anyway, her (Nina’s) late night bathroom break was met with a surprise.
  • Ernie’s brother, Rick, and nephew, Ryan, stopped by for a quick visit. Other than to introduce themselves, it seemed that their hidden agenda was to see if we wanted them to help “control” the beavers in our big lake. They kept telling us about all the damage. We’re not convinced that the beavers can sustain their population anyway. There’s about a 20-meter swath of land around much of the perimeter that looks like clear cut logging. But the beavers don’t seem to comfortable going deeper into the woods than that. So eventually, they will run out of trees to cut.
  • The wood stove is working well, though we’ve burned through a third or so of our wood for the winter. Must cut more for next winter…

 

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Tagged sugar maples for tapping in just a month or so. We have 10 medium sized trees (mostly just passable for tapping) within 20-30 meters of the cabin. There’s another smaller cluster about 4-5 minutes away, but it’s not clear that we’d really want to boil off all this sap even if we did go the distance.
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Puddles
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Such a beautiful birch stand….but wait…
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Serious damage by beavers. Admittedly, their “progress” is pretty shocking.

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There’s a beaver just off to the left of the centre of the photo, about 1/4 of the way across the big opening in the ice. Go figure that when they allowed us to get 30 ft away, I didn’t bring my camera. This is a few hundred meters away.
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Birch bark peeling
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These footprints are along a creek beside our cabin. We ruled out dogs or coyotes. Given the size of these, we are almost certainly looking at wolf prints.
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Based on the unfrozen state of these guts, it seems we just missed the murder. This little frozen pond has feathers all over the place (including some suspended by flesh hanging from the branches above). Given the size of these intestines (boot for scale), I suspect it was a grouse.
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Sunset
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Cabin with chimney still securely attached (phew!)

 

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