Some people walk this earth in delight, constantly at awe at the beauty that surrounds them, ever joyous of the wonder of nature. Mary Oliver, the poet,is one of those souls who marvels at the glories to be found at her feet, in the grass, in the air, on a fence. Her poetry delights me.

But I am not Mary Oliver.

When Iwas very young , there was a spot about 20 miles out of town called Fairyland.It was a lovely wooded area that was meant to capture the magic of some of the fairy tales we were all brought with- Snow White, Hansel and Grettle, wishing wells, witches… but to me it was not magic. When children had a birthday party it was the place to take all the guests to. From the highway you could see little houses painted in bright cheerful colors, paths winding enchantedly through the woods -all very sweet and mysterious. But once inside these woods the fanciful facade of mystery slipped away and it  became a place of menace and darkness and cruel surprise- voices would cackle and no one would be seen, doors would creak, but not move, witches would jump out and come running at you only to run behind a small building and disappear. It was terrifying.

I think of Life this very same way and on reflection, I realize Fairyland has always been the perfect metaphor: life is a path through the woods that only appears to be lovely, only appears to be safe. Instead it is replete with claws and teeth and razored armor that  is unleashed and unveiled sporadically, surprisingly and lethally. The good that happens is illusory, short-lived and without long term effect.

The Japanese have a word-sabishisa- which means an essential and pervasive sense of aloneness. it is a good word to describe Fairyland, to describe life… no matter how much we are able to cushion our walk through it, the reality is that we are alone. No matter how brightly the sun shines  or how wonderful the air smells when it rains, the sun shines and the rain falls on individuals. Alone. No matter how many children accompany you on your birthday trip to Fairyland, when the witch jumps out, when the voices cackle, they cackle for you alone. and you are terrified.

A new day begins…

After having a rough day yesterday, a new day begins today.  I spent a lot of yesterday crying and questioning if I was making the right choice with Maddie.  Today, I know that I made the right choice but that doesn’t make the hurt go away any quicker.

All of the hounds seem calmer, more relaxed and not always on alert.  I was able to feed them in half the time and even little Eve ate without any help or encouragement.  I was able to do dishes, dust and check the chickens…all without having to wake Alex up to play watch dog.  It is going to be a huge change to our routine!!!

Through all of the heartbreak yesterday, we were also able to finish a deal on buying a used minivan that we have been looking at.  So now the hounds will be able to ride in comfort.  It has rear air and heat and plenty of room for crates, gear and people.  I guess I never thought I would be an owner of a minivan but I guess that is what happens when you are a dog mom!

The Jokela BUV

So, I’m going to try to not feel sorry for myself today and move on with life…I know that is what Maddie would want.  First thing on the list is to try to find a snowblower before the snow starts!

Oh yeah, and a very very Happy Birthday to my mom today!  I hope that she has a wonderful day and I wish I was there to celebrate with them!

My dear Madelyn

It was a little over a year ago that I was sent the picture of a pup who captured my heart from the instant I saw her.  She had been bounced through four different homes and was currently living mostly outside in a kennel.  I felt this was no way for a dog who was only about 9 months old should live.  She had fear/insecurity/nervous type issues but we decided to try to help her get over those issues.

She was a pup full of energy and was very very smart.  I took her to three different training classes to try to help her get over that fearfulness, but it seemed that it was always there.  She seemed to do ok in our house but then in July her world got turned up side down when our Gertrude left for the bridge.  You see, Gerdie was our alpha and she seemed to help Maddie realize what it was like to be a dog living in a house.  With that gone she started to lash out and nothing we would try seemed to help her.

This past week she has bitten me (trying to get her off another dog but didn’t break skin), Sarge, Henry and Oliver.  This morning she got Oliver to the point that he yelped in pain for a few minutes and was bleeding from multiple places.  My head told me what we need to do but my heart says otherwise.  I feel like I’ve failed her and that I should have been able to save her.

One of my favorite pics…so tall and noble!

I know that she probably got a year of life that she probably wouldn’t have otherwise, but it is still very tough.  During the time with us she got to do things that a dog should get to do…travel, go snow shoeing, do agility, go to obedience classes, play and most of all, be part of a loving family.  I’m hoping that she will be freed of what bothers her at the Bridge and I’m sure that she will be happy to see Gerdie once again.  Homer I’m sure will be there to welcome her as well, as he would have loved her.

Until we meet again my dear Madelyn…we will all miss you here!!!

Long Time No Blog!

Well, it has been awhile since I last posted a blog entry.  Life just seemed to get busy and I didn’t have time to keep writing.

Here are some fun things that have happened since my last post:

  • Henry has grown up – now weighs 51lbs!
  • Eve turns 5 months old today!
  • Chickens have started laying eggs!
  • Eve and I went to our first show!
  • Put in a new garden (thanks to the crazy nice November weather)!
Sarge and Henry sun bathing!
Eve playing referee!
Our first eggs!!!

That is about all for now.  Until next time!

One Season Ends

Rhode Island Red on the Roof
Rhode Island Red on the Roof

Honey & Bee season has closed. The Ahrens’ bee-yard was winterized a week or two ago, and the hive (yes, singular) here in Proctor was winterized yesterday. On the honey production curve, when looking at the number of hives that we had going into the summer versus the honey produced at the end, it would be seen as a terrible year. The caveats abound, however. We generally do not pull honey from new, first year hives; that would have ruled out eleven hives. We did have a bit of a swarming issue with our experimental Russian bees, and I hope to detail that in a separate post. In the end, we harvested sixty pounds (27.2 kg) of honey from our two hives at the Proctor bee-yard.

Prior to just a few days ago, winter was no where to be seen; the snow, frost and freezing daytime temperatures were stuck to the north of us in Canada. We had been taking advantage of the oddly nice (by our standards) weather. We were in a sort of weather purgatory; it was nice out, but it would have been great to be nicer but it is not going to stay this nice very long. By January-weather-standards, this sunny and 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) is fantastic, but the recent weather was much like April weather; while we are able to comfortably work outdoors with a light shirt, jeans and regular shoes (no boots), it was still dropping below freezing at night. I look at photos of the yards, and of the grass and foliage from June, and all are lush and deep green; a deep green color that only comes with countless "applications" of nitrogen rich urea from the hounds. With daylight each day, getting shorter by minutes, we leave for our day jobs in the dark, and arrive back home in the dark. This arrangement is not conducive for working outdoors and often results in worm tunneling around with a flashlight in the dark trailing hounds in an attempt to keep up with their "deposits". I have been tending to sit inside, with a hot cup of coffee and my laptop.

When the cold weather arrives, I tend to tinker with this or plan for spring about that. Spring seed catalogs have started arriving in the mail, as well. But, the recent nice weather did allow for a very strange sight: gardening, in northern Minnesota, in mid-November. We actually put in another garden.

There had been fencing around a row of grapevines, but having since removed a large, ramshackle compost bin from one end of the stretch, the hounds had found ways of getting into the vineyard area. This was unacceptable. Three feet (one meter) out from the wire fence, we sunk new fence posts into ground and secured them in concrete. We stretched new wire fencing, and fill the new enclosure with black dirt. With a couple hundred crocus and allium bulbs on hand, Melissa set to work making a nice flower-border that should look nice in the spring.

As the honey & bee season closed out, a new, hopefully continuous season started: eggs. The chickens started to lay last week, and are currently at a plateau of four eggs per day.