Well, April 1st came in with some snow. Nothing major but just a reminder that winter has not left. Go 40 miles south of our area and it almost snow free. However, about 10 miles south of Glidden and north into the Keweenaw of Michigan and there is still plenty of snow. We are in the snow belt for when the snow storms come off of Lake Superior. So we tend to have a lot of snow and it takes longer for it to leave.
Our snow is crusty and deep. In the meadows you will find an average of 12 + inches still left on the ground and in woods a bit more. A few south facing areas grass is starting to show giving the impression that Spring is starting to come!
THE DOG CAMP
Getting into camp is interesting to say the least but we have become use to it over the years. Check the temperature, if cold enough we can drive in... if not park at the entrance to our access road back into camp and I will meet Skip driving the UTV out of camp. Our dog camp is about 1.2 miles back in the woods. Remote, and literally "Off Grid". For now I am staying out there and taking care of the dogs, working at my desk and watching the snow... very slowly melt!
Most afternoons are too warm to drive in. It is not just about mud but more about not creating a mess in the areas where the frost is coming out of the ground. Drive on these areas too much and all of a sudden a vehicle can sink without warning down to it's frame. So better to let the frost take its time and work its way out of the ground then to push the situation and wreck the road.
The evening stars and full moon nights have been beautiful. Being this far back in the woods with no electricity (other than a generator and limited solar) one can appreciate the solitude, beauty and the stillness. Mornings and evenings are just as pretty and the view is peaceful.
The coyotes cut loose last night on three sides and caused a big ruckus. There was a quick answer by the setters that where not happy with the intruders and my retired Alaskan huskies yapped and then howled at the unwelcome guest. In the end the setters and the huskies put up a big howl and the coyotes decided it was time to leave. My setters have learned how to howl like my huskies and they are finally starting to sound almost as good as the huskies at least they are howling more in tune during a group howl.
So far there are 8 less red squirrels and I am after two porcupines. The squirrels and I are at war right now and I hope I am making a dent in their population, but that is questionable!
As far as dog training goes, tough and you have to be very careful if you go out. The snow is crusty but worse than that it would be easy to blow a shoulder on a dog. The dogs can be running a long and then all of a sudden one leg will drop and the momentum will throw the dog forward with the one leg still stuck in a hole. This is not a good situation. These type of injuries can haunt a dog for the rest of its life.
I have taken a few face plants a couple of times when all of a sudden, my boot broke through and there were no trees to garb and all you can do is fall over. That was the end of any training. Especially with the younger dogs... they want to go faster than what the conditions will allow and that is when they will get hurt. So we will wait and I am practicing commands in the training arena.
Kenzie, will run along with the ATV when I need to meet Skip and will do some casting into the woods checking for birds. However, seems like every place we have found scent... there has been pines, and a little bit of bare ground. Brown grouse on a white background is very visible...so they are staying in the shadows for now. Snow banks along the access road are still over 4 feet in some areas. I look forward to when there is only 40% or less of snow on the ground and not 95% snow cover.
The snow is also very crusty. The snow is in a crystal form and will start packing between the setters feet and after a while it starts to become abrasive and can cut. Not what you want.
For me... there will be time to train but in the end, I am having trouble finding places to train without snow. I figure in another two weeks conditions should be better and I can walk out my door and train on our property.
Good news! Molly delivered 10 healthy puppies and mom and pups are doing very well. Pups are growing fast and mother is doing great. So all is good.
A few woodcock have found their way north but there is limited access to ground and not really anything to eat. The spring shuffle of grouse is slowly starting. However, drumming has not started in my area this far north. I have seen a couple of robins... and a few red wing black birds.
For now we are in a holding pattern, waiting for the snow to melt, spring to come, and watching puppies grow.
The dogs are enjoying the evenings and pretty soon they will be rather muddy... instead of very clean. I know the dogs and I are ready to get to the woods and enjoy springtime in the Northwoods!