People come from all over the U.S. just to ice fish here.  Some come from other countries.  And we’re often told how lucky we are to live here.  Folks say they wish they could trade places with us.  They think we “ice fish all the time”.  Of course, we don’t have the heart to tell them that it’s a treat for us, too.  Alas, we have to schedule it in, much like they do.  But, we don’t have to travel as far.  And we can sleep in our own beds.  And we can fish more often.  And we get to know all the good spots.  And… well, we’re lucky to live here and wouldn’t trade places with anyone.  However, we will trade stories!




We finally chose Ruby Frost and an iPhone 8.  Interestingly, both are high tech.  Decades upon decades of human research are invested in each of them.  They are survivors in a group of the “fittest” … for the moment.  On any given day, their rank may rise toward domination or fall to extinction.  Regardless, we played a part in it.  How?  We are consumers.

Now, some folks find it easy to be a consumer of just about anything, without question.  Then there are those who struggle with simple, everyday choices.  As older homesteaders, we often struggle.  Why?  We know that even simple choices have ripple effects.  In other words, you reap what you buy and sow or what you don’t.  Unfortunately, there is also the trickle-down effect, too.  Meaning, you may also reap the negatives of what others sow or don’t.  Poor choices often affect innocent others.

Alas, straddling the fence sometimes feels like the best choice.  That is until the fence is electrified.  Then you find out that even indifference has its own set of consequences.  And other times, opting out entirely is so very tempting…



We finally bought a replacement Ram truck.  It’s red like our last one and was locally owned and operated.  It also has a plow.  And the timing couldn’t have been better.  We got hit yesterday with another big snowstorm.  Let me tell you, it’s wonderful to have our own plow.  Keith usually has to plow our long drive and pathways with a tractor and bucket.  Since there’s no cab on the tractor, he’s nearly frozen by the time he finishes.  Not to mention, there are no lights.  He’s been using a battery operated headlamp.  But, we’re not complaining, honest.  Why?  The original homesteaders here would have had to plow by horse and lantern or by hand.  And they didn’t have the extreme-weather clothing and boots that we have today.  Alas, their ways were more sustainable than ours, but only if they managed to survive.


Hen Golden Laced Wyandotte with yellow chick in nest BARLEY DARTS

Yes, Chicken Little, the sky is falling!  On Wednesday night, there was a sonic boom.  Then a bright, blue light filled the night sky.  A meteorite, from the Quadrantid meteor shower, had crash landed in our county.  Keith and I joked that reporters and scientists and U.F.O chasers would flock here.  We imagined they’d question eye-witnesses.  And we teased that we’d be prepared…

I’d wear an apron and Keith would wear his suspenders or overalls.  We’d stand in the hog pen, surrounded by our pigs.  Our cow would be in the background, chewing her cud.  I’d frantically point out all the strange tracks in the snow and swear that one of our goats had disappeared.  Meanwhile, Keith would keep a poker face.  And his Minnesotan voice would be without inflection: “There I was, slopping the hogs.  Ya betcha, I heard it.  Figured it was the neighbors’ fuel tank.  Ya sure, the sky lit up, like Ole’s face at the Muni.  Never seen anything like it.  Could be worse.  Not from ‘round here, are ya?.  Whatever.  Best come on in.  Ma’ll get ya some coffee and a bite to eat…



At one time, our entire pasture of more than sixty acres was forested.  Keith’s dad still remembers helping his own father fell trees and pull stumps, to finish clearing it for farming.  Decades before that, a different family had begun the work.  It was relentless, hand-blistering, and back-breaking work.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know this, until after I had happily announced we were planting trees on the perimeter.  Ever since and with each tree planted, it’s been bittersweet.  I often struggle with all the lifework it seems we’re undoing.

Still, we plant trees every year on our homestead.  Over the last decade, more than 3000 have been hand-laid and machine trenched.  We have also planted a few hundred trees by hand.  In addition to our orchard, this section along our drive is an example.  Most of these trees were hand-dug from the woods of our homestead and transplanted.  Today, the tamaracks are ten to fourteen-feet tall and the spruces are catching up fast.

This year, we’re reaping some of the benefits from these trees.  They decorate and welcome guests along our driveway.  Birds nest in the trees.  Four-legged creatures seek shelter under them.  They work as a natural snow fence.  And one day, they will be an effective wind-break for our future home.

Keith and I also see another benefit.  We are looking forward to the day that our sons look up at sixty-foot tall trees.  And the moment when they look down at their children and say, “I remember when these trees were planted.  I helped to do it.  Even though those trees were no bigger than you, it was hard work.  Now look at them!”  Maybe, their younger kids will be in awe.  And maybe their older kids will yawn and roll their eyes.  Regardless, as long as these trees stand, Keith and I will have sown far more than “just a tree”.  Meanwhile, we’ll keep praying that no one will ever have to remove the stumps, by hand.




Keith’s name means large woods, forest, or woodsman.