April 27-
    Merry Christmas Everyone! Ok, so it's not Christmas, but looking out the window the past few days, it sure has looked a lot more like Christmas weather than the final days of April. Yes, I do have some new snow to report, but before I do that, I can say that we did have a pretty nice day on Monday and on Wednesday. On Monday, we got ever so close to hitting 60 degrees and then on Wednesday we hit 57. I think Wednesday was probably the nicer of the two as it was sunny just about all day and there was little wind too.
    I picked up Gracie early from day care and we actually spent the rest of the afternoon doing yard work. I guess, it was actually yard-type work on the driveway. Anyway, she is a hard worker and it's pretty difficult to find someone that will work for the 5 cent an hour wage I am willing to pay. That reminds me, I owe her 15 cents! 
     Just kitting, of course. Neither of us got paid! :) but we did enjoy being outside in the sunshine and "warm" temps. When Nora got home, she joined us in the outdoor activity and we both commented on how nice it was, but also how in just a month or two, 50 degrees and sunshine will seem cold!
    With the promise of more snow in the forecast for the end of the week, I got to making some more firewood. I wanted to make enough to get us through not only the snow, but the lack of any kind of a real big warm up after. I figured there would be a good chance that if we got the 6-8" that was looking likely at that point, plus temps only in the low 40's for highs for a few days beyond, I would not only have to worry about cutting wood, but digging out from the snow first. So I cut what I thought would be enough to get us through the weekend and the first half of this week. Most of it I piled right in front of the boiler, but a bit I put into the woodshed as well.
    The warmer temps and sunshine this week did allow a few patches of bare ground to appear up this way. Not in the woods, there is still 2-3 feet there, but over the septic field, the warmth bleeding up from all the good stuff being pumped into it always causes the snow to melt first there and by Wednesday afternoon a tiny patch of grass was seen.
    There is another spot right between the septic tank and field that has heat bleed up and will become free of snow much sooner than the rest of the area. Here is Huck checking out that strange brown surface called bare ground. Now, compare that shot with one taken of the same spot just a few weeks back. So the snows are melting, but for the second year in a row and the 3rd in 4 years, I would be able to take a snowmobile ride in May if I wanted to.
    With the snow melting, things that were buried through the winter are starting to appear. The fact that we had pretty much no melting occur through Dec, Jan and Feb (probably a lot of March too), the snows clung to the tree branches a lot longer. I have never seen branches so laden with snow as I did this winter. That caused a lot of branches and even some trees to come down and now that the snow is melting, the realization of how much tree and limb lost is coming out. That was along Hwy 41 between the airport and Hancock and here is a shot of a yard not far from where we live.
    All told, I'd say we have melted off around 1/2 of the snow we had on the ground at it's max back a few weeks ago. Even so, driving by the Calumet Football field and track grounds, it looks like it will be a while yet before they can get out and start practicing or holding track events. Probably longer before they are able to do the "field" part of the track and field. That is a 6 foot tall fence in the foreground and I had to get into the bed of my truck to take those shots.
    As the storm approached us for later Thursday and Friday, the forecast started to back down as to how much snow we would get and ended up getting the very low end of expectations, even below expectations in spots. The lower elevations around Houghton and Hancock did not really get much at all. Calumet and our neighborhood picked up around 3" by Friday morning, with another 1 during the day on Friday and into Friday night. Some of the higher terrain of Keweenaw County reported 6" of snow by Friday afternoon. Not enough to have to fire up Big Red, but still enough to make the woods look a lot more like January than almost May.
    Friday was a big day for all of us. Gracie had Kindergarten registration. They do a lot for the upcoming class that day. They have classrooms, the library, cafeteria and a bus all set up so that the kids can go and experience all of those things. All of the Kindergarten teachers are there and meet and chat with the kids and parents. If my memory serves me correct, it was more in depth than my college orientation! Anyway, at the end, I was given further proof that none of my DNA exists in Gracie, as she cried when we said it was time to leave. Such was never the case when I was told it was time to leave school! She did recover enough to give us a smile with some puffy eyes.
    I sure have enjoyed having moved my office to our old bedroom. Not only do I have lots more space, but I have a window and do not have to climb any stairs. I also have the recliner we bought to help me recover from my first open heart surgery sitting in the office. I do not use it a lot, but Nora and Gracie will come and sit in it to keep me company while I do work like writing this journal and just about every morning that I stumble from bed to my office, Huck or Millie will be waiting in the chair for me to keep me company while I do my morning work. The other morning, it was Huck and at one point I looked over at him to see how he was doing and this was my answer. Oh to be a dog in our home!
    So that about covers it for this one. It does look like we will continue to chip away at the snow cover, but not with any reckless abandon. I don't have any plans to take one last ride. I have gone on two rides in May now and so the desire is not that strong. If for some freakish reason I can take a June ride...well that will be a whole other story! I had a bit of free time this week and went through and double checked my historical weather page and I see that there were some errors in my computations. So rather than having 303.5 for the season to date, I actually have 323.5 for the season to date. That is a little more than a foot less than the count road commission has measured for the season in Delaware. I can only wonder if the lake had stayed ice free for another 2 weeks, if this would have been the year when we broke the 400" mark. I believe so, as the patter was nearly ideal for the Keweenaw to get heavy LES for those 2-3 weeks following the ice accumulation and we had several more instances where some decent totals would have resulted. Oh well, there is always next year!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

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April 20-
    Happy Easter Everyone.
    I wish that I did not have to start this entry on such a sad note, but I know back in the heart of this past winter, a brave little man- Brody, captured the hearts of many of you that visit this site, as he battled brain tumors. This past Tuesday morning, Brody lost his battle. I have been searching all week for the words to say, but it just seems like anything I can think to say would be so incomplete. I take joy in knowing that his pain and suffering is over and heaven gained an angel on Tuesday morning.
    On the positive side of such a tragedy, I have once again been reminded of what a wonderful place I live in and what a wonderful community of persons it is that makes up this website. Within hours of his passing on Tuesday, there were 100's if not 1000's of signs of sadness and support for he and his family in both communities. What a wonderful world we would live in, if only everyone could be this caring and selfless instead of constantly thinking about themselves and what's in it for them.
    God Bless you Brody- and all of those you touched with your time in this world.

    Mother Nature just could not resist the temptation to smack us around one more time. The snows started up Wednesday afternoon. Innocently at first, but the calls were for 10-12" at least and she rose to the occasion. When I woke up we had picked up around 5" or so and it was not snowing too heavily, but the winds were whipping things around. I think it was these conditions that initially had officials not calling school, but then the intensity of the snow picked up a lot and the winds kept up and by around 5:30 am, the call was made to call off school and give the kids and teachers a 5 day Easter weekend.
    It snowed at the rate of 1-2" per hour for the entire morning and by the time I was done with my morning work and was able to get out and take a front of house shot, there was a solid 8-9" on the ground and the woods were all decked out in a nice coating of Keweenaw Kamo
    Although I think I could hear the collective groan of the locals responding to what was the last things most were wanting to see, the pups did not seem to mind. Of course, that is probably more due to the nature of a Labrador Retriever. It takes a lot to dampen their spirits.
    We had plans to head to Marquette for some shopping once I finished my work for the day and the snows looked to end at about the time we were getting ready to head out. So I kept my powder dry and waited as long as I could to let the snow pile up as much as I could before firing up the tractor to clear the driveway. What a feeling it was to know that I could just let the snows get deeper and deeper and not even worry one bit about how much of a challenge it would have been to move the 12"+ of pretty heavy snow piling up. 
    I had lost the mat of snow, so I could not drop the blower right to the driveway surface and I also had to go a little more slowly, so that I would not get the blower too low and start shooting the stones that make up the driveway out into the woods. I am not totally sure what happened, but I did end up sheering one of the sheer pins in the right side auger. So in the midst of the snowstorm, I cleared enough snow from the blower unit to replace the sheer pin (actually a 5/16" bolt) and get going at it again. As soon as I got restarted, it seemed like the right side auger was not spinning again and sure enough, the replaced bolt had sheered again. So rather than replace that one, I just ran the blower with the left side auger going and just ran the left hand side into the snow that needed to be cleared. Even with those mishaps, it only took around 25 minutes to clear the snow. Using the old methods and tools, it would have easily been a 90-120 minute clearing job.
    I finished my work for the day and it was still snowing pretty heavily at our house, but a check of the radar and web cams across the region revealed that the let up in the snow was moving through Houghton/Hancock and all areas between the sister cities and Marquette was already in the clear. So we headed out, but before I got into the car, I cleared a bit of snow off the hood of the truck so that it would help illustrate just how much snow had fallen, including settling. I suspect that it stopped snowing soon after we left as the let up had reached the area between the airport and Calumet. So I may have short changed my final storm total a bit, but all told, we picked up 15.5" of snow, which put us at exactly 300" for the season. The Keweenaw County road commission had already recorded 315.5" prior to the storm and have not yet posted what they measured from it, but I would not be surprised if they reached the 330" mark for the season.
    The trip to and from Marquette went well and we had a good time while there. The purpose was two fold; 1) To let Gracie play in a swimming pool. The poor girl is really starting to climb the walls due to the prolonged winter weather. 2) To pick up a few things for the addition. We needed a few smaller things that cannot be picked up around these parts, so Marquette got the call.
    We only stayed around 24 hours and when we returned Friday, the sun was out and it was in the upper 40's, so I went outside with the pups and Gracie for a while and while out there, I noticed that most of the snow in the housing for the snow blower had melted, so I went over to see if I could fiddle with things enough to figure out why the two sheer pins had snapped so close together for no apparent reason. It turns out that the blame could not be placed on "Big Red" (the new official name of the tractor), it fell upon the nut behind the steering wheel- ME! With the snow melted, I saw a sticker inside of the blower housing that explained how to and how not-to align the augers. I must have not had them aligned correctly. I fiddled a bit further, spinning the free right hand auger and saw that if the auger is not aligned properly, one of the tines on it will hit the impeller. That is what was causing the the bolts to snap. Lesson learned and it is also a very simple process to make sure the augers are properly aligned before inserting the sheer pin.
    Yesterday was just a nasty day. We started out in the upper 20's for temps and only managed to get to around 36, with a thick and threatening overcast. Some rains did manage to fall out of the overcast by the afternoon and early evening, but we did not pick up much moisture at all, which is a good thing to help prevent serious flooding to occur.
    As nasty as yesterday was, today was the exact opposite. Temps started out around 34, but as soon as the sun came out and the winds blew a bit, the inversion allowing the coldest air to settle right down by the surface was mixed out and in 30 minutes from 8:30 to 9 am we shot up 10 degrees to 44. By early afternoon it was in the upper 50's with clear blue skies and sun as strong as it is in mid to late August. 
    There are always some upsides to be a meteorologist (besides getting paid to be wrong :0 ), in this case it was seeing that the future of the temps for the next 4-5 days would allow me to turn off the heat in the shops. I may still need to briefly turn it on later this week or weekend, but for the next few days, the daytime highs look to be warmer than I keep them anyway. So today, I opened up the garage door and left it open, to let the warm air in!
    So the good news is that the boiler is no longer working to keep the shops warm, the bad news is I tossed the last cut piece of firewood into the boiler this morning. Yep, for the first time in years, the wood shed is completely free of firewood. Which has it's own silver lining, as it does need some repairs/modifications made to it and that work will be done much more easily with it empty of firewood.
    However, that still meant that some firewood needed to be cut up. Back when I was freshly recovering from my broken back, I had some local boys come and cut and stack some wood. My plan was for them to do enough to get me through April and maybe the first week or so of May. I figured at that point, I would be healthy enough to do my own cutting and also would be able to shuttle the wood from the pile on the driveway to the woodboiler using Big Red. 
    I ended up being right on the first case. I got the news from my Dr that I am cleared of restrictions and so doing things like cutting and stacking firewood could be done, but was wrong on the second point. The colder than average temps and snow storms in the past 4-5 weeks had not only buried the existing logs in snow, but had kept just a bit too much snow to drive the tractor from the pile directly to the boiler! Well, truth be told, around 7-8 feet of snow too much!  Ah, but not to worry. I fired up Big Red and used the backhoe to pull some logs out of the pile and make them easier to cut and then cut them up. I then used the ATV to shuttle the firewood from the log pile to the wood boiler. All I needed was a camera crew and it would have made a perfect episode for the reality show that is my life here in the beautiful Keweenaw! I have enough cut to get me through most of this week. I figure Mother Nature will help me out some in the next few days, by melting off the snow that sits on some of the logs on top of the pile and I can use the same system to keep replenishing the supply enough to get me through until I can finally cut up the whole lot and bring it over to the boiler once all the snow is finally gone.
    With Easter approaching and the weather pretty ugly yesterday, the girls used the occasion to color some Easter eggs. For the past few weeks, Gracie has claimed that Easter is her "favorite holiday". It will be interesting to see if that stands the test of a birthday, Halloween and the biggie... Christmas. But for now, I am believing her. How can I argue with this face and smile? She really loves the sciences. In fact, one of her favorite shows is "How it's Made" on the Science Channel and she just loves to try and invent things. I am hoping that by the time she is 14 she will have her first major invention in the books and I will be able to retire in 9.25 years! For now I will settle for watching the fascination she has for all things science, including how simple white eggs become colored.
    This morning, the big egg hunt took place. The Easter Bunny was pretty good to her, not only scattering eggs throughout the house, but also leaving her a basket of goodies, including the latest Tinker Bell DVD. I think the number of her collection of Barbie/princess/fairy DVDs is closing in on the number of my snowmobile DVDs. Right now, the girls stayed in their church clothes to go to an Easter Egg hunt at one of the assisted living centers. It was so nice out, they did not even need a jacket. The funny thing is, both Nora and I were commenting on how in just a month or so, 57 degrees will seem cold!
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. I will leave you with one funny Gracie-ism. Today, while sitting back down in the pew at church after taking communion, Gracie looked up at Nora and said: "Ahhh, that hit the spot"! Good thing the service is pretty laid back, as both Nora and I just cracked up for a few minutes at least!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
April 13-
    Spring has sprung across the Keweenaw! After all the snow the week before, the sun popped out and temps rose into the 40's and 50's and the snow melted all week. We still have a lot left, but by Tuesday, all that fell with the storm had melted and we chipped away at the old snow the rest of the week. All told, we went from the season high of 56" on the ground last Saturday morning to 35" on the ground this morning. 
    It's a solid 35" and it looks like this week will not provide much melting, maybe even some fresh snow by later Wednesday and Wednesday night, but I have to admit, it was nice to see spring appear and the snow start to disappear. It has been a long cold winter and everyone, including this snow lover, is ready for the warmer days of summer.
    Enough snow melted to uncover the driveway, which was good as now the tanker truck can get down it to deliver the 9000 gallons of diesel for the tractor. Just kidding! I don't believe I even ran the tractor all week. It has actually sat just where I parked it after moving snow last Saturday. Crazy huh? I might use it to pull up some big rocks in the driveway that stick up a bit. The guy that first put the driveway in used some pretty bad rock, too large of pieces. I was as green to the whole process as could be and when he asked if it looked good, I sheepishly said yes. 
    Now that I am older and wiser, I can say that we have had some #2 with fines put down in the parking area as well as across part of the driveway. #2 is mine rock that has been crushed down to the size of a quarter or so. The fines are stone dust that is mixed in and helps the gravel pack in tight and stay that way. I do plan to have some more #2 with fines brought in this spring/summer to level out the driveway and put a nice bed in for driving and also clearing and the tractor sure will come in handy for that!
    Most of the snow has also melted off the roofs. For the first time since November, we have roof showing in most spots. The only place where it is still hanging tough is on the screened in porch roof. No heat loss on that roof and, more importantly, it sits in the shade all day long. We have had some sizeable chunks calf off and slide towards the eaves. Irrefutable proof of global warming I think.
    A lot of snow melted, but things did not get way out of hand. Most night time temps dropped back below freezing and we also did not get any rain. That has allowed little to no flooding to occur. We are not in a flood zone and do not have basements to flood either. The buildings are built on piles of sand around 2-4 feet deep with pretty good drainage surrounding them. None the less, every year when I look out at 4 feet+ of snow on the ground, containing 5"+ of moisture in it, I get a little worried that this will be the year that we have problems. So far this season, the only "problem" as been the puddle that forms at the steps to the cabin door. That always goes away by morning as it drains into the ground. Nora has always wanted waterfront property and I tell her that every spring and after every heavy rain storm, we have waterfront property! At least for a bit. It is nice to have the entry at the foyer, as it sits a little higher and is also under roof, so it stays high and dry.
    Other signs of spring have been the arrival of some robins. It's funny, it is the state bird of Michigan, but does not even stick around all year long. If you ask me, it should be the chickadee, it is tough enough to stick it out all winter long, even up this way! Anyway, off my soapbox, the robins return is always a sign of spring around here and they are back and filling the air with their songs all day long. Another sign of spring is that just a few days after the snow melted off of them, some of the the strawberry plants have already greened up. Nora and I are both excited to get a nice huge garden going. Of course the tractor will play a big role in helping get that set up. Not sure if it will happen this warm season or next. Maybe even in stages. Nora has plans for lots of veggies and I am looking forward to berries. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. 
    Although signs of spring can be seen just about everywhere you go up here, there are still some places that look more like Siberia or perhaps the north/south poles. That was a shot of the big lake down by Eagle River. Gracie goes to AWANA on Monday nights and after dropping her off, Nora, the pups and I headed up to Eagle River to take in the falls and deer heard. The falls were still mainly encased in ice, but the deer were still hanging out. Here is the east end of a west-bound deer. Here is a shot of Nora and I taking in the evening sun, down in Eagle River. It's won't be too long we are heading down for some good bbq and maybe even an ice cream cone.
    On Tuesday, Nora had to get two teeth extracted, so I went along to be the chauffer and make sure she was fine. It felt weird to be the one doing the taking care of and not the one being cared for. She was appreciative, but I told her my efforts on Tuesday were just a drop in the bucket for all she has done for me and that is no exaggeration. Huck and Millie came along for the ride, as they actually are more comfortable and Hucky is more at ease sitting in the car for 6 hours than he is being at home along with Millie. Nora and I were cracking up as of all the places Huck had to kick back and relax in the Pilot, he chose Gracies car seat! He truly is one of a kind!
    I got back to work on finishing up the last of what needed to be done on the addition/remodel. I was able to get just about all the trim work done in the kitchen. I have just a few more small pieces to do. Then I need to trim out the doorway from Gracies bedroom to her closet as well as the doorway at the stairs. Then finish the doors and drawers for the kitchen cabinets and put some interior and exterior siding in the screened in porch and it will finally be done. I am under no tight time schedule to get any of this done and even though I would like to be all done with everything before the true summer weather locks in, it was very nice to be able to work at a relaxed pace this past week. Quite the difference from where I was a year ago at this time!
    So I guess that covers it for this one. Talk to you all next week!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
April 6-
    Well, this will probably be a short one as not much happened. Ha, Ha, just kidding. This entry will forever be known at the TRACTOR ENTRY! Yes, the tractor arrived as scheduled on Monday. The weather cooperated with dry roads so that the tractor could stay clean and the unloading could be done without being in messy weather. There was quite a bit of work to be done in unloading the tractor, getting things set up and loading the demo tractor up so it could go back to its temporary home at Land 'O Lakes Rec. I did manage to park my new one next to the demo for a comparison shot. Basically the same frame and body, just a bigger engine in mine, plus the cab. The white barrel in that last shot was a gift from Bruce, the owner of LOL Rec. It is for helping to fuel up the machine. He also included a hand pump in the package. So I will be able to toss the barrel into the truck, head to the gas station, fill up the barrel with fuel, then use the tractor to lift the barrel off the truck and the pump to fill the tractor. Pretty styling! Thanks Bruce!
    So we unloaded my tractor, got the demo loaded onto the trailer and then set about showing me how to unhook the loader and hook up the blower. There was a tiny bit of a learning curve for all of us, but all in all, it is a very simple process. The most important thing is to make sure that the surface is about as level as it can be when you do the change over. Then it is just a matter of inserting a stand into the loader. Pulling a few pins, working the loader off with the hydraulics, uncoupling the hydraulic lines and the loader is off. 
    The blower attaches to an undercarriage and we needed to make those connections first. That setup will stay together the whole time. Then to hook the blower up to the tractor, you just drive over the undercarriage assembly, hook up the hydraulics, use the hydraulics to lift the undercarriage in place, insert two pins in the front and one in the back and BOOM, it's time to go blow some snow! With a nice level surface and some practice, it will probably not take me more than around 5-8 minutes to do the change over and no heavy lifting is needed.
    So we got the blower mounted, ran through a few things and then I said good bye to the demo tractor that pulled me into this new adventure in my life and went in to have some dinner. I don't even remember what I had for dinner, but I don't think the food even touched my tongue and I was out the door to play....er.... work with the tractor! It does not get dark until around 9 pm these days, so there was plenty of daylight to use! So I climbed into the cab, fired it up and got busy using the blower to scrape the mat of snow off the driveway and send it flying off into the next county! Seriously, that blower is incredible! It scraped up the 3-5" slushy mat of snow on the driveway and shot it easily 50 feet. Never hesitating a bit. It even sliced into the 8-10" mat of snow we had at the end of the driveway. All without any hesitation.
    The next day was spent learning how to use he backhoe. I do not own the backhoe on the machine, it was loaned to me by Bruce so that I could demo it to see if it was a needed option.  I have never used a backhoe before, so the early going was a bit shaky. I knew it would be, so I practiced in a spot where no real harm could be done to anything and dug a tunnel in the snow for Gracie.
    Once I felt pretty comfortable using the backhoe, I moved the machine over to the spot where the snow was shoveled off the roof and piled up between the house and the driveway. I forgot to take a "before" picture of the snow I planned to clear, but here is a front of house shot from back in late March, with the area outlined in red. So I got the machine set in place, fired up the rear PTO and got busy using the backhoe to dig and pull snow out from the spot. I am proud to report that not a single bit of damage was done to the house! I did have to dig out as much as I could and then fire up the blower to move that snow and then go back to using the backhoe. The girls were on spring break and Nora was out having a well deserved "afternoon out with the girls", so that meant I had my foreman riding in the cab with me. I was a little nervous, but she took it easy on me as it was my first day on the job. She was even kind enough to go out and do the hand shovel work. In about a hour or hour and a half, we had quite a bit of the snow removed from the spot and I felt comfortable that we would not have any issues with flooding in the house due to snow melt.
   On Thursday, I gave Nora a little lesson in the fundamentals of the tractor. It is pretty easy to use, with the hydrostatic drive and other controls being pretty intuitive. It will be interesting to see if a battle develops as to who will move the snow in the future! All I know is it has gone from being a real drudgery to being a ton of fun and that she looks way better in the tractor than I do!
    I was really hoping for a chance to move a real amount of snow with the machine before the warm season really took hold and I got my wish as the snows started to fall late Thursday night and by daybreak on Friday, we had a solid 8" on the ground and it was still snowing heavily. I plan to build a "lean-to" off the front shop that will be fully insulated and also have a heated concrete floor to store the tractor in. It will not fit in the current shop as the door opening is too low by a few inches. Plus, I would really like a dedicated space to store the tractor and it's implements. So, I first had to brush the 8"+ of snow off the tractor before I could get busy clearing the drive. I was wishing that I could have just waited to let the snow pile up to it's full depth as it was suppose to continue all day Friday and into Friday evening, but we had a couple of deliveries happening on Friday, so I did clear a path from the road to the parking area. Later in the day, during a brief lull in the storm, Nora did shoot a little video of the machine in action. My apologies for any sore necks from viewing the video, but she shot it in portrait and I could not figure out how to rotate the video. 
    One thing that is so amazing about the whole setup is the sheer power that the tractor/blower have. I was eating into around 12" of settled and slightly wet snow in that video and the machine did not hesitate at all. I figure that it will take me around 10-15 minutes to clear snow off the driveway and parking area in just about any snowfall we get. This winter it has taken me around 1-1.5 hours with an average snow and as long as 2 hours+ in the bigger storms. That and I will be moving the snow in the comfort of the heated cab, all while listening to my favorite tunes, as the tractor came pre-wired for a radio, so I went and picked up one and installed it on Thursday!
    Early Saturday morning, while it was still dark, the skies cleared and the winds dropped and that combined with the fresh show allowed our temps to drop off to around 9 above by 8 am. That is when I went out to move the 4-5" of snow that was on the driveway from my evening clearing. So I sat in the cab, in my pajamas, listening to tunes and actually had to turn the heat down in the cab so that I would not overheat, all with the air temp at 9 above. Did mention that this thing will be so awesome to move snow with?!!!
    So I think that about covers it for the tractor talk for this entry. I am sure that there will be plenty of other mentions in future journals, as I lots of plans for it in the warm season as well as the cold.
    As mentioned, we got a pretty healthy snow this Friday. It really did not start in earnest until around midnight Thursday and when I work up to start work at around 4 am Friday we had around 4-5" on the ground. I was pretty busy working, so I did not follow what was going outside too closely, other than at one glance outside, everything looked foggy, even though it was still dark, so I figured it must have been really dumping. It was, as by daybreak we had a solid 8" on the ground and it was still snowing pretty good. We did have a brief lull in the snow Friday early afternoon. It did not stop snowing, but did back off a bit, but then picked up in intensity later Friday afternoon and evening and by the time all was said and done, we had picked up 14.5" of new snow. Not the biggest storm we have ever had, even for April, but still a pretty good storm.
    During the afternoon on Friday, Gracie, the pups and I went outside to play in the new snow. I climbed up on a snow bank formed by the snow sliding off the cabin roof (it has already cleared from the storm) and snapped this shot of a little dip in the snow caused by the septic tank. Behind the one propane tank is another, fully buried in the snow and that is our peach tree, nearly half buried in the nearly 5 feet of snow on the ground. Saturday morning I measured 56" on the ground, 4" shy of 5 feet on the level. That was the deepest depth of this season (so far!) and also the deepest depth I have measured since moving up here from Lake Linden. It may also go down as the deepest depth I will ever measure up here in April, but I hope not!!! :)
    Anyway, looking around at all the snow and the landscape was pretty impressive. The shop is all but completely buried in snow and things that would normally be sticking up out of the snow at this time of the year are buried deep in the snow. It sure will be interesting to see when the snow finally all melts around here. I am actually ready for it to be all gone. I really cannot play in it and got my chance to use the tractor and blower to move a healthy amount of snow, so I am ready. I just do not want it to melt too fast or combine the melt with snow as that would lead to some flooding issues- probably not with us, but others, but the poor locals have really had to endure a nasty winter and everyone is ready to shed the winter coats and enjoy the bugs!
    But back to Friday afternoon. Gracie saw me up on the banks and decided she would climb her way to the top and see what there was to see. She got to the top and eyeballed the shop roof. Gee, I wonder what was going through that little fearless 4.5 year olds head?! She did wade over to the eave and tried to climb up, but there was a pocket of air underneath the snow at the edge of the roof and was not able to.
    Saturday had Nora taking another well deserved break from the homestead and attending a woman's retreat in Eagle River MI. Gracie and I headed to town to run a few errands, including checking out the new Tractor Supply Store we have! I figured since we have a tractor, we had best make our presence known to the good folks at that store! Pretty nice place. They had some chicks and baby ducks for sale that Gracie got a huge kick out of seeing and I picked up a battery powered grease gun. There are lots of grease fittings on the new tractor and implements and the is always the snowmobile and ATV to grease too, so that tool will help to ease that chore a bit.
    We got back to the homestead and it was a beautiful day out, with cobalt blue skies and temps in the low 40's, so we and the pups went back outside to play in the snow. The pups were actually the first to climb the bank and for some reason headed right to the shop roof. I am not sure why, but I do know they were watching Gracie try to get onto it the day before and I would not put it past them to have a little bit of "sibling rivalry". In any case, the snow had settled enough to allow them to hop up onto the roof. Grace saw that and wanted some of that action, so she got over and climbed up. Of course it was not enough just to get onto the roof, my little daredevil had to see how high she could get. So through trial and error, she worked her way up through the snow and ended up making it all the way to the top of the snow on the roof. Beyond that, things got a little more slippery! I told her that come summer, she will stand on the bare ground, look way up onto the shop roof and think to herself that she was all the way up there!
    The pups also had fun exploring the "tunnels" created by the snow coming off the roof and the side of the shop itself, as did Gracie, although I did not let he to to some spots that would have been a bad situation had the snow decided to come off the roof. After that, we decided to head over to her playground to see  how things were there. Still a bit of snow there too and the slide just did not have the same feel to it.
    I cannot express how nice it was to be out and about yesterday afternoon, with the sun shining and temps in the low 40's. I cannot even imagine what the first sunny and 60 degree day will feel like. This sure has been a cold winter and one that seems like it just does not want to end. We are at the time of the year when the deck really starts to get stacked against winter weather, but I also remember last year! Huge storms in April and taking my last ride May 14th!
    The pups seem to really be enjoying the warmer weather as well. On the sunny days, they will just sit on the snow and relax, taking it all in, as if they are working on their tans or something. I realize that the pup pics have been somewhat missing for a while and I am going to try my best to start getting more in, as I know there are a TON of dog lovers out there and this summer should be a fun one with quite a bit of free time. In any case, here is a nice close-up of Millie the hunter dog and Huck the lover boy. Today there was a tiny bit of sunshine out and temps were flirting with 50, so before sitting down to write this entry, the pups and I snuck out for a tiny bit. The woods are starting to see the critters wake up. This afternoon a red squirrel was chirping, so Huck and Millie bolted across the parking area and bounded up a huge bank of snow to check things out. I am not exactly sure how they managed to jump up this bank, but they did!
   In other news, Rt 12 came to pick up this years loaner sled. Incredibly, it only had 534 miles on it! All this snow and that is all I was able to ride! Mostly due to the fact that it was just too cold and partly due to being busy...but mostly cold! Here is to hoping next winter is a tad bit warmer. Not too warm though!
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. I have just one more picture to share with you. Since I was lucky enough to get a brand new tractor, I figured it was only fair that Gracie got her own too. So today we put it together and here she is playing with it.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

 

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