Archive by Author

Life on the Little Fork

21 Jan

By Jared

Thoreau’s Walden Pond.  Annie Dillard’s Tinker Creek.  Wendell Berry’s Lane’s Landing.  There’s a long and marvelous history of people communicating their love of the outdoors, respect for nature, and the joys of living in wild places, by writing about their specific place – and the adventures offered in the land around us.  While our blog is about more than just that, we deeply enjoy sharing the ways our family has come to love where we live.  It’s our life on the Little Fork.

The Little Fork River is a small, meandering river in far northeast Minnesota.  Its waters take shape somewhere east of our small town, and flow west for a while before absorbing the Rice River, then turning northwest and ultimately spilling into the Rainy River along the Canadian border.  It’s often finicky on our end, relying heavily on gurgling swamps and springs for water level as it gathers the momentum that will carry it into Canada.  It can quickly change depth several feet in either direction depending on recent rainfall or snowmelt.  We’ve swam in chest-deep waters after a downpour in June, and skipped through ankle deep trickles after a dry-spell in July.  It’s our lovely spot on the Little Fork, and it shapes the way we enjoy this place.

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Winter brings more stability, though not as much as you may think.  The ice forms at one level, but as the water depth gradually decreases, the ice becomes just a shell, and will sometimes pop and collapse where there’s no support beneath it.  And no amount of cold can keep the springs from doing their thing.  It’s currently -30 degrees on this clear January morning, but I can look over the bank and see fresh water spilling from the ground and sliding its way beneath the ice, ready to make the journey west and north.

We’ve spent the winter observing this river, learning about its moods and behaviors.  I’ve skied a few miles in either direction, noting the springs, soft spots, and beaver dams where the ice might be tricky.  We’ve got a pretty good grasp on the thing now, and can ski, sled, and explore confidently as we enjoy or frigid world.

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We woke last Saturday, and after enjoying our family breakfast, we bundled up to go enjoy the last morning of above zero temperatures forecast for several days.  I tied a few ropes together and hooked the sled to my belt.  Cait grabbed the camera and we set off up the river to spend the morning skiing and sledding.

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Our oldest child has been on a bit of a Narnia kick lately, so with a stick in her hand and her little sister at her side, she quite quickly decided that she would be the Queen of Narnia, her sister the Dwarf servant, and me, of course, the reindeer charged with dragging the sled around.  Caitlyn, by default, got to be Aslan.

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This is how we spent the morning, and by the time we returned home it was time for hot cocoa, a little lunch, and a Saturday afternoon nap.  This is life on the Little Fork.

An Ordinary Night in the Woods

11 Jan

Originally written for publication in the Cook News Herald; Wednesday January 2, 2013; By Jared

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A mentor of mine used to say, and I believe he was quoting Scripture in some vague way, “Never treat as ordinary that which has been consecrated to you.”  In other words, if something is special, treat it as such and don’t let it become mundane.

A few weekends ago my good friend and partner in youth ministry, Tom Burnett, led a trip into a remote area off the Echo Trail for a winter retreat in a rustic cabin.  We were joined by Tom’s son and five other young men from Nett Lake, and the eight of us trekked through the snowy woods with headlamps and backpacks until we arrived at the cozy, one-room cabin deep in the forest.

We arrived in the dark on Friday evening, later than conventional dinnertime, so without hesitation Tom started a fire in the wood stove for the duel purpose of warming the taco meat his wife had prepared and to establish the heat source that would sustain us through the night.  Meanwhile, a few of the young adventurers and I wandered our way through an un-trodden trail until we arrived at the sauna, somewhere between the cabin and the lake.  We kindled the fire in the stove and amply stoked it, though it would be a couple of hours before we’d return in our swimsuits.  Our headlamps then guided us to the lakeshore where we stepped out into the soft, snow-lit darkness of the vast ice field; the quiet solitude of the winter forest disturbed only by the conversation of friends.

Reconvening at the cabin, we filled our tortillas with meat from the cast-iron skillet and enjoyed our meal under the glow of lanterns.  Two of the older boys then dug through their backpacks and handed Tom packages of wild game they’d brought to share.  Tacos were followed by strips of delicious venison; and finally, the chocolate chip brownies we’d all been eyeing since arriving.  Our food settled in our stomachs and we collectively settled into the warmth of the small cabin while stories, jokes, and laughter flickered like firelight.

As the evening continued, Tom and I found ourselves in the sauna with the two youngest travelers.  We joyfully dripped sweat from our chins and occasionally slipped outside to flop in the snow or to collect buckets-full for eating and pressing against our faces in the heat.  When the fire waned we waltzed again through the darkness and this time found the cabin floor covered with high school boys sprawled out playing UNO between piles of sleeping bags and pillows.  More stories. More laughter.

Eventually we dowsed the lanterns and spread out among the bunked queen beds and spare mattresses, settling in for the night.  My experience in these sorts of settings is that this twilight time – the time in the darkness before sleep sets in – often fills itself with meaningful conversations and pressing questions from inquisitive young people.  This night was no exception.  As Tom and I lay on our backs we entertained questions about God, eternity, and the stories of our lives in which these questions become relevant.  Sleep captured the youngest first, but gradually the space between words grew longer until we all slumbered and snored until daylight filled the cabin.

The morning was spent wandering the woods, munching down pancakes smothered in tasty venison gravy, and listening for wolves howling across the wooded hills.  When it was time to leave we stuffed our backpacks and swept our way out the door, this time navigating our way by daylight on an oddly mild December morning.

“Don’t treat as ordinary that which has been consecrated to you.”  Perhaps this story would be better had we encountered a pack of ravenous wolves patrolling the lakeshore by moonlight, or been stopped by a slobbering troll beneath the Little Indian Sioux River bridge.  But this was an ordinary night in the woods in an ordinary cabin with ordinary folks.

However, it is precisely these sorts of experiences that are consecrated to us: Nights free from distraction and discord.  Nights where we can get down to the business of doing nothing.  Nights where we fill the spaces between us not with the endless noises that insulate us from one another but with laughter and warmth and thoughts about God.  Don’t treat them as ordinary.

Gymnastics Bar How-To

20 Dec

Repost: We still get frequent inquiries into the construction of our gymnastics bar, and some readers have asked some very good questions.  Thus, we’ve decided to repost with some added explanation and photos toward the end.  Also, read the comment thread to follow the discussion.

A number of people have inquired about how I constructed the gymnastics bar, so rather than answer each question individually, we decided to devote a post to explaining the gymnastics bar project.

First the materials:

The structure I used requires 6 – 8 ft. 2×4’s.  Head to your local lumberyard or check the rafters in the garage for all that lumber leftover from the last project.

You’ll need a rod for the bar.  I used a fairly heavy duty 1.5 inch dowel rod I’d gotten at a yard sale.  Like most things purchased at a yard sale, it came in handy one day.

To drill the holes in the vertical support beams for the crossbar to fit in to, I used a spade bit attachment on my power drill.  Spade bits come in a variety of sizes, just get one wider than the diameter of the dowel rod.

While you’re at the hardware store getting your spade bit, grab some primer and the paint colors you want for the bar.

…Oh, and some screws, you know, to screw everything together.

The basic procedure:

Disclaimer:  I am assuming a basic knowledge of carpentry when I give these instructions thus they are not as detailed as they could be.  If you need more insight, ask your next door neighbor.

First, make the support beams.  Cut three of the 8 ft. 2×4’s into 4 ft. boards.  You should now have six – 4 ft. boards.  Two of these boards will be your straight vertical supports and the other four boards will be the angled support beams that attach flush with the  edge of the vertical beam and flush with the ground.  See the picture for clarification.  I made these angled cuts with just a skill saw and they are kind of sloppy.  A chop saw is the best tool for the job.

You may now screw these sets together and you will have two structures that look like ‘A’s but with a vertical beam in the center extending beyond the diagonal supports.

In the vertical supports you may now drill your holes near the top of the vertical beam using your spade bit.  Drill the hole at the same height on each support, this ensures your bar will be level.  I didn’t drill the hole all the way through each 2×4 but I did drill about on inch deep into each support.

You should now build your rectangular base that the support beams will screw in to.  I built my base 6 feet long by 4 feet across, thus cutting my boards to these lengths. Screw these boards together into a perfect rectangle.

You may now set your A-shaped support posts onto the rectangular base.  These supports should sit directly across from each other, centered on the 6 foot long sides, thus there will be about 4 feet between them.  Decide exactly where you want these to sit on the base, and mark accordingly before screwing down.  Based on where you decide to set your support posts, you should now be able to calculate the length to cut your bar.  Remember the bar will sit about 1 inch deep into each support post.  Factor this in when measuring the distance across between the posts.  Cut the dowel rod accordingly.  Figure it out.

You should now have made all your necessary measurements and cuts.  You can screw the whole thing together if you want, but you may need to assemble it all in the room you plan to leave it.  it doesn’t fit easily through doors.  And yes, I would even put a few screws through the vertical posts into the ends of the bar, just for good measure. (As you can see, I painted mine before screwing it into the base, no big deal).

NEW INFORMATION:

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As you can see, I added two screws through the post into each end of the bar. This should keep the bar from twisting. One might also fill the space with wood glue if necessary.

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The above photos show how I increased lateral support by extending a post out perpendicular to the frame, aligned with the center support.  I then ran a support down diagonally from the center support to the additional board on the ground.

Prime and paint.  (Oh, and you can putty the screw holes is you want, but only if you’re trying to impress your daughter’s friend’s dad.)

Have fun!

Make the Most of your Compost

14 Jul

Caitlyn mentioned a few posts ago about the gleeful wonder we experience each year when reminded that gardening actually works!  There’s something remarkable when seeds, sun, and soil miraculously add delightful things to our dinner table.  It’s a childlike joy I hope we never grow out of.

In the same way, I have become obsessively fond of the miracle involved in composting.  I have yet to become tired of watching my coffee grounds and cucumber peels (and lots of other stuff) magically transform themselves into dark, rich, organic compost.  If the idea of compost is lost on you then before you read any further, check out this older post I did for our friend over at ittybittyimpact a few years ago.

Anyway, if you’ve tried your hand at composting and are now looking for ways to use that black gold, here’s what I’ve been up to:

First, when we transplanted our peppers and tomatoes into the garden, I carried a bucketful of compost from the bottom of my bin (this is where the darkest, most decomposed matter can be found) and mixed several handfuls of  compost to the subsoil around the roots of the plant as I set them in the garden.  The compost then functions as a fertilizer, adding nutrient rich matter to the dirt around the plants.  The compost also provides and retains moisture so the soil around the plants doesn’t dry out.

Notice the little “gardener” snake enjoying itself

Then, just last night I filled my bucket again with piles of stinky, succulent compost, but this time, rather than adding the compost beneath the soil I simply piled the compost around the base of the plants as mulch.  This is an important technique as the growing season progresses because the top layer of soil can get quite dry and hard in the dog days of summer, but the compost helps retain moisture and keeps water from simply beading and running off the dry ground around the plant base.  The compost also minimizes erosion around the plants and gradually releases nutrients into the soil like fertilizer.

Compost is dirty.  It sometimes stinks a little like poo.  It is made out of rotten food.

But it has somehow become one of my favorite things about gardening, and I’m tickled by the idea that my jalapenos and tomatoes are being fed by the scraps of things that once fed me.  And will soon feed me again.

Rain Barrel Tutorial

2 Jun

Since the rain barrel post seemed to spark some interest, and it’s a relatively easy do-it-yourself job, we thought we’d post a tutorial.  So here goes:

First, obtain all needed materials, most importantly, a large barrel (or several of them).  Probably the easiest thing to get your hands on will be a 55 gallon drum from a nearby farmer.  If the farmer is nice (which most are), they’ll even cut off the top of the barrel for you.  I obtained all three of my 55 gallon drums and the big 330 gallon tank from farmers and people who live out in the country.  However, I also see them for sale on craigslist occasionally; so if you live in the city, chances are someone in the metro area is trying to get rid of some big barrels.  Your final option is to buy a pre-made rain barrel from some big box like Menards or Fleet Farm, in which case, you can stop reading now and go shopping.

Once you have your barrel, gather the other tools and materials.  You’ll want a drill and a spade bit for drilling the hole; a hose faucet valve with two washers and a nut; and some silicone for caulking around the valve.  My bit was 7/8, which drilled a hole just big enough for the faucet to stick through.  If you’re confused at this point, just stare blankly in the middle of the hardware aisle until an attendant asks you if you’re feeling okay.  Nod, “yes” then explain that you are making a rain barrel and need the necessary parts.  If possible, pull out your smartphone and show the attendant the picture from this post and have her find the equivalent parts.  This is, in fact, the most difficult part of this project — navigating the intensely confusing hardware store aisles looking for something other than spray paint.  Make sure the washers and nut fit perfectly around the threaded part of the faucet piece.

Anyway, hopefully at some point you make it back home with the things you need, and can begin the fun part.  Hook up that bit to your drill and position it a few inches from the bottom of the barrel.  Don’t worry about needing to fit a bucket under the faucet because you will want to elevate the barrel off the ground on blocks or stumps once you are finished.  Now, go ahead and drill your hole.

Great, now take the faucet, the washers, and the nut, and prepare to fasten the faucet to the barrel.  The first thing you should do is press a ring of silicone around each washer and set one of them aside.  Position the other washer over the hole you just drilled, and then take the faucet and stick it through the washer and hole.  

You’ll then want to press another bead of silicone in the seam between the washer and barrel, and another bead between the faucet and washer.  Basically, you’re going to caulk with silicone wherever there is a seam between parts.

Fantastic, now, lay your barrel on its side, being careful that the faucet stays in place, and prepare to crawl inside the barrel with the other washer, silicone, and the nut and in order to fasten the faucet with the nut.  Bead the silicone on the washer and place the washer around the part of the faucet that sticks into the barrel.  Now hand-tighten the nut along the threads.  Again, bead the silicone around the washer and the nut — don’t be afraid to use your finger to smooth the silicone around the seams.  It also works good to have your children beat on the barrel with their popsicles, treating you to the acoustic wonders of a 55 gallon drum.

If you are not satisfied with how tight you were able to get the nut by hand, it wouldn’t hurt to get a vice grips and a wrench to finish the job.  Use the vice grips to hold the nut in place on the inside of the barrel, and then get someone else to tighten the faucet from the outside using a wrench.  As you tighten you may see more silicone squeeze out from the washers; again, use your finger to make a smooth ring around the pieces.

Once you are satisfied with the tightness of the faucet and nut, and you have adequately caulked the seams with silicone, you are basically done with the barrel.  The silicone will need several hours to set, so don’t plan on letting water into the barrel the same day you complete the project.  In the meantime, you want to make sure your gutters are in good condition and your downspouts are positioned for your barrel.  You may need to cut one of your downspouts or unscrew a few joints to reposition the downspouts (but don’t stress too much about this because gutters are pretty cheap).

When you’re ready, position the barrel with the downspout running into it, and set the barrel up on blocks or stumps.  This allows you to fit buckets underneath the faucet, and it raises the faucet so that gravity will work with you, forcing water through your hose when the barrel fills up.  It’s a pretty nifty deal.  Lastly, you may want to find a board or some sort of screen to set across the top of the barrel to keep critters from climbing into the water and drowning.  And be sure to not let young kids climb on the barrels or hang over the edge.

Enjoy your project and happy gardening!

April showers bring…

16 Apr

Hello there, Jared again.  Remember a few posts ago when I mentioned that I was looking forward to re-invigorating the gardening portion of this blog, but we have to be patient here in the Northland because March and April are far too unstable for any significant outdoor gardening?   Remember that?

Well, the past 24 hours are a perfect example of why northerners must twiddle their green-thumbs even while the April sun blazes bright and the frogs harmonize and the loons wail across the waves.  We mustn’t be fooled.

Yesterday afternoon featured heavy rain showers mixing with high winds to create a stormy spring evening, perfect for a bowl of chili shared in a warm kitchen with friends.  The forecasters were mentioning that overnight enough cold air might filter in to bring us 2-4 inches of the white stuff.  Nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year.

But this is what we woke up to:

 

 

And to top it all off, the power has been out since sometime before 2 am, so with the house getting cold and no cookstove to make a hot meal, we barreled down the drive and made it out to the highway so we could head into town.  Oh, the adventures of the Northland.

 

 

A Discussion about Food

4 Apr

Hi, Jared here.  Yes, the sun has blazed its way through the snow piles, the ducks are slowly re-convening in our varied wetlands, and the wood frogs are creating quite a racket as they breed in the marshes near our house.  Spring is here, but the layer of frost on our porch and the nip on our toes as we walk through the grass suggest it’s not quite time to bust out the gardening gear yet.  The reality is, as mild as this winter and spring have been, the hard freezes here in far northeast MN can last until almost June.  Patience, Patience, Patience.

In the meantime, Cait and I have been following an entertaining and fruitful discussion over at our friends’ blog, Itty Bitty Impact about local farming, pigs, and food justice.  I think it’s worth linking here, so please stop over — and be sure to read the comment thread to follow the engaging discussion regarding sustainable and equitable food and farming practices.

http://www.ittybittyimpact.com/pigs/

What to do with All that Venison

24 Feb

 

We live in deer country, and thus one of the most accessible, local, and natural meats around is venison.  Neither Caitlyn nor I currently hunt, but through our network of relationships, (i.e. the local wild game butcher who happens to be a good friend), we have been able to obtain a plethora of venison that continues to last us through the winter.  Admittedly, the abundance of venison in our diet can lead to a sense of food monotony, thus we continually look for new ways to prepare and serve venison.  Our latest idea:  Venison Fajitas.

I defrosted a few venison steaks and then let them marinade in a homemade brine consisting of hot pepper juices, garlic, salt, pepper, habanero sauce, and whatever else I felt like splashing together.  The spicy, acidic marinade added quite a zing to the gamy flavor of venison. 

Once my steaks had adequately bathed (after about a day and a half) I was ready to throw together the fajitas.  I chopped my green peppers and onions, minced a little garlic, and halved some grape tomatoes.

I let the green peppers, onion, and garlic cook for a while before adding the tomatoes so as not to turn the tomatoes to mush.  Meanwhile, I cut the steaks into strips and then added them to the skillet with the veggies.   As the meat cooked, I stirred in a fajita spice mixture to coat the veggies and meat.  Mine came out of a packet but in the past we have made our own with basic spices like paprika, chili powder, crushed red pepper flakes, and cumin.  Delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the meat cooks to the desired level, simply plate the contents of the skillet into warm corn tortillas and gobble them up.  It really warms the innards.

 

 

 

Gymnastics Bar How-To

8 Feb

Repost: We still get frequent inquiries into the construction of our gymnastics bar, and some readers have asked some very good questions.  Thus, we’ve decided to repost with some added explanation and photos toward the end.  Also, read the comment thread to follow the discussion.

A number of people have inquired about how I constructed the gymnastics bar, so rather than answer each question individually, we decided to devote a post to explaining the gymnastics bar project.

First the materials:

The structure I used requires 6 – 8 ft. 2×4’s.  Head to your local lumberyard or check the rafters in the garage for all that lumber leftover from the last project.

You’ll need a rod for the bar.  I used a fairly heavy duty 1.5 inch dowel rod I’d gotten at a yard sale.  Like most things purchased at a yard sale, it came in handy one day.

To drill the holes in the vertical support beams for the crossbar to fit in to, I used a spade bit attachment on my power drill.  Spade bits come in a variety of sizes, just get one wider than the diameter of the dowel rod.

While you’re at the hardware store getting your spade bit, grab some primer and the paint colors you want for the bar.

…Oh, and some screws, you know, to screw everything together.

The basic procedure:

Disclaimer:  I am assuming a basic knowledge of carpentry when I give these instructions thus they are not as detailed as they could be.  If you need more insight, ask your next door neighbor.

First, make the support beams.  Cut three of the 8 ft. 2×4’s into 4 ft. boards.  You should now have six – 4 ft. boards.  Two of these boards will be your straight vertical supports and the other four boards will be the angled support beams that attach flush with the  edge of the vertical beam and flush with the ground.  See the picture for clarification.  I made these angled cuts with just a skill saw and they are kind of sloppy.  A chop saw is the best tool for the job.

You may now screw these sets together and you will have two structures that look like ‘A’s but with a vertical beam in the center extending beyond the diagonal supports.

In the vertical supports you may now drill your holes near the top of the vertical beam using your spade bit.  Drill the hole at the same height on each support, this ensures your bar will be level.  I didn’t drill the hole all the way through each 2×4 but I did drill about on inch deep into each support.

You should now build your rectangular base that the support beams will screw in to.  I built my base 6 feet long by 4 feet across, thus cutting my boards to these lengths. Screw these boards together into a perfect rectangle.

You may now set your A-shaped support posts onto the rectangular base.  These supports should sit directly across from each other, centered on the 6 foot long sides, thus there will be about 4 feet between them.  Decide exactly where you want these to sit on the base, and mark accordingly before screwing down.  Based on where you decide to set your support posts, you should now be able to calculate the length to cut your bar.  Remember the bar will sit about 1 inch deep into each support post.  Factor this in when measuring the distance across between the posts.  Cut the dowel rod accordingly.  Figure it out.

You should now have made all your necessary measurements and cuts.  You can screw the whole thing together if you want, but you may need to assemble it all in the room you plan to leave it.  it doesn’t fit easily through doors.  And yes, I would even put a few screws through the vertical posts into the ends of the bar, just for good measure. (As you can see, I painted mine before screwing it into the base, no big deal).

DSC_5108

As you can see, I added two screws through the post into each end of the bar. This should keep the bar from twisting. One might also fill the space with wood glue if necessary.

DSC_5110 DSC_5109

The above photos show how I increased lateral support by extending a post out perpendicular to the frame, aligned with the center support.  I then ran a support down diagonally from the center support to the additional board on the ground.

Prime and paint.  (Oh, and you can putty the screw holes is you want, but only if you’re trying to impress your daughter’s friend’s dad.)

Have fun!

Grouse Story

19 Nov

Neither Caitlyn nor I have a hunting license, and we’re actually young enough that it’s required we obtain a firearm safety permit before we can even buy licenses, so our first fall in the Northland we’ve had to forego the time-honored and culturally-revered tradition of hunting.

Sure, there’s a sense that we’re missing out on something.  When every weekend the ditches and side-roads are lined with trucks and four-wheelers, and hunting shacks are full of men and women adorned in blaze-orange with a rifle in one hand and a case of Miller-Light in the other, we can’t help but think, “hmmm…people must get a kick out of this whole hunting thing.”  And every time we’ve passed a grouse crossing the gravel road or a deer grazing in the neighbor’s field we’ve said, “I wonder if that thing knows it’s going to get shot soon.”

Just the other morning we were munching on breakfast when I noticed a sizeable bird alight in the branches of the large crabapple tree in our backyard.  I ran to see what it was, and to my surprise there was a grouse teetering across the bare arms of the tree, nibbling on crabapples.  We watched it for a while and Caitlyn snapped a few pictures, and that was it.  It flew away after a few moments and that was all we thought of it.

The next morning as Caitlyn and Aleah walked into the kitchen early in the day, they heard what seemed like a football slamming into the tall windows facing the lake.  Caitlyn came back to the room heralding the news of the grouse’s unfortunate confusion between our unfriendly windows and the friendly branches of the crabapple tree.  (And yes, grouse are considered a less-than-intelligent bird.)  She asked me to walk outside and see if there was any chance of reviving it, so of course I obliged…in my underwear and slippers.

The grouse was feasting on voluptuous, juicy crabapples in bird heaven by the time I got to it, and so I left it on the deck and said I’d take care of it when I came home for lunch.

It didn’t take me long to find a 60 second “How To” video on YouTube for gutting and cleaning a grouse as I sat in my office that morning, so I returned home for lunch with a plan.

This story is about to take a slightly more graphic tone as I share my first experience with cleaning a game-bird, so if at this point you think it would be in your best interest to simply reflect on my previous comments about bird heaven, by all means, stop reading.  For everyone else, let’s move on.

On my drive from the office back home for lunch I made a conscious decision not to wear gloves to clean the grouse.  The guy in the video was doing it with his bare hands, and I wanted the real experience, the real feel of feathers and bones and muscle.

My first task, to put it gently, was to separate the bird’s head from the rest of its body.  This was, in fact, the part I was most apprehensive about.  It seemed so savage, and well, uncivilized, but I figured if I could do this in one swift act of barbarism then the rest of the cleaning would seem rather mild.  I picked up the grouse, head in one hand and body in the other, and I yanked hard and effectively.  The grouse now lay in two pieces…one with eyes and one with wings.

My next task was the most amusing.  Apparently, to gut a grouse one only needs to lay it on its back, open its wings, step one foot firmly on each wing, and then grab it by the feet and pull it upward, evenly and firmly.  Remaining in the snow then was each wing (firmly beneath my boots), and the grouse’s breast.  I should also mention at this point that when I gutted the grouse, a number of freshly gobbled crabapples came spilling out into the snow.  It was a lot like cleaning a fish that still has minnows and worms in its tummy.

My last task was to simply break each wing away from the main torso and then pull away any remaining feathers.  After doing so, I was left with the wonderful breast meat of a northland grouse.  I took the meat inside, separated it from the bones and washed it, and then set it in the fridge for dinner.

We don’t celebrate the fact that a beautiful wild game bird crashed into our window and lost its life; in fact, we have window clings on our windows to keep this sort of thing from happening.  But it happened, and it prompted us to learn a little more about the creatures we share this land with and the goodness they can provide.  I like grouse.  I like the hollow rhythm they create as they drum their wings deep in the woods, I like their markings and the way they can disguise themselves in the forest, and I like the way they taste.