Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cabin [Mis] Adventures

You may read this post to the tune of Gilligan's Island. Do you remember how the captain and his crew set out for a three-hour tour? Well, the Captain and I set out for a quick trip up the mountain to check on things at the cabin. It was to be a short trip, so I didn't even pack an ice chest of food. A quick toss of some bananas into a grocery bag and the purchase of some Bing cherries at the food mart along the way were our lunch to tide us over until we got home again. The trip up the mountain was beautiful. Except for a few patches in shady spots, the snow is gone. Each week more varieties of wild flowers are in bloom. The hills really are alive with songs of birds and the hum of bees and crickets.

We arrived to cozy cabin, but trouble at the fence-line. It seems that next week the free-range cattle will be arriving on the mountain top, and the zealous cattleman who must keep them out of the watershed decided that he didn't want to repair any fences and chose instead to put up a single electric wire to keep the cattle where they belong for the summer months. That's not a problem, but his crew decided that it would be easier to take down fences along the route rather than build one of their own. To Brent's great dismay, he found the entire fence along the north border of our property destroyed. Wire cutters had randomly snipped barb wire and left it in pieces along the fence-line. Our top strand of barb-wire was still up, equipped with hot wire fittings and ready for electricity to be applied. Although this method might keep the cattle out successfully, it doesn't work for zealous 4-wheelers and any party animals from the valley below. Brandon and Rylan were equally dismayed when they heard the news. A summer's work from a season past was so swiftly destroyed without thought or consultation. Brent decided that the best course of action was to rebuild our fence --- before the cattle arrive.

He set to work with diligence, having to find pieces of barb-wire and bend them together again. Of course it couldn't all be put back together with what had fallen, so trips into the woods to one of our old fences were considerable as he recycled stretches of barb wire from that fence to repair the new. Of course a brand-new roll of barb wire was at home, but he hadn't realized it would be needed, so left it there in storage.

In addition to the fence the crew tore down, they eliminated trees along the way that they thought were in their way. How sad! Brent and the boys had carefully worked around these trees when they built the fence, but now more than a dozen were chopped down and scattered along the way. Years back we had selected one tree to cut down for Christmas, but had such hard time with the thought of any of them being cut that we've bought our Christmas trees ever since. Now someone comes along and randomly cuts them down without a second thought. Many were three or four times larger than any normal Christmas tree. We must be a family of tree-huggers, as we seem to enjoy and value nature in it's natural and intended state.

Coco thought she was in heaven! She stuck near the fence builder as Brent worked. Her nose was busy sniffing here and there as she searched for squirrels and other woodland critters. Sometimes she strayed too far, but was always quick to return when called.

Our lunch of cherries and bananas was supplemented with canned soup and crackers from the cabin cupboards. It's really quite fun to put together a tasty meal from the pantry. I felt like one of the "Boxcar Children" as I figured out what to make for a creative lunch out of 'nothing'. [If you haven't read the "Boxcar Children", you really must!]

While Brent worked on the fence, I decided to plant a package of mountain meadow seeds. In an old bucket, I mixed soil and seeds together with care. They were then scattered over soil on the point in the picture below and raked so they could meld with the earth.

This 'point' is being restored and this spring there is a considerable amount of green growth. But three or four years ago this was a huge hole in the dirt, as the previous cabin occupants chose to keep salt blocks there for the elk. It truly was 'Elk Point' as the elk dug and snorted and relished the salt (and the salty earth). Although we love elk, we decided to put a salt lick farther away from the cabin, as along with elk in such close residence comes a very strong odor! Brent filled the hole in with fresh soil and we've let nature do it's thing. . .until now when I decided that my seed packet could help it along!

Brent's fence building was exhausting work. This happened to be a day-trip and the boys hadn't come along, so they couldn't be called upon for assistance. I decided Brent needed a snack for energy! I had fun scouring the cupboards, seeing what I could find to prepare. Hot tea, roasted nuts, and dark chocolate satisfied perfectly.

Remember my previous post about 'fried eggs and toast'? I decided to try one of the 'eggs' out and see how it worked. Perfect! Having a scouring scrubber and dishcloth all in one is a mighty handy thing! I wish my thrift store find would have come with pattern instructions so I could make more!

With the perfect weather, I decided that washing dishes outside sounded more fun than inside. Wash basins and a dish drainer on a mesh picnic table provided the perfect setting in the woods for this task. It's amazing how quickly a pile of dishes can be washed and dried in such a setting. No drudgery here!

After dish washing, I decided to check on Brent's fence building and headed down the road and around the bend to where he was working. I was decidedly surprised when a honey-colored bear ran across the road right in front of me, lickety-split! He ran off towards the cabin and I'm sure beyond. He was in a great hurry to get somewhere else! Snakes are not my thing, but bears are fun to observe as long as they are going in a direction away from me. But I will admit to a bit of concern when I discovered Brent's jacket on a stump in the woods but he was nowhere to be found. He showed up eventually, as he was examining the fence line and charting his course of repair action.

The routine at the end of a cabin visit it to tidy up and put things in order. After dishes were put away, floor swept, and dusting done, I was ready to go home to the valley below.

I even hung the dish towels on the tea cart with care.

But Brent had other ideas. The fence must be readied, and by nightfall he wasn't done. The night must be spent and another day of fence work completed before we could head back home. Did I mention that the sheets and pillow cases were also at home in the valley below? Hmmm, but we can improvise. Cozy quilts and fluffy blankets served their purpose well and we slept in the cabin attic in the quiet woods. The silence woke me up a few times and I peered out the window to starry skies and the moonshine's ray in the cabin woods.

A note so you don't think we'd leave let our [adult] children worry about our whereabouts. We took a trip half-way down the mountain to obtain cell phone coverage where we called and let them know we'd be home a day late. The sunset was worth the journey. . .although it doesn't show up in this picture well. But, look closely. Can you see the volcano in the distance? It's probably about 200 miles away and can only be seen at sunset on evenings when the atmosphere is just right. It's always a treat for me to see!

All ended well, but the fence is only two-thirds done. The cattle man and Brent had a long talk the next morning --- in a very neighborly fashion. All is resolved. Our fence stays up and the cattle man will put an electric ribbon fence strand up along the road. And he even agreed to bury it underground at our entry way so we don't have to go through two gates to get onto Paintbrush Lane. Stay tuned for the next saga of cabin adventures. Hopefully they will be quiet and serene!


  1. What a bummer about the fence! I can't believe they didn't ask y'all about it first.
    OH, how I LOVE bing cherries!! I'm drooling here!
    Glad your egg scrubbies came in handy. The cabin is so quaint.
    Is that Mt. Rainier?

  2. I am a woodlands/meadow kind of gal and I loved seeing more of your cabin and the land surrounding. It must be hard to leave there sometimes! I was going to guess Mt. Rainier as well but it is so hard to tell one from another when you only see the "bump"!

  3. Reading your post was like reading a novel - you have a wonderful way with your descriptions, I really enjoyed your adventure.

  4. Every time you take us along for a visit to the cabin I want one, too! After a weekend away beside a quiet lake I'm ready to leave the 'city-life' behind for some peace and quiet. I can't believe the way someone treated your fence and the trees. Your views are breath-taking and I love the sunset picture with a peek at our famous volcano. ~Adrienne~

  5. You really must write that book!! You have such a way with words and descriptions. I love the way that you can get a tea party in wherever you are!! I am so sorry about the fence and the resulting hard work for Brent but did love visiting you at the cabin!!

  6. Well, I'm sorry about the fence adventures, but all else sounded dreamy- except maybe the bear. Such a beautiful place and I can almost hear the quietness.

  7. I always enjoy reading about your cabin. Even though your setting and some of the situations are different, I can relate many things to our cabin in Michigan. The biggest difference is that you allow three hours for a round trip and we allow a day-and-a-half just to get to ours.

    The fence story sounded like it was straight out of the Old West. Glad it was easily resolved.

    Beautiful scenery.

  8. Thank you for the beautiful pictures you made to show us your life!!!

  9. I just love looking at your cabin scenery! What a lot of work with the fence. Your snack looked so lovely in the afternoon!

    Aaahhh...thank you for that peaceful break.

  10. Anonymous7:10 PM

    There is a similar "scrubbie" pattern here: http://members.aol.com/SAG55/scrub.html
    (sorry, I can't remember how to insert a link)

  11. I've been here before, but wasn't coherent enough to leave a comment. I love these photos and have looked long and lovingly at the one with the two snowflake print mugs with chocolate and a mountain backdrop...so nice. I want it to be a calendear photo for November or something.


Thank you for commenting on my blog post. I am always happy to hear from blog readers. Your words encourage and inspire me. I am glad you stopped by to share conversation, recipes, ideas, and thoughts on creating a welcoming home.