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"Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful."
- Unknown

"That which does not kill you, makes you stronger."
- Handed down through the ages.

"Life's tough. It's even tougher when you're stupid."
- John Wayne

Loggers and Logging

I know I haven't written a decent update in ages. My apologies. My free time has been filled with a humming scanner and sorting through box after box of old family photos. You may have noticed that I've been working a bit on the family history links on our Swamp River Ridge homepage . . . and that includes posting old pictures. :)

But on to the subject at hand. As I mentioned a time ago, a logger and his crew have been working almost directly across from the end of our driveway this winter (photos 1 & 2). Well, Tom started going down to chat with them, and we found out a very interesting, useful tidbit! For the bargain price of a $25 permit, we can haul up to 12 cords (that's TWELVE CORDS) out of their cut (of wood they've agreed to put aside for us)! Up here, in the land of heating with wood, that's a HUGE amount of wood for, basically, free.

So, in his "free time" (ha!), Tom had been making trips down with the 4-wheeler and small trailer (see 3rd picture) . . . until one of the two tires on the trailer blew. Fortunately, my folks took pity on us, and came out on Sunday for a couple of hours of woodworking. After the four of us cutting and hauling nearly all the wood that was (currently) ready from the logging site, my dad and Tom felled a couple of standing dead along the driveway (photo #4). Mom helped them load the bucked up trees into the pickup while I went inside to make dinner: Buffalo Whip-Up*.

[* We bought 50# of bison this fall and have been enjoying it since. I make casseroles - or hotdishes, depending on which part of the country you're from - with the meat, and each one is different. Hence the name 'Buffalo Whip-Up', and 'Buffalo' because it sounds a heck of a lot more interesting than 'Bison Whip-Up'. Although, my husband - with an air of hauty authority, if I do say so myself - informed me after one of the latest of these creations that it could only be 'bison' (domesticated) since our ancestors slaughtered all of the (wild) buffalo. Point taken. Still, 'Buffalo Whip-Up' sounds better.]

But, back to the loggers. On Saturday, I made a double batch of Jam Dandy Muffins for breakfast and sent half of the batch down with Tom on the 4-wheeler with a full thermos of fresh, hot coffee. On Monday, the loggers drove up to the house at the end of the day to return the Tupperware and thermos. We got to talking, and the old logger, a 67-year old who heads the operation, gets up at 3:15 every morning! And, true to form, by the time our alarm goes off at (a moderate, I guess!) 6:00 AM, we can already hear their equipment warming up! So, a little under two hours to get morning chores done at home and a sturdy breakfast in the belly, and then an hour drive out to the job site . . . and it's 6:00 before you know it! Ouch! The other "ouch" - and this one is even more painful: even though loggers never have any money to speak of, a lot sure does pass through their hands! This particular man, for running his operation on a 6-day-a-week basis (sometimes seven) spends . . . are you ready? . . . $12,000 a month on fuel. That's TWELVE THOUSAND a MONTH! Loggers are notoriously poor and notoriously hard-working. But, even if they're not working "for themselves", they generally get to work fairly independently, choosing their own (long) hours, and breathing the fresh air that they love. It's a helluva Catch-22, though, isn't it?!

Tom and were both a bit "off" today. Having to get the plow truck down to Superior, Wisconsin for transmission work, he'd looked at his schedule and decided today was the best day for him to be gone from work. So, we were up and dressed and all packed up for the "big day in the city" - me with my 3-page 'to do' list - and the truck wouldn't start. It was -20 this morning . . . a 50 degree drop from yesterday morning's unseasonable 30 above. And, there were massive winds which brought the windchill down to -54 or something like that. Exposed skin freezes in 10 minutes in weather like that (so I heard). Anyway, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda: it was cold. And, the truck agreed. Despite soothing words and cajoling, it just wouldn't fire. Despite being hooked by jumper cables to another running vehicle, it just wouldn't fire. Despite the engine being warmed up by the salamander heater and some ingenious wind-blocking on Tom's part, it just wouldn't fire. After Tom wrestled with it for an hour, we finally gave up. No "big city" trip for us today. It will have to wait for a warmer day. We did get up to -10 today, though, and the winds have abated.

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