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Another Mysterious Burrow


We have been seeing a new critter in the pit at the House On The Hill  and became mostly sure after consulting  my North American Wildlife book and Wikipedia that it was a pine marten or a woodchuck (aka groundhog, aka the critter who lies about winter almost being over EVERY. YEAR.), yet it moved like a beaver. However, when the trail cam captured the photo below, we all got a little nervous, thinking a woodchuck might not be the only new neighbor.

badger, woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

I tried and tried to zoom in with all the photo editing software at my disposal, but this grainy crop was the best that I could do; he was just too far away.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

I don’t know about you, but that looks like a badger to me. This made us all nervous, because badgers will eat your face off! (Plus, they don’t care; they don’t give a SHIT. This link goes to the Honey Badger video, but they are closely related to the regular badger, whose link is here.)

Then another mysterious hidey-hole appeared behind the barrage. (That’s a barn/garage combo.)

hidey hole

getting this shot made me nervous, because on

This was a little closer than I should have been, but the only way to see the hole through the equisetum. Threw out my ankle some, too. You’re welcome.

ANYWAY…I had managed to get a few grainy shots of this little guy with the Canon, so when I found the hidey hole I placed the trail cam on it to be sure it was him living there, not a badger.

woodchuck

 

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

He or she is very cautious, pausing regularly to stand up and take a look- and sniff- around.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

She or he seemed to have gotten used to us, and even has a shortcut through Squirt’s playhouse. The white metal to the left is his gate.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

Hiding in the Lupine…

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

And in front of the barrage.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

These are my favorite facts from  the wiki link.

  • weighs up to 10 pounds
  • burrows are up to 46 feet long and five feet or more underground, with several exits
  • the average woodchuck (groundhog) moves 35 cubic feet of dirt when making a burrow
  • they are perfect for Hep-B -induced cancer research
  • they do NOT chuck wood…the Native American word for them just sounds like “woodchuck”
  • that does not stop people from yelling out my back door, “Hey you dang woodchuck! Stop chucking my wood!!”

Which may or may not have something to do with why we haven’t been seeing it up as close to the House on the Hill, but did show up on the trail cam when we placed it near Pajari Pond. But that’s another story.

You wanna watch that Geico commercial now, don’t you? So do I.

PS: Do you have a trail cam? What kind of creatures have you seen on it? I’d love to see the pictures!

We’re Baaaaaaack!


Losing Cook Dollar Barn was one of the worst experiences we have lived through. It wasn’t just a store; it was an important social hub for the Pajari Girls, and our little town, too. Every day, the list of people and things we miss gets longer. And when people told us that there must be something even better around the corner, we KNEW they were lying.

Now, we are headed back. Back in “A Barn, if not “The Barn”.

So here’s the scoop: barring zoning, insurance or licensing issues, Her Highness The Queen of Poo (Lois) is hoping to open the Peterson family homestead as a petting farm/ event location this summer! Can we get a whoop whoop??

farm barnherd, pony, llama, goat, sheep

farm, barn, cat  

great pyrenees, dog, boy, farm

walli, corgi, dog,

goat, farm, pajari girls

alpaca, farm, pajari girls

pony, farm, horse. girl guinea hens, fowl, poultry bunny, rabbit, zip, hens, chickens, farm, eggs Flemish Giant, rabbit, bunny donkey, the farm, pajari girls

Rooster Noodle Soup


I am very nervous around poultry.  (See “Guinea Monsters From Hell”)   And I used to hate cooking. So this Martha Stewart-esque-ness is new to me. I have been growing, canning, cooking, drying and freezing food a lot more the last few years. Now, being unemployed AND on the Low Child Support Diet has encouraged me to do even more, and to do it better. It’s been a slow process, and many people have contributed along the way. Here are two that I remember.

One of my favorite bloggers is Jackie  Clay.  (Check her out here. Chop chop!) We are lucky to have this awesome lady in our community, and I have learned so much from her books and blogs about living off the land in this area code.  I subscribed to her blog for several months before I even attempted canning on my own.

I vaguely remember Anthony Bourdain saying that the poorest people had the best-tasting food, because their seasonings could make even the cheapest cuts of meat and other ingredients taste good. That’s when I started growing herbs, tomatoes, etc. in containers and finally a garden.

As I mentioned, I am scared of live poultry; however, they are delicious, especially roasted with organic herbs that we grew here on the hill. Growing rosemary, sage, celery leaf, red onion, garlic and thyme makes me happy.  So as long I have Lois and Jill next door to raise chickens, I will cook them.

omnom, thyme, sage, celery leaf, rosemary, funny farm, organic

By the way, does anyone know why when they are alive they are hens & roosters, but as soon as the heads come off they are just chicken?? Same with cows, bulls, steers, heifers, and beef… What the hell?Roosters, Funny Farm, Pajari Girls, Food, Soup

I believe it’s important to know where our food comes from.  I like that the chicken (fka: rooster) was grass-fed next door, not in a cramped factory “farm.”

Rooster, Banty, Food, Pajari Girls, Funny Farm, chicken

And better yet, the next day I made the leftovers into soup and paired it with homemade bread.  Note to self: next year, grow a LOT more carrots and potatoes.  As far as fast, cheap and easy goes….it was super cheap and really easy…two out of three isn’t bad.

omnom, rooster noodle soup, chicken noodle soup, homemade soupPS: Thank you Ant, for the title! You’re right; Rooster Noodle Soup sounds way better than Chicken Noodle Soup.

Bear Photos


We had some excitement on the hill yesterday. Ant (Danny’s buddy and Spare Spawn)  was the first to notice our visitor. Click on the first pic to start a slideshow.

And then Mama Sharon and Papa Willard stopped by!! He told us black bears can sprint up to 30 mph, so we kept our distance and he modeled his new hat. 🙂

BEAR 078 BEAR 080

Dancing in Graveyards


I made a Fairy Cemetery for Halloween this year. It seemed appropriate, considering what a year of loss 2013 has been.

I’ve always liked cemeteries. We grew up close to the Cook (Owens Twp.) Cemetery. Micki, Melissa, and I would meet there on bicycle and ride around the circular drives, marveling at the children’s stones and looking for relatives.

When we got older, Lois and I would take dad’s pickup for an unauthorized joyride, we’d be forced to go to the cemetery’s circular drives (because it was a standard and finding reverse was tricky.)

As an adult, I spent some time mapping, cleaning, photographing and transcribing stones at a few small local cemeteries for a genealogy project.

This year, unfortunately, has been a year of visiting friends and loved ones at Hillside, a beautiful local resting place. And you know what? The closer I get to 40, the more names I recognize on the stones.

Saying Goodbye--Harley and Katherine 017

Saying Goodbye--Harley and Katherine 023

This year we lost Karla A., Katherine L., Vanessa C., Cindy P., Mrs. Oles, Rich W., & Dave B., and others in our little town. And though they are not human, the loss of Mr. Stinky Droolface and Mad Bird and The Dollar Barn has been hard, too.

If you or someone you love is grieving a loss (and really, who isn’t??), maybe something here will help:

Delta Rae, Dance in the Graveyards is a song our friends Kris and Dan shared with us. It helped them; it helps us. I hope it helps you, too. Please, please, please watch the video!! “When I die, I don’t wanna rest in peace. I wanna dance in joy. I wanna dance in the graveyards….And while I’m alive, I don’t wanna be alone, mourning the ones who came before, I wanna dance with them some more, let’s dance in the graveyards.”

Bertram’s Blog is about grieving, and I have found the author’s writing to be empowering and soothing.

It also helped me to be able to know that all these fricking FEELINGS will pass. It’s all part of the process. Check out The Five Stages of Grieving. Chop chop. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance will come and go, usually when you don’t expect it.

This week, I started decorating for Halloween. I don’t feel like it. I hurt physically and emotionally, but am trying to do something I would normally do were I not grieving.

So back to my Fairy Cemetery… A year ago, I found this lovely old Planter’s Peanuts cookie jar (it was probably my grandma’s), and decided it would make a lovely terrarium for my Venus fly trap, Audrey Two. This year, I found some Halloween miniatures and added them to the terrarium for Halloween. Fast, cheap, and easy. And it makes me smile,

fairy cemetery, fairy garden, grieving, loss, venus fly trap, terrarium, halloween

fairy cemetery, terrarium, venus fly trap, pajari girls, halloween, graveyard

As usual, thank you for reading. If you found this useful, pass it on. Like, Share, and/or Pin at will.

Loveyabye.

Cook Dollar Barn Update


Cook Dollar Barn

Dear Friends,

We can’t believe it’s been a month since we lost the Barn. It feels more like a reeeally long week. There are some questions that we can answer for you now and some we can’t… here goes.

First, THANK YOU!! For all the kind thoughts, prayers, hotdishes, hugs, cards, money, volunteerism, and general awesomeness.

When will cleanup start? Sorry to say, it will be weeks or even months. Until all insurance companies sign off, the scene is to remain “unspoiled”. Please stay back, and keep your kids off the rubble as well.  There is a 4,000 square foot basement filled with water and debris. If you see anyone messing around there, please let one of us know. Or call 911. Believe me, we are anxious to clean up what’s left of River Street Rentals, Cook Dollar Barn, Gilley’s Naturals, and the homes of 8 friends. We know it…

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Losing The Barn


BarnFire 063

On June 17, 2013, Cook Dollar Barn, Gilley’s Naturals, and 8 apartments went up in smoke. Everyone got out ok, including Middle Spawn and another tenant who were the only people in the building at the time. All the tenants are clothed and relocated, and the fire has been ruled an accident, though the actual cause may never be known.

It’s hard to write this. I have been trying for two weeks to put into words all the gratitude, love, loss, devastation, hope, and countless acts of kindness. But grieving is a lot of work.  I can’t focus very long on any one thing, and my emotions are all over the map. So today I decided that instead of waiting for my brain to catch up to my heart, I would just take it a day at a time and blog about it all.

For the first week or so, we were in denial. I know I was, anyway. That’s ok though, because denial is a useful coping mechanism. It let my brain kind of run on auto-pilot while necessary arrangements and calls were made. If I’d tried to deal with all the emotional stuff, I’d have lost it. Honey Badger helped. We all became a little more like Honey Badger on YouTube.

Until yesterday, I was in the anger phase of grief. Not just testy. Boiling, seething, almost ready to hide bodies angry. Which is exhausting and scary. Plus I think it was Shark Week. Did I mention I quit smoking two weeks before the fire?

Then I visited a friend in hospice and depression kicked me in the face. Another loss…. A total stranger held me in the hallway and told me how sorry she was that my friend was so sick, while I cried so hard and from such a deep place that I almost couldn’t breathe. It’s the first time I have really cried since the building burned. (I’m the emotionally stunted one; Lois somehow manages to cry a lot and STILL get stuff done.)

And wow, is there a lot of stuff to do.

Insurance. There’s the insurance for the building, insurance for the store, lack of insurance for the 8 tenants, and insurance for the three businesses that could have easily burned with the Barn, but were nonetheless damaged by smoke and water. And our chimney and walls falling on it didn’t help.

And we aren’t the only ones grieving. For the first week, Lois pretty much showed up every day and sat and cried and visited with customers and friends whose hugs truly held her together so far. Every day, every trip to town is like another visitation or funeral. Not that that’s bad! I know it helps ME to hear people’s memories of The Barn, or the tons of other businesses that the former Brown Building housed. Seems like almost everyone has lived there at one time or another, too…

BarnFire 079

There is a Facebook page set up for the fundraisers the community is planning,  under Brown Building Fire Relief Effort. 

It looks to be one heck of a party for all ages. Live music, kids’ games, cotton candy, pig roast…wow!

Maybe tomorrow I will tackle some of the FAQ’s, like when cleanup can start and if rebuilding is an option. For now, thank you everyone who has helped during this super-sucky time.

Loveyabye,

Laura aka Employee of the Month.

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