Oh Deer!

‘Twas the journal before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Well, except for a red squirrel that got into the garage this morning and made ma shriek and then yell “You Get Otta Here!” at it. Then Bleau came running to see what all the commotion was about and then proceeded to bark at it. Otherwise, it is pretty quiet around here!

It’s been a hard week to smile through with the melt down the first half. It started out innocently, just as many multi-day thaws do. We had little snow loss on Monday, more settling than anything. Even our snowy roads were snowy when I returned from a trip to Marquette in the evening. Tuesday was warmer, more humid and the overnight temps decided to remain above freezing as well. That took a pretty good chunk of snow off the ground.

Wednesday and Wednesday night was the final nail in the coffin to get rid of all of our snow here in Jake. We were about the only ones that I know of that went to totally bare ground. Areas like Houghton and Hancock dropped to just a few inches on the ground and areas like Calumet and Mohawk shrank to around 8-12″ on the ground. We did not have much precip during the day on Wednesday, a bit of drizzle from time to time, but never really amounted to anything. Wednesday night was a different story. Thunderstorms rolled through during the middle of the night and rattled everything. There were some strong winds that blew with the storms, but we hung onto power. Our rainfall with the storms was around .25″, but some other areas in the Keweenaw did pick up around .50″ and Copper Harbor picked up 1.13″. Temps were also mildest Wednesday and through Wednesday night. In fact it was still 50 degrees at 1 am Thursday.

As the saying goes about making lemonade when given lemons, Nora, Grace, Graces friend Flora and I took advantage of the mild temps to put up the boards for the ice skating rink in our backyard. For a first time project of this nature, it went very well. I had the girls help me move the 2×12’s to their general location and they also helped me get the first 2 walls straight and perpendicular to each other. Nora then went into bake treats for all of Graces teachers and Grace and Flora went out into the woods to explore. I was able to finish up the rest of the boards without issue and before the sun even set, the rink was ready for its liner and then water.

It’s 70×35 and will make for a nice sized rink. Two years ago I also did an ice rink, but really struggled to get it good enough to skate on. I learned a TON that year and so far that education by fire has paid off. I have a single sheet of plastic to put down. Two years ago I used several, which just let the water leak through. I also did all the flooding myself, using the shallow well we have in the back yard. It’s called a cask well and is basically a 2 foot in diameter clay pipe that does down to the water table and then beyond around another 10 feet, depending on where the top of the water table is. It refills pretty nicely, but did not hold enough water to even come close to being able to put much more than a think layer on the entire rink. This year I am having a contractor come with his tanker truck and will use that to literally flood the entire rink with as much water as it takes to produce a solid layer in all spots. I will then be able to use the well water to resurface. I plan to have it flooded this week, so watch the AL Cam for the action. Plus the skating once it is done!

I also did get both the AL Cam and Woods Cam working again and the girls moved the deer feeder in front of the woods cam and I will be setting it up to feed the deer either later today or tomorrow. A third camera will be added to our humble abode. It will be pointed at our bird feeders. All these cams are live streaming, so you will be able to watch us skate live, the deer feed live and the birds eat live. I hope that the last two can provide some relaxation to those stuck in a stressful office all day. 

On Thursday morning, the cold front blasted through and our temps fell from a high of 50 at 1 am to the low 20’s by late in the day. Those cold temps were helped in by some of the strongest winds the Keweenaw has seen in some time. I do not have a list of all the wind reports, but I did hear reports of over 50 mph in most areas and a few of 70mph winds occurring. The winds did take down power in many areas of the Keweenaw, the western and central UP. We first lost power around 7:30 am and it was out until around 11:30. That recovery only lasted around 30 minutes and we were out again. This time until around 7:50pm. As the temps dropped, Nora built a fire in the fire place and we did have a propane fired wall heater in the utility room. The both of those kept the house pretty warm. The shop has an automatic standby generator, so it was business as usual there.

On Saturday, I did go to town and was able to see the culprit for our first power outage. A tree came down on a line right near the Dreamland Bar and managed to snap on of the poles holding the lines. They were able to do a quick fix by just bolting the broken top part to the top of the remaining pole. Obviously that will be repaired in full very soon. I do not know where the second outage occurred, but it had to be a pretty big transmission line, because once it was fixed, all the outages in Lake Linden, Bootjack, Rabbit Bay, Jacobsville and up into the Traprock Valley suddenly came on at the same time. I really have to comment the linemen at UPPCO. This is not the first time that they have had to deal with massive outages in the Keweenaw and will certainly not be the last. Most of the fixing also has to be done in very nasty weather. Can you imagine having to be up in a bucket, working around powerlines in winds of 50-70mph and snow falling?! They sure do deserve every dollar they make and perform their duties with pride. I have never heard a single one complain about the conditions they have to work in. They wear that like a badge of pride. They are the cowboys of our time.

The couple of inches of snow and strong winds on Thursday did help the Laurium Glacier to put on some pounds. I have driven past it a few times this early winter and had not really seen much growth, but on my way to Calumet Saturday I stopped to take a picture of it in pretty good early-season form!

The drive back home from all of my Saturday errands brought me into a beautiful winter wonderland as I drove south down Jacobsville Rd. I even stopped on a little turn off and took a very short walk down a snowy two-track going into the woods. The snow was not deep, but was as white as fresh snow can be. The silence of the woods was inspiring too. Causing me to just slowly meander my way down the two track and admire the beautifully frosted woods. All the while listening the flakes hit the ground, the trees and my jacket. I also stopped to admire the macro world of fresh snow in the forest. If you look closely at that last picture, you can see individual snow crystals and some of the different forms they take.

Unfortunately, after taking that short little foray into the woods, I was driving down Jacobsville Rd and was about 2 miles from the end of it when out of the woods a large deer decided to run across the road, directly in my path. It’s in an area known for deer, so I was already going slower. I did hit the breaks and steered a bit to the right to try and avoid it, but it was on a mission and did not slow down or adjust its course and I ended up hitting it. It was a large deer and made a very solid thump when it hit, but I did not hear any glass break, nor any crumpling of steel and was surprise to see that the only damage was some small cracks in the drivers side headlight lens

I did not stop, as it was snowing, the roads were snow packed and I did not have a safe place to pull off. I did see the deer end up in the ditch of the far side of the road. It was laying there with its legs up and not moving, so I assumed it was dead. Once home, I did put a post on Facebook about it, in case a local had not yet harvested a deer for the season and wanted it for food. Nora’s cousin responded, but by the time he got there, the deer was gone. So either it did not die, or someone else harvested it. I have been driving for nearly 40 years and had never hit a deer until this season and then I have hit two in exactly one month! Hopefully that will be it for a while!

Not much else going on. The weather looks to bring us some snows this week. A system for Tuesday has the potential to bring us around 4-7″ of fresh snow. The rest of the northern 1/2 of the UP and northern 1/4 of MN look to see those snows, with lighter amounts of 1-4″ in central MN, the southern UP and far northern sections of WI. Late Wednesday and Thursday sees another 1-2″ possible for northern MN, the UP and northern sections of WI/lower MI and then a Christmas Day low holds the potential for 3-6″ in NE MN and much of the UP, with a couple of inches in northern WI. 

Earlier in the week I was approached by a friend who is doing a fundraiser for the Wertz Warriors. It is a raffle for a brand new 2022 Arctic Cat Riot. The tickets are $100 each, but only 250 of them are being sold, so you have a fairly decent chance of winning it! You can purchase tickets at M&M Powersports in Hancock MI or the Dreamland Bar south of Lake Linden in Bootjack. I have my ticket! So best hurry while there are still tickets available!

Have a Very Merry Christmas My Extended Family!

Good Night from the Keweenaw..