I Have Been On Spring Break
For reasons, unclear to me, I have not been able to bring myself to sit down and post an entry for a week. I guess I just needed a break. My mind certainly has been full of ideas to post. A couple I may bring myself to writing down in the near future.
If I need an excuse I could blame it on the weather. It has been warm and sunny at last. Just lovely! I have been busy with some chores outside. There are so many more to do. Lucky our Spring season is long here so there is time before the lazy days of summer.
(click on photo to enlarge)
My small herd of pigs has been enjoying lying in the sun in front of the house. So far no one has stopped to ask to photograph them. Years ago, when I had my pet boar, Boar Ass, (Boris, if you prefer), people used to like to phonograph him. With pigs raised inside in Canada people do not often see pigs by the side of the road. Only local folks pass by this time of year and they are used to my quirky relationship with, and treatment of, animals. Come the tourist season, I may catch people straining to look at the porkers.
They will not see all this bunch, I am afraid. As much as I enjoy their company and antics, I have sold the young pigs, at last. They do cost a lot to feed. There is no money in raising pigs unless you have a source of cheap feed. These days with the price farmers are paid for their slaughter pigs they are losing on every animal. The price cycle in hogs swings wide. It never seems to be reflected in the price at the supermarket so you can assume the middlemen, the processors, are enjoying the profits that otherwise should be going to farmers.
I will still have the two "pet" sows, Ruby and Babe to amuse me and turn heads.
This is the time of year I like to check out the river. It is always full of water, although a long way from flooding. It never floods on my land as it run in a rather deep channel here. It is nice to see the open water and hear it slipping by. It is so cold and clear and clean. When the sun shines one might be tempted to plunge in for a swim. NOOOOOOOO! Hold me back. It is very cold and will be until the beginning of June. Some timid souls feel it is even too cold at the height of the summer but they are mistaken. It is glorious, refreshing and life enhancing.
I have mastered the fine art of floating on my back without moving. I have on occasion even fallen asleep in this position with my hands behind my head. It is a wonderful way to watch the clouds float by. Here I am dreaming of Summer even before Spring has worked it's magic.
The above picture shows a cedar lined bank of the river on my property down my the bridge.
I wish there were more but slowly the riverbank is slowly restoring itself adjacent to this stretch.
I have been watching in for 30 years increasingly brush and tree covered. On the other side, the north side, I encouraged this process with planting several thousand trees along the river.
And here is the bridge. It is completely on my property. It was installed after the flood of 1979 which took out the old bridge. It was not as high above the water. I used to always swim here in the best waterhole along the river, when Parker was young. (I now swim 1/4 mile downstream in front of the cabin).
The bridge is a big draw for the adventurous who like to jump off it into the middle channel of the river. In the Summer, on the near side their is a large boulder which shows above the surface to sit on, cavort around, dive off and whatever. To the inside of the boulder is an eddy current that float upstream as it circles around the boulder.
This is my field across from the house. You can see how the snow is retreating. It is largely gone around here but you can be sure there is still a lot of snow up in the bush in at the headwaters of our watershed in the Temagami Wilderness. The snow, lakes, ponds, beaver dams hold the water up on the land until it cannot hold it any more and them we could see a dramatic rise in the river, possibly a little flooding south of here.
I have been thinking about the Red River flood in Manitoba this year. Part of the flooding problem is man-made which is not often talked about. It is that the flat farmland is mostly tiled and drained such that the run off would be faster than normal. With a short growing season in the North it is important that the land be dried out early so that planting can be done. This is true for much of the farmland in the US along the Red River and other rivers that flow south into the Mississippi. There is a long history of flooding of the Red River. In the Hudson Bay company's archives in Winnipeg there is an account of one in 1828 written by Francis Heron. You can read the transcript of this account which almost wiped out the Fort Garry settlement at what is now Winnipeg. (The HBC archives is a remarkable record of the 300 plus years of the fur trade by the HBC. The managers of the outposts were wonderful record keepers.)
Before agriculture these grasslands would have held the water on the land in great wet seasonal marshes that would be habitat for migrating birds. It would slowly release the water into the rivers. Flooding would be a less frequent event. As a result, nowadays, people who want to live along the river must live behind dikes and be prepared to battle flooding frequently. Mother Nature is not easily redirected. We would all be better off if we moved away from rivers and restored forested and grassland habitat along the banks. It would have so many advantages from wildlife habitat to cleaner water to some flood control and water conservation. Sadly, not enough is being done to protect and preserve great rivers. With water shortages we are paying the price for abusing our rivers, among other water bodies.