Lame Dogs and Englishmen

Both Neil and Homer, plus 2 of our 3 snow machines are injured. Neil’s wrist is slowly improving after our adventure last month but he is avoiding doing anything that might jar it.

We've had lots of snow

That includes chainsawing, limbing trees, splitting wood, driving a snowmachine, getting water, hauling logs, skiing and leaves not a lot. 

The sun returns

The dog is under “house arrest” in the hope his hip will heal. He is miserable as sin.

All we could do for a while was go snowshoeing, but without our bounding husky it felt a bit pointless. The scenery’s pretty and all that but, whatever...

Then I broke my snowshoe. That wasn’t a good day.

We are running out of winter to get the logs we need to finish our new cabin. We can’t get them in the summer as we have no vehicle to pull them out of the bush. So with Neil’s wrist still not better, we’ve had to crack on but with me doing most of the work.

Waist deep snow

We had to find 5 x 22’ logs to be our cap logs, purlins and ridge poles to support the roof, plus 10 more 19 footers to finish the walls. They all need to be straight. It is like trying to find a needle in a packet of ramen noodles. No, that’s too easy. We live in a windy spot so the trees twist and bend as they grow. It’s like trying to find a straight noodle in a packet of ramen noodles.

Hauling log up our ramp to the yard

Neil is a great help. He stamps the snow down around the base of the tree so I can get the chainsaw there. It’s a tough job. Sometimes he helps pull the log onto the sled by tugging a little with his left hand, then he does up the ratchet straps.

So all I have to do is-

Fell the tree

Limb it with an axe

Cut it into 22' lengths and then buck the rest to use as firewood
Haul it out of the brush (I'm using willows here to keep it off the ground)

Reverse the machine a million times backwards and forwards to get the sled in place and hitched on

Neil helps me roll the log on. Don't exhaust yourself Neil!

Haul the heavy log up our ramp. (Woah! Look at those skis coming off the ground!)

Get the log and sled stuck

Unhitch, then pull it from the top of the ramp where the machine has traction, with a long rope

Pull log onto the pile and then stack the offcuts

Phew. Neil’s exhausted after all that and needs a strong cup of tea whilst I sharpen the chainsaw.

Of course I’m doing it with such good grace and have only occasionally screamed “For fuck’s sake can you just lift the log it’s not a fucking compound fracture is it?”

We now have only one snowmachine running. Our Widetrak is still waiting for a new drive shaft coupler at our pals downriver. We can’t retrieve it until Neil’s wrist is well enough for him to drive it back.

I am not riding two machines for over 50 miles, whilst Neil plays passenger, sipping tea, and Homer snoozes in his travel box. I really do draw the line at that.

Piccolo our little Polaris 340 has also given up. Possibly because we took it swimming in January (read Ice cold wake up call). No one likes to go swimming in January and our little buddy got us home, made a couple of forays to get wood and then fainted.

We suspected the carburettors. Along with all my other chores I have now removed, stripped and cleaned them. With a little help from Neil, but mainly by the power of YouTube. I think my medal must be in the post.

Note to all my North American friends. It is carburettor not carbur-ay-tor. You’re saying it wrong. I’m an expert now

When we first moved here, I loved the idea that although we can’t earn much money, we could do all the things we used pay other people to do. Like mechanics, construction, hunting, fishing, making jam and yoghurt.

Checking the fuel pump

It’s funny how quickly you tire of these novelties. I’m thoroughly sick of all that and wish we could take the damn machine to a mechanic in town and buy KFC to eat on the bus home.

Journey to town in a snowstorm. Trail totally gone.

But I don’t fancy hauling it on a sled for 40 miles upriver behind our only working snowmachine with Neil riding pillion.

So I’ve cleaned the carburettors and adjusted the air screws and throttle cables. Temps have dropped to -33C which is too cold to be messing around with engines so I am basking in the lovely feeling that I might have fixed Piccolo all by myself.

Snowshoe walk to an old bunk house a few miles away from us

I can enjoy a few days of self-satisfaction before I get them back on and discover that all the fuss with spanners and toxic-smelling sprays has made no difference and it is back to YouTube.

There has been some good news, though, and things are looking up. We made it to town and I got cable to fix my snowshoe, plus the new coupler for our Widetrak had arrived by post.

Journey to town. Neil riding pillion

Even better, Homer is released! 3½ weeks of boredom on his chain or being too hot in the house has made no difference to his injury so he is free.

Gentle exercise would be good but Homer doesn’t do that. He does sleep, or racing around blindly bashing into things like a quickly deflating balloon. He may be lame but he seems quite happy.  

Exciting things under the snow

When Neil’s wrist is better, we will trek down to our pals again to try to fit the new coupler on our Widetrak snowmachine.

Snowshoeing with happy mutt and moose fat snacks

Our first visit resulted in us abandoning the Widetrak out on the river and them having to get it onto a sled and haul it to their yard for us. Our second visit, to collect the Widetrak, resulted in us getting stuck in overflow and them having to properly rescue us and our other two machines.

I can’t imagine what will befall us this time. Maybe we’ll be attacked by a pack of wolves and then get scurvy. I hope things will go smoothly. I’m not sure how much more of our friendship they can take.

Not a camera effect but a sun dog (like an ice rainbow) on the river

But whatever happens, right now me, the house and the Skidoo are all still standing and the generator, the chainsaws and the internet are running well so there is plenty of reason to celebrate. Or scope for things to degenerate, depending on how you look at it.

By my next blog, I’m sure I’ll have my medal for Outstanding Service Under Extreme Duress from the Queen. So lots of nice photos to look forward to and I may even make the local papers.

Update- Since writing this the weather has warmed and we have refitted Piccolo’s carburettors. They were not the problem. It was a faulty spark plug boot and a 30 second job.


  1. Everything pretty much back to normal then by sounds of it. Spring can't be too far off.....lots of opportunity for cock-ups then, no doubt!

    1. Hello L: I said I would update you on my subscription to your blog. This last post did not come through either in my Yahoo or into spam. Not that you need one more thing to pay attention to!! I check quite often for your new posts, but it would be nice to have them delivered (with my morning coffee). Ha.

      Here in Minnesota we are dealing with storm after storm. Today will have us at the record for snowiest February on record (over 33 inches this month). It looks like you have a lot up your way too.

      It's hard not to worry about you guys when you are having so many setbacks. Perhaps you might be snowbirds? You could always take your chainsaw with to Mexico and do repairs by the pool. I think you have certainly earned all kinds of medals--leaving behind the seven deadly sins, none of those for you!! You prove to the world that women are the strongest species. I admire your spunk and also send my best wishes to hubby for healing his wrist. And especially hugs to the brave dog. Northcountrygal J

    2. Thanks for your comments. yes, every season is full of it's own peculiar delights!

      Thank you for getting back to me, J about the mail out. Really appreciate it. Neil is the techie one so he is going to take a look today. he suggested, if you go to our facebook page and send us personal message with your email address (no one else can see it as long as you pm it) then he will try to make sure you are on the mail out.
      This is the snowiest year we've had so far. hope you're coping ok. Mexico feels very tempting and I would quite happily leave the saw behind! L

  2. Hello N and L: J here to let you know that I got your blog in my Yahoo mail. Thanks for tweaking that! If you have access to an account from "M" with an ICloud addy, that would be my friend who could not subscribe. I will tell her to try again. Another eight inches of snow yesterday so I am out to fire up the least you do not have to deal with four-foot ice banks from a big snowplow that have to be shoveled first so the ice does not wreck my snowblower. But I do not have overflow! Sigh. Life in the northwoods. Keep posting your wonderful pics and stories. J
    PS. here is a link to a blog you might like.

  3. Hi J. thanks so much for a alerting us to this. It was to do with file size so i may have to write a small file "advert" with a link for the blog for the mail out. We will look out for your pal's email addeess. Did they click the confirmation email? it may have gone to spam. We noticed we have a about 30 people that signed on but never verified their accounts. Good luck with that snow bank! L

  4. I ventured up there in 78 after the flood there was lots of work. Build a cabin up where the W. Dawson subdivision is now. Paid $0 except for the lumber which was 2nd hand from Clinton Cr. , insulation, rolled roofing, re-used widows...lived there for 24 just sold to Ades Sheer for over $200K...inflation

    1. We know Aedes and we know you're house! Great place, and yeah, inflation...


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