Winter Fun

Winter’s come early this year, and I’ve heard quite a bit of griping about it from the humans … it’s cold … it’s snowy … it’s slippery.  I say, it’s winter! It comes every year so I’m really not sure why they’re surprised or upset by it. Living where we do, it’s inevitable that it’s going to turn cold and snowy. Winter will arrive. No question. It’s just the when and how.

11-chico-insnow

A snowy start to November. This was on the 2nd.

In my opinion, just between you and me, my humans have gotten soft from their winters in the south. The first few inches of snow, the first day the thermometer drops to -10C (14F), they’re ready to head for the deserts of Arizona. They used to be a pretty hardy pair—skating in twenty below weather, skiing into backcountry huts, attending outdoor New Year’s Eve parties, rolling in the snow when hot-tubbing—all kinds of winter adventures. They’re still adventurous, just less so if it involves getting cold.

11-chico-winterfun-skiday

One of many winter adventures.

And I hate to say it but my old pal Logan is getting that way too. Well, you read his blog last week, Point Me South. He’s gotten soft in his old age. We went out for a short walk today and he was trying to pull all four feet off the ground at once. It didn’t work, in case you’re wondering. I have to confess that I also pulled a paw out of snow today when it was hurting, but just for a few seconds, and just the one. I hope T didn’t see or she might put me in the dreaded boots. I hate those things.

11-chico-winterfun-boys

Look ma, all four feet on the ground.

I’m usually pretty much a “live life to the fullest” kind of guy, and winter is no exception. In fact, I find snow kind of magical. One day there’s dirt and rocks and grass, the next they’ve all disappeared and there’s this wonderful fluffy stuff to run and roll and play in. What’s not to like?

11-chico-winterfun-snowywalk

Enjoying a winter walk.

 

And early snow means we’ve had a couple of ski days already. I don’t ski, of course, but T does and it means we go farther and faster and it’s all off-leash time for me. She tried the leash thing once but it was a bit of a disaster. I kept pulling her over. T’s been suffering with a nasty cold, but as soon as she’s better, we’ll be back out in the fields with the skis. Sadly, Logan can’t join us this year. The deep snow is just too hard for him.

11-chico-winterfun

Skiing west of the farm.

That’s the part of winter I’m not liking, watching my buddy struggle. We went out with T and Nollind to take down the horses’ temporary fall pasture fence. I went off exploring the south end of the pasture into the deep snow and Logan followed me. It was tough going because there was soft snow covered with a crust with more soft snow on top of that. He actually got stuck, marooned in this big expanse of deep snow. They had to go and rescue him with the Kubota. I’ll be more careful where I lead him next time.

11-chico-winterfun-meandlogan

Staying on the path made by the Kubota.

Merriam-Webster defines winter as three things:

  1. The season between autumn and spring comprising in the northern hemisphere usually the months of December, January, and February or as reckoned astronomically extending from the December solstice to the March equinox.
  2. The colder half of the year.
  3. A period of inactivity or decay.

Number 1 is technically correct, Number 2 is closer to the truth in Canada, but Number 3 makes no sense at all. Inactivity? Winter is definitely not a period of inactivity, or it certainly doesn’t have to be. Let’s go play in the snow!11-chico-winterfun-chico

Advertisements

Point Me South

Since I’m not a big fan of travelling, until now I didn’t quite understand the masses of people that drive south to places like Florida, Arizona and California in the winter. I mean, winter’s not that bad. I’ve always liked the snow. And it feels a bit like cheating. Not to mention, for us, with Sid in tow and dogs needing semi-regular breaks, it’s about 33 hours of truck time to get to Quartzsite, Arizona. That’s like driving to downtown Calgary and back 22 times! In a row!

11 Logan - Snowbird - truck

Truck time.

 

It’s also at least two overnights in the cold country which means the trailer slides stay in and I don’t have access to my couch. (Yes, I have my own couch.) We used to put the slides out, until a few years ago in Great Falls when it was -20 and the mechanism broke on the big slide. And, in addition to making do with a temporary bed on the floor, it’s cold! Sid is nice down in the desert, but really not built for the gauntlet of well-below-freezing temperatures we travel through to get there. The cold seeps in through every little gap.

And, it means four days of getting in and out of the truck multiple times, which I can no longer do unassisted, and I hate needing help. It means four days of not enough sleep. It means four days of being in fifteen square feet with Chico. It means four days of not being comfortable.

11 Logan - Snowbird - chico

Me travelling with Chico is a bit like an insomniac watching somebody sleep. 

 

When the talk first turned to whether or not we’d travel south this year, I was kind of hoping we’d stay home. It takes a lot out of me getting down there. And it’s so comfy at home. When my health was taking a turn back in early October, it sounded like we wouldn’t be going. I felt bad about messing with Teresa & Nollind’s travel plans, but I was kind of relieved.

And then I started to feel better and they started talking about travelling again. “Crap!” I thought. At least, that was, until winter arrived about ten days ago.

11 Logan - Snowbird - farm winter

Winter arrives on the farm.

 

Six years and four trips later, I think I get it. I understand why so many retired people, some of them quite elderly, make the journey south, despite having to run the winter gauntlet and endure many miles of travel.

Winter really sucks when you’re old. Your bones ache. You get the shivers easily. Navigating snow and ice is more challenging than it used to be. Winter is just not a friendly place for an old person … or dog.

11 Logan - Snowbird - thermometer

It’s been cold for November!

 

My feet always were a little more sensitive to the cold than Chico’s but this year it’s ridiculous. They’re cold as soon as we get outside! And the foot attached to my bad leg? It’s a bit like an ice cube in the house and hurts like the devil outside. Shaking it and biting at it don’t seem to help at all.

11 Logan - Snowbird - horse trail

Following a horse trail makes the winter walking a bit easier.

 

Okay, so Teresa puts boots on me. Aaah … so much better. Except, this year, the damn things make me trip. I did a full face plant into a pile of snow along the road the other day when I got tripped up by my Muttluks. Sheesh.

I used to need a jacket on the really cold days, like -20 and colder, to avoid shivering. Now I wear one overnight (in the house!) to stay warm enough.

11 Logan - Snowbird - post walk

Me after a walk in the snow.

 

And I don’t think I even need to talk about what it’s like to walk in deep snow or on ice with my increasingly wobbly legs. Just think about a dog wearing roller skates and you’ll be close.

Since winter arrived on the 1st of November, as I’ve been watching the V’s of Canada Geese and Snow Geese fly overhead, all I can think about is the desert. How 33 hours of truck time equals 100+ days of lying in the sun. How four days of getting in and out of the truck equals three and half months of walks on warm, dry ground. How four days of discomfort up front equals fewer aches, pains, and shivers for the rest of the winter.

11 Logan - Snowbird - desertwalk

One of many desert walks last winter.

 

It’s still five weeks until our planned departure date and, as I’ve learned in the past few months, a lot can change in that amount of time. But, at this point, I’m in. Point me south and call me a snowbird!

 

 

Writer’s Block

11-chico-halfdogI think that’s what you call this … writer’s block. Merriam-Webster says that writer’s block is “a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.” That sounds about right.

I spent all day yesterday trying to figure out what to write. Logan’s got it easy these days. Every couple of weeks he’s got at least one new ailment or condition to tell you about. Okay, maybe easy isn’t exactly the right word for what he’s got going on, but he’s definitely got things to write about.

I thought of writing about the arrival of winter, but that sounds a lot like what I wrote last time when I talked about having four seasons in one. But, just to update you, the cat house (aka Meowi) has been plugged in which signals the official start of winter on the farm.11-chico-meowi2

And then I considered writing about how I’ve been spending a lot of time hanging out near Logan, supporting him … but then this thing happened yesterday. I got a little rambunctious at the beginning of our walk in the afternoon and knocked him right off his feet when I ran into him. Oops. I went down too if it’s any consolation.11-chico-deckdogs

I also thought it might be time to start talking about our upcoming journey to the desert. Things are a little up in the air because of Logan’s health, but we’re planning to head out with Sid in tow in the middle of December. (I hope. I hope.) But that can wait. It’s still weeks away.

My dog park tales might have made a good blog post, but there just wasn’t enough to tell you about my two trips to the park. I met a few dogs, had some great play sessions, tired myself out to the point I was having trouble keeping my hind end upright but, other than that, not much to tell. Oh, and I just love small dogs.11-chico-dogpark

I could have told you about Logan’s great new bed they made for him right in the middle of the house. It’s near the heater, it has multiple layers, and it is just the comfiest thing on the planet. It’s awesome. He gets to sleep on it all night so I figure I should be able to spend some of the day there. Now that he’s feeling better, T and Nollind are less inclined to boot me off.11-chico-logansbed

It’s not much of a story, but I went along on Logan’s latest trip to the vet, and afterward, we ran some errands in Strathmore. I’m really happy for Logan that he’s travelling better, but his getting comfortable in the car seems to be taking up a lot more space than when he was nervous and wouldn’t lie down.11-chico-car

And then I considered writing a post on my recent role as trail dog when T took Storm out for a field ride. It is a super-important job and I think I did pretty well. It turned out there weren’t any partridges or deer to flush out, but, if there had been, I was on it. Don’t want them spooking the horse when he’s right on top of them. Although I have to confess, I did get distracted once and ended up being just the thing that spooked Storm when I came bolting out of the deep grass. I’ll do better next time.11-chico-horseride

So, here I am, still stuck. Maybe I’ll think of something to tell you about in a couple of weeks.