pyranha micro 240

So, it doesn’t often snow this much in Skamokawa, but today I’ve had several inches of snow on the ground for days already, and more is predicted to arrive this afternoon. It is already about seven or eight inches deep in the pasture.

Alice and I went out to do some sledding, which usually gets done with garbage can lids at my house. When it rarely snows, you don’t own a proper sled. So we were scrutinizing the garbage cans again, when I suddenly remembered the whitewater kayaks! Perfect sledding substitute!

Alice at the top of the hill

It took a couple of passes down the driveway to get the snow nicely packed down, but then it worked very well. Too well, almost! On one pass Alice ended up under a rhododendron bush covered in snow, and on another pass she ended up in the ditch by the road, having just missed a small alder sapling.

Already being a kayaker, I knew a little better how to steer by leaning and bracing, but having no paddle, I used my bare hands for bracing, which worked alright until my last run, when I hand braced into the blackberry bushes on the side of the driveway… and then ended up flipping over at the bottom while leaning a little too hard trying to avoid the ditch.

All in good fun…and I’m still picking blackberry thorns out of my hands.

zooming downhill

at the bottom

me, going fast

If I had written a blog five years ago, it would have been all about logging, sawmilling and livestock. That's what was mostly going on in my life back then. I was running a portable sawmill full time, and had about two dozen Black Welsh Mountain Sheep and a whole lot of chickens. We even had a cow for a short time, and a few pigs one year. I spent a lot of my time driving up and down the Pacific Northwest coast with the sawmill, while my wife Shannon was holding down the fort here on our land in Skamokawa, WA and raising our daughters, Alice and Opal.

A lot has changed in those intervening years. I do still have the sawmill and continue to do small jobs with it from time to time, but it is no longer a full time job. I got back into boating and fishing, both childhood loves that had been left on the back burner for many years, and I got into kayaking in a big way, eventually making it into a full time job for part of the year. The coyotes discovered my livestock a few years back, and cleaned out the chickens right away. And between the neighbor's dogs and the coyotes, my sheep flock was whittled down to just a few animals a couple of years ago.

More big change came last year, when we decided it was time for our oldest daughter Alice to get some more formal education than the casual style of un-schooling we had been doing with her. The local high school didn't have much to offer a book-crazy, English major type, but the high school in nearby Astoria did. So Shannon got a job in the new Fort George Brewpub over in town, and rented a house over there for her and the girls to live in. Not only does Alice get to deal with the shock of having homework and early bedtimes, but she and Opal are finally getting some experience living in town, something neither of them had ever done. More can be read about their adventures in town, including a disastrous house fire in October, on Shannon's blog.

Along with all the other upheaval created by the move to two households, I lost my expert shepherdess Alice, who had succeeded in the last couple of years in keeping the coyotes away from the sheep. After teetering on the edge for several years, I finally made the decision to sell the sheep, as it isn't safe to let them out on pasture and it isn't economical to feed them hay. They should be moving to a new home in early February. For now, my livestock days are coming to an end.

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I learned computer programming back in 1978, when I was in eighth grade. The school had a Digital PDP 11, which was about the size of a small filing cabinet. It used great big 8" floppy discs and had a big red knob on the front for parking the drive head. There was a separate room with about a dozen terminals and a massive, sturdy line printer that would just about deafen you when it went off. We were programming in Basic, with line numbers and everything. Later on my family had a VIC-20, with a cassette tape storage setup. When I was in my early twenties I bought a computer for myself, a PC clone with a 4.77 mhz Intel 8088 processor that had a "turbo" switch that would boost the speed to 10 mhz. I could not afford the extra cost of a 20 MB hard drive, so I got two floppy drives instead. That computer cost me almost $900. I remember when Windows first came out, but it was hopeless to run it without a hard drive. Windows was up to version 3, I think, before I had a computer with a hard drive.

Today I live in a world of science fiction. I can sit here at my kitchen table in the country and access a world wide network of information at speeds that would have been unthinkable even 10 years ago, on a fast Mac computer the size of a spiral notebook that is so far past the PDP 11 or even the 8088 that you could hardly compare them in the same sentence. So, with that level of powerful technology at my fingertips, I decided to give blogging a try, and yesterday, I spent the whole day at the computer, learning just enough about MySQL and PHP to make myself dangerous, and I installed WordPress on my website.

On this blog, you are likely to find stories and pictures about kayaking, boating and fishing, kayak building, machinery repair and lore, rural life and maybe the occasional rant about something in the news that caught my eye. I still have a few farm-like things going on here on the land too: fruit trees and berries, shiitake mushrooms and maybe some hop vines this year. Hopefully it will be interesting enough to keep you coming back for more!