Wrestling a “Johnson”

Always kiss a fish on the lips!

An 11 pound walleye is tough.  A 6 lb. smallmouth bass is tougher.  Wrestling an 18 lb. Great Lakes salmon is as easy as reeling in a wide open, 15 horse Johnson outboard engine…it isn’t coming in until it is out of gas. 

Learning that you are not the fisherman you THINK you are is hard to accept.  Knowing that a rod has been in my hand every summer since my second birthday made this realization painful.  Salmon fishing kicked the living snot out of my “living country strong” …er, motto.  Come to think of it, have you ever heard a Chuck Norris fact involving salmon?  I didn’t think so.

The day started out well before dawn when the only sound on the water was the mystical clinking and clanging of gently rocking buoys strategically anchored throughout Grand Traverse Bay to mark a channel or navigational hazard.  Cutting through the water at night, depending only on radar and your captain’s skill, is like riding a roller coaster with no hands and no lights on.  A thrilling free fall.

Big water air smells fishy-fresh and fills your head.  Twin tsunami waves originate, rise up, and roll away from the port and starboard sides of the vessel as the bow cuts the water in half.  If the moon is full, a hint of white boat wake sparks at the stern.  Getting up at 4 a.m. is easy when this is the reward. 

With 25 miles to the nearest fuel dock my son, my Captain, started to wince and the thought crossed my mind that he was puckered up and trying not to crap his pants.  He was consterpating real hard, focused, and having a catasterstroke, flipping switches on the console in a last ditch effort to milk the engines.  When he couldn’t hide it any longer, he confessed.  We were running on fumes.  A smirk slipped out as I was thinking that my adventure just got bigger when fire shot out of his eyes and burned a hole in me that said, “Knock it off Lieutenant Dan.”

Trimming tabs, finding the RPM sweet spot, and getting every ounce of juice out of his twin Merc 225 Verado engines was Captain Adam’s only focus at this point.  He’s my man in the foxhole and, somehow, he pulled it out when the gauges gave up.

After three days of good weather, steady fish, and hitting the hay by 7 p.m. in my Hen House, it was time to pack it all up and head home.  Adam is staying up north to tournament fish so we said our goodbyes and I rolled out of Traverse City.  Merging on U.S. 10 in mid-Michigan, I saw another Airstream to my left, just behind.  I settled into the right lane and slowed down to wave and let them pass.  Imagine my DELIGHT when ANOTHER  16′ DWR (Design Within Reach) Bambi EXACTLY LIKE MINE pulled up, port side (we are land yachts, after all).  Airstream only made 66 of these units and here we were:   two of them rolling 70 mph, side by side.  The only difference was that mine was loaded with a ginormous cooler of iced salmon and lake trout!

The Sharpie

 

 Two of the greatest qualities in life… 

1. Patience

2. Wisdom

 

Hammer Time

The Dynamic Duo, Adam and Bryce, headed to the Meijer Store for supplies.  Antifreeze  for my camper and new windshield wipers for the “Sake-Sake” (a little Mitsubishi mini truck) were tops on our shopping list yesterday, before the big storm set in–predicted to be a real doozie.   

That’s generally how all their shenanigans start, just the turn of a key guarantees a diesel turbo kicking in.   As they were unloading their cart in the parking lot, Bryce noticed an orphaned case of beer in the bottom of an abandoned cart.  Miller Light, his favorite.

Thinking that someone forgot their empties, he went over to investigate. A sinister grin spread across Bryce’s face when it dawned on him that The Beer Gods were shining down…it was a FULL CASE left behind by some poor, sorry son of a gun. Holy Hangover, Batman!
Bryce looked to the left and to the right. He assessed the risks, took a deep breath, and looked for possible witnesses.  He weighed his conscience –and the devil won.  He shot Adam a crafty look, snagged the booty, and Adam, ever intuitive in all things suspect, swung open the tailgate for the the score…professional partners in crime.
TO THE BAT CAVE, IT’S HAMMER TIME.   

With such a great day going and luck on their side, Adam shot Bryce “the look”.  It was time to check out Sake-Sake’s 660cc, 4 speed, 4 wheel drive camo capabilities in the deep, snow covered fields.   He reasoned that a little drift busting would break her in right.  Sake has a ladder rack and fold down sides on the bed.  She’s a real work horse despite her puny 1/3 ton rating and she is one of the slickest toys we have on the farm.  Adam thought the time was right to “pop her cherry.”

   A virgin field was selected as a prime testing ground–where all the maneuvers and (hopefully) aerial acrobatic feats that are borne from power shifting, speed, neutral drops, and testosterone  could be explored.  The snow had to be deep, the terrain had to offer opportunities to “catch air” and a deep water hole were basic needs.  This spot was “Golden”.  Now the bets were placed.

Beating (I mean driving) new toys is a given around here.  Sake-Sake’s steering wheel is opposite American vehicles.  You sit on the “passenger” side yet still shift in the middle, using your opposite hand.  Adam put the pedal to the medal and ripped down the road to the chosen field.  He rounded a corner on two wheels just in time to see a Mundy Township cop sitting at the end of the road, slurping on a cold latte and downing the last of a pink donut.  After crapping themselves, our Dynamic Duo regained their composure and parked at the end of a road, pretending to be hunters.  They got out of the truck and walked into the woods and “hid” until early signs of hypothermia began to set in.  Thankfully, the officer left after a little bit so the real games could begin!  Another bullet dodged.

Five minutes behind the wheel, and Adam had “the truck you can’t get stuck” buried up the axles. He rocked it back and forth, cussed it out, blamed Bryce, until it finally dawned on him that Sake-Sake was da winna.  Not expecting this, and wearing only light clothing to go grocery shopping in, they both had to jump ship and walk back to the farm through the wet snow, in street shoes, to grab a tractor and a bunch of chains.  They would show her who’s boss.   Little Sake came out easy, but not before both guys froze their petooties off.

Sake-Sake is outfitted with an outboard engine and a boat.

My Baby

 

A Regular Outlaw

 The Strawberry Roan 

Well, down in the horse corral standing alone, was that old cavayo, a Strawberry Roan.   His legs were spavined, and he had pigeon toes, little pig eyes and a big Roman nose.  Little pin ears that were crimped at the tip, with a big 44 branded ‘cross his left hip. He’s ewe-necked and old, with a long lower jaw; you can see with one eye he’s a reg’lar outlaw.

Well I puts on my spurs and I coils up my twine–I piled my loop on him; I’m sure feeling fine. I put the blinds on him, it sure was a fight.  Next comes my saddle, and I screws it down tight. I gets in his middle and opens the blind; I’m in the right spot to see him unwind.  

He’s about the worst bucker I’ve seen on the range; he can turn on a nickel and give you some change.  He turns his old belly right up to the sun. He sure is one sun-fishin’ son of a gun!

He goes up on all fours and comes down on his side.  I don’t know what keeps him from losin’ his hide.  I loses my stirrup and also my hat, I starts pulling leather–I’m blind as a bat. With a big forward jump he goes up on high; I turns over twice and I comes back to earth–I lights in a-cussin’ the day of his birth.

I know there is ponies I’m unable to ride. Some are still living; they haven’t all died.  I’ll bet all my money the man ain’t alive that can stay with Old Strawberry when he makes his high dive. 


Moe Brandy, The Strawberry Roan
http://www.last.fm/music/Moe+Bandy/Moe+Bandy+-+Cowboy+Songs

 

Baby Chicks

Little Girl:  “Mommy, where do baby chicks come from?”

Mommy:  “From the Post Office, honey.”

The best part of winter is looking through chicken catalogs to pick out spring baby chicks.  I admit it:  I’m a chicken hoarder.  This admission is the first step of the 12 step “STOP IT” program that has just accepted me.  Oh, I didn’t sign up for it; my family held an intervention.

Here’s my dilema:  there are heavy breeds, light breeds, rare breeds, and fancy breeds.  There are Polish chickens and prolific chickens.  There are broilers (good eaters) and breeds who grow their own hats.  Some breeds are friendly and some are Pitt Bulls.   Darling pictures of chickens dressed in every solid hue pose as cover girls on these pages.  Other chickens, including, but not limited to, spangled, barred, spotted and chickens who lay colored Easter eggs are featured in the centerfold of the McMurray Hatchery catalog.  McMurray sells side orders of peacocks, guinea hens, ducks and geese, too.  My chicken catalogs are all dog eared and hiding in “the library” under the bathroom sink next to the toilet paper because God knows no one in my family will go in there to replenish a roll.

Day old baby chicks are shipped to homes from growers via the United States post office and some baby chicks (leftovers and overruns) are shipped to places like TSC or your local farm/feed store in bulk orders.  If you order chicks online or through the catalog, the minimum order is 25 of these mix and matchers.   If you are into picking up chicks, just a few at a time and not very picky, instant gratification is only a moment away at your local TSC or farm/feed store. 

Usually I will place an order for a couple dozen and when I open the box, I find a baker has been counting.

The postmaster has called me at 4 a.m. to come and get my chicks. NOW.  She will open the back of the post office for me.  They chirp a lot.  It drives the mail sorters crazy.    Generally I get “the call”  when standing in the checkout line at the grocery store with a full cart.   The Chicks are in!

EGGcellent!

 

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