Thursday, April 9, 2015

Kantohanki! Spring Crust.

Unlike spring in the snow-starved regions, where a few warm days can wipe out all the snow, up here it takes weeks, sometimes months for all the snow to melt.  A week of warm weather may be followed by a wave of cold arctic air.  When this happens, the soggy snow freezes in a hard, strong crust.  The Finnish word "kantohanki" means "supporting crust", i.e. it will carry you.

This offers opportunities for some fast skijoring behind an Alaskan husky.  One might bear in mind that falling on crust is not dissimilar to falling on ice, and that a hard crust offers little in the way of control once you reach a certain speed.  On this particular outing I had the good sense to release Kalevi before we started downhill. However,  I still fell hard going down a rutted icy hill and did some damage to where the ribs connect to the sternum.  But a few hard falls now and then are good for the old bod.   

Crust turns the whole Copper Country into on big skate skiing rink.  You are no longer trail bound and can put the cross country back into xc skiing.

But the real treat is when you can ride a regular mountain bike with 2" tires everywhere.

Insulated barn boots are my footgear of choice for this kind of biking.  From here I headed out to the hills west of our place, through the woods, off trail most of the way.  It's not as fast as skate skiing on crust, but those brakes sure come in handy when you're going downhill.

Two and half hours later,  Yes, it was a cold day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Anneli Comes for a Visit

It's hard to resist taking a picture of the moon when it's full.  There's something about of full moon that makes me restless.  There's a feeling that you should go outside and accomplish some great thing or pursue some deep insight or purpose.  Of course that never really happens, but there's something bewitching about moonlight.  There's a Finnish saying that if a person has a touch of insanity it will come out under a full moon. The moon rises about 52 minutes later each evening so you need to catch it before your bedtime.  The moon orbits about 5 degrees out of the plane of the earth's equator, not in the plane of the earth's orbit around the sun.  That's why the moonrise jumps around so much.  For instance, in the fall it can rise in the northeast  when the sun is rising much further to the south.  It's good to know this stuff because it makes you seem smarter than you are.  More importantly, learning is just plain fun.  A curious mind is never bored.

So anyway, this post really isn't about the moon.  We hadn't seen our granddaughter Anneli for a few months and she had grown a lot.  However she did have a cold and was a little under the weather.

Ilkka had a cold too, but they got along well.  I didn't know that cats could catch colds, but now I do.  He didn't even want to chase a string.


Not really feeling up to snuff...

That's better.

I believe we will soon have another piano player in the family.

What are those big wooly animals?


Mik horsing around with Gunnar.

We have to spread the hay in small piles so that Gunnar won't hog all of it.

Not sure if I want to play in the snow today.

That's better.

Four generations.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Jonathan feeding the sheep.  The previous two winters the snow reached the top of the woven wire fence,  I had to add a couple more strands of barbwire to keep the dogs, coyotes and wolves from hopping over.  Yes, we have seen a wolf now and then in the field.

A misty morning

Ilkka blends in with the sheepskin.  Once I almost sat on him.

We have three thermometers that give different readings.  This one was a little high.

Remote starters are a decadent luxury.  Press a button and voila, as long as you have a good battery, the old hoss fires right up.  On this particularly frosty morning the exhaust formed a low flying cloud.

-28 F, the coldest morning of the year.  Once Lake Superior froze over we enjoyed some of that sunny clear Canadian weather.

I periodically give the sheep pine and spruce boughs for them to munch on.  They seem to enjoy them.  I chewed on a few pine needles as an experiment and had to spit for awhile to get the bitter taste out of my mouth.

Plowing the farm driveway.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Winter Continues...

David's new hobby, making Finnish puukko knives.  He buys the blades, then makes the handles and the sheathes.

When you blow snow, the snow blows.

This winter Marja and I began reading Kalle Paatalo's 25 volume autobiography in Finnish.  Currently I am midway through book 7.  Did I mention that he is an interesting writer?

Powdery snow.

Sam cutting Deanna's birthday cake.

Go ahead and try; you cannot make a better cake than Marja's Finnish taytekakkua.

Actually we celebrated David's birthday as well.

David making a point.

Although this was a much milder winter compared to last year, we still got some chilly mornings.

Even without the thermometer, the way the snow sticks to the trees tells you that this is a very cold day.

The warmest spot in the house.

How does a fox manage to get itself killed by two huskies that are contained in a pen?  By climbing in, of course.  One clever fox.

Mid Winter

Red sky at night, sailor's delight.

Actually the following day was cloudy and snowy, but it would be nice to think this presaged a sunny day.

Sheep don't listen to weather forecasts. long as there's hay in the feeder.

Both grandpa and Ilkka enjoy a fire in winter.

This winter Marja learned to make uunijuusto, ie, Finnish oven cheese.

Warm the milk, add salt & rennet and let it sit for awhile. Once the curds form, strain out the whey...

...and press the curds into a pan.

Ready to bake.

A pileated woodpecker snacking on last fall's apples.

Marja's pullaa, fresh from the oven.
Add caption