Every time you feel in God's creatures something pleasing and attractive, do not let your attention be arrested by them alone, but, passing them by, transfer your thought to God and say: "O my God, if Thy creations are so full of beauty, delight and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy art Thou Thyself, Creator of all!
- Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

You can’t get to joy by making everything perfect. You can only get there by seeing in every imperfection all that’s joy.
-Ann Voscamp

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Experiences

Our family has been having some new experiences lately! One of them is sort of controvercial, but it has been interesting, and is really what we're up to, so on the blog it goes.
We have some good family friends who are trappers. Their children are mostly grown now, and moving on to their adult lives. I think Mr. Trapper misses having young children to teach and pass on his experiences and knowledge to. He took an interest in teaching our children some of his skills, and before we knew it the children were involved it running a muskrat trap line with him.
This has meant that we as their parents have gotten involved as well. Yesterday I got to be the chaperone as my young ones checked and reset traps. It was really very interesting how it all works. I wish I had pictures, but we forgot the camera, and the computer troubles we're having are making our internet connection operate so slowly I feel like we have dial-up again. Ugh!
Muscrats live in little houses much like beaver lodges, but smaller and made out of balled up grasses that they wet and stick together, some small sticks and mud. The bigger the house, the more rats live in it. To set the traps, the trapper makes a hole in the top. The tunnel from under water into the house is found, and the trap is placed in the doorway. It is connected to a wire that anchors it outside the house.
When the trap is in place, grasses are dampened and placed over the hole, and then covered with snow to keep the water inside from freezing. To check the traps, the snow and grass are removed from the hole (this can take a while as it is frozen in place), the trap is pulled up and checked, and reset.
In the past few days, Mr. Trapper and the children have gotten two muskrats. If a person is interested in working with the fur (as my children are), it takes one pelt sold to get the money to have one pelt tanned to keep. One of my children has a muskrat hat made by Mr. Trapper and one of his daughter trappers. It looks much like beaver, and is lovely, soft and warm.
I had fun taking my children out to check the traps. I was reminded of a book I'd read once about a woman who lived in the Alaskan wilderness with her trapper husband. She had a baby out there, and they passed a winter out there alone. They couldn't find any game and very nearly starved before they were able to get out. By the time they got help they were quite ill with scurvy.
For one afternoon, I felt like a strong, brave pioneer trapper in the wilderness. It was pretty exciting, I must say. :)

In other news, as we approached the shortest day of the year, the chickens have picked up in their egg laying. This seems to happen often for us, and I love it. Just when we expect to go eggless for months, having a lovely surprise of five eggs in the nest boxes is so nice, and the morning afer the solstice, too!

I'm planning to pick up my does from the breeder on Friday afternoon, and I can't wait! I'm so excited to have them back home, and even more so by some extenuating circumstances that I don't feel right about sharing here. Suffice it to say, I'm a bit extra concerned about their wellfare right now, as well as that of the dear woman caring for them who has recently become a real friend.
I have stopped in to see them a couple of times, and they look pretty good, except for Starlight. She's never been what I'd call thrifty, and now is no exception to that. She has some upper respitory stuff going on that is worrying me. I really want her back so I can give her some extra TLC. I'm really unsure how things are going to develop for her, and only hope that she makes it through pregnancy and kidding without too much dificulty.
By the way, that extra TLC is going to be hard to give, as my girls are STINKY! I don't know how the buck stink will ever wear off. I pray that I get two nice bucklings, one by each of the two bucks involved in these breedings. If I do, then I will be able to have a closed herd after this for a long time, and no more pen breedings. That's my ultimate goal now. I used to think this traveling and pen breeding would be a yearly occurence, but I've now come to ralize that it causes a lot of stress to myself and my does. I don't want to have to do this agian.

I want to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New year, as I may not be back for a while. I just can't take the time to post or read blogs with my PC and laptop both acting up so badly. I really miss reading all of your posts, and can't wait to catch up a bit. :)

Many blessing to you all in the New Year!


  1. Glad you're getting your gals back soon. I used Dawn dish liquid to wash my does after exceptionally stinky buck encounters, but I suppose it's just too cold now to give them a bath.....unless you want to do it inside! :)

  2. I can remember when my brothers did that with the skins of muskrats and mink,,but that was before the population exploded in this area and kept stretching further and further north. I don't think you'd find to many of any animals in the same area except deer. Bet the kids will be glad to come home to mommy!

  3. I have such mixed feelings about trapping. It certainly was an important part of earning cash and sometimes directly feeding a family when our isolated area was first settled. On the other hand I worry about how humane it is in all instances. I do think it's a good experience for your kids to have.

    Pen breeding of dairy goats does have some undesirable aspects, for sure. When we had our herd, the does had a quick "date" with one of our bucks which left them with very little odor at all. Next year, I'm sure you'll have a much more comfortable situation for them.

  4. I too, have mixed feelings about trapping. I think done the right way it has its place in carrying on tradition, and certainly that applies in your area. My main concern is all the unintended victims I keep hearing about, such as people's dogs, although much of that comes from people trapping illegally on other peoples' land where dogs roam on their own property and get killed or injured by owners not realizing that danger has been placed on their own property. I know that your family is careful to do things the "right" way so there is no better place for a child to learn than from a trusted family friend, and they are learning things that other kids only read about in books!

  5. CR- That's a nice tip, but yep, it's too cold right now. Really, it's been totally mild so far, hanging around 30 degrees, but still too cold for baths.
    Judy- My kids are pretty tough, and not really that excited about getting home to me in general. :) They see enough of me, being their teacher and all.
    Mama Pea and Erin- I'm actually not sure what I think about trapping either. Well, no, that's not true. Actually, I find much of it disturbing in certain ways. At the same time it's an interesting part of our heritage here in North America, and I'm glad my children and I are able to learn about it.

  6. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, also. And I (selfishly, I know) hope you have your computer woes resolved soon!