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Russ-Stick Ramblings

As the Deer Panteth

Deer season (rifle) in Michigan came to a close the last day of November.

Deer season to us, doesn't mean going out on our property and bagging a big one.

Our trail cam this fall, on our back 40. 


 Rather, it means a window period of time,

where we can procure meat for our sled dogs to last the entire winter. 


It actually begins with bow season,

crescendos with the rifle season,

and flows into the first days of December,

after all the deer have been processed.


For years, we have been obtaining our venison scraps from two local sources.

This year, we added a third.

An Amish source. 


It was wonderful meeting and growing a friendship with the butcher shop owner,

along with all the family and Amish neighbors within.


I spent many, many days traveling to get meat.

The work is tough at times, hauling and hoisting heavy bags into the back of the truck,

but brings such a sense of satisfaction upon arriving home with the truck laden with the raw,

red, juicy scraps and bones.

Sometimes we even had pork, beef, lamb, moose, etc.

We were so blessed, we were fortunate to share with other mushers too.  


Sometimes the trips could be downright adventurous.

Thanksgiving day, I had an idea.


I ended up going north, to my home town,

for a fancy restaurant dinner with my small family.  

 It was very nice…at the Perry Hotel across from Lake Michigan.     


Before I went to Petoskey, 

I thought I would be smart and combine my dinner, 

with a pick up of meat.   

So I set it up to pick up deer meat (venison) for the sled dogs, 

with the place that we get it from every year. 


So, after the day was done…which was an awesome dinner, 

visiting with our small family at my mother’s beautiful home, 



I left for Mancelona, planning to stop for meat on the way. 

I arrived at the spot when it was pitch dark.  

I pulled into the back of the store.  I was told the meat would be in bags (which always seem to rip) in a trailer.  I thought I would be there in the daylight so I didn’t bring a light.  So I did the next best thing…I shined the truck lights on the trailer and then had to lift the bags out, and then go around the back of the truck (in the dark) and sling the bags into the bed of the truck.  Heavy bags.  Our tailgate doesn’t go down any more so you REALLY have to sling the meat up high and then let it fall in the truck.  Well, this stuff was heavy, and even though I was wearing work gloves (I did remember those…) I was getting blood all over my fancy jacket I wore to dinner.  It was soaked in blood on the arms.  And then a couple bags later, I got it on my pants.  And then my boots.  You just can’t help it, because the bags are all on top of each other, mixed in with the deer carcass.  If you are not a person who is used to this type of stuff, it might be difficult.  But I don’t care.  I didn’t even mind it being on my jacket, because it blended in….    

I did this a couple times, and then I turned off the truck, but left the lights on.   


Once done, I got in the truck, went to turn it on and NOTHING.    

Just a clicking noise.  Rats!   

So here I am, blood on my jacket, pants and boots.   

I didn’t have a cell phone because...I don't like cell phones…and don’t usually carry one.  

 So I realized I would be taking a walk to find someone to help me.  

 I walked around the front of the store, by the road and saw nothing.   

The little lakeside village was very quiet. 

And dark.  

 I knew I would have to walk a little distance and knock on someone’s door 

and interrupt them.   

Possibly interrupt them from their Thanksgiving dinner!! 


So I went into my 911 mode.    

I went back to the truck, bowed my head, and prayed: 


Dear Heavenly Father.   

 I realize this may be what you want me to do tonight.    

There may be someone in one of those houses that you want me to meet tonight.    

So if it is your will, I will go out into the dark, and knock on a door.    

But if not, please help me to get home with my vehicle, and let it start once again.    

In Jesus name we pray…Amen. 


Amazing…I didn’t even get the Amen out of my mouth (yes, I prayed out loud).   

And I saw lights from a larger-sized truck swing into the store parking lot and come up right behind my truck.  I didn’t know who it was (by seeing) but I knew who it was (by instinct).   

It was my younger brother, Craig!!   

He just SHOWED UP.    


It was truly a miracle!    

I had mentioned at dinner, many hours before, 

that I was going to be stopping near his house to get meat at the lakeside General Store.   

And he picked THAT time, right when I prayed, to show up!!  God is good!


I ended up jumping in with Craig, and their little Cocker Spaniel, Lola, 


and went back to his house to get the jumper cables, 

and return to the store to start my truck.  

 It started right up, I thanked Craig 

(and more importantly God, for answering my prayer

and I was on my way home. 


So I don’t know who had the better Thanksgiving…

Russ... who had stayed home and played Santa at a local family gathering?    

Or me, who was covered in blood (there's POWER in the blood...), 

willing to walk a distance and knock on a door, 

only to have a miracle happen instead. 


That was a good segue into the end of this year's meat runs.

As it was, I had one more trip to eek out, for the final haul, when our truck died. 

See previous post, click here.


But all in all, the timing was actually perfect for us, as our Russ-Stick plan of

horse and dog power comes into effect. 


And it is time to slow down...and stop, reflect and thank God from whom all blessings flow. 

Listen to this beautiful hymn... 

As the Deer Panteth. 


 Until next time dear friends, God willing.

Our Russ-Stick Plan (Revisited)


We have been kicking around a plan for quite some time now.

It's not a "green" plan, per se. 

It's our plan. 


It's about using horse power to get where we want to go.

The kind of horse power that comes with a tail. 


And dog power.  



In sync with nature.  


Depending on the season. 

Our good farm friends, Pat and Deb, with their beautiful horses. 


Sure, it may take a little longer. 

Good things usually do.


And there may be times we need to lean on the support of family and good friends

~ and pay for a special trip ~

just like the Amish.

But it won't be often.


Truth be told, everything we need is right here.


On "our 40".


So, come along for the ride, and watch us plan to go backwards in time. 

Until tomorrow ~ God willing,


NOTE:  This post was originally posted on 9/20/2009. 


This past Saturday, the Good Lord nudged us... 

as our truck was rendered undriveable. 

(No accident...just wear and tear took its toll.)  


Since then,  amazing blessings have been poured forth upon us. 

We love being weak, so that we look to Him for our strength.    

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  
2 Corinthians 12:9   

 God is SO GOOD. 

Count it all Joy!! 

There's a Fox in the Hen House

 Fox Mulder that is... 

I named our young rooster Fox, since one of his flock is named Agent Scully.

You X-Files fans will recognize this... 

Actually last year, I thought he was a she.

He was born hatched here, just last summer.

Click here for the Blog about this young chick's start in life.


 It's hard to believe that little chick, turned into this beautiful rooster.



 And now, he returned to his birthing hatching grounds with his own flock.  


Nine (9) beautiful hens,

who lay gorgeous eggs for us each and every day.


Side bar:  We actually have two other flocks also...with a total of 4 roosters on site.

Other roosters are:  

DiNozzo, Stewie, and Charlie Sheen (yes, he looks JUST like him...seriously!)

Until tomorrow, God willing.

Traveler's Buggy Training

Meet Traveler...  


Wednesday night, we had to cancel our Wee House Worship.

So we switched gears...and made the best of it.

Since our dear friend Ellen was already planning her evening with us,

we decided to go with Plan B.

Training Traveler.

So after an outdoor picnic supper, we began.

Ellen took the reins first.


We were told Traveler had been driven in his past.

And when he came to us the first time,

we saw evidence of such with markings on his back legs.

They were worn by the harness rubbing against his hair and skin.

Did you know a horse's skin is 7 times more sensitive than a humans?   


Raz, the overseer, is no stranger to the harness...


He watched intently, as if to glean some information from the exercise.

Or just watch his favorite human, Russ, in the round pen.


It was wonderful having Ellen share her skill of horsemanship.

She's no stranger to driving horses, or dogs, for that matter.

She has a beautiful Haflinger, Bob, who she uses for field work at her Farm.


Traveler responded well to Gee (right)

and Haw (left).


He's quick on his turns.


And has a fast "giddy up" trot.


I'm not sure who worked harder that night. 


But it sure was a great start toward our final goal ~

Traveler as a buggy horse.


I thought you might like to see what the excitement is all about.

This video features a Standardbred who just came from the race track to an Amish Farm.

A young couple is along for the ride, impressed with the speed!

You'll see how fast they trot!

And how much the horse enjoys it! 


Until tomorrow, God willing.

Buck's New Boots

 Yep...they make 'em for horses.

This spring, (BC...before crutches),

Buck was ordered a fancy new pair, in lieu of metal horseshoes.


Buck came to us with compromised hooves, many years ago.


The hoof will reveal a lifetime of nutrition, or lack thereof.


We felt, in Buck's case, a boot of this nature would serve him well.

Less invasive, and worn only when ridden.  




We weren't sure what to expect...but you know what?


He liked them... 


These boots were made for walkin'... 

Until tomorrow, God willing.

Mustang Mayhem

3 + 1 = change.

Big change, when it comes to adding another horse into the mix.

It's a slow, painstakingly slow, process.

A week ago Friday, we added another horse.

But it wasn't just any horse. 

It was Traveler, who had been here before, years ago, for a short period of time.

We weren't anticipating much reaction, as he knew all our horses. 

Nothing much had changed, except the fact that 4 years had passed...

and our young horses had grown into a mature herd.

It started with our good friend, with a trailer, as we don't own one.

Once a horse is at our place, if he leaves, he leaves by hoof power.


I was excited, following behind, as we traveled deep into the Jordan Valley and beyond.


Upon arriving, we loaded Traveler without incident and began our trek home. 

Coming home less than an hour later, our 3 horses were immediately on alert,

seeing the trailer pull down our long drive.

It resulted in a whinny or two (or three) as the truck pulled to a stop.


With the assistance of Russ, Traveler slowly exited the trailer without incident or concern.


And he began to become familiar with his new surroundings.


Once on terra firma, 

a cough the size of Texas prompted an emergency

Friday night visit from Chris Randall, DVM, our new large animal vet.

Medications were dispensed, injection given, and worries alleviated.

We were assured Traveler wasn't contagious, which was our first concern.

So, with a green light, the introductions of the geldings began.

First, Raz ... our largest horse, who is Russ' main riding horse, and work-horse-in-training.


Then Nauish (Now-eesh), our youngster of the crowd, another BLM Mustang, who is still in training.


Perhaps they are sharing secrets of their Mustang heritage.


Then Buck, the smallest and oldest, and our first horse ever, at Russ-Stick Acres.


Then, it was time to introduce Traveler to our fence boundary.


Even though he had been here for a short period of time, 4 years ago, he needed reminders.


We didn't want the excitement of the increased herd to plow a horse through the fence.


Unknowingly or otherwise.

It is always worth the effort when it comes to the safety of horses.


The excitement grew as the horses realized they were growing in numbers.


Our 3 horses were a cohesive unit.  Would they accept a 4th horse?


Once Traveler was in "their" area, on Saturday, the introductions continued.


Note...the quickly constructed shelter from the other round pen was for naught.

The construction took place due to his arriving ill,

keeping us busy while waiting for the vet to arrive,

with the possibility of Traveler being quarantined looming before us.


Now in the new area with the other horses nearby,

circling the round pen like whirling dervishes,

it was made obvious more fencing would need to be in place.

Introductions weren't going as well as we had hoped.


Wire, flags, posts, dust, dirt, sweat, missed anticipated grilled Saturday dinner,

wiped brows, sore backs, and hours later, it was accomplished.

A new area, all his own, which also included the round pen. 

The result ~ flagged fencing that kept Traveler a wire away from the 3 other horses.

Traveler would be near the other horses, but separate. 

Only able to chat over the pink-flagged single wire fence.


Sunday, fine. 

Monday, fine. 

Fence talk was working.

Monday night...not fine.

Chaos and destruction ensued.

Traveler decided he had been separate long enough. 

During the night he busted down a gate,

and tore through several strands of hot electric wire.

Not just in one section, but in several spots, decimating the existing fencing.

By early Monday morning, his task was complete. 

He got his way, as former band stallions often do.

He was in with the other horses, up close and personal, whether they liked it or not.

They didn't. 

Russ, upon getting his coffee early Tuesday morning,

stood in the window to survey our place,

as he does every morning with coffee cup in hand,

only to see a gate down, and ripped out fencing lying crumpled on the ground. 


The lightening-laden, thunder-clap Tuesday morning,

all day,

and well into the early evening hours, 

was spent reconstructing fences by Russ, donned in rain gear,

and no doubt sweat,

brought on by hard work.


One huge plus, our trio didn't leave.

In addition, Traveler didn't leave the multiple gaps of freedom, 

so hastily provided by his efforts. 


The horses role? 

They were coping with their new untimely, unwanted guest.


Lots of air kicks, snaking of heads, avoidance, confrontation,

strikes with front feet, rump bites,

and on and on.

Luckily, and surprisingly, this former band stallion, Traveler, didn't leave a mark. 

Nor did he have any marks from the trio.

And finally, things slowly settled down a tad.


The struggle of who's the boss continues a week later, but with less fanfare.

Still the snaking, the air kicks, and the bites on the rump.  But less frequent.

And more time spent on snagging new sweet grasses, and enjoying the weather changes.


We know that spring will roll into summer,

and the decision of who's in charge will still be played out, Mustang style.

Until tomorrow, God willing. 

Lessons from Caprine and Canine

If you are heading to school this week,

or just heading to work on a Monday morning,

we can all learn a lesson from our 4-legged friends.

If you meet a new friend...or reconnect with an old one... 


Just remember to be kind.


Always look the person straight in the eye when talking to each other.



And don't get "uppity" when things don't go your way.


Just remember...nice begets nice.



In other words...The Golden Rule 

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,  

or this sums up the Law and the Prophets. 

Matthew 7:12

Until tomorrow, God willing.


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