Outdoors Column: A Dog Exchange

When you have a warm and sunny January day, you should get outside and enjoy it. It is only a matter of time before the bitter cold and perpetual darkness will set in. Though we had nothing in particular we needed to accomplish, my wife and I decided to just go ride around in the Ranger to soak up a few remaining rays of winter sunshine. The temperature was above freezing on Sunday, but the north wind was blowing making it feel colder when it hit. In the sun, next to the house, it felt quite warm. Away from the house where the wind could hit, it was cold. We made one short trip and stopped back at the house to get more clothes.


Driving across the dam, exposed to the full force of the north wind, we still got cold, even with extra layers of clothing to protect us. Getting into the timber made all the difference. Out of the wind with the sun shinning down through the naked branches of the oak trees, it was quite pleasant. We drove at a leisurely pace, meandering along the trails, causing occasional deer to jump up and run off from the protected areas where they were napping. When we would come to a clearing, I increased the speed as we raced to the next patch of timber where we would again be protected from the wind.


We eventually made it to the south end of the farm where we ran into my son, Damon, and grandson, Zane. They were having a bit of father/son bonding time by cutting firewood. Not only is cutting and splitting firewood a team building experience, it is also a wonderful physical fitness program. I joined in on the fun for a while, loading a wagon of wood. Having parked in a sunny spot out of the wind, my wife thought she would forego the pleasures of loading firewood and just enjoy the warm sunshine. After I had all the fun I could stand and a brief visit, we left them to their project. Taking other trails back across the farm, we noticed Jag, the terrier, was no longer with us. While visiting with Damon and Zane, he had been checking the area for squirrels and rabbits with Damon’s dogs. He must have been distracted when we left because he always comes running when the Ranger starts.


When we got back to the Top Gate, overlooking the lake, we stopped to admire the swans. For weeks now, when we have open water, we have swans. They fly off during the day to feed in nearby corn fields and come back in the late afternoon. While watching the swans, we got a text from Damon telling us that Jag did not see us around when he got back from hunting and followed them home when they took the wood to the house. I looked up the trail as we were getting ready to leave and saw Damon’s coyote dog coming to us. He was all excited that he had caught up with us and followed us home. He seemed quite pleased with himself and made himself comfortable in the garage. I sent a text back to Damon that we could have a dog exchange later.