Eco Adventure in Wisconsin – day ten

December 27, 2009 and the last day of my adventure. 


3256337915_8007059f6e  Possible red fox track. 

Today was really an adventure.  I decided to snowshoe in the 18″ snowfall.  It was rather difficult in places because the snow was so deep.  I was walking the land I am exploring.  The second glacial moraine claimed my attention because I saw tracks and decided to follow.

blackberry bramble
blackberry bushes

  Up the steep hill I went noticing that the brambles were blackberries with frozen fruit still attached.  At least the deer and other animals will find nourishment here.  Once I got to the top, I wondered who and what I was following all alone.

It was so silent.

DNR confirms cougar in Spooner, WI, copyright DNR.

  Cougar and fox live in the Great North Woods of Wisconsin.  Now I have been near fox and they are shy but a cougar would be another matter.  I didn’t feel a threat and felt the cougar would have larger feet.  Then I saw that the tracks also had a shape of a tail and knowing that the cougar is a large animal, I felt the animal I was tracking must be trotting closer to the ground like a fox.  This photo of a cougar was taken in the summer of 2009 in Burnett County.  There is also reports of cougar in Spooner.  Photo caption should read Burnett County.

That’s it I thought and felt no hesitancy in going further.  I did think, No one knows where you are and what if something happens like a heart attack?    Funny how you  mind runs wild.  I answered my own fear, This is the happiest day of my life and someone will think to follow my snowshoes. 

I could see through the trees to the far horizon (only visible seasonally I suspect) and it was thrilling.  I climbed to the top and said out loud, “Wow!”  I meant it too. 

As far as the eye can see.

 I could see for miles and there only forests and silence and the distance to the south.  The sun was lighting the sky in pink and I tell you it was glorious.

3256338133_e31f6b9ce9 Possible red fox tail with tracks

As I followed the tracks down the hill and out into the open field, I saw that the animal was leaving an impression of a tail.  Here is a photo of perhaps a fox. 

For now I bide goodbye to my adventure in the Great North Woods of Wisconsin.  Thanks for keeping me company on my ten-day hiatus alone with a sweet corgi at a cabin in the woods. 

Home is where the heart is
The cabin of our eco adventure.

Stay happy readers where ever you are.  Mary Ellen and Sadie

Source:  Fox photos…/3257168134_3ebac43215.jpg

Image at:…/

Other photos copyright by Mary Ellen Ryall and DNR.


Eco Adventure in Wisconsin – day nine

It is Saturday and almost time for this eco adventure to end.  One more night and day to go.

Not much news here.  It is still snowing and most likely there is over 18″ of snowfall.  The country road hasn’t been plowed out since December 24.  I remember years ago on the farm and I THOUGHT I WOULD GO MAD not being able to get in or out at times in the winter. 

Unplowed country road
The road less traveled

I think I am going a little star crazy now and will be happy that the owners (Happy Tonics officer/board member, husband and wife team) are coming home tomorrow from Costa Rica.  I don’t know how they’ll be able to drive into the driveway with all the snow.  I tried to shovel a little but it is wet and heavy and will have to wait for stronger arms than mine.

Sadie has been tired today.  Neither of us slept much last night and we are rather tired today.  The tree trunks are completely covered with the snow and the branches are also laden. 

Snow on tree trucks
Snow covered tree trucks.

 I am housebound by choice.  It is just too dark and wet to be out there. 

Instead I made homemade potato soup with organic onions and broccoli and it was good.  I only flavored it with pepper and a bay leaf.  I added Orrington Farms low sodium chicken flavoring and I highly recommend it for chicken stock.

Well readers it is time to nearly say goodbye for this adventure.  I may have one more time tomorrow to jot down a few notes.  I was interested in seeing who would read the blog.  I can see a snow winter adventure did not attract much attention.

Happy Tonics is exploring to see if there is any interest in Eco adventures in Wisconsin.  I am leaning towards something that offers hotels or camping opportunities with an eco volunteer vacation.  We would welcome visitors who want to assist us at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat, in Shell Lake, Wisconsin during the summer of 2010.

The butterfly path through habitat
A wood chip path put down by youth and volunteers.

Stay happy readers where ever you are.

Eco Adventure in Wisconsin – day eight

Merry Christmas!  December 25, 2009 

The lonesome pine.
A lone Christmas tree greets me on Christmas morning.

The snow plow came through about 7 p.m. last night.   Before that I was outside dreaming in the country road and listening to the wind in the trees when all of a sudden a blue car silently slipped by me.  I mean I could have been run over by the farm owner’s small vehicle.  The elder and friendly lady stopped a little ways down the hill and rolled down the window.  Upon coming closer to the blue car, she said, “Well that was almost a not so happy Christmas.”

I told her I was having a very happy time day dreaming and didn’t even hear her car.  Oh well, here I am in the middle of nowhere and still a vehicle could have claimed me.  What next!

Sadie  Sadie and her favorite cowboy boot.

Sadie and I got up this Christmas morning to open presents.   Sandy made a surprise for me.  There are 10 gifts wrapped up and I was to open one gift each day.  Today it was a lovely planter with a brass butterfly on the front.  This will be good for starting my winter greens in.  Inside the planter was a pound of fresh harvested wild rice from tribal lands.  I am thrilled for this health giving present because I am almost out of this naturally nutritious grain.

I opened up a fresh box of animal treats for Sadie.  I thought she needed a Christmas present too.  She enjoyed a treat of tuna in juice for a treat and I made lentils and a tuna sandwich.  We made apple juice with clove, orange, all spice and cinnamon spice.  It smells wonderful in our cosy nest and the spiced apple juice tastes like apple cider.

I did manage a short hike on the snowshoes this morning over to the woods across the way.  The wind was howling and I do love the sound of trees talking in the forest. The forest under snow  It reminds me of home.  The snow turned to sleet over night.  My down jacket was getting wet and I decided to return to the cabin and snuggle in.

Be happy readers where ever you are. 


Pine tree
On the trail of the lonesome pine.





Eco Adventure in Wisconsin – day seven

It is Thursday. 

Wake me up!  I didn’t realize it was December 24 until five minutes ago and it is 2:31 p.m. in the afternoon.  Days just slip by when you are on retreat in the Great North Woods.

I woke up feeling lethargic.  We are in the middle of a big snow storm.  It has been snowing all day and perhaps last night also.  Snow fall was over my boots this morning and about covered Sadie when we were outside.  I did put out bird seed this morning.

Squirrels eating sunflower seeds
Squirrels eating sunflower seeds.

  The squirrels were totally covered in the snow with only their faces peeking through and their faces were white.  Still they came for the sunflower seed.  It looks like 12 inches so far.  The weather report says it could go to 16″.  No snow plow has come through to plow the country road and mail was not delivered.  Who cares!

I only hope that the electricity, phone and heat stays on.  It is a damp cold today.  Sadie and I are wrapped up in quilts.  I haven’t really ventured out today outside of taking Sadie outside three times a day for her daily constitutional.

No wonder we saw hundreds of birds two days ago.  They knew a storm was coming and they needed to store up on fat stores.  This will help them get through a few days while we are clobbered with the storm. 

Bird house laden with snow
Bird house laden with snow

It is Christmas.  Isn’t that a beautiful thought.  The forest is covered in snow. 

This morning I worked on the newsletter but didn’t feel inspired to write.  I finished a draft on the Harris checkerspot butterfly.  In the afternoon we took to the bedroom where there is a large window that looks out on the woods I am exploring across the road.  It felt so comforting to just watch it snow, snow, snow.  I finished reading Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans.  It was a good Christmas story.

I am getting tired of my soup and salad diet.  Still haven’t lost a pound.  Today I made lentils, onions and carrots and that tasted good.  The organic eggs were boiled before I came to the cabin and the egg salad sandwiches on nut whole grain bread are delicious.  Even the tea spiced with shiitake mushroom and orange and lemon peel tastes good.  I forgot to tell you that my friend owns a dairy and gift shop (My Favorite Things) in downtown Shell Lake.  She gave me some cheese curds that are made from their dairy before I came away on this trip.  Now that is something and I enjoyed every morsel.  Talk about eating local and organic. 

I hope you enjoy a very happy Christmas Eve.

Be happy readers where ever you are.

Clip art source:…/2008/12/santa-claus.jpg

Other photos copyright by Mary Ellen Ryall.