Eco Adventure in Wisconsin – day two

Last night Sadie and I slept on the couch. I was so cold.  Sadie didn’t seem to mind with her thick coat of fur.  She kept sentry duty and barked every time a critter passed near the  cabin.  I imagine it was deer.

In the morning I thought I heard snow falling.  No such luck.  The sky light was covered over with snow and it fooled me.  The road was the same as yesterday.  The morning was heavy with snow clouds.  Sadie wanted to go out first thing so I bundled up and out we went.

Interesting terrain.  I see the cabin is in a little valley with hills all around.  I saw smoke coming up from an old farmhouse down the road.  The only other settlement on this road.  Two cars drove past the cabin early this morning from the farm.  The smoke carried me back in thoughts to Currier and Ives and Christmas scenes.  I identified wild asparagus stalks along the side of the country road.  If I had some ribbon I would tie it around the plant and it would be easier to find next spring.

This morning I spent working on mailing our Happy Tonics newsletter.  Ran out of stamps, don’t have enough membership applications to mail out renewal notices.  At least I was able to mail out most of the newsletters.  I did leave a $20.00 bill in the mail box asking the postal employee to bring me some stamped business envelopes so I can finish the job tomorrow.  The membership renewals can wait.  I will be one month behind but it is a holiday right?

I had a breakfast of great apple juice.  This is not concentrate by real Wisconsin apple juice.  Then I ground coffee and Sadie went ballistic.  She has some kind of problem with noise.  I just sang at the top of my lungs to avoid letting her get on my nerves.  Fiber breakfast of raison bran cereal with potassium banana.  I think of food as nutrients.

This afternoon we took another walk before lunch.  I found out Sadie likes cut up carrots.  This beats the treats she is always wanting.  I had left over soup, salad and tea.  I made tea and added a shiitake mushroom to the water.  Shiitake mushrooms are supposed to be good for blood pressure.  This is an experiment I am doing.  

Mid afternoon I put on my snowshoes and walked twice as far.  I don’t mean I really put in a distance.  I tracked animals today because I wanted to see what Sadie was barking at last night.  It looks like mostly deer came through.  I do see a lot of little footprints near the trees.  This morning I saw two squirrels so it may be them that are scurrying near trees. 

Grass was dug up and I expect the deer were pawing for grass.  They need to eat too.  I didn’t notice a lot of fresh tree twigs bitten off.  But I did see a tree that was gnawed and expect that was a hungry rabbit.  They often nibble on tree bark.

I did find some mushrooms that I want to explore.  I am a novice.  I picked them from a dead tree because they looked like something I am taking now.  This is what keeps me busy and happy – research.

Well, the light is starting to dim and I need to feed Sadie her supper so I will close till tomorrow afternoon.  I didn’t talk with another human being in over 24 hours and frankly, I rather liked it.  One observation in this slowed down mode is that I wonder how I am so active in my other life.  Here I feel like I am settled into the rhythm of nature.  She is my teacher and is sleeping now. 

Stay happy readers where ever you are.

Eco Adventure in Wisconsin – day one by Mary Ellen Ryall

Happy Tonics husband and wife team left today for Costa Rica.  They are staying at Rancho Margot, a self-supporting working ranch in Central America. 

Sadie the corge
Our first walk

 I am staying at their cabin in the woods with Sadie the dog for the next ten days.

Looking out at bird feeders from cabin
Before the storm.

The first thing I notice when I look out the windows is that there are little woodpeckers and chick-a-dees flying to the porch and window boxes.  Then I see the nut-hatch climbing down the tree backwards.  It’s a winter wonderland of little birds.  All of a sudden I am transported into the silence of winter.

A slow cook pot is on.  Within the pot are lentils, organic onions and carrots, potatoes and cabbage.  I added lots of cumin, a medicinal spice used for indigestion and a dash of smart balance for some fat.  A teaspoon of powdered Turkey tail mushroom was added.  It is a medicinal mushroom that has been researched as a  cancer treatment.

After Sadie had her walk and a roll in the fresh snow, we headed back to the cabin for a good brush on the porch.  She is a corgi and in winter Sadie sheds. 

Even with the beauty of winter and being isolated in my retreat setting, there was a sad moment.  Earlier I noticed a sweet little mole in the kitchen.  When I went over to it I saw that it was barely alive.  His little leg was broken.  There appeared to be a few punctures in the little creature’s neck.  I wrapped him up in some cabbage leaves and carried him out to the porch.  I knew the cold temperatures would help end his life more quickly than letting Sadie experiment with her little pet.

When I went out to the porch to check on the little dear, it had already walked on.  I already had my snowshoes on so I gathered oak leaves from the woods and picked him up while I sang him an honor song.  There was a nice wood pile with a sheltered opening and I placed the little mole in a bed of oak leaves.  I put down tobacco leaves to honor his life and to thank him for the gift he was giving me.

He may be preparing me for an experience that will call me into grief at some point.  I felt stronger for knowing that we must all pass through different stages of life and each stage should be honored.

Deer trail through the wooded trail
The road less traveled

  I photographed deer trails that wander along the woodland path.

Blue berries on red stem
Blue berries on red stem.

 I saw blue berries hanging from red stems and cotton soft down covering flower seed that wafts on the wind. 

The sun was setting to the west.  This is a little journal of my days in the woods.  I thought you might enjoy reading about Sadie and my eco adventure in the Great North Woods of Wisconsin.  Talk with you tomorrow afternoon.

Stay happy readers wherever you are.

Happy Tonics is Migrating to Costa Rica for an Eco Adventure by Mary Ellen Ryall

Copyright of Rancho Margot, Costa Rica, Central America
view of Lago Arenal in view of the Arenal Volcano and the valley of the Rio Cano Negro and is surrounded by the Children Eternal Forest and the Arenal Forest Reserve

We are pleased to announce that Sandy Stein and Pat Shields, husband and wife, will be in Costa Rica for much of December.

Stein is secretary of Happy Tonics, Inc. a nonprofit environmental education organization and public charity.  Pat Shields is a board member and facility at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College.

They will be staying at Rancho Margot, a 300 acre self sufficient working ranch at tp://

The Reserva Biologica de Monteverde is just 15 km from the ranch.  The natural paradise setting of the ranch is on Lago Arenal in view of the Arenal Volcano and the valley of the Rio Cano Negro and is surrounded by the Children Eternal Forest and the Arenal Forest Reserve. 

Costa Rica has the most species of butterflies anywhere in the world outside of Ecuador.  We hope the team is able to photograph butterfly species that are unfamiliar to us.  A video camera will record interviews at the organic ranch.  Happy Tonics mission is:  Sanctuary for the Monarch Butterfly and Food Safety Issues.  We are looking at other countries to see what we can learn about staying small, producing our own local and organic food, promoting biodiversity of habitat for butterflies and eco tourism.  Be sure to keep up with the blog news in December here at Insectamonarca’s Blog.