Oct 14

It was one of those perfect October days, not too hot, not too cold, sunny and bright. I decided to go in early to my deer stand, located at the edge of one of our Tug Hill farm fields. I took along a Louis L’Amour book, got my rifle and camera ready, and laid back for a few hours. This is the part of deer hunting I really enjoy. After awhile, a big doe and twin fawns joined me, and I watched them cavorting on the field for an hour or so, hoping that the buck I knew was in the neighborhood would join them. Just before dark, a pack of hunting coyotes started to make music in the nearby woods, and my deer eased off the field. Although I knew there would be no more deer today, I stayed until the light was gone, then unloaded my rifle, packed my gear, and climbed down from the stand. As I started the half-mile trek across the fields to camp, I could suddenly hear the hunting calls of the coyotes in the trees to my right, and also on my left. Were they hunting me? Even with a rifle in hand,it makes one feel very alone out there. As an instinctive shiver went down my back and the hairs stood up on my neck, I stuffed a clip back in my deer rifle and played my light around the field, looking for shining eyes. But no, as I stood alone in the darkened field for a while, the melodious calls of the hunters faded in another direction. Some unlucky hare was probably the target this night. A welcome full Hunter moon arose, shedding some light on the field. However, I walked just a bit faster as I headed for the distant lights of the farmhouse.

Sep 5

Adirondack Buck

Adirondack Buck

OL’ TIGE

The other day I was doing some wandering on Google, wasting time, and I came across this great piece of poetry. Brought back some memories of one of our most memorable deer hunts, gosh, some 50 years ago now. I remember like it was last year.

My brothers Lee and Jim were still teens, and I was just back from the Cold War. Deer were scarce on Tug Hill after a few tough winters, and we had been exploring some promising hunting grounds in the Adirondacks. We borrowed a neighbor’s WWII jeep, and Brother Dick’s ’52 Chevy pickup with his homemade camper, and set out for a November hunt. More about that later, maybe.

We were camped near Pico Mountain, and to get there one had to drive about 10 miles of gravel road beyond Brantingham Lake, then 4 or 5 miles of log roads into the woods. Lee and I had been in camp for a few days, and came out to pick up Jim at Brantingham. On our journey back to camp, we were ambushed by a jolly group of hunters on the Partridgeville Road, who insisted we join them in their camp, where a little party was going on. Their senior camper-he seemed ancient, but surely wasn’t much older than I am now-stood on a chair, bourbon in hand, and recited for us verbatim this very funny poem-we thought at the time he was making it up-and it has stayed with us all this years. I have never found it in print until now. Not sure who the author was.

Ready?

THE PISSING DOG
A farmer’s dog came into town,
His Christian name was Tige;
His mother showed her pedigree,
It was noblesse oblige.
And as he trotted down the street,
It was wonderful to see
Him piss against each corner,
And Diss against each tree.
He pissed against each gateway,
And pissed against each post;
For pissing was his specialty,
And pissing was his boast.
The city dogs looked on amazed,
In growing helpless rage;
To see a simple country dog,
The pisser of his age.
[9]



Some thought that he a king might be,
Of legend long forgot;
Whose asshole shone like burnished gold,
And smelled like berganot.
Then each one smelled him critically,
They smelled him two by two;
But the country dog in high disdain,
Stood still until they were through.
Then just to show his mettle,
That he did not care a damn,
He trotted to a grocery store,
And pissed upon a ham.
He pissed upon a child’s bare leg,
He pissed upon the floor;
Till the grocer with a bull’s-eye kick,
Sent him pissing through the door.
Behind him all the city dogs
Lined up with instinct true,
To start a pissing carnival,
And see the stranger through.
[10]



They showed him every pissing place
They had about the town,
And started in with many a wink
To piss the stranger down,
They sent for champion pissers
In training and condition,
Who sometimes did a pissing stunt,
Or pissed for exhibition.
But Tige was pissing merrily,
With hind leg hoisted high;
When most were hoisting legs in bluff,
But pissing mighty dry,
Then Tige sought out new pissing ground,
By piles of scrap and rust;
Till even the boldest pissers there
Pissed a little spurt of dust.
Then followed free hand pissing,
With fancy flirts and flings,
Like “double drop” and “gimlet twist,”
And all those graceful things*
[11]



So on and on went the pissing dog,
With shining amber rill,
Till the boldest pisser of them all
Was pissed to a dead standstill.
But never a wink gave the country dog,
Nor bark, nor growl, nor grin;
But pissed his journey out of town
As he came pissing in,
.

Jul 27
The good ol' days on the tug

The good ol' days on the tug

I have always felt a strong tie to The Tug that keeps calling me back.  My Dad and Mom were both born there, operated a dairy farm for 50 years or so, and raised a large family.  Eleven of us grew up there; working on the farm, rambling the forests, fields, and backroads; fishing, hunting, exploring, picking berries. Not a bad life.

Now that I am retired and have the time, I don’t get back much; it’s dangerous to be out there alone where the cell phone doesn’t work-a few trips in Summer and a couple of hunting trips with my bros in the Fall.  I just spent a few days in Montague, doing some painting and fixin’ on the camp, and wandering around.  I love to travel the old roads with my camera, remembering the farms and homes and stores and people that once were-all gone now.  All those hardy immigrants who took their turn in trying to tame The Tug: Irish, Polish, Hungarians.  Most of the farmland has gone back to forest, and it is hard to tell where the homes were unless you know what to look for.  Most everyone had a few huge maple trees in the yard, and they are still there.  There is probably the remains of a cellar nearby.  Now there are more and more summer homes and hunting camps, with some great new neighbors, most of whom know little about the history of the region and people.  People like Charlie Kempa, who was attacked by a lynx and killed it with his ax.  Or Amby Williams, who almost hosted a Woodstock concert on the Tug.  Or George “The Runner” Jacunski.  And the snowmobilers and ATVers ride the roads at high speeds, unaware that here where a sports bar now sits was once a thriving village of over 300 people-even a broom factory- and former home of “Running George”.  Just to the south was the beginning of the Glenfield & Western Railroad, over its icy tracks moved thousands of Tug Hill logs to the mills in the valley below.  This little creek, nearly every little creek, powered a cheese factory or sawmill or both.  And nearly every intersection boasted a church, schoolhouse, grange, or general store to serve the many farms.  All gone now, but for some of the cemeteries.  Nothing but memories.  Here at Mud Creek we fished for trout.  Near the former Pat Vaugh farm we chased a nice buck out for my dad on Thanksgiving morning.  Here on Pitcher Road the whole family went picking huckleberries on summer sundays.  There lived Mrs Nefsey, who had the only phone in the neighborhood, and gladly shared it, in exchange for some local gossip.  It was a harder but friendlier time then.  Memories.

For those who may be interested in history of Tug Hill, Harold E. Samson wrote 2 very good books.  “Tug Hill Country” Tales from the Big Woods, and “The Other Side of the Hill”, which covered our east and north side.  I believe both have been reprinted recently in paperback.  I knew many of the people he tells about, and some of the stories were local legend.  John Golden’s “Northern Drift” has some good stories on Tug Hill people, and Louis Mihalyi of Glenfield did a couple of “Nature, Nurture, and Nostalgia” books with the best from his Black River Journal in the Watertown Times.  And last year, I found on ebay a copy of the “History of the Town of Harrisburg”.  Great reading.  Maybe someday I will do one.  There aren’t a million stories out there, but quite a few.  Some good ones.

For those not familiar with Montague, here is some interesting reading:

Montague History

Jan 28

I have often heard stories about this happening-to others, of course, but one never really believes it. Like winning the lottery. I call it the Dall Deweese Story.

About 20 years ago, I was browsing a garage sale, as I like to do, and found in a shoe box of miscellaneous stuff a couple of old knives, which I bought for $1. One was a Case fishknife, which I gave to my bud, and the other a stag-handled hunting knife that looked as if it had a good blade. Maybe a good swoppin’ knife, at least.  I cleaned it up some, found a sheath that fit it, and sharpened the blade. After using it on a couple of deer, I dubbed it “Little Ugly” and made it my favorite deer knife.

Just recently, I decided to sell on ebay some of the knives I had accumulated over the years. I mean, how many hunting knives can you carry? When I researched Ugly, I found a couple of similar knives that told me this one might have collector value, so I did some internet searching. A few people have helped me out and shared their knowledge, and it seems my dollar knife may be worth $1000 to $2500. Seems it is a MSA Marble Dall Deweese, made around 1912, and highly prized by some collectors. Deweese was a famous Colorado/Alaskan guide & hunter back around 1900, and he supposedly designed the knife that bears his name.

Now what? It just doesn’t seem right somehow to be opening deer and bean cans with a $2500 knife, and what if I should lose it in the woods? Hopefully, I can find it a new owner who will appreciate it for its history, and I have to find a new favorite. It would make a great start on my own collection, but I am too old for that. So, farewell, faithful friend, we had some great times together.

The Deweese

I have been meaning to do a follow-up on this, now that we are finished moving and selling most everything we owned.  Here goes.

I did some research on the internet and finally found an expert who authenticated my antique, and valued at around $900.  I considered marketing it on ebay.  I had been emailing with a lady who said she wanted the knife as a gift for her husband, so we made a deal on it.  So now “l’il Ugly” has a new home and I was able to pay some bills.  For forty bucks on ebay, I found a replica knife with wood handle, which I may carry as my deer knife.  I always did like the style.  Except that the first time I put the new knife in its sheath, it sliced thru the bottom stitching and almost thru my hand!  Small wonder few of the original sheathes are still around.

Nov 3

If this blog sounds familiar to you, I was formerly on WordPress as “Wandering the Tug”. I have some of my files still there, so if you wish  you can visit me at http://winteridge.wordpress.com. Still a work in progress.

Also visit the York State blog for some interesting stuff.

Thanks,

Sep 21

Lake Effect Snow

Well, as always happens, the days are getting short, the nights are getting cool, and the leaves are coming down. In no time, the hunting moon will be here, then comes Winter. Great, if you are a snowmobiler…I gave all that up.

But if you are looking for some fantastic snowmobiling with miles and miles of great trails, usually snow-covered, and you need a place to stay on Tug Hill, check out http://winteridgefarm.com. See my winteridge farm link below on the right.

You will love it.

Enjoy.

Sep 27

MAPLE RIDGE WIND FARM

(or Flat Rock Wind Farm, or even Tug Hill Windmill Farm, if you will.)

The Windmills of Lewis County:

Took a ride up to the Tug yesterday to the Eagle Factory Road for the official dedication of the great Maple Ridge Wind Farm, finally nearing completion. It was a beautiful sunny fall day, but a bit breezy. Those windmill folks did it up right, as they do everything, with a great program, excellent lunch, thanks to all who were involved for a job well done, and souvenirs for everyone.

It really was an amazing project to see built, and once all the red tape was out of the way, those huge windmills were popping up overnite, it seemed. Awesome. One of the largest such projects in the world, so they say, and just a sign of things to come.

I was somewhat surprised that some of our politicians were not there to take credit, being an election year and all. Well, not so surprising, I guess. George W. and his crowd are seriously tied up in fossil fuels. Hilly and George P. are busy with more lofty goals somewhere in the Midwest. And I am sure Spitzer and Faso have not located Tug Hill on their GPS maps yet.

The folks who did speak were heavily into pointing out the long-term benefits of clean, renewable energy, and the long-term cash benefits of the windmills to an area that pretty much had nothing before. True, I guess. And one can put up with a few inconveniences, like the tourists, for the extra income, improved roads, and such. We got a chuckle out of one speaker going on about how the local dairy farmers would now find it easier to keep the family farms going with the extra income. Many of the Tug Hill farmers we know who are still in operation have been selling their herds as soon as the wind checks actually started coming in, and have gone on to other projects, or retired to watch the blades turn. But I guess the government’s agenda for years has been to put the small dairy farmer out of business, even to buying out their herds, so I guess it all works out.

One thing that does puzzle me is that now the project is completed, they are paving many of the roads in the area. That in itself is worth the hassle, as it seems those roads are paved maybe once every 40-50 years. But, we are only paving those roads that were paved before this all began, none of the gravel roads. Now it seems that if the windmill maintenance folks are going to be driving those roads, every day for the next 25 years, they would want to travel on paved roads. It would be nice for the residents too. Maybe when the towns start getting all that extra annual income, they will see to that.

Anyway, it appears to be a win-win project for everyone involved, and we are glad to see it finally completed. Great job, Maple Ridge, Flat Rock, Horizon, and all you other folks.

www.mapleridgewind.com