Independent living 101

I live a way of life unlike anyone that I know. I travel, take part in outdoor experiences and then come home, write about them and sell my story to over 60 newspapers. I am 100-percent self employed.

Another part of my life that is not entirely common is how I live when I am not on outdoor experiences. That is what this week’s column is all about.

The blossoms did not freeze this spring on the nine apple trees that I planted over the last 17 years. Last year the blossoms did freeze and I did not get one apple. In a perfect world I will harvest at least nine bushels and will make lots of applesauce in September.

As you read this I have 360 hills of Yukon Gold and Pontiac Red potatoes in my garden. I plant enough potatoes to last until the following harvest and I can about 25 quarts.

Besides a lack of water the real enemy of a potato grower is the potato bug. Potato bugs are very prolific and can wipe out your crop in two weeks.

My gardens are larger than some people’s lawns and I have to admit that I am addicted to growing raspberries, asparagus, rhubarb, seven different kinds of peppers, 30 tomato plants, what should come to over 150 acorn and butternut squash, and green beans, peas and cucumbers.

I like to give things away and if I can 30 quarts and 50 pints of salsa, over half of that becomes a gift. I do the same with many of the fish that I catch.

My 1-year-old golden retriever, Ruby, is perhaps the toughest, craziest, smartest and most full-of-love dogs I have ever had. In April I was out doing work on my cattle pasture and Ruby brought me four baby cottontail rabbits one at a time

Their eyes were closed, one had damage from being carried and I had no idea where the nest was. I went to town and bought a can of powdered baby formula and an eye dropper.

Two of the babies died in the first few days. Bugs and Jack became pets until one night, Jack hopped over to my bed and in the morning passed away from a cause that I have no idea of what it was. Bugs on the other hand is my buddy, I love that little rabbit and he has a free reign in this house.

Bugs eats clover, carrots and apples. Bugs is kind of potty trained to a piece of newspaper and is a very cool addition to Selina’s life and mine.

Something that I do not dwell on, but is a huge part of my life, is being the president of KAMO (Kids and Mentors Outdoors). Can you remember that idea that I wrote about back in 2006 to start an outdoor organization that takes kids on outdoor experiences on both one-on-ones and group events?

We now have seven chapters throughout Wisconsin and we are getting good at what we do. Being the president of KAMO is exhausting but incredibly rewarding.

The best part of my life is raising this 16-year-old girl called Selina who is heading to Canada with me tomorrow for her 15th fly-in fishing trip. In my opinion, there is no bigger job in the world than properly raising children.

Selina and I have a blast, I get along with her friends, I am very active at her school and I am trying to teach her a solid work ethic. What is a super bonus is that she loves to hunt and fish.

In other words, when there is no more ball to play or track to run around we will still have the bond of outdoor experiences to look forward to and remember. That, my friends, is my key to success!


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