Friday, March 26, 2010

She's got a ticket to ride.

Hi from the KPI! The soup du jour is chicken rice and we've been on the phone since 11:30 am this morning. A usual Friday in The Junction.

This week I could have showed you what two chickadees in one cage looks like (two little black blobs together), but I forgot my camera back at camp that afternoon. I'm been all over the place this week, breaking trail on Chitty and Sulphur grids. Sulphur is named after a lake on the highway here. Chitty is named after a guy. My traps over there include Sassy Molassy and The Terminator. We have also found Paul, John, and Hey Jude over on Joe, so I'm sure Ringo is around somewhere too.

This is what it looks like when you lose your data book on the trail you just broke and had to run back several hundred metres to find it. It's corner is the tiny black speck of duct tape sticking out above my snowshoe.

This is what it looks like when you dig it out. The snow really melts the corners, so it's well protected with tape. My code initials are CDS. I'm glad I got to use my real ones. A lot of people have worked on this project over the years and we're all identified by our three letter code.

The inside of my book. Each night I make a list of the middens I need to trap at and a little map so that I can navigate without getting totally lost and wandering around. Because that is a huge waste of time, trust me. Each square on the grid represents a 30m x 30m square on the ground. They are all marked with miles of flagging tape and staked at each corner. It's pretty easy to see it all because all we have here is white snow and white spruce. And I still get lost some days and end up at L line when I should be at Q.

This is me all geared up and really sweaty from breaking trail across Chitty. I had to stop for a break and play with my camera a bit.

This week we did the spring crew's first peanut butter add. We had to deliver 320 kilos of peanut butter in 1 kilo increments to the squirrels on our food add grids. The peanut butter had been frozen out in the hut we can The Jail. We set up this peanut butter thawing contraption over the wood stove, got the hut up to 38 degrees Celsius and melted the peanut butter. I wore flip flops and a t-shirt. It was actually really nice. We drank a lot of very cold, icy beers. This process of pouring peanut butter took about 5 hours. And we made a huge mess. Which we cleaned in the dark.

Kristen and Lindsey pour.

I lid. And stack. See how I am melting along with the peanut butter?

Frances has camp day and makes us a delicious lasagna dinner for in between pouring peanut butter and then pouring more peanut butter.

This week we also had our first two nests. This was a lot of fun. Here is a nest pup. His eyes are still closed and he's squeaking because he's angry that he's out in the winter. He also didn't like getting a little notch cut out of his tiny ear, but we needed a DNA sample.

Nest pups are tiny and delicate. We weigh them, notch their ears, then put them back. When they are out of the nest they stay in a little fleece bag in the front of our jackets. Devan took these babies back to the nest and couldn't find one of the babies. I had them down my jacket and we thought one had crawled out of the bag (they naturally try to crawl up, so they can escape in trees...all squirrels naturally climb up). But the baby wasn't in my jacket and he had just miscounted when he put the babies back because mom came back to her midden and found all four.

In other news, Dylan and I have successfully grown a sprout. We picked up seeds in Whitehorse when we first came here. I have grown a lot of sprouts in Guelph, but I think the consistent heat source helps. These sprouts have basically been soaked, abandoned for two weeks, then a renewed effort was put into action and they have been cared for each day and left on the top of the propane stove that prevents the computers from freezing in the data hut. And we have a sprout.

One little sprout. It's that little white thing in the middle. Yum. Our sandwiches will be greatly improved once the rest of them join this one in sprouting.

And I'll leave you on this skies over Agnes Grid and the St. Elias Mountain Range.

Thanks for all the great mail this week! It's good to hear from all of you!

Talk to you soon, Cass

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