January 18, 2017DRYDEN — When Margie Muir saw the front page story about Rob Sarka's elk antler find, a lightbulb clicked on.
A lifelong resident of the area, and wife of the late farmer Don Muir, Margie remembered literally stumbling across a similar find on their historic dairy farm.
The date? Fifty-two years ago. The place? Near the brand new pond the couple had for the cattle. Margie also wanted to make sure their five kids would have a place to play nearby. It was the only recreation space on the vast, 185 acre farm and Margie wanted to make it really nice. She was determined to seed some grass so they could roll around and have a soft place to land.
Margie was perched atop her husband's John Deere tractor, eager to complete the project, when something suddenly snagged the front tire.
The chloride she'd been hauling went flying overhead as the tractor stopped dead.
"I was upset because I knew my husband was going to be upset," Margie chuckles at the memory. "I didn't pay a lot of attention to what I'd hit, I just picked it up and brought it to the house. I didn't fish around for more."
Up at the house, Margie washed the object off. It looked like a piece of an animal skull with large antlers attached.
At this point, Margie didn't care much about what it was...she was too busy worrying about the tractor tire that had gotten destroyed. She put the object aside for a while, and listened as her husband let off a little steam about her misadventure.
"He wasn't too happy," she says.
Later, Margie asked her good friend—renowned area barn builder Paul Hagemeister—about the object. Hagemeister confirmed that she'd stumbled upon an elk skull and its antlers, and it likely dated back a couple of hundred years when the animals freely roamed the area.
Last week's column by Randy Jorgensen of Woods-N-Water News fame detailing Sarka's find tripped the memory and prompted Margie to go on a hunting trip of her own. She headed down to her basement to see if the skull and antlers were still there, and was pleased to find them exactly where she thought they'd be.
"Who knows what other parts of the skull may have been left behind, but I wasn't about to go digging around that day," Margie grins.
At the time of the discovery, Margie's youngest son was just five years old. Today, that boy—Allen—is 56 years-old. The Muir's other children include Connie, 62, Vicki, 61, Cindy, 59, and Donald, 58.
All of them grew up on the dairy farm in the
home Margie still lives
The Muir family still makes maple syrup each year, a 100-year tradition they're proud to carry on. The family produces about 70-80 gallons annually, and attract visitors from around the area during the sugaring season. They've recently revamped their historic sugar shack, where the sap is boiled down over a wood fire just like they did years ago.
An artist, Margie recently completed a sign for Donald's birthday. On a sturdy piece of maple round, the sign reads 'Muir Woods.' It's an inside joke based on California's famed forest of the same name, and it will greet visitors to the equally remarkable maples on the Muir property.
Oh—and you'll still find Margie atop a tractor of some sort. She still mows all the lawn on the vast acreage that's been in the family for years.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.