Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fall Training

Fall training is getting in to full swing.  Finally seeing temps regularly below 50 degrees.  I've heard a lot about other people's rules of heat, and when to not exercise dogs.  Our rules are simple.  No running dogs over 50 degrees, and only as far as the dogs look like they are dealing well with the humidity/heat index.  The health and welfare of my dogs is paramount to me.  They are my friends and companions, and as much as they would do for me, I would certainly do that and more for them!  So what I look for is tongue lolling and flattening, head shaking, head drooping, slowing and slack tugs.  Usually by this time I've either slowed way down or take a break.  I do not want to get to the point my dogs are foaming or stumbling.  If we have to stop and rest, it is time to turn around, or if we are on our way back, we stop and rest for a bit, then go slow.  It is far more important to me that my dogs enjoy the run, and want to do it more than it is to go fast.

Being a recreational musher affords us this luxury, and even if we ever did go pro, I don't think I would change my attitude.  It would just mean we get to have fun together more often and in larger teams.

As for the teams, they are fairly well settled for the upcoming Ohio race near the end of November.  4 dog rig will be Princess and Bucky in lead and Yukon and Cowboy in wheel.  2 dog scooter will be Ghost and Heimy.  When we get to do some sledding, I'll probably sub in Heimy for Yukon, or use all six.  Looking forward to this season and hoping we are able to make more races this year!  Here are a couple of runs this year:
Ghost and Ace
Heimy
Princess

Friday, September 18, 2015

Summer happenings and Fall training.

Again, a lot has transpired since the last update.  Went to a few more shows with Ghost, but was pretty discouraged when the results were baffling again.  So, Ghost and I have been training for obedience and possibly rally.  He's a good boy, and loves working with me, but undoing his conformation training is proving to be difficult.  He gets the obedience part down very well, but can't get the idea that I don't want him to stack at rest any more, but to sit.  Everything else is going very well.  He's a smart boy and I'm sure it will click for him one day soon.
Heimy has become an integrated member of the pack, and has been getting along fine with all the other dogs.  He still has a little bit of resource guarding issues that we are working on, but they haven't caused any fights.  Even Moony seems to like him, and plays with him a lot.  We still don't let them roam freely together when we are not home, but it has been very encouraging that she has not even once seriously threatened him.  It's great to have peace in the house again.

I built another hen house (getting better at it each time), and this one will be much better suited for the upcoming winter.
I have panels for the sides and back that will be screwed in to place when it starts to get cold.  The back flap opens for easy removal of eggs and the front panel opens for ease of cleaning the coop.  You can also see our rooster.  This spring we plan on incubating some of the eggs to keep our flock sustainable.  We had issues this year with a bobcat that killed off 8 of our hens and two young turkeys, so we had to move the chicken yard back out front to deal with the predator.  Next spring we will try to move the chicken yard back to the side, and implement an electric wire around it at two levels to try to stop predators.  Moving the yard is a lot of work, but it is more healthy for the chickens to forage.

I ordered a new scooter from CTC Dog Sports, and a shorty harness from them.  Finally got to use them and really like them.  Here is Heimy's first run of the season.  It was pretty high humidity, so I wasn't pushing him.  Since it was only his 3rd time in harness I was also trying to be very encouraging.  He still has a lot of puppy in him. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96t0G6A36kw

This was Princess' first run of the season and since she tends to run hot and because of the high humidity, we were taking it pretty easy as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0fKC1SuBTM

This season we hope to make more races (yeah every year we want to make more events, but hopefully this racing season we will have the opportunity to do more).


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Catchup

Spent a lot of time chasing my tail, much like Heimy does.  Almost every race I entered last season was cancelled, sigh, and then the financials hit with the impetus of a Mack truck.  This has truly convinced me I need to move to sledding country, so that even when I have big bills to pay I can still make some events. 

I was at last able to make Bristol!  It was amazing!  I loved it, though the drive there and back was a bit exhausting.


Electricity bills this year were enormous, more than double what they had been in the past.  I was still able to make it up to Michigan for at least one event, and had a total blast running the trails.  Thanks again to the MIDD crew!
At least staying home allowed me to work more on expanding our little farm, and I managed to get several fence panels at a reasonable price and a lot of hard work.  So now I'm working on expanding the amount of room our chickens have to roam around in.  The fence helps keep out foxes and coyotes as well as free-roaming dogs.  Our neighbors across the road's dogs are excellent and help also keep marauding canines at bay, so I sneak them chewies and biscuits once in a while.  Since Lucy and I came to an understanding that the chickens were mine, she has been great for keeping guard, and even helped save a chicken from another loose dog.  She cuddled it close to keep it warm, but it was too late for the hapless bird.  The hen had already been mauled fatally, but I will not forget Lucy's heroism.

Along the road to homesteading, we traded two of our laying hens for five what were supposed to be silkie hens.  Turns out they were immature birds, though thankfully old enough to make it through the bitter cold winter we had (which generally was colder than Anchorage Alaska, if you can imagine that) with the heated coops we provided them (one reason my electric bill was so high).  As they matured this spring, one of them grew much larger than the other four and began crowing.  Ok, four hens and a rooster.  Thankfully silkies are not very loud.  The four hens have started laying, adding to our laying birds, and perhaps in the future will add to the flock.  We also picked up 12 more chicks this year, all lively and healthy!  Looks like we might not have any loss of these cute little ones, and I'm very happy with them.  This new bunch are also very personable and try to climb on me as often as I have a hand or arm in their enclosure. 

I've built what I hope will be a good exercise area for them, and have only a few touches to add before it is ready for them to roam in the big yard with the other chickens without being picked on.  I plan on adding both sets of older birds to the larger yard, so hopefully they can all live in the same space.  Let's hope there won't be any vicious fights, but I'll keep a close eye on the introductions just in case.  What I plan on doing is creating a roosting area that can span between the two coops, and this area will be an enclosed and insulated coop for next winter. It will attach to both of the current hen houses, and I also plan on putting two openings to different yards so that I can seed one while they tear up the other.

Back to the dogs, Samantha and I went to Mt Orab Library in Ohio to do a meet and greet with some kids that have been studying the Iditarod segment in their schooling.  It was a fabulous time!  Thanks again for the invite!


Ghost and I will be headed off to the shows this spring.  Hopefully we can finally finish his championship.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Heimdahl (Heimy)

Heimdahl is another addition to the pack.  We took him in after he had been rehomed by his breeder twice unsuccessfully.  He's a very sweet but mischievous boy, and too smart for his own good. He'll fit in here just fine, I think.  I was hesitant to take him in due to the issues we've had between Moony and Velvet, but he's made a good companion for Velvet, and they wear each other out.  Heimy is good natured, but does exhibit jealousy. We are currently breaking him of the displays (little fits), but it is taking patience and love to show him he will get equal attention, food, or space with the other dogs without him nipping at them and yowling.

To do this, we don't give  him attention or food until he is sitting still and behaving.  He then gets treats and attention.  He is improving greatly, and only does it during feeding time now. (which we are working on)  Other than that, he gets along with everyone and they all like to play with him now and again.  He and Velvet have become inseparable, and he idolizes and sleeps by Ghost when he can.

We've only  had one good day of mushing this year, and I wanted to see how Velvet could do.  Her injuries may sadly prevent her from going on the racing team, which breaks my heart as much as hers.  I had to sadly cut short the run and take it very easy on the way back to the house.  I will work with her therapeutically solo to see if she will improve, so we will see, but it is unlikely she will be on the team this year.  I'm very sad about this, as she is an incredible little dog and I had high hopes she would make as great a leader as her mother, Freya.

So far we are planning on going to Bristol to pick up a new Outlaw rig (new to us), and the Farm Park Challenge part 2.  There is a good chance we will also make the Fair Hill Challenge, Mackinaw Mush if they have it, and an as yet undetermined race in February and one in March.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Adventures in Dog Showing

BTW, Saturday was an adventure, woke up early to feed dogs, shower, and get ready to meet Catherine Gamble for the drive up to Troy OH dog show.  Sleepily stumbled into the bathroom warding off happy puppy faces, only they weren't trying to lick me like normal.  It finally dawned on me that they were concerned and trying to push me off the toilet!  Or trying to push me out of the way so they could get next to the toilet, I realized.  Looking down and to my right I came eye to eye with a large dark brown snake with a mottled diamond pattern barely visible on its back.

My tired brain said "Cotton mouth!" and woke me the F up!  Yep, no caffeine necessary!

(This is obviously not my bathroom, but this is very close to what I was looking at in the semi-darkness)

Thankfully the snake seemed just as surprised and unbelieving as I was!  It had looped itself covetously around a toilet paper roll and was looking up at me as if to say it had no idea this was my bathroom and not a cozy inviting snake den.  A closer examination of the snake showed me round pupils and I relaxed.  Just a rat snake.  A four foot long rat snake, but still...The only movement was a flicking of a black tongue and I was very quick to finish my business and shoo the dogs out, shut the door and go wake my husband to help me round up the snake.  I think he's been watching too much Turtleman...

Grabbing a reach stick with a suckered grabber at the end, he follows me back to the bathroom.  I get an old pillow case, and he attempts to pick up the snake with a device never meant to pick up more than 16 ounces...  The snake is starting to wake up now, even though it is very cold and lethargic.  It makes a break for the door.  I grab another stick and help fend it away from freedom.  Jim finally gets a claw up under the snake as it is slithering out and lifts it enough for me to bag it.

"Tornader it!" He says, and I couldn't help but bust out laughing.

After I finished up getting ready and loading up, I took the snake down by the bridge and let it go.  Hopefully it will consume many mice and tell its grand-hatchlings about its close encounter and alien abduction.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lots of Snow!

Amazingly enough, we have had a lot of snow in Kentucky this year!  Enough to actually do some sledding!
Velvet's 2nd time in lead

Have to say it was amusing to see how Velvet handled lead position.  I think she will be as good or maybe even better than her mother, Freya.

Ghost is now entered in the TN specialty and the cluster next month, so hopefully he will get the points he needs for his Championship.  I will be doing a lot of work with him in the upcoming weeks to get him ready.

Back at the Nationals:  Chilly Takes a Walk
So I was feeding Ghost on the porch again, and we were gearing up to go see Cathy in the main hall.  We were going to take Chilly with us so she could 'help her momma shop'.  (Those of you who know Cathy and Chilly, this is a common occurrence, and the highlight of Chilly's day.  I told Alayna to hold up while I finished taking care of Ghost and get him back in his crate, so went outside to pick up what he hadn't eaten, and brought him back in the room.  After getting him settled in, I turned around to get Chilly, and there was no sign of her.  The door was wide open and panic smote through me.  Chilly is Cathy's baby girl and I would never forgive myself if anything happened to her!

In a panic, I had Alayna go one way around the hotel and I went the other frantically calling out to Chilly!

Meanwhile, Chilly decided to go shopping.  She strolled down the hallways she knew led to where Cathy was as if she belonged there.  One thing held her up though, the smell of Bacon!  She wandered in to the restaurant, trying to convince patrons that she was a poor starving stray, and she would be ever so grateful for a bite of bacon!

Two lunatics ran frantically around the hotel screaming "CHIIILLLYYYY!  Come here Chilly!" with fear rising in their guts (the hotel is next to a very busy highway on one side and bordered the freeway on the other!  In dismay I rounded the last corner expecting to run in to Alayna, but she was markedly silent and not there.  The only thing running through my mind was "oh god, now I lost the girl and the dog!  So I asked around in the lobby to see if anyone had seen a dog or a smallish girl!  Getting looks like I was the Boston strangler was very uncomfortable.  No one had seen either.  In a panic I ran down the other side of the hotel yelling "CHHIIILLLYYY!  ALAAAAYNA!"  I ran around the outside of the building just in case, but no one out there walking their dogs had seen either of them.  Finally in dismay, I checked back in the room and there was Alayna with Chilly!

She told me the Chilly had wandered in the restaurant, and was fed and caught by someone there.  As soon as Alayna ran by yelling for her, they realized Chilly must be the object of her search and handed her over.  Much relieved, we brought a smug yet satisfied Chilly to her mom to go shopping.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Velvet and Moony


Both girls are back to getting along, though under careful supervision and only when Ace and Zena are separated from them.  We will never allow all four of them together again, as it would be irresponsible to put Velvet at risk.  Velvet also gets to play with Ace and Zena when Moony is separated, so all dogs get to socialize again.  Velvet is still a bit fearful of Moony and Ace, but who can blame her?  She does ok though, when I'm there near her.  She has gone back to playing with Zena reservedly, which is good.  Princess is still a good pal with her, and all the boys and Freya are happy to play and socialize with her.  Samantha is an oddball, sometimes she plays, but most of the time she just watches, but she never had an issue with Velvet.

The house we have separated in to two parts, and we use that to keep the girls separated as well as crates when they are sleepy.  Moony will lie down by Velvet's crate sometimes when she is not sleeping by Jim, which is a calming sign to Velvet.  When Moony is crated though, Velvet does not lie down by her, so there is still some room to build back their relationship.  But they do interact peacefully again. 

So, what happened at the Nationals you ask?  Well, the first story involves me feeding Ghost out on the veranda when it was about 30 degrees out.  Ghost became finicky the whole time we were there, mostly because he had fallen madly in love with Chilly (Cathy's girl, and apparently the heart-throb of every male Siberian that has ever laid eyes on her), so it was taking some time to get him to eat something.  Being curious, Alayna, Cathy's granddaughter, came to visit me on the veranda.  As a conscientious child, she shut the door behind us.  Well unfortunately for us, there was a slide clasp that was knocked into place when she did so.

Cathy was on her way back to the room without a key, unaware that we were locked out on the veranda.  She was knocking on the door, but we couldn't get in to open it, and I really didn't feel like jumping down 10 feet.  Fortunately, I did have my door key on me, though it was of little good on the veranda.  So we had to beg the help of a passer-by to unlock our door for us to get back in.  A kind lady brought the key in and gave it to Cathy and hence we were delivered from our internment... er... externment? 

In the next story, learn of the adventures of Chilly, Shikku, Willow and Snickers.  Elvis was entertained all week.