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

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.

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.

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


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.