Life has been go, go, go lately, between running dogs, work and the other million things we’re trying to do. To begin, this past Sunday we got another call for a horse. For those who don’t know, the dead horse call is the quintessential symbiotic relationship in Alaska. Horses typically weigh 1,000 pounds and so their owners often don’t want to deal with the expense of renting a back hoe to dig a grave, or paying someone to haul the corpse off. Instead they call mushers, like us, who come and pick up the animal for free, and then butcher the animal getting hundreds of pounds of meet from it, which saves us thousands in dog food.
Sometimes the horse calls can be a lot of work for the reward, especially when no one can give us a hand loading the dead beast into our pick-up. However, this time several friends from work and our neighborhood rode along and lend their back strength to lifting, so picking it up took less than 10 minutes.
We then brought the animal home and butchered and bagged the meat for the rest of the day. We bagged up the meat for race snack later in the year, and cut up the bones for the puppies to gnaw on and enjoy.
Speaking of our two new rescue puppies, Klaus and Boo, their socialization is going fantastic. We have been lucky to have a lot of friends who can come out and play with them, and take them for walks. This past week we had a bit of a “puppy party” and had a few friends come by with their own dogs. It ended up being a lot of fun, and it really woe the little guys out.
Part of the reason the socialization is also going so well is that after eight years of living without water in our tiny little cabin, we have committed to building a house (see photo above), and there have been lots of carpenters, plumbers and electricians that we have forced the puppies on. The building has been a daunting process, but we are hoping in the long run it will be worth it (especially since we’ll be paying it off for the rest of out lives). We designed the whole thing with dogs in mind, but more on that in a later post, when the project is further along.
In other news, our other two new dogs from the Kenai Animal Shelter, Cool Whip and Ghost, are also doing great. Coolwhip went into her terrible puppy listening phase a few weeks ago. We would daily find her hanging out in our neighbors yard, eating garbage or playing with their pet horse. We have worked on giving her reward when she sticks around, and time-outs in the kennel when we have to retrieve her, and it seemed to pay off. She know can be out playing with Buckwheat, Meetoo and the others for hours on end…most of the time.
Ghost is also improving as a sled dog with each run. We are really impressed with how fast she has taken to the lifestyle. She can’t get enough of running. She has already led several long runs already, eats great once back in the yard, and has really fast muscle/cardio recovery. She’s the first dog trying to get everyone playing after a run. We’re still guardedly optimistic about her chances of making the race team, though. We have seen a lot of dogs look great, run strong and lead well, up until about 20 to 30 miles runs, and then we start to see the chinks in their armor. Time will soon tell if this will be the case with Ghost or not, as with each run we do, the distances are getting a little longer.
Our friends Jill, Ashley and Mike, and several canine companions hang out during our “puppy party.”
A new meaning to the words “quarter horse.”
Ghost with a sandy face after a training run on the beach.
Archive for October 7th, 2009
Fall means more than just training dogs, it is also a time to harvest our garden. The temperatures here have been a little disappointing for mushing as of late, most of the state had already received at least a dusting of snow, and some location have already had accumulations of several inches, but in Kasilof the weather has been bouncing back and forth between lows in the upper 20’s to low 40’s. The few nights at the colder temperatures were enough to fry most of our greens still in the ground, so we really got cracking on pulling everything up and getting it processed for winter.
Loyal readers of this blog will know that our garden provides an annual abundance of fruits and veggies, all grown from compost made from dog poop. Sounds gross to anyone who doesn’t know much about compost, but by the time this material reaches our planting beds, it is a rich, black, organic soil. Nothing looking or smelling like it did when it left the dogs.
This year we grew raspberries, strawberries, turnips, rhubarb, two types of carrots, peas, two types of onions and potatoes. Much like fish in summer time, pulling up the food is the fun part, but processing it for winter can be a lot of work. Some of the veggies we freeze, some we overwinter in the root cellar and most others we jar. Here are some recent pictures of this year’s crops.
The sweetest tasting carrots known to man…seriously. These are like candy right out of the ground.
Roaster reds go good as a side dish with just about any red meat.
The finished product, some of our jarred carrots and turnip greens (my favorite part of the turnip).
One of our delicious strawberries.
Two of my huge turnips. The compost, combined with our long summer days in Alaska, makes everything super-sized.