Summer is starting to wane here in Alaska. We are officially past the summer solstice and the days are already growing shorter, so it won’t be long until we are officially training the dogs again. We have been swimming them and free running them at least every other day, so everyone should be limbered up and have their lungs on for the start of the pulling season.
In the meantime we have been busy trying to bang out as many chores as possible. Last summer we only had 13 dry days all summer, so with all the rain the only real project that got done was keeping up with building up the dog yard to ensure the gang stayed somewhat high and dry.
This summer we have had only 13 days of rain, so we have been able to get through a lot. We have felled a lot of trees along our exit trail from the kennel after having many close calls with moose on blind corners last winter. We still have some smoothing out to do as some fourwheeler traffic by others in spring really destroyed the trails behind our house. The sunny weather really has the grass growing here, and I mean like four feet tall, so keeping it cut around the dogs and cabin in case of a fire has been an ongoing and never ending chore.
We also took advantage of the warm weather to restain our cabin. This preserves the life of the wood and really makes the place look a little nicer, so after renting a scaffold and staining almost 12 hours a day for a week, we got the place finished. Here’s a picture of a handrail that has been stained compared to the one that hasn’t. Quite a difference, huh?
The great weather also has the garden just exploding at the seams. Our kennel friend Susan asked for a picture of some of our crops, so here you go. As you can see from the photo at the top of this blog, we don’t have potato plants we have potato BUSHES. We doubled the garden at the start of the planting season, which up here was around mid-May. We planted two types of potatoes, strawberries, two types of onions, rhubarb, carrots, spinach, cabbage, chives, and peas (which a snowshoe hare ate, gotta talk to Shagoo about guarding the garden better).
This week we also made the most out of a bad situation of an associate. A local distributor we sometimes buy our dog food from had a large freezer unit break down on him. He had an entire semi-trailer full of 50 pound blocks of beef. Fearing they would go rotten in the heat and he’d be stuck with a huge rancid mess, he put the word out to all area mushers that they could have for free whatever they could haul off. We scrambled and hauled two truckloads back to the house, then spent the next day and a half rearranging our freezer space to make it all fit, since we had been accumulating fishheads all summer long. We even ended up going to town and getting a new “scratch and dent special” chest freezer for cheap at a local store, which considering what we saved on the meat, it is basically like we got the freezer for free.
All of this meat will come in handy this winter since as some of you have figured out and I hinted at in the last post, Cole is likely going to return to the 1,000-mile race circuit this winter. She has already signed up for Iditarod (see pic above of her at Iditarod headquarters on the first day to sign up), and not to tease, but as I said in the last post, we’ll write more about this later. Sorry for the mystery, but all will become clear soon, we promise.
In other news, our new kennel helpers have been doing a great job. As you can see in the photo above where they are being walked, more than taking Squirrel and Ping for a walk, they are pretty tough and real go-getters when it comes to the dogs. The one on the left is Thera Mullet and the one of the right is her younger sister Ema. Their parents believe in teaching the girls about civic duty and contributing to the community. Last year they volunteered at the Food Bank and this summer they have been helping us exercise the dogs, brush them out, as well as assisting with other projects as they come up. Hopefully after the summer is over, they will take away (like we are always trying to impart on everyone we meet) exactly what it takes to be a caring and responsible dog owner. All for this week.