Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A winter/spring day

The snow is almost gone in the exercise yards around our kennel, which means it is mud season....Snow is also going in many of our favorite training locales and the temperatures are warming which means but the time we travel to them conditions can be a bit less than optimal. We are awaiting some more of the snow to melt and local trails to dry out so we might get out on out carts and scooters.

The new cart that I got Bob for his birthday has arrived and I will need to take some photos so that I can post here. It is made by Artis carts and looks like it is going to be a very nice addition to our suite of training equipment here. It is similar in design to the carts made by German designer Fritz Dyck but with a few differences. It has a wider wheel base, and a slightly different dirt brake mechanism. At this point Artis carts only come in a three wheel version. One of the nice features of this cart is that it has a very easy to use lever for the dirt brake, a feature not found on the Fritz Dyck three wheel cart, at least when we purchased one. These two brands of carts are the only that we know of that have a dirt brake. We have been very impressed over the years by the the ability of this device to hold and control a team while out on the trail. We have been using both the Fritz Dyck SAM and TOM in our training program for several years. In the future I will post some pictures of the new cart but meanwhile here are some pictures taken around our place today of the house and dogs.

Happy Pepper

Pepper above and Nova below

Dasher and Back Yard

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring....yahooo! But...that means MUD

We are down to a 4 inch snow pack now on the property. It has been disappearing much more quickly as our nights have grown warmer, temperatures above freezing. Yes I admit to a certain obsession with this topic. I do enjoy the snow and winter and there is a part of me that is sorry to see it all go. But once it does start to go, this in between stage is just not for me! What is it about retreating snow that leaves mud the consistency of clay ready to be worked. Clay that sticks to whatever crosses over it, whether it be my dogs or me. Of course the young dogs are always filthy this time of year. They can get a bath one day and within another day or two it is hard to tell that any shampoo touched their bodies. Much of it will fall off once the dogs are dry so that is the best strategy for me!

In addition to receding snow, and encroaching mud, other signs of spring here include the morning cacophony of birds. We are starting to see greater variety at our feeders, today a downey woodpecker, towhee, red breasted nuthatch all came to visit. We've had chickadees, juncos, and house finches as regular visitors, along with occasional goldfinches.

Another recent discovery has been "facebook". Funny how one discovers that all of sudden there has been this whole other world of electronic communication out there that they were not aware of. The networking abilities available through this tool seem boundless.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Long Winter

The long winter continues.......After relatively mild weather through January and most of February, winter came back for at least one last blast this week. Several inches of snow fell in northern Idaho followed by a very strong cold snap. Night temperatures after the storm fell below zero across the inland northwest, breaking records across the region. As snow has many words in different languages, it can have a different feel depending upon temperature. Cold snow, that in the teens or single digits has an almost stiff or crunchy feel when walked upon, perhaps a reflection of its more hardy harsh nature than its warmer cousin at 25 to 32 degrees. We expect more snow this weekend, though temperatures are not expected to be as cold.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Frog Lake 2 Race

This past weekend was our last snow race of the season at Frog Lake. Seems like about 1/3 of the time we visit this race we find rain waiting for us. This time Saturday was gorgeous and the view of Mt. Hood travelling to and from the race were incredible. A storm had passed through two days before leaving the trees covered with snow, so the scenery was stunning. The Frog Lake 2 race is a fun race for everyone. It is not part of the PNC (Pacific Coast Championships) Series, rather a fun race allowing everyone time to get together one last time. The host club, the Cascade Sled Dog Club threw a wonderful barbecue on saturday for all participants with burgers, hot dogs, chili and lots of other side dishes. We also heard that this year, the club was celebrating its 50th year of existence! It is the oldest sled dog club in the northwest. Sunday, the rain caught up with us. The morning was showery, the afternoon for most heats the rain was steady. It cleared up for the awards ceremony though.
I had a pretty good first day, somewhat slower than the last couple races, but this course is listed as being a little longer so that would figure. I later figured out that with the course length as noted as 6 miles we did about the same as we have all season. I am very pleased with the consistency of the team and with the progress that the puppies have made. The Frog Lake 6 dog course is a nice one, it has the longest hill of any of the course that we do for sprint. This weekend with Xena on the team we had to do a few more stops and encouragement as she learned to work with the sams. She is a very hard worker, and no doubt wondering why they were not making quite as much progress as she thought they should be. Below as some photos. The first two are from Frog Lake, start and finish the third is from Priest Lake.