Happy Thanksgiving!

A winter rainbow from a couple weeks ago.

A winter rainbow from a couple weeks ago.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. And no, it's not just because we get to stuff ourselves full of delicious food and eat platefuls of dessert (although I do love that part), but it also is a day when we take a step back from our busy training schedule to enjoy time with family and friends. I have so much to be thankful for- inspirational and uplifting friends, supportive and wonderful family, the opportunity to build my dream homestead, and of course my incredible canine family. I'm thankful for everyone on the Ryno Kennel Team and am continually amazed at all the wonderful people I meet through mushing. Every day waking up, I can't help but look out the window and think- how did we get so lucky?

So what's on the agenda at Ryno Kennel for Thanksgiving? Call family and friends, probably run a team or two, spend time with puppies, perhaps go clear trail, and have our annual Thanksgiving Dinner with other Two Rivers mushers. It's shaping up to be a perfect day.

We're Officially On Sleds!

One of my favorite sections of trail. Windy, narrow- a hidden hideaway.

One of my favorite sections of trail. Windy, narrow- a hidden hideaway.

We've had a fantastic start to winter this year with lots of snow! Last year we were still training on ATVs for another month! I remember thinking, there's a reason we call them sled dogs and not quad dogs. Well this year, we've been fortunate enough to have lots of snow early, and we already have the ability to run larger teams on a sled. It doesn't get much better!

This morning for the first time, we have some colder temperatures in the -15F to -20F range. A few more days of these temps, and the rivers will freeze. Then we'll be in business!

When not training dogs, we're working on the cabins. On the handler cabin, the rafters are up, so the next step is the tin. We're hoping to finish up the handler cabin in the next week!

Final logs going up.

Final logs going up.

Running in the Chena State Recreation Area.

Running in the Chena State Recreation Area.

Breaking trail.

Breaking trail.

First Campouts of the Season

Two teams hooked up and ready to run!

Two teams hooked up and ready to run!

The past couple of days have been busy at the kennel! Trapping season started on November 1st, so Derek headed to his line. While Derek was gone, Liz and I loaded up the 26 adult athletes and headed to the hills to train with Riley Dyche (he handled for Ryno Kennel 3 years ago and now owns Darkhorse Racing Kennel). Even though we have a nice base of snow, it's not enough to train a full team with a sled; therefore, we're putting some more miles on the ATVs.

On our first campout of the year, we were joined by musher friends, Mandy, Laura, and Jenna. Six dog teams, beautiful views, and great company- doesn't get much better!

Today, we resumed work on the handler cabin. While Liz and Derek kept building the walls, I ran the yearling team over to the new property and camped them while I assisted with the cabin. As you can see from the last photo, they weren't the best campers. Most of the team spent the campout playing and gnawing on branches. I'm sure they'll figure it out soon enough!

More snow is in the forecast, so hopefully we'll be on sleds in the near future!

The end of the campout (hence the fire being out).

The end of the campout (hence the fire being out).

Gorgeous sunset

Gorgeous sunset

Yearlings, not really camping.

Yearlings, not really camping.

Handler Cabin Construction

High fives all around- the well is complete! After four days of pounding, chiseling, and flushing, we now have a 40 foot well with access to delicious drinking water. Over those four days, Derek manned the well pounder while the rest of us alternated between assisting Derek and running dogs. I think we all have a new appreciation for water fresh from a tap.

Now that the well is complete (more or less), we've begun construction of the handler cabin. The handler cabin will be a simple trapline style cabin. Even though it will essentially be a log box, we plan to make it quite cozy and constructed as sort of  "duplex." The 16ft x 16ft cabin will be split into two separate living quarters. Each area will have it's own drip oil stove for heating. There won't be running water, but there will be a comfortable outhouse a short walk away. Who wants to come visit?

If you recall from earlier posts, we drug in logs from the surrounding land this spring by dog team and snowmachine. Ok, truthfully, most of the logs were drug in by snowmachine, but the few that we did drag in by dog team were waaay more fun. Over the summer and this fall, we peeled all 45 logs. Now we've begun the process of actual construction!

The chainsaw mill with a milled log.

The chainsaw mill with a milled log.

Now that the logs are all peeled, we mill each log on three sides and then place them on the 16ft x16ft deck we constructed. For the milling process, we're using a chainsaw mill. It's a pretty slick design. We just set the logs up on the metal supports, adjust the height of either side so that the chainsaw blade shaves just the top of the log, run the chainsaw down the rail, and voila! One side is milled. I have a short video clip of Derek milling a log to demonstrate.

After each log is milled, we place it on the cabin deck. Rather than layering the logs "Lincoln Log style," we milled a single corner post and then butt up each three-sided log against the corner post. Each log has varying widths from one end to the other, so we alternate placing the logs to try and keep each side of the wall relatively even.

 

Logs butting up to the corner post.

Logs butting up to the corner post.

To secure the logs to one another, we drill in log screws as well as set spikes in the corner posts.

Derek modelling how to drill.

Derek modelling how to drill.

You'll notice in the below photo that there are big gaps in the walls. Those will be for windows and doors. Rather than lifting massive 16 ft logs and cutting out chunks later, we opted to put up smaller logs and strategically place the gaps for the windows. Even still, we have to be careful where we place the cabin screws so that we don't wreck a chainsaw later on trying to hack through one.

We'll be sure to keep you posted as cabin construction continues! In the meantime, check out our latest puppy portraits if you haven't had a chance. They're on the athletes page!

The logs are going up!

The logs are going up!