First on the List

Jezzy modeling our first platform

Jezzy modeling our first platform

At the top of our building to-do list are all the projects that require completion before the ground freezes: dog yard (pounding posts), well and septic, and outhouse hole. We've been busy building the platforms for the dog yard, and we just completed the first of three platforms! Yes, it's HUGE!! The platform is 24ft by 96ft and will hold 16 dogs. An isle will separate each platform, and that's where the teams will be hooked up for our training runs.

So why are we going through the trouble of building such monstrosities? Because they'll be wonderful! No more eating rocks (Blitz, Ham, Fire, Outlaw litter), no more digging holes to China (Perm, Katy, Vanessa, Lefty, Wombat, Niagra... and the list goes on), and no more mud! For the past several years, I've dreamed of building the dog yard on platforms, and now that it's becoming reality, I'm ecstatic! Given the size of the platforms, our 16x24 cabin might be mistaken for the feed shed.

Transporting the well pounder.

Transporting the well pounder.

We've also started prepping for the well. Our neighbors have a well pounder and were generous enough to let us borrow it. Truthfully, I'm not entirely sure how we go about pounding a well, but I'm excited to learn. Even though we'll be living in a small cabin, we will have running water!

A big thanks to Tyler for helping run dogs at 6 AM then turn around and build all day! And we have more help on the way: Liz, who will be assisting us all winter, will be arriving tonight. Rick, Derek's dad, is flying in this afternoon for his Fall vacation. Somehow his "vacations" always turn into work when he comes to visit. A big thank you to all of them! We're about to make some progress!

Tyler cranking out the square.

Tyler cranking out the square.

Derek and Jezzy, working partners.

Derek and Jezzy, working partners.

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Terrell helping build.

Terrell helping build.

Crunch is turning into a rock star leader.

Crunch is turning into a rock star leader.

A view from the air. Check out that platform!

A view from the air. Check out that platform!

Happenings

Fall Training Has Begun!

Fall Training Has Begun!

Fall training has begun, the pups are getting more animated, and construction on the new property is progressing! Life is good! Tyler is handling for Ryno Kennel again this year (he helped out at the beginning and end of last year), and he'll be focusing on training the yearlings. He has already arrived at the kennel and has been helping train dogs and build. A high school friend from Durango, Colorado, Liz Schell, will be arriving in 10 days to help me train the main team. Derek will be filling in and assisting with everyone. We've got a great crew!

We've been making steady progress on the new homestead. All the logs have been peeled, the well and septic marked out, and all the lumber for the dog yard has been delivered. Three large truckloads of lumber are needed to build the yard, which will be comprised of three long decks. Each deck will be 24ft by 96ft and house 16 dogs, meaning the yard will be built for 48 athletes. I don't pretend to be a carpenter, so after picking Allen Moore's brain and visiting a few different kennels, I think I have a general blueprint of how to make this yard become a reality! Since the ground will most likely be freezing in the next few weeks, anything that requires dirtwork is our priority (dog yard, septic, and well). Once those are completed, then we'll crank out the handler cabins and main house.

Badger

Badger

Our kennel photographer and friend, Scott Chesney with Tailspin Media, visited the kennel a few days ago and took the yearly dog portraits. Stay tuned for those! Once I've updated the website with all the dogs' new profiles, then I'll open up the dog sponsorship program. Here's a sneak peek of what the photos will look like! We hope to see all our prior year sponsors return for another exciting season!

6 of the 11 pups

6 of the 11 pups

2x4s for the Dog Yard

2x4s for the Dog Yard

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In addition to training dogs and building, we've been busy promoting our new company, the Last Frontier Mushing Co-op LLC. Amanda Brooks (Smokin' Ace Kennels) and I have been to a couple tradeshows and were recently accepted to compete in an Alaska Tourism Association Shark Tank Competition! If you've ever watched Shark Tank, the competition is very similar except it's between Alaskan businesses that are competing for a $5,000 grant for a new idea. The competition takes place in Kodiak in the beginning of October, so we'll be sure to let you how it goes!

Construction Begins! Kinda...

First- Thank you to everyone who sent suggestions for puppy names! I'll be sure to keep you posted on the final name choices.

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Now that I'm back in Two Rivers, I can finally get going on the preparation of our property at the Flying Mushers Raceway. We hope to move by the end of fall (yikes!), but we're well aware that usually nothing goes as planned. We're ready to be flexible.

Since purchasing this property a couple years ago, Derek and I have been so excited to build our dream home. However, as you can imagine, our priorities are slightly different than your average person. There was no road access to the property, so first things first, we put in a road. Our good friend Dave Greer (who's company Alaska Commercial Rentals has been a long time sponsor of Ryno Kennel) loaned us his D7 dozer. Something that size plows in a mile-long driveway in no time. We also used the dozer to put in an airstrip for Derek (one of the main priorities). All the dirt work was last summer's focus. Now it's time to build.

So what is on the to-do list?

1- Construct a platform dog yard- After battling holes, rock-eaters, and mud, I'm ready for the entire dog yard to be up on decks. Our new land is relatively low, so a normal dog yard would turn into quite a quagmire. Platforms are essential. I've been chatting with other mushers who have built platforms to learn more about the best design.

2- Build a handler duplex cabin- If you recall from this Spring, we harvested enough logs to build the handler cabins. While Derek primarily hauled them in by snowmachine, Tyler, Gunhild, and I had some fun hauling in logs by dog team. It definitely wasn't as efficient, but it was way more fun. Here's the video we posted from this spring.

3- Build our main cabin- We ran out of time to harvest logs ourselves, so we purchased 3-sided logs from a local manufacturer. The plan is to build a 20x20 cabin for our main house. Our long term goal is to construct a Hanger House (the downstairs will be a massive hanger for Derek's airplane and all my dog gear/dogs/sleds etc, and we would live upstairs), but for the time being, a 20x20 cabin will be perfect.

These are the main goals, but of course there's multiple steps involved in each one. Derek is still fighting fires (he's currently down in California), so while he's gone, I'm trying to do as much prep work as possible. The pups and I have been busy peeling the logs for the handler cabin (as you can see from the photo, they're not the best helpers).

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I'm babysitting these pups for friend Riley Dyche from Darkhorse Racing Kennel

I'll be writing posts about our progress over the next couple months. If you enjoy shows like House Hunter and Extreme Home Makeover, then these will be the posts for you! And while all this is going on, we'll still be training and preparing for the races, so not to worry, there will be plenty of doggie posts as well.

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We Have Puppies!

Puppy Pile!

Yam gave birth to 11 (that's right- ELEVEN!) puppies. Seven boys and four girls were born a few days ago, and all are looking strong and healthy. I'll be splitting this litter with Riley Dyche, from Dark Horse Racing. As you can see from the photos, it's a colorful bunch. A couple have the black and tan markings of their father, Goblin, but all the rest don't resemble either of the parents. We'll be doing our draft picks when the puppies reach four weeks old. We're still deciding on name themes, so if you have any great ideas, please share!

Momma Yam