The first Saturday in August has arrived, and it's time for the Yukon Quest sign ups!!! We hope you all will follow along this year, and we can't wait to get started!
We're getting pretty excited here at Ryno Kennel- it's August first!!! Normally around this time, the weather starts to cool, and we begin to feel as if winter is just around the corner. It's not that I don't like summer, but winter is just so much better!
As the temps start to drop, the dogs' energy exponentially grows. They get sooo excited for the coming cold and bark and twirl whenever we pull out the ATV as if to say- it's time to run! I try to give the dogs as much exercise as possible. On rainy days, I've taken the pups out for short 2 mile runs down to the Chena River. We haven't been doing as many free runs and loose walks the past few weeks, because unfortunately we've been plagued by foxtails and grass seeds. Pointy seeds can work their way under a dog's skin and cause some issues, so most of our exercise has been in harness.
Overall, the dogs have been enjoying their summer vacation, and I've had the chance to enjoy a vacation or two myself! Jezzy, Sasha, and I enjoyed a short backpack trip in the Alaska Range with friends and fellow mushers, Kristin and Paige. Tom (brother who has being helping so much this summer!) and I took dirt bikes down the Denali Highway for a weekend. And the Zirkle/Moore clan and Barbara let me tag along on a halibut fishing trip in Seldovia. While I do love fishing, the best part of the entire trip was being up close to a large pod of Orcas. With these few trips and all the work on the cabin, I can say this has been one incredible summer!
So what is this Co-op surprise? Well, if you recall, last winter we began a business with our friends, Matt Hall and Amanda Brooks, called the Last Frontier Mushing Co-op. This winter, we're going to include a new aspect of "Alaskan fun"----- REINDEER! Two cows will be joining the neighborhood in a month or two, so we've been prepping for their arrival. Our reindeer will primarily be for viewing during our tours, but we've got a couple other reindeer game ideas up our sleeve. Reindeer have been known for pulling sleds...wink wink.
The past couple of weeks, Rick (Derek's dad) came to visit and helped us make significant progress on the cabin! During his visit we framed in the walls, built stairs, and insulated the roof (among other smaller projects).
First up was the framing of the walls. Tom and Rick tackled this project, framing in a small bathroom, laundry nook, and dog food prep room.
Next was the stair construction. Rick nailed up a couple sheets of dry wall along the stairwell beforehand, then we started the task of slowing building each stair. While our stairway is comfortable to ascend and descend, it's slightly steeper than standard codes would permit. Also, not everything is perfectly square, so we had to get a bit creative at times. That's a log cabin for you!
Our final big project during Rick's visit was insulating the roof. Since temperatures can get rather cold here in the winter, we wanted to make sure our roof was heavily insulated. We used R-38 batt insulation and then covered that with 1 1/2 inch foam board. There's no way the heat will escape through there! The cracks between the logs are a different story... but chinking will be a project for another day.
Most days have been gloriously beautiful with a short shower in the afternoon to keep the dust down. We've been going on regular walks with 5-10 dogs to keep them active and happy. We humans play every once and awhile as well- check out the photo of our redneck slippin' slide! Extra logs, visquine, and staples is all you need!
Summertime = relaxation time for the sled dogs. For some, like Cartel, Jana, CJ, and Frosty, they're soaking it up! They probably nap 23 1/2 hours out of the day and would nap the full 24 except that I wake them up for meal times. For others, like Yuker, Amelia, and the African Litter, they're like that one family member on vacation who can never sit still. Every time the weather permits, we try to hook up a team and take a lap around the property. The Mario Carts and Sharks have been improving every run. Thresher in particular, loves to scream and howl as he's running!
Dr. Jeanne Olson also came out to visit the kennel and do a spay and neuter day. We're SO APPRECIATIVE of vets who are willing to travel. The dogs are always more comfortable staying at home for a vet visit. While each musher is different, we tend to spay and neuter when the dogs are older than one year and aren't top choices for future breedings. Spaying and neutering helps prevent "oops puppies." Spaying and neutering doesn't alter the athlete's drive at all, and if anything, improves it. They're less worried about looking attractive or checking out the ladies and are more focused on traveling with the team. Plus, fixed athletes oftentimes hold weight better. Not to mention, walking large groups of dogs is always more simple when they're not flirting the whole time!
We can't believe it's already middle of June, and not to wish the summer away, but we're SO PUMPED FOR NEXT SEASON! I can't wait to hit the trails and explore the north with these amazing dogs.