Well by now folks have heard the big news ~ Dan will be running the 2014 Iditarod.
Paid the entry in person at the Volunteer Appreciation Picnic in Wasilla. Along with the possible perk of an early bib number and/or winning your entry fee back in a drawing of all mushers present; signing up on the first day in person is a great chance to see friends and get caught up. There were many Iditarod volunteers and teachers and this gave us the chance to thank them for all the work they do. Got to share laughs with Jansen, an Iditarod volunteer whom I met in White Mountain last year, where we also shared laughs. Got to hear what my friend and teacher Susan had been up to as she traveled around Alaska. And of course, so many mushers I had not seen since March. It was a great turn out. Most of the afternoon I had my hands full with Whiskey (except for the time he spent chillin on Jake Berkowitz’s lap – very cute), so I did not get any photos. But Karen J Laubenstein got some great photos; including a very animated series of yours truly storytelling and a shot of Jake and Whiskey. See the album here.
With race plans being set our minds are already thinking about cooler months ahead. We just need to get through summer. In a lot of ways summer is really 3-4 months of preparation for the winter ahead. In addition to all the things that MUST get done: firewood, fix one sled and make another, fix meat saw, mow lawn, vaccinate and worm dogs. Then there is another big long ‘to do’ list of things you want to get done now because it would make life ever so much easier/nicer: improvements to the dog barn, making new lines, update website, more leader training. Every year we tackle the ‘must do’s’, and plan for as many of the extras as we can. And some things, like moose hunting or berry picking are a gray area. I choose to think of them as ‘must do’ items. Sure I can go to the market and get food, but not as good as I can when I put in the effort on the land. But that is a topic for another post, suffice it to say that I take food seriously, and September is the season for fall training dogs, berries, and moose. Till then here is a taste of what has been keeping us busy:
First there was the living room project. Which all started when there was a Fathers Day Sale on recliners. Buy One Get One Free! How do you pass that up? But as is often the case with life, one small decision sets off a chain reaction. We had been wanting to paint the cabin floor, it takes a beating and was worse for wear. So when we were already taking out old stuff to make room for new stuff seemed like the perfect time. One I got started taking stuff out I was overwhelmed with the realization the cabin needed help! As in a take everything out, and only bring back in what you really need and/or want, and even then only after it has been cleaned. There was no turning back now, Dan and I moved into the garage loft so the floor could be painted and have time to dry. Managed to remove a truckload of “clutter” and “stuff” from our lives. This was spring cleaning in epic proportions. You can see photos of the project here.
In addition to some home improvement we have been making things better for the kids. Every year all the gear gets washed, repaired if needed, and is stored ready to go for the winter. This year is no different, except Dan built beautiful cabinets in the back corner of the garage*. Now we have a nice place to keep everything organized, the things we use often are easy to get to, and there are drawers and cupboards for bulk items and storage to cut down on clutter. Next to the wood stove he built a shelf with hooks for drying gear. And he is in the process of welding a big rack to hang on the wall behind the stove for drying dog booties. All these improvement will help keep us organized and make things go smoother this winter, allowing us to focus on training dogs.
*more like a shop-garage-dog barn.
You may remember the adventures of the skid steer loader from last year. (No? here is the post) Well it would not be summer at Dew Claw if the loader was not testing Dan’s patience and mechanical prowess. Add working on the machine to the ‘must do’ list, as we rely on it for construction and landscaping at the kennel in summer, and snow removal in winter.
We are also getting ready to cross a ‘to do’ item off the list that we have wanted to do for a few years. Materials are being stockpiled, plans have been drawn, this is the year we build some new pens in the dog yard. Large enough for a few dogs to be free together, or a mom with pups. Secure enough to house a female in heat. The plan is to build a row of them down the side of the yard. This will add some nice options when it comes to where dogs are living, and we have wanted to do this for awhile. Very glad to be tackling the pen project this summer.
And then there is firewood. Heating with wood has some wonderful advantages. I love the comforting crackle of the wood stove, and nothing beats coming on from the cold and warming your hands in the radiant heat. But it does require a commitment to the getting of the wood for said stove. This is an ongoing project at Dew Claw. With a cabin, garage, and cook pot (for the dogs food) all wood fired it take a pretty impressive amount of wood to get through the winter. Hope to have it all split and stacked in the woodshed long before winter comes.
So it is safe to say we are keeping busy this summer, all the while looking forward to winter!!!