For the past couple weekends I’ve been taking Nika out on the trails around our house. We did this a lot when she was a puppy, but our previous house was in too much of a neighborhood and there weren’t any trails to speak of for us to walk on. But now that we’re in the middle of nowhere, she can run around like a crazy dog again. Concerns include her running off (obviously), but also the possibility that she’d encounter a trapline and get herself stuck in a trap. But she’s always been very good, staying close by, and coming when she’s called. Unless there’s a moose to chase…
Today I tried taking Piper out with us to see how she did. Nika was her usual good self, and I was pleasantly surprised at how close Piper stuck to me. There was one point when she disappeared for longer than I would have liked, but she came back and stayed close since. There were snowshoe hare and red fox tracks all over the place, so she probably got caught up following a scent or chasing one of the around. Next trip out I’ll probably keep a pocketful of treats and try to reinforce the idea that being near me is a good thing.
All that running around did Piper some good too, as you can see from the second, after photo:
Many months ago we planted a vegetable garden at our old house. We got a truckload of good soil, rented a rototiller and hoped for a great growing season. All those plans fell apart when we bought our new house, started packing and moving everything. Keeping the garden watered and properly fertilized wasn’t very high on our list of things to do, so the plants were all left to their own devices.
The Weather Service was predicting a hard frost over the Interior on Friday night (and it came—it was 16°F at our new house this morning and all the ponds in our driveway are frozen), so I harvested all the above-ground produce on Thursday night. The photo on the right shows the entire output from six broccoli and six cauliflower plants. They were tasty, especially the cauliflower, but not exactly the quantity I was hoping for. I also harvested two six-inch zucchinis (also far below expected production) and the cabbage. All ten cabbage plants produced some reasonably sized cabbage (bigger than a softball, smaller than a bowling ball), so I’ll have enough for a couple gallons of sauerkraut. We’ll probably harvest the potatoes in a few days. I don’t expect to find many large baking potatoes (we grew Russets this year), but we’ll probably have enough for making hash browns on Saturday mornings.
The other photo shows Piper on her new bed. We didn’t make this one, but it was “assembled in USA” and is composed of a minimum 90% postconsumer recycled plastic. I’m not a big fan of plastic products, but creating a market for recycling the stuff is certainly better than letting it all go into the landfills and waterways. And Piper really seems to like it, which is the most important thing!
It was colder on the second day, -15°F when we got up, and around -18°F when we got to the race track at 8:00 am. By race time, the sun was out, and the official temperature was up to 0°F. The wind was calm, so the sun started warming things up pretty quickly.
Andrea and the dogs had a clean run on the course, finishing in 17 minutes 46 seconds, 14 seconds faster than yesterday, and her best time in Tok. That finish time, combined with a bad tangle between two earlier teams allowed her to move up to 18th place (out of 30 teams), one second behind the 17th team and six seconds ahead of the team in 19th place.
It was a fun trip. We left Tok after the awards ceremony and made it back home around 9:30 last night.
The first day of racing is now over. The skies cleared from last night and it got down to -10°F before the time the sun came up. The six dog class started at 9:00 am, so it had only warmed up slightly when the first team went out. There was still enough of a breeze to give you a chill if you were facing into the wind and my feet and cheeks got cold from standing around outside most of the day.
Andrea drew the fifth position last night, and the racers go off at one minute intervals from each other, so Andrea went out at 9:04 am, just a few short hours after we got up for breakfast. By 9:30, the race was over for our team. Andrea and the dogs had a finish time of 18 minutes even, which was 55 seconds better than her time on the first day last year. All the dogs did really well, and Andrea was very happy with them. She borrowed Elway and a yearling named Tsuga from her friend Bonnie, who was racing in the eight dog class. In the middle photo you can see Buddy and Elway in lead (closest to the camera), Piper and Koidern in swing (the middle), and Tsuga and Kiva in wheel.
18:00 was good enough for 20th place in a field of 30, but Andrea is only 3 seconds behind the 19th place team, and 4 seconds behind the 18th place team. With a good run tomorrow and some luck, she could move up a few places in the final standings.
Bonnie and her team did really well, coming in fifth place in the eight dog class. She ran a team with four of the yearlings from the same litter that Tsuga came from. The last photo on the right shows one of them, a dog named Salix, who flops on the ground after a race to cool off.
A good day of racing. We're relaxing before dinner, maybe catching some sleep before tomorrow, since it'll be another late night tonight taking care of the dogs.
We've had Koidern almost a year now, but as much as she loves being in the house, she's never felt comfortable enough to sleep on the dog beds we made. When she first came, she'd pace around and finally lie on the rug in front of the couch. A few months later, she started sleeping on a small commercial dog bed away from the other dogs. Within the last few weeks, her favorite spot has been the stair landing.
But today, when I came home from work to let Piper and Nika out (it's been too cold outside for them to ride with me to work), Koidern came in and went right for the middle dog bed, traditionally Kiva's bed. Kiva stood above her and gave her the stink eye, trying to get her to move but finally gave up and curled up right next to her.
Getting a new dog integrated into the family is a challenging and stressful process, and I think this marks Koidern's full membership in pack Swingley.