Thursday 30 October 2014

2015 Race Plans and Iditarod

I know folks have been chomping at the bit to hear about our race plans. I appreciate the patience that you all have shown - and appreciated the impatience others have shown too. The interest is touching.

Since the winter of 1999/2000 I have viewed myself as an 'Iditarod musher'. So what does an Iditarod musher become when they stop running Iditarod??? I've struggled over the  summer with that question. Unlike most athletes I can't just walk away from my sport - I have dogs that are family that need and deserve to run.

Some sell off their entire kennels to walk away from the sport. I understand that but I can't do that for a couple of reasons: 1) those dogs are my life and 2) I'm not ready to give up running and racing dogs.

I am, however, ready to give up running the Iditarod - to redefine myself as something other than an Iditarod musher.

It's not because I don't love the race anymore - I deeply do - but the fact is that running Iditarod is an all consuming, selfish and expensive endeavor. I am constantly taking time, money and energy away from my family to put it toward Iditarod. They have been more than tolerant and understanding over the years.....they deserve more.

Will this be my last Iditarod? Will I run Quest? Honestly, I do not know. I am living things moment by moment right now. Seeing how it all 'works' for me.

I've always been very clear that I have other interests in my life besides sled dogs. Running Iditarod really pushes those 'other things' right off the table. It would be nice to find a balance that allowed me to run and race dogs but pick some of that other stuff back off the floor.

For this winter I have decided to stay and train out of home and travel to the 'lower 48' for a couple races - specifically Eagle Cap Extreme in Oregon in January and Race to the Sky in Montana in February.

Those of you who follow us know that I really enjoy the Oregon race. The area is BEAUTIFUL, the folks that put on the race are FANTASTIC....can't get enough of it!

Race to the Sky and I go way back. I ran it for the first time in 1996 and for the last time in 2002 (although I did the Seeley Lake 200 in '08, which is on the same trails). The Race to the Sky trail is OUTSTANDING and I cannot wait to get back on it!!! I am so excited.

I will also be keeping my eyes open for other races that may pop up this winter. I'd LOVE to see the Neckbone come back and would BEAT a path back there! Maybe Quesnel or Ft St James, BC will get something together again! Here's hoping!

As for Alaska, well, you know I can't stay entirely away! I will be heading back in March to be a judge for Iditarod again.

I - and Bet - will continue to Facebook and blog throughout it all, of course. We will be offering a revised Sponsor-a-Dog program, likely a few contests and such too.

I promise there will still be drama, laughs, and a few always!


Tuesday 28 October 2014

Transitional Weather

I LOVE winter - think that is pretty clear - but then again - I love fall - and summer!!! Not too keen on spring, although it does have some good points.

I HATE the transition from fall to winter. HATE!!!!!

Be fall or winter or whatever....just make up your mind!!!!!

Snow is just pointless and messy when the ground isn't frozen. The cold is colder, the wind more biting, it seems.

Yes, it promises of good things (in my mind at least - some might call it a threat) to come ... well more teasing then promising....

Yesterday was our first real tease of winter...

Yeah, it was pretty.....

..... until it was muddy...

The dogs ran great in the cold...

I didn't 'run' as well though...

Always takes me a bit to get my 'winter legs'...

Don't think the dogs loved the weather much either....

Especially the wheel dogs......

The leaders seemed very pleased to be leading...

Ah well....won't be long now till the ground is frozen, snow is covering the dirt and we all have our 'winter legs'....and that is EXCELLENT!!!!

Camping Training

Last week our friend Julia was here visiting and helping out at the kennel. We stayed busy, busy, busy for the 10 days she was here - running dogs everyday, checking/working on some trails, and even squeezing in some 'non sled dog' things like horseback riding and watching a herding clinic at the neighbours!
Julia and Julie, Me and Babe
My friend and neighbour Lisa Wright giving a herding clinic. Always fun to watch working dogs work!

We also took the time to introduce some of the youngsters to camping. It went SHOCKINGLY well!

Astro catching a fish. Awesome photo by Julia

A good run over to our campground to take the edge off everyone, some water and a snack, then time to 'take a break'...

The veterans know the routine and settled down quickly...

Top notch front end of Smartie, Molly, Tess and Tramp

Trampie showing her kids how it is done.
Fletch is a professional camper!!! took the rookies a bit longer, but none of the 'theatrics' I was expecting....

Vader wondering what the HECK we are doing!

And eventually they got it!

Julia and I started a little campfire, had some coffee, meat on a stick and marsh mellows! All good!

Yummy elk sausage!

The dogs got some loving and attention ...

Crackle, Julia and Google

Loving up my leaders!

...before a shorter journey home. Lessons well learned that will set a great foundation for the youngsters futures!!!

Saturday 25 October 2014

The Mighty Tawatinaw River Clearing - Bet

Howdy Ho Everybodies!

It's your roving nature reporter, Bet, here!

If you've been following along on the Facebooks, you'll know that the fantabulous Julia was here visiting, helping out, and learning the ropes about mushing.  We love having Julia visit, she's very good at opening and closing gates.

She was also very good at helping train the Pretty Curly Tails, and the lessons they learned on this visit was "water crossing".

Now you may be asking yourself: "Self... why would Pretty Curly Tails need to learn how to cross water, or get in water, or even have anything to do with water when they race in the snow???"

Well, there actually is water on the Iditarod sometimes, icy icy water, and gushy watery conditions and such, and the Pretty Curly Tails need to know that water is fine, it's good, they can just run right through it, and they need to find out that information during training, not unexpectedly like while they race, so running them into and through water is a vital training thingie.

Here they are running and then oopsies, there's water:

See how easy they make it look?

Unfortunately, the icky beavers of the MIGHTY Tawatinaw River have built all of their icky dams and have made the level of the river very MIGHTY for the Pretty Curly Tails, as you can see here:

You can clearly see that the Pretty Curly Tails were NOT at all thrilled with the prospect of jumping into the MIGHTY Tawatinaw... and who can blame them.

My favorite part is when Ryka body slams Boo into the river... way to go, I taught her so well.

Anyhooooo, it was pretty clear that we had to do something to lower the level of the river, so that meant Supervisor Border Collie time!

Yes, clearly the river is too deep
I was slightly disappointed that I was not allowed to wear my high-viz jacket... or given a floatie coat... I could have fallen in or something... at the very least given some waterproof booties for my delicate feets... but I digress again.

We sent the muscle out to determine just how high the river was, and to scope out the icky beaver dam things.

Go out farther, Bear... farther!!!

No, I was only joking about the sharks, there aren't any sharks, get out there!
Once Bear found the icky beaver dams, we set about destroying them...

Ok Bear, push this out of here, move this over here, and squish all of this down and stuffs
Yes, yes, it smells and tastes like Beaver poo, I get that, just squish it down so the water can flow!

Clearly we needed someone with opposable thumbs to help with this bit of a mess, so we had Julia come over

She used her stompy boots to get the water flowing
Ok, Bear, test out the waters to see if its getting lower...
I said TEST the waters, not TASTE the waters... oh euw, that's gonna make me hurl
After a lot of icky, sweaty work, we finally declared victory over the stupid beaver dams... take that you icky beavers!

Now the Pretty Curly Tails can do their river crossing training without getting dunked... until the stupid beavers build more dams... sigh.


Saturday 18 October 2014

Coolie Citchen Cooking - Bet

Yes, yes, I know, kitchen is spelled with a "K", but it didn't flow very well!


Howdy Ho Everybodies!

Welcome to my fantabulous new Coolie Cooking show!  Today's episode is my newest newy new favorite thing!

Pumpkin Oven Risotto with Sage!!!!

The Musher made it for me the other day and howdy ho boy is it tastilicious!

The Musher says that it's a family recipe handed down over the ages and that her great, great, great something-or-other brought it with them when they walked all the way from someplace a great distance or something... or she may have found it on the Cook with Campbell's Website.

Details, details, let's get with the cooking!

First, put on your finest cooking ensemble.

Then go click HERE to get the recipe.

If you are making it for your pups, you may want to leave out the onion and garlic because those aren't good for your pups and all that, so I'm just giving you that bit of a warning, although I doubt that the amount they'll eat will do them any harm, I'm covering our buns with the whole warning thing so you can't come back and say "hey, why didn't you warn us" because I just did.

Also, if you don't have a Dutch Oven, then a Swiss oven, or perhaps a German Oven will do, or just a large saucepan (I have no idea why the Dutch have a whole oven named after them, I mean just because they came up with the idea and were all so far advanced over everyone and blah blah...

anyhooooo... I highly recommend that you throw in the bacon... because everything that bacon touches makes it better.  I also suggest rubbing bacon on your car... because it'll be a better car, but you probably shouldn't slather it on the windshield because you won't be able to see... and probably after a while it'll smell and dogs will chase you... ok, so don't rub bacon on your car... if you've already gone out and done that... oops.

anyhooooo, this is my most favoritist foodables yet with waffles and shrimp pasta coming in a close second, so go ahead and make a huge vat of it and eat it... the recipe says that it makes 8 side dishes, but I'm pretty sure that's 2 side dishes in dog years.

Nom nom everybodies!

- Bet

Saturday 11 October 2014

Trail Work - Bet

When the peoples come out to play on our trails throughout the year many will ask about the trails that wind, twisty and meander all over our property. "How lucky you are to have them", they will often say.

Luck?  Pfffft, I say!

The whole reason the Musher and Musher Mark settled on this very spot was because of the fantabulous land and the trails, but trails just don't grow themselves you know!  Well, they grow, and grow and grow and we have to keep pruning them.

Musher Mark does a lot of the work, but where would he be without Super Border Collie Supervisor!

Only supervisors get to wear the high viz jacket that go well with my furs
In case you were wondering, my high viz supervisor gear came from Alpine Outfitters... Alpine Outfitters, an official sponsor of The Pretty Curly Tails and North Wapiti Kennels.

The First thing I supervise is the loading of my Betmobile into the truck.  We drive the truck as far as we can, then offload my Betmobile to drive the trail to locate the problem areas.

Betmobile strapped down, and chainsaw at the ready... check
Then we venture forth to survey the vast trail system to find those problem areas... I run ahead to scope out the situation.

Once I find a pesky area, I yell for the support team to move up.

This one seems problematic Mush Mark, I'm thinking you'll need the chainsawy thingie
After I determine the best method of attack, Musher Mark gets out the tools of destruction and starts wailing away at it.

I stand well away from the area because you never know when the tree will get angry and fling itself around... trees are pesky like that.

Also, that chainsawy thing is loud and hurts my very sensitive ears.

You can clearly see just how devious these trees are, that sucker is positioned at just the right height where the Pretty Curly Tails would just sail right under but clothesline the poor Musher (and ME) as we toodled along on the Betmobile... devious, devious trees!  They can fall 364 different ways, but just HAVE to fall right on the trail... the nerve of them.

More sawing and hacking and sawing and hacking and then stacking the wood up and sawing some more and... whew, I'm exhausted!

Thankfully the Betmobile helps with the draggy dragging away of big woody evil tree parts.

Good job Musher Mark, I think that will be a great path for the Pretty Curly Tails!
Then it's off to the next evil tree blockage.

Ehrmagerd, look at this, it's like a conspiracy of trees!

Seriously?  You have a whole big woods to fall (and make a sound whether there's someone there or not) and this is where you fall???

More running

More sawing

More dragging

Looks great!  I think we've defeated the pesky trees again!
Finally we load the gear up again

Um... is this a half-hitch, or full-hitch super knot?  Just making sure my ride stays on.

And then it's a ride home knowing full well that we did a fantabulous day's work, and the Musher and Pretty Curly Tails can safely navigate the trails and train without those pesky trees in the way.

So... mushing Pretty Curly Tails isn't just about having fun on the trail, because someone has to make sure the trail is safe, and thanks to Musher Mark and his handy chainsaw and his diligent supervisor, (me) another training season is about to begin!

- Bet