Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Processing Meat Scraps and Preparing Sleds

It was cold when I went out to water the dogs this morning. Only 24 degrees at 7 o’clock. ALL of their water pans contained frozen blocks of ice which had to be knocked out before I could give each his or her ration of baited water.

Once freezing weather sets in I bait the dog’s water in the morning. That’s because I have a couple who don’t necessarily like to drink water unless it has some flavoring and once the weather turns cold it’s important that the dogs drink before their water freezes.

This morning I made some confinement gear for the 3 puppies. Lynn Orbison gave some some relatively lightweight chain. I made 3 “spinners” for my tethering posts and 3 “drop chains”. The drop chains are used to temporarily tether a dog to eye-bolts permanently installed along the bottom of a dog truck or trailer. This system gives us a safe and secure way to confine the dogs while we are working around the truck and during “potty breaks” while traveling.

Lynn Orbison came by the house about 10 am, and we spent the next four hours cutting up moose bones into single-portion sizes and grinding up butcher scrap. We still have more to process but Lynn had to go to her place of employment. I finished up by forming nearly 100 meatballs of ¼# each, and putting them in the freezer. We have probably 10 lb. of scrap that has too much tendon to grind but can be fed as bite size snacks, two big storage cubes full of bones (some with LOTS of meat on them).

This afternoon each dog got a nice, big bone to chew, even the puppies. We have plenty more meat scraps to process, but it has been stored in the freezer so needs to thaw in order to do it. I suspect we’ll spend at least two more sessions like today’s, cutting up and grinding meat. With the grinder, knives, reciprocal saw and other tools washed, I sharpened all the knives we were using to prepare them for the next session.

With an hour to spare before feeding time, I turned my attention to preparing my historically authentic toboggan for the upcoming season. Since crashing into a tree on an extremely tight turn last year I’ve been considering a solution. On a modern sled the brush bow serves as a fender, pushing the nose of the sled aside to prevent crashing directly into such an obstruction. Mounting a brush bow on an ‘old school’ toboggan such as mine would not be very authentic, though.

On the other hand, elevating the bridle to which the dog’s lines are attached would be less obtrusive than a modern brush bow and so long as the lead dogs are actually pulling on the line as they almost always are in a turn, would serve much the same purpose as a brush bow. Elevating the lines will also be easier on my wheel dogs as they won’t be putting so much pressure on the dog’s hips and shoulders. It seems like a reasonable solution to the problem, so this afternoon I mounted a pair of fairleads to accomplish the goal. The photos below should be pretty self-explanatory.

With a new bridle and fairleads mounted, all that remains is to attach my snowhooks and that sled is ready to run. The next sled project will be to install better brush bows on my two modern sleds. Of those the toboggan sled is the higher priority, as that is the sled I spend the most training time on and the one I would be most likely to use should I decide to participate in one of our local fun races.

Both of the modern sleds need new runner plastic, which I just happen to have on hand here at the house. I don’t think either of those sleds will require more than just a little bit of time and effort to prepare for the season.

For now, the dogs have howled out their evening song and now are mostly settled in, with just the occasional fussing over a snowshoe hare that dares venture too close to the kennel. The dogs are fed, the human is fed and I need to shower and clean up as I need to start my day early tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. I always love to read your posts, Swanny. I can't believe it's already 24 in Fbx! It's only dipped to 35 here in Chugiak. I'm a little envious :)