Friday, November 14, 2008

Discovered Treasure

Today has been a good day thus far, and no reason to think anything will change. I found some hidden treasure. For three years now I have been trying to find a source of the old-time leather harnesses that were common from the 18th until well into the 20th century. There are a few in museums and such, but not available for sale. I really only needed one that I could take apart to learn how the padded neck rings on them were made.

Recently a lurker on the Alaskan Husky Behavior forum posted that a self-published E-book called "Nine Dog Winter" had drawings and instructions for making them. I purchased and downloaded the book, and it has all kind of other neat things in it as well. For my purposes as a dog mushing historical reenactor it is truly a treasure trove.

Today was training day for the team. I took them over to Lynn Orbison's yard for a run and Lynn also had some dogs needing some work, so we put a 12 dog team on the four-wheeler, filled it full of good dogs, and headed out on the trail. With the extra day and 1/2 at work it has been 16 days since most of them have been out, so I dropped the mileage back a bit to see how they do. It was a lovely run with no major issues - just good friends and good dogs all doing what we love to do. Here's the training report:

14 February, 2008 (Friday): 6.2 miles on hard snow packed trails. Lynn’s to Pleasant Valley Road, gee (right) past Ric Swenson’s, haw (left) around the field, gee onto baseline, haw onto Grange Hall, gee around the lollipop loop, straight ahead to gee onto Snow Leopard, haw on Kaufman, gee on the Hot Springs Rd trail and a quick gee and haw zig-zag back into Lynn’s.

Max speed 14.1 mph. Moving average 9.9 mph, overall average 9.5 mph.

Torus & Rose (Lead)
Grace & Beau
Nels & Seamus
Carpe’ & Poncho
Polar & Jethro
Sheenjek & Gump

I had to spend a couple of extra days at work, which put us behind in our training schedule. I chose a 6 mile run for today to see what they have, and it was enough. Tomorrow I’ll probably do the same, or very close to the same.

Torus tried taking two turns that I didn’t cue because we’ve taken them before. He really should be paying more attention to the driver. Rose actually tried to pull him through one of them. Rose was a bit put off by Torus at launch but quickly got her head into the game and ran very nicely up front the remainder of the run.

Grace and Beau ran very well together. I didn’t notice any significant problems at all from those two. The same for Nels & Seamus. They were just their good ol’ hard workin’ selves. Poncho got under the line and crowded Carpe’ two or three times until Lynn finally moved Poncho to the left side of the gangline, which seemed to cure that issue.

Jethro was crabbing badly on the right side of the line, but ran straight while on the left. Polar ran well regardless of the side. Sheenjek was as always a great worker and Gump was Gump, letting the young ones pull the weight until he thought we needed the extra dog power.

Only a couple of dogs looked toward Ric Swenson’s yard as we ran past, and none stepped out of line. Rose and Poncho were curious about Bill Greenslade’s yard until I corrected them. The two loose dogs we’ve had problems with on Grange Hall Rd were back. I cued the team to “pick it up” and we basically chased them off the road. A couple of my guys wanted to give chase but corrected quickly. It was the same story on our return trip.


  1. Hey Swanny -- Thanks for posting about Nine Dog Winter. It is available in printed version also -- get it from Amazon or from Mac's Fireweed Bookstore in Whitehorse.
    ISBN 978-1-897435-17-5.
    I had a wonderful time that winter of '80-'81 and am delighted that you and others are enjoying my story about it.
    Old-time mushing fans will also appreciate the instructions for bending boards to make a freighting toboggan, and other bush how-to info.
    -- author Bruce T. Batchelor

  2. 14 February, 2008 (Friday):

    either time is dragging or.... ha ha.. you did a Billie.. Remember as kids how hard it was for me to learn the order of the months? At times I still have to run them all through my head to get to the right one.