Not quite enough snow to run the team with a sled, I mean. I'm sure other more experienced mushers are running small teams on sleds, and there is enough snow to stop a team, but not enough for a pair of snow hooks to HOLD the team. Should I have a dog get tangled up during a run, I wouldn't have any way to help him or her correct it. I might feel more daring if either my snowmachine or my four wheeler was reliably operational, but they aren't. I've asked a friend to come by tomorrow after Thanksgiving dinner to "chase me" on his snow machine, and he's agreeable to the scheme. If we can't make that work I may change my rigging to a four-dog line and just do short runs with ultra-small teams. It wouldn't be the first time I've put only four dogs on the gang line.
The lack of snow has prompted the race manager for the upcoming Two Rivers Tune Up to put an eight-dog limit in what is normally the 10-dog class. Earlier this fall I had given though to running a team in the six-dog class, but my crew doesn't have enough miles under their paws to do that with them. It's been a tough fall for training, and I'll be more careful about scheduling my off-duty time in the future.
Even though I didn't run, I brought old toboggan sled out of storage. The toboggan sled is a mid-twentieth century invention that basically consists of a flat bottom toboggan with 2" runners installed. The idea is that the sled can be used in either unbroken powdery snow conditions or on packed trails. The runner plastic on my sled is in okay condition - not something I'd want to start a long trek on, but certainly good enough for training on rough and rugged trails. I'd rather wait awhile before replacing the runner plastic, in hopes the new plastic won't be gouged up and scratched up prematurely.
I have the sled rigged with two hooks, a snub-line made up with a quick release and welded steel ring, and have my veterinary first aid kit, sled repair kit, and cable-cutters in the sled bag. Cable-cutters are the only thing will actually cut through steel cable, and since my gangline is cable filled, if I have to cut the line away to save a dog from injury or death I want to have the right tool for the job there at hand.
My harnesses are in good repair and hanging ready at the end of the launch chute, so everything is good to go. All I need is a bit more snow, or perhaps a bit more confidence.
I fed the team early today, actually during late afternoon. I wanted to have enough daylight to be able to measure the appropriate dosage of pyrantel pamoate suspension for each dog. Pyrantel is a de-wormer, used to kill intestinal parasites. All dogs need to be "wormed" (actually dewormed) regularly. I'm not sure what veterinarians recommend for non-working pet dogs who live in an isolated home environment, but I have my team on a quarterly deworming schedule, though I'm about a month late this time around. They'll get a second dose just before I return to my place of employment in 12 days. It's a bit soon, but the second dose is intended to kill any worms that hatch from eggs currently in the dog's systems.
I have supper simmering in the crock pot (I LOVE that thing). I tossed in some stew beef, half an onion (diced), some wild rice I was given while in Wisconsin, some garlic powder, some wonderful home-grown sage that was a gift from a friend, and now I've put in the relatively fresh brocoli, carrots and snap peas. I say relatively fresh because it came from the grocery store, and "fresh produce" is a bit of an oxymoron in Alaska. I couldn't find a ripe banana in the store to save my soul.
It's early, only 4:30, yet already honest night-time dark out. The sun set at 3:13, so I was trying to read the little lines on the dosage syringe in rapidly failing light. We are still losing about 6 minutes of "possible daylight" each day.
That just about covers the events of the day thus far, the evening has yet to play out.