Saturday, March 3, 2012

Life Continues On

Although I intended to run dogs today, other issues came up that were of a bit higher priority.  One of these involved the heater in the handler's cabin.  I noticed a couple of days ago it wasn't operating properly, and after downloading a new copy of the owner's manual (I can't find the original), I determined it had something to do with puppies chewing on a cord to a temperature sensor, which is completely missing.  So, the highest priority today was getting the stove to a repairman who has a part in stock.

First, finding a qualified Toyostove repairman was no easy task.  Once done, I quickly learned I would need to take the stove to his shop, rather than have him come out here.  Oh, he would come out OK, but even so he'd be taking the stove back to his shop to do the work.  It's cheaper for me to uninstall it than to pay him for the extra travel.

In theory, removing the stove is easy enough.  Unplug it, remove the fuel line, air intact hose and exhaust pipe and carry it away.  Of course application is always more difficult than theory, but after an hour or so of messing with overly tight fittings I was able to do so.  Then there was time taken to transport it to the repair shop.

Another little issue also came up, a leak in the drain pipe of my kitchen sink.  I still haven't been able to identify the exact location of that pesky leak, so ended up putting a bucket beneath the sink to catch the water, and I'm hopeful more exploration off the issue will lead to better results.  Until I know what's broken I can't expect to fix it.

After messing with that, and realizing that most of the day was already shot, I went out to do some work in the kennel.  I'm having some issues with some of the gate latches on pens - those things just don't hold particularly well and on some of the pens the dogs can jump against the gate and force the latch to slip, opening the gate.  I have safety lines on all of the gates to prevent the dogs from escaping, but I'd be happier if the latches would hold better.  I ended up putting an improvised latch, in the form of a long bolt jammed through the framework, to solve the issue on the worse pen of the lot, but a solution for the other two that are a problem remains elusive.

Then I brought Chinook into the house to tend to his abscess.  He's currently racked out on my bed enjoying some quality nap time.  One would think that would represent enough issues for one day, but of course there is never any end to the challenges of a sled dog kennel.

Chetan has been hogging the food dish, so now the two puppies have to be separated for feeding.  This requires me to bring them inside the house and put them into separate crates, which they aren't yet too crazy about.  After a couple more feedings they'll figure out that "kennel up" means something really good (food) is about to happen, and it will no longer be a problem.  I'll bet within just a few days each will run directly to her own special crate and dash right in to await her meal.

They should be just fine waiting in their crates while I feed the rest of the team and scoop the yard.  Once that's finished I'll be able to start thinking about my own supper.  I have some nice ground bison thawed, and I'm thinking a shepherd's pipe including the bison, some mashed potato and whatever green stuff is handy in the fridge should do the job quite nicely.

That truly does seem like enough for one day.  I'm sure looking forward to tomorrow, though.  Barring any more unforeseen issues I should be able to get some dogs out on the trail.

Before I run, I'll need to pick the dogs for my team.  The mushers starting the Iditarod tomorrow will need to do the same, but of course there is more riding on the line in their decision making process than I will face.  There is a nice description of the process competitive long distance racers use in deciding who makes the final cut posted on the Alaska Dispatch website at  "How will Iditarod mushers decide which dogs make the cut?"

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