Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's Cold

Last month was unusually cold, and so far December is following suit.  I got off work Tuesday morning and enjoyed an easy drive into town.  When temperatures dip so far below -15 on the Fahrenheit scale (below  -25C) the ice crystals on the road surface become sharp and abrasive, resulting in traction that is almost as good as dry pavement. 

Ice fog was the rule in Fairbanks as I did my pre-R&R shopping, and the air quality was noticeably poor.  As I dropped into the valley and into the fog my eyes started burning early on, and I could smell the wood and coal smoke in the air.  Our local air quality issues have been in a the news a lot lately, and for good reason.  During extreme cold layers of warmer air aloft trap pollutants near the surface which can be very unhealthy.  Enough so that it is a topic of research at UAF.

It is almost always warmer here at the house than in town, as we are located above the valley floor, where the coldest and densest air accumulates.  Even here at home the temperature wasn't much higher than -20F (about -28C).

Once I got my groceries put away I asked my handler to bring Friday over.  Friday has been hanging out with Jeff's slightly older puppies, which I think is really good for his socialization.  It's important that sled dogs be socialized with humans, but I think it critical that they learn to socialize with other dogs, since they will be working with other dogs their entire lives.

While he was handy, I weighed him.  At 13 weeks of age he tips the scale at 31 lb.  His brother, in Linda Newman's kennel, weighed 32# at 12 weeks, so they are fairly similar in size.  Friday's first stop in the house was the toy box, where he pulled out his favorites.  At this state, his favorite play things are squeaky toys and tug toys, though he spends lots and lots of time chewing on bones and wooden furniture when he thinks he won't get caught.

Friday at 13 weeks of age.
The lack of snow in the area is a terrible vexation.  There isn't really enough on the trails to safely run dogs on sleds, so four-wheelers have to suffice.  Four-wheelers don't like to start or run in extreme cold, and it's easy to damage the machines.  This is especially true of belt-driven machines such as mine. 

I spent a lot of time yesterday just getting the machine to start.  I put a propane-fired heater under it for an hour to warm the engine, then needed to use a battery charger to jump start the critter.  After two hours of work I was finally able to move it out of the equipment shed and into the garage, where it can thaw out and, hopefully, be easier to start.  As soon as the weather warms a little I hope to be able to get in a few training runs.  The dogs REALLY need the exercise.

Meanwhile, I brought Amazing Grace into the house as the "dog of the day" yesterday.  She had a great time playing with Friday, and very quickly taught him how to jump up on the bed.  For several minutes they ran around in a big circle, jumping on the bed then off the bed, then on the bed then off the bed.  Finally they settled long enough for me to snap a picture.

Friday (left) and Amazing Grace on the bed.  Friday is getting ready to jump off again.
Today's weather forecast is to be about the same as yesterday (and each day for the past three or four weeks).  At least the septic pipes haven't frozen this time, so I probably have that issue under control.  Hopefully things will warm out soon so I can start spending more time out in the field rather than in the house.

1 comment:

  1. I like the photos, Swanny - the differences in their ears is interesting.