Thursday, December 2, 2010

Winter is Here! (Almost)

Hey Everyone,

Winter is here in force. We still have no snow, but with nightime temperatures down into the - 30's in some places, we are feeling winter settling on our little home.

The dogs are in the midst of our hardest training month now. We are training frequently and training long runs of 6 or more hours on average, with our longest being almost ten hours long.

We have a new lead dog! Soka has come to us from Ketil Reitan. She has finished all of the long races in Europe, in the front of the pack, and is only 4.5 years old. We are hoping that we can have a litter with Soka in the spring and that her puppies will be the next generation of dogs, and the first generation of Ropphaugen stars!

Kaia is training hard with the dogs, as it will be Kaia qho will run the Gausdal Marathon this year instead of me. Contrary to the name, the Marathon is not a standard marathon length, but rather a full 230 km long. The dogs run to the halfway point and rest for 5 hours before leaving again, and cruising back to the start area for the finish early in the morning on Sunday.

Not one to be left out of the action, I have agreed to give race updates in English on the gausdal marathon website! So all of you interested people can keep an eye on how the race is progressing.

I am planning on running at least one race this year, but my main focus will be puppy training. We still have those 20 pesky pupipes running around at Ropphaugen, and they are not so little anymore. They are all ready to start training some short puppy runs soon, and we are looking forward to see what they are made of in their first foray into what will hopefully be a fun and exciting career for them!

We recieved our first shipment of our new dogfood yesterday! I have been working hard with Dr. Tim Hunt to set up a distribution deal for his food, and Kaia has been working hard alongside me as we translate all of the promotional material for the dgfood from English into Norwegian.
Very exciting!

We are also eagerly awaiting the arrival of our new dog jackets. We are working with JB Utstyr to create the best jacket on the market. We have designed this jacket together, and have high hopes that it will be the best we have used! The very first complete jacket should be coming to us today or tomorrow, and then it is testing testing testing to see what adjustments we would like to make to them before the next production of more jackets in February.

Our little buddy Kodiak has been thrilled to get the cast taken off of his leg after a long month of healing after a scuffle in a puppy pen left him with a a clean compound fracture of his right front leg. His leg has heal beautifully and aprt from looking a bit strange with all the atrophied muscle, should be as good as new in short order.

I will be going back to the US in mid December for a quick visit, and Kaia will be going on an extended training/camping trip with the team.

I hope everyone has a wonderfull holiday season!

updates as events warrent.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Still waiting for snow....

We are having a great, but long, fall training season. Last year at this time we had been training on Snow for more than a week.

The dogs are looking just great, couldn't be happier with how they are doing at the moment.
We are running around 40 km per training run, with some shorter and longer stuff thrown in for fun. We will probably stay at around 40km for the rest of the fall training season as we want to avoid bad shoulders and wrist caused by the hard ground and pounding hills.

We have a new little pal here. Kodiak is here with us reccovering from a broken leg. Per and Hanne Vinding let us take him during his recovery. We think he is very cute!

We have been lucky to meet Per and Hanne! It is great to have some neighbors and friends to help out and talk smack about other dog mushers with (just kidding about the smack talk...or am I?)

We are supposed to get snow starting this evening and ending tomorrow afternoon. I am not sure about the amounts we can expect but we are hoping for a lot!

As soon as we get out on snow we will harness break our youngsters and get the craziness rolling!

We were very sad to have to say goodbye to our house dog Maya. Few dogs are as loved as Maya was by us. R.I.P Maya Maya

Updates as events warrent.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Late Fall

Hello all!

So early fall jumped to late fall without any middle time. The temps have gone from cool to cold overnight and now we have frozen ground and hard frost every night.
The dogs are training like champions this fall. We have done several hundred Km of training so far and they are just looking great. Our new dogs are exceeding expectations so far. We will see what the rest of the winter brings but, so far, we are thrilled with them.
The chainsaw has been busy getting all of the dry wood for this winter cut into stove length pieces and cutting enough green wood for next winter.
Subchief was injured by a much bigger dog. He survived the fight and the infection that followed, and is now back out in the dog yard. He weighed less than half what the other dog did. The other dog lost three teeth in the fight but is now fine.
We are looking forward to this winter very much. We are really excited to train the puppies we have gotten so familiar with and see what they are made of! We are hoping to make it to many of the races this year. We won't run the races ourselves of course, but we are really looking forward to helping out and handling. I will be writing articles for Mushing Magazine about all the races, so those of you that subscribe... keep an eye out!

We are planning a trip back to the states again this early December.

Updates as events warrent.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Finally sun!

Hey Everyone,

The sun is finally out again! We have had 24 hour rain for the last week and it was starting to get old let me tell you! We were lucky to get the new kennel set up before the real rain started, so the dogs are in better shape than they would have been before! With eveyone a little more spread out and with a little more space, they can avoid most of the mud. The puppies have been absolute stars about living out with the big dogs. There has been very little whining and a lot of playing and good behavior. We are very proud.

Getting the kennel finished was a real group effort. Per and Bjørn and Tyler all pitched in and gave us a hand. Tyler worked for more than ten hours making this happen and then made everyone dinner! That's tough! And very much appreciated!

We are getting in a lot of training. The dogs have been out the last 3 days, some of them 4, and are starting to really look good. We will head out again tomorrow, and hopefully at least one day this coming weekend.

Ropphaugen Huskies also has a new sponser! We would like to welcome Dr. Tims Performance Dog Food to the team! Tim has been working very hard to get the dog food here to Norway and I have been lucky enough to get to be a part of the process! We are looking forward to a long and fun relationship!

Thanks to everyone for all the help!

Updates as Events Warrent.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hello Fall

Hey Everyone,

Fall has really hit us here in Norway. Last night we had a hard frost and the water buckets were frozen out in the dogs yard this morning. We have been training pretty consistantly for the last month and a half and are looking to push up the milage within the next week. The moose hunt is happening here in Gausdal, so we have to run late at night, but it is coldest then anyway so no big deal.

Today is the big kennel renovation day! We are getting our new kennel set up with new chains and moving all the swivels. Most of the young dogs are leaving the puppy pens and joining the big dogs in the kennel. Thank god for ear plugs.

We had a sad day on Friday. Our oldest dog and one of the Americans in the kennel died on Friday night. Jedi had an aneurism on Friday while I was petting him and lost feeling and control of his left side. He was sixteen, so we knew it was only a matter of time, but that certainly didn't make it any easier to say goodbye. He is buried on the hill overlooking the kennel beside Farmor.

This weekend we had a great time at the Hakadal Hundekjøring Seminar. The mushing seminar had Lance Mackey and Tim Hunt as speakers along with several others. It was a great weekend of talking dogs with the best of them and looking at all sorts of new and interesting gear. We have a few new sponsers and got a bunch of interesting products to test. I had a lot of personal time with Lance, Tonya and Tim and that was just a blast. Our friends Hanne and Per set up the whole weekend for us and it was just a ton of fun.

Updates as events warrant.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

One gone one new

Hey All,

So one of the puppies has gone to a pet home here in the town we live in. She was just a bit big and her parents were not very good so we decided that she would make a great pet for some friends of ours who asked if we had a puppy for them. Null Coma En is now called Tinka and is going to learn to pull a pulk and go skiing this winter. We hope she has fun and look forward to keeping an eye on her as she grows and learns!

yesterday we had a new member join our little team here. Lille Moon comes to us from Øyvind Mortensen. She has joined Danse's puppies in there pen as she is the same age and size as they are. We will let her out running with all the rest this afternoon.

I will be in the states from the 10th until the 19th.
Thanks to Bjørn, Per and Hanna, and Iben Kardel for feeding a training the dogs while we are gone!

Updates as events Warrant

Friday, September 3, 2010

Low Temps low miles

Hey There everyone,

We are now in the grips of the unstoppable pull towards winter. Yesterday we experienced our first frost of the year. It is cold enough in the evenings now to run without worrying about over heating the pooches.

We are training regularly now and the dogs are looking great. I have not seen a team look so good so early in the season. That is something that I hope bodes well for the upcoming winer season.

The pups are getting big. The biggest boys are starting to eat outside of the puppy pen with the big dogs. We do this so that their times out in the big dog yard is associated with something positive. After they are finished eating we let them relax for a while and then put them back in with the rest of the puppies.

I hipe everyone is enjoying the early fall.

Updates as events warrant.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Preparing for the Winter

It has been raining for the last 100 years here. I am not exaggerating, literally 100 years.

Yesterday we built a new floor for the puppy kennel. This got the youngsters up out of the mud and made keeping them clean much easier now that Norway aparently has a monsoon season.
We got some help with the floor from Per Vinding, who abandoned a big platter of chocolate cookies to come and help us build in the mud and rain. Good guy.

Blåmann was moved closer to the house. The rain depresses him a lot, so we thought being within pancake throwing distance from the porch would help cheer him up.

The puppies are all looking great. We had them out running around yesterday for an hour or so and despite the terrible weather they all had a wonderful time playing happily in the mud and wet like little swamp-piglets.

Today we built a new dog house and gave the puppies two new houses. The house we built is a new type of house we are trying. It is a double house that we are hoping will let the dogs share some warm during the winter months. We made them so that they are easy to insulate during the winter and easy to keep cool in the summer. They worked perfectly this summer and have been nice and snug during the last 100 years of rain, so the wintertime is their last big test.

Tomorrow we are getting all of the chain and other materials for the renovation of the kennel. We are planning on having it done and all the bugs worked out before we leave for the USA.

Our second training frun of the season with the dogs went very well. We had to wait until 22:30 for the temperature to drop enough to run. Because it was dark when we ran, the team passed the turn around so we went a little farther than originally intended. The dogs took it all in stride and slowed the pace down when i asked them to, so that we could deal with the extra miles without getting to worn out. It has to be fun.

Updates as events warrant.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First run of the season!

Hey everyone!

We had our first run of the season last night. We hooked up 14 dogs and training from our kennel out toward Reinsåsen and back. We trained on the truck because we wanted to have complete control for the first run. The first run is to get the mental gymnastics out of the way. The truck is not a great way to build conditioning and fitness. We will use the truck a few more times before we will switch to running smaller teams on our fourwheeler.

The dogs looked great for having a summer off, and settled in like they had been doing it for months! We had our three new dogs with us. Kajo, who just arrived last weekend, ran with Harry in the middle of the team. Kajo is a very good lead dog but, because she is new to us and we are new to her, it makes sense not to put to much pressure on her to soon. We will have her up in lead for a little bit of time within the next few runs, and then after she has run a dozen times with us she will start rotating through the leader position with the others!

We had a few of Bjørn Petter Kaltenborns dogs with us including his lead dog which he graciously let us borrow for a few runs until Kajo and some of the youngsters start rotating through.

Epo was a rock star as usual. Freya looked great, and Subchief was charming and steady as always.

We are beginning this season with a new training schedule. It is an 11 day cycle.
Day 1: Long and slow run
Day 2: Off
Day 3: off
Day 4: Long and slow
Day 5: Off
Day 6: off
Day 7: Fast and Short
Day 8: Fast and Short
Day 9: Fast and Short
Day 10: Off
Day 11: Off

This training schedule should give the dogs adequate rest, while still builing up the muscle and endurance that we will need. Later in the season some of the long and slow runs will be camping runs where we run long and then camp, before running long again.
This should get us in shape for the Skelbreia Sweepstakes race in February and the Amundsen Race in March.

Updates as events warrant

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lots to do

Hello Everyone,

We are busy busy busy this time of year. The nights are getting cold, and the days are getting shorter, so we are starting to think about starting to run the dogs. I am still very busy with work, although it should start to mellow in the next several weeks.

We have started our big kennel renovations. Today we cut out all the materials for 22 dog houses that we are building. Just enough for the 22 puppies we have needing houses when they move out of the puppies pens!

The puppies are still getting out every day. They are getting really big! The oldest ones are getting bigger than our smaller adults! We have all 19 of the bigger puppies out together at the same time. Thanks to our border collie Maya, they all learned to come back when called and stick very close. They have followed her lead.

The oldies are doing well. Jedi is 15 and still amazes me by jumping up and down off of all of the dog houses in the yard. George is still an old grump. Orion and Sub-chief are getting geared up for running with the puppies this year. Orion is getting tired of the long miles that we do with the main-team and Sub-chief can't run at night because he is blind in one eye which has thrown off his depth perception. Freya is still herself, and running with the main-team.

Kaia has had a cold for a few weeks. It is probably caused by allergens in the air.

Our new dog Kajo has settled in beautifully. She is eating well and sleeping well. She is very quite and loves playing with the puppies when they are out and about. We are really looking forward to beginning to run with her.

In September I will be at the Seminar at Hakadal for mushers.

Right before the seminar we are travelling to the states for a visit. We are very much looking forward to seeing everyone! It will be good to be back in Maine for a visit.

Updates as events warrant

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Dog Tomorrow

Hey There everyone,

Just wanted to let you all know that we are picking up a new dog tomorrow. For those of you who are not mushers, feel free to go and do something else as the following is pretty dogsledding-geeky.

This dog is coming to us from Ketil Reitan. Ketil is a famous musher here in Norway who has run all of the long races in the world including Iditarod, Yukon Quest, many of the shorter Alaskan races and the longest race ever, The Arctic Barents Race. Ketil has a lot of roots in Alaska (his wife Evelyn is Inuit Eskimo) and regularly imports dogs from the top kennels.
The dog we are getting from him is a female out of the imported Alaskan lines and the best lines here in Norway. She dog has run several of the long races here in Norway, in lead, and finished very respectably. One of the races I am doing this season is the Amundsen Race, which is a race she finished in lead with a rookie musher and a team of puppies behind her, and finished 13th. So we are glad to have her experience!

We had two main reasons for getting Kajo (the dog). One was that we wished to have a female that was genetically good enough, and performs well enough, to use as a breeding female for a litter down the road. Second reason was that we lost our lead dog Farmor to cancer and desperately needed another lead dog because we have 1 adult team and 2 puppy teams, and one pair of leaders can't do it all.

I will post pictures tomorrow night after the new gal arrives!

Cheers for now.

Updates as events warrent.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Blog Name and new news!

Welcome to our updated and newish blog!
We decided that because we are together now and we have moved to Norway. That Riverwind Kennels was not the name we should have for the kennel anymore. We have therefore changed the name of the Kennel to Ropphaugen Huskies! Ropphaugen is the name of the small farm we bought in the mountains of Eastern Norway. This farm has a rich history of dogsledding going back more than 30 years, so we wanted to keep that history going!

We have been busy this summer. We have both been busy settling in to new jobs. Our new house has been great but now we have a property to look after, wood to cut and chop for the winter, and a kennel that we are in the process of renovating.

The Kennel was laready built when we baught the house, and was built very well. It is on almost 6 feet of coarse gravel with road matting underneith so it drains extremely well, which is a big plus for the dogs this summer with all of the rain we have gotten!

We have started to build up a serious team of dogs now. We have working agreements with several of the top mushers in Norway to raise litters of puppies for them in exchange for several of the puppies from each litter. We have TWENTY THREE puppies here now, and that may seem like a bunch of craziness but we are only keeping six or seven. The rest we will train over the winter but they will return to their owners in May 2011.

We have welcomed some new dogs into our mix as well. Kajo, Jago, and Harry have all come to us from Ketil Reitan, a very well known Long Distance musher. We are very excited to have these guys with us this winter!

We will be starting to train the dogs in Fall Training mode within the next few days. We are hoping that the temperatures will stay nice and cool for us!

That is all for now. I hope everyone is having a good summer!
Cheers, Barry

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New House, New dogs, New horizons!

Hello all,

Since my last post, many things have changed. Shortly after that post a friend mentioned in casual coversation that a friend of his was selling their house in Gausdal (a mountain region west of Lillehammer). The house had a kennel for sled dogs already built and was close enough for Kaia to continue working at the Kindergarten. We were interested but not looking very seriously at moving from Mesnali until after the winter. However, after seeing the place we were very interested! It was beautiful and really as perfect as we could have hoped. The only drawback was that the felt a little small. After taking time to consider the pro's and con's of buying a house and moving ourselves and our dogs before the winter was over, we decided to go for it!
It took some weeks and a lot of work but we are now moved into our house in Gausdal. Kaia still had to work, so I spent a lot of time and energy moving our whole operation from Mesnali to Gausdal. When we arrived in Mesnali in November of last year, all of our belongings fit into one small pickup. It took 4 truckloads and 5 trailers to get all of our belongings and kennel gear from Mesnali to Gausdal! It is amazing how much stuff we mushers have!
We are all settled in now. Our new place is great. It is a very old farm called "Ropphaugen", with trails for training the dogs directly from the yard and no neighbors close enough to get annoyed by the dogs barking during dinner.

Our first night in our new house was also the night of the mushers meeting for the Gausdal Marathon, a 220 km dog sled race that I was signed up for. With moving in and race prep we did not get to bed until nearly 3:00. The race was the next day.

We arrived at the race starting area at around 10:00 and set up my team and sled. I left the starting chute at 13:36. We had a tough race, and it was nearly 11 hours before I reached the half-way point. The dogs were not having fun and at that point neither was I so rather than force the issue I chose to scratch from the race. It was a very disappointing race for me, we have almost 1500 miles of traing this year, and I thought we were ready. Very discouraging.
The dogs are getting some down time now so that I can focus on putting the finishing touches on the kennel, and finish unpacking the house. Next week we are bringing in two very good dogs from the team that was 3rd in the Finnmarksløpet and has won the Gausdal Maraton several times. These are very good dogs and are the beginning of our new kennel. We have many old dogs who are approaching retirement and life on someones couch, so bringing in some really proven quality dogs is a step in the right direction! Thank you Trond Ørslien!

Hope everyone has had a good holiday season!
Cheers, Barry