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