Its March and that’s a big thing here in the far north. It means the sun is back. It was back for a solid 13h 12m 25s today. We are gaining 6 minutes of sunshine each day at the moment. In 10 days we have another hour added, in 20 days another. Oh my…. This feels so good.
This morning we took a family out for an hour trail ride. They encountered 2 moose, fast trails and Alaskan warm temperatures, +20F. An experience hard to beat.
Before the afternoon mushing school starts we take a little break back at the truck. Mugsy, BadGirl, Fanny, Rudy and Vigo are all patiently waiting to receive their snack, which John is cutting just out of the picture. Nordic however doesn’t care. Nordic, soaks up the sun and life is good. Nordic, that is one dog without fear of heights for sure.
Just Because the weather is cold doesn’t mean hearty tourists are going to miss a day with the dogs, a state side rifle team was here to compete against the local Fairbanks team and they decided to go even though the temps were far below zero. Its a ton of work getting everything ready, from starting the truck, feeding the dogs, loading gear, loading dogs, unloading, harnesssing, hooking up, dressing clients, by the time you finally go all the hard work is behind, gliding down the river with an eager team of huskies can be magical. I just returned from a trip to Belize so 20 below was a shock to me!
Last Easter there was a little surprise at the Heavy Horse Farm. Bella gave birth to a little pup, which John named Easter.
Today Easter is 10 months old and has been roaming on the Farm her whole life. Totally happy, except for the moments that we box up the other dogs for a mushing trip. As we start loading up the dog trailer, the dog yard always explodes in noise. Take me, take me, bark, bark, me, I want to run. And little Easter barks and jumps around with the rest. She must have wondered though. Why not me, where do they go, what is so exciting.
Yesterday she finally got to go, to have her first feel for the spectacle around a mushing trip. At the trail head I put her in a harness but she is still to young to be in front of the sled. Instead I take her out for a walk. She loves it and is very responsive to my voice. So it might be time for the next step.
Its not the best method to break in a new sled dog, but today I took her out on a skijoring trip. Side by side with Fanny she got to run for 1hr on the trails, with me on skis behind. Easter jumps left and right and only when Fanny puts her on the ground and establish her authority, Easter starts running straight out.
There are other mushers on the trail, other skiers, other hikers, and Easter is curious about it all. But Fanny shows the way how to ignore it all, Easter follows. Well, most of the time. I do have to admit that now and then you can see dogs and ropes and skis and me tangled up down in the snow. Overall it worked out fine and I can happily say that there is a new sled dog on the Heavy Horse Farm, Easter.
No mushing, no skijoring, no horseback riding. Today we do nothing. Its a rest day for all the animals, its a doing-nothing-working day for us.
Doing nothing is a very relative term here at the Heavy Horse Farm. As the dogs and horses get some rest, we have many things to do. The new kitchen is in and John works on the last details to hook everything back up. Also the dog truck needs some caring and the fire in the workshop has to be maintained to defrost the hot tub.
Dog handler Destry feeds all the 30 animals (24 dogs, 6 horses) twice on the farm and bakes some bread on the side to feed us. I work on the website and do some reading up on advertising. Tomorrow we are mushing again.
Sam the house dog is roaming around inside, visiting dog Snap is laying on a floor rug inside, lead dog Nordic is curled up on the couch inside. Me and the rest of the dogs are outside, looking up to the Northern Lights.
Today we went to the Tanana river with our dog team to meet up with Kathryn from Sled Dog Adventures to take customers out mushing. Two sleds (each pulling another sled) with each 8 dogs make quite a spectacle. The dogs are very excited to run on this beautiful day and we are also happy with the more moderate temperatures. It has been -45F here, and 20F feels like hot to dogs and people.
When we are almost ready to go, a sprint team pulls up besides us. Their dogs are skinny compared to our more sturdy dogs and there are many. Many like in, how many? All together they put 24 dogs on the line and attached a very light weight sled behind them. It looks freaking fast and scary. Good that the sled is hooked up to a big truck, which is still shaking by the pull of all these dogs.
Now we are surrounded by 40 crazy barking, jumping, howling dogs. They all want to run, they all want to go. The whole atmosphere is intense, nervous, energetic and we can’t hear each other anymore above all the noise. With difficulty we keep our dogs to the side to give the sprint team right of way.
Suddenly silence. All 3 teams take off and the dogs run, run the way they love it. Full out before mellowing down into a nice rhythm. There is no noise, no engines, just the dogs, the mushers and 4 clients.
The opportunity is to good to just wait at the truck for John to come back, so I take the last dog left behind, Fanny and go skijor with her. What an amazing place to be.
Heidi Hatcher has a great write up of her recent trip with us on her blog.
Spring has sprung in Fairbanks. days are getting longer, sun’s been shining, temps getting up into the 20′s, and only down to the -20′s at night. roads are starting to clear up so we’re driving on patchy ice and pavement instead of just solid ice now. our road’s still packed snow, but i like it that way. with the beautiful weather comes beautiful opportunities to play outside. gorgeous days to go skiing or ice climbing. and now, spring break.
What better way to kick-off the break than an overnight mushing trip??
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