Belated New Year Wishes

22 Jan 2011    4.00PM    Temperature  25 F   Overcast with snow clouds.


2011 is already over 3 weeks old. Somehow, despite having lived through all of it, I’m still a bit surprised by that. Not by the fact that I have survived 3 weeks after Hogmanay (Scottish celebration of New Year), but that I have already failed on one of my New Year Resolutions.

So, moving swiftly on, I’m trying hard to keep up with at least some of the others.  One is an idea I have shamelessly copied from Alice’s blog – to put a snapshot of the current weather on each post. That way, when I’m old and forgetful (even more forgetful than I am now) I’ll be able to look back and see if that triggers any more memories. Of course, for it to be of  much assistance, more regular blogging would doubtless help.  Today’s temperature of 25 F is very pleasantly warm. Yes, I agree it is still below freezing however we have just had a week where it dipped below -40F, nightime lows were usually about -36F  and a couple of days where it never got above -25F at any point at all. So, you can see why 25 seems lovely. Those warmer temperatures were brought about a low pressure system that brought clouds and more snow. We’ve had a couple of inches and that should help soften the very firm icy trails out there.

Of course, I’m having to take other people’s word for it regarding the state of the trails. I have been floored (literally) with a recurrence of my back problem which left me helpless and useless for over a week. My handler wife has been run ragged dealing with the dogs and me. Of course, this coincided with that extreme cold snap, and I did feel terrible watching her having to don layer after layer of clothing to be able to go outside and scoop, feed and soup the dogs. Add in the fact that I’m a little untidy, it took her longer to do the regular chores as she had to explore and find where I had stashed the bowls, the meat, the new straw, eye drops, etc.  Maybe I should have warned her about the dogs peeing on the poop bucket handle too, if you leave it lying around.

The dogs don’t seem to care who is feeding them, as long as somebody is. They have been displaying some signs that they are missing their sled runs, even during the coldest days. Hopefully, it won’t be too much longer until I can get them back out there. We had been getting a bit further and exploring some new trails. So, it is a bit disappointing (to say the least) to have had to take these two weeks off.

New Year Traditions

I decided I was going to start a New Year tradition, a variance on my mother’s Christmas family photo theme.  Last year, I took a group picture of our dogs, more by accident than design, and this year, I made a point to do the same thing, from the same spot, well ok, fairly close to the same spot.


Group of our dogs
Happy New Year Jan 2010
A group of our dogs
Happy New Year Jan 2011











Seems like Rimi is determined to get himself in each photograph. It also shows how much more snow we have this year, compared to 2010.

Whilst we are guilty of babying our dogs, we don’t go as far as getting them Christmas presents or even making them a special dinner. However, we do tend to give them an extra chunk of something tasty as a special treat. This year, it was lamb. The only economical way to buy meat for the dogs is to buy it in bulk. usually that means a frozen 50 or 60 lb block. So, when it comes time to dish the meat out, we do have the little problem of portion control. In the UK, it was easy as the meat actually came in 1lb packs.  Since we moved here, I have tried several different methods

  • a chainsaw – that was seriously messy and a bit overpowered. (and expensive – you probably really should have a separate saw for wood and meat)
  • a bowsaw –   not quite as messy, but very inefficient and slow
  • a circular saw – showed promise, but needed several passes to get through a block due to the depth. Plus it sprayed the meat dust quite a ways
  • a reciprocating saw – similar results to the circular saw, bit slow and just as messy
  • a long handled axe – chopped it up well, hard to get similar sized pieces (at least for me, I’m no lumberjack) and my toes were nearly added to the pile
  • a short handled axe – better for me than the long handle, less grief for my back and toes.
  • let it thaw – slow, messy and   S M E L L Y


Frozen block of lamb and chopping tools
Frozen lamb and the implements of doom


Anyway, after trial and error (much error) and seeking advice from those with much more experience than I, (thanks Mike and Bob in particular), my preferred weapons of choice now are the short handled axe with the reciprocating saw as a fall back. The ravens seem to greatly enjoy my work, as the meat chips do fly a fair distance.

Several people did suggest buying a meat bandsaw. However, unless I’m looking in the wrong places, in Alaska these things are seriously expensive and I just don’t cut enough meat to make it a sensible purchase. Most of the meat we buy now comes in nice 5 or 10lb blocks that are used in one sitting and can thaw in the soup bucket. The dog soup bucket, I hasten to add, for any future house guests !


An evening sled run
Evening run with Ruby and Avery leading





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