A Chainsaw and a Backhoe

11 August 2011      7.00 pm      70 F    Still sunny and lovely

Apparently, those two things are all you need to make major changes around the dogyard. As it turned out, we also used a bulldozer, a woodchipper and a dumptruck but Eddie was convinced we could have got by with just the chainsaw and the backhoe.

Big digger at workSo much easier than a shovel and wheelbarrow

True to form, I forgot to take a completely “before” photograph, before the chainsaw swung into action, before the backhoe started doing its thing and before the land started to get cleared. However, that picture should give you an idea of what was there – before…….. We’ve already altered the layout of the yard, added extra pens and put in a couple of new gates. Twice. This is the last time, we’re sure. We think. No, we’re sure. It wasn’t about getting more dogs – that we are sure on, it was about giving the ones we have, the most freedom and room to run and play, whilst still allowing us space to have places to put everyone out, in groups that got on. This project started in May, the trees were felled and the mosses and shrubs scraped away, along with the top layer of sand and clay. And then it all had to stop, because the ground under that, was still frozen solid in places and where it wasn’t, it was a slimy, gooey mess. The easiest solution was to let Mother Nature do her thing and thaw it all out. All we needed was a few weeks of warmth and sunshine. And lo, we got just that and what a difference it made. Back to work, clearing the rest of the area and turning over the clay, mixing it with our very own sand to ensure we get good drainage and grading the whole site, so that the snowmelt will run off, hopefully away from the dogs.

Cleared lotCleared, levelled and ready for fences

With the fun bit done, the big machines could get put away and the boring but important work of erecting the fence was next. Of course, big boys toys are always useful and the backhoe excelled, being used as a hammer to put in the posts and a winch to stretch the chainlink into position.

Levelled dog lot with new fences and postsThe new fence is up. New posts in, too.

So, with the technical stuff done, it was time to get on with the “easy” bit. I had decided that the dogs moving into the new pen, should move into nice, new houses too. This would free up their existing houses, some of which had seen a hard life and the better ones could then be reissued to those dogs who have chosen to trash their current place of residence. I’m looking at you Quiz, Takeo, Cuchi and Avery !

New dog boxes being builtLots of dog houses, lots of sawing, no missing fingers.

Two years in Alaska has taught me several things. One of which is that it’s a harsh climate that is pretty tough on untreated plywood. So, the new houses got weather protection, which will hopefully lengthen their useful life a little. I’m not that keen on painting at the best of times, but the prospect of staining and then coating 11 houses filled me with a strong desire to have someone else do it. Fortunately, someone else appeared. My friend Mike and his lovely girlfriend Fiona, had stayed with us earlier on their holiday and came back for another few days. I traded them as much use of the washing machine and tumble dryer as they could manage for several hours of painting. And a bit of manual labouring too. I drive a hard bargain.

Painting dog housesWilling volunteers hard at work.

With the houses done, and the paint mainly on the wood and not the people, our next task was to get them into place.

A jumbled pile of dog housesDog House Jigsaw – which roof and floor belong to which house ?

Now it might seem that this part should be fairly straightforward. And it was, because we had cunningly numbered the house, the roof and the floor when we had doing the painting. The only debate being about the 6 and the 9 and why 8’s roof didn’t fit anymore. Of course, Mikey couldn’t resist the temptation……

Mike in the dog houseAt least he knows he’ll always have somewhere to stay.

Tomfoolery aside – he did just manage to get back out of the box before we had a chance to nail the roof down, a fine afternoon’s work resulted in the completion of the new yard. All we need to do now, is rearrange the dogs.

New yard, new fences, new dog housesReady for its new residents.

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