Summer in Alaska

7 August 2014   2.00 PM     65 F      Some blue, some white

I guess, technically, summer is in full swing.  The days are still filled with bright, sunlit hours and the mornings are still pleasantly warm.  Most people are still looking at that summer “to do” list and wondering if it is all going to get done before Fall arrives.

This summer, we have been busier than usual. We’ve even managed some of the Alaskan things that we’ve always either avoided or missed out on. I’ve been fishing, we’ve tended the garden and even produced edible produce. We’ve done some much needed kennel improvement and expansion, I’ve spent ages working on an update for our website and we’ve had a litter of puppies.  Oh wait,  that last one didn’t actually happen………  still there’s always next year.  My wife is on her usual summer trip back to Scotland and I’m in charge for a change. So far, things have gone smoothly and there hasn’t been any drama or unnecessary excitement.

Fishing with Mike
Fishing with Mike
My biggest halibut,  forgot to take a "before" pic.
My biggest halibut, forgot to take a “before” pic.
Kapitan Karl,  boat captain, tour guide, fisherman, chef, beer supplier and fish filletter extraordinaire. extraordinaire
Kapitan Karl, boat captain, tour guide, fisherman, chef, beer supplier and fish filletter extraordinaire.

The fishing trip was wonderful, and I got to see some humpback whales playing around for an hour or so whilst we’re fishing. We also saw dolphins (or porpoises) and some sea otters, as well as some amazing scenery and glaciers. Plus we all caught fish !

Not quite icebergs,  but glacier ice having calved from the glacier.
Not quite icebergs, but glacier ice having calved from the glacier.
One of the many glaciers I got to see.
One of the many glaciers I got to see.

The next couple of days were spent checking for halibut recipes, trying some of them out and getting the rest of the fish prepped for the freezer. Our garden supplied some herbs, and also enough rhubarb to keep us regular for quite a while. The strawberries haven’t really come to much, the entire harvest consisted of 7 berries, although I think the birds may have done better than that.

4 lbs of rhubarb.
4 lbs of rhubarb.

We’re also waiting on our potatoes being ready. Well, when I say “our potatoes”, our neighbour did all the digging and planting, of the seed potatoes that he bought, but they’re planted in our vegetable plot – so I think we can lay claim to at least some of them.
We had decided that we could do with another exercise pen for the dogs and finally managed to get organised enough to get that started. Whilst our buddy Lev was here with his backhoe (he’s available for hire, very reasonable rates and very efficient,) we got him to take out the self seeding trees in our main yard, that over the 5 years we have been here, have started to make a bit of comeback. They’re smallish trees, mostly cottonwoods, but they’re in deep enough they don’t want to come out. The plan of a quick run over the yard with a bulldozer didn’t quite succeed and it took a bit more work than anticipated, but at least we can see dirt again.lev dozer
The new yard is all prepared and we’re just waiting on the fencing going up, which likely will be in the next 2 or 3 weeks. Long before the ground freezes and we can’t get posts in. We’re also going to make the temporary puppy pen, permanent. Not that it will always have puppies in it of course, but it will be a handy segregation area.

All of this is taking place with one eye on the weather forecasts, the hoped for arrival of cooler temperatures and the start of training season. We have some new dogs to incorporate into our crew, as well as Queen’s pups, now 18 months old, who will be learning what their future holds. We don’t have many dogs retiring from last year’s group, Oscar, one of our leaders is definitely gone, he’s 10 1/2 and made it clear last winter that he was happy to be dropped. Mermaid, who is the same age, seems far more vibrant and is still acting like a much younger dog, so she’ll stay in the pool, but be under closer scrutiny.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Duncan blog entry if there wasn’t some tale of mechanical woe to relate.
The front drive currently looks like a scrap yard – there are immobile bits of machinery scattered across it, like an obstacle course. The major casualty is our Yamaha Rhino, that has fried its digital brain and therefore won’t start and is currently useless and needs hauled to the dealer. Behind it, is the big snowblower, which is actually working fine, but without the Rhino to move it around, is just an ugly lawn ornament. The plan was to take the Rhino down to the dealer which sounds simple enough. Even with the Rhino not running –  we managed to winch the Rhino onto my trailer and proceeded to tie it down.  I set off and got all of about 100 yards before a loud crash brought me to a sudden stop. The trailer tongue had sheared in two, and the body of the trailer was now nose first into the ground.  Much muffled cursing could be heard – which I suppose means it wasn’t that muffled.

Trailer tongues are not supposed to point at the sky. Dead Rhino clutters up the yard.
Trailer tongues are not supposed to point at the sky. Dead Rhino clutters up the yard.

So, now we’re in a bit of a pickle. I’ve tried to borrow 2 different trailers from friends, only to find that whilst their’s are not quite as broken as mine, for various reasons, they’re not roadworthy either. I’ve tried getting hold of the trailer manufacturer to purchase a replacement tongue, which “should” just bolt on – except there seems to be no-one at the factory. And no dealer has such a part. The Rhino, meantime, will just have to wait it’s turn, for a trip to Big Lake and a new brain.

Machines,  pah !






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