Friday, November 30, 2007

Mailbox Run

We got some more snow, but I haven't taken any new pictures, so instead I am going to show you the mailbox run. This is a run which goes from my house to our rural mailboxes, almost three miles away, and returns. Here we are heading north towards the mountains that border Montana and Idaho. The wheel dog on the left is my toothless piebald Nutmeg. Notice how he is just a step further back than his partner. That is because one tugline is shorter than the other. This is an old gangline, and when one tugline broke, the new replacement tug turned out to be a touch shorter than the old ones. If I have a dog who does not pull consistently, I will put him on the shorter tug so that he has the illusion of trying to play catchup with his partner. Dogs usually pull better if they are behind because they naturally love to play chase.

The STOP AHEAD sign is meant for snowmobiles in the winter. That is why it is on such a tall post. In a high snow year the level will eventually reach the bottom of the sign. In a low snow year like last year it may only be halfway up the post. There is a road crossing at the top of this hill, but for the mailbox run, I turn right, before the road.

Here we have made the turn, and another turn around the mailboxes, and we have stopped for a breather. You can see the mailboxes behind us, nicely protected by a three sided shed.

Notice how my little leader Meadowlark is standing ahead of her coleader Charge. Someone chewed one of the leader tuglines in half, and instead of throwing it away, I just tied a knot in it, which of course made it quite a bit shorter. Now I put the most confident dog on the longer tugline, and I can train a new or less confident leader on the shorter tugline. Don't you just love the way I turn an equipment problem into an asset?

The brown dog on the left is Cinnamon. She is Meadowlark's aunt and Nutmeg's sister. She is standing to the side because she has no neckline. Yup, somebody chewed it, and I chose not to replace it. Now I use that position to train dogs to keep lined out and run where they should without being forced to stay in position by a neckline.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Snow At Last

The prayers worked because we did get some snow last week. It was not much, but still ...

Snow at last; snow at last; thank God Almighty, there's snow at last!

West Yellowstone got about a foot, but I only got perhaps 2 - 4 inches. The weather turned cooler, though, so I still have most of it left. This is not enough for sleds, so I am still running the dogs with the ATV. They opened the gates to the winter trail, so now I am able to go 20 miles, and the dogs are ready for that distance, so this is great.

We had some gorgeous sunny days, and I found myself running in the late afternoon with the sun at my back, painting the fields golden, and the full moon rising over the mountains directly ahead of me. I did not have my camera with me, so you will just have to imagine it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Winter Is Late

Bare ground still. Our church today prayed for snow. How many places do they do that? We should normally be completely snow covered by November 1st, so this is very, very late.

Here is a shot of my training trail about half a mile from my house, heading north. We are about to pass the holding pens for cattle. They were all shipped off at the end of October to their winter grazing grounds. The dogs paws are still in great shape because we run on grass and dirt, not gravel like we had in Three Forks, Montana before we moved here.

Here is another shot about half a mile further on. Those beautiful mountains are only five miles away. On the far left you can see the gap that is Raynolds Pass, the lowest pass over the Continental Divide anywhere in the Rockies!

You may notice the double fence posts on the right. The larger posts are permanently in place while the smaller posts have the barbed wire strands on them and are held up with a simple loop of wire over the large posts. This is so that the entire fence can be laid on the ground for winter so that snowmobilers can ride through the fence line without hooking their skis under a strand of wire. This photo is not a recent one as those fences were all taken down nearly three weeks ago.