Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bunny Boots

On December 21 I posted about my 6th anniversary and how Carhartts and bunny boots were part of my wedding ensemble. These boots are so common here that I took it for granted that everyone would know what I meant. (I know oregonsunshine got a laugh out of it!) So I had my daughter snap a picture of my footwear of choice for Alaska winters.

"U.S. Government cold weather Mickey Mouse boots with valve are made for U.S. government troops in arctic conditions down to -60 degrees. Rubber design keeps the wool insulation dry. White Mickey Mouse boots are great for snowmobiling, ice fishing, or outdoor workers, etc." from the Army Surplus store description

We call them bunny boots. I heard it was because they make your feet look really big like bunny feet. Mickey Mouse works for me too.

I wear Outdoor Research gaiters over my boots because I cannot stand to get my jeans bottoms wet. With the gaiters on I can walk in snow up to my knees and still be comfortable.

When I first moved up here and got into all the outdoor activities I went shopping for boots, gloves, hats and snow pants. Everything I tried on made me look like the Michelin Man. So I bought the Gucci snow resort gear............and froze my butt off. I learned first hand that function trumps pretty any day.

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reindeer Facts

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, both male and female reindeer grow antlers. Although adult males grow the largest racks, adult females can have some very impressive antlers making it difficult or impossible to distinguish the sex based on antlers alone. Bulls generally shed their antlers in winter between November and December. Pregnant females will retain their antlers until after they have their calves in late April and May.

Therefore, according to EVERY historical rendition depicting Santa's reindeer, EVERY single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a girl.

We should've known…...

only women would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost.



Wordless Wednesday

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Favorite Day of The Year

Finally.......after six months of watching the daylight dwindle down to a mere five hours, Monday December 21 at a little bit after 8 am, it's Winter Solstice!! There will be a 9 second gain of daylight. That's not so dramatic but soon the gain will be measured in 5 minutes. In June just before the Summer Solstice, my least favorite day, the sun will set somewhere around 2 am and will rise around 4 am. There will be no dark just dusk. How cool is that?

The biggest advantage to that is that we can begin a ride at 7 pm, ride for at least 4 hours, and be assured that we will be coming home in the daylight. It does take some getting used to though. Anyone remember Northern Exposure? There was a great episode about this.

The other reason that this is a favorite day is that December 21, 2009 will be our 6th wedding anniversary. We had a stealth wedding and didn't tell anyone except the friend who performed the ceremony. My wedding dress was a ratty old Carhartt jacket and I wore bunny boots and fur mittens. We had a blast.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Random Stuff

I mentioned to a fellow blogger that the reason I had for starting a blog changed soon after I started the blog. But, like so many other bloggers, I found that I enjoyed writing on my blog and reading others. Now I feel as though these blogs are more like "letters from home". I'm old enough to remember when long distance telephone calls were very expensive and most communication was done by letter. When I was in junior high school I had several penpals and my cousin that I wrote to on a weekly basis. This blogging feels very much like that. Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting on my blog.


After almost 4 days of continuous snowfall, the totals in this area went from2.6 inches in south Anchorage to 63.5 inches in Valdez. I am so glad I don't live in Valdez. Here in my barn lot the totals were about average. My 1 ton dually hadn't been moved since just before this last round of snow.

On the hood is a yard stick:

11 and 1/2 inches of snow

Parked just behind the dually is the flatbed hay trailer and the horse trailer is behind that. Neither one of those have been moved or shoveled since it started to snow in November. We haven't had any days above freezing so the snow total is pretty accurate for the whole winter.

Seventeen and a half inches of snow!

I think I might need to get the snow shoveled off the roof of my trailer. I can't wait until we get the big shop finished so that I can store my trailer inside during the winter. Hopefully I can trailer to the indoor arena after the first of the year.

My favorite day of the year is fast approaching. We will have a bonfire to celebrate.

My animals have been so neglected. My daughter feeds morning and night and checks water. I go out with a flashlight to count noses and check the critters before I go to bed. Until last night I think I got a total of 6 hours of sleep from Sunday morning. Because we have several large parking lots that need to be plowed before the stores open, we generally plow from 3 am to 9 am on the commercials then start the residentials. That's at least another 6 to 8 hours depending on how much snow we have. This past week we plowed four times in 5 days. Some of the residentials only got plowed three times. One place got plowed twice in the same day.

The forecast now is for cold temps so hopefully we won't get another storm like this one for a while. We have plowed in this week half as many times as we plowed all of last season. I heard that in Wahington DC the snow was falling at a rate of 1 inch per hour and the plows couldn't keep up with it. I can so sympathize with you.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Words on Wednesday

Snow. Snow accumulation 8 to 12 inches. Highs 5 to 15 above. Light winds.

Numerous snow showers. Snow accumulation 1 to 4 inches. Lows 5 below to 5 above. Variable wind 10 mph.

Numerous snow showers. Snow accumulation up to 2 inches. Highs zero to 10 above. Light winds.

This is on top of the snow that's been falling for the past two days. My sweety is chomping to go snowmachining. All I want to do now is sleep. We've been plowing since Sunday afternoon. I have a church parking lot to do for evening services tonight. Then we'll start all over at 3 am.

Maybe this should be Plowing Log since I'm certainly not getting to ride!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy Birthday to my sweety!

Today is my sweety's 49th birthday. He is a very non-horsey person and this is one of the few pictures I have of him horseback.

This is where he would rather be.

Or here.

Lilly just finished whelping 10 puppies. He thought she deserved Haagen Das.

Happy Birthday, lovey.
Wait till next year!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tough Day Today

One of my long yearling Suffolk ewes died. Her name was Thirty (because I couldn't think of a name and her ear tag number was 8430) and she would have been 2 years old in January. She's the one in the middle. She came home from the Alaska State Fair in September underweight and unthrifty. I worked extra hard with her as far as feeding away from the rest of the flock and hand feeding grain. She was dewormed, had access to a sheep mineral block and finally was completely separated from the flock and kept in a semi-heated box stall. I called the vet in last week when I couldn't think of anything else I could do by myself and Thirty's face started swelling up.

The swelling was caused by edema and is known as bottle jaw. Sheep get it usually because of a parasite overload. The first thing I noticed was a swollen left ear. I thought it was frostbite but when the vet came out she said hematoma. We pulled fluid and it was just edema. Then the space under Thirty's jaw got bigger: more edema and the diagnosis of bottle jaw. We pulled blood and a fecal and sent it off to the lab in Washington. (Another drawback of living in Alaska - no lab.) Meanwhile Thirty is getting weaker. We thought pneumonia so I started a round of antibiotics and probiotics. She didn't get any better. Last night she was lying flat out so I called the vet who said she would come out this morning to give some steroids to see if we could get some of the fluid off Thirty.

I plowed from 2 am until 5:30 am. Thirty was still alive at 5:30 but when I checked on her at 7 she was gone. The vet came out at nine thinking she was just going to do some injections but our plans changed. So she did the things she had planned and came back about 1:30 pm to do a necropsy. Boy did I learn some interesting things. Briar took pictures. No, I didn't post them but they are on my photobucket if anyone is interested.

Bottom line? Thirty died of congestive heart failure. Why? We don't know. Her lymph glands were swollen, there was bruising on the tissue in her throat and heart, and her heart was abnormally formed. There was a lot of fluid in the heart cavity as well as the abdominal cavity. The rumen was working fine. We found no signs of parasites, a blockage, or a foreign body. The bloodwork hasn't come back yet so we're going to ask for another test to determine Vitamin E and selenium levels.

I have a long list of things to eliminate to get to the bottom of this. Meanwhile, I have eight sheep that are fat, happy and hopefully five of them are bred for late February lambs.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

When I went to bed at 2 am it wasn't snowing. When I woke up there was 3 inches of the white stuff. Off to plow again..........

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Let It Snow.........

Although it took a long time for the snowing to start, it didn't take long for it to resume it's winter cycle: freeze, warm up, snow, plow, freeze, and on and on. When it's really cold (like below zero) there's little chance of snow. When the temps go above 20*F and the weather pattern comes across the Aleutian Islands, it can snow many inches.

Thanksgiving Day was nice with just a dusting of snow to make everything look nice. I have a friend who cooked for us as her husband was working on the Slope and she had no one to share dinner with. We supplied the turkey and the dessert and she cooked everything else. Oh my goodness what an awesome turkey we had. I ate lots of turkey and mashed potatoes.

On the way home it started snowing. First it was just little flakes then they got bigger. When it finally quit snowing there was over a foot of snow in Anchorage and over 100 accidents. Here at my house we had 9" but in Wasilla there was anywhere from 2" to 5". We started plowing when the snow quit. At least this time Fritz was here to do his plow route. Even so we plowed until 2 am Saturday then again until 1 am on Sunday. We have several churches with large parking lots that we plow before services on Sunday. I had two schools and a commercial parking lot to plow today. Tomorrow (Monday) I have to plow three apartment complexes because the tenants don't move their cars for me so I have to wait until they go to work.

I have a sick sheep and the vet was out on Saturday also. Turns out the sheep has bottle jaw and has edema in her left ear and lower jaw. We pulled blood and took a fecal to see what is going on. The vet thinks maybe some pneumonia so I get to do sub q injections for the next few days. The rest of the sheep look good and the vet is pleased.

Saturday night we went to the fireworks show in Palmer. Briar took a good video and I'll see if she can post it for me.

Not much else going on now. This time of year we live by the weather forecast. I'm getting pretty good at reading the radar. I really want to ride.........

Monday, November 23, 2009

What A Difference A Week Makes

Monday at noon in the shade the temp was 33*F. The forecast is for more of the same this week.

Not much goes on here when the temps are as cold as they have been. Mostly we worry about the everyday things: keeping the water flowing and the fire going.

My office is 100 feet from the house and they are on the same water line. We drip water in the house and office but sometimes the line freezes somewhere between the two. So Fritz has to get the welder hooked up and thaw the pipes. The water is dripped into 5 gallon buckets and hauled to the stock tanks. Pretty labor intensive but at least we have running water.

The wood box on the porch was filled and refilled by wheelbarrow several times during the last week. Yesterday Briar and a friend spent several hours splitting more wood. It's almost impossible to split the amount of wood we need before winter is here. So we have a good stash in the wood shed but more is always needed.

The critters all survived this cold snap. The horses are so fuzzy and fat. I never did blanket them, even at -20*F but the dent in the hay barn is substantial. The little goats will come in the barn next time but the buck and doe will stay where they are. The sheep all have really nice wool coats on and the cold doesn't bother them.

The poor dogs though are real "house" dogs. The puppies crates are by the wood stove so they don't get a real good winter coat. Momma dog sleeps on the waterbed or the couch. They don't go out for very long.

If the weather holds and the wind stops blowing I am going to ride. Now I just need to find someone to ride with me. Any takers?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Now THIS is Winter

Sheep stock tank.
It now has a sheet of foam covering most of the water so that
all that heat doesn't get lost in the air. At these temps ice forms no matter what.

The view down my driveway

The barn.
You can just see the horses in their side of the barn. These pictures were taken just before noon. The sun hardly gets above the trees this time of year.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

This 'n That

Today I learned several things:

1. You cannot stretch chain link fence by yourself.

2. A new wood stove is not necessarily a good thing.

3. I love my Stihl chain saw!

4. If you don't gather the eggs soon enough they will freeze.

5. No matter how much you save it is better to get your tickets from the airline and not Orbitz!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Doing Chores the Easy Way

I have been wanting to clear the dead trees and stumps from the horse's winter pen. Finally the stars aligned (the equipment was home as well as my sweety) and the work was begun! First the trees were felled. One needed to be roped off with the MTL but since I was manning the rope I didn't get a picture.

Then the stumps were pulled from the ground. This tree had been dead for several years and was pretty rotten. Also trees in Alaska do not have a deep root system. It's more like a pancake. So the stump came out easily.

Then the stump was picked up and piled on the other stumps ready to be hauled off. I made a bonfire with the tree tops and all the little pieces that were in the pen. The logs will be cut to add to the 11 cords I already have stacked up.

Next step is to stretch chain link fencing on the spruce posts and put wire on the fence panels to create the sheep pens. Off to do that now!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Two Rides and an Update

Two Sundays ago I got my friend Renee to ride with me. The weather here has been so awesome that it seems a shame to waste it. We rode for 3 hours and by the time we were back to the barn Renee was d-o-n-e. She hasn't been riding in several years though so I guess that's a decent excuse. She rode the Mare who was good as usual. Renee is really height challenged so I had to rack the stirrups up almost as high as they would go. It still wasn't comfortable for her so she mostly rode with her right foot out of the stirrup. All through the ride she was telling me that the saddle was sorta leaning to one side but that it wasn't uncomfortable. Finally about a quarter mile from the barn I really LOOKED at the saddle. Oh my goodness. Poor Mare. The saddle was slipped to the left alot. So I stepped off Voosh and tightened the cinch. Would you believe I pulled almost 6 inches of latigo? Arrrrghhhhh. Mare is such an awesome horse she never complained, never stopped, just kept on plodding along.

I had some trouble with Voosh on the water crossings. There was ice on the surface but the leaves were moving under it. Once she stepped on the ice and broke through she was okay.

On Friday I rode with Christy (Polka), Lyssa (Handy) and Paige (MJ). Yes, we are bundled up because the temperature was about 45 degrees but the wind was blowing. Once we dropped down Dead Horse Hill into the river bottoms we were out of the wind but it was still cold. we rode for about 3 and a half hours. The last mile home was on the road but at least the wind was at our backs.

The beavers have been busy in the week since Wild Horse Annie decided to pull the dam apart. This was taken while we were standing in the river looking upstream. The girls followed me around the beaver dam headed toward the far bank. Because of the beaver damage we have to cross the river, head upstream about a hundred yards then cross back over to continue on the trail. While Lyssa and I were crossing a salmon swam out from the beaver dam, between Voosh's legs then turned and headed back. Good horse didn't even notice it.

Lyssa in the lead and Paige behind crossing back to continue on the trail.

Not much else happened on the ride. The horses each had an "issue" with something along the trail. Voosh decided that she was going to rush the ditches and water crossings. Unfortunately I let her get away with too many and now she needs to be schooled.

We did see wildlife: one salmon, one bald eagle and two moose. That's pretty good for this time of year. I told Christy that all we needed now was a bear. She said that she'd pass on that one. On the trail back we did find an interesting pile of scat. I thought possibly it could be bear but Christy said young moose. Maybe next time......

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wild Horse Annie is Mad at the Beavers!

Wild Horse Annie is my neighbor who lives across the hay field that you see in the picture of the termination dust and the moon over the mountains. Her family owns several hundred acres including the river bottom where the beavers live. Our main trail crosses the beaver pond and can be quite deep at times. On the few days during the summer when it's warm enough the beaver pond is a swimming hole for horses and kids.

The beavers hadn't gone too crazy with tree cutting and building until this year. Now it seems as though they are building a home to go with their dam. They are cutting numerous trees and creating some major destruction. Last week when we rode they even had a tree leaning against the power/telephone lines.

This is a cottonwood tree that they cut about two weeks ago. Now the stump is the only thing remaining. The beavers have stripped the log of bark, cut it into manageable lengths and put it in the beaver pond.

This is the dam they have built. Two days before this picture Annie's husband had taken a large excavator to the pond and ripped out most of the dam. The beavers rebuilt it even better! You can see on the down river side of the dam they have put logs straight out from the dam. We used to have a place to drop into the river just to the left of the dam and we could ride about 10 feet from the dam. Now there's too many places to catch a foot in the logs.

Annie is usually tolerant of the critters but now the beavers are taking down her favorite trees on the side of the river. It's also becoming a hazard if the river floods again as there will be no trees to prevent the river from making a new path. I think she's going to have a cousin come trap the beavers.

Our weather is fantastic: blue skies, upper 50s for temps, no snow! We are planning to ride this weekend and as many days next week as we can.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009


I finally got all the components (memory card, transfer thing and daughter) all in the same place to get pictures downloaded from my phone!!! I won't slam you all at once with pictures but here's a couple.

The grey paint is my mare Vooshka. My friend Stefanie rode her up and down the powerline hill for me. This is the hill our friend Nancy was coming down when she came off her young horse and was injured pretty badly earlier this year. It's a great training hill and I have ridden Voosh up it several times myself.

The weather is incredible for October. The highs have been in the 60s and the termination dust is almost gone from our mountains. We all know that the snow is coming. We are just taking advantage of this weather and riding alot.

Sunday I rode with my friend Christy. We rode for about 4 hours. Both horses did great. We rode a trail that hasn't been ridden for at least a year. I was told that there were some impassable creek crossings but I figured we could always turn back. The only place we had trouble was where a tree had come down at a real tight ditch crossing. The horses had to drop down into this ditch, bend around between a brush pile and the tree, then clamber up a steep 3-4 foot bench. Voosh was great! She put each foot where I wanted it, bent and moved off my leg around the brush pile and waited until I told her to go up the bank. She gathered herself and took the bank in two big steps. Then she hesitated at the top and walked on. What a great feeling that my horse is actually listening to me!

This picture of my friend Christy was taken earlier this summer. The jumble of sticks behind her is the beaver dam. More on them later.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Global Warming?

"They" say there are really 4 seasons in Alaska: break-up, construction, winter and getting ready for winter. This year I think we are enjoying a real Fall. The temps are unseasonably warm at 55 degrees. The termination dust I posted the other day has been washed away by several days of rain.

I read several blogs from all over. I was surprised that Horsetrailriders in Nebraska has more snow than we do here! What's up with that? The bloggers in Canada have snow and frozen pipes but that is within reason. Crazy weather!

I am going to take advantage of it though and load my horse up for a ride this afternoon.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Short But Worth It

Briar and I took the horses out for about an hour and a half this evening. We bundled up including hats and gloves. It wasn't too bad until we dropped down to the river. Then it got chilly.

The beavers have been working on their dam. The water in the pond is very high, higher than before. The river is only about 10" deep. I actually saw one of the stinkers tonight. He dove as soon as we rode up so Briar didn't get to see him. I like taking her on rides because nothing ever happens when she is with us. She hasn't seen the bears, moose or porcupines. No one gets bucked off and the horses all behave. She says it's boring but I kinda like it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Termination Dust

It's not the best picture but I wanted to share with you that Termination Dust is finally here. Usually we get a dusting of snow on the mountain tops that comes and goes several times between Fair and the time it snows and stays. This year it snowed down to the 2000' level on September 21 and I don't think it's going to leave.

Termination Dust used to mean the end of the summer construction season. Now with the ability to tent and heat, building construction continues throughout the year. Landscaping and road construction are coming to a screeching halt with contractors frantically preparing for the snow that is coming. My company has almost all of it's jobs completed. I have one yard to winterize and two yards to mow for the last time this year.

Then all the equipment comes home and my pens get re-gravelled, the leftover landscaping stuff gets junked, the sheep barn gets walled in and the goat house gets moved to it's new location. YAY! All the fences at the house need to be pulled before it freezes and reset for winter.

My 10 acres is set up for winter and summer livestock use. In the winter, all the animals are at the house. The horses are 27 feet from my front door. It's easier to have everything consolidated when it's 40 below in February and I have to haul water from town for the house and critters. Not to mention feeding at those temps with 4 feet of snow on the ground.

We're still riding. I took a clinic with Hugh McPeck last Sunday. Hugh is a local trainer who has a great way of communicating to his students. My friends have been training with him all summer and this new clinic had a couple of openings. We are working on suppling, collection, and communication. There's another post in that.

This time of year is kinda crazy getting ready for winter. I really want to ride but there's less than 12 hours of daylight. The critters are all confused. They expect to be fed when it gets dark which is at least two hours before they are supposed to be fed. Oh well. Wait until there's only 4 hours of daylight every day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Soon we will

be riding in the snow! No termination dust yet but it's coming soon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lambs at the Fair

I had the deck stacked in my favor in the market lamb class yesterday. Of the six lambs entered, four were of my breeding. I had Grand Champion, Reserve Champion and 5th and 6th place. Not too bad for my first lamb crop! I had two more 4-H kids ask to be on my list for next year.

Showmanship was today. While I did not agree with all of the judge's placings, it was a good year for our 4-H showmanship classes.

I have no pictures since I was the ring steward for all the classes. I'm hoping that some of the other parents took pictures and I can get copies. I love being ring steward and working with the judge. I learn so much and can share it with the kids.

The auction is Saturday. I think I'm gonna take Friday off from doing anything at the fair except to feed tomorrow evening. It's Friday and what employees I still have need to be paid.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday

What do you think this is? It's the biggest one I have ever seen and the vet put it on his Boone and Crockett list.