Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Getting in a quick run before work....

This is a view along one of the ridges on our property. Striker keeps an eye on my every move. He's got a heavy dose of border collie flowing in his veins, even though he's only quarter border.

The trails are awesome - Rick is out right now putting in a few colored lathe pieces so our holiday guests can find their way around the trail system.

This should be an excellent New Year weekend on the runners! More snow in the forecast for the next few days, with cold temps.

I remember several New Year weekends in the past 10 years with nothing but dirt or mud - this will be the 3rd year in a row with great snow conditions at this time of the season. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Sunday Dog Yard View

I thought I would share a different view. This is the main "play" pen in our dog yard, one of two play areas that the 20 x 20 pens open into.

As you can see, we kept a LOT of our snow, despite the rain.

Rick plowed the slush off major sections of our drive into camp yesterday while it was still near 30 degrees. He was able to run some of the trails with the snomo, only 3 trees down on the route he took.

Looking forward to taking a couple of teams out today. We are expecting guests to arrive in the next hour or so.

Happy Trails to you and yours!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After

This is the view from our deck. The rain came with snow right on it's heels - we don't need to get out the ice skates.

I measured the snow in the woods, where it isn't packed, there's at least 5-7 inches left - NO bare spots. The packed trail in the vicinity of the dog barn is about 3 - 4 inches thick.

There's still some slush around where the water could pool in the drive and parking area.

One good thing: the heavy snow that was stuck up in the trees (breaking limbs) is gone. It was interesting watching the clumps of snow fall out of these big pines yesterday afternoon - the trees have got to be relieved, they looked like they had arms hanging down, with big, billowy sleeves. If you look closely, you can see that the bird feeder and bird house still have a glob of frozen snow on top of them yet.

Some snow is on the way for each day from now until New Years. Trails should be good to go by Monday or Tuesday - I'm sure there's a lot of limbs down we will need to remove during the next two days. It's snowing lightly as I type this....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tues, December 22nd

Rick worked all day yesterday and got more trails opened up - we are up to 17 miles of trail open and groomed at least once. The earlier groomed trails are hookable; the rest should be good to hook after we run them a few more times. The weather looks very good for keeping all the snow we have and we are expecting more the end of this week.

Ran the rehabbed gorge trail on Sunday - what a fantastic ride! Rick has it groomed at least 6 feet wide - it's like a freeway - a hilly freeway that is. I ran it with a 6 dog team, out and back in - awesome.

Have a Merry Christmas and New Year! We're going to!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Quick note on conditions - Friday, the 18th

Just a quick note to let folks know that Rick has 10 miles of trail open and GROOMED. We will work on the rest of the trail system as time allows and over the holiday. I'm looking forward to running dogs all weekend!

Monday, December 14, 2009

We played; Rick worked.

Alicia came over this weekend and helped get the dogs out with sleds on the fresh snow. We split the B team on Saturday and ran them on our property. Sunday we split the A team and tried to run the East Loop on Federal land - but, alas, we had to turn around part way out due to MORE TREES DOWN! Rick had worked for two days to clear the downed trees from that section of trail and still more trees had come down overnight! We have never had this many trees come down from one week of snow.

Alicia and I had a good time with the dogs - Alicia is such a natural with the dogs - no one has ever run any of our A team dogs but us...they took to her right away. She handled the dicey conditions and strange-to-her sled with ease. She had never been behind Alaskans before, only Malamutes, so it was an exhilarating experience for her.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Well, be careful what you wish for...we have a foot and half of snow on the ground, since Monday. The snow that fell Tues. night into Weds. was wet, heavy stuff. Add to that another 4 - 5 inches on Weds. night into Thurs.

Many, many trees are hanging over the wooded trails - bogged down by wet snow that has frozen in place. Lots of work to do to open the trails and pack a path for dogsleds.

The east loop may be open this weekend - every time Rick goes out on that section he finds more trees down. He's focusing on plowing the road and camp area this afternoon. I was able to get out on the snomo and make a couple of passes on the trails on our land today.

Looks like a little bit of a warm up for Saturday (it's 14 degrees right now, on Friday afternoon.) Saturday is supposed to be a little sunny and upper 20s to low 30s - that should get some of the snow out of the trees and let this batch of snow settle into something that resembles a sled dog trail.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The snow is here, more on the way!

We got 3 inches of snow overnight and it's still snowing lightly - some forecasts say another 3 inches by morning.

Big storm headed this way for Weds./Thurs. If we get the foot or more predicted we should be on sleds by next week. It looks like lake effect snow should keep coming after the storm, through the weekend.

We have 75% of the trails to sweep for deadfall from spring/summer/fall so it will take a while to open everything up again. We put most of our efforts into fixing the "gorge" this summer/early fall.

For the most accurate weather forecasts for our region, check out

Don't forget to get your Sweetwater Challenge entries in - there's a deadline for chosing your t-shirt size.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dec. 3rd Update

My how time flies!

We have some folks coming this weekend (the Adopt-A-Husky group from the Chicago area.) The forecast looks likely for some snow. Currently various reports predict 6 - 12 inches for our general area.

The ground is not frozen so there won't be much of a packed trail yet. Plan on running small teams with a sled and bringing along a snub line to tie off to trees. A snowhook won't be very useful except for snagging trees (remember a strap to keep it on the tree.)

If we get enough snow to run the snomo, we will scope out the east trail first, then the trail to the west, for downed trees.

I'll post again tomorrow with an update on how this system is moving through our area.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gorge Photos - The Grass is Up!

The first photo shows where the trail changes from old to new, with grass growing through the straw mulch. A huge thanks to all who helped with this rehabilitation of this damaged area of the local forest. It has gone from an ugly, gouged out trench back to a trail that is level with the rest of the surrounding forest floor. 20 different people worked on this project over 13 days with funds from the Forest Service. Mission Accomplished! You should be proud of the work you did! Scroll down for "before" photos of the area.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Eureka Race Mix (Medford) Order Time

Hi, all,

If you are interested in ordering frozen meat from Medford Fur Foods in Wisconsin, now is the time - in the next couple of days they will be done taking orders for the fall shipment.

You can call Tony at 715-748-2255 to place your order.

It will arrive sometime in the next few weeks at Traverse Cold Storage in Traverse City, MI., Cass Rd. You will need to set up an account with them. They charge $12.50 a month per pallet. They also charge a one time fee per order (not pallet) of $12.50. They have a website too. I'll post their phone number later.

Eureka Race Mix (chicken, turkey, beef, egg, oils, vit./min. etc.) is still going for 35 cents a pound in 50# blocks. There's also a Eureka High Protein Race Mix (more beef) for 42.5 cents a pound in 50# blocks. Transportation costs are added to these figures - Tony calls you with the final amount once all of the orders are received and the truck is commissioned. They also sell all other kinds of frozen meat products. The Eureka mixes are fully balanced diets by themselves.

There will not be another shipment until April or May 2010.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Photos from Gorge Rehab or "Trench Filling 101"

I think these two comparison photos show what we were trying to accomplish better than any others that we took. We filled in the entire area under the pole that laid on the bank of the trench on either side - in the after shot, with just the quad parked there, the trench is completely filled in with logs and sand - level with the forest floor again. I took the after photo from a different angle as the sun was directly at the lens otherwise. The quad is parked on top of where the pole had been the day before.

What's under the sand? Here's a couple of photos showing the dead red pine logs that we hauled out of the woods and placed in the trench, then the skid steer placing sand over the top of them.

Here is a before shot as the trench was being filled with debris and an after shot of the same mid section trench with sand, shredded wood and top soil all in place.

Here is a shot of the piles of sand, mulch and topsoil at the west end of the project:

Here's a photo of one of the neat landmarks along this trail, before we filled in the area next to it:

Couldn't resist this photo of Foxy, our nine year old Border mutt, mother of our 8 Quarter Borders:

Many thank yous to give out - many people worked very hard on this project. Ed Setterington gets extra "attaboys" for staying over Monday, Tuesday and Weds. to work on the west end of the gorge. We had over a dozen workers on Saturday, including Kathy Bietau from the Forest Service, who also got us the DNR grant to do this work. We had 9 people on Sunday, working until 3 p.m. Per usual, anyone who wanted to, brought dogs and got in a couple of runs with their teams too. Our nephew Scott came over for two days of abuse, Monday and Tuesday.

We still need to seed the whole area, lay down straw and put in posts at the road to keep ORVs out but as of the end of today, the majority of the work is DONE. We have permission to open up this stretch of trail for winter use by sled dog teams. Rick has a nifty plan for a swinging gate as part of the post closure. THANK YOU EVERYONE WHO PITCHED IN WITH THIS CRAZY PROJECT!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Annual MiDD Meeting and Work Weekend - 9/12

Just a brief note to remind everyone that our Annual Meeting is this Saturday at noon. This will be a lunch meeting. MiDD will be providing sloppy joes (turkey or beef, your choice) and a side dish, dessert, coffee/pop for lunch.

We will be working on the trail repair project beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, break for the lunch meeting, then back on the trail project. We will be placing "woody debris" in the "gorge", filling it with sand, wood chips, top soil - leveling all that out and then seeding the trail repair with perennial rye grass seed. We have a rented skid steer to move materials around where we need them.

Shovels, rakes, gloves will all be useful. We will be working on this project starting Saturday and on into next week too. Free camping for all volunteers. Bring the dogs and get in a run early or late on our private trails.

This project is being funded by a grant MiDD received via the USDA/Forest Service with funding from the DNR.

For last minute info, please call me at 231-745-3614.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Photos from the Aug. 22/23 Work Weekend

Here are some photos from our work weekend - repairing ORV damage to our main trail from our property to the west trails on Federal land. We put in a grant application last summer and received the go-ahead on the project this spring. Kathy Bietau from the Forest Service helped put the grant together. The funds are out of the DNR ORV repair fund. We are putting brush/small trees in the center of the trail and hauling in and placing sand in the trail to raise the trail to the rest of the forest floor.

Rick loaded and hauled the sand from the piles of sand dropped along our "driveway" for the project, through our property and down the trail to the project site. He had to get the truck through the deep sand on every pass in order to dump and turn around and go back for more. Our old equipment functioned better than expected and we used up all the sand on that end of the trail by the end of day on Saturday.

The dump truck worked pretty well for human transport too. The kids got a kick out of riding in the back of a dump truck.

Here you can see the trees/brush under the sand. Tad Brake was on hand to help out on Saturday. He has lots of farm and equipment experience to share along with a super positive, sunny disposition.

Once the sand was dumped it had to be raked out so Rick could drive over it with the next load.

There was also time to run some dog teams once the work was done on Saturday (and again Sunday morning.) The weather was much cooler than the previous weekend, notice the sweatshirts and jackets. The previous weekend we were in shorts and tank tops and ended the day with a swim in the Pere Marquette River - very cool running water.

Mike Monarch was on hand to help out too. He enjoys watching everyone hook up and run dogs - his sled dogs are all retired now.

Always time for a little relaxation after a hard day's work. This is a nice string of mostly Seppala Siberians in the background. Nicholas, the little blond on top of the truck, turned out to be a hard worker too and always good for a laugh.
Our big week long work session is coming up beginning Saturday, September 12th through the next weekend. We are renting an all terrain skid steer and moving sand on the far west end of the project (where more piles of sand are sitting.) We are also putting a layer of shredded wood and top soil on the sand and then seeding the whole project. This will allow us to use this section of trail for incoming and outgoing teams and also to use the trail in light snow conditions and with wheeled rigs which is was not possible with all the exposed roots across the trail. We should be able to groom a 6ft. wide trail this coming season.
We have a few openings for Mushing Boot Camp the first weekend (Thurs. at 4 p.m. to Sunday at noon) of October. Check it out at

Friday, July 24, 2009

1st "Gorge" Trail Work Sessions Aug. 15/16 & Aug. 22/23

We met and walked the trail with several Forest Service folks on Thursday, July 23rd in the a.m. and we all decided it makes more sense for them to complete their portion of the trail rehab before we begin work on our section. They are closing the entry point to the illegal ORV trail that we are rehabbing. They are also attending the yearly meeting of the Lake association where most of the ORV traffic comes from on Aug. 1st to let them know that the trail is being closed for good (3rd try over the years) and serious enforcement will be taking place if they try to bypass the trail closure.

We will be working on the weekends of Aug. 15/16 and 22/23. The sand and wood chips are already on site; we have an all terrain skid steer (bobcat) rented for the work week in Sept.

Our big push on this project will still take place Sept. 12 - 19, rain or shine.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Boot Camp News

Interested in Mushing Boot Camp the first weekend in October? Get your registration in - we need all 9 teams registered ASAP. Go to: and fill out the forms and follow the instructions there to get signed up.

Below are a few more photos of the trike with one dog in harness in lead, the other two running by their necklines.

Here's two views of the same section of driveway - what a difference 8 months makes!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Finally back on the blog!

Whew! Took me many hours to figure it out but I finally did - back in business.

Here's a few photos of my trike set up with 3 dogs attached. The leader is in a guard harness (1/2 harness) and the other two dogs are running attached to their necklines only. Just when you think there's nothing new to try in dogsledding, someone comes up with a novel idea.

Jason Barron at and a few others are using this technique to back off some of the power so the dogs can get out in warmer temps and get some exercise in the late spring, summer and earlier fall. I know it sounds weird but the dogs do figure out to back off a little and they love getting out and running.

I'm hoping this will help reset their thermostats, so to speak, so they can tolerate warmer temps in the winter and beyond into next summer too. I'm also looking forward to using this technique in the winter to reduce power in the team when the conditions are dicey (read: icy!)

We aren't going far, only 1 - 2 miles a run, depending on how they look. Even at that short distance, I stop and offer water most days. It also affords a training experience, stopping, standing, waiting for my "go" command on the trail with little holding power on my end (a ball bungie around the hand brake is all the parking brake I have.) I think they are learning some better "wait" manners with this too.

I am running 5 teams of 3 a couple of times a week each, including right up to this week. In the really hot weather, we laid off for a week or so.

I run them right up to the kiddie pool when we come back to the barn and they jump right in to cool off (well, most of them anyway - some just don't care to be wet.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mushing Boot Camp comes to Baldwin!

Here's a photo from our trails on private land - I thought I would include a spring view of the B team to show what our trails look like to anyone who hasn't been here. We are hosting a Mushing Boot Camp the first weekend of October (Thurs. through Sunday noon.) Go to to sign up!

Here are some photos from our impromptu trail work session last Friday and Saturday.

Many thanks to Ed Setterington and his friend, Jake for the work they did last weekend on the Sweetwater Challenge trails. We opened up another mile of new trail to the west and improved the overly challenging section of trail to the East.

The photo with the 3 amigos includes Rick and is taken on the east side of the far east wetland, looking west.

The photo where you can barely see people is taken on the newly opened trail, there's a couple of serious hills in that section - you can see many miles to the south from the highest hill.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day - no green but still some white!

The photos below show what conditions were like this past weekend. Patty and I ran three and four dog teams Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I was able to get out last night and this morning for a couple of short runs with the "border mutts."

The first two photos I call "the Good."

...the Bad...(right)

...the Ugly (packed ice for trail)...

....behind the lodge...(right)

From one season into another - Patty coming in the "start chute."