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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Overflowing With Honey!

Ari and Zala

Illo and Topa

Phoenix and Wimzi look into the garage wondering where all their stuff went.

Beeswax Candle labeling and storage room

Honey Ice Cream signs!

The front of the honey booth. Still a work in process. We saved some of the old and added some new so the booth would still seem familiar to our long time customers.

As Illo and Ari continue to become more a part of our pack each day, the garage for storing our dog mushing gear that was recently converted to a sterile bee product warehouse has been filling to the brim with honey! Having as many guests as we have had over the past few weeks when the producers come to delivery their products for the MN State Fair honey booth has been fun for the dogs. We have enjoyed it too and I have to admit, watching the products built up in my garage has made me think. Rather than feel overwhelmed, I'm choosing to let that feeling go and trust that I've got it all organized the best it could be. It will get to the fair when it needs to get there and it will sell. It all will sell. Did I mention, I also have my beeswax candle labeling room filled to the brim with items for the honey candy booth? It all will sell. This will be the mantra for the next couple of weeks.

Neil has volunteered to help me transport product to the fair so that will make a life a whole lot easier for me. We spent some time at the booth yesterday doing some clean up and some sign installation. It is all coming together!

This may be the last post until after the fair. Once it begins next Thursday, I will be a the fair! Thankfully, Neil will be here to make sure the sled dogs and little house dogs still get the attention and exercise they need in my absence. Chris and Rich will also be here to help. I couldn't be keeping this crazy schedule without this help. Thank you!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hailey Photos

Hailey mixes dog food in her "date clothes" and dog yard boots!

Journey - half Hedlund Husky

Ari - Hedlund Husky

Oken - half Hedlund Husky/Half Zulu line

Klaus - Zulu line freight Alaskan

Zodiak - half Hedlund Husky/half Zulu line

Tuloon - Hedlund Husky

White Feather - Hedlund Husky

Zala - half Hedlund Husky/half Zulu line

Phoenix - Hedlund Husky

Sweet Pea - Zulu line freight Alaskan

Wimzi - Zulu line freight Alaskan (1/4 Hedlund Husky)

Some BIG feet!

Topa - Hedlund Husky

Sasha - Zulu line Alaskan(1/4 Hedlund Husky) Sasha was visiting for the week

Copper doodle doo - Dachshund/Poodle (He does have three legs and not just two!)

Blueberry - King Charles/Beagle/Sheltie/?

Wahya - half Hedlund Husky/half Zulu line (here until Rich finishes the new pen)

McKenzie - Hedlund Husky. (here until Rich finishes the new pen)

Wimzi and Sasha are water dogs just like uncle Klaus.

Hailey spent an entire day over the weekend, outside in the steamy heat playing with the dogs and taking photos. She captured one of each dog in the kennel. Here they are!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New Life; New Name

Eli, Alison and Ari

Smiling boy

Ari and Journey

Niwot/Ari when he was a puppy with brother, Phoenix

9 weeks old

We had the pleasure of meeting Alison and her son Eli a few months ago at an organic summer fest. We began discussing the sled dogs and White Feather happened to be with us to help promote Points Unknown. Turns out that "White Feather" is the name of the clan to which her family belongs from their Native American heritage. Well, we instantly made a connection.

Alison is a Medium by trade or birth right and I have always been intrigued by those with such abilities. So when it came time to find a new name for Niwot, I enlisted her help. She and Eli spent several hours with us and the dogs. We had a wonderful time learning more about what she does for a living and would like to share her website. Spirit Communication

Niwot seemed to love the company and jumped up on the bench between the two of us and sat for quite some time. Otherwise, he was nearby, enjoying being cuddled and scratched. Niwot is a boy with some fear/defensive aggression. He is also extremely attentive and truly wants to be a good boy so it doesn't take but a sharp "ah!" to get his attention redirected when someone(another dog) visits him at the fence that he is concerned about. Because of his tendencies I wanted him to have a fresh start; a new name that was regal and strong and honorable. Alison came back to me with the name "Ari". It means Fast Flying "Eagle" in a Norse language and it fit. Eagles also have great significance to me as they frequent Oake Lake as a great fishing spot and provide hours of "ooh" and "aah" time. Ari it is. (pronounced like the letters "R" and "E") Thank you to Alison for sharing her precious gift with us.

Ari is slowly settling in. He has found friends in Zala and Journey so far and is currently sharing a kennel with Zala. He and Phoenix sense that they have something in common or possibly even remember each other from puppyhood. He' s been enjoying his daily romps in the yard and has become quickly attached to us. The other day, when it was his turn to go back in his kennel but his kennel mate got to stay out and play, he escaped! He escaped to try to find us but not to run away. The moment he saw us, he paced up and down the fence with a big smile and wagging tail. This 75lb dog sneaked through a tiny area where the fencing was not properly connected to the gate frame. Hailey promptly wired the area back together and we've had no problems since.

Ari has been receiving 100mg of Zinc twice per day as he appeared to have what is called "Zinc Mal-absorption" or what we think of as a Zinc deficiency which can be common in northern breeds. It appeared as a "ridge" of almost inflamed looking nose surface where the nose meets his muzzle. After a few days on the Zinc, this ridge is disappearing. Otherwise he seems in perfect health.

We are anxious to begin fall training to see where he will fit in the team.

Welcome to your new home, Ari!

Poor Wimzi Woozie

Poor Wimzi. Taken behind the fence makes it look even more terrible.

Wimzi got stung by one of our beloved (now dead) honey bees. One minute, she was running around the back yard and the next, her eye swelled up so huge that I couldn't even see if she had an eye in there! A stinger was plucked from her eyelid and she immediately got 25mg of Benadryl. This is a wonder drug for this time of year! By the morning, her eye was on its way to being back to normal. Poor girl. It didn't really bother her much. 'Cause she got to come in the house and be pampered all night.

Who Gets to Lick the Bowl?

Cookie making ritual

Hmmm good! (pink stuff on ears is to keep the flies away when they're outside)

Hailey got to the lick the bowl! Topa and Tuloon got the first go at the beaters then little dogs, Copper and Blue finished them off. We've got a tradition of baking cookies when Hailey visits. Tonight it was a new recipe for Peanut Butter Honey Cookies. Yum!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Canicross Hike 2010; Minnewashta Regional Park

Rich and Lexy with Wahya. Kristen and Maddy, a black lab mix, in the background.

Julie and Sam, a springer spaniel.

Off we go!

Time for a dip in the lake.

Wayha cools off.

Kristen and Maddy

Wimzi and Katsu resting by the lake. When resting, we remove the lines from the dogs' harnesses and clip them on their collars so they get the cue that they are no longer working and can just relax. Wimzi is now 54lbs and taller than Grandma Tuloon!

There is one word that describes our hike this morning; WET. Thankfully, with the wet came cool temps as they remained in the upper 60s.

We were excited to welcome a couple new "teams" today. Julie and Sam, a springer spaniel, came from North Dakota to join us for the hike. Sam is extremely friendly and eager and just wanted to do what everyone else was going. He dug in and did it well. Julie praised him to reinforce what he was doing right and quickly got him back on track with he wasn't doing what was expected. "Tighten up" and "pull" were the main commands for this team today.

Rich joined us with daughter Lexy and their new family member Wahya, one of the 2007 Points Unknown Tuloon/Bazil puppies. She recently returned to Points Unknown due to unforeseen circumstances and we were anxious to see how she would do in harness. Since all of her siblings are known for their intense drive, we were hopeful that she too, would have inherited this desire. Right from the start, she gave Rich a nice challenge as she leaped up in the air and banged her harness to get going then kept her head down and pulled her little heart out for the entire hike. She's got it! Rich did an excellent job at keeping her on task during the rare events that she stopped to sniff. Lexy did an awesome job keeping up with all of us and wants to try to canicross hike herself with Wayha on a more sunny day.

Despite the fact that we were all soaking wet, it was a great hike. Of course, the dogs didn't care one bit about the rain and it made their adventure so much nicer.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Klaus and Sweet Pea Turn 8 Years Old!

Smiley Sweet Pea is forever gazing into our eyes asking, "What are we going to do next?!"

Klaus is still the boss and plays, as if he were still a puppy, with his understudy and kennel mate, Oken.

Today is Klaus and Sweet Pea's eighth birthday! What an amazing couple of dogs from an excellent litter of leaders. Sweet Pea doesn't enjoy leading as much but will do it in a pinch. She would prefer to take commands from just behind the leaders in "point" position.

Klaus is not the least bit concerned about the stress associated with being a leader and just does it naturally. Interesting word, "naturally". I recall a conversation I had years ago with a new musher that had just acquired a gee/haw leader. She expected the dog to instantly join her team, hop in front and turn "on". Not a very realistic expectation. A dog needs ample time to adjust, which is sometimes more than a year, to new circumstances before being able to feel relaxed enough to tap into its memory bank and then possibly lead for a new musher. You can acquire a leader and never really see the dog's full potential or the results of his/her prior training in action because of musher error.

If the musher doesn't know what they're doing, they certainly can't consistently support a good trained leader and they won't get the best results. Then what do you do? The best thing to do is go into the situation knowing what you know and knowing what you don't know. Then learn what you don't know. Talk to other mushers and get as much input as possible. You don't have to use it all or agree with it all. Just pick what works for you. This could take a while so that gives your new leader a while to settle in and rest before you even attempt to put him/her in lead.

I recall bringing Zulu, Klaus and Sweet Pea's dad, home years ago when he was 5 years old. He was reported to be a superior gee/haw leader who had done some open country leading. I was so excited and immediately put him up in lead. Imagine my disappointment with that dog when not one command was followed. I couldn't believe that I had been duped into believing he was a leader. I tried and tried for a few weeks until I got so frustrated that I put him right back in the team and all but wrote him off as just another mediocre leader and sled dog. Wrong! Interesting how we judge other things, people, dogs and situations when we're really looking into a "mirror" many times in life. I was relatively new to dog mushing and was a mediocre musher.

The next year, after gaining a lot more experience and talking with a lot more people, I tried him again. A light bulb clicked for both of us and together, our abilities grew. Now, I'd like to think that I became a pretty darn good musher with Zulu as one of my main mentors, but I can say with certainty that Zulu became the absolute best open country leader I could have ever hoped for. Klaus followed in his foot steps and now we've got a whole kennel of dogs in various stages of leadership training and each and everyone can lead if asked. Interesting, isn't it, how knowledge and experience can bring us so far. And yes, a dog must have some abilities to lead, but it is not always just "natural". That is too high an expectation. It is the musher's responsibility to bring each dog to their full potential so they are allowed to shine.

This goes for all facets of being in the company of dogs. When first bringing any dog into your life, keep expectations low while setting strong boundaries for desired behavior. Keep things structured and keep training sessions brief. Be consistent. Most of all have fun!

So back to Klaus and Sweet Pea. They are from the generation after Zulu and were able to reap the benefits of my gradual enlightenment(which is an ongoing process). They are both such assets to the kennel and deeply ingrained in our hearts.

Happy Birthday Sweet Pea and Klaus!

Monday, August 2, 2010

It's Coming Along!

The honeybee stencil my mother made.

Honey candy booth!

You get the first sneak preview of the newly painted main honey booth.

The honey ice cream and honey lemonade booth

As mentioned in earlier posts, one recently acquired venture is helping to keep my and the sled dogs' heads above water and it is coming along nicely! My mother flew up from Arkansas where they have chosen to retire, to help paint the Minnesota Honey Producers State Fair Booth. We began painting last Thursday and just finished yesterday. Hailey even pitched in for a day.

It has been an exhausting but fulfilling spring and summer trying to create the inner workings of this booth that dates back to the early 1900s, from sourcing products to contacting and getting to know producers to hiring employees (11 of them!) and working with independent contractors.

For this contract I have had to learn all about employee laws, payroll, state and federal label requirements, health codes and safe food handling procedure and new business computer programs. All of this on top of a busy lifestyle with the sled dogs and our Points Unknown business, my beeswax candle business, my appraisal business and just my basic day to day happenings renders me a zombie by the end of each day. I find myself wandering around the house with the "on" button stuck "on" when I do have a few minutes, thinking to myself that this just can't be for real. There has to be something else that needs to be done. I couldn't possibly have done everything on my list for the day.

I am thankful for all of you who lend a hand when you can. It may not seem like much, but every little thing does count and makes my day and week a lot easier. You know who you are. Thank you.

If you would like to support the Minnesota Honey Producers and indirectly, the Points Unknown Sled Dogs, please visit the MN Honey Producers State Fair Booth where you'll find many unique bee products that you will not likely find all in one place and some things you can't find anywhere else! We've got honey ice cream, honey lemonade, honey taffy, honey caramel corn (on-a-stick of course!), honey filled candy, honey stix, honey shortbread cookies, beeswax candles, pollen, lotions, balms, salves, honey BBQ sauces and honey mustards and honey, honey and more HONEY! The special honey varieties you will find at our booth include clover, basswood, sage, orange blossom, buckwheat, blueberry blossom, cranberry blossom, sunflower and more! We're in the Ag-Hort building right across the street from the food court. Our friends the MN Hobby Beekeepers have a wonderful display along side our booth where they have beekeeping and honey extracting demonstrations. Pretty exciting stuff!

McKenzie Turned 9 Years Old Yesterday!

Accomplishing the "sit" command

And now a "shake"!

McKenzie got to celebrate his birthday with his soon-to-be new family yesterday. When Rich arrived with Wahya and Niwot, his family drove over to meet them. We also had a chance to let McKenzie and Wahya meet. Both got lots of treats for McKenzie's birthday and were tested on their obedience by being asked to "sit". McKenzie surprised all of us when he quickly learned how to shake for a treat!

McKenzie is the father to Journey, White Feather and Topa. He is an extremely calm and mild mannered boy. When being hooked up to a dog sled, however, some of the most strange noises I've ever heard come out of that dog as he proclaims his excitement for the task he was born to do!

Happy Birthday, McKenzie!