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Monday, December 31, 2012

Irish/Ilo Puppies; 3 Weeks Old

Baby New Year - 4lbs

Navidad (Tiny Tim) - 3lbs 8oz
Jingle - 4lbs 10oz
Dreidel - 4lbs 15oz
Solstice - 4lbs 7oz

Hanukkah - 4lbs 9oz

Kwanzaa - 4lbs 14oz

Festivus - 5lbs 4oz

The puppies are very active now and when not sleeping, are playing with each other. We introduced solid food yesterday and it was a hit! The room temperature has slowly been lowered and the heat lamp has been off for a week as we continue to acclimate them to lower temperatures so that they can soon be in their indoor/outdoor puppy pen. Irish is becoming increasingly destructive in the house and being outside with the rest of the dogs will do her good. The indoor portion of the outdoor combination pen has an insulated floor and walls. There is a heater that will keep the temperature nice and cozy, giving the puppies the option of staying inside or going outside into the cold. Once the pups are more mobile, we'll make the transition to this new pen.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Irish/Ilo Puppies; 2 Weeks

Baby New Year - 2lbs 9oz

Tiny Tim (Navidad) 2lbs 5oz
Jingle - 3lbs 3oz
Dreidel - 3lbs 1oz

Solstice - 3lbs

Kwanzaa - 3lbs 5oz
Hanukkah - 3lbs 1oz

Festivus - 3lbs 11oz

The puppies are really getting mobile over the past few days. The first one attempted to escape the whelping box today at 2 weeks old just like her mother did at the same age. I caught Kwanzaa half way over and quickly retrieved her and put the removable door in place.

We've cut toenails now twice in the past two weeks and wormed them today. At least every hour, each puppy gets held and special attention is paid to playing with feet, ears and mouth to make it easier to work with them in these areas when they are adults.  Since our dogs don't wear collars while in their kennels, we may need to grab them by the scruff on occasion, so picking the puppies up gently by the scruff is also introduced at this age.

We've been doing our best to keep Irish stimulated and, at times, it's been a challenge. She decided that she no longer cared for being baby gated into the laundry room off and on throughout the day with her puppies so she learned to open the lower gate and escape. When the latch was turned out, she pulled the top baby gate so that it would release and then she jumped over the lower gate. When the door was then closed, she began ripping the trim off from around the door. After much discussion, we decided that, during the day, she would be free to roam the entire basement which has access to an outside window. She spends her little time away from the puppies on the window seat chewing a bone when she's not upstairs with us. At night, Neil sleeps on a cot outside the baby gated laundry room and grandma Tuloon sleeps on a dog bed just outside the gate. Irish needed the company and all appears to be well.

We've turned off the heat lamp that was keeping the whelping box at 80 degrees. Puppies can't regulate their own body temperature for their first several days so it's necessary to keep them as warm as possible. We'll slowly be acclimating them to lower temperatures because soon, they will be too big for the whelping box and will be relocated with mom to our indoor/outdoor puppy pen. The indoor portion has an insulated floor and walls with two heat lamps shining down inside a dog house with a metal grade between them and the heat lamps. This area can be as warm as 80 degrees when it's 20 degrees outside. This way, the puppies choose their temperature. If they're too warm, they go into the "breezeway" portion of the indoor area and then, if they choose, they can continue on through the door that takes them outside.

More next week!

Irish - What a Good Mom

Irish with Jingle at 2 weeks

Irish with "mini me", Solstice at 2 weeks

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Illy, Journey, Ilo and everyone from Points Unknown wishes you a very Merry Christmas and the best of the holidays!

We spent the day cooking and spending special time indoors with all of our furry friends. Tomorrow, we spend the day going through all of our winter gear to prepare for our first event of the season and doing the snow dance!

We Love our Oake Lake Sunrises

One thing if for sure, we're going to miss our Oake Lake sunrises when we make our move up north.

Friday, December 21, 2012

And then there was Light!

The first light from our solar energy system!

We made a quick trip up north to do some work on the remote cabin for this winter's adventures and stopped by our building project to check on the progress. The solar energy system in working! Eight solar panels have been installed with eight more to go. Batteries and generator are on site as well as other various mechanical systems.

I've added new photos to our Irish Creek Road building project album. Please check out our facebook photo album here.

Operation Remote Cabin Insulation

Fifteen sheets of rigid foam board insulation were delivered to our incomplete Irish Creek Homestead last week so it would be ready for us when we arrived to complete the remote cabin job. Some of our advanced dog mushing participants can testify to how cold it was to sleep up in the attic of this cabin during last year's adventure.  Not this year! 

We arrived in the dark a few days ago and began our adventure by loading it all on the top of the Toyota to be transferred to our parking area where it would then be off loaded and loaded back on to our snowmobile tow-behind sled.  It would have been wonderful to have used the sled dogs to transport this insulation, however, with such limited time available, we opted to have Kristen stay home with the dogs and week old puppies while we made the quick trip up.

Pike, our friend's extremely friendly Chesapeake, loves snowmobile rides as much as our sled dogs love to be hooked up to the sled. Sorry, but Pike had to stay behind.

We parked at a friend's place, loaded the insulation on the snowmobile sled and then made the five mile journey into the cabin. Neil then made a second trip the next day to retrieve the puppy pen that will house some of the puppies during our February adventures. We were successful in completing both tasks in only a day and a half. The remainder of the time spent was to check out the solar energy system at our new house and for me to try to make my very first phone call using our cell phone booster system. I was successful!

Rigid foam board insulation is not quite as easy to work with as I had remembered. Either that or I just wasn't using the proper tools to cut it. There were blue insulation flakes everywhere!

All edges and cracks were filled with spray foam; 15 cans to be exact.

And we're done!

Our returning participants (you know who you are) will be happy to know that when the temperature was 72 downstairs, it was a whopping 63 upstairs, with the hatch open. When the hatch was left open only a few inches, it dropped to 54 degrees over night. Much better than the 27 degrees that was noted on one night last year.

To learn more about our warm and cozy remote adventures please visit our website at Points Unknown.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Irish/Ilo Puppies; 1 Week Old

Baby New Year - Male - 1lbs 6oz - He is lighter framed like this sire, Ilo and just as sweet and laid back. 
Navidad (AKA Tiny Tim) - Male - 1lbs 5oz - Like his brother, Baby New Year, and sire, he is lighter framed and just as sweet and laid back.

 Jingle - Male - 1lb 13oz - This boy has typical Hedlund markings and is comparable in size to other males in previous litters. His eyes are slowly trying to be the first to open.     
Dreidel - Male - 1lbs 14oz - Appearing to have a different body type, at this age, than the others, Dreidel is a hefty boy. We believe his coloring and markings comes from a throwback to the Joe Redington Sr traditional Alaskan lineage in our Hedlund line.
Solstice - Female - 1lb 13oz - This little girl is Irish all the way. She looks just like her mamma did at this age and we suspect she'll have the same rusty colored coat.
Hanukkah - Female - 1lb 13oz - She is the ring leader, thus far. When she whines for food, she gets everyone else going. She's a feisty one!
Kwanzaa - Female - 1lbs 15oz - She and her brother, Dreidel have the same body type and markings that we believe are throwbacks to another line within our Hedlund lineage. This big girl is sweet as can be.
Festivus - Male - 2lbs 2ox - This boy has typical Hedlund markings and is the biggest male, thus far. He is very long and is the largest puppy, despite being last born. He suspect that he will be a nice size adult, comparable to the biggest males in our kennel.

Ilo Turns 9 Years Old!

It's hard to believe that the proud papa of Irish's litter turned 9 years old yesterday!Ilo is one of the most well-mannered, easy-going and happy dogs in our kennel. He's done a little leading for us and is a natural righty. His good work ethic means his line is never slack and he stays focused on the trail.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Introductions; Lee Ann Swenson

Lee Ann with her MacKenzie River Husky puppies at home in New Jersey

Lee Ann with our Zulu at one of our adventures in 2009

Lee Ann Swenson comes by her deep love of the wilderness through her Northern Minnesota heritage and over a decade of Canadian living. After corporate burn-out and frustration, Lee Ann "bought the farm" and now lives in Northern New Jersey, enjoying a second career fueled by medical writing and transitioning into a sustainable working farm lifestyle. With her eye on this new direction, Lee Ann has completed courses in advanced cheese making, French cheeses, and artisan bread. Lee Ann has also won several awards for her preserves, which she will include in her cooking on our Beginner Adventure.

Lee Ann has a deep connection with animals and currently her pack includes 4 sled dogs, 3 horses, 2 goats, 17 chickens, 3 cats, and a parrot. Her expertise in manure management makes her ideally suited as one of our dog handlers. In addition, Lee Ann has attended several Points Unknown adventures since 2007, including the exciting "Run your own Iditarod" event in 2009. Over the years, Linda Newman has been one of Lee Ann's primary dog sledding mentors and teachers. Building upon her love of these dogs, Lee Ann has recently begun to spin "Sled Dog Chiengora" yarn for her knitting to add a new dimension to their farm.

Beyond dog sledding, skijoring, and cooking, Lee Ann is an avid equestrian who successfully competes in hunter/jumper events. 

Lee Ann will our chef for the Points Unknown Women's Winter Adventure 2013.

Big Smile!

Proud Mamma, Irish.

It looks like they're all lined up for the milk bar!

This is what I saw from the whelping box filled with puppies after I was finally able to coax Irish outside and away from them for a few minutes. She jumped over a fence to get access to this window.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Irish/Ilo Puppies; Birthday!

Baby New Year - Male - 13oz

Navidad - Male - 12oz

Jingle - Male - 15oz 

Dreidel - Male - 1lb 1oz

Solstice - Female - 1lb 1oz

Hanukkah - Female - 14oz

Kwanzaa - Female - 1lb

Festivus - Male - 1lb 2oz

We've got a house full! Irish had eight puppies beginning mid morning on Monday, December 10th. As you may recall from a previous post, this was an unexpected litter. Following suit, she had them four days early which was also unexpected!

A trip to the vet on Saturday for an x-ray, indicated she would have eight to nine puppies. Hoping for a small litter, I was in shock. After picking myself up off the floor, however, I let go of what can not be controlled and decided the best thing to do was to move forward with anticipation and excitement. This new information also prompted some phone calls and emails to those who had expressed interest in pups in the past so we could make sure that those pups not staying here at Points Unknown would have the very best adoptive homes.

Gestation in our line of dogs is typically 63 days. To be prepared, we mark off 60-63 days as a due date range. Since all of my litters were at 63 days, I wasn't as prepared as I should have been, when, at 60 days, in the mid morning, in her crate, after having been outside in the yard for a while, I noticed Irish pushing! Yikes! I rushed her down to the whelping box after a quick glance to make sure a puppy wasn't visible and at the split second we arrived in the whelping box, the first pup arrived! Of course, we were both a bit disoriented and it took Irish a minute to figure out what was going on. It took me another several minutes. She quickly broke open the sack to reveal our first male puppy. She licked him clean and severed the umbilical chord. Then, she wanted the heck out of there! Every time I went to the door, she was up and right behind me. Needless to say, I didn't go to the door again and just sat in the whelping box with her.

After the second puppy, it was old hat for her and she didn't even bother to get up for the arrival of a new pup and, instead, remained still so that the others could drink on a stationary milk bar. She also showed no concern about my attempts at departure. After number three, she decided she'd rather not have me present, or at least this is what I gathered as, whenever I would head upstairs to get something, another puppy was present upon my return. She had everything under control.

It all began at roughly 10:30AM and was over, with everything and everyone all cleaned up by 3PM. Eight puppies were born in four and a half hours. Eight healthy puppies. We've got five males and three females. Male puppies in this line have been illusive so it was so fun to see all of the males.

Our first night with puppies went better than expected too. I got up at 1AM to see if she needed anything. Nope. Didn't even get up. At 7AM, I had to actively coax her to get up to go outside. She reluctantly agreed and then came promptly back down to her puppies. She left no mess over night and made not one peep. This has got to be the best whelping experience I've had to date and this with a very young mother and an unexpected litter. We are so looking forward to watching these puppies grow. Irish sure matured by leaps and bounds just over night!