Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Malapaloosa 2012!!

Montana Malapaloosa Information and Registration 

Malapaloosa is a 7 day recreational dry land mushing event focused on Alaskan Malamutes and other large breed purebred teams such as Canadian Inuit Dogs.  This is a camping trip so you need to bring everything you would need to have to camp with your dogs. It is very important to note that this event is for fun and is NOT a competitive event.   This is a “dry land” training event so you will need a cart or quad.  Some loaners may be available.  
We have fantastic well water available, as well as tent sites and a dry cabin for sharing.  There is an outhouse and we will rent a porta-potty, but shower facilities are not provided. Showers are available nearby.
Malamute Teams Working Side By Side

Team size is not important.  Anything from a 2–dog team to an 18-dog team has enjoyed Malapaloosa.    This year we will begin on Monday 5/7 through Sunday 5/13. You can come for any part of this week, but I expect the majority will show up mid-week through the weekend. 
Some teams from Malapaloosa 2011

We will provide one big celebratory barbecue on Saturday, May 12th, featuring our home raised lamb stew & slow roasted pork, as well as assorted side dishes. The rest of the meals will be either pot-luck or on your own. 

This is also a fund raising event for the Run For The Red Lantern 2014 Iditarod Team. As such we are asking for a donation towards the team fund, on top of the mandatory registration fee of $100 to cover the costs associated with hosting this event. Donating (beyond the registration fee) is TOTALLY optional and will not be mentioned again!!

Payment must be submitted with registration:

  • Registration cost $100 per team .   You are 1 team if you are a pair of people/family attending together & you share a group of dogs that usually run together and sometimes run on separate teams.  You are 2 or more teams if you are 2 or more people attending together and each person drives their own dog team.  
  • Bring a little cash to pitch in for food and supplies. This should be minimal as we are doing meals “pot luck”.  Food costs will be decided between camp participants.
  • Depending on the size of the teams and the size of vehicles, participation may need to be limited.
  • Please make sure your dogs are current on vaccinations, and do not bring any sick dogs (or humans:-)
  • Please use paypal under account You do not need a paypal account-you can use your credit or debit card without signing up for paypal.
  • You will receive a confirmation email, directions and list of supplies upon registration. I will also hook everyone up via an email chat group so you can talk amongst yourselves regarding the pot luck and food prep, carpooling, loaner carts, etc.

Don’t delay!  The deadline for registration and payment is 4/15/12. Registration is subject to approval by camp host.

Please register via email to and include the following information:

Name(s) of participants, Email, Phone (home & cell), Number of adults & children over age 12 , Number of children under age 12, Number of teams, Breed of dogs, Total number of dogs you are bringing, Any dog aggression issues that you may have with your team (please, this camp is not appropriate for dogs that are aggressive to humans), Type & size of vehicle, What are your camping arrangements?   Tent   camper   share dry cabin    other

Friday, March 16, 2012

Where We Live-a Photoblog

Powell Mountain
We live in a beautiful place. This view is what made us build on the side of a mountain-probably not the easiest place to live but.....
Our Mountain Home
Here is a picture of the cabin we live in. We have an odd style; part shed, part industrial, part modern, part rustic. There are so many log homes in Montana that we wanted something a little different.
1 bedroom/1 bath, all of 600 square feet. Tiny but it fits us for now. Eventually it will be our guest house, when we are able to build our main home just to the east of this site. To see drawings of our upcoming home, click the link below:
Standing on the deck of the cabin above-below are the views that you see each season. I could look at it forever, in fact, I plan to:-)



Below are some pictures of our dogyard-always a work in progress. Last year we added some shade shelters-even though our weather in summer averages 70 degrees, the sun is so intense that we have to put sunscreen on the dogs!! Our plan for this summer is to put in even more shade.

Our dogyard in summer-from the top of Baldy Mountain

Top tier of our 3 tiered dogyard

The poultry have it made too, a secure winter pen of about 1/2 acre, free-range on unlimited acreage in the spring through fall, 2 full time guardian dogs to protect them from our many predators.

Our poultry coop-from the back of our cabin

Sights you may see on the way up to our house. Our road is not for the faint of heart-especially in the winter:-)

It sometimes takes us over an hour to get the 9 miles down our road to the highway.  The up-side? We know our "true" friends, they are the ones that have actually made it out here to visit us....and then chose to come back even after driving our road. :-)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Awww-spring is upon us, time for rest and relaxation after a long winter on the trails? Um, NOPE!
Getting ready for lot’s of happenings here over the next few weeks. First of all, and very exciting for us, Kinky is expecting her 2nd ever litter at the end of this month. For those of you that have followed our race stories, this is the litter that was conceived via ravishment of poor Havok on the Eagle Cap Extreme Race, so for-after it is to be known as the Extreme Litter!!  

Kinky's Baby Bump 3/14/12

I you want to get in on the fun, we are having a “Pick Of The Litter” lottery on our website: Guess the whelping day, number of pups and how many of each sex. Closest guess wins one of our great t-shirts!

Secondly; lambing season is upon us. Pretty soon we will have between 20 and 30 baby baa-baas here-which means we will be plenty busy taking care of these tasty, oops, I mean cute, little guys!

It also means a new supply of sheep milk!! Sounds icky, you say? Nonsense..ewes milk tastes a little like half-n-half (it is 8% fat after all) and makes the most wonderful brined feta, gouda and bleu cheeses.  

Home Made White Stilton with Blueberries

Oh, and Shirley (aka-the best cow in the universe!) is expecting a calf in a couple months fresh cows milk, butter and cream coming too. Yummmmm-life is good, literally!

On top of all this we are hosting our annual Montana Malapaloosa here the 7th through the 13th of May. So far there are about a dozen malamute teams signed up, and it looks like the mallie count is around 100. Yep, 100 WORKING will be a sight to see (and hear!). Thank goodness our nearest neighbor is 9 miles away:-) 

Some of the teams at last year's Malapaloosa
If you are interested in joining us for this event, check out the details here: 

I bet you guys that thought everything would slow down with spring??

Saturday, March 10, 2012

And So Begins Mud Season

                It’s been almost a week – time for another update. The first is a sad one: it seems that our litter of four baby goats arrived too early – of the three premature kids that survived the first night, we now have only one. It was hard to watch such cute animals struggle to survive and fail, but at least we know that we did everything we could. The good news is that our kid, Jelly, is thriving. He’s finally learned to nurse on his own, and he seems to be handling the milder temperatures outside well. I've realized that, with so many births on our ranch, death will also play its part.  
                I had a couple more firsts this week – a few nights ago we took two teams out just as the sun was setting, and did 20 miles by star and moon light. I ran six dogs for the first time, and also ran my own team at dark for the first time. It was a little unnerving not being able to see everything that was going on with my team, and I had several moments where I was sure I saw a limp or a hitch that wasn’t actually there. Even with the added stress of the dark, it was still extremely enjoyable – I could have never pictured that experience a few months ago.  
                We also ran on quads for the first time this season. The weather has been warm and sunny, which has taken away much of the snow on our roads, so today found us sloshing through the mud with two 12 dog teams. Since we were on four wheelers, we were able to have much more control stopping and correcting any mistakes or undesirable behavior. After 3+ hours, our mileage wasn’t nearly what it would have been with sleds, but we got lots of valuable training in, practicing passing, stopping, turning around, and geeing over among other things. We also got plenty of pull training in: I was amazed to see 12 dogs pull 1000 pounds five miles up the mountain; it gave me a new respect for their strength.  
                Right now it’s at least fifty degrees outside, the sun is shining across the Sapphire Mountains to the west, and I can think of nothing better to do with my evening than to sit on my porch and enjoy the view - I trust you'll forgive me for stepping away from the computer. I hope the warm weather and sunshine is finding you too – I’m off to enjoy them. Until next time! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

First Birth of the Spring

     The news for today is babies! One of our dairy goats, Jeri, had four -- that's right, four kids this afternoon. Unfortunately, one was stillborn, but we still have two boys and a girl down in the barn getting used to goat life. For the time being, Jeri isn't producing much milk, nor is she letting her kids suckle, so we're going to be bottle feeding them three times a day. We got to teach them to suckle, and give them some instant energy, by giving them honey off of our fingers, and since they're all so small and it's still pretty chilly up here, we cut up some socks and made pretty stylish cardigans. Here's some pictures -- I got excited.

Drying off the babies

Checking out her new arrivals

Me and a kid

Getting fitted for his sweater

I think he looks like an ivy league rugby player
  This is the first birth of any kind that I've gotten to be around, and I already feel protective of all three of them. Maybe when they get older and less innocent I won't feel like such a parent, or maybe when there's 20 other babies running around this place I won't dote on them so much, but for today they're pretty special.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Wow-Hellish 56 mile run!!

Yesterday qualifies as the toughest run of the season-I don't think anyone who was there will argue that. Here was the plan: Morgan and Craig were going to run the race team while Peter and I took the Bombi a different direction to break open some trail that we knew had a lot of drifted snow on it. The mushers ran up to Hansen's Park, an area about 20 miles up that they had broken open 2 days prior, and they were to meet us at the tops of the lower loop after we were done breaking it open. Well, best laid plans always seem to go stray around here, mainly because of that beotch, Mother Nature! Due to our nearly constant spring winds, the Hansen's Park trail had drifted in again and the team had to forge through chest deep snow for most of their early run. 
Peter and I fared no better on our trail breaking expedition! Early on the going was reasonably easy; deep snow and some avalanche areas that were moderately "puckering" but overall we made good time through the first half of the 18 mile loop. That all changed when we approached the saddle at the top of the ridge we were climbing. 4-5' new snow plus drifted areas along the "trail" made going very difficult, even with the Bombi. We lost the trail a few times but regained it pretty quickly, most of our wasted time was backing up and getting enough speed to blast through or over very large drifts!
Top of saddle from inside Bombi
There were a couple areas that Peter even had to get out and shovel-they were too much even for the snowcat to get through.  On top of that, the wind was relentless! 

We broke through about 1/2 mile of trail, decided to go back and re-do it because we weren't happy with the results of the first time through, and the wind had already blown it all away within about 30 minutes! All-in-all we spent about 2 hours on that one mile section of trail at the top of that saddle. Once we got to the other side, going got easier and we were able to blow out the rest pretty quickly.
The mushers had to wait about 45 minutes for us at the top of the loop, we had no faith that the mile at the top hadn't totally blown in again so we wanted to be on hand in case, and we were right! By the time we got back up there the trail was invisible again. Sheesh, talk about disheartening!! All that work for almost nothing. 
The temp had risen and softened the snow enough that for about a mile over the saddle the dogs were breaking through up to their chests again, very slow going. Young Enya led all the way through the tough stuff and was happy to be relieved by Copper once we were over the top. She welcomed a break back to point for the remainder of the run.
Then once we go through all the snow and back to the logging road it was to find that the loggers had scraped all the snow off so with the warm temps it was all mud for about 3 miles. More tough going, but we unhooked the second sled, picked up Craig and let Morgan go on herself to lighten the load and make it easier on both the dogs and the sled runners. 
Through it all the dogs kept going; proving that they are in it regardless of conditions, proving that they trust their musher(s) to get them through whatever comes along, proving that they are malamutes!
Tough run. There will be more tough runs in the future. But we hope not soon:-)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy March!

From Peter - 

      Mission for the last few days: groom out a big chunk of our trail system. Altogether we now have about 50 miles of trail that we can run on without repeating ourselves, which I have to think is pretty rare for most mushers in the lower 48.

Me doing some serious trail work

      If you’re wondering what we use to groom our trails, we’re driving a little snow cat dubbed “The Bombi”. If you’ve seen the 1980’s campy horror flick “The Thing”, it’s those yellow tank-like things they drive around while they do their darndest to run away from the…thing. It’s our new favorite vehicle, and so far it’s done everything we’ve asked it to, from scaling steep slopes covered in feet of snow to busting through drifts to climbing icy berms.

    Proof that the Bombie is awesome          
       We also did some good running today. I got my second go with a four dog team (working my way up to six). It was also my first all Malamute team, which meant that I had more power to control but not quite as much speed.

Mother/daughter Eve & Enya. Enya is distracted by the puppies up top. 

                In other ranch news, we’re expecting a true spring this year – that means lots and lots of babies. We have three goats that are due any minute now, a cow that’s looked ready to calve for months, and a pasture full of pregnant ewes. Maybe most exciting, Kinky is due with a litter of Havok’s pups in a little over two weeks. If you haven’t heard, this litter was conceived during The Eagle Cap Extreme Race; Morgan had to wait 30 minutes on the trail while they attended to business. This will be my first batch of newborn puppies, and I’m looking forward to all the cuteness (and work) that’s coming our way. March is gonna be a lively month!  

         Well I guess that’s all the news that’s fit to print. With the loggers off the roads for the weekend we’ll be able to run even further up the mountain. Hopefully we can get close to 100 miles in between Saturday and Sunday, so I’ll have some good reports coming in.        

2012 Race Season-A Look Back

Flathead Sleddog Days
January 7-8, 2012
We started the season with a fun and friendly 80 miler-the Flathead Sleddog Days race. The people hosting this race were wonderful and the event was very well organized. Jack Beckstrom was the race marshal this year, a real class act! The race is set up as two 40 mile legs, one to run each day. Gery Allan came from Flagstaff to run with us, and borrowed Elvis for his team as he was one dog shy.
Since the crowds appear later in the day, the race marshall suggested that we leave 2 hours earlier than the alaskan teams so that we could finish with them. How nice was that? even though not necessary. We have to become used to finishing last:-)
We brought our 12 week old puppies along to win friends, and boy did they! There was a crowd by our dog truck all day long!
We ran 12 in this race; Copper, Rayon, Enya, Enrique, Piggy, Havok, Kinky, Marsh, Kaos, Cali, Janis, Jimi.
The team finished strong @ 7mph average and without injury, or even stiff or sore joints.  Feet looked great and we did not run booties.
Coming in on the Flathead Race

Eagle Cap Extreme
January 26, 2012
Our next endeavor was a much more challenging race, The Eagle Cap Extreme 200. This is in a continuous race format, meaning that you run the 200 miles with only one mandatory 6 hour layover, and choose your other rest breaks at your discretion.  This race was exceptionally well organized, the towns people are very involved in the event, the trail is marked so well you would have to be sleeping on the runners to get off course. Our intrepid musher took off with 12; Copper, Rayon, Eve, Enrique, Enya, Elvis, Havok, Kinky, Cali, Marsh, Piggy, and Jimi. Kinky was in full blown standing heat on this race, and managed to get herself “taken care of” by Havok along the trail on the first leg, a planned event-even if we had hoped for her to wait until the checkpoint:-) Morgan had some difficulty with control on the first 50 mile leg; there was an alaskan team that had a lot of trouble passing and in the process of trying to help him get by she nearly lost her team, then got drug and beat up pretty badly. Thankfully the other musher helped her regain control, and they both got back on the trail. She pulled into the checkpoint barely 30 minutes after the last place alaskan team.
She spent more time than she had planned in the checkpoint, recuperating and deciding to drop a couple dogs so she would have better control on the soft deep snow. Right before she was ready to leave the checkpoint the race officials approached her and strongly suggested that she “run the 100 mile course” instead of proceeding on the 200. Because of her inexperienced, beat-up and tired status and because the officials were pushing so hard, she agreed to do so-without understanding that changing course equated a scratch.  It was a disappointing and bitter end to what otherwise was a superbly organized event. 
BUT-we did learn a lot from the experience; the dogs did fantastic on the course and finished the 100 miles healthy & strong, and our musher learned checkpoint time management (& maybe to be less trusting:-) so it was not a wasted effort! When we tallied her time on the trail, she averaged 6.7 mph, which included a 30 minute break for Kinky to have her way with Havok, and the 30 minutes that Morgan spent heping a fellow musher, being drug, and recovering her team.
Will we attempt this race next year? I don’t know, we would really love to but it will depend on some things, mainly the Race Marshal. This year I think he was hasty in “force-scratching” our musher. He said after the race that if she had not agreed to switch to the 100 mile course (or effectively scratch) he would have disqualified her. Really? 50 miles into a 200 mile race? There is a saying that I really like; Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. That is the last word I will say on this subject:-)
Getting ready to take off on the ECX

Race To The Sky
February 12-13, 2012
The third race of the season was the Race To The Sky. We cannot say enough about how wonderful this experience was. Montana people are the best! :-) 
Getting dogs ready for RTTS Vet Check
This is also a continuous format, and Morgan took off around 4pm with 8 dogs; Rayon, Eve, Marsh, Piggy, Havok, Cali, Enya, Enrique. We had 2 girls in full standing season for this race-Cali and Piggy-and they were making spectacles of themselves!! 

Team getting bedded down and snacked
It was terribly warm on the take off, and never really cooled off that night. Morgan got into the first checkpoint around 11pm, got right to dog care and then slept for a few hours. Feet all looked great, no splits or fissures, and no limping or stiff joints.
Taking care of Marsh's feet

She decided to drop Piggy due to MSP syndrome (Miss Sexy Pants), got on the trail again and finished with 7 dogs, just 3 hours behind the alaskan teams!! Not bad for 100 miles, average speed for this race was 7mph.
Miss Piggy & Enya rest at Whitetail Checkpoint
The dogs all looked great, this was one of the best finishes of the year. No injuries, lameness or foot issues. This was another race that we did not run booties in, (except for Havok who "accidentally" got the hair trimmed out of his pads for a dogshow 3 weeks earlier).
This is one of the races we will definitely do next year-the 350 mile version-which we plan to use as one of our Iditarod qualifiers.

American Dog Derby
February 17-18, 2012
Last race of the season was a 100 miler less than a week after finishing Race To The Sky! A fun one in Ashton Idaho, the American Dog Derby. This was another race in stage format. We chose 10 for this race, even though we could have ran up to 12; Rayon, Eve, Enya, Enrique, Elvis, Jimi, Marsh, Havok, Sally & Liddy (their first race)! This is another event where the town gets very involved, and it was well organized too. She finished with an average speed of 7 mph again, and won her first ever purse, $300!! She was so excited to actually get a check:-)
Derby Start
We also ran a second team in the shorter 24 mile race; Craig Davis got in on the fun with a 5 dog team. He ran great times-with 2 alaskans (Copper and Sumo) and 3 malamutes (Boss, Izzy and Kaos).
Craig taking off
What a great season! Everyone had fun, even with all the work. The dogs did amazingly well. They were fantastic breed ambassadors; never a single issue with passing or being passed, and they were always the crowd favorite. Our biggest problem was control-holding them back so they did not over do it and incur injuries. This is such a young team; we have 3 yearlings, five 18 month olds, and three 2 year olds on this team. Next year we will have 3 more yearlings to bring the cycle continues!