Saturday, September 25, 2010

New members of the pack

Fall is in full swing, and breezy days make great line-drying for the sheets.

Fall is also such a busy time. My days are consumed with teaching, planning, and helping my own kids with their school work.

Some new developments at the Ranch happened this past week, however. For one, we welcomed two new members of the pack:

Tak and Aspen.

Tak, named after the Takamine guitar, is the half-sister to our beloved Big Brown (BB) and Ruffian. Ruffian led for me for the entire Jack Pine 30 last season as a yearling. I can't say enough about these amazing young dogs! Their stamina and endurance never ends, and their tails are always wagging and they're always smiling and ready to go! When I learned that their older half-sister was available, I couldn't turn down the opportunity.

Tak, originally from Joann Fortier's kennel in Gaylord, Michigan

Tak is a very shy 4 year old, but when she's hooked up on the line, she has the same drive as her younger half-sisters.

Tak getting acclimated to our kennel. She is used to being tied out on a tether. I wonder what she thinks of the freedom to move about in the kennel?

Aspen, who I've nicknamed Moondog for the moon on her forehead, is a young female, but is large for her 9 months. Weighing about 55 pounds already, she is leggy and always happy.

I've really been looking for some bigger, leggy additions to the kennel, and I'm hoping these two girls will be just the ticket!

There is nothing like coming in from running dogs on a chilly fall day to the smell of fresh coffee waiting. Running right out of the yard just might spoil me!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep." Rumi

How many sunrises have I missed in my lifetime?

I wake with the sun these days, reluctantly at first, I admit.

The other morning, I stepped out on my front deck, coffee in hand, to find a mature female doe staring at me from in between the rows of yellowing soybeans across the road from my house. We paused, she and I, to stare at each other, each waiting for the other to make the first move. I moved first - for my camera - but she darted away in a start, leaving only the stillness of steam rising from the tiny lake in the field.

The mid-September sun rises in a yellow haze. It glows off the trees and shines in rays that part the horizon sweetly, gently, like a child turning back the blankets from sleep.

I sip the coffee, also steamy. Ghost-like, the vapors rise in the cool morning air and warm my nose. In the distance, I watch the same vapors rise from the lake. It is quiet. I shiver in my hooded sweatshirt, and yet savor this moment, right now, for all it brings.

Time stands still for just this moment.

Sophie comes to the door. She is dresses smartly in a sea foam and black striped sweater and matching scarf, "skinny" jeans, and black Chuck Taylor Converse. Her blonde bangs brushed neatly over to the left side of her face, she smiles at me through her black rimmed glasses.

She is so "hip," this pre-teen adolescent of mine. Sometimes her beauty and charisma shine as brightly as this sun.

"What time is it, mom?"

I look out at the sun peaking over the horizon. It is the dawn of a new day.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fall Training Run 9/9/10

It's hard to believe eight months ago, Kerouac looked like this:

And now, he looks like this!

My eight month old Kerouac running alongside his mama in wheel, who smiled at him lovingly along a 5.3 mile training run last night. We love you, Ker-bear!
Video and editing by Chris Miller
Music by Shannon Miller

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Official end-of-summer updates

Elise inside the chicken tractor with our young chickens

Our chickens are now over five weeks old. About a week ago, I'd had enough of them inside in the brooder box, so I moved all 10 of our healthy chicks outside to their chicken tractor, a portable chicken coop I made entirely from recycled materials.

Watching young chickens discover grass, weeds and bugs for the first time was, without a doubt, one of the more entertaining and hilarious things I've seen all summer. They fought over insects, squabbled over specs floating through the air, and scratched at the earth with fervor.

I never knew I could love chickens so much. Some are wild and flighty, like Sophie's Polish Crested. But most of our flock are very tame. Especially tame is my favorite, Owl the chicken, who is a beautiful Ameraucana.

A five-week old Owl, an Ameraucana hen, loves nothing more than to sleep perched on my shoulder

Chickens can be such affectionate, gentle creatures. I love our little flock so much.

It had been marked on the calendar all summer: the long awaited county fair. For the first time in my life, I was excited to go through the chicken barn!

There is nothing like the county fair. The sights.

The smells.

The quiet, pensive beauty.

This beautiful Tobiano Paint horse looks either very thoughtful or very tired in his stall after a long day in the ring

I think I should wear a sign like this sometimes!

It was a very hot summer here on the Ranch, and I am certainly happy to see it go. But we made many awesome memories this summer. We moved from a house in the semi-suburbs with central air to a hot, no-frills farmhouse on seven-acres in the sticks with hard, stinky well-water. But despite the intense heat, I'd never go back to that house in the burbs with central air and soft water.

Nope. We are home.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

First training run of the 2010/2011 season!

My youngest, six-year old Elise, has grown up with the sled dogs and is a super little helper! She is very excited about harness breaking the puppies this fall and helping with dog chores. *forgive the photo, which was taken with my phone

There's nothing like it: getting up early on a crisp, fall morning and heading out to the dog yard to meet your most enthusiastic best friends ever!

Equally comforting is coming back inside after a the first successful run of the season to the smell of fresh, hot coffee.

Ah, the 2010/2011 mushing season has officially begun here at the Ranch. We had two very good runs today. The first, a four-miler, with the veterans, and the second a short, two-miler this evening with two veterans and Kerouac, our puppy from the Writers' litter.

The dogs ran flawlessly! It was like they picked right up where we left off back in April. They never skipped a beat, and Yeti, my leader who is going to be 3 next month, is shaping up to be a true gee/haw leader. I'm so proud of him!

I'm also very proud of Kerouac. At only 8 months old, I didn't know how he would do when hooked up with a team. But he was very focused and pulled hard the whole two miles!

More than anything, the best thing about today was being able to run dogs right out of the yard - what a luxury! I've always had to drive 30 minutes to train; now I literally walk outside, hook up dogs, and go. It saves so much time!

Tonight, when we went back out for a short run to break Kerouac into harness, even Gracie, my mutt of a pound dog rescue, took off and ran with the team the entire way! Silly girl!

Here's to fall, to the start of what I hope will be my best season yet, and to good fresh coffee on a crisp fall morning!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

J'ai Guru Deva Om

Words are flying out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe

Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world

Images of broken light which
dance before me like a million eyes
That call me on and on across the universe

Thoughts meander like a
restless wind inside a letter box
they tumble blindly as
they make their way across the universe

Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
exciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which
shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Jai guru deva
Jai guru deva

Giving thanks for all I have. Namaste.