The off-season may be a time for the dogs to relax, but the work of a musher is never done. I had a very successful “staycation” last week, which gave me time to work on house and kennel projects. I’m pleased to announce the Blue Eyes and Spitfire play yard is open for zoomies. The dogs haven’t had this much enclosed space to run since our days visiting the Pawling house.
I’ve spent the past few weeks collecting materials and tools: fencing, posts, stabilizer mix, a post hole digger and driver, a pneumatic staple gun, an air compressor, and so on. My mom and dad came up for a long weekend to help with the initial construction. After mowing down some of the overgrown spots, we got to work digging holes, securing posts, and raising the fence. The project itself was simple enough, but springtime in the north country provides its own challenges. The ground has been fully saturated by all the rain, so a few holes lead to water. And plenty of rocks.
It’s also black fly season. These little black clouds terrorize anything breathing; biting and flying into any exposed orifice. We also had the warmest day of the year (thus far), complete with three thunder storms rolling through. Somehow, we still managed to get everything (mostly) done.
I had to wait on some more ground stakes before I felt comfortable releasing the dogs into their new space. The fencing is 7 and 1/2 feet tall, but I folded around a foot at the bottom into a 90° angle and drove stakes down to create a dig guard. Just as I was finishing the final few stakes, a deer plowed through a corner of the yard, ripping the fence off the tree it had been stapled to. It flailed around a bit before bouncing out the other side, pulling down a bit more fence as it made its escape. Such is life living in the woods.
Thankfully, it’s an easy fix to re-staple and tie the fence back to its posts. I also hung plastic newspaper baggies to add visibility for wildlife (750 feet of flags are on their way, for slightly more attractive-looking visibility). I let Dexter and Knox out into the yard first, since they’re (usually) a bit more reserved and easy to wrangle, should they get loose. Once things were going well, I let Denali and Willow out too.
Something got Knox excited and he went off like a furry torpedo towards the opposite side of the play yard. He has a history of crashing into fencing, and despite the bag, he didn’t have time to slow down and leapt straight into the fence. The fence came down a bit and a post bent (I used two types of posts, and this was the less solid variety), but the collision was so startling, he immediately booked it back into the play yard. I was able to fix the fence within a minute, unbending the post and re-zipping the fencing to the chain link dog yard fence.
Since those two minor mishaps, the fence has been doing its job keeping the dogs inside during supervised playtimes. I’ll continue adding stakes and staples as needed, as I’m sure maintenance on it will be an ongoing process. I’ve got almost a full roll of fencing leftover, so I’ll be able to make repairs, too.
Aside from the play yard project, I’ve made plenty of progress on my off-season To Do list. The dog box has been sanded and repainted, and I now have a set of pool steps to help with training the team to load and unload. My snowmobile has been moved to the barn, ready for next winter, as is my snowblower—with freshly changed oil. I found a local mechanic to swap out the busted wheel on my Arctis Cart; he seems like a great go-to for repairs (which I need… often) and welding. I stacked five more van loads of wood in the garage for next winter. I started a fresh pile of wood for the winter after next. I purchased a weed whacker and got the ride-on mower running. The side garden has been weeded and vegetable seeds have been planted.
The land has come back to life. It takes work to keep it maintained, but it’s a good, fulfilling kind of work.