Sunday, January 25, 2009

One World One Heart

A good friend of mine has recently changed her life by moving to the Oregon coast and making art works full time. It's been great fun reading her blog and watching the increasing number of her creations, and through her being introduced to any number of artists' work.

This includes a wonderful yearly event, One World One Heart. Any artist who wants to joins by offering one or more items on their blog as a give away. To win, all one has to do is comment on the artist's blog. There are nearly 500 artists participating, and the contest is open until the beginning of February. 

Visit Remnants of Olde to see Kerin's offerings. Click on the blue One World One Heart circle to read more about the contest, and get a (lengthy!) list of blogs to visit. I've only gotten to a few so far, and can't wait to see more. It's so much fun to see what these creative people are up to. 

If you like what you see, visit their etsy stores. Support Art!

Samoyeds At Work & Play

On a lazy Sunday morning, procrastination increased due to snow outside, I'm finally looking through my new Samoyed calendar I bought through NW Samoyed Rescue. produced this calendar (and donated copies to Rescue), and they have done a wonderful job. 

First, there's a short history of Samoyeds, with lots of pictures, and a website for more information - making this more than just a pretty calendar. And then the first picture you see on the cover is of lead dogs joyfully pulling, looking like twins, or one dog in a mirror. The calendar is filled with great photography, and the subjects - Samoyeds are always lovely - are equally stunning. I love seeing dogs at work (which for Samoyeds is play), and the calendar is filled with them, and puppies, and dogs looking beautifully nobel. 

If you don't have enough calendars, check with NW Samoyed Rescue to see if they have any left, or see if Wolfpacks still has some. You'll enjoy the trips to both sites regardless of the outcome.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

January Saturday

The morning started gently with a lack of alarms. It's so nice to lollygag around in the morning, cooking breakfast, exercising, feeding the critters, all without a schedule.

I spent some time grooming Millie, much to her delight - a task I'm much overdue on. She gets so excited when someone comes in to play. She tears up and down the hill as if she was still a yearling. The field we were in can't be seen from the road, but there are a couple spots where a car going up the drive is visible. Cars can certainly be heard, since the road is gravel. While we were grooming and snuggling, my neighbors truck turned in and drove up the road. Millie looked at it, wiggled a bit, and returned to enjoying the attention. Then another truck turned in. Millie gave me an apologetic glance, and took off to let that strange truck know this is private property. Of course she knows the difference between home trucks and strange trucks.

People persist in ignoring the private property signs, thinking this is public land for them to play on. I kicked them off, then decided to clean out the upper kennel I use for the bantam chickens - one of the few structures left standing after the snows. I set up some new perches for them, cleared out an old nest of eggs, and got the place looking pretty spiffy.  The bantams gathered around to watch and dig through the cleanings looking for bugs. When I finished they thoroughly inspected the area and tried out the new perches. It's always good to have your work appreciated.

I came in for a late lunch, looked out the window and - it's SNOWING! It's too warm for it to stick around, but this is not a welcome sign. I shouldn't be so surprised, but it's hard to remember it's still January. While it's been quite cold, it hasn't been raining. Don't get me wrong, that's a good thing, especially with most of my shelters still not functioning. It's just a bit odd.

It's so much fun to be here for sunrise and sunset, even when the sun isn't obvious.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


It must be spring...

The Fine Sport Of Dog Sledding

Jake is carrying on his family tradition of sledding; a very long family tradition. His ancestors used dogsleds to travel and hunt and generally survive. Jake is competing in a world competition. The modern use of a traditional activity. Jake and his family are Ojibwe, associated with the White Earth and Red Lake tribes, and live on the reservation. 

Below is a letter from Jake's father, asking all of us to take this opportunity to help a Native youth who is doing good, bringing back a traditional activity.  Those of us who have participated in dog activities and competitions know that it isn't cheap or easy, that it takes persistence, courage, time and money. If this letter stirs your heart as it did mine, please contribute to this you man's dream. 

I'm late in posting this - the race was run today, and...JAKE WON! He is now a world champion. The debt remains, however, and the dogs are expensive to maintain. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.

A unique opportunity has presented itself to our family and our sled dogs. Last March, my son Jaycob and one of our dogs, Diesel Smokes, qualified for the World Championship International Federation of Sled Sports one dog ski-jor event to be held in Daaquam, Quebec. While he qualified in a pro class race, because of the difference in age rules in international races, he will have to compete in the junior class at this event. More info on the race can be found here.

About 400 teams, 2,500 dogs, and drivers from 5 continents will be in attendance. I really didn't want to go to this race, much of it has to do with financial reasons, but there were others as well.  At the end of the day yesterday, none of those reasons were working. 

So now I am asking for your help to make this happen. I told my son that if he was going to go to this race, he would have to find the money. The bare bones budget for this trip to Daaquam and back is about $1,000. It is about fourteen hundred miles one way, numerous nights in motels, plus food. He found the money, but had to borrow part of it, and while he was committed to paying it back, I feel I should help him. He is still a senior in high school, works part time, and competes in high school athletics.

Here is why this is important. My son brought home his first four sled dogs almost six years ago. Our kennel now includes about thirty dogs. Since those first four dogs, we have competed in numerous races throughout the region. Sometimes we did OK, other times, not. This is our first opportunity to compete in a world championship race. I can't say if we will be able to compete at this level again. Next year Jaycob goes off to college. I would like to afford him this opportunity. Both of us have made many personal and financial sacrifices to get to this point.

Last night I realized that this is not about the competition, or the sacrifices. It is more about the sense of humility and the greatness of the dogs that keeps me and my family in this. Five years ago, at our very first race, Jaycob entered an eight dog pro-class event. This was a big race with many of the most competitive sled dog kennels in North America coming together to compete for cash and other prizes. Jaycob's rational for entering a pro-class for his first race was simple, if I am going to get beat, I am going to get beat by the best of them. Well, he was beaten by most of the teams that day, but that was the beginning of a long and sometimes difficult training and racing routine. 

What I got out of that race, and every one since was this, a tremendous amount of pride that we are even able to do this. But there is also a great sense of humility each time we pull the pin and the barking and howling mass of dog energy that is straining in their harnesses to get going suddenly goes quiet and all I can hear is Jaycob whistling and talking to his dog team and the sound of the sled runners in the snow. There is nothing like watching my son, and the dogs, some of whom we have raised from puppies, head down the train, sometimes in some of the most brutal of weather conditions North America has to offer. At one race, the race officials shut down the race for the day after Jaycob's class got across the finish line out of concern for the safety of the dogs and drivers. Visibility was almost zero by the time my son and his dog tam crossed the finish line that day.

Sometimes there is also an extreme sense of gratitude, now that it is the lead dogs that seem to have some kind of sixth or seventh sense that assures me that my son and the rest of the dog team will make it back safely. There are lead dogs and there are dogs who will run in front. We have been blessed with the opportunity to have at least one great leader in our kennel. He is gone now, but it is one of his offspring that will pull Jaycob at this race in Quebec.

I am asking for your support in order to pull this off. We are leaving tomorrow, January 15 and will hopefully return on Tuesday, the 20th. Any size donation will be welcome and much appreciated. Please send your donation to:

Robert Shimek
33740 Mary Yellowhead Road
Ogema, MN 56569

Friday, January 16, 2009

Above the Fog

The past few days have been cold and foggy in the mornings. Up on my ridge the fog clears early and bright sun shines through. In the valleys it clings to the ground and makes driving difficult.

The low white cloud is hovering right above the main highway to the mountains. I love being above it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Morning Feeding

The thing about winter is the days are so short. The sun is just rising as I'm going out to feed the critters. On clear mornings it does make for beautiful surroundings.

There are sheep in the foreground. Really.

The same morning, from the house, a few minutes earlier.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


No winter storms are complete without a power outage. I was watering plants when I thought it was getting dark fast, and heard a beeping. Took a few minutes to realize it was my computer's backup power supply. Fortunately it was a short outage, but I had time to fire up my new kerosene heater, purchased last year, to see if it really works. 

It really does. Squeak likes this heater best. Much nicer than forced air.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Winter's Fury

The wind and rain are beating against my windows. I just found out that the highway between the freeway and here closed 15 minutes after I drove home. No wonder it felt scary. 

All roads across the mountains are closed. The north-south freeway is closed for 20 miles, starting just south of my entrance. They think it will also close in Fife, which is much closer to the large population centers. There is water across the same freeway near the Canadian border. Sixty-two roads in the state closed in a few hours. The western part of the state is effectively closed off from the rest of the world, and communities are closed off from each other. 

I sit here, high on my hill, looking at pictures of people being rescued by boat. One entire small town is underwater. I would offer my high property for people's animals, but they probably couldn't get here. It really looks like much of the state is under water. 

And the poor people in Spokane! They had something like 6 feet of snow, and then got 2-4" of rain on top of it. Roofs are going to give way under that kind of weight. 

It has been a weird and wild winter so far, and there are months to go before spring.

Silver Linings

Isn't there always a silver lining?

Since I was home early, I went out to feed the animals by daylight. I emptied my Ursa cart of it's 3/4 load of water (my word it's rained a lot!), filled it with alfalfa, and headed out to the sheep. In spite of being near the top of a pretty steep ridge, my sheep paddock is 4" deep in water. The shelter stands just above the wet. And one of the ewes - one of my best moms - was lying down with a half-born (and very dead) lamb. I got the lamb out, her standing, and food and water beside her. She's shaky and not looking well, but I think she may be OK. I don't think she would be if she'd laid there another several hours. 

Everything is wet. Everything. I'm so grateful for my high property, far above the rising waters. 

Good News Bad News

The good news is that a low pressure storm raged into the Northwest bringing warmth and rain. That warmth and rain have melted most of the snow at lower elevations, freeing us from winter's white grip. 

The bad news is that a low pressure storm raged into the Northwest bringing warmth and rain that have melted most of the snow at lower elevations, and much of the snow at higher elevations. That combined with the very high amount of rain that has softened the already water-logged soils, is causing mudslides and flooding. 

As I went in to work this morning there was water over the county road that runs along the top of my ridge. Top. How can a road that is just about the highest thing around flood? The river that runs alongside the state route between my area and the freeway was within inches of the road, well over its banks. Fields were now ponds and rivers. I continued on nervously - not turning back because the Illinois company I work for thinks the Washington folks are all a bunch of wimps who aren't dedicated to work since we stayed home during the recent snow storms. I love my job and want to keep it.

By 1:00 the Dept. of Transportation was threatening to close down I-5, so I left work on a mad dash back home. I beat the freeway closure, and the 5 or 6 places where the state route was flooded were still shallow enough to drive through. If I had been 1/2 hour later I would not have made it home. 

I'm very glad to be back up on my hill, looking over the valley, watching the rain. I've just driven through a county underwater. Rumor has it this is the worst flood event since the 1930s in the county my sister lives in. It looks worse here than last year, except we had warning and the floods are coming in relatively slowly.

Looking for that door into summer. 

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Another Dawn

Friday, January 02, 2009

Morning Surprise

This morning the world again turned pristine white. Snow is such a beautiful thing.

It was truly a gorgeous morning. The fog lifted, the sun came out, the snow sparkled.

And once again my road, still patchy with ice and snow yesterday, turned into a long white slide. Summer, anyone?