Today is the last day of 2014 we’ll be heading to Kentucky soon for some winter training and quality family time. 2014 has been a good year here at the kennel. Although it was exceptionally cold in Kentucky last winter we got some good work in with the dogs and met a lot of great people.
This winter I’ll have a barn on a 400 acre farm where I can keep and work the dogs and will have six young dogs to work — Wild Apple Samantha and Wild Apple Moon Glow are still derbies and I have the puppies Wild Apple Spot On and Wild Apple Polka Dot that are showing a lot of promise. Tim Kisieleski’s derby Wild Apple Calvados was the star of our fall Derby string with three placements out of four starts and is also making the trip South for the winter. Hopefully she’ll be able to continue her winning ways this spring on the walking one-course trials here in New England. Mel Pfiefle of Hampshire Kennels is also sending a really nice young dog down for some work. I got to see her Sunday at Mel’s and I’m looking froward to seeing what Dylan’s potential is. Mel and I had an interesting conversation about the need of breeders to put some dogs into competition. It was a concept that Bob Wehle fully understood and placed many of his dogs with amateur handlers who did exceptionally well with them. Elhew Autumn Whisper, Elhew Hustler, Elhew Cassie, Elhew Flicker were all multiple cover dog champions. The foundation bitch of my own success, Elhew Liebotschaner, was a dog that Bob gave me knowing she would get an opportunity. Although she never won a championship her two sons Wild Apple Jack and Autumn Moon excelled in cover dog competition. In a few months we’ll know if Dylan has the potential to follow in the footsteps of her Elhew antecedents.
The summer Grouse Camp was another success this year with a number of outside dogs making great strides and the program is already full for next summer. As an ongoing commitment to the program we have already started plans for the construction of a new kennel building to house our own and our customers dogs. The footing will go in for a 12 X 28 extension to the back of the garage that will have 12 raised runs and indoor sleeping boxes. It was something I planned to do when we built the house 12 years ago but have not been able to get around to until now.
Last fall’s guiding season also went well, with 17 days spent with clients. The birds were a little tougher to come by then in 2013 but over the summer I had found some new covers to replace those that had begun to go by and everyone got opportunities on good numbers of birds. It is a constant cycle of successional forest that requires you to give up on tried and true spots as they grow up and then find new cuts that are just beginning to be productive. Fortunately the area here is still being cut aggressively so new cover is constantly being created.
Along those lines, our own cut is just getting back into action as a thaw made the hill too soft for the equipment. It was -6 this morning and it will be cold at least throughout the ten day forecast. Also, once they start pulling wood down, the skidder trails will smooth out and freeze hard. As I type this I can hear the skidder up behind the house pulling out the first twitches of wood. And the slasher has started processing the first logs. The job will go pretty quickly once they get going full bore. They also still need to bring the hot saw back in and have about 30% of the wood to be cut still standing.