The Fan Hitch Volume 13, Number 2, March 2011

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International
In This Issue....

From the Editor

British Antarctic Survey Monument Trust

Mistaken Identities

Piksuk Media’s Nunavut Quest Website

Product Review: Servus Boots


Tip for the Trail: Ice 'Fishing'


IMHO: Are We There Yet?

Navigating This Site

Index of articles by subject

Index of back issues by volume number

Search The Fan Hitch


Articles to download and print

Ordering Ken MacRury's Thesis

Our comprehensive list of resources

Talk to The Fan Hitch

The Fan Hitch home page

ISDI home page


Editor's/Publisher's Statement
Editor-in-Chief: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
Print Edition: Imaged and distributed by the IPL students of the Ulluriaq School, Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik
The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at: http://thefanhitch.org.

Print subscriptions: in Canada $20.00, in USA $23.00, elsewhere $32.00 per year, postage included. All prices are in Canadian dollars. Make checks payable in Canadian dollars only to "Mark Brazeau", and send to Mark Brazeau, Box 151 Kangiqsualujjuaq QC J0M 1N0 Canada. (Back issues are also available. Contact Sue Hamilton.)


The Fan Hitch
welcomes your letters, stories, comments and suggestions. The editorial staff reserves the right to edit submissions used for publication.


Contents of The Fan Hitch are protected by international copyright laws. No photo, drawing or text may be reproduced in any form without written consent. Webmasters please note: written consent is necessary before linking this site to yours! Please forward requests to Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Rd., Harwinton, Connecticut  06791, USA or mail@thefanhitch.org


The Inuit Sled Dog International

The Inuit Sled Dog International (ISDI) is a consortium of enthusiasts whose goal is the preservation of this ancient arctic breed in its purest form as a working dog. The ISDI's efforts are concentrated on restoring the pure Inuit Dog to its native habitat. The ISDI's coordinators welcome to your comments and questions.

ISDI Coordinator Canada:
Geneviève Montcombroux, Box 206, Inwood, MB R0C 1P0; gmontcombroux@gmail.com
ISDI Coordinator USA:
Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Road, Harwinton, CT 06791, mail@thefanhitch.org
Tip for the Trail....

An ice free water bucket and my hand is still dry. The bucket holder is
just a galvanized pail with a couple of spring clips attached to its rim
and a stratigically placed drain hole in the bottom.   Photo: Hamilton

Ice 'Fishing'

by Mark Hamilton

Providing dogs with a supply of drinkable water during the cold winter months can be challenging. Long ago Sue and I made the decision not to use bucket-heaters as we were uncomfortable with the proposition that there was a safe way to combine very strong-willed dogs, water and electricity. So we pour hot water onto the icy surface or float a frozen bucket in a larger "dip-bucket" of hot water to quickly free the thick, heavy ice stuck to the sides so everything can be dumped and the bucket refilled.

Of the two methods, pouring in some straight hot water is certainly a lot quicker and less work, assuming the buckets aren't totally frozen. But while hot water results in an ice-fee surface, the now floating chunks of ice cool the remaining water so much that the surface starts to re-freeze much sooner than we would like. The net result: we found ourselves dipping and dumping through most of the winter, with the thawing method only practical during early and late winter.

This season we added a medium-sized mesh fry oil food skimmer to our wintertime kennel tools and it has significantly extended the period during which thawed dog water remains available. Here's how we use the skimmer. We pour about 2.5 qt (2.4 L) of hot water onto the frozen surface of each water bucket. Then we go back to the first bucket into which we poured hot water and easily scoop out all the floating 'bergy bits' using the handy-dandy skimmer. On colder mornings we sometimes need to smack the icy surface with a shovel handle to break it free from the bucket. For those occasions the skimmer is especially effective at quickly and efficiently removing all the floating ice chunks while keeping hands and mittens dry.

You should be able to find a fry oil food skimmer in the barbeque supplies section of a good hardware store, many of the "big box" stores or a kitchen supply store. The word "medium" refers to head size. You should also know that medium skimmers have longer handles than the small oil skimmers. Our all-metal skimmer has a 6 in. (15.2 cm) diameter head and a foot-long (30.5 cm) handle.

There's something else we do to slow down the rate at which dog water freezes. Instead of clipping our 9 qt (8.5 L) stainless steel water buckets directly to our kennel fencing, we rest them in bucket-holders made from 11 qt (10.4 L) galvanized pails. The bucket holders are what we clip in place to the kennel fencing. The rim of the water bucket fits closely to the rim of the bucket-holder. This creates a dead-air space around the water bucket that protects its sides and bottom from wind and cold. While nowhere near as efficient as a vacuum bottle, these bucket-holders extend the period that the dogs' water remains ice-free as the formation of ice down the side and into the bottom of the water buckets is retarded. In addition, our dogs are adept at licking through the surface ice or breaking through it with a paw. These bucket holders allowed us to keep water available to our dogs all during the daylight hours and for most of the overnight during the coldest parts of our northwest Connecticut winters with only two water changes (first thing in the morning and then in the early evening) or a morning thaw and an evening full change.

Do you have a tip you'd like to share? Email your suggestions to mail@thefanhitch.org or snail-mail it to Mark Hamilton, 55 Town Line Road, Harwinton, CT 06791, USA.
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