The Fan Hitch   Volume 18, Number 3, June 2016

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

From the Editor

Canadian Inuit Dogs I have owned, raised and trained: a photo essay; Part 3
Book review: Across Arctic America
Book review: White Eskimo

Interview with Author Stephen Bown

The Thule Atlas Project

March distemper outbreak in Ilulissat

Okpik’s Dream/Harry Okpik still going strong

IMHO: I’m “Neat” with Tarps

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

Defining the Inuit Dog

Talk to The Fan Hitch

The Fan Hitch home page

Editor's/Publisher's Statement
Editor: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
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The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog.

After the load has been laid out for balance and comfort, Mark (l) and Jayko (r)
secure it in place with a tarp. Caribou skins will top that for non-slip seating,
followed by lashing the load down tight with bearded sealskin “rope”.
                                                                                                Photo: Hamilton

I’m “Neat” with Tarps

by Mark Hamilton

Every year we have a long list of projects that need to be accomplished here in the spring.  Almost all are things that need to be done outdoors, which makes them considerably more tolerable after winter than they otherwise might be. Winter exacts a toll here that mandates our attention. Much of it revolves around yard cleanup; also further attention to the various other growing things around here is another item that’s always on our list. 

Our planting beds over-winter underneath a thick layer of leaves. Come spring those areas need to be cleared so the perennials can grow up straight and tall. From there we move on to the feeding and pruning of shrubs, and the big one – replacing plants and shrubs that didn’t survive the winter, plus planting the annuals. Oh, and every now and again we’ve been known to expand a planting bed.

Working the earth, concocting our own planting soil mix using our home-“grown” compost as the main ingredient, is a pleasurable activity. It’s rewarding to recycle that which we take from our planet back to it. While that may apply for mulch as well, we’re content to purchase it.

Mulching the planting beds and garden pathways is the last step involved in our spring care ritual. It’s the event that signals the end of that particular big push. This year it was also the event that resulted in me being told I was “neat” with tarps.

We only needed three cubic yards of mulch this year. Despite our rural location, the preferred source, a family run sawmill, is less than five miles from where we live. The convenience of the location makes it easy for me to tow our small utility trailer there and back. I’m not about to devote the better part of a day making three round trips and spreading all that mulch in one day. Instead I made three trips for a yard at a time on three consecutive days. The same loader operator filled the trailer on each day.

Our utility trailer has slatted sideboards. It can’t carry  “loose” items like mulch or crushed rock as they would just pour out through the spaces between those slats. My solution has been to line the inside of the trailer with a large tarp and, once loaded, I fold the excess on both sides up over the pile, then I pull the excess length of the tarp hanging off the back of the trailer forward over the load, and finally pull the extra length from the front of the trailer back across the top of the load to the back. Once all that’s done I secure the tarp with a number of ratchet straps running side to side across the tarp, cinching down it and the load.

I guess the loader operator had been watching this process on my two previous visits. On the third one he got out of the loader’s cab and came over to help me wrap up the mulch. It was at that point he made his comment about never having seen anyone else as “neat” with tarps.

I’m sure many of you recognize that what I was doing is the same process used to load a qamutiq: spreading a tarp over an empty qamutiq, packing everything on top of the tarp, wrapping it around the load and then lashing that bundle securely to the qamutiq. This is the technique I learned from Inuit friends those times when Sue and I were traveling in the Canadian North and Greenland by dog team. It’s a technique that has withstood the test of time and it serves me well, to the point where it’s just what I automatically do.

But I didn’t explain all this to the loader operator. He needed to go back to work and I needed to get home so the mulch would be spread before the heat of the day made the task a miserable experience. So I just said, “It’s the way I was taught” and let it go at that. I thanked him for his help and we each went off to our next task.
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