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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We're Moving!

That is, the blog is moving. Nushagak Kennels has a new home at http://nushagakkennels.wordpress.com/ . It'll be the same sort of family, mushing, politics, whatever comes to mind kind of site. Wordpress has some cool features including spell check. Sure Mom's glad to hear about that. It will take a little while to get the site completely configured. Did get all the posts transferred though. Right now there isn't anything in Jo's page, but I think that can be a place where Jo can do her thing. Like I said, still need to figure the thing out. It's much easier to leave comments for those who don't have a Google account. It's got all sorts of cool tools and functions to play with.

It's been fun Blogger, but Nushagak Kennels is moving on!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Uncle Ted

We call him Uncle Ted up here. Senator Ted Stevens has done more for Alaska then any other man alive.

When I was a junior in High School, we were awarded some sort of grant to help our high school athletic program. The first athletic season was about to begin and the money had not yet shown up. My government teacher was explaining how things worked in congress and I figured I'd try working the system. After getting permission from the principal, I called Senator Stevens' office. I Introduced myself, told the person my story, they got another person on the phone who wrote down the particulars, got a pleasant, "We'll see what we can do." and hung up the phone. The money was in the schools bank account within a week. That experience changed me. Later that year at D.C. Close Up I had the opportunity to shake hands with Senator Stevens. I told him about what his office did for us and thanked him. He looked me in the eye and said, "That's what it's all about, Alaskans helping Alaskans."

All of my children were born in a hospital he built, I fly in and out of an airport he renovated, my employment is a direct result of legislation he passed. Senator Stevens is a great man who has done great things for so many. He has been termed, "The Lion of the Senate." He steps on toes and makes no apologies. It is after all about Alaskans taking care of Alaskans.

Then today on my ride home for lunch I heard the news. Senator Stevens was found guilty on all 7 counts. He is a convicted criminal. Just another corrupt politician. This great man. It's all very difficult to stomach. For those new to the state, he may be seen as washed up and past his prime. But for so many of us he is Uncle Ted.

Senator Stevens says he will apeal the decision and maintains his innocence, but to what end? I would do the same if I were him. Try to clear my name and salvage a legendary career of service.

The rest of us have a big decision to make in a week. Senator Stevens is up for re-election. If we did vote him in, what could he possibly accomplish in the Senate. Who in their right mind would support him and risk the political fall out of partnering with a convicted criminal. He has now become the very poster child of Republican political coruption. What are we all to do now? This man we love so dearly has left us in this uncomfortable position. We all must make our own decision and live with the consequences.

No closing for this somber post comes to mind. No profetic thoughts itch to be written into this blog. I'm left with a heavy heart and sorrow. Deep sorrow.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Belleque Kids: Finally updating.....

The day Alethia left Dillingham to go to Hawaii. Jacob was too busy wrestling Sammy to look up. She had a wonderful trip. Karen has all the pictures though so I need to wait for copies to post some of those. She has a wonderful time with Grandma and Grandpa.


Aimee found her thumb. She loves it and it soothes her.

Aimee loves her brother and sister.

Fun in the sun! They were making a snowman.

Here's the snowman. However, as soon as I too the picture, Jacob knocked it over and broke it. Then proceeded to eat the celery nose. We didn't have carrots..... Next time.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Full Freezers

The skiff was launched Thursday afternoon as Ryan and I headed up the Nushagak River on the annual quest to fill our freezers. It was the second year for Ryan and I hunting moose with calling and waiting instead of running up and down the river, in and out of sloughs. Last year proved a great adventure with an exciting and close encounter (read about it at http://nushagakkennels.blogspot.com/2007/10/big-moose.html). Always looking to improve our techniques, Ryan and I bought a tree stand. Plan was simple. Find a good clearing, set up a stand, and call in a moose.

We found an incredible spot after a little looking, one big spruce tree in the middle of a huge clearing with moose sign in every direction. After packing the stand a quarter mile from the skiff to the tree, cutting branches, setting it up, and strapping the thing down we settled in to call our first moose of the year. At 7:30 PM Ryan let out the first cow call. Cow calling is done by putting your hands together as if to pray, bringing those hands up in front of your nose, pinching your nose with your thumbs, cupping your mouth, and letting out a loud muted nasal moan as long as your lungs allow.

We sat. We waited. Both sitting and waiting are the most difficult aspects of this type of hunting. You feel like you should be doing something. Sitting quietly just doesn’t feel productive. Dusk began to settle on the clearing. We called it a night. After climbing down out of the stand and locating a likely bush a few feet away, I looked up and noticed something at the brush line. Two symmetrical white patches that I didn’t remember seeing there before were now clearly in view. “What’s that?” I asked Ryan in the waning daylight. They moved. “It’s a moose! Let’s get ‘em.” I quietly stated. We repositioned ourselves just a few feet away to gain a better view. It was in fact a moose and he was walking straight for us.

Our plan was set in muted one word phrases two experienced hunters understood clearly. We would simply wait for him to walk right up to us. About 300 yards out we saw his tactic. He began circling to get downwind from us and determine just what we were. This required a revised approach on our part. We needed to cut him off. We slowly worked to intercept his path as cover allowed. Just before getting directly down wind, he walked behind a tree. I hustled to cut the distance. He walked out from behind the tree at about 150 yards offering a broadside shot generously choosing to fill our freezers. He was a big full grown bull measuring 54 inches across his antlers. Darkness was coming quickly so we cut off a couple quarters and removed his guts planning to return the next morning when we would finish cutting and hauling him out.

After seeing to proper care of the meat, eating a hot meal, and getting a good night’s sleep, we again found ourselves sitting in our stand in the same clearing belting our nasal moan to every bull moose for a mile around. The gut pile was roughly 350 yards away. We looked that way and noticed how quiet the area seemed. No ravens or magpies fluttered about, seemed nothing was there. We climbed down to take a look at the day old kill site. There in an area the size of most kitchens was an enormous pile of grass and dirt. A brown bear had been there to cover his lucky find. By the looks of the pile, it was a big bear at that. It made no sense to call in this clearing any longer. With a day and a half left in the season, we calculated a new plan.

We chose to relocate to one of a couple sloughs and try calling in another bull. We set up in one slough and heard a moose being shot very close by. Then we moved to another slough and had a boat drive right by. Evening was turning to night when we picked one last slough. After the second call, we heard another volley of close shots followed by a voice, “Bubba! Over here!” Ryan’s brother shouted. We figured that was it for the evening.

“We can help them cut it up and pack it out,” we agreed. Repositioning our boat to another bend in an adjacent slough, we saw two moose, one sporting the requisite antlers of a young bull. They stood well giving Ryan all the time he needed. We were quickly loaded in the boat and headed back to camp making the run down the river in the dark. Ryan’s brother, Bubba, and a big “meaty” moose arrived just after us.

We’ve been enjoying the moose in the weeks since the season closed. Johanna’s planning a nice steak dinner tonight. Empty freezers were filled and we are thankful. We are thankful for the animal and the choices it made to fill our freezer. We are thankful to live with a river where waters flow deep, cold, and clean. Pray we keep those waters clean and our freezers always full that we shall remain thankful.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Huskies Available for Adoption

I'm offering two dogs for adoption. I'm not asking for any money, but will only offer them to quality homes. In seven years I've never sold a dog. I've bought plenty, but never taken money myself. It would seem strange to take money for my hard working huskies. My sprint dogs on the other hand, I probably could sell them. But selling a working dog would be akin to selling your hunting buddy. My promise to each dog is a quality working life from womb to the grave. At times I fall short of that promse, but it is always my goal. From the night they're born to the end I always dread, their existence is my responsibility. Past homes I found for dogs have lived up to this promise. The next owners of the two dogs below will be kept to the same standard.

This is Ginger. She is out of my first big litter from Lucky and Hagar. I'm not offering her as a sled dog. She needs to live out her life as a pet. Mushing just isn't in her future. She's 4 years old, spayed, current on all shots, and one of the sweetest dogs I've ever met. Ginger borders on timid. She doesn't know lots of commands, but has always come to me when loose. My neighbor Lisa worked with her at healing this summer. She did well, but is very fearful of cars. I knew Lisa was walking to the dog yard this summer because I'd hear Ginger yipping and fussing about on her chain. About 5 minutes later Lisa would walk down the driveway. During a run last fall, she was bumped with a vehicle and it has really made her nervous around them. I've never seen her growl at a person or another dog. She loves kids and would be a great dog to enjoy in the house and still able to be put outside when it's -30. Ginger would not be a good first dog, but would be an absolute gem for the right owner.

If I had to describe this pup in a word, it would be "Potential". She is Lucy and Bing's pup. The litter of 11 was way to much for me so I've given away some of the females. Part of my kennel management plan is to own a minimum number of females. Most of my yard is big males. This isn't a very good picture of her. I set her on top of the dog house so she would stay still for a minute. Every sled dog puppy is a crap shoot. But just as every gambler knows, you always look for the best possible odds. With Bing and Lucy for parents, this little girl has every potential to be an outstanding sled dog. She'll probably be a 55 to 65 pound dog, with a thick coat and a need to work. She would be a good bet as a ski-jor dog.

Both of these dogs can be shipped. You would have to pay for that. If intested in either dog shoot me an e-mail at kbelleque@hotmail.com . I'd be happy to tell you more about them. I never tire of talking about my dogs.

On a different note: A few friends have told me they aren't able to post comments on this blog. Last winter I loosened up the settings so anyone can post comments, but that doesn't seem to be working now. I'm considering switching to another free blog service where folks can easily post comments. Comments are a fun part of blogging. If you know of another good place to blog please let me know. You'll have to use my e-mail due to all the reasons I just mentioned.

Aimee Pictures

Aimee and her daddy. Yes, that is puke on my sleeve.

Aimee working hard at "Tummy Time".
Aimee and her buddy Sammy.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pictoral Update

Johanna and I with our baby girls

Alethia's first day of school

Aimee

The other two
House pictures







Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sarah

I'm listening to a re-run of Sarah's speach right now. I've got to tell you America, you're being played for a fool. She took the state like a rock star. Everyone loved her, but over the last few years her sparkle has begun to fade. Just as her administration has become engulfed in an investigtion, along comes John McCain to prop her up on a national stage to be cheered by crowds of onlookers. It all feels too familiar.

Let's put her unfortunate family choices aside for now and focus on her record. I've identified a few issues that matter to me. This is not a comprehensive list of her poor judgement, just a few that have come to mind in the last week:

1. She lost my support when she came out against ballot measure 4. The measure would have prevented new large scale mines from depositing harmful chemicals into water used by both humans and salmon. After much debate and incredible efforts by regular folks trying to protect their own waters, Sarah came out against the mine only days before the vote. Even the measure's own opposition group said things were close until the Governor picked a side. Why didn't she leave it up to the voters? Why didn't she let their voices determine the outcome? If she was truely against it, she should have let that be known in the beginning instead of changing the game in the the last 2 minutes. But Sarah comes first in Sarah's world, a theme we will see again and again.

2. The infamous "Bridge to No Where" is another great example of her self serving purposes. After our congretional delegation secured an ear mark for the bridge, she heard the outcry and came out against the bridge. The money was never returned however, why would she do that? She spent the money on something else. Had her cake and ate it too.

3. This great leader of the 49th state with so much vision once asked us, "How should we spend our money?" Comments were elicited on the state website. At the same time she was dismantling our state's mental health infrastructure, schools were fighting to attract top teachers with their small budgets barely able to afford fuel to heat their schools, and people lived in communities with no law enforcement and pooping in buckets. She had the gaul to claim such wealth. The whole thing was a shameless gimmick, insulting to all those state agencies suffering to stay afloat. Nothing ever came of it. Once Miss Congeniality, always Miss Congeniality.

4. We shouldn't forget, this governor may be impeached before the year's out. She is under investigation for inappropriately firing our state's top public safety official. The senate ordered an investigation of the entire affair. Did our governor vow cooperation, deny the allogations, and offer her staff to speak freely? Sort of, but with a twist. She ordered her own investigation ahead of the senate investigation. May as well find out exactly what they will find out right? She found that her staff and husband did make innappropriate phone calls (Gasp!) regarding the situation, she scorned her staff. More recently, she has hired a lawyer to stop the process, or at least slow it down until the national election is over. Is that legal? Why not let the senate's own investigator due its job? That wouldn't be in Sarah's best interest, she serves her own purposes.

And because the campaign has made it an issue, I feel justified to take a long look at how she has handled her 17 year old daughter's pregnancy. After rightly telling us that her 17 year old's unplanned pregnancy is not available for public scrutiny, they march out the boyfriend and prop both of them up at the Republican National Convention. Getting a 17 year old pregnant qualifies to you be in the greeting line for the Republican presidential candidate? Who does that to a couple of kids? They should be left alone. They made a mistake, leave it at that. She, and the Republican Party, are using those kids for political gain. Would you do that to your daughter? What are teenagers across the nation thinking right now? A couple high school kids have a roll in the hay and now are sitting together before the nation. Evangelical leaders across the nation are praising the family's choices and rallying behind Alaska's governor. Clearly their family values are different then mine. I would never thrust a couple kids onto the national spotlight because of one mistake. And I would never, never encourage those same kids to get married just because they accidentally made a baby. If these are the new Republican family values, they can have them.

After a rubber stamp Republican Convention speach, she must eventually face the media and inevitably Joe Biden. Simply put, she'll have her head handed to her on a platter. More and more of her rocky record will surface. I think back to her debates during her last election. She sounded every bit the hockey mom and mayor of Wasilla, not the Vice President of the United States. Without a speach writer and a staff to support her, she will founder. Larry King, Chris Matthews, Wolf Blitzer, Brian Williams and the rest will rip her apart. And when she debates Joe Biden, it will become clear. America is in love with Miss Congeniality.

(Here's an article that very accurately describes Sarah Palin as Governor of Alaska. http://www.newsweek.com/id/157696/page/1 )

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lucy's Litter

Lucy had her pups last night. She hollowed out a hole in a brush pile and delivered all 11 puppies there. Lucky always did that to me also-have her pups outside. By the way, Lucky also had her litter. Lots of information about Lucky and the pups at http://oldschoolak.blogspot.com/ . And yes, you read that right. Lucy had 11 pups, 6 females and 5 males if I counted right.


I moved them into the doghouse this morning.
Lots of different colors-black, brown, gray, light orange.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Stairs

A few friends have asked, "What's with the levels?" Well, we've starting building stairs to connect those levels and you can see how the house is shaping up.

Here's the entry to the house, a small covered porch leading into an 8'x16' entry way. This is Alaska after all, we've got a lot of shtuff.
A set of stairs going up from the entry way up into the house.
These steps (on the other side of the house from the entry way) drop down into the bedrooms. A step will come off each side leading into two small rooms.
Looking down on the bedroom stairs

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

7 Years

Johanna and I met at a similar time in both our lives. We had finished college and were coming home to teach. Once we started spending time together it quickly became clear. God brought us together.

Our engagement was a little different. She was teaching in Koliganek while I had a traveling teaching job. Every few weeks, we'd meet in Dillingham for our pre-Canan classes with Father Kelly. He was thorough. We took personality tests, discussed child rearing and home finance. No stone was left unturned. And on August 4, 2001, we married at Holy Rosary Church here in Dillingham.

Father Kelly set us on the right path and offered words at our wedding I will never forget. With so many couples struggling, we find ourselves still very much in love. Maybe more then in the beginning. Our love is emotional, passionate, and most importantly, centered around something other then ourselves. We both love God more then each other.

If God is love, as scripture teaches, then we cannot give love to another without going through Him. Couples may not go to church or subscribe to any particular religion, but look at those couples who still gaze at each other, still hold hands, still give each other a kiss for no apparent reason. I'll bet they treat each other as the Bible suggests.

So on our 7th anniversary in the busiest summer of our lives I tell you surely that I love my wife. I love her more then my job, more then those dogs, more then our children, but not more then God. I give God to her.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

House Update

These pictures are a couple days old and we're a little farther along, but you get the idea. Looks like a house. It's got a big steep green roof. Makes the building look larger then it really is. Dad's friend Jim Black was here this week helping out. Three is definately more than two when it comes to building.

A little short on metal roofing. Need two 8 foot sections. Windows are all in and look pretty nice. All windows are triple pane. The 4x4 picture window was a heavy sucker.
Here I'm putting on the ridge cap. We've had a whole week of sunshine, just what you need for roofing. Have to use a line when working on the roof. Can't stay on the metal without it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bear Attack

Received a call yesterday morning from our neighbor Lisa. On her way to work she saw a loose dog in our driveway and went to put him back on his chain. Lisa is very familiar with our dogs, trains one of them, and a is great all around dog woman. She found more then just one loose dog.

Four dogs were loose, two injured. Jerry, one of our new sprint dogs, was hiding in another dog's house obviously very terrified. He had been through an ordeal with some nasty cuts, one of them pretty bad. Luke, one of my main leaders, was carrying a front leg that had been bitten. Both Luke and Jerry had backed out of their collars. The other two dogs some how got off their chains with no injuries.

Lisa put the dogs back on their chains and brought Jerry home where she treated his wounds. Both Luke and Jerry are on antibiotics and in a stroke of luck the vet will be in town tonight. Both Jerry and Luke will get a thorough exam. None of the other dogs had any injuries. Both the dogs and I are very fortunate to have such a great neighbor. Lisa is a great lady with a big heart. Jerry couldn't be in better hands.

Our land is in a very bear rich area. Much of this is my fault. I've been cooking a lot of fish for the dogs. There's big stinky dog pot, lots of buckets, etc. all smelling very good to a bear. Those smells most likely called him in. I need to devise a permanent plan to deal with bears. Would help to enclose my dog pot cooker and buckets with electric wire. That doesn't protect the dogs however. One answer would be to encircle the entire dog yard with electric wire. Need to price some of this stuff out.

I'm guessing that the bear came up our dog trail off the flats, then cut in to the dog yard where he encountered Jerry going crazy. He grabbed Jerry before Jerry slipped his collar and escaped. Then he circled the dog yard toward the shed. With three loose dogs, I half wonder if they didn't get together and harass the bear running him off. He only picked up the dog pot and carried it about 20 feet. Didn't touch any buckets, didn't break into the shed where the freezer was. Seems like if the smells brought him in he would have spent more time digging around.

I think everyone will be O.K. thanks to Lisa and I need to be more diligent about keeping a clean dog yard.

Note: After a visit to the vet today (7/12/2008), he thought I was dealing with a big dog fight, not a bear attack. The number of bite marks observed on the one dog looked like a good old fashioned gang-up style dog fight. That very well could have been. With four loose dogs, that could be exactly what happened. One way or another, the mear thought of a bear in my dog yard gives cause for diligence in keeping a cleaner dog yard. No matter what happened, I'm still thankful for all Lisa did to look after my injured dog.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Introducing Aimee Kate

Johanna and I would like to introduce our new baby girl, Aimee Kate Belleque.
Born 10:29 PM July 8, 2008
7lbs 10oz
20.5 inches

Johanna was induced the morning of the 8th. I arrived in Anchorage right after Johanna's water broke and drove her straight to the Alaska Native Medical Center. Everyone is doing fine. She seems a very content baby so far.

The following pictures were all taken right after Aimee was born.


Johanna and her new baby.
Alethia and Aimee. Aimee could not ask for a better big sister, her Ulla.
Johanna's sister Michelle, Alethia, and Aimee.
Aimee being held by her cousin Megan. Alethia made it into most of the pictures.
We've been looking forward to this for some time. God continues to shower our family with his love and blessings.