Archive for the ‘Alaska’ Category

A Wednesday Moment

September 10, 2014

mama chicken and babes 004

A Wednesday ritual*. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

*inspired by a great flower site –floret

A Wednesday Moment

June 4, 2014

 

 

A Wednesday ritual*. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

*inspired by a great flower site –floret

A Wednesday Moment

May 28, 2014

52414 009

A Wednesday ritual*. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

*inspired by a great flower site –floret

A Wednesday Moment

March 12, 2014

A Wednesday Moment

A Wednesday ritual*. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

*inspired by a great flower site –floret

Spring and Off We Go…..

March 11, 2014
The morning steaming event.

The morning steaming event.

Our mostly mild winter here in Alaska has been trying to push us into spring. First we are warmer and cloudy, then sunny and cold but the warm and at least partially sunny is coming right around the corner.

The warmer winter this year  has allowed us to harvest things like Kale and Leeks all winter long. However it has many of us worried about the effect on the growing number of commercial peony fields and native berry crops. The lack of snow cover with  freezing and thawing cycles will extract a toll. It is just a matter of seeing how much once our warmer weather gets here.

A Wasilla peony farmer says he’s worried that recent warm Alaska weather will damage his crop.
Harry Davidson of North Star Peony says that the thaw-freeze cycle could kill the roots of his plants.
He planted about 7,500 roots of the perennials when he started his farm and estimates he’s lost half over the last two winters.
The plants lose thermal protection and when it gets cold again, it kills the roots.
Alaska peony growers last year harvested and sold more than 100,000 stems. Most were shipped out of state.

Recent weather!

Recent weather!

Our last short spell of cold, down into the single digits, seems to have left this portion of Alaska. The river is flowing, but still ice choked at times. At the same time the ground is slowly thawing, especially in the open areas.

For farmers, seeds and supplies are being ordered. Grow lights and greenhouses are being dusted off. CSA memberships are being offered and Farmers’ Markets organized.

Spring is coming forth, at least in the seed department

Spring is coming forth, at least in the seed department

Fishermen follow much the same cycle. Ordering nets and supplies. Outboards and boat engines are overhauled. Upgrades are being finished up. Processors are completing contracts and projected start dates for their plants.

Although many think of Alaska as ‘going quiet’ in the winter months, they are actually filled with a furious set of activities prepping to burst forward in a few short months.

Wednesday’s Moment

February 19, 2014

DLG_trip_feb_2014 002

A Wednesday ritual*. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

*inspired by a great flower site –floret

Wednesday’s Moment

February 5, 2014

sunset feb_4_2014 003

A Wednesday ritual*. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

*inspired by a great flower site –floret

Wednesday’s Moment

January 29, 2014
Just a moment in time.

Just a moment in time.

Just a moment captured in time. No explanation…just to share!

Listening to the Aunties

August 17, 2013

8-16-2013 7;46;12 PMWhen I was small, I loved to sit very still (until they forgot I was there) and listen to the Aunties talk and tell stories.

They talked of all things, their families, their homes, food, their dreams, their beginnings.   They laughed a lot, they cried every little once in awhile.

Always around a kitchen table. Sometimes relaxing with coffee, sometimes preparing and cooking food, sometimes canning, but always at a kitchen table.

Someone would eventually realize I was there  and send me off to play with the other children, to get more canning jars or out to the garden for more strawberries.

I grew into the family as well as the world with a rich sense of membership, a knowing of the where and what I had come from.

It has always been hard  for me to describe the where, what and all to others though.

Now one of the Aunties who can describe it all has invited any folks who wish to join us to the family table.

in Kodiak July 1982

Please -join us. There is room at the table for all.

Pioneer Peak Cover

from
Joy Harjo’s  Perhaps The World Ends Here
(one of my favorite poems ever )

One Small Step At A Time

January 20, 2013

chicken_grazing_squares_build

The number of households that are keeping poultry has skyrocketed in the last 5 years. You hear all the time about cities changing their zoning and animal laws to allow for small numbers in a ‘backyard’ flock.

Zoning laws are seldom the reason chickens are not raised here in rural Alaska. Three issues affect our ability to raise chickens out here in Western Alaska: Getting the chicks out here alive in the first place, keeping predators at bay, and, of course, keeping them warm enough in the winter.

Most of us bring the chicks in via mail in the spring. You order weeks in advance and try to guess when the temperatures will be mild enough not to kill them off in transit.

It is most important that you  keep them at 90+ degrees for the first 3-5 weeks, as they feather out and can then regulate their body temperature.

Yes, heat lamps can help but I have found if the general room temperature is not at least 75 degrees they will just pile up on top of each other, under the heat lamps, to get warm and your losses will be huge.

When you run your household and business off as much as 70% renewable energy, wind in our case, loading on a few 250W  heat bulbs or a 1300-1500 W heat lamp the costs start to rise quickly, making the project less sustainable.

This year we decided to try something a little different, starting the process in the fall.

We got chicks the week before Thanksgiving, during one of the few weeks that had negative temperatures. The pilot on the mail plane was kind enough to make sure the box of babies was kept away from drafts, covered with a blanket and in the warmer area of the plane. As things went a couple, originally from Texas, that were on their way out of the area sat next to the box of chicks coming  IN from a Texas hatchery!!

They arrived quickly (less than 4 days) from the hatchery which greatly improves the chances of getting them off to a good start.

The first 2-3 days are the toughest so I have found if I keep them in a box or tub in our house, with a heat lamp or two, we can keep the rate of death to almost nothing. One small complication we found this time is that one of our (new at the time) kitties is a very determined hunter. Now the box or tub must have a screen or metal rack of some type over it at all times or we will find the count down and  stray feathers showing up here and there.

Into this adventure almost two months now, all seems to be working well. We have found  that our brooder, located in an outbuilding that has electricity but not heat,  works well down into the single digits for temperature. It is insulated between the concrete floor and bottom of the chicks, has some insulation on the top and sides and a couple of places for lights, heat or otherwise. We did not hook our 1500W infrared heater up this time and have not used the thermostat to turn off one of the heat lamps just yet.

Given our success this time we hope to use this same method through the summer and into the fall to try to raise more meat birds. They  are harder to raise than these replacement layers  but we are hopeful we can do it and have another source of meat.

There are number of other issues to consider -like figuring out alternative food sources for the frozen times of the year and housing so they can ‘free range’ once they are feathered out.

A chicken 'tractor' that allow poultry to be move around safely outside.

A chicken ‘tractor’ that allow poultry to be move around safely outside.

The possibilities for having local and ‘fresh’ sources of food seem to be possible, just working to figure out the details to make sure they are sustainable too!!


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