Cabin Fever, Decisions and “What if..?”

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February snows continue!

Feb 18, 2011

Although there is snow on the ground in most places in Alaska, as there also seems to be in many places throughout the US, many of us are thinking of spring.

The fishing gear flyers, seed catalogs, and the never ending paperwork for a fish oriented business are arriving with each load of mail.

We struggle between all these items pulling us into the spring and the desire to go ice fishing, planning for winter carnivals, and in some villages, potlatches.

The first forecasts for summer fish runs are out in many areas causing fishermen to pour over them for what is expected, the age/size of the fish they calling for. This information is used to order the fishing nets. Those fishermen who are targeting certain sized fish use this to order certain sized nets. Despite what many might think there is a fair amount of knowledge that goes into being a successful fisherman.

Any decisions about whether you want to order baby chicks, baby turkeys or maybe a piglet need to be made in the next few weeks unless you want to be raising SUMMER or fall animals!  Each spring this household goes through the ‘should we?’ and ‘if we ….’ until our brains are exhausted. Should we finally decide to try raising a few turkeys? (I have to say THIS might well be the year for that  “What if…” to finally happen!) If we do, where or how do we mix that with our current flock or any other baby chicks we decide to do?

Recently a state newsletter on agriculture issues came out. In it was the news that ‘hundreds’ of high tunnels are going up in Alaska under the new USDA program. This is so encouraging. Maybe Alaska can slowly get healthier and better food choices into the hands of the residents. To back that up it was mentioned in a conference call this week that the Kenai Peninsula alone has applied for over 80 more high tunnels to join the 50 or so that are already there.

A sample of reading materials hitting mailboxes!

In this little corner of Alaska our plans are being drawn out for planting times, varieties we want to try, fruit plants orders and all sorts of issues. The discussion of how to get water to things and monitor it when we are swamped with fishing activities has been spirited. How do we staff this bigger operation this year or do we see how it goes by stretching ourselves still thinner? What equipment is essential and what can wait? All questions that many business or operations face in these times.

Essential gear!

Over the last 3-5 years it has been refreshing to see real efforts by many portions of our state at attempting to answer the questions of where our food is coming from, what happens if that supply line is disrupted, and how can we promote more locally grown food and healthier eating.

In so many ways Alaska has the ability to lead the way in industries but I sure seem to find we are doing a quick race to catch up to things that seem to be  decades old.  I have my own theories as to why but in the area of agriculture I see some very dedicated people  sweeping past those barriers and bringing at least parts of Alaska into a healthier new time. Hopefully everyone will see the need and support the most basic of needs-getting food to those who need it and make it healthier for everyone!

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One Response to “Cabin Fever, Decisions and “What if..?””

  1. jim Says:

    My mom, who was about as old as my elementary school daughter currently is, went down to the dock in Seward one Spring day in 1935 and watched the original Matanuska Valley settlers get off the boat and transfer to the train (there was no road beyond mile 18).

    I am amazed at what the Mat Valley families produce today. I buy my food at the Farmers’ Markets during summer. As you have mentioned, rural Alaska has come into the picture too. The climate is changing and although it is getting warmer, wind is becoming worse in many areas. Shelters make good sense and I believe agriculture will become more and more useful in rural communities and even a worthwhile option during peak Summer food acquisition times.

    While we lived in California, I used drip watering, moisture sensors, timers, etc. and automated stuff to where I just sat back and watched the outdoor garden grow (or usually it worked while I slept). However, in enclosed environments, someone really needs to be there to keep an eye on fungus, disease, and bugs.

    On another topic not to be confused with the good things that are happening in rural subsistence, commercial, and community farming, I’m wondering when, In our rapidly climate- changing world, Alaska’s Interior (which is most of Alaska) may open potential for mega-agriculture. I worry– some kind of EXX** Farm Corporation could show up and jeopardize our unique natural environment. I wouldn’t be surprised if someday we may see proposals by huge outside agricultural conglomerates to move in and consume our wild lands. The world is changing fast.

    I don’t worry at all about the wonderful stuff happening at places like Meyers Farm or what you are doing. I wish you the best– I’m just saying someday, agricultural development could become a big issue in Alaska– the next New Deal could be a Bad Deal for rural Alaska.

    Fortunately we’re not near that now!

    P.S. Thanks for reminding me– I need to get my seed order out.

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