This month has been a whirlwind, quite literally.
The first five days of the year kicked off with a five day long wind storm. Day and night, for nearly a week, we had 50-60MPH sustained winds, gusting up to 120MPH. With all of that, it’s a miracle we didn’t have anything important leave the ground, or come down to it. We didn’t even lose power during the ordeal, which must mean the smaller wind events earlier in the season thinned out the weak trees near the lines. We truly do feel fortunate to have made it through without any issues (other than the chimney blowing off the garage), as many people in the area suffered major property damage. There were commercial buildings not far from us which had roofs and walls torn off, signs blown apart, and trees knocked down.
However, chaos usually brings change, and afterwards, what had been an unseasonably cold winter turned into the opposite. A warm front came in the following week and, mixed with a few days of rain and temperatures near 40°F, the snow cover thinned down dramatically. For the past two years January and February have been the coldest months of the winter, but that would have been November and December this year. So, after three winters here we’re still scratching our heads wondering what is “normal”. We are discovering that it’s actually more normal around here just to expect anything and everything and roll with it!
Some “egg-citing” news - it actually got so warm a couple weeks ago that we started to get eggs from the chickens we’ve been raising since June. We only got three before the temps cooled back down and they seem to have stopped laying again. It was a nice surprise to find fresh eggs. It was also a reminder that they will soon return the favor after all of the food and care we have been providing them for the past six months.
After the wind storm and then the meltdown, temperatures cooled back down to the 10°F - 20°F range and we received about 6 inches of fresh snow to make up for what we lost. It was the perfect thick blanket of snow for skiing some trails and building a snowman, AND covering up the ice skating rink which formed in the driveway.
We’ve been taking advantage of the warmer weather by getting lots done in the shop. Instead of having to bundle up just to spend a couple hours out there, we’ve been able to spend full days getting things cleaned up and organized, and knocking projects off of our to-do list. One item we checked off the list was making a bookshelf for our daughter’s growing personal library. We tried a new approach and used our CNC machine to cut out all the pieces and to also cut the dado grooves for the shelves all at once. It worked out okay. There’s still room for improvement and, fortunately, we have many more furniture pieces to make for ourselves while we get the processes figured out.
January and February are also planning months for our farm. Last summer Pete started plans and structure for the first greenhouse with a "climate battery”. Check out his video here on the very beginnings of the project. This will be one of many greenhouses and growing areas. Pete used his computer skills to make a model of the garden layout, so it's easier to visualize where things will go, which is helpful when we're trying to be as efficient as possible with our small space. He has also laid out a seed calendar with all of the dates for planting, transplanting, and harvesting, which should help keep us on track throughout the season. We grew a small variety of vegetables last year and had fairly good luck—most everything sprouted from seed and produced, even if it only ended up being a tiny little onion! The seed calendar will help enormously with how fast time flies in the summer and how easy it is to get distracted.
The mild temperatures have also allowed us to spend time dialing in product designs and testing out new ideas. Speaking of which, one of our favorites is our new wood Side-by-Side ATV toy! We’ve also been experimenting with using epoxy resin to enhance some new wood pieces. I love the way it makes text and other elements pop! Check out the examples on some of our new Valentine-themed signs.
We were happy to be able to finally show off some of our products in person at our first Alaskan craft show! It has been a couple of years since Wild North Design did an in person show, and it was good to get out in our new community and interact with some of the other makers. Alaska is home to some incredible artists and makers, so there’s no shortage of inspiration. We also find that inspirational art is usually made by people who are just as inspiring.
There is no denying that the days are beginning to lengthen again. It’s a welcome sign that seasons will once again shift. In February, we’re hoping to take advantage of the snow before it melts. We’ve got a couple of day trips planned to go cross-country skiing, and who knows, maybe we’ll go sledding on a mountain!
That’s about it for this month. Thanks for reading!
Hello, I am Melissa, owner of Wild North Design. Recently, my husband and I decided to pick up and move to Alaska. This dream has been a couple years in the making and we are enjoying the journey so far. We love to learn and make all kinds of things. From wood craft, to painting, to vehicles, landscaping, building, exploring...we love it all! We are finding out that Alaska is a great fit for our restless minds and bodies! Excited for what the future holds for our expanding family!
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