What a rainy/snowy month it has been! We were ready for winter at the beginning of the month, but our first and second snows have already melted in the rain. Overnight temperatures have been in the mid to low 20°s and days generally in the 30°s. At the beginning of the month, there was a solar storm that allowed for some nighttime viewing of the northern lights. Pete and our daughter were sound asleep, so I enjoyed the lights silently on the porch. The stillness of the evening and dancing lights was so peaceful. The last days of the month were very windy, bringing in a warm front which we are happy to have. October and November in our area of Alaska produce frigid rains and snowfall which make for a muddy, chilly, and partially frozen construction site we call home. I can’t WAIT until the day we plant grass!
The weather put sort of a damper on some of the building projects, leaving the greenhouse unfinished and the barn without electricity. However, we do have a roof on the shed and stairs on the porch! I find it funny how it only took Pete two hours to build the stairs and install them, but it took him two years to find the time to do it /sigh/ oh well. Now, if we could only get the siding up!
As part of our winter prep we shuffled our chickens around, we now have our 7 younger birds and the rabbit cage inside the small animal barn and Red moved out to the Eggcono Lodge. Since she can’t seem to get along with any of our other birds, Red is going to have to spend the winter by herself. I feel bad keeping her alone for the winter and she is our best egg layer, but she will also peck our other birds until they are bloody, and we can’t have that! Unfortunately, one of the two rabbits we inherited from our neighbor died. Apparently it was 10 years old, so I’m thinking this was bound to happen. We have found them to be great little manure-makers for our farm, so we may possibly get some more next season.
In the middle of the month, I made a trip to northern Minnesota for a friend’s wedding. We miss our friends and family so much and I am grateful to be able to fly down to the lower 48 to visit once and awhile. Fall in northern Minnesota is gorgeous and Pete and I have made many good memories there over the years, so it’s always great to get back. The cherry on top of the trip was the wild rice casserole, a red beer, and some walleye!
Speaking of good food, we still are creating new (and perfecting old) recipes with the sourdough. Pete made some delicious sourdough cinnamon rolls which he has pretty much perfected, and we made some Halloween sugar cookie cutouts with homemade frosting. Lets not forget the weekly loaves of bread that he makes too! I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of fresh, warm, crackling sourdough bread.
Pete seems to be getting faster at erecting buildings. For instance, he milled up lumber and assembled the new shed structure all by himself in two days. On the third and fourth days, a generous friend helped finish the roof and Pete put up some siding on the upper portion to keep the wind from carrying it away. We now have a large shelter (13’ x 20’) to store equipment and keep lumber dry---I love it! Future plans for the shed will be to move the entire structure up against the barn to act as a lean-to shelter for material storage and a washing station. We then plan to pour a concrete slab and build a bigger permanent workshop in it’s current place. A permanent shop on concrete was the original plan, but we had to reassess priorities when summer quickly ended and fall seemed to pass with a blink of an eye.
With no snow on the ground at this moment and the ground not entirely frozen, we can continue to plug away at the projects. In November we plan to get some electricity run to the garage and barn, and spread out the remaining rock piles we have for better water drainage and less mud in the high traffic areas when everything melts in spring. I love this time of year during the holidays. Our family had fun participating in some stay-at-home Halloween activities. I’ve already started planning our Thanksgiving feast with our freshly harvested chickens and cranberries. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!
Winter came early this year, but we were just sitting around waiting for it anyways. Just kidding! We are now realizing how fortunate we were to have a late winter two years ago when we were building our cabin. Then, we didn’t see our first snow until November, just as we were moving out of the camper and into the cozy cabin. This year, however, the third week of September brought our first dusting and we have had overnight temperatures in the mid 20ºs since then. After the first frosty morning it’s like an hourglass has been set out and there is a laundry list of items to complete before time runs out, that is, the ground freezes solid and is buried in snow for 6 months. The first frost is the signal to stop what you’re doing and reassess the project list. Which things can be done in the garage or outside over the winter and which items absolutely have to be finished before the ground freezes or the snow piles up? Earlier in the month we had still been in “summer” mode – clearing the pasture of stumps and saplings for the farm, planning and building sheds and other outbuildings, and putting away firewood. However, as soon as we got a whiff of winter we immediately had to switch to things like winterizing the irrigation system, draining and storing hoses, and preparing a comfortable place for our animals to live this winter.
Having never done it before, keeping animals over the winter here feels like a daunting responsibility. I cannot imagine living here without heat in the winter, yet I know the wild animals somehow survive just fine and I’m sure our chickens and rabbits will be happy with their thick straw beds inside their nice homes. Even then, we still feel obligated to keep their water unfrozen and their bellies full. On top of that, maybe a little artificial light for a few hours each day wouldn’t hurt them either? To do this, we are planning to move all 9 chickens and both rabbits into the same structure together, keeping the rabbits in their cages. In order to have a light for them, we will need to get electricity out to the coop, which is kind of a big project involving a long trench, so we may just rig up something temporary for this winter. We currently keep a big jug of water on a shelf in the coop to refill their water from, but now that it is freezing we will need to keep the jug inside the cabin and bring them fresh water each day as part of the chores – I’m sure we’ll find room for the jug somewhere.
Other projects have included felling dead trees around the property and turning them into lumber and firewood. Pete built a rock solid foundation for the sawmill and it has allowed us to make good use of our timber resource. In just one day, he was able to mill all 6 posts, the beams, and braces for a 20’X12’ shed and assemble most of it. However, shortly afterwards we got our first frost and priorities shifted. The shed roof and walls is one of those projects that can be done with snow on the ground, so it sits unfinished for now.
In the garden, some progress has been made on the greenhouse, but it just doesn’t look like it. We have milled all of the needed lumber for framing the walls and roof, we received the greenhouse plastic for the roof, and we have all the insulation for the walls, we just need to install it all... We do hope to get it closed in before too much snow falls. We don’t plan on actually growing anything in it this winter, but any covered and enclosed space is in high demand around here in the middle of winter.
Also in the garden, Pete is preparing all of the planting beds for snowfall. He harvested all of the carrots, beets, and onions – all were very fragrant and delicious! The moose came in and mowed down all of the peas, reminding us we need to fix the fence. We also did a thorough cleaning of the chicken coops, getting all of their manure worked into the compost heap and giving them a thick bed of fresh straw before the cold sets in.
Hopefully things settle down a bit in the next few months and we have some more time for blogging and designing. Until then, take care everyone. Thanks for reading!
As expected, August was full of projects and play!
Looking back on the month of July, we certainly feel we made the most of every minute! From fishing, to farming, to masonry, and vacations, the whole month flew by.
Summer has begun and the homestead is more lively than ever!
As expected, May was a whirlwind of activity here on the homestead, from some new animals joining us to a new front porch and all sorts of things in between!
Even though there are still some snow banks lingering around, summer is here!
With summer approaching we’re as anxious as a racehorse waiting for the gate to open!
With everything from cabin projects to skiing at an abandoned gold mine, this past month has been a blast!
Even the morning traffic is beautiful in Alaska!
Watch this neat time lapse of the beautiful Alaskan Autumn as Pete builds our wood shed then fills it with firewood
It's high noon on the Winter Solstice as light trickles through the spruce trees.
Check out this new video of Pete building the Log Frame storage loft for our garage...
Autumn falls into winter as we get our first snow here on the homestead.
July has gone by in the blink of an eye!
Here in Alaska, we are waist deep in summer!
We slept in one morning in early May and totally missed Spring!
Well, he finally finished it! Not the cabin itself, but the video of him building it...
Along with March came many new experiences in Alaska!
Winter chugs along, as do we! Steady progress has been made on the homestead over the past few weeks. We finally have fresh clean drinking water on tap! What a luxury.
We are back! Back with a big announcement: a new addition was added to our family in November: little Baby Girl!
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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