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.
Seriously, we have a new appreciation for water now. After all the time we've spent researching the different processes used to remove specific impurities in water and the chemistries and filtration methods involved, we almost feel like connoisseurs. No more making trips into town or to the neighbors to fill up our water jugs. We purchased two glass water bottles and they are amazing. We are looking forward to getting more storage in the kitchen (cabinets and shelves). It's nice to get back to using all of our normal dishes again.
The water filtration system Pete installed consisted of an iron filter and a reverse osmosis (RO) system. All of the water coming into the cabin passes through the iron filter, which is a big tank similar to what a normal water softener would use. Before the iron filter there is a chemical feed system which injects a diluted solution of bleach and soda ash into the main water line. This does a few things. The soda ash raises the pH of the water to an optimal range for the iron filter. The bleach kills any bacteria which may be present. We learned that there is a form of bacteria which thrives in the presence of iron and oxygen, so the bleach kills that. The bleach also serves another purpose though. There are two 'species' of arsenic which can be present in water: arsenic III and arsenic V. Arsenic III cannot be filtered, but arsenic V can be. Conveniently, arsenic III can be converted into arsenic V by, you guessed it, bleach! The bleach is then filtered out when passing through the iron filter. Paired with our electric water softener, we no longer have hard, orange-staining iron water. The sinks, toilet, shower, and white clothes are all staying clean now - Whoohoo!
We only ran the RO system for a drinking water tap in the kitchen. The system has 5 stages of filtration and is mounted under the kitchen sink. It was surprisingly quick and simple to install, which was a pleasant surprise considering how complicated it looks. We tested the water coming out from the RO system and there was no measurable arsenic present! We now have some of the purest water either of us have ever had right from our kitchen sink, which is pretty cool given that the water coming into the cabin isn't at all drinkable. However, there is an argument for having beneficial minerals in drinking water, which we have stripped out entirely. Locally we can buy bottled water sourced from the nearby Eklutna glacier. It is naturally alkaline and mineral rich and is some of the best tasting water anywhere (it has won awards).
We ordered the water system from Florida and shipping the pallet of heavy boxes up here was an interesting coordination, but I was happy to work with the Florida water company's shipping manager to efficiently get everything we needed on our doorstep. Coordinating the logistics of important building materials is an old pastime of mine haha!
There have been quite a few moose sightings in February. We are still getting to know the patterns and habits of the moose during our first winter here in Alaska. As the snow and ice buries all of their normal food sources they get more desperate to eat and stop paying much attention to anything else causing them to do things like aimlessly meander onto the highway. Also, with the trees thinning out in the winter time, they are more visible amongst the forest. I usually spot a handful of moose going back and forth from town, about 25 miles or so. I saw 9 a couple of days ago! Though they are clumsy on pavement and snow-packed roads, they have the right of way.
I do enjoy watching them nibble on the shrubs and trees in our yard and all down the highway. They are so peaceful to watch if left undisturbed. Sometimes they bed down outside our front door and kitchen window. Pete and I watch them quietly in the moonlight in the middle of the night. I suppose I'll be shooing them away soon enough once we get a garden going and some landscaping planted! What's the best way to scare a moose?
Pete has also begun on our custom ladder-stairs up to the loft. He created plans from a digital model, milled up the lumber, and has started to lay out the cuts on the wood. Firing up the saw mill was a project in itself during the winter with no shelter! After lots of shoveling and tinkering with the iced over engine, it was good to see some beautiful logs being milled up again.
The next step will be to cut all the pieces and sand them smooth. I am so excited to finally have stair access to the loft. Our current situation is climbing on construction scaffolding which takes up a lot of space and can be a bit awkward. The stairs will provide a bit of storage underneath and be a safer way to access the loft. These stairs will be a great upgrade!
Pete ended the month with more snow plowing; we got about a foot of snow on the last day of February. Spring should come quick because we are running of places to put all this snow! He also finished painting the interior walls, installed outlet and switch covers, and built a shelf with racks to hang clothes from.
We are gaining about 5 minutes of daylight per day. At the end of February, we had about 10.5 hours of sunlight. Dealing with the shortened days this winter wasn't too bad! We didn't feel too much of a difference from the Midwest winters. No cabin fever this season! March will go by quickly as we continue to plug away at the various projects on the cabin and around the property and also look forward to the friends and family who will be visiting over the next few months.
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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