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.
At the beginning of the month, we kicked off with a fun Independence Day celebration by having steak and halibut for dinner. It was a warm week so we focused on the garden, chickens, and building a kitchen table. Though it may sound like on of our smaller achievements, the kitchen table could very well be my favorite project of this month. Since we've moved into the cabin, we haven't had much room or time to construct an actual table to sit at while we eat. Eating off your lap or a folding tray gets old quickly, and after a year and a half of this routine, I decided it was time! Since we need to optimize how we use our cozy little space, we couldn't just go and buy a standard table and chairs from the store, so we built our own! Using some super local spruce that was harvested from our property and cut on our mill last summer, we edge-joined the boards to make the tops for the table and benches. We made sure to select boards which prominently feature the blue streaks that appear in the wood grain due to an infection in the tree caused by the spruce beetles feeding on it. For the legs, we saved a lot of time by ordering pre-made steel legs online. The table looks great and it's very rewarding to sit together and share a meal as a family!
In the middle of the month, we took a trip down to Homer, about a 5 hour drive, for a bit of halibut fishing with some friends. Our Little One and I had a mommy-daughter day together while Pete and friends went fishing for the day. We went for a morning hike on the Calvin Coyle Woodland Park Trail, had lunch on the beach, and then some beach combing while we waited for daddy's boat to come back in.
The boat was happy to report that everyone limited out on fish! When we returned home we processed our fish, ending up with 25lbs of fresh halibut and rock fish fillets in the freezer. The two halibut Pete caught were not nearly as big as some of the monsters people are able to pull in. (but we hear the smaller ones are better eating!) They said some of the fishing scenery included otters, sea lions, orcas, humpbacks, and bald eagles. In Homer, Pete spotted a couple of ring neck pheasants which are very common and popular to hunt in our home state of South Dakota, but we had never seen any around here before. We are thinking someone was raising them and either released them or they escaped and are thriving in Homer. Overall, our trip to Homer made for a fun, relaxing, and beautiful weekend.
Our first summer with chickens has been a great learning experience. Dealing with the recent losses was a little saddening, however, we had to expect something like that to happen eventually. We have learned a lot from going through the whole process of raising the birds; seeing how much food they eat, how much space they like to have, how much of a mess they make, and what kind of daily chores they require. All of this will help us plan for next year as we step up our operation and refine our process. I think we could now raise twice the number of birds with half the effort, just based on what we have learned with this first batch!
We did share a laugh earlier in the month when we spent 15 minutes chasing what we thought was a loose chick, but turned out to be a young wild grouse! After confirming with a headcount of our flock, we had a good laugh and a sigh of relief! I'm trying to imagine what would've happened if we had actually caught it and released it into the coop - are grouse eggs any good?
We are quite grateful to have a creek with a productive salmon run just a few miles from our home, it's very convenient! This season, we caught 19 salmon in total, putting 25lbs of fillets in the freezer! They were mostly reds (sockeye), and a few pinks. In a few weeks we may head back over to the same location with a rod and reel to try and get some silver (coho) salmon. However, now with over 50lbs of fresh fish in the freezer, along with some remaining moose from last season, and our 26 chickens we will be harvesting soon, our freezer space is disappearing! There is a good chance we will not need to purchase any meat from the grocery store for a very long while, and that feels good in times like these.
As anticipated, we have had a very eventful July, but as Alaskans, we make hay when the sun shines AND in the rain (figuratively speaking). This summer has been a very memorable one so far. Occasionally, a chilly breeze blows through and it feels an awful lot like winter tapping us on the shoulder and whispering not to slow down. Here's to making more hay before the snow flies!
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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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