• Finding Alaska: The Life and Art of Shannon Cartwright
    Finding Alaska: The Life and Art of Shannon Cartwright
    by Shannon Cartwright
  • Trapline Twins
    Trapline Twins
    by Julie Collins
  • Riding the Wild Side of Denali: Adventures with Horses and Huskies
    Riding the Wild Side of Denali: Adventures with Horses and Huskies
    by Miki Collins, Julie Collins
  • Dog Driver: A Guide for the Serious Musher
    Dog Driver: A Guide for the Serious Musher
    by Miki Collins, Julie Collins
  • Two in the Far North
    Two in the Far North
    by Margaret E. Murie
  • Alaska's Wolf Man: The 1915-55 Wilderness Adventures of Frank Glaser
    Alaska's Wolf Man: The 1915-55 Wilderness Adventures of Frank Glaser
    by Jim Rearden
  • Back Tuva Future
    Back Tuva Future
    by Kongar-ol Ondar
  • Cave of the Yellow Dog
    Cave of the Yellow Dog
    starring Batchuluun Urjindorj, Buyandulam Daramdadi, Nansal Batchuluun, Nansalmaa Batchuluun, Babbayar Batchuluun
  • Mongolian Ping Pong
    Mongolian Ping Pong
    starring Hurichabilike, Geliban, Badema, Yidexinnaribu, Dawa (II)
  • Making Great Cheese: 30 Simple Recipes from Cheddar to Chevre Plus 18 Special Cheese Dishes
    Making Great Cheese: 30 Simple Recipes from Cheddar to Chevre Plus 18 Special Cheese Dishes
    by Barbara J. Ciletti
  • Grain-free Gourmet Delicious Recipes for Healthy Living
    Grain-free Gourmet Delicious Recipes for Healthy Living
    by Jodi Bager, Jenny Lass
  • Cooking Alaskan
    Cooking Alaskan
    by Alaskans
  • Stocking Up: The Third Edition of America's Classic Preserving Guide
    Stocking Up: The Third Edition of America's Classic Preserving Guide
    by Carol Hupping
  • The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest: 150 Recipes for Freezing, Canning, Drying and Pickling Fruits and Vegetables
    The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest: 150 Recipes for Freezing, Canning, Drying and Pickling Fruits and Vegetables
    by Carol W. Costenbader
  • Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation
    Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation
    by The Gardeners and Farmers of Centre Terre Vivante
  • Dersu the Trapper (Recovered Classics)
    Dersu the Trapper (Recovered Classics)
    by V. K. Arseniev
  • In the Shadow of Eagles: From Barnstormer to Alaska Bush Pilot, a Pilots Story
    In the Shadow of Eagles: From Barnstormer to Alaska Bush Pilot, a Pilots Story
    by Rudy Billberg
  • Bird Girl and the Man Who Followed the Sun
    Bird Girl and the Man Who Followed the Sun
    by Velma Wallis
  • Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival
    Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival
    by Velma Wallis
  • Rock, Water, Wild: An Alaskan Life
    Rock, Water, Wild: An Alaskan Life
    by Nancy Lord
  • Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series)
    Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series)
    by Steve Solomon
  • Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables
    Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables
    by Mike Bubel, Nancy Bubel
  • Beluga Days: Tracking the Endangered White Whale
    Beluga Days: Tracking the Endangered White Whale
    by Nancy Lord
  • Fishcamp Life on an Alaskan Shore
    Fishcamp Life on an Alaskan Shore
    by Nancy Lord
  • The Snow Walker
    The Snow Walker
    starring Barry Pepper, Annabella Piugattuk, James Cromwell, Kiersten Warren, Jon Gries
  • The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat)
    The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat)
    starring Natar Ungalaaq, Sylvia Ivalu, Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq, Lucy Tulugarjuk, Madeline Ivalu
  • Heartland [VHS]
    Heartland [VHS]
    starring Rip Torn, Conchata Ferrell, Barry Primus, Megan Folsom, Lilia Skala
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    Hunting * Fishing * Trapping * Gardening * Gathering Wild Edibles * Raising Livestock * Building by Hand * Homeschooling * Flying * Backpacking * Dog Mushing * Cheesemaking * Rock Hounding * Backcountry Living * And Other Old Timey Stuff

    Thursday
    May052011

    Circle of life

    Well, we've made it through another inbetween season.  This one was pretty rough, with more mud than I can ever remember.  Add to that the fact that I have more than twice as many goats as last spring and probably 5x the shareholders/responsibilities... and let's just say it's been fairly exhausting.

    But we made it!  Yesterday I got the pump installed at the pond and sent a glorious 250 gallons up the mountain.  Today I expect to fill the 500 gallon goat tank.  Not having to haul endless loads of water frees up time and energy to do other things- like build some large new raised beds with the winters poopy bedding.  Yippee!

    Honestly, I don't know how I would have gotten everything done this year without lots of volunteer help.  My Mom has come up almost everyday to fill the cracks, and I've had several visitors from across Alaska who've donated hard labor to keep me caught up.  Thank you Universe!

    So far we've had 31 kids born, with just one more doe to go.  Frannie's due date is in 5 days... and then we'll be done kidding until fall time.  It's been quite the season.  I've kept most of the girls for now, and sold most of the boys- at this moment I have 20 kids in the yard.  Actually, there are 15 in the yard, and 5 in the house.  

    The weaning pen is almost ready- I need to pull the biggest 5 kids off the milk bucket, move the smallest 5 kids outdoors, and remove about 7 from their mamas.  And we're headed into the large milk surplus time, so I've got to get things ready for a piglet... maybe two piglets.  Whew.

    We've had some excitement and some sadness this spring.  Three sets of triplets, all from my most senior does.  Farlight had two boys and girl with no complications.  Guava had two boys and a girl, but I almost lost her to hemorrhage.  She's nursing her 2 week old kids now, with plenty of milk surplus and is doing great.  Finally, Iris had 3 girls!  But she went downhill quickly, and I was unable to save her.  She kept pushing after the birth and completely exhausted herself.  She gave me 4 beautiful doelings and a stunning buckling in the 14 months she spent here.  Maybe she'll come back as a butterfly.

    And this is what it's all about.  You work hard, bring lots of babies into this world, do your best to help them live healthy and productive lives, and then you lay them to rest.  I'm not sure why as humans we live so much longer than our family of animals, but c'est la vie.

    Summer is a busy time on the farm.  I guess I better wrap things up here and get back to work.  Peace.

     

    Sunday
    Apr172011

    SPRING!

    You've probably guessed how busy it is around here.  We are slam in the middle of the inbetween season.  Lots of snow and ice, intercepted by runny mud in the afternoon and frozen mud in the early morning.  Snowmachines are parked because the turnarounds are melted out, and 4-wheelers are back in use.  Yippee.

    I sold all the boys born up til now except for two LaManchas.  In the next week or so, I need to decide whether to wether Thaifood.  He's two and a half months old already.  I'm leaning toward using Nibs, a PB with great milking genetics, for August-September breedings.

    There are 6 doelings left, of which I plan to keep at least 4... and we're about to start kidding again.  I have 7 or 8 does that will kid before May 10th.  Babies, babies everywhere, and a huge milk surplus.

    I made cajeta for the first time this week... a scrumptiously delicious carmelized milk that is suitable for ice cream toppings, or maybe poured over sticky buns or somesuch.  Yum.  Looking forward to ice cream season too.

    Ben is gone to the Coast for our spring bear hunts.  He'll be away until early-mid June and we miss him.  My Mom is back full time though after a few months spent visiting her siblings and her Dad down in the States.  We're so glad she has made Alaska her home, and that she's our closest neighbor.

    On other fronts, I sold half of my flock and returned some of my sanity.  100 birds seems to be a pretty healthy number for me.  The amount of feed and poop is much more manageable.  Since fish meal prices have gone sky high, I've raised my eggs to $8 a dozen.  The world is getting to be a crazy place.

    Well, I better get back to the cheesehouse and finish today's Gruyere.  Then it's out to the yard, to continue picking up after winter.  Cheers!

    Thursday
    Feb242011

    Just do it

    In Alaska there is a common attitude of do it yourself.  The folks who are living their dreams have learned to do alot of different things on their own.  Jack of all trades, master of few is commonplace here.

    So when the shit hits the fan, you just suck up and deal... let the cards fall where they will.  Yeah, you guessed it.  I'm home alone again, and things aren't quite working like they're designed to.  It goes with the territory for sure.

    Yesterday morning the milker had poor suction.  So I struggled through the session, and then brought the machine indoors where I could thaw it out and work on it.  It turns out that the balance tank had ice in it.  But I'm afraid that in remedying that problem, some water might have gone into the motor.

    When I asked it start for last night's milking, it wouldn't turn over.  Water at zero degrees turns to ice.  Bad news.  So I hand milked.  Thirteen goats on the stand last night.  It took about an hour and a half.

    The lemons into lemonade theory is in effect.  When hand milking, it's very easy to measure the production of each doe into a snapshot of how the herd is doing overall.  And of course you get to see how each doe is producing... which is very exciting when you have so many first time fresheners.

    Tuffy and Zoey are kicking ass.  Guava is drying off.  Pleasant is matching Farlight.  Licorice is far off the charts.  Cool stuff.  I love it.  Oh- and Fling, the wild and crazy one who has been the most difficult goat to catch ever... came into the milkhouse on her own last night.  Frosting on the cake, yeah.

    So I brought the machine indoors again last night.  Hopefully it's thawed enough to start this morning.  Make a wish it does.  Please.

    Tuesday
    Feb152011

    Done for now

    Tuffy went ahead and kidded on February 5th.  It's a boy, the last of Ivory Jack's kids.  Another lovely 1/2 LaMancha 1/2 Alpine Saanen buckling... he's a really sweety though.  Maybe he displays less of Ivory Jack's genes than the other boys this spring.

    I didn't have breeding dates on Tuffy, so we were keeping pretty close tabs on her.  The day before she kidded, her new little udder filled up with milk, and I guessed we were getting close.  The next sign was the usual clearish stringy mucus down to her hocks, and I brought her right in the cabin.

    It didn't take long for things to happen.  She was really animated, obviously pushing (on Ben's legs with her horns).  Two feet popped out, so I did a quick check for the head but it was trapped behind the pelvis.  There was no room to maneuver and I couldn't get a good grip.

    Tuffy wasn't happy with my internal exams in her point of pushing, but the state of affairs called for action and I'm glad Ben was there to help hold her from flopping around while I worked on her.  She was yelling and slamming into things and the baby was stuck to the point I thought I would lose them both.

    I kept pushing the legs back in while trying to pull her head through and I guess eventually that worked, because the baby came through the bones.  It took heavy steady traction to get him all the way out.  I was surprised he survived.  I thought I would rip his head off.

    So that's Tuffy's story.  She abandoned the kid, just like her mother did to her.  But that's okay.  The kid is fine under our care, and she has a nice amount of milk.  All's well that ends well, I suppose.

    Friday
    Feb042011

    Obstacle course

    Lots of babies now... 8 are in my kitchen at the moment.  Zoey and Licorice both kidded within an hour yesterday afternoon.  They were both on 20 minute checks on day 151... good thing too, because Zoey didn't present with mucus like goats usually do when birth is imminent.  

    A bulging birth sac was her only clue to us, to bring her in and catch her babies.  The first one was positioned properly, but the second one had both her legs hooked.  No problem, and both doelings are doing well.  They were just less than 6 pounds each and are nearly identical.  Zoey has a nice amount of milk, a half a gallon a day already as a first time freshener... and she has good mama instinct.

    Licorice's birth was different.  She had two very large kids and I assisted with both.  The second one also had a hooked leg.  These kids are close to 9 pounds... one boy and one girl.  It took quite awhile for her to release the placentas, but she is fine now and all is well.

    Tuffy will certainly be next, though when she'll go is anyone's guess.  We'll just have to keep a close eye on her and hope we can be here for the birth and that her baby will be safe.

    Pleasant is doing great.  Her milk tests clean for antibiotics now.  It's such a relief to have my own test kits so I can reliably know that all the antibiotics are gone from her milk.  In fact, everyone is doing great.  Happy, healthy goats... lots with bellies that are getting bigger by the day.  And lots of milk.  Gotta like that...