New House, New Garden

We've had a pretty earth shattering winter.  The past two years, since moving back here to Fairbanks, Alaska our goal has been to expand our garden.  To finally have some land to do with what we would like.
Two years ago we looked at a fixer upper, but alas, it was not meant to be.  After much struggling to make it work, to purchase that house, it fell through.  We went into the winter of 2014 dejected and sad.  We knew we had to change some things about our life financially so we buckled down and put quite a bit to the side, paid off some bills so that hopefully, next time we fell in love with a house we could actually buy SAID house.
In January of 2016 we knew we had made some pretty good progress on our financial goals, we knew we had made some progress cleaning up some of the damages from our previous renters on our current home in Fairbanks, so we decided, tentatively, to take a look at a couple of houses during the weekend of the Martin Luther King holiday.
Our goal was to purchase anything outside of the town of Fairbanks that had at least 1900 square feet, no bigger than 2500 square feet, it had to have a wood stove or space for one to be installed, at least a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom and it absolutely had to have a sizable amount of acreage.

On January the 25th, we scheduled a walk through with our realtor on a rather nice sized home in North Pole, Alaska.  2400 square feet; 4 bedroom; 2 1/2 bathroom; 2 car garage; 1.7 acres.
To this day I cannot tell you what exactly drew us to this particular house.  The kitchen was a bit smaller than I would have liked; the master bathroom did not have a tub, only a shower and it only had one vanity.  That was a big point that I constantly was pointing out while my husband window shopped online on sites like Realtor.com.
Still we were drawn to this house.  The owners had photos of what the yard looked like in summer and it was amazing. Our realtor even pointed out all the space we could have to work on our garden at which I sheepishly pointed out that I had just been accepted to University of Alaska Fairbanks Master Gardener Program.

Yet it was not really that, that pulled us to this house.  What exactly pulled us to this house, we cannot put our finger on.  
On the last Tuesday of January we placed our bid on the house.  By Tuesday evening, we discovered someone else had bid against us.  By Wednesday morning, yet another bid came in.
Wednesday afternoon we were told by our realtor that the seller had asked for all the bidders to pre-qualify through local mortgage companies here along with numerous other tedious tasks.  We raced like chickens that had just lost their heads to comply with all of the sellers wishes.
Thursday morning as I left to go to work my husband told me "Well today is the day, we find out about the house" which I grumpily replied "That house could burn down for all I care".  That was the state of mind I was in at this point of the process.  I really could almost care less if we got it, thanks to the whole bit that we had to go through.
That Thursday at about 1215 pm we got word, even though we were the lowest bidder; we had the least going for us; the seller chose us.
The clock began ticking a furious pace at that point. We had to race to prepare our current house in Fairbanks for renters.

Painting the rental property
We were going to hire a painter, but because the painter we had already interviewed was out of town we took on the job ourselves of painting the interior of the house ourselves.

We had carpets to clean, rooms to clean up and now the tedious task of packing ourselves.
Beginning of March, when snow still covered the ground, we made the move from Fairbanks to North Pole.










We still really couldn't see the layout of our new yard, everything was covered in several inches of snow, but we had more than enough to keep us busy on the inside of the house.  There were curtains and pictures to hang, rooms to organize and most of all, a house to get to know.
The mess of moving in. 








Now we are four months later and our yard work demands have increased, significantly.  Each weekend day is packed from approximately 9am to 6pm.  Any time off is valuable.
We are working very hard to put aside at least four cords of wood for our wood stove.  The house we purchased has six raised beds, along with a decorative pond with a waterfall (pretty much unheard of here in North Pole, Alaska!).
 We had seeds to plant, plants that we purchased to plant and on top of that we now have all those concrete blocks from our previous house in Fairbanks that we plan to use to build a few raised beds along with a potential root cellar.  The concern still remains that I cannot produce a whole lot of protein on our land with our garden so the option of either chickens for eggs or meat rabbits are being discussed. The goal always remains to reduce our dependency on the grocery store.
By looking at the state now of our raised beds housing our kale, broccoli rabe, butternut squash and Swiss chard, it appears we're deficient in nitrogen.  The poor plants look so yellowed out and on top of this is the constant threat of moose visitations to almost all of our plants.  Yes, this yard does not have any fencing at all.
So now we will have to devise our own fences around the raised beds.  Until those fences get built it will only be a matter of time before a hungry moose makes a visit to our garden and potentially eats every single one of our plants.
Our spinach is showing great signs of growth, our kohlrabi is looking promising, our snow peas are going nuts, and even our onions and carrots seem to be progressing well.  Now thanks to the classes at UAF I have learned how to preserve those onions and carrots that does not involve canning.

Meanwhile, as we hurry each weekend to accomplish as much as possible, we know that we have a very short summer in which to get things accomplished here.  There are plants to grow, produce to can, freeze or dry.  Wood to cut, split and stack, and my son has even taken on a job to make briquettes for our wood stove using shredded paper and leaves from the yard.  We all have a job to do and a very short time to get it done in.

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