Showing posts from 2017

This is the day that never ends and it goes on and on my friends......

Today was rabbit day. 23.5 lbs of rabbit harvested today. We have now moved all the babies that were in the temporary grow outs into the nicer grow outs to give them better accommodations. Our team of three (Edward, Nick and I) did great today! Nick did two of his own, almost completely by himself. It was a bit rocky starting off but before you know it we started picking up speed. And it was honeybee day. 1 gallon, 2 pints of honey harvested. Between the chicken we purchased as a chicken share from a friend, the rabbits, the berries I've picked this summer and all the other miscellaneous frozen bits I have stored away, our freezer is a bit full. Oh and never before have I had such a run on mason jars. Note to self, buy more mason jars. And soon. I still very badly need to make a batch of Apple Walnut bread. The apples that we picked are fermenting in the corner. Hhmm, maybe I should see if Edward wants to make hard cider with them? It's a thought! The house is …

We DID IT! The wood shed is built!

A year ago we began to walk our property to figure out what we wanted to do with all of this land.  We've never had so much land to work with, being a military family who has most of our lives lived in military quarters.
Once we had dreamed a bit, we started taking apart our "dream" list and started looking at what was a necessity vs what was just something we wanted.
Our woodshed was one of those "necessary" items.  We knew we both did not like the wood sitting in the ground.  The bottom layer of wood always ends up rotting and the pile dries slowly under the tarps we use to cover it.  Wood that has not dried or "seasoned" sufficiently does not produce as much heat and it produces more smoke.  Wood that has not been seasoned also produces more creosote which is harmful to our chimneys as it can encourage house fires when it builds up too much.  The Fairbanks/North Pole area is also being watched currently by the EPA as the level of particulates in t…

Here's what has been going on at the homestead, week of 24Jul17


Cutting & Splitting wood and a tour of the garden in North Pole Alaska

I do apologize! Some of my descriptions got cut off! My son is going to start editing my videos from now on so let me (and him) know how well he does!

Oh and by the way, it was the ASPARAGUS that came back this year!

Caring for our small water garden

Never before have I been responsible for caring for a outdoor water garden.  I mean, really, in Military housing, such a thing would be considered to be an extreme luxury so when we moved into our new home and I found myself the owner of a lovely, 1500 gallon pond, complete with a water fall, I found myself a little overwhelmed.  What do I do with such a thing?
At one point we thought about raising trout in the pond, but we felt already so overwhelmed by the garden and the amount of work we now had that we threw our hands up and said "get to it later".
Turns out immediately after break up, we discovered we had some work that was very much required.  We knew from the years we have been keeping indoor fish that agitating the water is always good.  It's always good to ensure your water isn't stagnate, so we plugged in our lovely waterfall and found our pond stunk.  Badly stunk.  It stunk enough that we all even hesitated to walk near it.
So one weekend, mid May, when …

Snow, snow, go away

T-minus 19 days till April 15th.  19 days till our honeybees arrive.  22 days till April 18th, the day we get about 20 to 25 trees removed from the front of our property by BlackHawk Works, a local company that has expertise in taking down trees in tricky locations.  The tree removal will help us with our future potential project; solar panels which will allow our house to be a bit more self sufficient as well as get rid of the moss on our roof and reduce the fire danger.

Whenever, the daytime temperatures start staying above 50 the birch sap will be flowing and we will then be collecting the sap to be boiled down into syrup.  See this article about that.

Meanwhile, at just about the same time we will be hiving our brand new Italian honeybees, direct from California.  As long as our daytime temperatures stay above 50.  If you're curious about our new beekeeping undertaking, see this article. 

Within the next weekend or two we also have a large, brand new rabbit hutch to build whic…

Using up the leftover fruit; more Alaska edibles

Between the rose hips we have in our freezer from a year past, the wild blueberries that were just gifted to us from a wonderful friend, and a bag of rhubarb that was gifted to us from yet another wonderful friend, we have a lot of fruit and vegetables to use up, especially before that birch sap goes into the freezer next month!

For more on that click on my blog Foraging from Nature; Birch Syrup
So this weekend we intend on turning all these bags into the following: Rhubarb Ginger Jam and Blueberry Lime Jam.

Please keep in mind, these are all recipes I get from online, they are not mine.  I have posted a link to the original website with each recipe. Also a side note, I didn't get to the rose hip jam even though I have a picture of it in the bag.  Obviously that will be a task for another weekend!

Rhubarb Ginger Jam
It will make about 3 lbs

2lbs trimmed rhubarb, chopped
2lbs sugar
Juice of 2 small lemons
1.75 tbsp fresh ginger
3.5 oz crystallized ginger, chopped

Preparation tim…

Foraging from nature; Bunchberries

Cornus canadensis.
Cornus canadensis is a slow-growing herbaceous subshrub growing 10–20 cm tall, generally forming a carpet-like mat. The above-ground shoots rise from slender creeping rhizomes that are placed 2.5–7.5 cm deep in the soil, and form clonal colonies under trees. The vertically produced above-ground stems are slender and unbranched. The leaves are oppositely arranged on the stem, but are clustered with six leaves that often seem to be in a whorl because the internodes are compressed. The leafy green leaves are produced near the terminal node and consist of two types: 2 larger and 4 smaller leaves. The smaller leaves develop from the axillary buds of the larger leaves. The shiny dark green leaves have 2 to 3 mm long petioles and leaf blades that are obovate. The blades have entire margins and are 3.5 to 4.8 cm long and 1.5 to 2.5 cm wide, with 2 or 3 veins and cuneate shaped bases and abruptly acuminate apexes. In the fall, the leaves have red tinted veins and turn complet…

Foraging from nature; Birch Syrup

We have been blessed on our property with a large amount of silver birch trees so this Spring time we intend to use some of them.
Some will be used in making birch beer for my husband, which I'll write about later, and some will go into making birch syrup.  In the coming years I might make birch wine as well for use in cooking but for now I've got more than enough other projects to work on and I really do not want to bite off more than I can chew.
We've actually had birch syrup before but it is most definitely an acquired taste.  It is not quite as sweet, and it is much darker than maple syrup is.
Making birch syrup is much more labor intensive then maple syrup is.  Maple syrup typically takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.  Birch on the other hand takes 100 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of birch syrup.
This means we will be cooking down our sap for quite a while.

Our first step, will be within the next month, to walk our property to assess which birch t…

Planning out our 2017 Alaskan garden

I've often told newer gardeners that the best thing to do is watch your yard, really watch it for a full season to get a good idea of where the sun is at any given time of the day, where the water collects and lays stagnant most often, which areas are drier, and so on.   So, following my own advice, last year that is precisely what I did.  Now I found recently that when presented with a large amount of area to deal with you need to break it into manageable pieces, quadrants or areas.  So I've broken this down to the garden area, the side area, our pond area, our rabbit area and our bee area.  Our morning sun comes over our house and hits the lilac tree, the raspberries and the raised beds on the left so this year I'll be putting more of the plants that don't do as well with afternoon sun over on the left.  Meanwhile, the plants that love the heat (summer squash, tomatoes, hot peppers) will all be pushed over to the right side where the sun shines from 3p to 6pm.

If yo…

Somethings a'buzz in our backyard Honeybees in Alaska

A long time ago, when we lived in Maryland actually, in military housing, I badly wanted honeybees. I felt like it would be the perfect addition to my backyard garden.  And of course, that was a no go since military housing said "No you may not have domesticated honey bees in your backyard".  So I shelved that idea until we had a house with some land.  Land that we could spread out on some, do what we want with and so on.
Well now we do have land.  1.7 acres of it.  We have a garden that is bigger than any I've ever had the pleasure to work in, we raise meat rabbits and now, it looks like we might be finally getting the honeybees I longed for so long ago.
You know that saying "be careful what you wish for because you might just get it?" Well that applies here.
Out of all my experiences with gardening and with rabbits, never once did I feel truly overwhelmed by my own lack of knowledge.  Not until now.
Since Christmas morning when I opened up my first ever b…