Progress on an Alaskan Homestead
I can’t believe the year is almost over with. Its Mid-November, the ground is fully covered with snow (finally), and we’re just about done for the season.
This year seemed to be more about protein farming than our garden really; when I sit and ponder it. Slowly but surely our property is becoming more and more productive. In July I posted that it seemed as if our meat rabbit production was not doing as well but suddenly come September that all changed. We had two surprise litters and we had a friend drop off some of her grow outs as she was getting out of rabbits for a while. This pushed our meat harvested massively up. That definitely helps counter the cost of raising the rabbits. While I love my breeder rabbits (Bones, Pepper, Dorothy, Cadbury, Butterfinger, Granny Cookie) they are not simply pets. As any protein farmer knows, these are also my livestock. I get to know each and every one. Their likes and dislikes, who enjoys what kind of food and who tends to be more ornery or more cuddly and lovable. Within the next couple of weeks we will be deboning a good portion of the rabbits harvested which will then go into several different types of sausage. Last year we made an apple sage and also an Andouille rabbit sausage that was tasty but rather dry. This year we will be using more pork fat to increase the fat and moisture levels some to rectify that. I now have about 70 tanned rabbit furs that I am working with on a blanket for my son. I have promised him he could have a blanket as well as maybe a pillow with rabbit fur. Any extra tidbits of fur will be used to line hand knitted mittens and hats which, I think, will look really stylish up here in the Interior of Alaska.
Our egg layers are doing great! We have had some sad moments this past autumn. Ellie, which was Tess’s best friend, passed away from the same virus as Kara at the end of August.
This upcoming year, believe it or not, we have no huge projects other than clearing trees. We hope to prepare for a greenhouse within the next two years but in order to do that we have to remove some trees. I feel that the break in between projects will be good as we will be able to concentrate on the garden now and getting it up to being fully productive. The soil is better, but as I’ve said in the past, it’s still nowhere where it needs to be. The past two years have been in a word, crazy. It has been insanely busy, with too little rest as we kept up with a very busy schedule. Between the wood shed build, the rabbit hutches, then increasing the amount of rabbit hutches, then building the chicken coop and run. Add in all the other garden projects, our budding orchard and we have had very little time to just sit back and watch the garden and analyze the progress or lack thereof.
I intend to try a couple of new plants in the garden. Amaranth, Sea Buckthorn berry and potentially Quinoa. I have heard grains like Amaranth or Quinoa are a hit or miss here (with more misses than hits). Unfortunately, due to our very short growing season here many can grow Amaranth or Quinoa however getting it to fully mature to seed production, which of course is used as the grain, is challenging. From what I have found from many sites visited, Quinoa actually does do better here however than Amaranth as Amaranth loves the heat, Quinoa does not. Both Amaranth and Quinoa technically are not a grain, however their seeds can be used as a non gluten grain replacement. I can definitely vouch for the fact that they are both delicious.
I have heard recently from a friend that varieties of Siberian Sea Buckthorn berry grows very well here. There are amazing health benefits of Sea Buckthorn berry as reported by the NIH (National Institute of Health). Per WebMD, Sea Buckthorn berry can be used for slowing the decline of thinking skills with age, treating stomach and intestinal diseases, treating night blindness and dry eye and it is very high in Vitamin C and also contains vitamins A, E as well as beta-carotene. I take a small amount of Sea Buckthorn berry oil each day internally and I even use it in small amounts topically. If you use it topically, be careful however as it will turn your skin a funny shade of orange. I have noticed a big difference in overall skin tone and texture since I have been using it.
We will also be expanding our orchard some next year. Hopefully we will be adding more honeyberries, more currants, strawberries and hopefully some Siberian Plums. When the snow melts and the ground thaws we will also have fencing to put up to help guard against the depredations of the moose that love to come visit our buffet garden.
When written down, it does not seem like a lot but I know we will end up being very busy, as usual this next summer. I am sure also that come mid January we will discover even more things that we feel should be done and so of course, will be added to list.
That is us though, always busy, always moving, always striving towards a more self sustainable lifestyle.
America's Test Kitchen simplifies salt-cured egg yolks. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.splendidtable.org/story/americas-test-kitchen-simplifies-salt-cured-egg-yolks
Sea Buckthorn: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-765/sea-buckthorn