Monday, June 14, 2010

Rain Mud Skeeters

About sums up our existence at the moment.  It's either the rain keeping us indoors unable to build, or the mud precluding us from getting supplies back and forth or working, or we're being eaten alive by swarms of mosquitoes. Although the skeeters don't keep us from working, they do keep us from sleeping... DEET, screens, netting, and coils only do so much. And on top of it all, after getting run own and then exposed to all those people during the fire fiasco  we're both sick with some sort of head/chest funk. JOY!

We don't have the time or money to get a gravel hauler to come fill in the main trail, and they'd need to fix that a little at a time just so they could get the dumper and dozer down a few yards at a time and back to our place. SOOOO... we're going to fill the ruts with smaller ruts (parallel) and then lay down the fallen and cleared trees on the trail (perpendicular) to make a kind of floating boardwalk that we can hopefully drive the truck down so we can get the rest of the building materials back to tent and cabin site. And we still have one more load of stuff waiting at the mill that needs to be delivered once the fires and mud aren't messing up the Elliott Hwy anymore.

If our hodge-podge road stands up to that abuse, we're going to get one or two pickup loads of gravel just to fill in and level underneath the concrete pads for our piers and bases for our sheds so we can store the tools and temperamental materials out of the rain. We'll worry about fixing the main and driveway trails "properly" and getting a full gravel pad under the house and carport later when it's either dried up or frozen solid again.

So, we haven't been able to start building yet and time is ticking away... less than 100 days until expected first frost now. We might still make it to dry-in before the weather turns cold; but we might be blowing in the insulation round about the same time it starts snowing. Should be an interesting race.


Anonymous said...


I go away for a week and all *this* happens?! Egad. Very glad to hear the fire decided not to hoover up your lumber, and that you're all safe. I guess all this kerfuffle is one way to show your mettle to the old timers. Bit dramatic, but effective.

I don't mean to be glib -- but those long-time locals will eventually come to know and love/value both of you for the excellent additions to the county that you are. Crisis, I guess, just accelerates the process.

Again, glad to hear you came through it okay. VIVA! Sager

Linda said...

I'd rather have frozen ground then mud to drive on. I know you guys have went through a lot and excited about getting your cabin built but would another winter (don't throw a snow ball at me)in your tent be doable an ease up the time thing a bit?

If you ran out of food and water and could not go to town how would the provisions be up there as far as foraging, hunting, finding water? Would there be enough to survive for a good length of time?

Did or are you going to put out a garden? I know your growing time is short so maybe a greenhouse of some sort.

Are you bothered by any wild animals other then those skeeters? Any bear, moose sightings? Maybe tracks? Do you think you'll get into dogsledding, could help move wood around and other homestead chores.

Now is this so, theres a man that my BIL knows that is planning to live in the very deep part of Alaska, so deep that he had all is teeth removed so he wouldn't need to get to a dentist where he's going.

Is there places like that so remote that one would do such a thing? Hes still here in Missouri, toothless but still plans on living in the wild :/.

So very glad you all are safe and can get on with your plans.

tc linda

Plickety Cat said...

Linda - I agree, frozen is way better than mud. Logistically we could easily make it through another winter in the tent. Temperamentally, we might kill someone or something if we're crammed into 16x20 with all the non-freezable stuff and our huge puppy for another winter LOL. It's just a little tight in here... however, if we rig something up where we can semi-heat a shed attached to the tent somehow then that would probably work if we couldn't get the cabin up and dry this summer.

We could go several months without going into town (and often do) with just the provisions we have on hand. Adding in the bounty of hunting, trapping, fishing, and foraging it is entirely possible to go without external provisions almost indefinitely. Not a terrible amount of competition out here for all the food sources, so that's a bonus. Coffee/caffiene, salt and sugar would be the big kickers forcing us into town.

Water is plentiful since we're in a river valley, even if you have to filter it (river) or boil it (creek, rain, snow melt) first to make it potable. Good water without treatment usually requires a well, but it's possible to find sweet water between 20 & 40 feet if you don't mind filtering a little silt out of it. No major pollutants, although naturally occuring arsenic (from the mountains) can sometimes be found in the deep wells and there is a good bit of natural iron in the middle water.

We're planning the gardens for next year, assuming we get the cabin built this summer. Many fast maturing cool climate crops grow like weeds up here with little maintenance -- lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, those sorts of things. Long season cool climate plants, like potatoes an grains, require a little help from season extenders but the long photo-period during the summers usually speeds up a 120 day crop to 90 or 100 days to harvest. Warm climate plants -- tomatoes, peppers, corn, cukes and melons -- either have to be grown in a greenhouse year round or at least grown through plastic mulch to warm up the soil enough. We do eventually plan on a few greenhouse. One attached to the south side of the house that will stay warm enough in the winter to keep a few dwarf citrus trees and tomatoes alive and to get some early starts going come spring. Another that is insulated and mildly heated from our greywater during the winter to grow some of the longer season cool climate plants like winter cabbages and lettuce/greens and to transfer our perennials (like asparagus an onions). And yet another specifically for the not-so-cold-hardy veggies so we can make sure it's warm enough that they will grow from early in the season until late if needed (but not year round).

Not bothered by any wild animals yet. Have seen moose, black bear an brown brown on the property but not up around the tent. Have seen wolverine sign all over, and have heard the wolves down at the creek.

Don't think we'll get into dog-sledding in the way Alaskans considering sledding; but we definitely want to train Ripley to do some carting/hauling so she can earn her keep dragging stuff around the homestead for us. Sledding = team with driver behind as a rider; Carting = single or pair with "driver" normally walking in front or beside.

Yes, there are areas so remote that folks take pre-emptive health measures including having their teeth pulled, or appendix and tonsils removed before coming out. We don't live that remote, just "at the end of the road" and there are folks out here who have dentures now after being stuck with a bad tooth all winter and no easy way into town... just pulled them all and got it over with (not to mention extraction and dentures are normally much cheaper than fillings, crowns, and continuous cleanings & check-ups).

Linda said...

Yippers, I thought my comment was long. I so enjoyed your comment read. Thanks for the return.

You know on that tight quarters I do understand on temperments and the killing thing. But people who live in lots of sq ft get on each other nerves as well. I'm proof of that, DH and I traded our 4000 sq ft earthhome a couple of months with dd for a single wide trailer
in the woods. Its tight but I got rid of a lot of stuff,left it w/dd. We got on each others nerve in it and in this small place to, so it doesn't really matter. Its the team work that counts.

The really good part of it you/we all can go outside and yell it out, or walk it out,in your case for a really long walk : ).

We plan to build a small cabin so following your pages will help with tips and inspiration as you work on your homestead. I love snow so can't wait to see pictures in your winter.

I will so enjoy your gardening as well. I have seen veggies (pic) that are grown up there. Huge cabbages, car size. That alone whould make you want a bigger place. Bring one of those babies to the table.

You can make up a good harness for Ripley, she'll love helping.

The sound of wolves , wonderful.

Well I'll share to those down here that wonder about the man who pulled all his teeth to live in Alaska that its not uncommon.

Happy Cabin Building
tc linda

Gungnir said...

Hey Linda.

The current space issue is not with Plick and I getting under each others feet, it's more our place is a little too small to go another year in.

Let me explain, during fall/winter/early spring anything that is cold intolerant (food that cannot be frozen or is not dehydrated, small engined tools and equipment, water, any batteries etc.) needs to be stored indoors in a heated space. Otherwise it will freeze, for instance if you pick up a pack of fresh steaks and leave them in your truck bed, in about 30 minutes they're frozen solid. Batteries freeze solid regardless of their charge state, dry cell batteries mostly don't function enough to work anything (except Lithium). Small engined tools and equipment just won't start and keep running more than about 2-3 minutes since the engines can't maintain temperature when running. Large engines (trucks/cars) will normally not start without external assistance at 40 below or lower (heating the engine)

So this means space is a premium, add into this that our "wall" of our wall tent is 5' high, and I'm 5'9" so the actual space I can walk inside is about 12'x20' with nothing else in here.

It's also not as if you can go out for long periods in the winter, for two reasons, firstly it's damn cold, spend a couple of hours outside and you know about it, secondly you blow a lot of heat out the door going out and coming in, which adds to heating costs. Work outside for a couple of hours and all you want to do is go back inside and warm up and have a 1000 calorie meal.

Now sure we were a little privileged to be living in a 3000 square foot home before now. I'm sure that has a little bit to do with it. However you do need stuff out here, because it's very possible that the thing you've been hanging on to for 6 months that you just got rid of is the very thing that you need right now, traveling being what it is here there's no guarantee that you can just hop over to wherever you got rid of it and get it back. So divesting things or leaving them elsewhere is not always appropriate either.

Hence the drive to get this cabin up asap, so that we can be dried in, insulated and working on the decor by the time that winter really begins to bite.

Anonymous said...

Hey you two. Glad to see you posting again - was worried about you. Sorry that you've been sick. Life in your part of the woods (pun intended!) is tough enough without feeling lousy as well.

That was an interesting exchange between you and 'linda' - very informative. I do admire your pluck. Take care.

Linda said...

Dang I can see now why you got to get a move on things, popcyle live'n. Shame on me for fuss'n with my DH for bringing in a few tools.

I can see your decorating is more the garage theme for now.

Can you dig something like a root cellar and keep things at more even temp?

These condition you all are living in is what makes your adventure so special and bringing in more followers of your progress. Not to many people live in a tent on ice!

I mean if you all can weather the extreme obstacles on your homestead well it gives others a thought of their own,maybe not complain as much when the temp drops and the snow drops buckets.

Hats off to you both (oops you probably can't wear a hat inside your tent), Plick probably can tho, she sounds like a little person. Sit'n next to the stove on a very cold night, well what else is there to do. (keep in mind my dh and I are old)

Hey you guys are in my thoughts and prayers , getting the right conditions to get roll'n with your cabin. Hope you get some help too w/ your building. Cook a good meal and help will be there. Cabin Raise'n Party. : )

tc linda