Thursday, July 29, 2010

A touch of civilization

We just got our SunDanzer ultra-efficient DC freezer set up today!  Oh how nice it is to be able eat something other than canned goods in the summer :D  And we can freeze the blue-ice blocks to keep the coolers cold, so no more icky ice-watery mess to deal with. We got the smaller one, 5.8 cu, but it looks like we're going to need to go shopping/fishing/hunting again to fill it up. Nice thing about this model is that is can run on a single 75W solar panel with a 12v battery back-up in our climate... and we only have to run it 6 mos out of the year anyway. I'm celebrating with a lovely glass of iced tea... with real ICE, and wild blueberries from our patch, thank you very much :)

My folks also got us a little propane stovetop with broiler compartment for my birthday, and G got me a airpot thermal carafe. So now we can make coffee in a snap and keep it hot all day. But the ultimate coolness was simple melted cheese on toast in the little broiler since we've been without top-heat cooking for a year. Have to see what it does with biscuits since drop biscuits in the skillet are getting a little old.

So, we might not be able to build the cabin yet, but we're starting to get a more civilized "kitchen" anyway :)

Monday, July 19, 2010


New driveway extension around the boggy yard is cleared so we can drive the truck back to the build site again. The rebar for the pads & piers is all measured and cut. We hauled enough gravel down the trail to make the level bases under our foundation pads. The concrete sacks are here and safe under tarps. All that's left is a little bit of clearing, some surveying to set up batter boards, throw together some ad hoc forms, and we'd be able to finally get started on the cabin foundation....

But, NOOOOOOOOO, it's raining fit for Noah again today!!  I swear, it'll be snowing again before all this rain finally stops! The rest of the cabin will go up fairly quickly (ok, except maybe the roof) once the foundation is in square, plumb and level.

All I want for my birthday is a foundation... oh, how the "simple life" changes your perceptions!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Confessions of a Fallen Tree-Hugger

I've always considered myself a sort of tree-hugger. Not one of the hyper-fanatic, ultra-liberal tree-huggers that get the label these days; just someone who believes that other lifeforms besides humans deserve respect. I try not to kill and destroy anything unnecessarily. If I can find a different way of doing something, or an alternative plan that preserves life and harmony with nature, then I will.

But after a year of being tripped, beaten, whipped, cut, stabbed, pummeled and thrown to the ground by brush and scrub... well, I've gotten a little callous. Justifiably so, I think. Seriously, being assaulted by the forest on a daily basis can make any sane person get a hankering for a little pay back. I must admit to feeling a certain amount of vengeful glee when I run the 10" carbide blade of my new brushcutter through a gnarled clump of creeping willow because that little bastard has tripped me for the last time! I feel an urge to giggle maniacally when I'm feeding a mass of alder saplings through the chipper because those little bastards have whipped and torn my face for the last time!

I still repect Nature, and I still try not to kill anything unless it's necessary... but sometimes you just have to fight back and protect yourself. Should I feel bad about my new killing lust? Does it mean that I'm an evil person? Nah.... Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. I figure as long as I'm not killing everything all around me indiscriminately and still trying to pick my path so that I can preserve and conserve as much as possible, Nature will forgive my occasional murderous rampage.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Some Thoughts on Dreaming

Let's face it, anyone reading this blog is guilty of some unrealistic dreaming at some point. You're either an old pro at homesteading and have learned from experience the painful impact when dreams collide headlong with reality. Or you're just starting out, dreaming your homestead dreams while sugar-plum fairies dance in your head. Or maybe, like us, you're somewhere in the middle and having to re-evaluate your dreams. I'll start right out saying that dreams are not evil, as many scoffers would have you believe; without dreams we'd all still be living in caves only eating meat that was unlucky enough to get cooked in a lightning-strike wildfire.

Dreams are the spark that make things happen. Skills and determination are the fuels and machinery... but no engine will run without that spark! So Dream On... just dream with a bit of focus. Instead of aimless wool gathering, spend a little time in there doing some fact gathering and lots of soul-searching.

Be honest with yourself, and don't be shamed by anything you discover. Better to realize and accept right now, before you've invested in $1500 worth of tile, that you really despise terra-cotta even though it's a durable, relatively cost-effective flooring option. If your secret love is midnight microwave popcorn and B-grade horror movies, it's just not realistic for you to give up electricity forever. If you're a morning person, it's not a good idea to put your bedroom on the north side of the house no matter how perfectly it might fit there; conversely, a night person really should avoid putting their bedroom on the southeast corner. If you can't stand putting your hands into mucky filthy icky stuff, perhaps homesteading isn't for you (unless you have a partner willing to do the nasty chores -- check first, don't assume!).

Know your limits, and which ones you can push past and which ones you really can't. If you don't, you'll just wind up beating your head against the wall, wasting valuable resources and losing motivation. Neither of us were the fittest folks in the universe when we started all this, but we knew we could build up strength and endurance as we went... but nothing was ever going to change the fact that we both have dodgy knees and backs that are prone to spasms. And absolutely nothing was ever going to change my complete lack of balance or coordination.

Another example, both of us are Designers more than Do-ers. This is not a failing, so much as an opportunity for us to flex our Design muscles and create simply-executed solutions to complex problems... the hard part of abstract problem-solving is where we're strongest, so this works for us. If we were more Do-ers, we'd be stronger at stubbornly and methodically muscling our way through a problem rather than trying to figure out a clever way to do it easier (or avoid it altogether). There's nothing inherently wrong or better with either style, you just have to know and accept which type you are and understand that sometimes you're going to have to solve a problem in the style you're not strongest in. It sometimes helps if one partner is strong in one style, while the other is stronger in the other... but be careful because this often means you can't work together well as a team, and one person feels like they get stuck with the crap-end of the stick (whatever their definition of that is).

Another reality I had to face was that I was never going to have a horse, donkey or mule as much as I love them. Nevermind that horses, mules and donkeys make excellent homestead animals because the can be used for transportation, draft, pack and guardian... I just ain't gonna get them. Well, at least not unless G's disappears somewhere along the line. See, he's deathly allergic to equines... game over, end of discussion. Also, it's kinda hard to feed horses up here through the winter, and donkeys don't quite like the cold so much. Which sort of eliminates oxen, too... G's not allergic to them, but having them big enough for work also means they're too big to feed. So we get to settle on dogs and goats... no worries, they'll work, but it's good to know your constraints and options ahead of time. His allergies also mean I'll probably get stuck with more of the animal-related tasks, which is cool with me because I like critters more than people anyway... I'm certainly not going to complain that I'm the one who has to care for and pluck all the fowl because it's sure better than him sweeling up into a puffy snot-ball and possibly being MedEvac-ed to hospital if the EpiPen or inhaler doesn't work.

It's good to dream big; but you do eventually have to put your toes back on terra-firma and realize that you can't have everything you want... at least not immediately, and probably not exactly the way you envisioned them. It's OK, it all evens out in the end, sometimes you get just what you've been yearning for through complete happenstance. If you're faced with a dream that just can't realistically emerge in our time-space continuum, try to break it down and figure out exactly which parts of the dream are so compelling. Most of us are surprised to find out that we don't actually want what we think we want, we want the feeling that it evokes or some other mundane practical consideration. If this is the case, filtering your dreams a bit may actually result in a few creative solutions that fit the bill and can actually be materialized in this plane of existence.

Take, for instance, one of my friends who was convinced she wanted a huge stone hearth and fireplace. This was a matter on which she would not budge. It didn't matter that she was in earthquake country, nor that she was 4 miles off the road with no driveway and no 4WD pickup to get all those stones back to her place. After some very direct questioning on my part, she actually realized that she wanted a centralized hearth that felt weighty and lent a feeling of security. She also liked grays and earth tones because she found them peaceful. In her mind that equated to a massive stone fireplace... in my mind that equated to, well, a hearth that felt weighty and secure and was gray/earth-toned. I didn't have any preconceived notions, so I set out to see if I could figure out a more realistic hearth that met her criteria. What we came up with was a large wooden box mantle that simulated a big hand-hewn beam (at 1/4 the weight) which was stained a dark mahogany and rested on large faux-stone corbels. The actual fireplace and hearth were covered with manufactured river-stone tiles. The whole things weighed a lot less than stacked stone, was sure easier to carry and work on alone, but still lent the same feeling of weight, security and serenity she was looking to acheive.

Anyway, enough rambling about dreams and reality and possible solutions... I've got brush to clear and a foundation to get started :D

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In response to food safety comments...

Below is the original comment...

So the system is inefficient, understaffed, and the inspectors are overwhelmed with an unmanageable workload. Welcome to the United States where Will Rodgers said it very well... "we have the worst system of government in the world... Except for all the rest." That does not invalidate the concept of a safe food-system. It may in fact be impractical to expect 100% security, but if one life is saved and that life is your wife or child - most people would consider it to be worth the effort.

Nothing you have said changes the fact there is a risk involved - however small you claim that risk to be. You even listed several ways improper feed or handling can increase the risk. The consequences of that risk can be catastrophic and are completely preventable. If every producer - both large and small - were all completely ethical the system would be self-policing - and that place would be called Shangri-La. Greed and incompetence are not limited to the government o large Agra-Corps.

You might want to take a look at the article: Raw Milk - Real Risks - Wisconsin, Idaho, Georgia and Alaska Raw Milk Debate on the Food Poison Journal web site.

There you will find cases sited of real people infected with E. coli O157:H7 from raw milk and dairy products produced by local small organic dairies. I assume the producers were ethical and well intentioned. I don't know what the cows were fed. I am sure the customers looked them in the face and trusted that the product was safe. Consuming these products is not risk free and the risk is not negligible.

I grew up in a small Midwest farm community. My father was a small town doctor. We bought fresh pasteurized (not raw) whole milk direct from a diary farmer. We enjoyed home made sausage and home butchered meats often. I grew up hunting and fishing and trapping. Like I said before - I believe in a balance of personal freedom and community safety.

Indeed, what were these cows fed? The reports do not discuss this.

Organic does not mean that the animals were not fed grain, only that if they were that it was organically produced.

My argument is that grain feeding ruminants that are evolved to convert cellulose to protein is the issue. The Cornell study, and USDA have shown feeding ruminants high concentrations of carbohydrates leads to development of high intestinal acid and a perfect breeding ground for O157:H7. High density feed lots and high density mechanical dairy farming exponentially increase the bacterial risks. Whereas low density small farm meat and dairy production reduces those risks. This isn't even open to debate, it's completely proven.

I also agree to a point with both personal liberty and community safety. However the issue with the current system (that is seriously flawed) is that we have neither. Food production is a black box, collectively and individually we do not know where our food comes from, even if bought at a natural food store. Yet small producers are forced to incur prohibitive costs if they want to provide agricultural products to the local community, where that local community can actually see what and how the products they want and need are grown, and make an informed decision on the risk.

Here's a perfect example, suppose ConAgra has some meat product that is contaminated with E.Coli at 100 times bacterial infection levels (i.e. it will infect anyone eating it), well it and another 100 other cattle go into a bunch of hamburger, that's then distributed to fast food outlets, grocery stores, etc. Well then you have an outbreak that covers most of the country, while the discussion is hypothetical, this has happened many times. Now a small producer might make hamburger from one cow, so the risk of infection is statistically reduced even if the procedures used have the same risk as used in a huge commercial concern. Here's the math (using hypothetical percentages, but it illustrates a point), if the risk of infection of bovine fecal matter into the meat is 1% on slaughter, and after cleaning it reduces the risk by 90%, then the small producer has a risk of 0.1%. However every animal from the larger producer multiplies that risk by the animal count, so in a batch of hamburger that uses the meat of 100 cows, you now have a 10% risk. This also has much greater range since it's 100 times the amount and also distributed further. Whereas the small producer might infect 10 people locally (at a 0.1% risk), the AgroCorp infects 1000 nationally (with a 10% risk).

Overall this is obviously the worst of both worlds, higher infection rates and wider distribution. You may say, but if the contamination is the same then the local producers hamburger could infect many more, and yes indeed it could, the problem is though, that people eat a hamburger, if it's infectious or 100 times as infectious it's not relevant to the individual, since in both cases they're infected.

At the end of the day, to use a analogy we try to avoid putting our hands where we can't see them, yet daily we put food in our bodies that we have no idea where it came from, whether it was healthy, if it's a product of one animal or many, whether it's imported or home grown, how it was raised and fed. Yes community safety is important, but community safety begins with self responsibility, as responsible people we should not be delegating our safety to a faceless government bureaucracy, but ensuring our continued health and well being by being able to make informed decisions on what we eat.

I think the record of the USDA and FDA have more than proven that they are incapable of providing that level of scrutiny. What that level of scrutiny may be is up to the individual to decide, and weigh the risks. Most of the issues we currently see are because we have delegated our food safety decisions to that faceless bureaucracy, and at times an innumerable chain of unaccountable hands.

To spell it out, if you buy produce from a local farmer (without any regulation) and you or a family member gets sick, you know who to go and see, or sue, or shoot. If you buy produce from Wal-Mart and you and a family member gets sick, who's to blame? Every link in the chain can argue they are not to blame, Wal-Mart can say it wasn't them it was there supplier, their supplier can say it wasn't them it was their producers, the producers can say it wasn't them it was their slaughterhouses, the slaughterhouses can say it wasn't them it was the feed lot, the feed lot can say the FDA inspected them 3 months ago and they were clean, so it must have come from the livestock auction, where they've bought 20,000 cows from 50 different breeders in the past 2 months.

Each step on the chain the number of companies can increase too, so when you get down to slaughterhouses (even if there are only two of each) you're at 8 to chase down, who lead to 16 feed lots, who lead to 32 breeders. Or there are potentially 63 companies responsible, if you include yourself due to accidental spoilage (bad refrigeration, mishandling, etc.) that's 64 entities that could possibly be responsible. Or from your local farmer it could be one of two entities, you or the farm.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

We have (some) gravel!!

Ken, one of our neighbors, was working in the pit today and loaded up our truck a few times with his tractor so we didn't have to do all the shovelingby hand. It's only about 6 yards worth that we carefully drove down the trail so as not to break the axle, but it's enough to get the bases down for our foundation pads. We had to shovel it into a pile at the head of the driveway because it's still too squishy, but we can at least get small loads back to build site with the ATV. Woohoo!

AND... the build site is all nice and dry, so we can finish clearing the last bit and get that foundation started once G gets back from Fairbanks this week (had a little "oops we forgot something" moment). While he's gone, I'll try to cut a new trail on dry ground so we can get the truck around the squishy bit and the lumber back to the build site without a gajillion trips on the ATV.  Fingers crossed, we might even have the first floor framed in by my birthday (the 25th)... which is also our 1 year anniversary in Alaska.

Time to get focused and busy now! And if we need more gravel, Ken said he'd load us up anytime he's working in the pit :D

Friday, July 9, 2010

Manual Sump "Pump"

Baling the drainage trenches with 6 gallon buckets and then lugging them 50' to a "dry" location was really getting old and tiresome. So we designed a slightly less manual approach. We drilled a hole in the bottom of the side of a 30 gallon galvanized trash can, then threaded a 2" faucet fitting into it. We put that rig up on a platform we made from sawhorses and some spare lumber so that we have about 5' of head. We then attached a 50' garden hose to the faucet and chucked that out as flat as possible into the tundra. Now all we have to do is bale 5 buckets into the trash can, take a 15-20 minute break and come back and do it again... all day long. 

After several hours, I think we're finally getting ahead of flow rate into the trenches... but just barely. At least we're not walking through the brush with 50 lbs of cold muddy water bucket anymore and we are starting to see a little more land poking up in our yard.

Please please please let the Weather Liars be wrong about the expected showers the rest of the week!!!

Radical Concepts

Let's just go on a little political rant here for a second...

There are several food-related bills being reviewed in Alaska right now, almost all of them will put really heavy burdens on small agriculture producers and artisan processors. The justifications being used are 1) public safety from food-bourne illness through pre-emptive measures, 2) compliance with Federal (DEC, USDA, FDA) regulations, 3) other states have done it; and 4) other small operators elsewhere have managed to keep afloat while adhereing to these or similar restrictions.

OMG -- is that is soooo FASCIST!!  Enforced restriction prior to offense is at the heart of every dictatorship. But I'm not even going to go there for now. I'm just going to talk about logistics and level of jurisdiction here.

1) Federal Gov't, in the Constitition, was only granted jurisdiction over Interstate Commerce... if my goods don't cross the state line, they should kindly F-Off!

2) State Gov't, ideally, should only have jurisdiction over commerce that crosses intrastate localities... so, if I only produce and sell my goods in the same city/town/county that I live in, they should kindly F-Off!

3) Alaska is not like the rest of the country. Period. Considering the large land mass, limited population, and limited road system it is just not reasonable to require a small farmer/artisan trying to feed their local village of 100 or so people to jump through all the hoops that you'd require of a larger producer who intends to sell to a larger population much farther from home.

Take for instance meat processing. It is illegal to sell butchered meat without having it inspected... there are only a couple of licensed and inspected slaughterhouses and processing plants in the state.  Please tell me why someone in a village completely off the road system must somehow get their animals to one of these facilities hundreds of miles away, just to come back and sell that meat to their neighbor?  It makes no sense and is completely impractical.  It's also impractical for a small producer to build a facility that meets all the regulations and then try to get it inspected to obtain a license... there are only 2 inspectors in the entire state, and they only deem larger facilities worthy of the time and expense to visit them. Not even counting how a small village is going to afford a stainless steel kitchen, and multiple deep-freeze storage lockers when they can barely afford the fuel to keep the generator going for lights and standard refrigeration.

Really, this is so stupid. Small, local farmers and producers need to be exempt from the majority of bullshit regulations that are geared for large distributed producers. Give us a few practical and reasonable rules to follow, and only get up in our business IF someone actually gets hurt or sick. Really.

And back to food-bourne illness for a second... the governements would like us to believe that our food is going to kill us and that the only reason that we haven't all died from eating eggs or cheese or sausage already is because of their stringent regulations.  OK --- maybe in the case of large production that is distributed all over the place and mixed in with everyone else's produce through a huge chain of unaccountable hands and modified and processed until it's hardly recognizable as food by the time it gets to your plate.

But, really, the risk of any food-bourne illness outbreaks from a small, local producer who is fully accountable to his customers because they are his neighbors and he has to look them in the eye when he sells to them is so astronomically low as to be non-existent. Plus, his neighbors have the opportunity to look at his set up, to know what type of person he is, to see for themselves whether the operation is sanitary... and they accept whatever marginal risks they may encounter buying and using his products. Period.

Come on folks... people have been buying food from their neighboring farms, butchers and bakers for all of human history with minimal regulation or intervention and the species has somehow managed to survive!  If my neighbors want to buy my raw milk, or cheese, or sausage, or eggs, or meat... that's between us!  You want disclosure... fine. You want reasonable sanitation... fine. You want your licensing fees and taxes... well, ok, fine. But stop trying to cripple the small farmer and the small village by burdening them with inappropriate and inapplicable regulations geared towards a completely different type of agri-business!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

NetFlix Rocks!

Since we don't have TV out here, it's really nice to come in after a hard day's work and watch a movie on the laptop.  Unfortunately, we've watched every movie and television series that we own on DVD at least twice this past year. We joined NetFlix since it's not like there's a Blockbuster Video rental anywhere near us and they have a lot of movies for instant viewing on your computer.  So, if we time it perfectly with the Unlimited Download period on HughesNet, we can rent and watch a streaming video with pretty decent resolution and minimal interruptions (ok, most movies do pause and buffer 3-4 times, but it's no worse than commercials). Well, we haven't been in the "real world" for a year, so there are tons of movies that we haven't seen... we should be set for at least a month before we catch up.  And, for all those movies that aren't streaming online yet, they'll still mail us the ones on our queue.... MAIL. I'm so happy that someone out there still uses the USPS! You really can't beat unlimited rentals and downloads for less than $10 a month... heck the two of us can't even go to the theater for less than $10 anymore.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Another 300 gallons

Alright! We're actually starting to see some bits of land poking up through our lake :)  Getting really tired of baling out the trenches every hour though. Of course, this is just the surface water for now... you still sink about 6" into the muck if you step down in the wrong place. At least the weather was cooperating with us a little, it only rained for about two hours this morning and was bright and sunny the rest of the day. Don't know how much of the drainage is due to our efforts or the sun... but I'm not complaining either way.

Here's some videos of the rain and our dog Ripley playing in the mud... enjoy   (see?!?! I provide pics AND video sometimes)

300 Gallons Later

OK - 50 feet of 2' deep trench and 100 cubic feet of pit later... we've baled over 300 gallons (in 6 gallon buckets) out and dumped it farther away from the tent.  Some slight improvement in the standing water levels around the tent site (maybe 1/2" drop), three boots sucked off (recovered), 4 pairs of saturated leather gloves, 2 pairs of throughly filthy jeans, and blisters the size of Montana.

We can completely identify with this skit

Trenches, Pits and Boardwalks

Frustrated with living in a bog, we finally went Medieval and started trenching.  Let me tell you how totally thrilling it is to dig a trench with a pickaxe and spade when you're shin-deep in muck and your gloves are sopping wet!  First we use the blade side of the pickaxe and the shovel to cut the vegetation mat. Then use the pick side to hook the mat up, using the spade to help lever it off the clay subsoil. Then we use the spade to break off and lift out almost perfect slabs of semi-frozen clay until we hit the ice and permafrost. Which lets us get a trench about 24" deep. And it starts filling up with water (at a rate of about a gallon a minute) while you're still digging... JOY.

We dug a wider pit and tried running the trenches into that, but there's just so much water in and on the surface that it fills up almost immediately and really doesn't drain an awful lot off the surface. The trenches help a little to give the water somewhere to go before they fill up completely, but it's nothing significant (maybe 1/16"). Unless we cleared out a pit something the size of a pond, or dug a mile-long trench, there's just not enough room for all the water swamping out yard to go somewhere else. That's just not feasible by hand... we'd need a backhoe to make that work given our time schedule.

On a positive note, we made boardwalks out of leftover lumber from last year, so we can at least get off the deck and get to the 4-wheeler without walking in too much muck.  We might get desperate and make more boardwalks out of some of the logs we had slated for firewood so we can actually get to the shed.  But there is no way that we could drive the truck out front, especially not loaded with gravel. We can drive the 4-wheeler only because it's much lighter and narrower; and we take a slightly different route each time, which seems to help the ruts self-level now that we've started laying down mulch from our chipped-shredded brush piles.

The main trail is starting to dry out and drain, and should be reasonably drivable by truck once we fill the worst of the ruts with gravel. Which should be loads of fun... hand-shoveling the gravel out of the pit into the pickup 1 yard load at a time, backing the truck slowly down the trail as we shovel the gravel from the bed into ruts. But, hey, it's only 1/2 mile (a full mile if you count both ruts) so that's only, like, 200 trips. Which is, coincidentally, all we could buy from the state on a "residential" permit.

Then it's back to the pit (if we still have any left on the permit) to grab another 3-5 loads of gravel, bring it back to our driveway in the pickup, shovel it into the sled, then drag it back to the build site with the 4-wheeler so we can put it right under our footings so we can finally start building... that might be sometime in August the way things are going unless we get help. We'll just have to fill in everything else some other time as conditions and finances allow.

After the trail gets reasonably filled in, we might be able to find someone who is willing to drive a dump truck down to our property to put in gravel for our driveway and/or building pad... we'll see.  Trick with the gravel is that it goes down best when the ground is starting to freeze, so you have to work fast before the gravel pit freezes up, too.  Plus, anyone with a backhoe would probably want a half-way decent road, too, if we want to excavate trenches and a pond at the build site to make sure we don't run into this bog nonsense there (which we shouldn't, since it's higher and not on an ice lens). Hell, we wanted a pond for ducks & geese and emergency water for fire control anyway... just weren't planning on doing it immediately.

All I know is that if it doesn't quite raining, I'm going to need a vacation in a white padded room for a few weeks!

Oh, yeah, did I happen to mention that this water and muck is only about 35F... such a treat!  At least the dog likes it. She wallows in the cold mud holes to cool down and then comes and jumps on the bed... and people wonder why I bought an ugly brown bedspread! It is ever so pleasant to sleep in a cold damp bed... everyone should try it!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Rain is Insane

Another big rainstorm and it's been pouring non-stop since about 3 am. This is really getting old now.  It wouldn't be so bad if we already had the gravel pad down at the build site, we could work in the rain then; but we can't get the gravel down until the trail is firm enough. The only other option is to spend the last little bit of our savings to have someone come lay gravel down the entire length of the trail... which isn't/shouldn't be all our responsibility since it runs down about 12 lots besides ours.

The thing that really cheeses me off is that we wouldn't actually need to make it a road just yet if it weren't for all this rain.  We can drive on it ok and we don't travel it too much much anyway; but it won't hold up to any heavy vehicles or loads right now. This rain is just abnormal... it never rains this much or this long here. A few weeks of mud season is one thing, but it's been almost 3 months now!!

I know, I'm whining, but this is really starting to get to me.  I am so tired of being shin deep in muck, living in a mosquito breeding ground, with everything I own vaguely damp all the time. We're even having to check each other and the dog for foot rot now :( 

It's just NOT right!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day!!

Hard to believe that it's July 4th already.... of course fireworks are pointless in Alaska this time of year since the sun doesn't go down (we just save them up for New Year's).

We helped one of our neighbors stand a wall for their cabin in the rain yesterday. They were lucky enough to be closer to the road and already have a gravel pad laid down, and Trapper already had some old oil drums and metal beams so Sarah and Ken could get building right away when they got here... just needed a couple extra hands to lift the 40' frame wall into place.

Our next-lot neighbors are also down with their kids for the weekend to start clearing some on their property and have pitched their tent on one of the drier spots in our yard... which is driving Ripley crazy since she's not used to company. No one in our family, furry or otherwise, is much used to kids so this is unique. Kids and heavy landscaping equipment are a scary combination -- eek!

Just when things were starting to dry up and drain out it started raining again. This has to be one of the wettest springs in history cuz it's normally pretty dried out by this time of year and everyone gets worried about watering the garden. Not this year! It's been too wet for a lot of folks to even get their gardens in... or anyone to build anything without a foundation already in place. I'm glad the rain put out the fire, but it can stop anytime now!!!