Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Midsummer Updates

Wow - time sure flies! Somehow I managed to miss 4th of July and wouldn't have known it was my birthday except for cards and emails LOL. Losing track of the date & day is a hazard of living off the grid out in the boonies, especially when the sun doesn't set in the summer or rise in winter.

Anyway, thought I'd drop a few lines letting everyone know what we have haven't been doing.

Well, this year has been back-to-back plagues for sure. All spring we were battling some weird funk, which turned out to be mini-epidemic of strep and whooping cough that was going around in Manley. We never came down with either fully, but it knocked our immune system for a loop so we got every other cold, flu and poor G-man's allergies were rampant. So we finally get over that, in time for a ultra-heatwave, a plague of carpenter ants and a truly obscene amount of mosquitoes... still battling those. We headed up to Fairbanks early July, and picked up a few obligatory injuries and lovely case of food poisoning. So, we're just now starting to feel ourselves again and getting our energy back. Of course, I suspect that we're anemic due to Culicidae exsanguination every time we step out the door!

Our friends from Manley, Mike & Dana, moved down South in July and we purchased their truck... she's a baby version of (Red) Sonja, and we've dubbed her (Black) Betty. It's sure a load off our minds to have a second vehicle, and Betty's smaller engine also uses a lot less gas for small-haul trips. She's also a 4-seater cab, so I can finally take a trip without Ripley in my lap the whole way! And she isn't a lifted off-road truck like Sonja, so she's a bit smoother a ride on the road, and I don't need to pole vault to get up into the cab ;) 

Of course, we coordinated our supply trip into Fairbanks on the weekend they flew out so we could pick the truck up at the airport. Just after turning onto the paved portion of the Elliott, Sonja started pulling to the right, so we got out to check... O Nos! A flat... big sidewall puncture in the front passenger tire! We tried to plug it with our Black Jack kit, but it wouldn't hold pressure above 30 psi. So we finally drop our "full-size" spare and manhandle the back tire off, replace that with the spare, and then replace the front with the back... and then get the flat up into the bed of the truck.  This is where our injuries came from! See we have 38" x 15.5" x 16.5" mud & swamp tires and they're really really heavy. In comparison, the 30-ish full-size truck tire we had for the spare looked like one of those dinky donut spares LOL.

But we managed to get into town ok, and the awesome guys at Giant Tire (on Williams Gate off Richardson) actually had a good-condition used tire and rim that is exactly the same as the ones we're running, and they did a full patch-up on the punctured one so we have a spare that is actually "full-size" for Sonja; and shifted the standard sized spare over to be a second spare for Betty. All-in-all it only took a couple hours and a couple hundred bucks... which is freakin' awesome since our mud tires are around $500 a piece new and the rims are about $300. WHEW! We got lucky, doubly so since this is the first road flat we've had in over 4 years. But we got our share of bumps, bruises, strains and dislocations... and plenty of bug bites, too!

As for projects...

Well, the garden is out for this year, but we're planning to stock up on everything this fall before winter so we'll be ready in the spring.

We haven't gotten to the siding and outdoor electrical yet, or to the last bit of roofing left from last year, or the clearing and fences. It's just too hot and too buggy to be messing with that when we're not feeling 100%. But we have all the gear here, so when it cools down and the bugs die down a bit we'll get on it; and probably screen in the porches while we're at it!

We did manage to plumb in a water intake pump (thanks Big Sis & Jimster!) so we can haul our water in from the village well in big drums and pipe it up into the storage tank instead of lugging a bunch of 5-7 gallon jugs up the stairs all the time. We had to do a little bush engineering on the potable water hose fittings, but hey that's life out in the boonies and the #1 reason to have several boxes of random spare parts :D

We also finished building a baker's rack with overhead pot rack and beverage shelf in the odd corner on the other side of the propane range. Now I have heat-resistant shelves for each of my cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens so I can put them away hot where they aren't in the way and without risking rust. The overhead is for the few stainless steel pots with the kettles, canner, and woodstove box-oven on top. Finally, my big bottom cabinet is empty of all that so I can finally put my big mixing bowls away in there instead of crammed into the pantry... yay! more room for jars and cans!

I built a long gun rack with a pistol & ammo cabinet underneath that's mounted between the bathroom and pantry doors in the middle of the house. Might seem odd to some folks, but we need our guns handy from either the front or back door with all the moose and bears out here. So finally they're put away in a nice home of their own. Now I just have to figure out what to do with their Pelican cases gathering dust under the bed!

Our next big chore is getting our firewood up, which shouldn't be horrendously diffult, just a couple weeks of dedicated work and trips back and forth to Manley since they've got tons of free-for-hauling logs at the new airport. We had to wait until the trail to the site was thawed, then agains for our trail and driveway to dry up enough, and then WHAM! on came the heat! No worries though, we'll get it done in time :D

We're still hoping to get the sheds up properly, since the ad hoc tarp-shedlet-enclosure-thingy we threw together last fall when the snow flew leaves a lot to be desired in terms of space and weather tightness. The hardest part is going to be moving the one shed down from the tent clearing -- it was a PITA to put together, so we really don't want to take it apart to move it. We'll figure something out I'm sure... heck, we still need to get the skid foundation cut in and leveled, so we might be able to slide it off the gravel pad directly onto the skids and then drag it back with Willow (the ATV).

While we've gotten a really slow start and feel a bit like slackers, it's better not to risk serious injuries and longer convalescense by pushing ourselves to complete non-critical projects that can be postponed or scaled back. Maybe if we lived closer to the hospital and were within cellular or ambulance range - ROFL!

Now, if we can just keep Ripley and Jackson from wanting to come in-and-out-and-in-and-out bringing those hitchhiking bloodsucking fiends in with them :D


Sandy Livesay said...

I'm sorry to hear you both were not feeling well. That will limit what work you can accomplish before winter returns.

Feel better soon, keep preparing, and be safe out there.

Carolyn said...

Ick! Being out of commission for so long really takes a toll on you...and your projects. Hope you recoop fast.

Plickety Cat said...

That's the toughest thing about building up your self-sufficient homestead, you have to be able to adjust your plans and schedule for life's little hiccups and not stress too much about it. As long as you get your critical life-essential projects & chores done everything else is gravy. It's a bummer not to get nice projects and fun stuff done as quick as we like, and the lag in our food production is always on our minds, but it's better to wait and do something properly when you're reasonably able rather than doing a half-assed job of it with cheap materials and crappy craftsmanship trying to rush (esp. if you're sick or injuries). Have a plan and work towards it, re-evaluating your goals and timelines as necessary :D