Q-how do your animals stay warm in the winter?
A- Most animals are well equipped to handle the cold if they can be kept out of drafts and dry. Our solution is we raised beds for the pigs and insulate underneath then provide lots of hay for them to snuggle into. It’s actually easier to accomplish keeping them warm at 20 degrees and snow versus 60 with rain. Chickens and turkeys are much the same but even better equipped as they have a layer of down feathers which they fluff up trapping air and providing insulation against the cold. Pair their natural abilities with wide wooden perches to sit on the fluff up, bury their head under a wing and sit on their feet. They also will roost close together providing further warmth.
Q-how do you keep water thawed for your animals
A-We don’t even attempt to. What we do instead is use metal pots for watering and three times a day we fill them bringing them in to thaw and returning them out to the animals warm. Goats especially like a warm drink.
Q-Do you grow your own animal feed
A-not yet but working on it. We feed commercial feeds using organic as much as possible and our animals free range.
Q-You have lots of animals-what do you do with them.
A-Yes we do have lots of animals! Pigs, goats, chickens, turkeys, rabbits and bees. Pigs we raise for meat and we do sell some wiener pigs. Chickens are divided into 2 groups Meat and eggs. Our meat chickens not only provide us with meat but others in our community too. Goats provide milk for our family and are foragers who keep the brush at bay helping to keep fire danger down. We do sell young goats to others for meat, breeding and pets. We also use goats for meat. Our turkeys are for meat and are now beginning to repopulate naturally so we will begin selling poults in the spring. Rabbits are for meat and we sell breeders to others. Bees of course are for honey and wax. We are not experts with them yet but we did get a nice small harvest of honey and wax this year.
Q-On your blog you said you have an off grid brooder for raising chicks, how does that work?
A-necessity is the mother of invention! After much trial and error with others ideas the hubby and I sat down and discussed what needed accomplished. Between me tossing ideas around and his ingenuity we devised a brooder that is heated from underneath versus overhead and uses oil lamps instead of electric bulbs or heaters. It’s been very successful as we’ve raised hundreds of birds in the last year.
Q-how do you keep foods cold?
A-first of all I must point out that items like cheese and eggs don’t require refrigeration if stored properly. We wax cheese and keep eggs in a cool dark place like my cooler box I built out of an old crate (it’s shown in the blog) milk is kept in glass jars then put in a bucket of spring water under the porch in summer where it stays a chilly 36 degrees. We do have a freezer we use that is kept frozen by insulating well and running the generator a couple hours every other day but I will say we got by with no freezer or generator the first 9 months we lived off grid.
Q- how do you wash clothes and bathe with no running water?
A-a wash board, laundry tubs and wringer provide the ability to keep the clothes clean and we have a huge pot that we heat 5 gallons of water at a time in. Bathing is accomplished with the hot water and a washtub. We do use the laundry and shower house once a month if funds permit but get by just fine without.
Q-What do you do in emergencies?
A-knowledge is power. Knowing how to treat medical emergencies is crucial for remote folks or anyone that loves being outdoors in the wild. I’m a trained EMT my husband a trained firefighter and with that we have the basics covered. We do have alternate plans in place in the event it’s something serious.
Q-Alaska is cold a lot, how do you garden?
A-much like many places in the lower we do have a short growing season but we get our plants started in a mini greenhouse that we heat with oil lamps and bottles of water that absorb heat in the day from the sun and release it at night. Our crops are divided into 2 types cold crops and others. Cold crops are grown in a fenced in area lined with black plastic to pull the heat in until the end of June then removed or they get too warm in the long days. The other crops are grown in the greenhouse or in our case several mini greenhouses as we grow potatoes in wood boxes covering them with plastic on cold nights.
Q-what types of food preservation do you do?
A-We use many methods but by and far my favorite is canning. I can vegetables, fish, meat and poultry because it stores easy and is always available for quick meals. We also dehydrate some, smoke and as mentioned before I wax our cheese and that keeps it shelf stable.
Q-What are somethings you wish you had?
A-We want for very little as we like our simple life but I do hope to someday have a milk cow.
Q-What is the biggest challenge of living off grid?
A-That’s a tough one! We really don’t have any wants or needs that would be considered a challenge. I can’t think of a single thing that I would change.
Q-What is the biggest challenge to living in such small quarters?
A-Storage! There’s never enough room so we have to be creative and adjust.
Q-Do you ever get “Cabin Fever”?
A-That has not been a problem in our 2 winters here. I attribute that to we are always outside regardless of the weather, caring for animals, gathering wood and hauling water and we all like going exploring regardless of the cold.
That covers the main questions but please keep them coming! Thanks to all of you who have messaged me both here and on our Facebook page. Have a blessed day!