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Ups and downs

Beautiful day here at Two Moose it was almost 50 degrees and sunny in tropical Alaska.
I spent the day catching up on chores that needed to be done like the acid wash rust removing in water tubs and such. Definitely not my favorite thing to do but must be done as goats are picky creatures.
We have been trying to find a replacement 4 wheeler tire for the one that found a sharp stump and got a hole in it. Of course our old wheeler has odd sized tires and there doesn’t seem to be any available in the size we need unless purchased new but that’s out of our budget right now.
My chicks I received from Ideal on Friday are doing quite well. I was truly concerned after all the Barred Rock arrived dead but the mixed breed are doing well and I have 19 that are growing and flourishing. I still have 4 from the second shipment that are alive and well so for now I won’t be getting anymore. I don’t want to add any other day olds and have the older chicks picking on them.

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Yes there are some chick selfies but these girls are so pretty I couldn’t resist!
I started milking one of my goats today-big failure as she did not want milked and I didn’t have her on a milking stand but super hubby to the rescue!!!!! He started the stand and will finish it in the morning then I will put on my super mom cape and attempt to milk her faster than a sitting goat!
Still waiting on more goats to kid. 4 left and we can start the process all over again.
Haven’t notice Charlotte the pig being in heat so praying she took when she got bred, If so then the latter part of March we should see piglets. In a few weeks I should see her looking quite plump and we will know for sure.
Rabbits are all bred now so March 2nd and 3rd we will have babies from them weaning just in time for Easter.
Spring is my favorite time of the year-I love all the babies entering the world. Spring fever has gotten a tight grip on me now so I have my garden all planned now but with growing conditions here being a challenge (it is very wet here) I have revised my plans after discussing with others who have faced the same challenges and will be doing some unique gardening with a combination of straw bale gardening and vertical gardening. I will be sure to document in pictures from the start in case anyone is interested in using these methods.
The days are growing longer now and soon we will be seeing sunlight 20 hours a day. I have to say I am looking forward to being able to work at all hours in the sunshine. The dark months really aren’t that long nor are the days as short as I originally thought as we are so far south but oh the summer sunshine that is endless makes everything look so much more promising!
Well that’s all the new news around here but soon there will be much to share. I look forward to hearing from all of you on your projects and adventures too. Please continue to follow me here but also join me on Facebook where you can post your pics, stories and question at http://www.facebook.com/offgridalaska
Good Night all and God Bless

Gene Runkis Coldhill Customs

Sometimes in life your paths cross with people who you just know are awesome.  That’s how I feel about my friends Gene and Lisa Runkis.  Gene has been making custom knives for years and they are phenomenal!  Each and every one is hand crafted and no 2 are alike.  In this day and age of mass production its refreshing to know that craftsmanship like this is still alive and well and I hope you will take the opportunity to take a look at his knives and now I am happy to announce he is making custom cabinets too!

Heres a few pics of his work

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and if Gene looks familiar it is because he is the same Eugene Runkis from the show Hillbilly Blood on Destination America.

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You can see more of his beautiful handcrafted items at  https://www.facebook.com/coldhillcustoms

or his etsy store at    https://www.etsy.com/shop/coldhillcustoms

Or contact him direct!

Pictures Pictures Pictures!

I finally found dear Hubby’s Kodak digital camera and today after the chores were done I played with shutting off the auto mode and using different shudder speeds, filters etc.  I had a lot of fun and wanted to share the pics.  Of course there is no way I can begin to capture the beauty of this place but it gives you an idea.  Also you will note most of the pictures I take are of the view I see each day of Mount Illiamna that is across Cook Inlet. I am still mesmerized by its beauty every time I look at it.mountain cropped-mountain.jpg100_0555 (3) cropped-100_0551-31.jpg 100_0551 (3) 100_0555 (2) 100_0547 (2)100_0564 (2)100_0580

Off course no picture taking day would be complete without kids and critters!

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Not perfect by far but much better than my phone!  I look forward to taking many more as we begin seeing signs of spring.  When that will be is any ones guess as it is currently 26 degrees and starting to snow.

I did take time to call the postal service in Anchorage today.  I was worried over my chicks that are to arrive tomorrow and spoke to a very nice woman who assured me that the chicks were alive and well an headed here tomorrow in the CAB of the truck.  She was horrified when she heard the entire story about what has transpired with the other chicks over the last 3 weeks.  I also informed her about the very rude gentleman that I had the unfortunate call with at their customer service call center.  She was appalled that anyone would behave so badly.  I did take the opportunity though to tell her what awesome ladies we have in our local post office who work so hard to get things done in a timely manner.

Chicks should be here at 6:30 in the morning and yes I am excited!  The 4 I have now that are 3 weeks old have become my little buddies and soon they will be going outside but not to the chicken tractor like any common chicken-nope they will be in their own little sheltered area (a large netting enclosure) so they stay close enough to visit and enjoy their morning coffee with me.

The brooder is working great, it has been a week now with no glitches.  I will begin construction of an incubator in the next day or so and after I have it stabilized will be hatching chicks for resell and also some to fatten for butchering.

Work is steadily progressing on the bunny barns and I will be showing photos of those soon.  Always work to be done on Two Moose Farm but I have to say that it is much fun.

If your a facebooker please join us at https://www.facebook.com/offgridalaska and share what is happening in your life.

May God Bless each and every one of you in your endeavors and I pray that you find happiness in all that you do.

Coffee with my chick friends

This morning we awoke to the weatherman’s forecast once again being wrong. Snowed a couple of inches but was quite nice out temp wise at a comfortable 24 degrees. Once we got through the chores, breakfast and school day it left plenty of time for play. Actually school today felt more like play to the kids as we played scrabble, had a spelling bee and played a game of math hangman. Math hangman is a lot of fun for the kids, get a math question correct then you receive a letter to the puzzle but get one wrong and you get one body part closer to hangman. I wonder if they still allow hangman in schools as I imagine that it is no longer politically correct.
After school was completed and I finished a few more chores I spent some time with the 4 chicks who survived the post office apocalypse. They seem to be doing really well and are feathering out nicely. My min electric brooder is still working great and the biggest temp fluctuation I have had in 6 days was 4 degrees. There I go getting off course again! Back to the chicks-they have become quite friendly now and scramble for my attention when I open the brooder so I have been giving each of them a few minutes a day out and being handled. I will have to decide on names soon as they will obviously be my favorite girls since we have developed a close friendship. One little girl tested the waters or should I say coffee today and apparently it was to her liking as she kept fighting to get back for more. I guess she will have to be named Betty after my hen I left behind.

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My neighbors on the road are such a great bunch. They are always sharing their bounty and yesterday I pulled a large package out of the freezer, in it was a whole silver salmon. I baked the entire fish with some Cajun seasonings and we feasted. Still there was much left over so today Cati picked out the bones then she and I made salmon patties from the leftovers. We cooked up a couple of packages of organic cous cous with pine nuts brought out to us by another neighbor who had family leave it behind at his fish camp and in his words (don’t know what it is but maybe you can make it edible) and of course it was awesome and yes I do love cous cous for it’s unique flavor and texture. We finished off the meal with a couple of jars of my home canned tropical fruit that we brought from Wyoming. I do miss Bountiful Baskets produce program. If your in an area where it’s available I urge you to take part as the organic offerings are wonderful and the prices cannot be beat.

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Not much left of the day so will do my critter checks then see what the auroras forecast is before calling it a night.
God Bless you all and sweet dreams

Almost like winter

Today it was almost like winter.  A cool 21 degrees out and the sun shining bright.  The day started with the usual chores and then I took a few minutes to just be outside, all alone and to enjoy the quiet time.  There is much to be said for alone time.  The birds were out singing their very melodic song, goats bleating, pigs grunting, roosters crowing and the sound of the ice crunching under my boots all of these sounds combined to make such a beautiful tune that soothes the soul.

Looking forward to later tonight and praying the clouds stay away for the forecast is a promising one for Northern Lights.  I do love to sit outside and watch the beautiful dancing colors painting cross the sky.  I do wish I had a camera and the knowledge to photograph these beautiful sights so I could share them with all of you.

Hubby put a door on the outhouse today.  I would like to say this makes me happy but even though I do understand the need I will miss my view.  Oh Henry will miss getting the toilet paper out and decorating the yard I am sure.

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Its hard to believe that January is almost gone-how time flies.  Looking forward to the next few weeks when I will be butchering pigs, rendering lard and putting up the greenhouse.  Yes spring is on the horizon and I for one will be happy with its arrival.

Winter is coming for a short visit and Oh Henry lives up to his name

Finally winter is coming for a visit but doesn’t look like it will be staying long.  Currently we have about 1/2 inch of snow on the ground and 22 degrees but by Sunday they say the temps will be in the single digits at night and high teens in the day.  Next week we’re supposed to warm up again though so will enjoy the change for a bit.

This week has been filled with a lot of ups and downs.  We received chicks from Ideal and thought everything was fine until around day 4 and they started dropping like flies.  It makes me sad to see little creatures dying and feeling helpless I called IDEAL Poultry to discuss the matter.  In their opinion the chicks must have gotten chilled in transport then warmed again.  This basically destroys their internal organs so they are once again shipping replacements and with 50 instead of 25 plus adding heat packs. I will tell you I have never dealt with a company with such great customer service. I strongly urge you to patronize them if you’re in need of poultry.

Our brooder was wearing me out with constantly having to keep an eye out for temperature fluctuations so I designed a new one and my dear hubby and I built it.  I am happy to say its day 2 and I have nervously checked the temp at least 500 times and its spot on!  The remaining chicks are very happy in it and the 50 due to arrive tomorrow will too I am sure.

It’s really a very simple design.  Build a box 3 foot square 9″ high and for the bottom attach a metal plate (we used old highway signs I picked up at the dump the other day  (when I hauled them in posts and all hubby was questioning it but ha! they were useful!!!) Attach leg to sides,  then add boards around the bottom to hold heat in from below that is supplied with an oil lamp, add a cover that will keep the heat contained then put 1/2 inch to 1 inch of sawdust down to disperse heat and cover with either straw or hay.  It is currently a toasty 95 in the middle and 80 on the sides.  To raise or lower temp you just raise or lower the lamp.  Not a difficult thing to do and non electric.  Sure beats having to maintain a brooder very 2 hours with my first design.

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Once again  Oh Henry was up to his curious (or is it obnoxious) self and found himself in yet another predicament. He managed to get himself stuck AROUND and IN a bucket.  His curiosity will be the end of him one day. Thank goodness he is calm when he gets himself into the predicaments and comes to us to get him out.

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Of course this week was especially busy for Henry.  He decided that going into the outhouse, getting the toilet paper and decorating the entire front yard would be a great idea.  Of course when I yelled “Oh Henry” he dropped the roll and before I could get my phone that was in the cabin, He ate all the evidence!  His newest trick is to on the rabbit cages so the rabbits can get out and then somehow he folds himself into the cages and eats all the food. I really must find some goat proof latches.

Daylight hours are growing and so is the workload.  Hoping to get caught up on my crochet orders over the next few days while its cold outside. After this mini cold snap I will begin getting ready for birch tapping and cooking syrup down so if your interested in Birch syrup message me and get your order in early as I am sure it will go fast.  This syrup will not have any fillers as thickeners in it.  It will be 100% organic condensed Birch syrup.  If you have never had Birch syrup on your pancakes you will find it is amazing!!!

Spring will be here before you know it and its hard to believe in just 2 months we will be celebrating our first anniversary here on Two Moose Farm.  Its been a busy year and I pray God continues to bless us all with good health and guide us on our path to total self-sufficiency.  May you all be blessed  in your endeavors.

My new friend

I have had a great couple of days here sharing our little homestead and our lives with my new friend.
Kimberly has recently followed her heart to Alaska and our family has been blessed to make her acquaintance. The kids have been very excited to share their space with someone new, I have gained a friend who has much in common we me and dear Hubby and Papa Fred have enjoyed having this young woman around to teach the useful art of safe gun handling. As it turns out she is a natural and is already handling both
pistol and rifle like a pro!
Kimberly is an adventurous woman and reminds me so much of myself in the fact she wants to experience all life has to offer. I feel very blessed to call her friend.
My chicks have a had a rough go of it but still have some that are growing and doing well so I just keep reminding myself of the successes and working on a new brooder plan to ensure a better survival rate for the next batch. Off grid is not easy but to be successful you cannot dwell on the losses you must keep moving forward and that’s exactly what I plan to do.
I submitted my first article ever to a major publication last week. I may not know for awhile if it is accepted or rejected but will tell you either way I won’t be discouraged. I have had many contacts with magazines that have asked or suggested that I submit articles. For awhile I questioned their sanity, then I questioned why would anyone want to read anything I write and after much deliberation, speculation and a severe case of what I now know is writers block I have decided I am not a writer. I cannot just magically make words appear on paper (or a computer screen) I have to just share what is in my head like I was telling a friend about my day.
I love Alaska, our homestead and my life so much and feel so blessed to be right where I am right now I guess it’s contagious as I have had a lot of nice people out there telling
Me how they are living their lives vicariously through our daily adventures. I’m thankful that I get to share it with others as it’s just too awesome a place to keep it to myself!
Still no winter here so moving on to spring and praying that winter does not decide to make a late appearance. I hope to begin my plant starts soon (when I can find room indoors) then get the greenhouse started. I feel like I’m behind schedule already with much to do in a very short time frame . Worrying and fretting about getting things done is weighing heavy on me and is probably the cause of my latest bout of insomnia that is leaving me feeling completely drained.
Well folks that’s about all I have to share right now so for now I will go. May you continue to be blessed beyond measure and I will see you all soon!

New life on Two Moose

I feel like spring is in the air with the new life here on Two Moose Farm.  Baby chicks arrived today and although we have lost two, one was crushed by the others during shipping and one was being pecked on by the others (which is usually a sign something is wrong with it, the rest seem to be doing well. Here is a video of when they first arrived

As you can imagine it’s quite noisy but they do have their quiet times and seem to have quieted down more now that I have added an oil lamp to the brooder for light.

Little Racer has become a pest.  He does really well outside playing with Etta until one of us goes outside or he hears something inside-today he heard the chicks and had to come investigate.  His curiosity got the better of him and he proceeded to jump into the brooder and that ended his meet and greet with the chicks.

Here is a video of Racer and you will hear Missy in the background reprimanding my son Caleb for daring to mess with the babies.

We will begin our rabbit breeding season again in the next couple of weeks so we can be sure to have plenty of Easter Bunnies available.  Don’t worry though we have a program that keeps the rabbits out of the shelters. Rabbits are so cute to so many until they become adults.  Personally I think rabbits make great pets as they are easily litter box trained, can be taught to fetch, sit up and many other tricks.  They are very clean animals who love attention.

Spring is in the air and I am noticing more and more green growth out here during my walks.  I so want to hurry it up but I know that winter could arrive at anytime so will try to be patient.  I will say that the thoughts of the greenhouse going up early have crossed my mind many times and I may have to sweet talk my dear hubby into beginning construction soon.

Weatherman is calling for snow next week but at the same time  continued warm temps so I will expect rain as it appears to be the norm this year. One thing I have noticed is the ice is getting thinner so maybe breakup will not be so bad this year.

Well I am off once again to gaze at my gardening charts and dream of green things growing in abundance.  If I can talk dear hubby into it, my greenhouse could be producing potatoes by May!  Have a blessed weekend all.

p.s.   I do have a favor to ask. If you could please go to my “About” page there is a follow button on the left hand side of the screen.  If you haven’t followed already would you please do so?  Thank You!

With technology, friends and neighbors-We are not isolated at all

Many times you see me post about having Moose, Wolves, and Bears for neighbors but truly we have some awesome human neighbors too.  We have met so many people since we moved here and they are all so very kind, always willing to share advice, assistance and the bounty they have. We may be remote but we are definitely not isolated!

Last week a couple of guys Mike knows came out to the cabin as they wanted to get away and play in this wonderful land we call home and George the bachelor (we know several Georges he is the only bachelor-hence the nickname) decided he needed to clean out his freezer and cupboards of non essential bachelor food that I assume was accumulated from visitors coming from the lower.  What a great gift!  Lots of baking goods like chocolate chips, walnuts and the like and he filled my little freezer with salmon, halibut and a few other things.  It was like Christmas!

Mike was in town and some folks he met out here on the trail told him to stop by for a cup of coffee and he came home with me fish and two packs of wild pig sausage-Thank You Robin and Dan that was the very best sausage EVER!!!!! I do love wild pig and its been many years since I have hunted or ate any (I hunted them as a kid in California.  I highly suggest to anyone who gets the chance to eat wild pig do so and you won’t regret it. (I met Robin in town for the first time yesterday what an awesome lady!)

Then there’s my lady friends out on the road who I rarely get to see anymore but who I chat with on facebook or text message. Shana, Maura, Mary, Carly, Heather, Kristine and Stephanie who have made me feel like I belong here.  They are always full of encouragement and crochet hooks when mine are misplaced

Living offgrid is definitely different today than it was  30 years ago.  Technology has it so we don’t have to be  disconnected from the world as people are just a phone call or a few clicks away.  My two dearest friends Cathy from North pole-Aunt Cathy to my kids and Jen in Colorado are my support system when I am having one of those days that we moms seem to have and talking to another mom is the  only thing that will make things right again.

So now you all know we aren’t hermits we have interaction with other humans and yet I still talk to my animals-some things will never change. Good Night and God Bless you all.

Two Moose Farms happenings

3:30 a.m and once again I’m awake listening to the rain fall and wondering what will flood next. This first year in Alaska has taught me a minimum 18 inches above ground level will be the norm on any and all new building projects.
The constant rain freeze melt cycle this winter has made lots of extra work to keep the critters snug and dry. The goat barn has flooded and so has the pigs shelter. Dear hubby has elevated the floor of the barn temporarily until the actual break up when we will permanently elevate it to prevent any further problems and he has diligently cut drainage ditches in the ice to keep piggies on dry ground. So blessed am I to have a man that works so hard to keep things going.
Received a much needed tool for Christmas from my friends Tracy and Ken. They sent us a 3000 lb. winch for our 4 wheeler. Hopefully I can rescue myself when stuck in the mud and muck instead of having to be rescued so much by dear hubby. Yes, I realize that many of you will miss my mud diving antics but never fear I am sure there will be other mishaps to take it’s place!

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Yesterday we made a quick trip to town to get the mail and attempted to beat the rain but were not successful. We probably would of returned much drier had a gentleman not stopped at the beginning of the trail to introduce himself. I’m not much for socializing in the freezing rain but when he stepped out of his truck said “my names Marty and I have a junk yard” he had my full attention. Yes I am a junk yard junky. I live scrap metal and old things of all sorts. The world we live in today is disposable and such a waste. I look forward to my next trip out to go and visit his junk piles. He even said come spring I could have some rhubarb from his patch! Scrap metal and rhubarb-this guy and I have much in common. Hubby is already cringing I’m sure at the prospect of the next project I will have for him to build.
While we are on the subject of building here are the latest projects that have been completed. Papa Fred bored with the rain and outside adventures is spending this rainy time out here helping with projects. Tired of my complaining about storage he got my over the stove shelves built and they are perfect. No more clattering of stuff falling as I am shuffling around at 3 a.m doing the daily baking.

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Dear Hubby decided the rain wasn’t going to keep him idle either. Off to the sawmill he went and returned with beautiful water logged boards that were milled last week. My job was to dry the boards so he could build the shelving over our bed. Not one to hold up progress I expedited the process with the woodstove. Mind you I was multitasking as usual and a couple of times the kids reminded me that the boards needed turned by yelling “Mom!!!!! Smoke!!!” Alright so a couple or three boards got a bit drier than the rest but the lumber now dry was soon transformed into shelving for storage. Much needed storage.

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Rain, sleet,snow nor wind will slow down our progress and neither will a bit of smoldering lumber!
Looking forward to another arrival of baby chicks and praying this batch gets here alive. So sad to see the loss of life but as with all things there will be losses. My homemade non electric brooder is ready and so am I for these new little babies. I will post more about this after their arrival.
Kids staying busy with schoolwork as we have a goal to have the majority done by the end of April and then can spend the last month of school on science projects aka gardening. Growing things is an important part of our lives and the kids are excited to be able to take a more active roll.
Not much longer until the birch tree sap will be flowing so I’m busy gathering containers for that and will need to get more taps made. Thinking this will be a good project for all in the evenings. Whittle a willow branch and hollow it out. Not much to it but still another project that needs to be completed in a timely fashion.
Once the run starts it will be a busy time collecting sap and cooking down to syrup and bottling for sale. I will keep you all posted when it’s complete and ready for shipping.
Never much idle time around here but God continues blessing us with the bounty of this earth and the health and strength to reap the harvest and I will continue to be thankful.
Have a blessed day all.