Tag Archives: Farming

Summer highs and some are lows

The last few days have been like a roller coaster. We’ve had beautiful weather, completed a video session, hatched out some chicks and then the mood changes to somber all due to things beyond our control. We lost a baby goat to a freak accident and then last night the Owls returned. One of our young pullets was his prey and even though she was in a sheltered place the owl managed to get her. Tonight I sit on owl watch. All the critters are tucked away in pens and I’m armed with enough noise makers to make him lose his hearing for days. Time to make it look like Fourth of July!!! 

Let’s move on as I am getting side tracked once again. Back to the chicks. What began as a science experiment for the kids has turned into a brooder full of chicks. We had been doing some studying (yes even though it’s summer) and the kids were wanting to do an experiment they found online where you hatch a chick out of its egg. We acquired a 12 volt incubator and decided to first try hatching eggs the traditional way. Not wanting it to be boring we used eggs that were 1-14 days old. To our surprise the eggs all hatched except 1! The only difference we have seen so far is the older eggs have had 1 chick to weak to go beyond pipping and it died in its shell. The rest hatched and are doing very well!  We will be doing our science experiment at a later date and I will keep you all informed of its progress and results.Our videos are now up and running and can be seen on YouTube. Here’s the link and our channel is Off Grid Alaska. Please join us in our everyday life and future videos will have how to’s and tips to living the off grid life. If there’s anything your interested in seeing please leave a comment here, on our Facebook page Offgrid Alaska or in the comments section of you tube. We want these videos to be for you and to share with others why we love this crazy, hectic and yet peaceful life.

The production company we are working with is amazing!!!! Stagvid Media can be found here Stagvid Media. What great guys they are to work with and they are so multifaceted in their abilities! No matter your needs from a small shoot to a major advertising campaign these gentleman can take your vision and bring it to life. If your at a loss as to which direction to go they can help build your campaign from the ground up. I am so blessed to call them my friends and creative partners on our video series.

The greenhouses have become mini jungles and I’m pleased at the progress we are making. Soon it will be canning and pickling time-my favorite thing to do! I love putting food up and knowing that it was produced right here. My kids like taking part as do dear hubby and Papa Fred so it’s a time of work, learning (for the kids) and memory making.I’ll bet you all were thinking I had suddenly become graceful as I haven’t posted any “oops” moments lately. Well, never fear-I’m still a clutz!  You would think that pouring water from a large barrel to a five gallon bucket would be boring. Ha! You were wrong! While transferring water for most is a simple task, for me it involves lots of assistants. Turkeys and chickens are always present but now I have that silly drake who hears the sound of water pouring and thinks it’s bath time. While using both hands to lift the barrel and one foot to attempt to keep the chickens and turkeys at bay because they think there might be some magical treat suddenly appear I forgot about the duck. Now Ritz (or Einstein as Caleb calls him) decides flying onto my head then diving for the bucket looks like a great idea I’m dodging various fowl and thinking how appropriate the word foul is at the moment-somehow my foot catches the bale of the bucket. While still holding the barrel which is now pouring down the front of me, kicking at birds and attempting to dislodge the bale from my foot I end up on my backside with the barrel across the yard and the bucket on my head. To add insult to injury I have an irate duck on my chest quacking out something that sounds a lot like a foghorn on acid. Yep folks Grace has left the building! Thank goodness it was warm out as if of had icicles in some pretty strange places. 

Well it’s back to owl duty but I’ll share some random pics and pray your in your happy place. God Bless

One little, two little, nine little piggies

Finally! Charlotte blessed us with 10 piglets in the wee hours Sunday morning. It will be her last litter as it was a difficult labor and we nearly lost her. She started acting aggressive last week and I knew the time was coming close-it almost didn’t happen at all I was so mad at her. Two of our baby goats decided jumping into her pen was a good idea, only one jumped out. It was frustrating for sure but it’s part of farm life-losing an animal that way is never easy though. Saturday she really got nasty and would literally rip boards off of the pen if I left her. Dear hubby fixed the pen up and I finally calmed her down enough I could finish chores but every half hour, all night long, she would start her fit throwing and I would have to climb in the pen and give her a belly rub. Finally at 1:30 she went to sleep so I grabbed a quick nap and hubby checked on her at 3:30 and let me know she was at it again. This time I calmed her down and she began having babies. It was a difficult labor and at one point she rolled over and I missed one of the piglets. These things happen but it still makes a person feel helpless when you can’t save them all. We have one little runt but it’s an aggressive little thing. We brought it and one other inside while she was finishing labor as they were chilling down and weak but within two hours they were both lively and ready for lunch.  

The weather is still fickled with changing from one extreme to another but we are enjoying some warm sunny days. The girls wanted the hammock put up so dad helped them and it’s getting some use for sure-as a giant swing. 

Our remaining baby goat I call Rudy (the kids change the name daily) has been full of mischief. He wanders out to graze with his momma and forgets to follow her so he’s been spending time inside the cabin getting into mischief. 

Dear Hubby’s fishing got postponed due to the captains girlfriend having a medical issue so we’ve been spending the time getting pens rebuilt and working on preventing flooding. It’s nice having him here but it doesn’t help the finances.  Oh well will just have to find more Barters to fill in the needs.

It’s springtime for sure as the wolves are howling and the young males are out looking for territory of their own and females. They have such a mournful cry it almost makes you sad to hear it. 

Our days are getting longer and the sunsets have been amazing. I wonder if I will ever tire of this view. 

Well it’s getting late and I need to make a final pen check so I’ll leave you with a few more pictures and pray your lives are blessed with peace. 


Crazy days of summer

Hi all, I apologize for the delay in posting but summer is such a busy time!

Lots of new baby critters including 10 little piggies. A broody hen who will literally kill anyone or thing that goes near her best-2broidy turkey hens that hide in the woods (found one!) and lots of work to be accomplished like hating. 

I’ve been butchering chickens for weeks now and ending this batch this coming week with more to arrive at months end-whew it’s work!

Not much time for a thorough post but will share some pics and promise details later when I have time. Praying God blesses you with plenty of work to keep you from being idle and bountiful energy to complete your tasks!


All Thumbs and Two Left Feet

Well it’s been awhile since I posted but I promise you it is not because I have been idle!  Let me tell you how I discovered I am all thumbs.  

Computers are supposed to be easy right? They are supposed to make your life simpler, correct? Well I am living proof that someone lied!   I’ll start at the beginning of the discovery. I was attempting to do a simple logo design for my farm products. Nothing fancy just a couple of squiggly lines, a dot and some lettering. Easy, right? Should only take 5 minutes poof I will be done and move on to something more exciting. Well guess what…..It is not that easy, it took longer than 5 minutes and once it was done (3 days later) the computer in all its glory, grandeur and wisdom….ate it! Now keep in mind that this simple 5 minute project has consumed 3 days which is about 26 hours, 5 tanks of fuel in the generator, 15 pots of coffee and 10 pounds of chocolate (to keep me motivated) and my last nerve. All of this so the computer could eat it!  Poof it’s gone….into the rabbit hole….or never land or wherever computer stuff goes. Luckily I was able to retrieve it after I calmed down enough to actually think. You see it is not that I’m computer illiterate as I actually used to use them daily but it appears lack of using that part of my brain has caused a memory loss when it comes to anything electronic. The story isn’t over yet though, as I still have the website to complete but I want to show you the logo, on the label which is now on the first bottle of Birch Syrup created right here at Two Moose Farm! 

   The story goes on……Now not a newbie to website building I thought hey!!!! I got this! I have done it many times before right!  For the sake of time let me tell you things in the electronic world have changed A LOT in the last few years. Those days of simple file systems are long gone. I quickly discovered that little bit of info when I attempted to place my logo file of abc into a program that will accept most files except the one my logo was in. It’s day 3 on it and although it’s online I am far from finished. You can see it at http://www.offgridalaska.net   I’ll get it done but for now if your interested in ordering then shoot me an email at early@offgridalaska.net and I’ll get you fixed up. 

All that computer stuff makes me cranky so I decided some outdoor time was much needed. It does the body good to be outside in the fresh air right? Okay usually! I discovered my two left feet when watering the greenhouse that sits on the turkey pen. Yep it’s only 6 foot off the ground and dear hubby even built me a walk way so I could water and care for my little seedling babies without much effort-ha ha you would think after 25 years he would know me better than that!  Apparently when you have this condition of two left feet even the simplest navigations become dangerous. Climb the step, stand on the walkway and oh dear the farthest back plants aren’t getting enough water so put one knee inside the greenhouse hook toes into the now wet walkway for stability and reach out as far as you can with watering can full of water then poof!  Falling, slipping, sliding but oh can’t put my hands down to stop the fall as I might squish the little plants-when the motion finally stopped I was upside down one booted foot caught on the edge of the greenhouse, the other boot less foot stuck in between the boards of the walk way my water pitcher still in one hand and the other hand dangling there like it was a cheerleader surrounded by the curious chickens and turkeys when who shows up to console me???? Oh Henry the billy goat! I’m sure he thought “See momma it’s not hard to get into trouble”. Now mind you other than critters there is no one else close enough to holler at for assistance so here I am looking like a four legged spider caught in its own web, hanging upside down and caught in several places. Thank heavens I could touch the ground and was able to drop the watering can (why I was still holding it I cannot explain as even I don’t know) then push myself up enough to unhook the two left feet then gracefully-yes I said gracefully it’s my story, removed myself from my predicament. Bumps, bruises and a few splinters later I’m still in one piece so I will continue to move forward!

I promise the website will be fully functional soon and I hope you all will take a look. Have a blessed day all.

Homestead Happenings

its not yet 4 a.m. but I’m awake and listening to the pitter patter of raindrops hitting the roof. I really should be sleeping considering I was awake until midnight but the body has a mind of its own. 

It has been a busy couple of days here on Two Moose farm with butchering a couple chickens, building a farrowing pen and feeling helpless when a neighbor needed helped. Let’s start there as that is a sad event I want to share. 

I have friends I have never met except online both near and far. We interact via Facebook and they become very dear to me. One such friend just happens to live just a few miles out from where we are and are also homesteading. 

Ann has a couple goats she purchased a few months ago and they are very young. No one told her the little doeling was bred but they suspected based on her appearance. After she went into labor it was a few hours into it they knew she was in trouble. Ann called me and I could hear the distress in her voice. I know she and her husband love their animals as I do mine and felt immediately the kindred spirit us homesteaders feel for each other. Having experienced difficult births with many different animals including goats I attempted to give a shortened version via phone on how to assist the birth. Sadly the kid goat didn’t make it but I am happy to say the momma did. Yes, we all understand it is part of being a homesteader/farmer yet that is no comfort when it’s one of your animals that is in pain or you have lost. I felt helpless and wanted so badly to reach through the phone to give her a hug and let her know I truly understood the pain she was going through. Homesteading is a wonderful life but it has its bad days too. 

Needing to get my mind on other things I started on my farrowing pen. Charlotte missed the due date I expected so I figure that she will be due in about 2.5 more weeks and I want to give her a bit of luxury. I know it sounds silly but she is my baby even if she weighs well over 300 pounds. Using scrap lumber, some slabs and a few trees we thinned out we managed to get about 90 percent done before it was time to get supper on the table. The cloudy skies had me nervous so we covered it with a tarp that will keep it dry until I can shingle it. Charlotte moved across the yard with relative ease into her new “birthing suite” and seems quite happy with her new place. 

       The 2 chickens we finally butchered were very large-scratch that they were huge!  They were Cornish cross meat birds I acquired in an assortment of chicks back in February and has grown to mammoth size. I slow roasted them all day packed with herbs to season and they turned out amazing. Cooking a bird this way does not produce a very pretty roasted chicken but does produce tender, juicy and flavor filled meat. Try it sometime. Pull skin away from the muscle and poke herbs (fresh or dried) in between the skin and muscle. Put a couple cups of water or broth in the pan with the bird, rub some olive oil on it and cover. Slow roast 4-5 hours and I promise you will love it. By the way my herbs of choice were Rosemary, savory and sage but you can use whatever sounds good and I have even sliced lemons or apples and inserted them.  

        Dear Hubby was working at the saw mill today and first thing he calls and tells the kids to send me over. I get there and he points out some bear tracks right in the sawdust pile. After getting a few pics and inspecting more closely it appears to be the tracks of a momma bear and cub or Cubs. They rolled around in the sawdust and left prints and bits of fur so looks like a black bear.  

   As many of you know we feed our pigs a diet heavy in organic barley. I finally got some pics of hubby tending the fire under the bathtub in which we cook it in 50 pounds at a time.  

   That same evening was so beautiful out we spent the evening out doors drinking coffee and visiting with Papa until almost midnight. 

 Well the sun is up and coffee is done so I will bid you all farewell until the next time. Have a very blessed day and make every moment a memory.

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.

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!

Update on our chicks

Sadly I have to tell you all of our chicks died.  It was a good fight though and I believe that had they been from another producer they may not have made it as far as they did.  Ideal poultry already answered my message and let me know they would be replaced.   I did inform hem that I didn’t believe it was their fault but still they tell me they will replace them.  What a great company!

The ugly side of raising animals

Today was one of those days for sure.  As most know I had issues with the delivery of baby chicks and lost most but there’s more to the story of how my day went.

Little Racer had the unfortunate luck to be born a little boy goat.  Boy goats (Billys) are foul smelling creatures as when they mature they pee on their heads to attract the ladies-I am so glad that is not a human thing!  Eeeeewww!!!!  Not wanting or needing another billy goat I have decided little racer will be sold for either a companion wether or for meat depending on the buyer. In order to have him no longer a hormonal male as he gets older (and to avoid the stink) he must be castrated and that is exactly what happened today.  Dear hubby held the squirming little guy and I did the ugly deed.  Moments later he was back out running and being his obnoxious little self and still wanting to follow me around so musn’t have been as difficult for him as it was for me.

Many are probably curious as to how to raise baby chicks without electricity to run a brooder.  In the old days they would simply leave in a box behind the woodstove but I have devised a system that allows them to stay at a more constant temp and is easier to regulate.  I use a pot of hot water covered with a large stainless bowl turned upside down then  placed  in the middle of a rubber water trough and the chicks can move closer or further away depending on what is comfortable.  I then cover half the trough to keep heat in and leave the other end exposed so if they get too warm they can move.  The water temp to start off with is about 105 degrees Fahrenheit.  This will last about 3 hours as it warms the bottom of the tub also.  Every three hours reheat the water.  Decreasing by 5 degrees a week until they are fully feathered out.  A lot of work but no one said off grid was going to be easy.




Every life is precious

Very sad day today.  I had ordered 25 barred rock chicks and they were supposed to arrive yesterday but got mixed up in Anchorage  and weren’t delivered until today.  They were all froze except for 2 that made quiet little peeping sounds.  Ice was in the box if that will give you an idea of how cold these little things were.

Many people have a preconceived notion that farmers feel nothing for their animals and that could not be more untrue.  Every life is precious.  Just because we eat animals does not mean we devalue their lives, it simply means we value them for their purpose and yet believe their lives should be spent in relative comfort until the moment of their demise.

Not being one to ever give up I refused to believe that the end is always the end-There has to be one more chance.  So I said a prayer and decided to thaw them out before I gave up.  After many hours of thawing I now had 7 chicks that were breathing and chirping yet very weak.  Still not ready to throw in the towel I mixed corn syrup and water and began feeding them one at a time.  I have lost 2 more but knowing I gave it my best shot made their passing much easier on my heart.  I don’t know what will happen but I do know that live or die these precious little babies if they pass will have been warm, dry and nestled in the palms of someone who loved them if only for a short time.

Yes life and death on the farm is a daily event but even though losing animals hurts I pray I never lose the compassionate side of me for that would be a tragedy.  There are already too many in the world who are uncaring and unfeeling.