Skip navigation

Daily Archives: April 10th, 2022

Thing 1 is taking botany this year for her science. She’s been wanting to try out tapping birch trees to harvest their sap for a while now. This past weekend she got her chance.

Our days are longer and warmer but our nights are still plenty cold. Perfect time to tap a birch. I bought some tree taps at the farm store last week and two new 2 gal buckets with lids. Once we got to the cabin she went out, drill and supplies in hand.

The “Slow drip” tree in the foreground.

She settled on two old trees, one next to the sauna, the other up by the smoker. Taps in place and smaller buckets hung catching the few drips that morning. As the day went on, the sauna tree seemed to be the better producer.

She went out and checked late afternoon and wow! Full bucket in the sauna tree! Holy smokes it works!

Overnight the temps fell and we froze up solid. The “slow drip” tree froze up but the sauna tree had overflowed it’s bucket!

Slow drip, froze solid.

We broke off those sapcicles and ate them. Nature’s “Otter pops”!

All in just over 24 hours she got two gallons of birch sap. Impressive for her first try!

Now begins the process of cooking down the sap for syrup. I’ll let you know how long that takes!

Sauna tree’s cup runneth over.

Time to go so she whittled some birch twigs to fit the drill holes to plug the trees. Covered that with duct tape of course. And thanked the trees for their donation to our diet.


Dwellings are a very important part of Sourdough Culture. We are fortunate to have a collection of historic cabins in this area. Kenai Kasilof, & Soldotna all have cabin parks, cabin museums and other preserved buildings.

Dean & I have done two historic cabin repairs over the years. Recently we restored a roof on a cabin in Kenai. Several years ago we replaced a rotten base log in a cabin in Soldotna’s Cabin Park. We have to be careful to keep historically accurate in our repairs.

I enjoy working on these old buildings. I’m touching wood, trees that were living in the 1800’s. It’s standing history that I get to play a tiny role in protecting. Think about all the happenings that these buildings survived. Everyday human events, epic volcanic eruptions. The biggest earthquake in Alaska’s history. Three major cultures: local first peoples the Dena ‘ina Athabascan, Russian traders and settlers, then other English speaking settlers evolving into Americans. All have left their indelible marks locally.

1896 Russian Orthodox Church,
Old Towne Kenai, Alaska.

Often you can still see the cut marks from hand hewing. And the craftsmanship is always an adventure. I love the dovetailed corners on many of these old cabins. Some have no spikes holding them together only joinery. Chinked with moss or mud, long gone over with the passing of time. Some have been restored and continue as dwellings today. Others are preserved for posterity, lest we forget where we came from.

Corner joinery detail at Veronica’s Cafe. Another historic cabin in Kenai.

In the era these old cabins were built, there were no lumberyards or metal shops around. Trees were cut and hewn for walls and roof supports but there’s nothing suitable for sheathing. So these resilient old souls hauled sod up and covered their roofs with living material. Complete with wildflowers. This shed the weather reasonably well and kept the cabins warm in the winter, cool in the summer.

1898 cabin with similar corner dovetails.

Another standout detail of these old homes was the overall height. These buildings were shorter than typical modern buildings. Doors between 4-5 feet tall, walls under 8′, often 6′ or shorter. Materials to build were hard to come by, it took brute strength and a lot of elbow grease to build. So making shorter buildings helped conserve energy. Mostly these smaller structures were easier to keep warm. After all, you really only needed a space for your meager belongings, a bed to sleep in, some place for your dogs and stay out of the severe cold.

Homestead shed, used to have a sod roof. Just about to become the latest victim of bluff erosion.
The cabin we repaired, looking good as new, err, I mean good as old.
History of this little cabin.

Hand hewn cabins are one of my greatest loves in architecture. Our modern day construction technology may be different but the same love and care goes into each log I prep for a cabin I’m building.

An old homestead cabin near Nikiski. Complete with sleeping loft and a king crab carapace.

I thought I’d give an update since my 30 day challenge. Today it’s officially been three months since I kicked the sugar habit

I’ve continued avoiding sugars. Following a lazy keto style diet with reduced/low carbs most days. I haven’t missed the sugar and have been happy with the keto friendly alternatives. I have enjoyed some blackberries, raspberries and a few strawberries with keto yogurt when I needed a little dessert.

My daily beverages have been coffee with a protein powder, water, unsweetened tea & seltzers. I’ve had three adult beverages over the course of the past two months. Once for Dean’s birthday pizza dinner, I had a gf IPA. Then two weekends back I had an Alaskan Hard Seltzer in their new mango flavor, pretty tasty. And of course a glass of rhubarb wine in honor of Dad, of blessed memory. Can’t skip that. 🍷

I feel pretty good, definitely have more energy. I can tell a marked increase in hunger when I’m eating a lot of carbs. That knowledge makes it much easier for me to keep the carb count lower. And mixing up tasty NA drinks helps keep the beverage doldrums away.

I’m going to continue on for as long as I can. And I’m looking forward to the snow melt and summer activities to come!