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Monthly Archives: May 2022

Even Sourdoughs need a break periodically! We’ve been logging the hours and working hard on our current job: finishing soffits and siding a two story house just so we could take this long weekend.

We took the liberty to spend it at the cabin with the two littles. The big kids stayed home for various reasons, mostly to care for those lil ducks of ours. The kids are in bed and I’m up enjoying some quiet time to myself.

Sometimes the best things in life are the simple pleasures. The sound of silence. No city noises. Only the occasional overhead flight. The wind gently rustling through the birch leaves. Bird song. Once in a while you can hear the sound of a twig snap in the brush, some covert creature making their way around the cabin. It’s so peaceful.

Now imagine living this way every day. Heaven on earth

Bird's eye view.

Food self sufficiency is something any good Alaskan Sourdough knows a good deal about. And you use what you have to make your garden work. We’re not buying a bunch of fancy stuff, just making do with what’s around the place.

My first summer in our home (2015) I had high hopes for a bountiful harvest from my new (to me) garden plot. We even constructed a small greenhouse to help extend our season a little bit. I planted all sorts of things like potatoes, tomatoes, okra, herbs and squash. I was so excited! I mean, what could go wrong, I’ve been gardening most of my life and usually pretty successfully at that. Well, Alaska throws a mean curve ball.

Besides planting most all the wrong things, I had no concept of Alaska’s surprise hard frosts nor her relentless sun beating down day in and night too. And exactly how much water one needs to apply to soil that really never gets enough of the stuff. Neither did I appreciate how fast grass and weeds grow here.

To say that my first Alaskan garden was an epic failure is an understatement. It was so devastating, all that work, time and $$ down the drain, that I haven’t really gardened since, with the exception of a container here and there and cold hardy flowers. (I mean petunias.)

This year we’re giving it a full-on go again. Mostly because my oldest daughter wants to do it. It’s her project and I’m offering a little support along the way. At least she’s starting off with a little more experience in Alaskan summer weather cycle and what’s really best to plant here. And no, there’s no plan to grow okra.

She’s started out with measuring the garden fence to get an idea of how much electric fence we need plus square footage to plan out her scheme. She’s plotted 5 raised beds, hugelkulture style, and a variety of tire towers and containers around the perimeter. Plus an update to the greenhouse which needs a new skin.

Her planned crops include potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, peas, radishes, blueberries, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries and flowers, some edible.

Kids building raised bed #1. Cardboard over existing grass, sawmill slab raised beds, filled with topsoil mixed with manure & sawdust on top of a central pile of wood scrap, limbs and leaves. To be topped with compost.

There’s the existing compost pile (that Thing 2 made years prior for a science project) that she’s expanding to double the capacity. Plus she’s already made her strawberry bed with tires and shared plants from Nancy, our neighbor up the road. Nancy is the sweetest. She’s taken the girls under her gardener’s wing and been bringing them plants and sharing information (and ice cream too apparently) with them. This relationship I approve of, not sure about the ice cream tho. Lol

With each passing weekend we try and do a little more work on the garden prep. We are still frosting at night here in our little low spot at the bottom of the hill. So waiting to go to the greenhouse to buy plants, but soon we’ll take out a small loan to make the trip.

Potato tires next to the compost bin. These are golden fingerlings.
The first bed with soil added
Strawberry tires.

I’m very excited for Thing 1 and her goals of gardening and am trying to support her as much as possible but she really is doing most of the work so far. Plus she is carrying on the garden tradition of her Papa Alaska. Who certainly had it figured out with his two massive green thumbs.

We’re doing what we can to produce food for ourselves, in that old sourdough spirit.

Freshly brewed coffee and muffins
Waiting to get the first paint on my new painter's pants.... So I painted a paw print on my hem. ๐Ÿพ

For sourdoughs this seems like a no-brainer, old timers lived this way, every day. It was just normal life. When things broke, you fixed them. When they wore out you found a new purpose. When you didn’t have the resources, you cut back. In our age of modern convenience this is often a foreign concept.

Today’s climate of uncertainty, high inflation, product shortages and less expendable income might find yourself needing to make some adjustments. So, how do we apply this principle practically today? Here’s 8 ways to reduce, reuse, recycle & repurpose.

1. Take less to the dump.
Have a damaged chest: turn it into a wood bin or a flower bed? Furniture that you’re tired of, if there’s any life left consider donating it. If broken can it be repaired, by you or another person with proper skills/tools? Many of the dumped couches I’ve seen have been filthy and torn up from pets, not really functionally deficient. Performing regular maintenance and cleaning will help to keep your furniture functional for longer.
Too much trash? Can you separate burnables (paper, cardboard, tissue) and recycle it? Turn it into an art project, use it for animal bedding. Shred it and put into compost or build a worm composter let the little wigglers recycle it. Make fireplace logs from it. Recycle your aluminum cans or melt it down in a backyard forge for more homesteading fun!

2. Grow food instead of lawns.
Even a small patch of lawn can be used to supplement your household needs for food during the summer months. No lawn to spare? Consider container gardening or simple hydroponics if you don’t have much space. Growing your own food nourishes you twice, it nourishes your soul while tending the little growing plants then nourishes your body when you harvest. You don’t have to grow bushels or have a greenhouse to be productive! Use what you have!

3. Make it yourself
Learn a handcraft if you don’t already have skills like this. Crochet a potholder when you need one instead of buying a new Made in China model. Sew yourself some new curtains or maybe a quilt. Make your own bread or yogurt. Take a cooking class or better yet learn from an elder! Handmade cards and gifts are treasured around our house

4. Make do.
Need something like flower pots but can’t afford new at the store? Look around and see what containers you have sitting about. Remember the soup can you put into the trash? Paint it to decorate it if you’d like. Or tie some burlap and a ribbon around it for a shabby chic look. You can even cut the top off a soda/water bottle or milk jug for planting in. A cardboard box filled with dirt works well for one season. Old boots make great, whimsical flower pots! Get creative!

5. Hunt, Fish & Forage
All three are viable sources of food. Depending on your skill-set and available tools, most everyone can try at least one of these. Join a local garden club if you’re unsure. Befriend your green thumb neighbor and ask for growing help.

6. If it’s broke, fix it.
Car need new brakes or an oil change? YouTube is a great resource for leaning basic auto repair and maintenance. There are also books published for your specific make/model to tell you everything you need to know about your vehicle. One line of these books are called Chilton’s, you can find them at car parts stores, online and sometimes second hand. Remember, regular maintenance in your vehicle is crucial to keeping it in service as long as possible.
Jean’s knees torn out? Patch them. Zipper broke on your favorite jacket? Replace it, or find someone else to do it for you.
Some things are outside of our scope to be sure, but don’t be afraid to take on a task and learn a new skill. Besides potentially saving yourself some money you’ll gain satisfaction knowing you did it yourself.

7. Barter
Bartering, trading or swapping are great ways to procure goods when cash flow is low. You can always trade your time/labor for goods if you don’t have any goods to trade.

8. Consider different lifestyle choices.
This one gets a little personal, but no judgement, just something to ponder at night before you fall asleep.
When times are tough sometimes we have to consider options that we may never have thought we could do before. This can be a simple as riding a bike instead of driving. What about carpooling or limiting your trips? Instead of running to the store daily you could try once weekly shopping trips and buying in bulk. Cutting back on trips saves fuel expense as well as spending more money at whatever store you find yourself at.
With all this formula shortages going on, if you’re expecting, have you considered breastfeeding instead of formula feeding? It’s much more cost effective, and some say more convenient!
A big expense around here is communications. Cell phones, landlines, internet…what about getting by with one less cell phone? Have a “stay” family/home phone and a “go” phone instead of every family member having their own device. Cut the cable and put up an antenna for local channels. Cancel the Netflix, rent the occasional movie instead. Or better yet, read a book.
Are you a smoker? Besides the obvious quiting the habit, you could cut back. Instead of reaching for that next smoke, every other craving get up and go for a walk or any other activity to retrain your brain. Reducing your consumption is both economical and good for your health! Which will also save you in future medical expenses.

It’s usually during times of hardship that we are reminded about simpler days, when less is more. Sometimes we can get by with a little less & make do. Who knows, you might just find a little satisfaction in being more self sufficient! If you’re not careful, you just might turn into a sourdough.

Assembled 12 v light and antler accent.