Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Homestead

Summer is FINALLY here, yippee!  Life on the homestead is getting busy.  We decided to raise pigs again this year. We went out to the farm and Wyatt picked out these two cute little buggers and named them "Muddy" and "Dirty".

Unfortunately Dirty was not feeling well and went back to the farm. Mr. Pinkleman was going to give her some meds and see if he could get her to come around so we came home with this spunky little girl now named "Runner".  I really enjoy having the pigs, they have tamed up pretty well so we can go in and pet them and I even went as far as to put sunscreen on Runner, so her pink little ears didn't get burnt. I know- Jeff laughed at me too but I am all for treating these animals right during the short time they are under our care.

Another one of my little projects is beekeeping. This will be my fourth year and I am still learning about these amazing creatures. But I will have to admit that I am still afraid of them. I seem to be developing a stronger reaction to the stings, which is making me more nervous but not so bad that I am going to stop quite yet. I just bought a smoker this year which helps mellow the bees and I make sure Jeff is home anytime I am messing with the hive.  I really have not gotten stung very many times, maybe a couple per year.  

Our homestead is now home to two Magpie ducks named "Capie" (because she is wearing a cap and "Bitey" (because she was biting one of the baby chicks).  I have never had duck before so this is all new for me.  I think we may have messed up by raising them in the same enclosure as the baby meat chicks because at this point the ducks are imprinted on the chickens and get very distraught when they are separated from the flock. I had envisioned these ducks more as pets following the boys around the yard. But so far they have been really fun to watch, especially when we get them into the water.

They have grown really quickly, the above picture was in late May and below less than a month later. They should grow to be about 7 pounds.


We still have 6 egg chickens that we overwinter every year and we get meat chicks every spring. This year we have 21 meat chickens and also 2 turkeys.

And of course there is the greenhouse and garden.  We got off to a slow start with our tomatoes and peppers, I think we had some bad potting soil and were not keeping them warm enough when we started them back in Late February. But now that they are settled into the greenhouse they seem to be coming along.  Wyatt really wanted to plant some corn, those are his 2 plants in the yellow bucket.

The garden is not much to look at right now. We got everything planted in late May/early June and by now pretty much everything is sprouting. We planted carrots, onions, greens, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, oregano, leeks, lettuce, corn, squash, peas, beets and turnips.  This year we got a drip irrigation system in place, I am excited about this because it should be a huge timesaver and better for the plants.  

 So lots of work to do around the house. In addition to garden and animals I have completed two sprint distance triathlons, one in Anchorage and one here in Delta.  Jeff has had a month off since he quit his old job and he has kept busy checking stuff off his honey do list, fishing with the boys and doing prep work for his new office.  Jeff is now working for an environmental consulting firm out of Fairbanks and just went back to work this week.  He is very excited about this change and so far it seems like it will be a great opportunity for him and a nice group of people to work with.  He will be gone quite a bit this summer doing field work but when he is in town he will be working from home which we are all excited about.  He is planning on building a small office down at the end of the driveway near our guest cabin so he can have a quiet workspace.  
We are also looking forward to lots of family coming up this summer. Jeff's nephew and a friend of his will be here for 10 days, my dad here for 2 months and my mom and nephew here for 2 weeks.

Wow, this has been a whirlwind of blogging for me!  Time to sign off, thanks for checking in.

Growing Up

Wyatt is really turning into quite the little man. Being five has brought a lot of big changes and growth. I can't believe he will be starting kindergarten this fall. His preschool had a graduation party for them on the last day of school.  The two girls in the picture with him have birthdays just a month on either side of Wyatt. We have been getting together with them and their moms since they were tiny babies. It is fun to see them growing up together.


Wyatt has grown in many ways but he is still really picky about his clothes. So during the party there was no way anyone was going to get him to wear a cap or gown.

 Sam had fun at the party too. He will be starting here at this preschool in the fall.

Another big change is the start of organized sports. Wyatt played hockey this winter and loved it.  Now he is playing tee ball and he actually wore the uniform them gave him- I was amazed!  Look how handsome he is :)  Wyatt was really excited to start tee ball because he thinks he is a really fast runner. On the way to his first practice he was telling me that he was going to be the fastest kid on the team. Well, the first thing the coach had them do to get warmed up was have them all run to the fence and back. Wyatt was READY, he looked up at me with this big excited look on his face. The coach said GO and he was off! And guess what? Wyatt was the first to the fence and the first one back-HE WAS THE FASTEST ON THE TEAM!! He was beaming when he got back to me :)

I am so proud of the person he is becoming. 

Getting Outside

We packed up the family and drove to Denali Park back in early May. The park was not officially open yet so you can camp for free in the campground and drive 30 miles on the park road.  

This Ptarmigan was the first animal spotted. We were driving along and Wyatt yells STOP!! so we stopped and he said he saw a ptarmigan and we had to back up to look for it. We backed up and saw nothing so started driving again and again he yelled STOP! so we repeated the procedure with the same result and were about to chalk it up to a 5 year old imagination when we saw this little guy.  Wyatt really is very good a spotting wildlife, we should have never doubted him!

We saw tons of caribou.

and lots of moose but unfortunately no bears.

The weather was not so great, it was cold and really windy (even snowed on us off and on) but we took advantage of the wind by doing a little kite flying.

 We did get one good hike in despite the weather. The boys are getting to be great little hikers and we got up high enough to get some good looks at Dall Sheep.  Wyatt kept pointing to the tallest peaks and saying "I think I could get to the top of that one...even though I am only 5 I could still do it!" The day these boys can out hike Mama and Papa is probably not too far off.

 Still a bunch of snow up here.

The hike did go a little too close to nap time so I ended up carrying Sam on the way back down.
Are you wondering why Papa didn't carry him?...so am I!!

We stopped in and visited with the parks' sled dogs. I found out that they adopt out dogs from the kennel, I am really wanting a skijor dog so I was very intrigued by this idea.  There was one dog named Muddy that I fell in love with, but he was already spoken for :(

We worried about sleeping in the tent, last summer every time we went camping Sam would be up half the night crying. This time it took him a while to settle in but once he did he was down for the count and we  got some good sleep in.  

We drove the 30 some miles into the park two days in a row which was  a lot of time in the car for the boys but they seem to enjoy it, especially when they didn't have to be strapped in the carseats. The being able to bounce around was exciting for them, although Wyatt was sure to keep in eye out for the police so we wouldn't get sent to jail.  We also got to go visit some friends of ours that live just north of the park.

 In late May we took a nice family hike to Bear Creek, which is about a 45 minutes south of Delta.  We didn't actually see any bears but we figured that at least one had been there not too long before us.  Sam said "That is the biggest poop I have never seen in my whole very long life."

We had to stop so the monkeys could climb in the monkey tree.

Papa found this Junco nest along the trail.

We went up high enough to look for some sheep with no luck but we were treated to some nice looks through the spotting scope at a nest full of Raven chicks on the cliff.

Looking forward to many more family hikes this summer!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hutlinana Hot Springs

Back in early April Ellen and I headed out to Hutlinana Hot Springs which is about a 5 hour drive from Delta out past Fairbanks and up the Elliott Highway.  We almost made it but a few miles from the trailhead we got a flat tire :(  But of course being the strong AK women that we are we got the tire changed and we back on our way in no time.

The trail is about 6 or 7 miles in to get the the hot springs. We opted to walk and pull our gear in sleds because we didn't know what the trail conditions would be and sometimes it is easier to walk instead of ski when you are pulling a bunch of gear.  Turned out the snow was perfect for hiking, nice and firm and the weather was great too.

The area along the trail had burned last summer and the woodpeckers had moved in and were going to town on all the burned spruce trees.

We did come across a little bit of overflow but it was solid so with some careful footing it didn't cause too much trouble.

Once we made it back to the hot springs were ready to hit the water!

 We set up camp opposite the creek from the Hot springs. We stayed two nights and mostly had the place to ourselves.  Two other campers showed up late on the second night and we passed a couple day trippers on the trail but it was beautiful, quiet and very relaxing.

 The second day we went for a hike to gather firewood and go explore a bit, we saw tons of wolf tracks.

 The trail out behind the springs is a long gradual uphill the whole way so we took our sleds up and sledded the whole way back down. It made for some pretty exciting sledding but nobody got hurt and we sure made it back a lot quicker!

 Finally got some much needed quiet time to read the book that my friend Mike wrote, South From Alaska- a great read you should check it out!

This was our second trip out here but definitely not the last!!