Alaska Living

How to make raspberry-currant mead

Hey everyone,

I just put up my recipe for making mead. We finished picking 20lbs of wild currants about a week ago, and I have my first of two six gallon batches fermenting right now. I opened a bottle of last year’s mead the other day, and it was incredible!


How to make home-made soap

I just finished putting together a tutorial about making your own soap. You can check in out here.



Here in Alaska, we are allowed to go dipnetting for salmon. Dipnetting is nothing more than putting a net into the water and waiting for a fish to swim in. While the odds of catching a fish might not seem terribly good at first glance, the salmon runs up here are such that one can “dip” dozens of fish in a day.

The mouth of the Kenai River, where we are allowed to dipnet.

Other Alaskans with their dipnets in the water, waiting for a salmon to swim in.

Last week, we went dipnetting on the Kenai River. All said and done, we caught about 75 sockeye salmon. Between halibut fishing, an earlier dipnetting trip, and butchering the chickens, or freezer is about full. We’re not sure how we’re going to fit a moose into it. (Methinks its about time for a bigger chest freezer).


Bears like chickens too…

We came home from the local 4th  of July parade to a peculiar sight: our large, bear-proof trash can was upside-down in the driveway. We took a look and sure enough, a bear was trying to get in. You can see the outline of its print on the can.

You can sort of see its paw and claw prints on the can.

It was no surprise that a bear was in the yard. After all, we live on Bear Mountain. But I was shocked it hadn’t gotten into the chicken pen. However, when I went to freshen their water, I saw this:

A worthy attempt...

Thankfully, he didn’t get in. Ironically, all he had to do was to flip the plywood roof up and he would have been in bear heaven…There are now heavy rocks on the roof. Thankfully, its the 4th of July and people are lighting off fireworks everywhere. They should keep the bear away for a day or two. In the meantime, it’s time to think about butchering.



Beyond gardening, I am raising chicken for the first time. In mid-May, I picked up 20 Cornish cross chicks from the local hatchery. One died a couple of weeks later, though I’m not sure why. I think it had internal issues, and seemed really lethargic.

Happy chicks in the crawlspace

We put the chicks in a whelping box in the utility room underneath the house. While those accommodations worked well for the first month, they quickly became way too stinky for the crawlspace.

My lovely pen.

At about 4 weeks, I built a pen for them out of some old wood we had hanging around. The pen isn’t pretty, but it’s cheap, keeps the rain out, and can easily be taken apart. When I put the chickens out, I was concerned they might be cold, as they hadn’t feathered out completely. However, they did fine, though I noticed that their food consumption went way up.

The chickens at 4 weeks


A few days ago, I had a friend help me move the pen onto fresh ground, but in the process we accidentally crushed one of the chicken’s feet. We decided this would be a good time to try out first homegrown chicken. It was delicious! It was definitely leaner that the chicken you get at the store, but in a good way. Still very tender. Here’s the recipe I used to BBQ it.

The rest will be in the freezer soon. Butchering and plucking will be a new experience for me, so we’ll see how it goes!


Garden Update Part 2

Having just finished weeding my garden in the rain, I thought it might be a good idea to add a picture of its current state…

The garden at the end of June

The early harvest: kale, mustard greens, and radishes


Garden Update Part 1

The transplants for the year

It’s been an incredibly busy summer, and as such, my blogging has suffered. This is my desperate attempt to catch up on what has been happening in the garden:

I planted in mid-May, which is a bit early for Alaska. Luckily, it was a very warm May and the plants did well. This year I experimented with using cardboard as mulch. I had a lot of big cardboard boxes left over from installing cabinets, and decided to lay them over my cabbage, broccoli, and carrots.

The cardboard has been working wonderfully on the cabbages and broccoli that are planted further apart. I simply used a utility knife to cut holes where I put in the transplants. It has eliminated the need for weeding, and does a great job of conserving soil moisture.

The prepared garden

As you can see from the picture below, I had to use large rocks to hold the cardboard down.

The garden in early June

The cardboard didn’t work as well on the carrots. The rows are too close together, and it means that the weeds are able to sneak through one side or the other.

The carrot bed

More gardening updates to come!