We may be living in the last frontier, but we are still far removed from frontier living. In lieu of resolutions for the new year, I instead made a checklist of things I’d like to accomplish in 2014, all centered around sustainable, local living:
1. Grow a garden – Last spring, John did some strategic Craigslisting, and traded a jackhammer he no longer needed for piles of redwood 2×12’s, which we made into planter boxes. We lined the bottoms with gopher wire, filled them with dirt, and fertilized with worm castings. I collected packets of heirloom seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Spring just finished melting off the last of winter and…we decided to move to Alaska, so we had to scrap the whole project. I’m looking forward to sweet redemption this year.
2. Shoot something and eat it – I grew up around hunting, but still have managed to know almost nothing about it. Tags? Licenses? Permits? I don’t even know where to start. I’ve fired a 9mm and a .45 in a shooting range, and an M-16 with blanks, but that was about 10 years ago. Despite the obstacles of ignorance and inexperience, I’m sure it can be done. I should probably start making some local friends.
Once I navigate the legalities and subtleties of the hunting part, I’ll be thrilled to get on to the eating part. I picked up a copy of “Cooking Alaskan” at a thrift store, and have perused such timeless recipes such as “Baked Seal Hindquarter”, “Moose Tongue Stew”, and “Ptarmigan and Dumplings”. The only question now is which magical meat will end up in my pan?
3. Catch more fish – This at least I have a start on, having caught my first Sockeye salmon last July. I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of Alaskan fishing with those outings, however. There is still charter fishing, fly fishing, and ice fishing among other fishing venues that I continue to know next to nothing about. Again, friends in the know would be quite a boon.
4. Can – This should easy if my garden is remotely successful. Anything that can be done in the kitchen is well within my comfort zone. I tried to make blackberry jam once, and it completely bombed, but I came up quite short of the recipe’s called for amount of blackberries. I’ll call that one a fluke.
5. Make soap – I bought a book on soapmaking in high school, undoubtably linked to the timing of Fight Club coming out on VHS. I’ve dragged the book with me everywhere. It’s time to make that dream a reality.
6. Go berry picking – For this kind of expedition to be fruitful (terrible pun intended), I not only need to make friends, but make friends that really like me. The locations of berry picking spots in Alaska aren’t something that can be Googled. They seem to be filed less in the category of ‘public information” and more so in ‘highly classified’.
To add some check marks to my list, I’ll need to put in some concentrated effort on planning, learning, and networking. It’s a good thing I gave myself the whole year. Meanwhile, here is a photo recap of our New Year’s Day.
John and Silas enjoyed some more downhill action…