Tuesday, May 1, 2018

CAP Couple Makes Living Off Grid Look Easy

Please enjoy a recently-published article from the Civil Air Patrol about our homestead (link here).  It is a good overview, of what life is like here, rather than the narrower, "how to" topics of many of my blog articles.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Cost/Benefit of Raising Food Animals in Alaska Winter

Animal husbandry in cold, dark winters is challenging and expensive.  From a cost/benefit assessment, it is unsurprising that autumn has historically been a time for butchering animals - they cost a lot more to feed and warm through winter than in the summer, and in the case of birds, they lay fewer eggs, too.

Insulated bee hives in winter
Below are some of the seasonal problems we have encountered raising honeybees, chickens, ducks, and rabbits, and the costs/benefits we estimate.  Perhaps this will help others considering raising food animals (and insects) during long cold seasons.

Problems, costs, and benefits:
HONEY BEES   Winter: Almost all of our honeybee colonies die in winter, despite insulated hives, so we have to buy nucs (nuclear colonies with one queen and a few hundred Buckfast or Italian bees) every spring, for about $250@.

Costs: So  (after buying the initial boxes and equipment), our annual cost to produce 17 gallons of honey from four hives is about $58/gallon, or $0.91/oz, which is in between the prices of store bought regular and organic honeys.  This volume may seem ridiculous to anyone who only uses honey on an occasional biscuit, but we use the honey in place of sugar in many recipes (can't grow sugar up here), including beer and mead, and for hair conditioner and facials.  We also use the beeswax in furniture and leather polish, lip balm, and skin moisturizing bars.  I don't know the weight/volume we accumulate,  because we store it in bits and pieces, but I read that a pound of beeswax sells on-line for $10 – 15/lb.