Monday, March 12, 2018

Alaska Homesteading Winter Anecdotes

Outsiders may envision Alaska's long winters as all very similar, but that is not so.  Each year's differences offer variety and alternating advantages and disadvantages at our remote home.  This year, our firewood stores have benefited from low snow and high winds, our beeyard has suffered from a moose, and our entertainment has increased by visits of a curious marten to our hot tub.

Martens are described, in one source, as “nature's most adorable assassin.”  Isn't that an evocative description!  Related to weasels/ermines/minks, martens are the size of slim dachsunds.   They have short legs, a long body wearing a glossy brown coat, a fluffy, fox-like tail, small, rounded ears, a short nose, and bright eyes in a restless, alert face. They are really cute.  It is entertaining to watch them dash lightly across the surface of the snow, jump up, and then dive deep to a subnivean nest of voles. They grab one for dinner, and then dash off to some quiet picnic spot.  One day, my husband was sitting in the soaking tub where his splash aroused the curiosity of a marten.  The little critter bravely bounded not only to the tub, but also up two stairs!  Cute they may be, but their sharp teeth and claws are not condusive to close acquaintance.  Bryan splashed at the creature, who decided to retreat in favor of smaller meat or perhaps less water.

For some reason, we have had more frequent moose visitors this winter.  We watched one with a damaged rear leg struggle through overflow on the lake, have viewed others nibbling birch branches in our yard, and sighed over the depredations to our apple trees.  The animals' heavy footfalls punch deep holes through the soft snow and even along our hardpacked snow paths.  Saturday night,  a moose banged through the 4.5 foot high wire fence that encircles the bee yard, totally ripping out some of the lines and then, stepped over the rest with his 5 foot long legs.  I don't know why; tracks indicate that he was walking, not running.  Maybe the appeal of a straight line?  

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Six Remedies to a Stressful Life, wherever you are

For many years, I have been unable to articulate  WHY we live as we do, (telecommuting consultants from an off-road, off-grid cabin in Alaskan woods) other than joking about my husband''s mid-life crisis.  Just last week, however, I figured it out when we listed all the people we know who seem to lead very stressful lives.  I realized that our very intentional living choices had the added benefit of reducing our stress levels.  No more back pain.  Better quality sleep.  A deeper savings account.

By “intentional life,” I mean pro-actively thinking about one's priorities, values, and goals in an actionable way, such as how you want to spend time, with whom, doing what.  Then enact those goals by, in part, shedding activities, people, and expenses that detract from those goals in order to free up resources to pursue what matters to you.

Our stress reducers seem to have been the following.  Maybe your list would be similar or different:
   *reduce expectations,
   *reduce expenses,
   *reduce maintenance,
   *increase exposure to nature,
   *reduce personal ignorance, and
   *reduce sense of urgency.