Saturday, June 22, 2013

Alaska Bush life : Winter Spit Baths; No Shower

On May 30, I took my first shower in 3 ½ months. (That's how long it had been since a trip to Anchorage, waiting for the ice to thaw enough along the lake shore to insert a lake pump).

Do you know how difficult it is to wash long hair standing up in front of the kitchen sink, pouring small pots of snow melt water warmed on the wood stove over one's hair? My hair never felt clean; just dirty or soapy, so I never looked in a mirror all winter to check out the results. (I probably looked like the Bride of Frankenstein). Furthermore, can you imagine how LOW the motivation is to undertake this l-o-n-g and c-o-l-d process in a dark and cold cabin?  From our effortful experience, I totally understand why old timers bathed only on Saturday nights and I absolutely pity those poor mining camp hookers.

I figure that my husband can have a wife who has clean hair, shaves her legs, and wears high heels, OR he can have an unkempt wife willing to live in the boonies with no running water all winter, but he can't have both at the same time. So neither of us shaved for 3 ½ months. My joke was that the leg hair was so long I could have told wind direction IF I had pulled my pants legs up, but who would do that in an Alaskan winter when I routinely wore two layers of socks INSIDE the cabin. When I finally did shave in that blessed shower, the drain pan looked like some poor poodle had drowned and was circling the drain. Did I care? Oh no! I lingered under that fantastic invention called a shower head, appreciating that other noble device called an on-demand heater, just daring our 55 gallon drum of shower water to dribble to an end before I was finished.

In such a setting, it feels downright decadent to take a shower every single day. Dirty? Shower. Hot? Shower. Bored? Long shower. Because the mosquitoes are at their hungriest and most aggressive in June, we keep a smoky fire burning in the front fire pit, stunning the pesky creatures into welcome lethargy. As a result, we smell like firemen and scratch like a pair of primates. Guess what. Shower. I'll drain the entire lake. It is better than penicillin for fixing what ails me... until the lake freezes again in October.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Raising Meat Rabbits in Alaska

We raise rabbits both for meat and manure for the gardens (and they eat vegetable scraps). Although I embraced the practicality of this, the practice of being so practical has been hard! After all, both my sisters have raised rabbits as pets and we all shared one as kids (named Thumper, of course).

In fact, I wonder if the reason that Americans and the English seem more squeamish about raising/serving rabbits for dinner than the French and Italians is because we all grew up with Beatrix Potter's bunnies and Disney's intrepid Thumper in “Bambi.”

Below is information about my experience with them,as pets and as fodder, labeled by category for easy skimming.