Friday, August 9, 2013

Life at the Homestead Part 1

It has been brought to my attention that through out my posts I have mainly focused on the team and the trips we go on and the races we run and that people would also like to hear about our unique lifestyle living in a yurt off the grid with a bunch of huskies. So over the next few posts I am going to try to give you a better look at just where the dogs and I live and more importantly how we live.

Our kennel is located about 20 miles north of Fairbanks Alaska on a beautiful forested hillside near the Chatanika River valley. We choose to live “off the grid” or in other terms with out any outside wires coming in. We also do not have any running water or plumbing. Our “restroom” is an out-house which we use year round and at all temperatures warm or cold.

I currently haul all of our water by hand in five-gallon jugs from a nearby spring. We use roughly 15-25 gallons of water a day so this one chore can become quite time consuming. Despite the extra work hauling our water the spring lets us enjoy some of the best tasting cleanest water Alaska has to offer. On the brighter side not having plumbing means that we don’t have to worry about pipes freezing or any of those other pesky problems that plumbing in Alaska often brings.

We don’t live in a “typical Alaskan log cabin,” but instead in a  yurt. A yurt is in other terms a glorified tent in the shape of a circle, which has a wooden frame and fabric skin. Our only source of heat is a wood stove on which I do most if not all of our cooking in the winter time. There is a bit of a learning curve to cooking on the wood stove, but once you get it down it can be quite enjoyable. I’ll post more about wood stove cooking at a later date.

In order to feed the wood stove we need a lot of firewood, I split and stack our wood in the spring and summer so that it can dry for winter time use. Trees naturally have alot moisture in them and it is important to properly dry or season your wood to get the most efficient heat and burn time from it. I plan to have over seven chords of wood split and stacked by the end of August or mid September at the latest, and I am well on my way to reaching that goal.

There are three main types of fire-wood in interior Alaska; Birch, Spruce, and Aspen. Birch and Spruce are the most common, but we use all three. Aspen burns fast and hot and produces a lot of ash in the process which means you have to clean out your wood stove fairly often if not daily while burning this easily obtained wood that grows through out the interior almost as thick as weeds in places. Spruce also burns hot, and relatively quickly, but not as fast as aspen. Birch in my opinion is some of the better firewood out there for keeping your fire burning for a longer period of time. It is a really nice semi hard wood that burns slower than aspen or spruce while still putting off a good amount of heat. We really like to load up the stove with birch at night and when we leave the yurt for longer periods of time during the day such as training runs.

For our electricity our needs are simple and currently met by a gas powered Honda 2000 generator. The generator powers a few lights in the yurt and also charges our laptop computers for us from time to time. We try not to run the generator every day and will often go a day or two between uses in the winter time and some times up to a week in the summer. The generator will power the power tools we need and is small enough to be easily transported around the property to where ever it is needed at the time. One day we hope to add a battery bank to the homestead for energy storage and maybe some solar panels or wind turbines for alternative energy sources. And in order to use the internet I have to find a place in town with Wi-Fi,  and that is the biggest reason these posts are often few and far between.

Well that’s enough for this post. I will post more on gardening, the meat rabbits we raise, and other aspects of the homestead later.

Until next time, happy trails!

Here is a view of our Yurt, this picture was taken in mid April of this year.  
Here is the yurt under construction, note the wood lattice structure.
Getting started on our wood for the winter.

A nice start to what will soon be several large woodpiles in preparation for the coming cold.


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