It is past midnight and I just came in from my last walk around of farm chores. I didn't do much, other than check to see that everyone was in for the night and had enough food and water to last in to the morning. I also covered some hay that had been airing out, (the tarp blew off in a storm a few nights ago and the top and sides got wet). I usually put away the goat kids at night but I don't feel like being rushed in the morning to get out and milk so I left the kids with their mom's tonight. The sky is mostly cloudy and grayish blue with shades of light rose and apricot above the blue ridge line where the sun set not so long ago. The smell of smoke is in the air, which makes up for the less than clear blue sky. All of Alaska has been experiencing above average temperatures. Which we all enjoy immensely until the smoke starts rolling in. Smokey summers have been a trend over the last several years, but I don't remember them from my youth. We have many wild fires and so little infrastructure in the state that most are left to burn until they are deemed dangerous to populated areas. When the wind blows in the right (or wrong) direction, we get smoked out, even when the fires are far away and pose no threat. For the last week the smoke has drifted in and away as the wind changes course. It is worse in early morning and late evening, often giving way to clear blue skies during the day.
Not only have we been having record breaking heat waves (nineties), but we have also been experiencing humidity, which we are not use to. We live in an arctic dessert and our air is something I take for granted; it is very crisp and refreshing, sometimes in the middle of winter it is too dry and I crave the moist humid air that helps ferns grow lush and the hairs at my neck curl. But whenever I return to Fairbanks and step off the plane the first thing I notice is how much I missed our cool crisp air. Our summers here in interior Alaska are so fleeting and the winters long lasting, that Fairbanksans are completely tuned in to weather forecasts and taking advantage of each precious moment of sun and warmth. When listening to people talk they are hesitant but eager, hopeful and doubtful. Over and over I hear "They say it is going to be a cool rainy summer!" "On the news some expert said we are in for a cooling trend for the next several years!"or "I hope we have a hot summer, but I sure hope it doesn't get smokey". There is a lot of expectations riding on a Fairbanks summer, and I may be biased but Fairbanks has the best summers of anywhere in the state (think the hottest and sunniest). I tend to go crazy if I have to be inside for very long on a nice day. Forget all indoor house chores, forget dinner, I don't tend to think of myself as moody but keep me inside on a nice summer day and watch out.
We got our first batch of brome hay this week and will be picking up several more pickup truck loads over the next couple months. The first cutting here in the interior has just begun as we have only had a couple rain falls all summer and the hay was off to a slow start as a result. The first batch we got is beautiful, green and sweet smelling. The goats seem to think it an improvement over last years leftovers. We have so many tasks to accomplish over the next couple weeks. We are extending the outdoor chicken yard now that our chicken numbers are growing. I need to mix chicken food. Now that we are feeding about seventy birds we are plowing through the feed. I'm trying to keep track of all our grain expenses so I can figure out what we spend on feed. I bought fifty pound bags of fish and kelp meal in January and we haven't gone through even half of them, whereas we've probably fed eight or nine bags of corn - or more. So it isn't as easy as just adding up how many bags of crumbles we've fed. I need to sit down with all the receipts and do some math. When I do, I'll post it. Other farm chores include cleaning out the doe and buck pens and stalls (big nasty projects), finish a second doe stall that was started last summer and is now used as grain and hay storage, and build one more chicken house onto the side of the existing one. Firewood is going to start taking precedense here soon, in addition to finishing our hearth and hallway so we can move our woodstove back into the house. Finally, and here is the doosey, we are going to build an additon onto our house that is almost as big as our existing home. At the moment we all sleep in one large open loft. We have great acoustics with our high ceiling and as a result you can hear everything that goes on downstairs or vice versa, a little too well. So the big push for the addition would create two bedrooms for the kids and a play/family room. So far this summer Dustin has been working six eleven hour days a week and is about to get some time to spend all that money on lumber and building supplies.
Well, thinking of all that needs to get done reminds me that I'd better get some sleep. Goodnight.