Friday, June 21, 2013

Solstice Celebrations

As I've sat up late the past few nights and watched the glorious sun shining across the valley and above the hills to the west of us, I've been recalling my attempts to share the magic of this time of year with those of you who have never experienced a Fairbanks summer. I hesitate to even begin this year, because I'm just not sure how well it can be done. But, here it goes.

I have been going to bed between eleven and midnight, and the sun is usually still a glowing red fireball over the far hills. The air is warm and moist. Most the windows in our house have been open non-stop for the past several days. We've had a few nights that were still eighty when we went to bed, and that is rare. The only pests are mosquitoes, and they've been bad this year - but are not always so. The sun rises crazy early -without googling it, I'd say sometime before or close to four a.m. The birch trees are all bright to dark green. Today the air is exceptionally sweet and moist because it rained today. The air here is never very muggy, and it always has a fresh crisp quality to it that I craved when I moved away, and every time we fly somewhere in the warmer months, I always love stepping off the plane and smelling our fresh air - I've never smelled air so refreshing and clean anywhere else.

The interior of Alaska gets the hottest and also some of the coldest temperatures in the state. Our summers tend to start in May (not this summer), with seventies and lots of sun. June tends to be our hottest (70's-90's) sunniest month with exciting thunderstorms and fleeting showers. July is rich lush green and cools down towards the end. Our August is late summer and September is early fall.

Solstice is celebrated big time here with midnight baseball games, the Midnight Sun Run, down town festivities, camping, potlucks and parties. There is no time at night that it is dark, so many businesses extend their hours late into the night and people are out taking advantage of the warmth and the light. There is certainly a sense of urgency to make the most of every minute of our short summers. Town is crazy right now with tourists and locals alike in their campers, towing boats and water toys.

We have had the most glorious weather over the past two weeks, seventies to nineties with lots of sun. Every morning has just be gorgeous, and if you are like me, it is practically impossible to stay inside to even make breakfast and do the morning dishes, let alone do laundry or sweep. Today was our first rainy day of the summer, and that would be because in mid May we were still getting snow and had a few feet of it still on the ground. I was relieved to see the clouds and rain this morning, mostly because I had to stay inside and make some food for the weekend and for a potluck we are attending tomorrow. I busted out in the kitchen today and it felt good, because we've been living off lots of sandwiches and the quickest meals I can think of - as I haven't been up for hanging out indoors even by dinner time.

This week we had friends over and the kids played in the kid pool in the garden. We've been eating watermelon, cherries and homemade popsicles just about daily. This week we went to Chena Lake for a day. It is about a half hour drive from town. I went out swimming a few times and the water was perfect. I'm hoping to make it out there again in the next week or two, and not wait until next summer. We have learned to seek out our own picnic and swim spot away from the crowds. The very next day we were invited to go to the Tanana river to play with friends in the sand and water, and we went with it because that is what you do when it is a sunny ninety degree day in June

Tomorrow we are going to a Pentathlon (for 10 - 13 year olds with events for younger children as well), followed by a Greek potluck, put on by our Children of the Boreal Home-school Potluck and the greater Fairbanks Waldorf community.  It is going to be an all afternoon and into the evening event. I baked two trays of baklava today with our own honey. I'm also taking goat feta and chevre with herbs and olive oil.

On Sunday we have been invited to a Solstice Raku kiln firing and potluck put on by a friend of ours. There will be pots there to glaze and fire. Then we are celebrating three birthdays in our family, with a big family dinner - (I'm separating cream and making ice-cream Sunday morning.) So, that is how we roll for Solstice weekend, jam packed family, friend and food fun. Home body that I am already looking forward to spending Monday and Tuesday with the kids in the garden and with the animals and not going anywhere or having anyone over.

Happy summer solstice to you wherever you are. May your days be sunny and hot!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June pictures; Kids and Geese, gardens and first foraging

 I have little time or energy for writing tonight - but I managed to get some pictures uploaded from the past few days. We are enjoying our second week of eighties and non - stop sunshine. The gardens are off to a good start - with some of the young starts obviously a little stressed with the intense heat and sun - which is how our early summers tend to go. With the fabulous weather we have been outside non stop, mostly watering and still planting - although that is pretty much finished. We tilled a new garden plot - a former goat pen of five years. We pretty much planted into straight compost/ aged goat/geese/duck bedding.The kids and I have been home all day mostly every day, and have been able to let the chickens roam free, as well as the geese who follow us everywhere. We've also been getting the goats out for walks. I wished I'd brought the camera with us tonight, watching the does and doelings graze among the greens and run and jump, while the geese shuffle this way and that. Enjoy the pictures. We are hauling at least two hundred gallons of water daily and most of that is going on the gardens - craziness I know. I'm not hoping for rain - but that is what it might take for me to get a day inside cleaning and writing.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Homestead Update

Well, I know I'm overdue for a post, but I wasn't planning on posting tonight, but I saw your comment Ginger, so this is for you :) 

As those you who are local know, we've had the craziest spring ever - with winter weather and snow up until a couple weeks ago and then we've had seventies and eighties all this past week - just craziness. So, I'm getting the garden in later than ever. I spent all last week hauling wheelbarrows of compost up a soggy muddy driveway and up into the garden. One afternoon I managed to slip in the mud and the wheelbarrow full of compost I was pushing up hill fell back onto me, bruising my arm and neck- badly enough that I had a pretty stiff and swollen neck for a couple days. Then, the following day I was checking on the bees, wearing a tank top and skirt and I got stung by an angry guard bee on my already bruised and swollen neck. Needless to say, I didn't drive any where for a couple days, and I'm now suiting up.

As you can imagine, I've been in much of a panic where the garden is concerned. Thankfully my mother-in-law came up for a few days and has been spending her day with the kids and I've been able to plant from morning till night. As of today I was down to flowers, medicinal herbs and perennial re-arranging. However, we are putting in a new garden this year in the old buck pen that we have been clearing out. Some friends dropped off a tiller tonight and D is going to till about a thirty by thirty patch of ground that has had ducks, chickens, geese and bucks on it for the last five years- so we are talking fertile ground. I was going to put heavy feeders here, but then decided to put my heat lovers in the top garden. I'll be planting brassicas, beets, carrots and potatoes in the new garden.

In Goat news, Xanadu kidded. I don't have the heart to go into the details - but her first kid was upside down with it's neck back and I ended up calling the vet (crying) for the first time since my first kidding season. (Yep - I have the worst kidding luck ever.) We lost the first doeling - two for two this year - I've been feeling pretty down about that. On the upside, the second doeling was in the correct position and is healthy, strong, beautiful and sweet. Giving us two doelings this kidding season.

  Here is Denali
Wild Roots Denali :)

Avery and I planted her garden yesterday. She planted three corn plants, three sunflowers (two of which are red), six snapdragons, three cherry brandy rudbeckia, one cabbage, one broccoli and three strawberries. We have yet to plant some red zinnias, which I started from seed but the aphids got - so now I need to buy some - cause I promised my girl red zinnias.

We currently have fourteen Cornish Cross in the house - and as you might be asking why not fifteeen, as D told the lady at the feed store, "my wife said fifteen was too many." There are also eight Welsummers keeping them company - all of which are ready to head outside. There are twenty some laying chicks in a protected outdoor pen. Daisy and Dilly are in a chicken tractor, but they are fast outgrowing it - so D is making me a special Goose tractor - which I'll share with you when it is finished. So far these are the most personable geese we've had. They follow us all around the property. For a while I was able to crouch down an call them within arm reach, but now they've learned that I'm going to pick them up and put them away - so they've gotten harder to catch.

Happy Greenup! Happy Planting! Happy Summer!