Alaska Homesteaders?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by goatchops, Feb 13, 2004.

  1. goatchops

    goatchops Well-Known Member

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    I'm currently working in a federal government job in Southeast Alaska and plan to retire in about 5 years. I'd like to get a head-start on buying/setting up our homestead. We love Alaska though there are some challenges, not the least of which is the weather (politics, tundra, big furry livestock-eating beasts.)

    Is anyone around this forum living a homesteading lifestyle in Alaska, if so what part of the state are you in?

    If not Alaska, we're thinking Tennessee or North Carolina. Any pros/cons advice on remote areas to search?
     
  2. almostthere

    almostthere Well-Known Member

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    Does Alaska still have a lottery for the chance to purchase land? At one point some years ago I read that you had to be a 1 yr resident and then they had to draw your name in a lottery or something like that? Or was my information incorrect? ANYWAY, Alaska is one our dream spots, we hope to see one day. Hope you get yours going as well.
     

  3. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

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    :) Well, I have family in Big Lake, just north of Anchorage. I'm not with them because they have to wear bee keepers head gear to protect them from mosquitos when hanging out the laundry! :eek: When I ask my cousin how she could stand it she said" Hey! 100 Billion mosquitos couldn't be wrong! This is a great place to live! " LOL

    Seriously though, they have been there about 20 years and do love it a lot. They built their house in Nevada and then chopped it up in sections, put it on some flatbed trucks and moved it up there. Cousin has said if she knew then what she knows now she would have tripled the storage space as well as more secure and larger quarters for livestock.

    Good luck with your venture...it sounds wonderful...don't forget the mosquito masks! LOL

    LQ
     
  4. goatchops

    goatchops Well-Known Member

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    Here's the neat thing about interior Alaska.... Winters are similar to the midwest, actually a little milder than I remember growing up in Ohio. And the summer temps get into the 80's occasionally with up to about 20 hours of daylight. Great for growing thousand pound pumpkins!!

    Yes, the state of Alaska has quite a few parcels of bare land available for as little as $300-$400 per acre for about 20 acres. The drawback is that most of these are in an area that you need to use a dogsled to get to. Another bonus is that veterans receive a 25% discount on land purchased from the state, not to mention the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD.) The PFD is an annual payout to residents based on the amount of oil drilled out of the arctic wildlife reserve. The dollar figures are to the tune of more than $1,800 for every man, woman and child in Alaska. Combined with an enlisted military retirement paycheck it seems conceivable to make ends meet while living a homesteading lifestyle.

    The biggest crime committed in this town of 8,000 last year was when a record king salmon (+/- 90 lbs) was stolen out of a processor's storage freezer. It turns out a couple brothers who read about the monster fish in the newspaper got drunk, snuck into the freezer and swiped the fish then cooked it and served it to the son of the fish processor boss at a party. As with most criminal masterminds, one of the brothers bragged about to a girlfriend and an full-on investigation ensued led by the police with the assistance of the highway patrol and advice from the FBI. Boy you'd have wanted to think that someone was murdered the way the local paper and radio station carried on.

    My point is: I truly believe that Alaska is the last bastion of relative innocence, 'The last frontier' to be sure. We hear about all of the woes down south i.e. liars, cheats, murderers and such but it seems so far away. Sometimes it's almost frightening to consider driving through a city to get to Wal-Mart, which incidentally we don't have on this island. Its all small businesses and local folks.

    I think that my question falls on deaf ears because most homesteaders in Alaska are likely 50 miles from the nearest road and haven't seen a newspaper since Jimmy Carter left office. I'm just not sure that I am ready for that level of self-sufficiency, I think I'd miss people too much. Besides my kids could never mush our border collie across the tundra to visit us during school vacations.

    Almosthere: You've got to visit Alaska, I've sailed all over the world and Alaska is indeed unique and is the most unspoiled natural place I've ever been.

    Thanks for the replys
     
  5. Myself and a few family members have spent some time in Alaska over the past 20 years. My brother was in the military and stationed near Anchorage. He loved the outdoors and the vastness of everything but the dark winters drove him to drink excessively.

    I went to Nome a few years back which was quite an interesting place. The fishing was awesome and because of the ocean breeze the bugs were not bad until we went further inland. No trees is something to experience and so is 23hours of daylight. And so is hooking 20-40 lb salmon. The bear tracks were enormous and the caribou were rather friendly....a young male pursued me for some time. I hollered at him and threw rocks because he was ruining my fishing. The native Alaskans were not friendly.

    What I noticed and so has a doctor friend of mine that worked in Fairbanks is that there is a huge gap between those who have nothing (alot of natives) and those who have a good life. The undereducated often fall into heavy drinking/drugging and it is sad. The kids in Nome start having babies at young ages (16-17) and live off the gov't and the more kids you have the more PF money you collect in Sept.

    Not sure I'd like the darkness in winter! The cold is nothing...its often colder here than Nome in Dec. and Jan.

    Alaska is a beautiful unbelievable heaven on Earth in the summer. Living on an island probably gives you less of a temp gap too. I hear Highland cattle love Alaska.

    Goodluck on your venture. Find a way to pressure can the summer sun and winter wont seem so bad!
     
  6. hello,
    i ahve lived in alska for the last 39 years.. aboout 29 of it in Southeast alaska..juneau and sitka.. plus the last 10 on a homestedin central alaska.. outside of wasilla..

    The free land.. or cheap land in alaska is part of the past.. and the PFD>. well thats decresing every year and as alaska is now facing an uncertain financial future it may not last that long.. this year is was only about 1200.. .. it goes up every so often but not that much... in central alaska you can fnd acres of land 50 miles out of town for a reasonable rate.. most likely 20 to 40 acress will cost you 20 to 40 thousand..

    our winter lately have been mild.. not much snow.. but this year we have about 3' on the ground.. and several weeks of -30 below.. right now its about 30 above..

    its a great state to live in if you like the outdoors.. , hunting and fishing.. etc. but most of the jobs are in the city.. and rentals are very expensive.

    feel free to contact me if you want any specfic info.. shibuko@hotmail.com is my email
     
  7. LindaT_AK

    LindaT_AK Well-Known Member

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    Hello hello. Where abouts in the SouthEast are you living? I live in the South Central area. I was born in Ketchikan and then my family homesteaded 160 acres where I am living now. I'm still on the original homestead up on one corner of the property. It's very hard to describe "homesteading lifestyle" now-a-days. You can buy some cheaper land, but it is usually far away from the towns and to go anywhere you have to drive quite a ways. Cheaper yet, yes, you have to get in and out by plane, dogsled, snowmachine etc. I live in an unfinished house (very livable though), I have no indoor plumbing, but I do have a well and a storage tank in the house. I have hot and cold running water only at my kitchen sink and that is gravity fed down to the sink, so there is not much pressure, but adequit. I garden extensively during the summer and have a sun room with lights to start my seeds and I darn near transplant everything. I use three greenhouses for the more hot house type of plants. I raise chickens, geese, ducks, guineas, one peahen, and a bunch of Royal Palm Turkeys. It's kinda spendy for large livestock or I would have that too I suppose.
    Interior Alaska's temperature during the winter is an average of around minus 40 degrees F. or lower, but on the plus side it gets up to 90 degrees F. during the summer. Where I live it is not quite so cold, but is not so warm in the summer either. I lived in Sitka for a couple years and I loved it, but there is not land there and no soil to speak of. Very beautiful place though even though it rained all the time. This has gotten long. Sorry.
    Linda T.
     
  8. LindaT_AK

    LindaT_AK Well-Known Member

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    :dance: I thought that was you. LOL. I read another post by you somewhere else and I thought. "hey I think I know this person", by the content of the message.

     
  9. I'm interested in relocating to either Sitka or Craig. Please e-mail or message me back. Thanks.
     
  10. seraphima

    seraphima Active Member

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    Alaska
    I live on Kodiak, but am not a full homesteader. On one acre, we have all the wood we need (Sitka spruce) and grow a variety of vegetables, berries(salmonberries, blueberries, currants, gooseberries), and lots of perennial foods like rhubarb and horseradish, edible ferns, sunchokes, etc. Wish I had more sun areas!

    We have both more sun and more soil than Southeast, by quite a bit. However, most seeds have to be started inside due to the cool soil and air temps. here- most seeds like 65-70 degree soil temperature to germinate, and we are fortunate to have those for AIR temps in midsummer! I was a master gardener in the States with many years experience, but I have had a very steep learning curve for gardening up here. and the slugs!!! Ick.

    If you want to keep animals, running dogs are a problem in any peopled area. for cattle, one does better to be out on one of the smaller bearless islands. Yes, bears sometimes swim out to catch a deer, but infrequently.

    Land is expensive near town due to most land here being owned by Federal, State, or Native corporations. There is cheaper land out remote- but you are generally talking about accessible only by skiff or floatplane. Only about 100 miles of roads on the whole island, which is about the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. The interior is trackless mountains.

    One thing that does have to be factored in, and is not immediately noticeable is that Alaska is a lot more dangerous than the Lower 48. The saying goes "There are a lot of ways to die in Alaska!" For example, a day hike can be fatal due to abrupt weather changes, bears, unmarked trail. The sea water is so cold you can die in 15 minutes of exposure. We are at the end of the supply lines, so interruptions in barge shipments from Seattle, or the (frequent) closing of the airport due to weather can delay products, food, people and mail.

    If you choose to live on the mainland, you have to deal with moose. Need a really big fence for that- 8X8 posts, and heavy wire 8-10 feet high. The best gardens I have seen have the garden of a size that the moose can't get a running start to go over the fence either from outside or inside. Berry bushes with thorns around the outside help also.

    On the plus side, people here know we need other people, and tend to be much friendlier and helpful. Most people hunt, fish or do other hands-on things. ( I make jelly and trade.) Everyone has a dog, or two, or three. The fishing is great, as long as you like to eat (and clean, and can) lots of fish!
     
  11. goatchops

    goatchops Well-Known Member

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    Dave- I replied to your PM, let me know if you didn't receive and I'll e-mail you direct.

    Seraphima- Sounds a lot like southeast without the rain. We may take a crack at Kodiak in the future, I am Coast Guard which is cool because we can try a place out and if it doesn't suit us, we can check out another place a few years later.

    We love to garden too, but you can't grow much more than lettuce and herbs down here... Not enough direct sunlight or dry ground for regular crops like my beloved tomatoes and squash. Sounds like it's give and take- If I want a nice garden I have to fend off critters and but if I want to live in a moose-free zone, no warm weather crops will grow. Well C'est la vie, thanks so much for the reply.

    Jeff
     
  12. LindaT_AK

    LindaT_AK Well-Known Member

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    Boy can I tell you about moose problems! I have fences and more fences around my immediate house and bird pens, greenhouses, garden etc. I have thorny raspberries around two sides of my garden. Does not stop moose. They do not need a running start to jump over a 8 foot fence. They can just stand there and hop over. Believe me. My fences are 8 to 10 feet tall, with a couple poles where they can see them head high. Before the fences, I have been chased in my house by moose and not able to go back out. I could tell you lots of stories.

    Sitka does not have soil there to grow anything. You have to buy topsoil and do lots of work to grow anything. The weather there is like Seattle, but the ground stays rather cool all the time.
    Linda T.
     
  13. seraphima

    seraphima Active Member

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    Dear Goatchops,

    It took me a while to realize that the usual USDA zones are not applicable here. We should be a zone 3 1/2 or 4, or locally even a 5......There are several zonation systems, however, and the most useful one here is the degree days system, which determines zone by how many days in a year you have temps of 87 degrees or more. In Kodiak, that puts us in Zone 0!

    The mainland has numerous nice hot days, so with spring greenhouse protection, one can actually grow tomatoes and squash in summer. In Kodiak, you are talking about a heated greenhouse most or all of the summer.

    The soil here has a lot of volcanic sand, and gardeners bring in lots of seaweed,fishmeal, and manure to build it up. Most people use raised beds unless they are in an alluvial plain, of which there are a few small ones.

    I do have one friend out at one of the island monasteries who came here from Sitka, and was overjoyed to find gardening conditions so much better than SE.
    However, most gardeners from anywhere else are baffled by our particular problems. It does make life interesting, though.

    Linda- Moose stories would certainly help those who think about moving here- just another example of how out of the ordinary life can be up here! I find it hard to explain to people how and why it is different. In some ways, Alaska is like another country.
     
  14. Anataq

    Anataq Well-Known Member

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    Hello, I am new to this forum, but I had to throw my couple cents in on this topic as it seems a few of you are quite close to me. My wife and I our building our remote homestead against the foothills of the Chigmit mountains not far from Lake Iliamna. It has been quite a process over the last five, or six years, finding land, doing a somtimes overwelming amount of research, shipping in boats, tools equipment etc. I am curious about gardening because there is little to no information available for my area. I will have to do some chatting at the local village later this summer. Love to chat with any of you who allready are homesteading in AK, or are contemplating homesteading in Alaska. Check out our little web site we just recently go up and going to follow our progress in Alaska. Wish you all the best.

    www.pawcreekhomestead.com
     
  15. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ...............................I think it's a once in a lifetime experience to beable to live like you have chosen to do. I visited your website in a different thread. Just reading between the lines I gathered that most of your equipment was delivered on a Boat of some kind. Is it possible to navigate the river you mentioned in an aluminum hulled jet boat?? Some of the many documentries I've seen on alaska seem to show that the further you move inland on the rivers the Shallower the stream bed becomes. So, it would make sense that an aluminum hulled, shallow draft jet boat that could carry a fairly heavy load of cargo would be a feasible way of of moving cargo up and down the various river that feed into the ocean......fordy..... :eek: :)
     
  16. You're quite right, this is indeed how we are moving everything to the building site. Shallow drafting alluminum jet boats. Some days you can bring in quite a load, others the water is to shallow to bring in much, it is quite a process. If you go to the web site and click on transportation you will see one of our boats.

    -Ryan
     
  17. StinkerBell

    StinkerBell Well-Known Member

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    I lived in Anchorage for almost 5 years. I would love to go back.
    The Northern Lights in the bowl on a clear winter night...spectacular!

    The one thing I want to make note of about homesteading in Alaska.
    I personally know of one family who lost their lot becuase they did not live on for at least 7 years. I do not recall if this property was some of the free property the state was giving out ages ago. So make sure if you do buy some porperty you aware of any conditions such as I mention.