My Homesteading in Denali critiques...spinned off

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by texican, Jun 7, 2005.

  1. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    I worked at Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, out of Nome for one summer season...from May through October...the ocean was frozen when I got there, and was slushing back to frozen when I left. Homesteading wasn't even contemplated, as there wasn't anything arable in site...great place to visit, to work in mines or the fisheries...if you were a native, you hunted and fished for subsistence, took work when you could get it, and drew your AK resident checks. Main activity of the locals...saloons and sleeping in the surf (local law enforcement would drag the intoxicated above the tide line when the tide was getting high

    At Denali, I was a backcountry ranger for ten years. Made lots of friends there. Several are still there, living outside the park down in Talkeetna and up on the Stampede. Helped several of them with their cabins, with their water systems, and solar systems. No money ever exchanged hands, just a good hot meal and lots of fellowship. One family did eventually get a hog raised, slaughtered and in the freezer at the end of the year. Few folks had some square foot gardens...but they had to wrestle with the elements and the moose, just to have a 'taste of freshness', they still had to make the Fairbanks run for their food. Hunting was difficult...the state had lotteries for caribou and moose, and when you got your permit, the odds of getting anything were slim. More people got moose for their freezers by getting on the Troopers roadkill list. The caribou I ate wasn't really that great (hunger is the best spice). Sheep was o.k., but cost benefit analysis of caribou, moose, and sheep hunting, quickly told me it was cheaper to buy a side of beef and put it in the freezer.

    The land for sale was in the 5k/acre range, and this was for the stunted spruce swamps. Something on a little hill with a breeze, was considerably more. The value was directly tied to it's location, next to a national park. I couldn't see it worth more than $50/acre, from a homesteading point of view. No One that I met or knew had any plans other than using it for a cabin site or as a lodge site. And none of these sites had access to electricity, so they had to be offgrid, and everyone was patching together anything that would work.

    My basic reason for not purchasing any land, taking over someone else's land lottery proving up provisions, or signing up for the lotto myself, were, the cost benefit analysis didn't pan out. If you want a cabin in the bush, fine. You can't do anything there, but eat and sleep. The summer days were hot, the muskeg would turn into a swamp, millions of mosquitoes..........raised beds would provide you with some growing space...you'll have to scavenge soil from somewhere else for your beds, cause soil is pretty scarce...but be around during the night, because it's dropping below freezing, and everything would get frostbit. The free land wasn't free because of the onerous surveying requirements. Found it just as cheap to buy the land off some other poor soul who realized it was all a pipe dream. Free on one side (with huge surveying costs) versus Paying on the other (already been surveyed) equaled out in my book. The existing bush homes hadn't changed the structure of the surrounding land too much, at least equal to what a newer bush home would change, within a year of building the new one.

    If I built a bush home, all I could ever do was use it as a place to eat and sleep. No possibility of it producing an income, a flow of goods and services, a supply of food or fiber. Know of one guy who's making a go out of a remote lodge out on the Stampede trail, used his cabin building skills, to build his own lodge, and now he's offering dog mushing tours in the winter, and lodging in the summer. But a bed and breakfast, with cappucinos and lattes, isn't quite the homesteading vision that I had.

    I wouldn't be living off the land...I would only be sleeping in a house in the bush...think of it as a vacation lodge, and you'll get no arguments out of me. When I think of homesteading, I think of independence and self sufficiency... that the homestead will take care of me, as long as I take care of it... if it weren't for taxes, I wouldn't need to work off the homestead much at all... as it is, I average maybe three or four days a month. My current 'homestead' does all of that. I can be active outside 12 months out of the year...raise any animal you care to have around the house, raise any vegetable, have a large orchard...fish anytime I want, fill my freezer with wild hogs.....

    I didn't need or want a vacation lodge. Recreational property. If anyone want's a vacation lodge, or some recreational property in Alaska, go for it, and good luck to you...

    None of this is to say anyone dreaming about going to Alaska, and carving out a spot in the Bush, shouldn't try it. Research the area first, preferably on the ground. Dig around in the dirt, check out the resources available, and if possible talk with the locals and see how well they prosper. Boom or Bust, if you're in the Bush, you're going to have an adventure, and if you survive, you'll have tons of stories to tell your relatives and your kids/grandkids. The 'romance' wears off pretty quick, when something goes wrong... If you aren't 'handy' and pretty self sufficient in skills and knowledgeable in bush engineering, you'll get a graduate level exam on a regular basis, and to fail the exam can be costly.

    If you want to homestead in the Denali area, check out the Lake Minchumina area...there are several families out there doing the real homesteading thing...Chuck visited there last year I believe, and had a thread on that...http://homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?p=561210

    texican
     
  2. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I was in Nome summer of 2000 and your description is accurate.....

    Nice place to visit, we actually drove inland to the "forest" area of Council where fishcamp as being held. The fishing was amazing.....the social situation was ugly!
    I actually had a young bull caribou take a shine to me while I was fishing...I had to throw rocks at him to make him leave!
     

  3. MullersLaneFarm

    MullersLaneFarm Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, texican - I really enjoyed this post. Off to read Chuck's ....
     
  4. cookiecache

    cookiecache Well-Known Member

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    :soap:What reasonable person would ever homestead in Alaska? The weather sucks, there's too many bugs, and it cost too much. What could possible make a person live under the conditions there?

    Two Alaskan mosquitoes are in a tent talking: One says, "should we eat here or carry him outside first". The other says back, "Eat here, if we take him outside the big guys will get him.

    People are attacked by bears in Alaska almost every year.

    There's biting bugs by the millions. Mosquitoes, white soxs, and no-see-ums just to start the list.

    The price of everything is pushed up by the cost of transportation. The more remote, the higher the price.

    People are lost. They come to Alaska to try living off the land. The last time anyone ever sees them is when they put on their backpack and "head out there".

    What reason could make a person homestead in Alaska? One word: FREEDOM