What would you ask a REAL homesteader?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Chuck, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well, after a quick overnight trip on Friday to Flint, Michigan, I'm off on Sunday to Alaska for a couple of weeks. I'm really looking forward to it, too, since this is my first trip "up North."

    While we are there, I'm going to be flying into the interior to interview some REAL homesteaders - a couple who lives 100 miles from the nearest road, year round, existing on what they can trap, shoot or grow. They visit town about twice a year to sell their furs, but other than that, live completely independent and off-grid.

    They were both born and raised this way, and so they really don't know any other lifestyle. I'm so excited to meet them I can hardly wait! I'll be spending a few days with them, learning how they do things.

    So if you could come along, what kinds of questions would you want to ask of this couple? I'll take the best of your questions along with me, and will report back when I return home.

    In addition, look for an article about my experiences this year in an upcoming issue of Countryside Magazine. I've visited nine countries this year so far, and have observed the different farming and homesteading practices of the people I've met - from mexican subsistence fishermen to the bedouin of Wadi Rum and the Navajo in New Mexico to German gentleman farmers. So I'm going to write about the similarities and differences that I've seen this year.

    Anyway, log in with your questions!
     
  2. JackieA

    JackieA Well-Known Member

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    So if you could come along, what kinds of questions would you want to ask of this couple? I'll take the best of your questions along with me, and will report back when I return home.

    If they have children, are their lifestyles similiar? And if the children live in the city, do they practice self-reliant living to some degree? Thanks Chuck,
    JackieA
     

  3. Jan Doling

    Jan Doling Well-Known Member

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    1. Wjhat one experience has made you reconsider your choice to homestead?

    2. What one experience makes you sure your choice to homestead is correct?
     
  4. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    They have to raise a little money some way. What do they do to get the money needed to pay for the absolute essentials in town?? How do they get messages to people that connect them to civilization?? They must fly out when they go. What does this cost"" Do they do any bartering with what they catch or produce in their Homestead?? What do they do if a life threatening accident or medical situation arrises?? Do they recieve a State refund each year steming from Alaska's oil benifits???
     
  5. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Alaska has a short growing season. When they first started up, how did they solve the problem of having to build at the same time they needed to plant?
     
  6. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I can already answer some of these from my initial interview with them.

    They do recieve the Alaksan oil dividend each year. In the summer, Tom, the husband, builds log cabins for other homesteaders in the interior. He's very, very good. In the winter, they trap and then sell their furs in the spring.

    As for messages with the outside, they actually have a telephone (the wonders of modern technology) but often rely on a Christian radio station that broadcasts into the bush for messages from the outside. If a family member wants to contact them, they will sometimes call the radio station, which will then broadcast the messages over the air - "Hey Tom and Penny Green, you need to call your daughter right away..."

    The Christian radio station is the reason we're going out there, BTW.

    Tom built his own airplane a few years ago with their son, and so it isn't too expensive to fly to town - about $50 each way, I think. He's a pretty handy guy, can build or fix just about anything.

    If a medical emergency arises, they can call in a coast guard life-flight, and since Penny has the most First aid training of anyone in their area (there are about 15 people living within 10 miles of them), Penny is the caretaker of the key to the medicine cabinet. They need to keep it locked up I guess, since the winters get AWFUL long up there...

    The growing season is very short, but Penny is apparently a MASTER gardener, and raises enough to keep them in veggies all winter long. I'm interested to find out how she does it, since if I had to live off of what my garden produces, I'd be dead in less than a week. :)

    I think Penny works the garden while Tom builds.
     
  7. Ardie/WI

    Ardie/WI Well-Known Member Supporter

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    As I type, Chuck, my ex-DH and his brother are up in Alaska hunting. His brother, Pete, lives in Tanana and has for at least 30 years. From what picutres I have seen, it is very basic. Since age is catching up to Pete, he will spend the winter down here in Wisconsin, but will return in spring.

    I have no questions really as I've heard how rugged the life is where he is.
     
  8. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I guess Wisconsin is where Alaskans go to retire? Do their fellow Alaskans refer to these people as "sunbirds?" :)
     
  9. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    Snow birding in Wisconsin ... now, that puts things in perspective :haha:

    I don't have any questions but will enjoy reading about your trip. Have fun!
    Ann
     
  10. Gercarson

    Gercarson Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'd like to know how the taxes are - if they get a dividend from the state, how does that affect their total tax.
     
  11. Melissa

    Melissa member

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    What would they have done differently?

    How do they get through the long winters?

    Where would they live if not there?

    Find out about the community? Do they have get togethers of any kind?

    What do they do for hobbies?

    How many people have they seen come and go?

    Ask about experiences with wildlife?

    What is their favorite meal from the homestead?

    Do they get Countryside magazine?!?!?
     
  12. Sue C

    Sue C Member

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    With such a short growing season what do they plant? What is their favourite activity/task?
     
  13. bgak47

    bgak47 Well-Known Member

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    What part of Alaska do they live in exactly? You've answered my main question about how they communicate with the outside world. My other question would be... What do they do on those long,cold,winter nights for entertainment? I also wonder about the logistics of how they get supplies if the nearest road is 100mi away? It seems that the cost of everything would be pretty high. Thanks Chuck! This is very interesting to me!
     
  14. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    I spent the summer of 73 in North Pole and got to know the daughters of the gentleman who ran KJNP at that time. I'm just curious if the same people are running the station? And is this the station you are talking about? He had a big garden every year and was the only person I knew at that time that could grow corn in interior Alaska. Can't believe it has been 31 yrs since I was up there! LOL
     
  15. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The radio station is KIAM, out of Nenana.

    I know they have a tanker plane come in and bring fuel twice a year. basically doubles the cost of it, so you can imagine they use it sparingly!
     
  16. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member Supporter

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    They live on lake Minchumina. I might even be able to get them to visit here and answer your questions, if we can get an internet connection going.
     
  17. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    What urban preconceived notions did they have to shake off to make themselves mentally comfortable in their new lifestyle?
     
  18. Melissa

    Melissa member

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    Were they born and raised in Alaska? (you say they were raised as homesteaders...) I think you will have a great time visiting them, take lots of pictures and post them for us please!
     
  19. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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  20. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member Supporter

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    They were both born and raised in the Alaskan interior. They have both spent short amounts of time "in town," but for the most part have lived out there their entire lives. So I don't think there was a lot in the way of notions that they had to shake off. ;)

    I mentioned the tv show "Frontier house," and Penny thought that it was pretty amusing.