Wednesday, September 22, 2010


For those interested, you can continue to follow The Little Farm on the Tundra adventures at:


If you stop by over there, let me know!
Moose Nugget

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I just read some NPR article about some college doing a week-long "ban" on popular social network sites.
I think it's a terrific idea.
The students were totally freaking out. One guy cited that not being able to twit or tweet or whatever you call it made it more difficult to get together with friends at Subway for dinner. he complained that his cellular bill would increase because of excessive text messages.

Are you kidding me???
Does anyone still TALK to people?
Folks, checking Facebook updates does NOT a relationship make. And are people really interested in your virtual farm, fishtank, zoo, etc?
VIRTUAL friends are just that... Virtual. Not real. Not tangible. Not gonna stop by your house on butchering day and help you haphazardly murder your flock and put them in the freezer.

I know, I know. I keep a blog. And I have virtual "friends" with cyber names too. But this is NOT the mainstay of my existence. And my world would not fall apart if websites were blocked. I would dare say that I wouldn't even miss a lunch date at Subway. (Um, providing there was even a Subway within a hundred miles of me. And had a gluten free/ dairy free menu.)

I recently removed myself from a social networking site. I joine because relatives and friends promised meaningful relationships and more conversations if I joined. What I found was that I had to weed through Farmville and other nonsense just to read a personal note. Something meaningful like, "My dog farted and it really stunk." or "Bob Dylan Rocks!"
Although I wholeheartedly agree with the latter (and the former was TMI, dude!) it doesn't fit my description of relationship.

I digress.
I was really struggling with leaving a social network site. Perhaps I was abandoning all my "friends". Was it wrong to ditch distant family thy hasn't called me in DECADES?
This is how those sites make you feel. Obligated to folks that you otherwise would see in a photograph and wonder what ever happened to them.
I felt torn for a while, until I spoke with a real-life friend of mine about my "gut wrenching decision". She listened politely for several
moments before interrupting me and saying, "Um, Nicole? I'm sorry, but what in the world is Facebook?"
And she wasn't kidding.

It's on that note that I am going to say that I am going to permanently "unplug" the blog
The intent of the blog was to keep family and friends posted of our happenings in AK...
I only know of one "real-life" friend still following and none of our family.
If I'm wrong- call or email or something!

To all my cyber-friends, y'all have been a wonderful wonderful audience. And I thank you for reading my Bly and I hope when I publish my crummy memoirs and books that they find their way into your hands. I've always wanted to write and be published and it's nice to know that I have attracted an audience with my writing style or writing material.
I've recently been keeping the blog for YOU- the faithful readers that keep asking for more, but I really need to break the blog addiction and focus more time on real life.

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow-
Moose Nuggets

Friday, September 17, 2010

Putting Up and Putting Out

Another busy week is flying by. I always forget that Friday means a lot to the rest of the universe. With J's weird work schedule and no other agenda besides homesteading, I lose track of the significance of days. Chickens don't care about weekends and no one told the woodpile what day of the week it was either.

You can tell autumn is here. The work is partly frantic (shut of outdoor water! Chop wood! Stack wood!), partly leisurely (poke around in the chicken coop. Till under the garden, take down portable greenhouse).
Between frantic and leisure, the coop was mucked and prepared for winter, lights were put on timers (to keep hens laying), water spigots winterized, wood chopped, wood stacked, more wood hauled in. Sticks and stumps from land clearing were collected, and with burn restrictions lifted, set on fire. In the evening, when the autumn sun and crisp air make work really feel like a chore, the burning berms make for a good bonfire with marshmallows roasting. Summer's busy pace gives way for the opportunity to sit on the porch with a cup of tea with my sweetheart and watch the kids play in what's left of the evening sun.

The chickens are finally putting out in decent numbers! We have been getting between 4 and 6 eggs a day, and plenty more hens are starting to look ready.
Um... They look "ready" when their combs are large and red and, *ahem*, when they start letting the roosters do what they do best.
And they do it best... In the time it took me to feed and water this morning (5 minutes, tops!) Ricky Bobby had mounted three hens, and was chasing after more.
Thank goodness I'm not a hen. That could wear a gal out!

Monday is going to be the official butchering day. We'll be putting up quite a few birds. In preparation for freezer space, I have been busy in the kitchen putting up jam. I had about 30 lbs of fruit in the freezer. That takes up quite a bit of space. I currently have 8 pints of "Handful Jam" (a handful of this and a handful of that), and 10 lbs of blackberries waiting for counter space and sugar for pie filling and jam.

Liz- if J will relinquish some of the moose, I'm gonna try that jerky! And we should be able to try the breakfast casserole this coming week, so I'll let you know!

The house is hot and steamy from canning all morning. The breeze outside and balmy and calling to me as the girls take an afternoon nap. Time for tea and knitting on the porch while the house cools down.

Handful Jam:
whatever fruit you have on hand!
Today's blend in the Moose Nugget house was:
8 lb strawberries
15 plums or pluots. I can't remember what I bought!
4 peaches
1 1/2 apples (for pectin!)
4 cups sugar? Maybe more?

Cook and cook and cook until it starts getting jam-ish. Can In the waterbath canner.
If you want smaller batches, I usually use half the amount of sugar to the amount of fruit I have on hand.
You can HALVE the recipe if you want. Or even quarter it.

Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails!

Monday, September 13, 2010

By Request

Good Morning from a warm and toasty Moose Nugget Household!
It was 34F this morning. J was kind enough to start a fire before heading out to cut firewood. Beans, Nugget, and I snuggled in the big bed, pulling the blankets up over our heads, and waited for the cabin to warm up.
Sweater Weather is my all-time favorite. The sun is lazy to rise, and this morning I had coffee brewed before the sun peeked above the treeline. I'm not much of a morning person, but Autumn makes it easier.
As the fire heats the log cabin, the scents of coffee, woodsmoke, and coffee cake (gluten free, of course!) mingle.
The roosters crow indignantly at the hens who dare eat breakfast without satisfying their breeding desires. This is the dance of the morning. The cackles of hens and cries of their jilted lovers mingle with the clatter of pots and pans, and little girls arguing over blocks or books or dollies.
I have a few moments yet to savor some sunrise and some espresso roast, then our day must begin in earnest. With the morning temps so close to freezing, the autumn chores can wait no longer.

JackDaddy- sounds like you left around the same time we did? (May 08)
I was originally there because of MAFB. My original reason to be there left. I finished up medic school and stayed a few more years. J was a govt civilian at Maxwell and Gunter. In addition to working with Haynes Ambulance for some time, I also worked as a medic on the base (Same company, but under contract). Knew lots of folks from the base because of it, and lots of lab owners too! :)

By Request: some recipes
Don't forget, you can sub milks and such with whatever your dietary restrictions are pretty easily! And send feedback! If I ever get past blogging and writing my crappy memoirs, maybe I'll write a cookbook. Or open a gluten free bed and breakfast. Or start marketing my recipes. Or just keep cooking yummy stuff for my kiddos...

*use a round cake pan or springform pan for best results. Um- square would probably be fine too?*
Prepare pan: spray with nonstick then dust with cornmeal

in large mixing bowl:
1/2 c quinoa flour
1/4 c sorghum flour
1/4 c corn starch
1/4 c tapioca flour
1/4 c arrowroot starch
1-2 Tbl Teff flour (adds texture and nutrition. Can do without if you don't have it)
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 ounce yeast (I think it worked out to 2 tsp if you dont have a scale?)
1 Tbl sugar

1 tsp olive oil
3/4 c WARM water (110F ish)

blend until moist, then beat with electric mixer on high for 2 minutes. Spoon into pan and spread dough to edges. Cover and rise 40 minutes or until doubled. Drizzle with olive oil and add any spices you like. (we do plain sea salt)
Preheat oven to 400F
Bake 20-25 minutes. Crust should be golden or beginning to brown and bread should be cooked through.
Has delicious chewy consistency that most glutenfree is missing. (Reminded me of domino's pizza crust, actually! Or bagels. Or a hundred other yummy delicious things we can't eat anymore! Crisp and chewy!)

And another recipe I tried yesterday. This was so good that even my pickier eater ate three servings of, and asked me to make again today.
You can use any kind of fruit you want- we used peaches and rhubarb. If you use a particularly wet fruit, adjust your liquids.
If you have leftovers, refrigerate and then reheat in the OVEN, or it will be soggy ickiness instead of yummy deliciousness!
Honestly, it reheats okay but next time I would probably half the recipe.

Fruity Coffee Cake:

3/4 c sorghum flour
1 c brown rice flour
1/8 c cornmeal (adds texture. Can skip if you wanted)
1/4 c tapioca flour
1c sugar (can use 3/4 if using sweeter fruit than I did!)
1Tbl baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c almond milk (can use subs!)
1/2 c oil
2 eggs
1-2 tsp seasonings (I used Ginger in this one. Cinnamon would have been good too!)

2 cups chopped fruit of choice

Preheat oven to 375F
Mix dry and wet ingrediets seperately, then combine, stirring until moistened and no lumps. Add fruit and stir to coat evenly. Spread into 9x13 pan (cooking spray helps!) and sprinkle with "fancy" sugar. (or regular sugar. Or make crumb topping if you can have butter. Or just bake the dang thing!)
Took about 30 minutes, I think? Top with be lightly golden and you should be able to have a toothpick come clean.

In the words of Beans, "I yike it! I even ate a peaches and it wasn't uh-skust-ing"
(NOT a fan of peaches, can you tell?)
she ate three adult sized pieces of it.
Beans mostly smeared it in her hair, along with some bacon grease for good measure. But she ate more than she put in her hair.
J declared it "awesome" and told me I should enter it into te Rhubarb Bake Off contest next year.
Must have been pretty good!


Off to start the farm chores and put a nice soup on to simmer. 'Tis the season for soup!

Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ramblin' (Wo)Man

First, Q&A time:

Hayley: I am pretty informal with curriculum since Beans is still pretty young. We read a LOT of books, I utilize lots of craft books, some preschool aged workbooks, and my mom (a Montessori teacher) has sent me a preschool Montrssori curriculum which we use some parts of. Most of our "school" stuff is arts and crafts supplies. The girls have very few toys, and they participate in all our daily activities. When we split wood, they are outside stacking. When we garden, they are there with their shovels and watering cans. We don't expect perfection, just participation. We answer all the questions (Why? Why? Why?) and when we get stuck for an answer, we look it up together or visit someone who knows the answer.
"Math" is currently explored by counting ("how many eggs did the chickens lay today? How many this week?) and with helping in the kitchen with measuring or recipes, counting plates while setting the table, etc.
I use a PBS series called "Signing Time" for teaching sing language and had to invest in a good ASL dictionary as her signing vocabulary exceeded the scope of the videos.
Hope that helps! :)
girl, I'll chat homeschool with you anytime!

Miss Liz: I have another gluten free/dairy free recipe for a focaccia styled bread. If you (or anyone else reading!) is interested, let me know and I'll post it. My kids LOVED it and ate the entire pan at lunch time. Made GOOD pb&j too!
Also, if you hve a jerky recipe, leave it in the comments. Now I'm craving it and we can't have store bought because most have soy sauce (gluten!).
Also I'm dying to know if you ever baked the muffin recipe and if you liked it. :)

Olive-somebody (I shoul jaw double checked the name, I'm sorry!): when you get to salcha, let me know! We have friends in Salcha we visit often and could probaby help you get connected. Where is your place?

JackDaddy- do I know you in real life? When were you in Montgomery? And Jack woul probably love moose. He should come stay on our farm. :)

Road Kill List Questions: I will ask hubby the full details, but there is some paperwork from the state. Anyone can fill it out, not just established charities. Delta Junction is also considered a subsistence area, so I'm not sure if that affects our eligibility? Hubby would know.
Also- SOME roadkill, not edible. But an animal as big and tall as a moose usually gets hit in the legs. Most of the meat is usually salvageable. As far as an "off" taste, I've never noticed one. The endorphins and such can't be any worse than animals slaughtered in commercial plants. Not to get all "crazy hippie" on you, but do you know that many cattle are only knocked mildly unconscious at butchering, and some don't even get knocked out! They are alive and quite cognizant of their injuries in butchering plants. I would think that gets some
endorphins going!
SOME roadkill is completely not salvageable. Something with internal injuries (especially those that cause leakage from the bladder or bowel into the muscle mass) is not considered "safe". But a moose that the troopers have to shoot because of a leg injury is really no different from a moose that is shot by a hunter (especially if there is a poorly placed first shot!)
I had to giggle about the roadkill questions. They are all the same questions I asked my husband when he went out to retrieve the moose. LOL

If I forgot anyone's question and you want it answered, leave me a comment!

in other news: my hens are laying! I am so thrilled. I was beginning to feel like a chicken farmer failure. Ha! I'm not!
Many chickens will meet their fate this week. We are starting to have crowding issues in the coop and the weather is getting chilly. I don't know about y'all, but I would much rather only have to get water for a dozen birds than fifty of them. If it gets about 10 degrees cooler around here, I'm
gonna have to haul water from the house, as we will have to shut off the outdoor water supply soon.

Weather has been cool and rainy. Chilly mornings (38F or so) and cool, rainy, breezy afternoons (not above 60 ish).
My kind of weather.

A pot of caribou chili simmers on the stove. The tea kettle signals that my water is ready for a thoughtful cup of Earl Grey. A young hen cackles as she marches away from the nest, victorious. The girls nap, the sky threatens to rain, and my knitting calls to me.

Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Can Be Done In A Day

Whew! We had one BUSY day here yesterday. It started with WAITING. Waiting for the dozer rental companies to call us back (they did). Waiting to see if the rain was gonna let up (it did). Waiting for the dozer to be delivered (it was, eventually).
Not a single member of our family does "WAIT" really well. Toddlers have an excuse. When you are two, a few minutes seems like the whole day will pass before you are granted your wish. The real difference between grownups waiting impatiently and kids? You can send griwnups to time out for temper tantrums when they aren't getting their way.

The dozer arrived. J rushed out the door to start knocking down the remaining forest. I watched with the girls from the safety of inside. We soon tired of being spectators, all of us except Little Nugget, who screamed in excitement every time the dozer made a pass in from of the screen door. To preserve my sanity, I took the girls upstairs. Nugget screamed in protest, pointing to the door and crying, "My papa! Vroom! Vroom!"

A short while later, the phone rang. A friend of J's. "Hey it's me. Troopers just alled me. There's a moose over here hit by a car. If you help me out, I'll split it with you."
A million questions ran through my mind at once.
Why are troopers notifying our friends of moose struck by cars?
Is this a work thing? Are there injuries?
What exactly are we splitting?
Does my husband want to hear about this 30 minutes after renting a bulldozer at $500 per day?

Then it dawned on me: if we were splitting a moose, hunting season could be over! Oh for the love of all that is good!
I threw on muck boots and made my way through why used to be forest and tundra, and tried not to get run over.

It was gonna be a late night, by we were gonna be getting half a moose. J downed a bowl of homemade refried beans and some homemade salsa. Gone in 60 seconds.
Three hours later, J and friend returned victorious. It was a good road kill moose, only the legs broken and the troopers put the poor thing out of it's misery. The rest of the job was exactly like hunting.

For those still wondering (like I was) why troopers were calling our friends, well... I learned about something else I never knew existed: The Roadkill List.
No. I'm not joking.
Apparently there is a state list you can sign up on, and when it's your turn and there is something recently deceased, the state will all you and tell you to come harvest it.
Before you start saying, "Eeeewww!" keep in mind that if the state ever calls offering up skunk or something of that nature, we will decline. But a moose? With minor injuries? Which means my husband doesn't have to spend another week away from home in search of the elusive dinner? Sign me up for The Roadkill List.

That handled, some hot coffee to warm up the "hunters" (it was raining and chilly all day yesterday) and a short visit with our friends, and J decided to skip dinner and head back out to finish the dozer work. Not a small feat, mind you. The plan was about an acre or so of heavily wooded land. I don't know when he called it quits, I just know it was nearly 1 am when he crawled into bed.

Meanwhile, another friend dropped off our caribou sausage from THAT hunting trip. I made room in the freezers, and wondered where we were going to put a moose. I might be trying my hand at canning meat this fall. Or some of the salmon taking up space in the freezer.

The girls and I ate a dinner of popcorn and fruit salad. We wandered to the chicken coop between dozer passes and made an excitig discovery:
An Egg! From one of the young hens! Hooray! Hooray!
* Today there were TWO. Hopefully this means we'll be able to stop rationing around here soon!*
* Also, the first eggs a hen lays are usually smal. They are called pee-weed. Adorable! Tiny! And still edible. We celebrated by baking gluten free flat bread with the egg today.

Us girls continued our day from inside. We felt bad for J, in the dark and the rain, but when that man wants to get something done, well... Best to just leave him to it. I made a cozy fire, snuggled with the girls and read a hundred and one bedtime stories (ok, it might have just been ten or so), tucked the girls in, and fell asleep to the sounds of the dozer.
Poor J had to get up just hours after he went to bed. Off to work for the day. He was kind enough to let the chickens out for me. I made a hit cup of coffee, watched the rain come down, and surveyed the future farmland, animal pens, play yards of Little Farm on The Tundra.
It's gonna be fun.
Once the mud settles.

Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Guess Who's Not Gonna Be A Dairy Farmer

So our being able to consume dairy was a false alarm. It took a couple weeks to build back up in Little Nugget's system, and now we are back to managing severe tummy troubles and other issues.
Incidentally, we also had a gluten exposure, so Beans and I are itchy, scratchy, tummy troubled gals.

What I can say is this: after months without dairy, I thought I would really be excited to delve back into a world of cheese, yogurt, and ice cream but you know what? It wasn't really as good as I remember.

So, I don't ever have to worry about milking a cow at 40 below.


The chickens were granted a stay in their death sentences. We ended up knocking out a closet in our living room instead. We have discussed knocking out the closet before, but didn't plan on it being any time soon. After a leisurely morning of playing with the kids, we decided (at 5:00 pm) that the closet should go. So it did.
Demolition and clean up only took a couple hours.
This project added about 8 sq ft to the cabin. This is a lot when your cabin is already only 850 sq ft.
Other changes to the living room involves rearranging the furniture, then decking we are completely done with the television.
Um, this decision may have had something to do with an almost three year old shriekig at the top of her lungs, "I WILL SO watch tv whenever I want and you get my movie RIGHT NOW!"
Daddy wasn't having that little number, and within moments, the flat screen was in a box and in the crawl space.


The chickens also avoided sudden death today because J helped some friends move into their new home. By the time he got home and remembered thy he wanted to rent a dozer tomorrow to flatten the property, well... Let's just say he's STILL outside getting the rest of the brush cleared in preparation for that. No time for chicken killing.


The rest of the farm work is slowly grinding to a halt. A recent cold snap killed off the remaining pumpkin vines (sans pumpkins), and "Tommy Boy" (one of the turkeys who really does look like a fat man in a little coat) got to the last of my green onions. There are still three rows of potatoes to dig up and process, and a handful of tomatoes in the greenhouse trying to decide if they are goig to ripen or give up the ghost. The chickens continue to eat grain an feed without desire to earn their keep. A light and a timer will go
in the coop this weekend, as our daylight hours will finally fall below 14 hours of light.
Now is the season of "puttering".
The time of year where you wander around on the homestead trying to find work with a purpose. Aside from splitting and stacking wood, or making minor repairs, there's not a LOT of work to do. Or I should say, what's left is little tasks- draining and storing hoses, emptying the flower pots, pick up odds and ends debris, but mostly just take in the crisp fall air and wait for everything that's left to die or get buried in snow. There's still enough outdoor work (and sunshine with nice temps) left that you can't justify hunkering down indoors with winter projects, but not enough work to stay perpetually busy. Back in the south, that's what college ball was for.

I puttered a lot today. Let the girls play in the yard, watched J load brush on the trailer. Poked around in the chicken yard and watched Ricky Bobby try to woo the young hens, most of whom are undecided about chicken sex thus far. Enjoyed the fresh air, took in the scenery. Missed tailgate parties a little bit, then puttered around a bit in what's left of the garden. Was glad to go in and get supper on the table. (Salmon, peas, and potato salad, followed up with gluten free/ dairy free chocolate cake and coffee). Called a friend in the lower 48. Puttered some more.

Sure hope we can get a dozer in here tomorrow. All the puttering is driving me crazy. I'm ready for the next big project.
Meanwhile, it is time to sharpen the hatchet.

Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails