5 Reasons Why Alaska Is Bigger And Better Than Texas

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5 Reasons Why Alaska Is Bigger And Better Than Texas - Sled Dog Slow

For the next few weeks I’m visiting family in Texas! While I’m sure Texas is a fine state full of fine people, I hadn’t even been here an hour when I decided I was going to write this post. Of course I had to start my visit off with a bang 😉 So why exactly is Alaska bigger and better than Texas?

Number 1 – Alaska is actually bigger!

You could actually fit the entirety of Texas into Alaska twice. It is bigger than Texas, Montana and California combined! Alaska is so big the International Date Line had to be bent around it to keep the entire state in the same day. It has 1/5 of the US’s entire land mass. So yeah, Alaska is pretty darn big!

Number 2 – Reindeer sausage y’all

Meat is a staple of life in both Alaska and Texas, but you’d be hard pressed to find reindeer sausage anywhere in Texas. In Alaska it’s on the menu at every restaurant and you can pick it up at the grocery store. Yum!

Number 3 – Alaskans are friendlier

This is actually the point that started this list. My moms car broke down on the way from the airport. We made it off to the side of the road fine, and my mom called AAA. In the meantime, we all got out of the car and stood in the lit driveway of the car dealership we’d pulled into. So we’re four ladies and two babies standing next to a car with the hood up and flashers on. We had about 20-30 cars pass us before AAA got there, without anyone stopping to see if we needed help. Including a police officer who stopped to ask if we’d heard gun shots a half hour before then took off without so much as asking if we were alright.

In Alaska, most of those cars would have stopped, even if one person had stopped already! How do I know? Because I’ve been helped and stopped to help any time I could. I may be a transplant, but Alaskan manners were quick to rub off on me!

Number 4 – Coffee Stands

Okay, hear me out with this one. Did y’all know that Anchorage actually outdoes Seattle for coffee shops? With 2.8 shops per 10,000 people, it beats Seattle’s 2.5. Alaska actually has more espresso shops per capita than anywhere in America!

So why am I comparing Alaska’s plethora of coffee stands to Texas specifically? As it turns out, Texas doesn’t really have drive through coffee stands. There is the occasional sit down coffee shop, but even those are few and far between. Where is a girl supposed to get her caffeine fix around here?!

Number 5 – In Alaska, the things that want to kill you are big enough to see coming

Yeah, we might have ornery moose and huge bears, but you’ll see those suckers coming at you. Same with anything else out here that might want to eat you, or thinks you are in it’s territory. On the other hand, Texas has poisonous snakes, spiders and scorpions. I am not enjoying shaking out my shoes before I slip them on, even though its winter. There is stuff in Texas that might kill you just because you didn’t see it!

So Texas. I’m still here for another 3 weeks, show me why you are awesome!

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Winter Prep On An Alaskan Homestead

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Winter Prep On An Alaskan Homestead

Winter is nearly here in our little slice of Alaska. Trees are barren and we’ve already had our first frost. Seeing as winter is our longest and harshest season, we use the rest of the year to prepare for it. So what does preparing for winter on an Alaskan homestead entail?

Firstly, we heat with wood.

This means a lot of cutting trees, hauling, splitting and stacking for drying. Last year we stacked wood under a tarp. This year we built a wood shed to store it in. We’ve also upgraded from an axe to a hydrolic log splitter. It makes this chore go much faster! We also collect birch bark because it makes fantastic fire starter.

Our second biggest concern for this winter was keeping our water system from freezing.

We put the system in this summer so this winter will be the big test for it. We built a little mini “cabin”, complete with its own wood stove, around our water reservoir. This should keep the reservoir and pipes around it from freezing. On super cold days we’ll keep a fire going in there.


Speaking of fires, we also replaced to wood stove in our cabin for a bigger one.

Our old stove was a bit undersized, so replacing it means we won’t need to get up at night to build fires any more. Our cabin should be a more steady temperarure this winter. We’re also finishing the flooring in the loft, so more of the heat stays on the lower floor.

We also have more animals to consider this year.

Last year we kept our two dogs inside most of the time for winter, but this year we have FOUR dogs! So building dog houses for everyone and stuffing them with straw is a must. We also have a smaller chicken coop for the chickens. The old coop is big and airy. Great for summer, but not so great for winter. A smaller coop will help keep the birds warm with body heat, especially since we don’t suppliments heat in the winter. We’ll also be building a pig shed and filling that with straw for our pigs.

Another part of winter prep is putting up food.

I canned a bunch of salmon this year that Kyle caught fishing with our friends. Our first goal for next year is to purchase our own permit and fish all next summer. Unfortunately our garden was a bust except for potatoes, so those need to dug and dried for storage. Next year we will use what we’ve learned and have a much better garden.

This will be our second winter on our Alaskan homestead, and we’re ready for it!

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25 Reasons Why Living In The Alaskan Bush Is Awesome (And 5 Reasons Why It’s Not)

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The Alaskan bush is unlike anywhere else on earth, and it is an amazing place to live. Life out here is no walk in the park, but there are plenty of reasons why I never want to leave!

25 Reasons Why Living In The Alaskan Bush Is Awesome (And 5 Reasons Why Its Not) SledDogSlow.com

1. Fresh air

Anyone who’s traveled to the country from a big city knows all about fresh air. You can just breathe easier without all the dust, dirt, and car exhaust kicked up from city life. This also helps with reason #2 why living in the Alaskan bush is awesome…

2. The smell

There’s nothing quite like the smell of moss and trees and growing things. No smog out here!

3. No noisy neighbors

There worst thing about neighbors living in the city for me was noise. Cars pulling up and leaving all hours of the day and night, couples fighting, people mowing their lawns ridiculously early on a Sunday morning. There’s none of that in the bush. When our closest neighbors are out, we don’t know unless they call us, even when they are running a chainsaw or driving an excavator!

4. No solicitors

There’s no one coming door to door selling magazines or window tints. Knowing there aren’t any strangers that will come knocking makes it much easier to just be. Unfortunately this also means no girl scout cookies without making a trip to town.

5. Clothing is optional

Yup. I said it. Honestly, I hate clothes. Unless I’m leaving home or having visitors I’m pretty much always naked. I might put on clothes if I expect to get scuffed up doing chores, but if I can avoid getting dressed I do!

6. Almost no bills

Once you get set up (which can be expensive) the monthly bills for bush living are almost nil. Insurance and a phone bill are our only monthly expenses. We buy gas for the generator in the winter, fill up our rigs, buy groceries and the occasional incidentals. Living out here is much cheaper than our lives in the city were.

7. Freedom

There are no HOA’s or building permits in the bush. I can put a garden in my front yard if I want, or paint my cabin lime green. I can do fun, funky things when building that wouldn’t be acceptable inside city limits (check out this cool Alaskan bush house: Goose Creek Tower). There is a lot more freedom to do what you want with your land when living this far out.

8. No bathroom to clean

No scrubbing the toilet bowl when the bathroom is an outhouse! When the bathroom is ‘messy’ you just dig a new hole and move it.

9. No light pollution

If you really want to see the stars, the Alaskan bush is the place to be. The skies are so clear here it’s even possible to see that the night sky isn’t really all black.

10. Northern Lights viewing

The Alaskan bush is also an amazing place to see the northern lights. Clear, dark skies in the middle of nature just add an extra bit of aw to seeing the Aurora Borealis.

11. Adventure

From seeing bears in the driveway, to moose chasing us on 4 wheelers, there is never a dull moment in the bush!

12. Fresh food

Alaskan summers might be short, but the long summer days are good for foraging and gardening. Those long summer days also make for…

13. Giant Vegetables

Having 20 hours (or more) of sunlight a day makes for huge vegetables. Just check out these cabbage at the Alaskan State Fair:

14. Endless summer days

There are lots of places in the bush where the sun doesn’t set at all. There’s a reason why Alaska is called the land of the midnight sun! This leaves lots of time for adventuring and exploring Alaska. This also means lots of daylight to get things done in preparation for winter.

15. Winter sports

Opposite of endless summer days are the short winter days. Luckily these days are filled with snow and snow sports. Snow machining (yes, it’s snow machining here, not snow mobiling) is a huge deal here, both for fun and just to get around. There are lots of places in the Alaskan bush that can only be explored by snow machine in winter due to being marshy bog in summer. There’s also snowkiting (think wind surfing with a snow board), ice climbing, and of course sled dog racing.

16. Blueberries

At least in our little part of the bush, there are blueberries everywhere. And blueberries just make me happy!

17. Fishing and hunting

There is tons of opportunity for hunting and fishing in the Alaskan bush. Depending on where in the bush you are, there is also subsistence hunting and fishing for those who live so far away from cities and towns. This means the regulations are a little different, from extended hunting seasons to greater bag limits depending on what animals are being harvested.

18. Wildlife viewing

There’s nothing quite like being up close with nature. From watching spawning salmon to flying eagles, living in the bush gives ample opportunity for viewing wildlife.

19. No traffic

I always hated sitting in a grid lock, and I flat refused to drive in some cities when we lived in Washington (Seattle for starters). Living in the bush means no traffic because there are no roads. Not everyone owns a 4 wheeler, snow machine or air plane. It cuts out a lot of looky loo traffic when people don’t have the rigs needed to get out here.

20. Getting paid to live here

Did you know you get paid to live in Alaska? There are a lot of rules around it, like having lived in Alaska an entire year, but if you qualify for the Permanent Fund Dividend you could get anywhere from $300-2,000 depending on the year. Getting paid to live where you love? Count me in!

21. Cool summers

I always refer to myself as a desert baby. I’m used to flat, sandy land and hot, dry summers. Our summer this year has barely had a day over 70°. Considering it’s supposed to reach 109° this week where I grew up, I gotta say I’m very happy to be living in the bush.

22. Affordable Land

Land is pretty cheap when it’s hard to get to. As long as you don’t mind a loooooong ‘driveway’, the Alaskan bush is a great place to live. I often call the beach our driveway, and it takes us an hour to get from our cabin to a road, and that’s if we can get to the road at all!

23. Few bugs

Because of Alaska’s long, cold winters, there aren’t many bugs. We have the occasional wasp nest, and a spider or two but nothing like back in Washington. We used to have vegetable fields just covered in spider webs there! It’s nice to be able to walk through the trees and not get a face full of web.

24. Natural silence

With no neighbors, no traffic, and no solicitors the silence is glorious. We’ve got natural forest sounds from birds and squirrels, and when the tide is high we can hear the ocean from our little bit of forest. It’s a little disconcerting to hear ocean in the woods at first, but now it’s one of my favorite sounds here. Not being surrounded by city sounds is an awesome plus to living in the Alaskan bush.

25. You get to tell people you live in the Alaskan bush

People equate living in the bush with being crazy and lucky and crazy lucky. You have to really want to make things work to live out here. As you can see from this list, all the work is so worth it!

Now obviously living in the Alaskan bush isn’t all fun and games, there are a few downsides as well.

1. Mosquitoes

While there aren’t many other bugs out here, mosquitoes are plentiful. And there are a dozen different types as well. Some hurt when they bite, some aren’t noticeable, and some don’t even leave you itching. But they are all in your face, mouth and eyes when you get into certain areas, and Deet is about the only thing that keeps them off you! We also use a SkeeterVac on our homestead, which greatly cuts down on the overall population. Oh, and the mosquitoes can be BIG too!

2. There’s no such thing as a quick trip to the store

If you don’t have everything you need to make pumpkin pie, then you won’t be making it. Living in the bush means living hours from the closest store, and that means no running to grab a gallon of milk. Making a trip to the store takes all day, so it needs to be planned accordingly.

3. Isolation

Even though I like not having full time neighbors, it can be a pain when you need help. Sometimes you just end up spending hours doing something by yourself rather than making your closest neighbor drive 45 minutes to be a second set of hands. Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is the life I wanted and I have to take the bad with the good!

4. Being stuck

At least in our piece of Alaskan bush heaven, there is a lot of being stuck. Summer means no going anywhere during high tide, during the freeze the beach is covered in ice burgs and the inland trail is still too mushy to drive on. We get snowed in sometimes during winter, and during spring break up we end up with a flooded trail and a beach that’s too icy and soft to drive on (this is why we loose vehicles folks).

5. Adventure and catastrophe happen every single day

If you ever think you might want to take a weekend off and lounge about, then living in the bush is not for you. From broken vehicles (once, or twice, or three times), to coming home and finding bears or moose in the yard, owls in the chicken coop, and sharks in the salmon nets.

There isn’t much time to relax out here, but living in the bush is awesome!

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Rookie Mistakes We Made As Beginning Homesteaders

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I’ll be the first to admit that when we first started our homesteading journey, we made a lot of rookie mistakes. We spent to much on things we didn’t need. Then we turned around and didn’t buy things we really should have. We skipped around when adding animals, buildings and tools. That is, until we learned to prioritize better. We have learned a lot of lessons the hard way. Starting a homestead from scratch, and building all our own infrastructure, is much harder than I had ever imagined it could be. Hopefully writing this all down will help you avoid a few of the mistakes we made!

Rookie Mistakes We Made As Beginning Homesteaders - Sled Dog Slow

Our biggest rookie mistake was not planning anything.

Sure we had ideas for what we wanted to do, and we wrote things down, but we never really had a set plan. There was no “house goes here, chickens go here, garden goes here” kind of plan. Not until we had already put the chickens too close to the house. So as we expanded we just threw things where it was convenient right then, rather than were we knew we wanted them permanently. If we had planned better we could have saved ourselves from a lot of the other mistakes. A homestead planning binder is necessary to keep everything organized.

Another mistake we made was jumping in to new things without preparing.

We’d get an idea and go for it. More chickens? Heck yeah. Pigs? Lets do it! Greenhouse and garden? Check! And then the inevitable fail. We wanted everything to work and be productive right away. Kyle was so disappointed to find out our chickens wouldn’t lay until the spring after we purchased them. At least we were able to push our pig order back to this summer, and have learned enough to hold off on beehives and other animals until next year.

We didn’t understand the weather in our new area well either.

Personally, coming from a desert area, I didn’t truly understand what living in a rainforest meant until we were hit by our first rainy season here. A little drowned garden and a lot of mud later, know I know how wet it can be! It also helps to know where the low spots collect so we can avoid building there. We also thought we were prepared for long winters, but they are much longer and darker than I could have imagined!

Also, we made the mistake of not budgeting from the beginning.

We have spent so much money on materials for our homestead, when we should have just invested in a saw mill from the beginning. Small purchases can add up really quickly. We should have figured out sooner that just because something is new doesn’t make it better. At least we have a few places we know to go for cheap homestead goods now!

The biggest lesson we’ve learned in starting our homestead from scratch is that it’s okay to go slow.

There is no reason to push to the point of injury to get everything done in one day. Pacing yourself in the endless work (it is endless) of beginning a homestead is extremely important. There should always be a realistic timeline for goals to be completed. This will save so much frustration down the line.

All things aside, we are still learning on our homestead journey. I’m sure there will be many more mistakes and lessons for us in the future!

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5 Risks When Living Life By The Tides

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5 Risks When Living Life By The Tides - Sled Dog Slow

One of the biggest challenges of where we live is our access. We live off road, and how we get to our home changes by the season. During the fall freeze and spring break up we are stuck on our property. During winter there is a 4 wheeler trail that, depending on the weather, can be driven on with a truck, wheeler, or snow machine. And during the summer, well, during the summer we live life by the tides.

Living life by the tides brings with it certain risks, and a lot of adventure!

Risk Number One: The possibility of getting stuck mid-beach with tide coming in.

We live about 15 miles from the end of the road. This means 15 miles of beach driving that has to be timed just right. The tide also goes right up to the cliff face, and there only two spots between our place and the road that you can get off the beach. There have been several times where we have left our wheeler on the beach and walked home. Either due to break downs or not being able to drive around a rocky point without flooding the engine, missing tide is never fun. There is even the possibility of sitting as far up the cliff as is manageable for several hours to wait out tide if the timing is wrong.

Risk Number Two: Getting Out In Case Of A Medical Emergency

On our beach there are two high tides and two low tides each day. During high tide there is no land access to our property, which means for roughly 8-10 hours a day there is no way to go anywhere. I’ve had one major accident out here already, when I fractured my teeth on the wheeler. Luckily that happened at low tide so I was able to drive right to the hospital. By the time the three hour drive to get there was over, my adrenaline was gone and I was starting to hurt. Having to wait for tide before leaving would have been even worse. Any serious emergency during high tide would require being medevaced out via helicopter. That’s not something I ever want to experience!

Risk Number Three: Damage To Vehicles

Ever seen a completely rusted out vehicle in a junkyard? Salt water does that, and really fast. Driving a car, truck or wheeler on the beach means rinsing it every trip (if possible). Even if the vehicle is rinsed, driving on the beach does serious damage to electrical and metal frames. Beach rigs don’t last half as long as road rigs, but this is the only way to get to our place for half the year!

life by the tides

Risk Number Four: Beach Changes

The beach changes every tide, and I really mean every tide. Rocks are moved, driftwood gets pushed around, and the occasional net (or whale) shows up.  The places that were solid last tide are suddenly soft now. Driving on the beach requires 110% concentration, or you end up with risk number five.

Risk Number Five: Loosing A Vehicle Entirely

We got to experience this one yesterday. There is an interesting combination of water/mud/clay on this beach that basically makes quick sand. There are several trashed vehicles on the beach from people getting stuck in this stuff. We got our new (to us) vehicle stuck, and where unable to pull it out with our come along, winch, and two wheelers. At this point we have to leave it until someone else risks a vehicle on the beach, then we will ask for some help getting it towed back to the road. I don’t have my fingers crossed or anything, but there is always the slight possibility that it may run after having all the fluids flushed. Provided the ocean doesn’t take it completely first.

Even with all the risks that our beach brings, and the heartache it’s caused, we are still enjoying every minute of living out here!

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