Life in Alaska

Prepping for Winter

Written by
Hannah Wilder

Chaos. If I were to choose one word to sum up fall and winter preparation on our farmstead, it would most certainly be chaos. No matter how much planning and discussion comes about in the summer months, regardless of how hard we try to convince ourselves that we will be diligent about preparing early, it almost always results in the same helter-skelter affair. Involved in this aforementioned scene are three major tasks: gathering firewood, livestock preparations, and harvesting and putting up food. 

Arguably, one of the most important chores around here is harvesting firewood. As we heat two homes, a garage, the Taproot Farms lodge, and water, all with wood, gathering and splitting firewood is a vital and constant chore. Now, if we were to discuss our ideal farm and routine habits, we would begin storing up wood in the spring and summer months and have cords and cords of firewood stockpiled for the winter. But we are simply not there yet and that is okay. So, for now, we hasten to put up as much wood as possible before snow becomes a challenge.

The second most important task is preparing the animals for winter and spring. During the summer months, our goats’ diet consists mostly of forage with only supplemental use of hay. But during the winter and spring, when forage isn’t available, having a good supply of quality hay is absolutely essential. Every fall, we seek out the best in hay from local farms and purchase enough to last through the coming winter season. 

The annual fall goat breeding is another extremely important responsibility here on the farmstead; it ensures that we will have a steady supply of milk for our handcrafted soaps, while also providing kids to sell in the springtime. We had our first kidding experience this past January, and boy was it an adventure! In typical Wilder fashion, Jordan and I were flying by the seat of our pants when it came time to prepare for kidding. The previous fall, we had simply let our buck, Sasquatch, live with the does for a few months, totally not keeping track of when the breedings took place. We were absolutely clueless when to expect kids, and weren’t really sure if our does were even pregnant. One cold January night, as Jordan and I were just dozing off, we heard a four-wheeler pull up to our house. Ricky, my father-in-law, quickly hopped off the ATV and announced that there was a goat baby in the pen! We swiftly donned our winter layers, jumped in the car, and sped off to the goat pen to see the kid for ourselves. Sure enough, there was a sweet little doeling standing in the middle of the pen. Mama and baby were whisked away to the heated kidding pen, cleaned up, and left alone for the rest of the night to bond. The next morning, when we went to check on the goats, I joked that we should make sure there wasn’t another kid born in the night. Lo’ and behold, there was another kid in the pen! I went around to see which doe the kid belonged to, but none of them looked like they had given birth. Jordan and I looked at each other, bewildered, wondering who this baby belonged to. After a few minutes of confusion, it suddenly dawned on us that this kid belonged to the mama that had given birth the night before! It had been born first, and burrowed itself so deep in the hay that we totally missed it. At the end of the season, we ended up with nine kids total, and yes, all of them lived.

Each year, we make it a goal to improve on putting up more food. Ideally, we would harvest and put up enough fish, moose, vegetables, berries, herbs, and honey to last us for the year. We are not there yet. This season, we were fortunate enough to harvest a good amount of honey which will last us through the year. Most of our meat supply comes from what we can harvest ourselves, so each year we make sure to put up plenty of salmon and moose. This year, we will also have a freezer full of pork and lard when we butcher our pig, Petunia. Beans, cabbage, peas, carrots, potatoes, and horseradish from the garden are either canned, lacto-fermented, or stored whole for the winter as well. I won’t pretend that we eat only what we can grow, hunt, and harvest ourselves. We most certainly do shop at the grocery store, and I for one do not have the self-control to deny myself a good watermelon or mango, simply because they aren’t grown here.

By now, you might imagine that we are the most unorganized, ramshackle bunch of misfits that ever lived, and perhaps you are right. Raw life and true honesty are two things that I am desiring to illuminate while I walk this path. Maybe one day we will learn from our persistent procrastination and unnecessary indulgences, but I sincerely doubt it. Maybe one day we will turn our disarray into a dynasty, but I hope not. One thing I have learned about living the farmstead life is that it is totally unpredictable, and that is one of the most exciting things about living this way. Embracing chaos and unpredictability is something that can transcend all paths of life and is undeniably essential to living with peace. 

No items found.

Prepping for Winter

Life in Alaska

Author

Hannah Wilder

Wilder Supply Co, formerly Taproot Farms Co., is a family owned skin care business located in Alaska. We specialize in cold-process, goat milk soap but we have been slowly expanding our product line into more bath & body products. As always, we take great pride in every product we make!

Chaos. If I were to choose one word to sum up fall and winter preparation on our farmstead, it would most certainly be chaos. No matter how much planning and discussion comes about in the summer months, regardless of how hard we try to convince ourselves that we will be diligent about preparing early, it almost always results in the same helter-skelter affair. Involved in this aforementioned scene are three major tasks: gathering firewood, livestock preparations, and harvesting and putting up food. 

Arguably, one of the most important chores around here is harvesting firewood. As we heat two homes, a garage, the Taproot Farms lodge, and water, all with wood, gathering and splitting firewood is a vital and constant chore. Now, if we were to discuss our ideal farm and routine habits, we would begin storing up wood in the spring and summer months and have cords and cords of firewood stockpiled for the winter. But we are simply not there yet and that is okay. So, for now, we hasten to put up as much wood as possible before snow becomes a challenge.

The second most important task is preparing the animals for winter and spring. During the summer months, our goats’ diet consists mostly of forage with only supplemental use of hay. But during the winter and spring, when forage isn’t available, having a good supply of quality hay is absolutely essential. Every fall, we seek out the best in hay from local farms and purchase enough to last through the coming winter season. 

The annual fall goat breeding is another extremely important responsibility here on the farmstead; it ensures that we will have a steady supply of milk for our handcrafted soaps, while also providing kids to sell in the springtime. We had our first kidding experience this past January, and boy was it an adventure! In typical Wilder fashion, Jordan and I were flying by the seat of our pants when it came time to prepare for kidding. The previous fall, we had simply let our buck, Sasquatch, live with the does for a few months, totally not keeping track of when the breedings took place. We were absolutely clueless when to expect kids, and weren’t really sure if our does were even pregnant. One cold January night, as Jordan and I were just dozing off, we heard a four-wheeler pull up to our house. Ricky, my father-in-law, quickly hopped off the ATV and announced that there was a goat baby in the pen! We swiftly donned our winter layers, jumped in the car, and sped off to the goat pen to see the kid for ourselves. Sure enough, there was a sweet little doeling standing in the middle of the pen. Mama and baby were whisked away to the heated kidding pen, cleaned up, and left alone for the rest of the night to bond. The next morning, when we went to check on the goats, I joked that we should make sure there wasn’t another kid born in the night. Lo’ and behold, there was another kid in the pen! I went around to see which doe the kid belonged to, but none of them looked like they had given birth. Jordan and I looked at each other, bewildered, wondering who this baby belonged to. After a few minutes of confusion, it suddenly dawned on us that this kid belonged to the mama that had given birth the night before! It had been born first, and burrowed itself so deep in the hay that we totally missed it. At the end of the season, we ended up with nine kids total, and yes, all of them lived.

Each year, we make it a goal to improve on putting up more food. Ideally, we would harvest and put up enough fish, moose, vegetables, berries, herbs, and honey to last us for the year. We are not there yet. This season, we were fortunate enough to harvest a good amount of honey which will last us through the year. Most of our meat supply comes from what we can harvest ourselves, so each year we make sure to put up plenty of salmon and moose. This year, we will also have a freezer full of pork and lard when we butcher our pig, Petunia. Beans, cabbage, peas, carrots, potatoes, and horseradish from the garden are either canned, lacto-fermented, or stored whole for the winter as well. I won’t pretend that we eat only what we can grow, hunt, and harvest ourselves. We most certainly do shop at the grocery store, and I for one do not have the self-control to deny myself a good watermelon or mango, simply because they aren’t grown here.

By now, you might imagine that we are the most unorganized, ramshackle bunch of misfits that ever lived, and perhaps you are right. Raw life and true honesty are two things that I am desiring to illuminate while I walk this path. Maybe one day we will learn from our persistent procrastination and unnecessary indulgences, but I sincerely doubt it. Maybe one day we will turn our disarray into a dynasty, but I hope not. One thing I have learned about living the farmstead life is that it is totally unpredictable, and that is one of the most exciting things about living this way. Embracing chaos and unpredictability is something that can transcend all paths of life and is undeniably essential to living with peace. 

No items found.

Author

Hannah Wilder

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