Monday, November 24, 2008

A moose story

As promised, but not as easy as I thought it would be. I have too many moose stories, really. But, it was a letter to the local newspaper, , that sparked the thought on this particular story.

Right now, as I sit in my warm, spacious home, there are hundreds of American Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, etc. living in less than pristine housing. They are eating tasteless chicken for nearly every meal, waking early, and resting late. They are our friends, our neighbors, and our heroes.

The war our country is in, like most, is an unpopular war. Truthfully, I am not even sure how I feel about it. But I do know America is a safer place, thanks to our troops. We are here because they are are there.

In the middle of summer, as Judah played outside, I sat on th porch tossing a frisbie for Aly to catch. John came out just as Aly grew tired and settled down with the frisbie for a break. John, Judah, and I walked around the corner of the house to choose a place to plant our garden.

As I wandered ahead, John began shouting at me to get inside. Judah in his arm, he was running toward me. Knowing his tendancy to over-react a bit, and aware that a black bear had recently been seen in the area, I stood there and demanded to know why I needed to get inside. In a split second, I heard crashing of trees and saw a very large cow moose, nudging at her small calf as they bolted across the yard, straight toward us. Her ears we laid back, and I could tell she was very angry. In that moment, I saw Aly spring to her feet, cutting the moose off their path, and sending them into another direction. As glad I was that they were not coming toward me, my husband, and our son, I knew that moose would kill Aly if she felt it necessary. "Aly, NO!" I screamed, "COME, GIRL, Come! NO!" Aly looked at me just as the calf ran in front of its mother. In a split second, Aly backed up about six inches, just enough to move away from the Mama-Moose's defensive stomp. I really thought Aly got kicked, but that moose didn't stay to finish her off, and instead, ran into the woods with her calf. All was calm, all was normal.

I said all that to say this: I am thankful that I live in a place where moose run out of he woods, and not suicide bombers. I am thankful that the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are keeping the war there. I don't know how hopeful it is to see an end to the war and the killing there, but I am very hopeful that it will stay there, thanks to our soliders.

Life in Alaska isn't always about moose, bears, and wildlife. Sometimes it is about politics, religion, and all the other things that spark great debate. But whatever Alaskan life brings, I truly believe it is made possible in large part by our military service members and I am very thankful for them a this time of year, and always.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Moose Burgers

I've never been too fond of them, so blame it on the pregnancy, the snow, the darkness, or something else, but we are eating a lot of them lately. Two pounds of ground moose, a tablespoon of olive oil, plus 1/2 teaspoon each of onion powder, pepper, and salt. Add homemade rolls, bacon, and cheese and I just can't help it. YUM

Anyway, I'll post a moose story soon. I just didn't want anyone to think I'd forgotten about my blog. I'm just busy-making and eating moose burgers! ;)

I promise to post ASAP.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Trapping Tale #1

I started trapping years ago, about the age of 14, if I had to guess. My dad, who was in the Air Force, was being sent TDY to Japan. He had already set a trapline off a popular snowmachine trail near our house in North Pole, Alaska. I had gone by snowmachine with him to check his line a few times before. Now, as he prepared to leave, he put me in charge of checking the line, a task I was eager to accept.

I was home schooled. This meant if I hurried, I could finish half my work before all the short, winter daylight was gone. Then, I could get on our sled and check the line. About a week after Dad left, I harnessed Tigerlily, my beautiful Brittany, and started the snowmachine. It was very cold out, and I remember thinking it was sort of a waste of time, as I was sure no animals had been moving in that weather. Nevertheless, it was better than math and economics, so I and my faithful friend set off down the trails.

Tigerlily ran effortlessly through the snow, following alongside my snowmachine. We came to a place where the trail narrowed. "Come on, Tiges, get up here," I coached the dog to my lap. Happy for the break, she rested her head on my arm, and we proceeded to the first set. It was a snare which was set on a frequented fox trail. Right away, I saw orange fur. Even so, I couldn't believe it. Tiger barked excitedly, my heart beat fast, and I was filled with emotion. Excitement and fear pressed within me. Was it alive still? Dad had said I could keep the first of anything that was caught. I had actually even set this snare: the only one on the whole line that I had set. It couldn't really be a fox in there, could it!? Of course, it was. And, it was dead. Actually, it was dead and frozen, formed in a tight curled-up position, as if fast asleep. I cut the wire free from the tree which held it, and put the catch into the milk crate we had mounted on the sled for such bounty.

I sped down the trail toward the rest of the sets. I didn't let Tiger run. I was too excited. I just wanted to get home and show everyone my catch. Two, three, four, maybe five sets later, I saw yet another ball of orange fur. "No, way!" Another beautiful red fox lay in the snow, waiting for my arrival. I'm not even sure I did check the rest of the line, I had to get home ASAP!

Somewhere, I have pictures of myself and Tigerlily with our first of many fox that we trapped. My dad returned from his assignment and taught me to skin that fox out. He skinned the second one I found that day, and I skinned the first.

Three months ago, though Tigerlily had been buried for over two years, my dad, not so much my trapping partner anymore, and houses being built in the very place I caught him, the fur of my first red still hung beautifully on my wall. It would be there still, if not for Moses, my "wonderful" dog of today. Apparently, he had a problem with Mr. Red, and fought him to his second death. When I found the fur strewn about the hallway, I felt very much like doing the same to the culprit. Still, I am sure German Shorthair pelt would not be as pretty on the wall. When I finally calmed down, I placed the large scraps into a bag and hung a newer red fox on the wall in its place. I plan to use the salvaged fur to make myself a trapper's hat this year. I need one, anyway, and it mine as well be made from the fur of my first catch.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Perfect Day to Start My Blog

Currently, I am sitting at a a window which faces our driveway. The snow is falling steadily and sticking to every inch of earth around. I am watching "Maggie," the Magpie as she hops effortlessly from limb to limb of a Spruce tree. She, no doubt, is returning to continue pecking the meat off my husband's freshly killed black bear skull. I've seen her frequently this month, ever since we came home from hunting with a moose and the bear. Though our meat bounty has long been cleaned, cut, and frozen, Maggie and her Chicadee friends have been gratefully consuming the scraps off the bones.

I saved the bones of our moose, and one shot by my oldest brother, Ken to attract furbearers during the upcoming trapping season. I am the trapper of the family, a skill I learned from my dad. I haven't set a line in about 5 years, but I am determined to get out this year and try again.

I welcome the month of October 3 months pregnant with our 3'rd child. Our oldest is a 4 year-old rambunctious boy, Judah. He can be described with no less color. His strong-willed personality matches his Biblical name. Paris, his sister, is a girly 2 and 3/4 year-old, full of personality too. She loves to sing-loudly-very loudly. :) Hubby, John, works long hours, for few days a week. He's in the emergency field. We have two dogs, a tempermental Brittany, Mrs. Jones and a wild German Shorthaired Pointer, Moses. Both were rescued by us, and now live very spoiled lives. Also living in our home is my wonderful, amazing mother, and her Brittany, Alyeska.

Thankfully, we have a large home, new to us this year. It fits all of us very comfortably and, thanks to Sarah Palin, the energy check she gave to us residents should pay for us to heat this house just fine this winter.

"Winter:" that brings me back to the start of my blog. I don't wish for this blog to become a day-to day or week-to-week play on me and my family, though I am sure to write plenty about us. Instead, it's my desire to make this blog about Alaskans-true Alaskans-their stories: our stories: life in the Great Land-not just my life: the Alaskan way.

And today, was a grand Alaskan day. Early this morning, my brother and his wife set out for a drive to the Yukon, leaving their large, white dog with me. The kids and I set out for a quick trip to the library. We returned home to find a Spruce Grouse at the corner of our driveway. Knowing these are some of the stupidest birds ever, I told the kids to wait in the car while I went in to grab my .22. It is an H&R pistol-type which looks like an old revolver. It's also fun and easy to shoot. I walked straight out to the silly bird, stood 7 feet away, and made her into an easy dinner. I let the large, white dog, Sandy, retrieve the bird, which she did without hesitation. She proudly carried it in her gentle grip until I told her to release it. I saved the bird carcus for trapping as well. With God's help, I should be able to attract a lynx or two with such a tantalizing bait.

In any case, it was a beautifull Alaskan day, as most days here are.