Alaska, Bears, and Spellcheck
[quote=PlicketyCat][quote=c1oudfire]Thanks for the info, Plickety. With my background in horticulture, I’m pretty comfortable with soil surveys and analysis, and of course, I wouldn’t purchase any property, sight unseen. I respect, but I am not unduly intimidated by large critters. My husband has had a longing to go north for many years, and the subject of Alaska has come up more than once. I must say that the low population, relatively untouched wilderness, and clean[er] environment really appeal to me. There are two factors that hold me back: I am a passionate gardener, and I really would like to gain a zone, not lose two or three zones. Also, the long winter nights could get a bit much for me. (We’re too old to appreciate the opportunities in long winter nights, hehe). While we’re still young enough to actively garden, and we’re both far more physically active than most Americans (even those younger than us), we’re slowing down enough that going into the interior is probably not a viable plan for us. But this idea will remain simmering on the back burner, as the future unfolds. Who knows?[/quote]The Interior is Zone 1-2, some of the SE Coastal areas are 3-4… definitely a challenge for people used to zones 6-8!! But, hey, AK has excellent cabbage and potato crops even though corn and tomatos are a royal pain. Since Break-up is usually late May and Termination Dust is usually early October, it can be a bit tricky to get things planted and harvested but the long photo-period in summer kind of makes up for the short growing period for many crops.The weird photo-periods at high latitudes can be hard on a lot of people. Since we’re almost in the Arctic Circle, there’s 22+ hours of daylight in summer and less than 2 hours of daylight in the winter… it’s Dight, not it’s Nay! It’s a little bizarre to see the sun spin around the horizon without going down in the summer, or not actually rising in the winter. Strangely, I had much more trouble with the constant sunlight in summer than the constant darkness in winter… probably because I’m a night person by nature. Of course, the long summer days can actually cause problems with some crops (like eggplant) that require a certain length of darkness to set flowers/fruit. And 4th of July is pretty pointless since it’s hard to see the fireworks when the sun is still up!I certainly wouldn’t recommend high latitude or low zone regions to any homesteader who doesn’t have some ag experience or isn’t completely mental and stubborn enough to deal with the difficulties. Even when you’re in peak physical condition, homesteading in an extreme climate (cold or hot) is not a walk in the park. Having to cut & split about 10 cords of firewood, possibly haul your own water, dealing with large critters all on top of routine gardening, livestock, and maintenance can really take it out of you… you definitely have to work smart, not hard![/quote]
Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. I’m finally catching up on my sleep and sore muscles. I’ve been dispatching those two huge conifers, and I’ve been altogether too sedentary this past winter. Thanks for the very descriptive response to my concerns about living/gardening in Alaska. It confirms many of my concerns, though I am still unwilling to rule out Alaska as a possible haven. What’s your experience with the overall sense of community there? Do you find the population more community-oriented, and willing to share/help, or less so than the lower 48?
Going back to the bears (a perennially riveting subject), you’ve probably already read it, but one of the books I found useful in understanding bear behavior was titled Bear Attacks. It was on the bookshelves in backpacking shops for quite a while. It was written by a fellow whose job was investigating bear attacks, determining the motive, i.e. was it a "bad" bear or bad human behavior, deciding whether the bear needed to be destroyed, and then dispatching that task. Bear Attacks summarized data from his many years in the field. He found certain patterns in the behavior of bears, and by interviewing survivors and witnesses, was able to come up with the best strategies for dealing with a bear attack, based on the bear’s species, and behavior. I found the information specifically useful in making me more comfortable in judging whether a bear is being aggressive (pretty much a no-brainer), and whether that aggressiveness is motivated by hunger (gonna eat cha) or being startled and intending to intimidate (a more subtle difference). The best response is different, depending on what the bear has in mind.
Aaand, completely a propos of nothing, WE NOW HAVE SPELLCHECK . . . YES!