Our one purpose for moving to this remote cabin on a lake in Alaska is to live an “Agrarian” life style. We are planning to set up a homestead that makes us as self-sufficient as possible, and to live by the work of our hands, debt-free and without regular monthly bills. We live off-the-grid, so, no electric bill. Our water is sourced from a mountain creek, so, no water bill. We are hoping to grow most of our own fruits, vegetables, and herbs. We are also hoping to can lots of salmon in the coming months, when the coho and sockeye are plentiful in our lake. We look forward to the opportunity to harvest a moose, which would provide meat for probably 1 to 2 years.
We would also like to raise chickens, rabbits, and maybe a goat or a pig. These are our long-term goals, but we are just beginning and we don’t know what challenges might present themselves. For now, we are beginning to grow a garden quickly, without building a permanent greenhouse, which will come next year. For a while, we still get our provisions from the grocery store. We brought 2 years worth of canned goods and other non-perishables with us. And, we are still purchasing fresh food weekly on our trips to town. We are trying to accustom ourselves to living in a new way, but this will take time. In particular, we are working on adjusting our attitudes about what we have, what we need, and how we get it.
The early settlers in America had to rely on the land and the work of their hands to live and survive. They could trade, barter, or sell. The industrial revolution changed people’s ability to obtain goods, and society’s ideas about the values of labor and money. The value of a job was no longer in the satisfaction it brought, but in how much money it could earn. We feel that this modern lifestyle is too complicated and not fulfilling. Agrarian thinking partners with the land and the skills needed to make it productive through work. The puritans believed that hard work honored God.
We are learning that homesteading is hard, physical work, but the emotional fulfillment it brings is great. It’s a simpler way of life.
We are getting used to questioning our need for certain things. We now categorize things we want in terms of “wants” and “needs”. If what we want doesn’t fulfill
our Agrarian life-style goals, then it’s simply a want that might need to be delayed or dismissed. We are also getting used to how to evaluate things from a new perspective. For example, it would probably be cheaper to keep buying our eggs in town, but this is not the lifestyle we are looking for. Raising chickens meets several of our goals, not only to be self-sufficient, but to live by the work of our hands (we are also excited about not investing in mass chicken GMAO’s. We are getting used to evaluating everything based on setting up a homestead, and not evaluating everything based on monetary costs and modern world values. We currently have only one regular monthly bill: our one, shared cell phone.
The only other regular expenses we have are for gas for the boat and generator, and propane for the stove. We use the generator for my hair dryer and power tools when we are building something. We use the propane stove for almost every meal, but we are preparing to install a second wood stove and we will cook from that, especially as soon the temperatures drop. We will harvest our own wood from the mountains behind our cabin.
The town library is a great resource for us. This is where we use the Internet and computers for free, check out magazines, books, and videos. They have a great collection, and are networked with all of the community libraries throughout the state of Alaska, so we are able to order anything from any library in Alaska for a shipping charge of 50 cents. It’s a bargain. One problem we have when we need to order something on the Internet is the shipping. Many retailers will not ship to Haines.
We have tried using many different addresses in Haines, but none of them work. For now, we are shipping items to friends and family in the lower 48, and they are forwarding the packages to us.
Eventually, we will need to generate some sort of income. For now, I work a couple of contract jobs which I can do remotely. We are also hoping to turn our guest cabin into a bed and breakfast retreat, and maybe offer fishing and hunting guides. Nathanael plans on working the mountain and trapping for fur in the winter months. he has brought along around 90 traps and snares. This is not as lucrative a trade as it used to be, but if successful, we can generate a little income. Furs are still sought out in Alaska, more so than in the lower 48. Nathanael has thought of acquiring properties
in the town and opening up a diner or something for the tourist trade, but then this will put us right back where we left off, so we are putting those ideas out of our heads for now.
You never know what kind of business we might get into. It still remains to be seen. For now, we are content just living one day at a time. The only schedule we are on is Mother Nature’s.