Best Lesson from THE ALASKA EXPERIMENT

 

outwildalaskaI’ll level with you, most real Alaskans I know have a good laugh over the many reality shows set in Alaska. I’m not one of them, simply because I can set aside the inaccuracies and enjoy the shows for what they are. Nevertheless, I do have my favorites and this is one of them.

ALASKA EXPERIMENT on IMDB

I like this one so much because these Lower 48ers were willing to put their hearts and souls into it and to really try and endure and suffer. It was the participants which made this show.

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“Lower 48er” -a person who resides in the continental United States, the Lower 48 states, as designated by Alaskans.

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Alaska has a million ways to kill you, and odds are no one would ever find your body.

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It really is the Last Frontier, the Wild West, the great unknown and untamed wilderness, a fierce and unforgiving beauty.

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I miss it.

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So a bunch of Lower 48ers are dropped off in Alaska and given a map and allowed to choose their gear. A guitar? Seriously? Gonna whack a charging moose over the head with that?

Fear not. The participants get a grip on reality and their indomitable spirit is inspiring.

BEST LESSON:   Learn What You Really Need in Life.

So, these Lower 48ers don’t know much to start with, but they learn and the process of learning and dealing and finally winning is awesome. Totally worth the watch. Highly recommended. alaska-quarter

*This post was originally put up at my authorly blog, Kimber Li a good while ago.*

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COLONIAL HOUSE Lesson 1: Homesteading Under Pressure

Monday’s topic always has to do with Homesteading in some way and I originally thought I’d lead with another one of my Top Three Favorite Historical Reality Shows, which is FRONTIER HOUSE.  But, I realized I’d be missing out on some pearls of wisdom if I moved on too quickly from COLONIAL HOUSE.

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In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a serious History Buff.  My two favorite fascinations are how people lived way back when and how different historical events connect.

I don’t think the word ‘Homesteading’ had been invented yet in the 1600s, but the concept was there.

In Episode One, the Colonists arrive at the site in Maine and set up housekeeping where the native people had all died from disease just a few years before.  Very sad.  You see, the Native Americans had no natural immunity from many of the new diseases brought in with the European colonists.  Want a zombie horror film?  90 Per Cent of the Natives died from these diseases!  90!  To wrap your mind around that, think of your TEN best friends and family members.  Now imagine nine of them dead.  Horrifying, isn’t it?

Anyway…

The colonies were funded by the rich who expected a return on their investment.  So the colonists needed to harvest enough food to survive the winter and generate enough revenue to satisfy the investors.  They weren’t going to just sell it at the local Farmer’s Markets.  And, oh, well, if the crop failed, they didn’t have an online business generating passive income or even Food Stamps or large charitable donations from the local churches.

If they failed, they died.

Almost as bad, if they failed, the rich people backed out and the colonists headed back to the persecution and oppressive poverty of England.  Not Pretty.

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These are my old hens.  I don’t have any goats.  Yet.

My favorite part of Episode One is when the colonists first walk onto the site and explore their new homes and the chicken coop and the goat shed.  And the Chamber Pot.  (They didn’t even have outhouses!) Seriously, I would’ve loved to sit down to dinner with them that night and just listened to their conversations.  Lay Preacher Heinz tells Governor Jeff about the fields to be used for planting corn.

But they have no seed corn.

Now, they have to make nice with Native Americans who aren’t particularly thrilled to have them there.  That’s how they can get the seed they need to plant the corn to feed themselves and pay back their investors so they won’t starve or need to return to the slums of England in a rickety old boat.

Oh, dear.

The colonists have no real-life comprehension of how terrifying this predicament really is, only an academic one.  But, I think they get a much better and more clear comprehension of it than we ever will.  Unless we invent a Time Machine, of course.

*If you want a head-start on Frontier House, you can check it out for free at your local library or Buy It Here.

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In Modern Homesteading, there is pressure.  If you fail, there are consequences, like you could even lose your farm.  Watch Colonial House to put that potential for failure into perspective.

I’ve noticed that those who believe they already know everything have a really hard time learning anything new.  This is born out of fear, I believe.  For some, it’s terrifying to face the unknown.

Yet, the key, I think, to Homesteading Under Pressure now is the ability to Learn and Adapt.  Just as it was back then.

You’ll see most of the colonists in this show do that rather well.

😉

COLONIAL HOUSE Makes You a Better American

It’s always easier to see the faults in others.  That’s human nature.  Politicians, greedy preachers, and other shysters use this to their advantage.

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Okay, here’s a shocking revelation against the backdrop of constant political drama now gripping every media outlet.

Not all Democrats support Abortion.  Not all Republicans oppose Gay Rights.  A lot of Americans are actually Independent, whether they’re officially registered that way or not.  The more extreme both major parties become, the more Independents we’ll have.

In fact, most Americans really could not care less what you believe, so long as you’re nice to them.  They’re hardworking, good-hearted, and just want to go for a beer on Saturday night, or maybe fishing, plant a garden, after the grocery-shopping is done and if their kids aren’t sick or parents aren’t needing them to mow the lawn.

Also, they’re really sick of the media behaving like spoiled rotten brats with nothing better to do in the cafeteria than to egg on a knock-down, drag-out brawl over pudding cups.

Watching COLONIAL HOUSE goes a long way in helping figure this out.

Besides history and off-grid living, you’ll see that some of the colonists came to the project with firmly entrenched pre-conceived beliefs about both Conservative and Liberal people, white, black, and every other color, gay, straight, or whatever.

The nice thing is most of them seem to have learned a clearer way of looking at things by the end of the last episode.  And that is just freakin’ amazing, if you ask me.

You see, the shysters drum up Hate and Fear, because that stops a person from Thinking.  A non-thinking person is easy to manipulate.

This Historical Reality Show was created during the administration of President George W. Bush and after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

As a nation, we were riding a wave of patriotism, which was great.  But, it didn’t stop the shysters from constantly trying to get us to hate each other in order to get what they wanted for themselves, of course.  (Psst, if the extremists have you confused about the difference between a Patriot and a Fascist, please consult a DICTIONARY .)

By the end of the show, most of the colonists seemed to realize two crucial things.  One, the original colonists came to the New World to escape persecution, only to end up persecuting others in the same way.  Two, fanning the flames of discontent may build up the power of those in charge, but makes life worse for everyone else and the group as a whole.

Pretty incredible, isn’t it?

Maybe it’s because they didn’t have the media constantly bombarding them, telling them what to think.

Maybe it was because every morning they got up to face the truth for themselves.

Maybe it’s because they were living so close to the earth and each other that they realized they would all starve or freeze to death come winter if they didn’t get along and work together.

Watch the show and decide for yourself.  Despite what the extremists would like you to believe, you really do have all the brain cells and backbone you need to figure it out.  You can check it out for free at your local library or BUY It.  Here is the intro on YouTube-   COLONIAL HOUSE on YouTube

The shysters are not going to stop trying to manipulate us into hating each other.  They define Truth and Justice by what is Convenient and Profitable.

We only need to decide if we’re going to let them.

Be Kind.

It’ll really tick ’em off.

😉

 

Alaska Romance Novels

That’s a thing?  Seriously?  Darn-tootin’!

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This little beauty comes out in June.  I’m going to review it.   SWEET HOME ALASKA

So what in tarnation for?  Well, let’s start with the basic.  What’s so great about all those mushy romance novels anyway?

I’ll tell ya what’s great.

First off, full disclosure.  I read a romance novel in my teens.  It belonged to my grandma.  I thought it was so stupid.  If guys are like that in real life, I was never getting married.  I’ll stick with chocolate, thanks anyway.

Times have changed.  Now there are a bazillion different subgenres in the Romance Genre, literally something for everyone, including Alaskan lovers like me.

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Lily and the Lawman

The Romance Genre is defined at its basic level as a story centered on a romantic relationship which ends in a Happily Ever After.  Some say it’s okay for it to end the story with Happy For Now.  I most certainly do not.  That’s how it is for half the population in real life and that’s depressing, if you ask me.

Alaskan Romance Novels are sort of like Western Contemporary Romance, but they recall elements of the Historical Western Romance too.  They’re set on the Last Frontier, which means isolation for the newcomer who’s most likely left all her friends and family thousands of miles away in the Lower 48 States.  Also, Alaskans humans are not at the top of the food chain, much like in the Old West.  Compare the size of the typical black bear you’ll find in the Lower 48 with the Alaskan Brown Bear or the Polar Bear and you’ll see what I mean.  Even the moose are a lot bigger and they will stomp you to death if you tick them off.

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My Review of HIS SECRET ALASKAN HEIRESS

So there’s real danger and wild, wide open places.  If you’re into black tie, red satin, and fine dining, Alaskan Romance Novels probably won’t be your thing.

Although Alaska does have the best fishing in the world, if you ask me.  You haven’t lived until you’ve had Fish & Chips made with Halibut fresh out of the ocean just outside your door in Homer, Alaska.  That’s where me and my Alaskan Man had one of our first dates.  Fishing in Homer, Alaska

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Back when I moved to Alaska, the men outnumbered the women at least ten to one.  In the church I attended, it was about thirty to one.  That made for a mighty fine selection.
usandtruck Now pushing our Silver Wedding Anniversary.

Icelandic Turf House, the Hobbit Hole, and the Kansas Soddie

I’m a history buff.  The two things I like most about history are how ordinary people lived day to day and the little connections.

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On the Banks of Plum Creek  was always my favorite story from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books.  The sod house they first lived in was a big reason why.

A while later and I read all about The Hobbit

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and all about Bag End, Bilbo’s hobbit hole.

Where did these ideas come from?  Well, I can’t say about the Hobbit Hole, though I do know J.R.R. Tolkien was inspired by Nordic Mythology.  But, the sod house was brought to the American West by Scandinavian  immigrants.

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Just me, but I think the Icelandic Turf House is just the coolest thing ever.  They derive their heat from the earth, plus they usually involved several or many small houses connected by tunnels.  This kept the family out of the wind during the long, cold winters.  Check out this YouTube video on it- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7JFwLyrdJw

A lot of modern homesteaders are looking to these historical homes for inspiration.  Seems to me they’d really save on heating bills!

Want to build your own Hobbit Hole?  Hit this one- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix11VQ8f7uY

And a good ol’ fashion Kansas Soddie? Totally go here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdsCjtky6ZQ

Thus concludes your Homesteading History Lesson for Today!

P.S. I also looked to Iceland Elves for inspiration for my own elves in my YA Contemporary Fantasy.  Iceland is a pretty cool place.  Pun intended.

To My Mommy in Heaven

I miss you.

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Every single day I miss you so terribly.  I know your Mother’s Day is happy and for the first time in many years you get to spend it with your own mommy.  Please give Grandma a hug and tell her how much I miss her blackberry cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream.  But, my Mother’s Day is half sad because you’re not here with me anymore.  I am so thankful for my children and for their daddy.  But, I miss you.

John 19:26, 27 – When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

 

 

My 3 Favorite Children’s Alaska Books

 

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I took MAMA, DO YOU LOVE ME? to the hospital with me when I gave birth to our first baby.

Not kidding.

I meant to read it to her, but I was too exhausted.  Hey, I was new at motherhood, but, goshdarnit, I was certainly enthusiastic!  Little wonder that child could phonetically sound out words, learning to read, a month before her second birthday.  She’s an adult now, and still a voracious reader.

Mama is so proud!

Technically, Mama, Do You Love Me? is not an exclusively Alaskan book, although the illustrator is an Alaskan.  It’s inspired by the Inuit, an Alaska Native tribe which can also be found in other parts of the Arctic, like Canada.

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DANGER, THE DOG YARD CAT  by Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditerod, and fellow Alaskan, Shannon Cartwright.  Dogs get a lot of attention in Alaska and for very good reason.  Heck, there’s even a movie based on the life of Balto

baltoand I named the fictional town in my Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy series after Togo, the second most famous dog in Alaskan history.  But, cats are pretty darn important too.  Find out why.

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ALASKA’S THREE BEARS also by Shannon Cartwright, as well as Shelley Gill, the 5th woman to win the Iditarod.  You probably know Alaska has a lot of bears.  There are three different kinds, in fact, probably because there are three different kinds of awesome bear habitats there.  Read this book to learn all about them.

In Alaska, animals and Iditarod champions are huge celebrities.  Don’t know about you, but I’d take them over what comes out of Hollywood any day of the week.

BONUS!

Although, this dude sure was a lot of fun in this particular movie!

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My 2 Favorite Homestead Resources

Face it, I’m a book geek.  I read them, write them, and promote the dickens out of ’em.  Kimber Li’s Authorly Blog

9781612129945So it’s only natural I would have a favorite publisher when it comes to my other interests, homesteading, the great out of doors, and all that.  If you’re into that, Storey Publishing’s got you covered.  Of course, they’d be nothing without their awesome authors, like the dude who wrote the book above, Frank Hyman.  You should totally check out his website for a wealth of goodies on the birdies and gardening and such.  He’s written tons of articles for magazines and even teaches classes on cool homesteading stuff.

Meanwhile, my own coop is in dire need of help.  We’d just moved into our new house and then we had an extra long winter.  The snow finally melted and left this ugly scene.

thumbnail_IMG_0834Poor chickie-poos.  Don’t worry.  I got my massive brood of offspring to move the coop to fresh ground and am now in the process of cleaning this up, carrying out repairs, and figuring out how to create a chunnel (chicken tunnel) so they can have full access to the raspberry bushes.  Chicken poo is great for raspberry bushes.

Yeah, that coop was pretty much buried in snow, but I have to say our coop in Alaska was a lot more buried.  But, I guess that goes without saying.  Maybe I’d better write posts on getting chickens through the winter next time the snow flies.  If you live in a colder climate, you’re first line of defense is to choose a cold-hardy breed.  We have two Americaunas and one Welsummer and they did just fine, although they tend to be flighty escape artists which isn’t so great for a suburban homestead.  Here they are demanding to come into the big chicken coop.

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And depositing their little ‘chicken bombs’ all over our back deck.  (((sigh)))  Anna, Elsa, and Stella are pets, so they know they don’t need to worry about my husband’s barbecue skills.  But, they are getting kinda old for chickens and, sadly, Elsa (the white one) just crossed the rainbow bridge to hen heaven.  Anna and Stella are still healthy and doing great though.

If you’re getting ready to buy new chicks for a backyard homestead in a place which gets snow in the winter, I suggest Buff Orpingtons from Cackle Hatchery.  Actually, you can buy them from any hatchery, because they are standard chickens.

This brings me to my other favorite homesteading resource, Becky’s Homestead, a lady and her YouTube Channel she’s been running for years and years.  One of my favorite episodes is on this very topic and why Buff Orpingtons are great for backyards-   Becky’s Homestead on Buff Orpington Chicks

Becky'sLogcabinbookIn fact, Becky has a lot of great videos on chickens and other homesteading topics, as well as some useful books.  Becky’s Resources

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of work to do.