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Probably went a bit overboard in everything we tried to do. Being the age I am had much to do with that. We had the barn re-roofed, a driveway put in, a garden established, got three hives of bees established, fruit trees planted, installed a wood stove, bought "Charlie" and some equipment to go with it (Charlie's our tractor) and managed to go back up to Alaska to get everything we had moved out -- all by August. Moving out of Alaska involves saying goodbye to a lot of very dear friends and then, as a way of saying goodbye to nearly 40 years of living up there, we drove all the way back to Wisconsin. It was then that we started building the root cellar.
P.S. While winter finally caught up with us, the root cellar was at least closed in. This spring and summer (our first full one), the cellar got new shelving, an Arctic entrance made with three sided logs and covered over with about three feet of soil with grass planted over the entire area. It was a bigger job than either of us imagined but well worth it!
Of course, we base that on the fact that both of us were still crawling into bed every night totally exhausted.
While we left Alaska for the chance at finding a little farm where we could raise most of our food, we never expected a typical Alaskan winter to follow us as well. Days on end of below zero temperatures with snow that needed plowing or shoveled makes for a very long winter. Couple that with the fact that we heat both our little house and work shop with wood that needed cut and split and you get some idea of why we found ourselves exhausted at the end of every day. When we couldn't cut wood, there were projects: a wall to sheetrock; a storage bed and shelves to build; an exhaust system for our cook stove to engineer and a stove to build for our much anticipated adventure in making maple syrup come spring if ever it would come. In Wisconsin, the middle of March is the typical date for tapping maple trees but not this year.
One of the things we missed most in our move from Alaska was the steam bath we left behind. The Finish people call them saunas. To the Russians they are banyas. And the Eskimos have their maqii (nearly every day I might add). The one we had in Alaska was a classic. My neighbor Tom and I built it together but not until we'd checked out countless other steam baths. When my Eskimo friends from Dillingham visited Anchorage, they rented a car for the 50 mile drive to Palmer to check out our maqii. "Leave to white man to put all good ideas in one building!" Compliments don't come much better. What does anyone do without a sauna?
Our new "maqii" is now operational. Check it out on our Ramblings page.