Posted: Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Despite the rain I still find myself craving to get out fishing or spruce hen hunting this fall. Any time you walk in the woods or grass in a steady downpour you are soaked in a few minutes unless you encase yourself in rubber boots and rain gear. Rubber gear proves to be almost too hot to do much long distance walking in and not the most comfortable stuff to hunt in. So what do you do when your faced with the amount of rain we have all endured during the summer and fall of 2006?

I know many of my fishing partners go fishing in the rain on a regular basis but very few hunters are out stomping around in the rain carrying a gun. Rain is perhaps the major deterrent for hunters on the Kenai Peninsula. We have plenty of warm clothes to wear in almost any type of extreme cold weather but still have a long ways to go before we can effectively combat dealing with the rain. Even the highest priced Gore-Tex boots will eventually soak through.

Each fall I try to get my gardens harvested and the gardens tilled before the ground freezes however, this year it is almost impossible due to rain day after day. I had a very difficult time just getting my potatoes dug this year and was really disappointed in how high the water content is in them. I urge my fellow potato growers to be extra careful with your potatoes this year and spend some extra time trying to get them dried down. I have mine stored on the back wall of my garage in plastic milk crates with two fans circulating air around them trying to get them dry enough to keep over winter.

This is also the time of the year to go get a few meals of rainbows before freeze-up as fish really go on a feeding binge after a couple nights of frost. It is also the time of the year to harvest a few of those cranberries for jelly and pancake syrup. For many of the snowbird Alaskans they are already packing up or have already headed south for the winter.

For my family and I it is always a very busy time of the year as we are finishing harvesting our garden crop besides butchering chickens. The past few days we have been canning potatoes, anything smaller then a golf ball is scrubbed up and put in a quart jar and canned. Those smaller potatoes that normally would go to waste are used for soups, chowders or other recipes. I dig all my potatoes by hand to prevent any fork or shovel damage to them. I must admit digging over 400 potato plants by hand makes for very sore muscles on your fingers especially if you have to dig them from mud.

Another thing I have done for several years is rinse out my empty milk jugs and fill them with water and put them in my freezers. As you empty out your freezers you replace that space with a milk jug of water which turns into ice. A full freezer is a lot cheaper to run then one half full besides that way you also have never ending supply of ice. If you have a power outage you also have drinking water. If the power outage last for more then a few days you have a chance to survive everything in your freezer thawing out and spoiling. You also are not spending the money all summer buying ice.

How long could you and your family survive if we had a crisis right here in Alaska and we were not able to go to the grocery store? Keep extra food on hand and always keep several cases of empty jars on hand at home. If something happened you could always can the contents of your freezers in an emergency if you had to. It might not be the way we prefer to have some of our food but is a whole lot better then watching it spoil and go to waste.

Another thing I think every family here in Alaska should consider is an emergency heat back up. If our natural gas supply suddenly ended how would you heat your home? If we lost electricity for several days, could you and your family survive? Low cost generators could run a heater or freezer for a few days if you could afford the fuel for them. If you have a generator already always keep a few days supply of fuel stored in a safe place just in case.

No I am not trying to scare you just help you be prepared to hopefully prevent the turmoil and disaster that followed when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. The majority of these people were not prepared for a disaster of any kind. In the event we had a severe earthquake or even a war I would like to think my fellow Alaskans would be better prepared then those people in Louisiana were.

Not only am I urging you to think ahead and prepare your home for an emergency, I also urge you to check out that elderly man, woman or couple down the street to make sure they are prepared too. I have always felt that the elderly people in our communities are an inherited responsibility for all of us. They have already paid their dues to our neighborhoods and now it is our responsibility to look after them. You will be surprised how easy this is, also how rewarding it is to get a powerful handshake from a very frail old man or a hug from someone’s Grandma and to hear these two words from them “THANK YOU!” If you’re rather reserved and somewhat shy about doing this type of thing, tell them Ol’ JOHN sent you to check on them. If that still don’t work call me and I will go do it for you! See you next week!

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