Gail and Gary living on Homestead at Boulder Point
My daughter Gail and her husband Gary lived on a homestead at Boulder Point, the land that juts out north of Arness Dock, Nikiski.
They lived there 7 years. Some of those years, Gary worked on a seismograph crew on the North Slope. Gail has lots of stories about homesteading that I will not be able to put in this article.
Both people are hardy and have endured very cold, brutal temperatures. They hunted moose, were stalked by bears and had a nice corral with a horse, goat, pigs. The horse and goat was a great alarm system if a bear (beast or man) came in the yard.
Chickens were one of many of Gail’s great homestead accomplishments. Very big, when it came to butchering in fall, they looked like small turkeys. They made the best roasts and chicken noodle soups. Bob still talks about how good those chickens were. We canned home grown potatoes in the chicken broth. I think this is Bob’s favorite meal. Heat potatoes and broth and thicken the broth with cornstarch, we just ate it in a soup bowl!
She had a big wonderful garden full of broccoli, kohlrabi, and all the things that grow in rich, well taken care of soil. She also raised mushrooms for a while.
They walked into the homestead when it came break up, (Spring) in the mud when the road turned to Jell-o. They plowed themselves in and out most of the snowy winters. The drained mud puddles and hauled gravel for travel in the spring, summer and fall.
Gail walked in and out in the middle of the winters with a backpack when Gary was gone. Sometimes she took shortcuts across the lake. One time coming back home with a loaded back pack of goodies, something hit her from behind and knocked her face first into the snow. A big white owl had swooped down and tried to carry her away in his talons. Her back pack was so heavy it pinned her down and she had to wiggle out of the back pack and roll over to see what hit her. She was wearing a big sheep skin cap and it had a big rip in it.
Another time taking the shortcut across the lake to get home, she had snowshoes on and carrying a long pole “just in case” she fell through a hole in the ice. That long pole saved her life. Her snowshoes broke through and she went up to her waist in the frigid water. By using the pole she finally got out. She says that she was never cold, but her Carhart she was wearing, froze and by the time she got home she was taking tiny steps.
One time a visitor, Gail was taking back out to “civilization” saw a moose and jumped out of the pickup with his camera to take a picture of the local Mad Momma Moose.
She was known to charge anything to protect her territory. Stupidity saved his life. Momma had her hair standing up on her neck and her ears pinned back, ready to charge. Unaware of the “be careful of the mad moose stance” the visitor clicked away and got back in the pickup, totally unaware he was about to get stomped to death.
Gail was and is a master of preparing and cooking moose. She has several recipes that I have shared with you. Her moose meatloaf published last week is so wonderful. Some moose recipes are mine – passed down from homesteaders, or by my own invention, because that is all there was in the house!
The Grannie Annie series is written by a 47 year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski.Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her Mother, a self taught wonderful cook. She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day.
Grannie Annie can be reached at anninalaska@gci. net
The “Grannie Annie” Cook Book Series includes: “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ on the Woodstove”; “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ at the Homestead”; “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ Fish from Cold Alaskan Waters”; and “Grannie Annie’s Eat Dessert First.” They are available at M & M Market in Nikiski.