Tuesday, August 18, 2009

August Roundup

Busy, busy, busy! Time is flying with camp projects, mining activities, sight seeing - leaving no time for the weary. But here's a roundup of things going on the first part of August. A bee-keeper rolled into camp a short while back. He was shutting down his 11 hive operation for the season and taking the last hive and the remaining bees out for a ride in the back of his pickup truck. It gave us all a chance to grab a plastic spoon and take a taste of the fireweed only honey product he produces directly off the honeycombs. Pretty neat- for us that is. But for the bees it's a swan song as they do not winter well here. Actually they really don't winter AT ALL here. Alaska has few if any honey bees as you know them in the lower 48. What hives operate here do so by importing bee colonies annually, shipping them via plane (they cannot cross Canadian borders via vehicle transportation) and dealing both with high cost and high rate of loss owing to cold and altitude during transit. For the bees, this is the "final flight" of the season. When the honey truck (as opposed to the honey wagon which is not the same thing- trust me!) has finished its rounds, most of the bees will have blown out the back and will fall to the mercy of the weather as Fall, then Winter approaches fast here. Already nighttime temps have dipped below 30 and soon they will plummet beyond the bees' ability to survive. The Flight of the Bumblebee will become the Plight of the Bumblebee and only a season's worth of honey in a jar will remain to attest to their ever having been here at all. That- and these photos...

While bee season was drawing to a close, caribou hunting season was just opening. The fast and furious three day season brought many many hunters to our camp which they then used as a launching point for hunting the entire area. Caribou hunted in this area are those of the "Fortymile" herd, so called from the name of the river system and the mining district of the same name and historically very significant to many aspects of life in Alaska. Hunters brought all size and manner of ATV with which to carry themselves and their gear into the deep woods for the hunt. And for that matter, the hunters themselves arrived in all sizes and manner. One in particular caught my attention and while it would have been easy to plaster the post with pictures of hunters, their gear and the game they took out with them, I decided to go with HER to tell the story. Seven (and a half, to be exact) year old Dawson rolled into camp at the close of the season with her dad. One of the largest caribou racks I saw this season was strapped to the bike and the back of the truck they arrived in.

Half jokingly, OK all jokingly, I asked the pint sized hunter, "Did you shoot that big caribou?"
"Yes, sir."
"For real?"
"Uh huh."
"All by your self? With a rifle almost as big as you?"
"Well, daddy knocked it down with his shot, but my shot hit it in the lungs and made the kill..."

"Dad, can I please take her picture with the antlers for the blog I write? Maybe we'll just make her famous?"

"Oh, she's already famous, they named a city in the Yukon after her- Dawson City."

Some hunters are successful in the hunt but some are not. Maybe because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or more aptly the caribou were in the right place at the right time. Who knows? But there is always some poor frustrated hunter out there who can only answer the challenge of a non moving target and takes out a road sign or two in frustration. I thought this 40 mph sign taking a hit in the Fortymile herd range was the perfect way to make the point. What a trophy, Mighty Hunter!

Now about the time all this was happening, another season was coming right up. Lou and her sister Debra were getting ready to celebrate Papa Gene's birthday, and while there was only one candle on the cake after that delicious salmon and halibut meal, I'm thinking it was celebration number 88. Always upbeat, full of vim and vigor, Gene helps out all around camp and his time here with us was real blast! Here's a little slide show from the celebration dinner...

But while day time temps remained pleasant enough for an occasional outdoor dinner or get-to-gether, the nighttime temps started to indicate a change of season in the air. Same thing happened back in Maine but not this ealry and not this extreme. Temperatures at 27 degrees the beginning of August - brrrrrrr. That called for emergency (however temporary) plastic covering of the cold frame part of the greenhouse complex (make it sound big, don't I???) Think of it as "hurry up cold frame emergency procedures..." Hardly air tight, certainly not pretty, but adequate none the less and as of this writing, everything is still producing the way we intended.

So yes it's been pretty busy around here. Always the day to day stuff to keep up with and of course there's always a pocket of gold up in them thar hills that needs finding, but there are long range projects in the works as well. Pedro Dredge is slowly being readied to float to its new position perched overlooking the panning troughs, and we've started building a new log cabin as part of another project to be reported on at another time, but Mike, a consummate collector of all things mining related and Chicken mining in particular, has begun to realize the dream of creating a museum on property. It's fun to be even a minute part of that realization. Old Chicken may yet live again through the display of his collections of machinery, buildings, equipment, articles, antiques and just plain cool junk - as one less than proper antique dealer once displayed on his signage. To that end, he recently acquired and moved an old miners shed from the nearby Bygland Claim. I have been fascinated by that building for two years as I drove past it on daily trips to and from Myers Fork Claim of Chicken Gold Camp. Old. Dilapidated to some degree. Fascinating in every regard. Now it's here..and already it is breathing new life with the TLC it has already received. From the ingenious use of a bucket loader turned fork lift, to its delicate moving proposition, its site preparation and resettling, this has been yet another addition to the now in-full-progress development of the museum to be. Here's a look at the transition of the old shed:

I suppose I could keep going with news from August, but here's the deal: I started all this today at 11:00. Photo management, slide show production, uploads, writing, organizing, what have you...and here it is after 7:00 already- non-stop blog production from Chicken, Alaska. There are places in the world where this could certainly have been done faster. But I'm not there, am I? So that's it for now from Chicken. The cluck stops here!

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