Discovery

It’s a beautiful feeling when you find yourself. The growth that has occurred this last month is a blessing.  I turned another year.  I’ve been blessed with a full, healthy, loving life.  I’ve been given endless opportunities to be the best I can be.  I’ve been supported to continue to be the best I can be.  I am surrounded by love.  Everywhere, Love, in everything.  Love.  Discovery of the aspects of love are breathtaking, overwhelming, and abundant.  I am love and I do love.  I give love and I receive love.

I love what I do.  What I do is herd reindeer.  Reindeer are my life.  This realization is the beginning of the realization of the overwhelming abundance of a long term love affair.  I love every aspect of reindeer herding.  I love working with other’s who love working with reindeer.

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Photo credit: Jackie Hrabok-Leppäjärvi

Attending the University of Alaska Northwest Campus High Latitude Range Management Program has been a validation of passion for reindeer.  The research that has been accumulated and turned into an education program is amazing and a blessing.  Working with family, friends, and community to getting the ranch to the point of holding reindeer and processing the deer for a corralling has been a huge accomplishment.  Thank you.  My heart overwhelmed and astounded. Every step I take is taken with love.

Reindeer Cooking

I haven’t had osso bucco since my then employer, Mary Toutonghi, took me to Orso’s in Anchorage.  She convinced me it would be the best dish of food I’d ever tried.  She was right.  That dish has stayed with me for all these years.  I’ve never had it again, till my mom and I made it the other night.  We had fresh reindeer available and I was super excited to try a new recipe.  Mom makes a mean rib roll but I wasn’t quite in the mood.  I remember, the osso bucco from Orso’s being rich, thick, and the most amazing depth of flavor.

I showed Mom the recipe and it was an instant yes.  So we grabbed a few needed items from town and then we quickly scooted back to the ranch to begin making our goodness.  Douglas is a huge fan of sauces.  I’ve had to refine my sauce making abilities since we’ve been dating.  *Breathes on knuckles* I’ve gotten some satisfactory responses.  The girls sure do appreciate the efforts also.

Before we had gone to town we made a homemade vegetable broth.

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Back to the ranch.  So we start chopping  and sauteing the mirepoix,

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Sauted mirepoix
searing the reindeer meat,

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adding spices, remaining roux, vegetable broth, tomato paste, incorporate the sauted mirepoix, added the Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon, and bring to a simmer.

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Seared reindeer meat

We added to the seared reindeer to rich, amazing sauce and put in a large dutch oven in the oven on low heat.

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Dutch oven prepared osso bucco and polenta

The polenta was prepared in the smaller dutch oven.

Once plated and prepared, it was a heavenly smell.

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Scrumptious reindeer osso bucco

The thick, rich sauce was beyond compare.  This is definite recipe to be used over and over.  It got unanimous approval.

Here is the link to the recipe we used.

http://www.keyingredient.com/recipes/12207035/osso-bucco-with-risotto-milanese/

In the Corral

Well it’s been almost a week since Douglas and I have gotten to Nome to help out at the ranch.  In that time we’ve hit the ground running and have been making wonderful progress.

Tuesday, we helped put the reindeer in the corral.  Bruce and Ann had to be in town for that time frame.  Dad left with instructions to, “Get the deer in the corral.”  So it was up to us to make it so.  Bill Herzner, Charlie Lean, Jackie Hrabock-Leppäjärvi, Douglas Scheele, and I were the total team.  Normally this is at least a ten person job.

After a quick meeting and going over the plan, Bill snowmachined out to meet Charlie where the deer had last been dropped.   Bill and Charlie pushed the deer by snowmachine from the South to the ranch.  We were in  luck because the wind was blowing from the North.  The deer like to run into the wind.  So this made moving them much easier.  When Bill left the ranch, Douglas and I set out and put up burlap on the perimeter of the corral.  This creates a barrier for the deer to recognize the fencing.

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Douglas hanging burlap at Midnite Sun Reindeer Ranch
Roughly 45 minutes later, working in the wind, and having feeling accomplishment for hanging the burlap we thought it a  good idea to have some hot coffee.  As we headed into the cabin for our much deserved break I glanced off to the right, for whatever reason.  Across the road, there was Bill, Charlie, and the reindeer!  Oh NO!

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Bill Herzner and Charlie Lean waaaay up on Mt. Davis pushing reindeer.

Douglas and I still had to place the burlap at the wings to help walk in and push to the reindeer to the main pocket.  Oh man! No coffee for us!  They would be at the corral in less then 2o minutes.  We also had to move Pebbles and Link out of the way so their interest in the reindeer wouldn’t confuse getting the deer into the corral.

We quickly ran to the end of the wings and rapidly unrolled the burlap across the way, all 330 feet.  Then we layered it back up on one pile near one of the openings.   Then off we ran to put the dogs away.  Link is just a little over a year and can be quite enthusiastic.  We didn’t want to leave him alone in the arctic entry with Pebbles unattended.  Douglas ran him to the shop to the kennel, since we only had one kennel Pebbles got to hang out in the arctic entry.

Because Bill and Charlie had been out pushing deer for a little over an hour now, I ran into the cabin and got the two kettles filled with water and started heating them.  Then I seen North of the ranch they were crossing the frozen Nome river.  I grabbed my hat and mittens and ran out the door.  Whoops, I ran back in and turned off the gas stove.  On my way out, Jackie had made it.  I quickly apprised her of the situation.  Jackie is a reindeer parasitologist currently teaching at the Sämi Reindeer Institute in Inari, Finland.  She exchange teaches at Northwestern Campus in Nome.  She has herded in Finland and around the world and is very excited to be here helping us with this endeavor.  She and I loaded onto the machine and drove over to the burlap.  We discussed the best possible position to be ready for the herd.  We made some modifications with how the snowmachine was sitting.  We wanted it ready in case it needed to be ready at a moment’s notice.

Then Douglas drove up on the other machine, at the same time Bill and Charlie crested a slope and PRESTO there were the deer!  Ack! The adrenaline!  The DEER! They were so beautiful.  Bill and Charlie were effortlessly pushing them.  The work they were performing was top notch.  Simultaneously the deer noticed the moving snowmachine and  a small gully.  The darn deer dashed down the gully, over the Nome river, and back onto Davis Mountain.  AGH!  They had been so close.

Bill and Charlie quickly opened throttle and headed the deer off from running over the saddle at Davis Mountain.  They pushed the deer a little ways back down the mountain and then eased off to rest the deer.

Jackie, Douglas, and I went over how to handle this the next attempt.  Douglas moved the snowmachine back to the cabin.  The three of us hid behind the remaining snowmachine, ready to grab the burlap.  We settled down to wait for Bill and Charlie to bring the deer back.

It only took ten more minutes for them to bring back the deer.  We leapt up after the deer went a little ways past us, grabbed the burlap, and strung it out across the openings!  Then we started walking forward.  A 10 mph wind came up!  Oh No! The burlap caught the wind and started dragging us the other way.  Jackie was in the middle and the section between her and I was winding around and around.  By 500 feet my lungs were burning with the effort of fighting the burlap from wind and tangling!  My ears were pumping so much blood I couldn’t hear who was yelling what instructions.  Bill was expertly maneuvering three deer who were trying to escape.  Charlie was ahead single handedly pushing the  remaining deer to the main pocket.

The three of us were desperately, step by struggling step, moving the burlap forward.  But we weren’t fast enough.  We were being dragged down.  When we rounded the corner, Jackie and I handed off the burlap to Douglas and we ran forward and helped Bill and Charlie close the gates with the hand trucks.  Once it was closed, I went back to Douglas and grabbed the burlap and finished dragging it to the gates.

FINALLY!  Six years in the making, there were reindeer in the new, completed corral!  It was done.  Midnite Sun Reindeer Ranch has reindeer in a corral made with drill stem, plywood panels, and livestock fencing.

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Exciting Times

Finally, after much hard work and many volunteer hours from friends and family, we have some of the reindeer that have been roaming the range in the corral.  We have a few more to round up before the snow melts.  These reindeer are an integral part of our range management plan to rebuild the Midnite Sun Reindeer Ranch. It is exciting to finally see them up close, not far across the valley on the mountain side.

Come, participate in a reindeer experience on the Arctic tundra.  We have a 4-day package of reindeer herding fun, winter or summer.  Take a look at the link at the top of the page to find out more about our Reindeer Adventure package.

The days are getting brighter!

“When you concentrate your energy purposely on the future possibility that you aspire to realize, your energy is passed on to it and makes it attracted to you with a force stronger than the one you directed towards it.”
Stephen Richards, Think Your way to Success: Let Your Dreams Run Free

Sunrise over Norton Sound

 There is still a lot of ice, snow, dry cold winds, but the day are getting brighter!

Icy Beaches

It is time to get the seed catalog out and order the seeds for the new season.  I am envisioning kale, cabbages, broccoli, hardy lettuces, and some spinach. Everything will have to be started indoors in pots and trays to grow before they can be set out in the high tunnel when the weather gets warmer around May or June, but hey!  It is fun to dream and start the process!

High Tunnel 2014Gardening Summer 2014

Gardening in the Far North on the Seward Peninsula is certainly a challenge.  The wind has given us a few in keeping the high tunnel up.  There have been some modifications make to the framing and the cover.  So far this winter it is staying on and complete.  The new ends will go up this next spring along with an irrigation system to combat the quick drying soils.  Composting will help considerably in keeping moisture in the soils.

Brighter days at the corral

So on these long winter day, I do dream of gardening.  The ever lengthening days help to bring that dream to fruit!

May your days be brighter!

A Cold Spell

The Northern Lights are beautiful early this morning.  The air is cold, crisp, and clean smelling.  As I step out of the door, it makes the nose hairs crackle when I draw a deep breath on my way to fill up the generator.  It is 6:00 am and -30°F.  The snow is crunchy. I kick a block of it, It sings.  I love kicking blocks of the extremely dry snow that is hard and solid.  I love the sound it makes on dark mornings in the crystal clear air.

I enjoy the stars.  In a few month, as the daylight increases, they won’t be visible.

I go back inside after my mission is done.  Time to get the wood stove fired up again.  I put the kettle on to heat up water for coffee.

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It is 10:23 am AK time.  It is getting light out.  Soon the sun will be up.  I love the days on increasing light.  It leaves me feeling buoyant and bubbly with anticipation of the coming spring.

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Plugged the truck engine block heater into the generator. The power cord was already starting to freezing immediately as I laid it out from the generator to the truck. I will have to be careful when I pick it back up to take inside to warm up and become flexible so I can roll it up to put away.  I hope the truck starts.  A trip to town in necessary today as the new generator is leaking oil. It is my backup. There is no hurry getting chores done when it is this cold.  Things slow down. Everything is stiff and brittle.

Chowing down a bit of reindeer pellets.
Chowing down a bit of reindeer pellets.

I feed Pebble (the dog) and Brownie (our resident reindeer). Later after I get back from town it will be time for grazing.
The sun is just below the horizon. The sky is getting brighter. I see the windows on the truck are starting to defrost. Time to load up everything and head to town.

 

May your day be bright!