Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Snowy Goats

This winter has been one of the snowiest in recent years. It's certainly been the snowiest winter Jim or I have ever been through! I don't know how much snow we've gotten here at The Green Half Acre, but I do know that Anchorage is close to setting a record, with almost 10 feet of snow so far.

Having this much snow during our first winter with the goats has been sort of a trial-by-fire for keeping livestock during Alaska's cold season.

Earlier this week, we woke up to the results of an overnight heavy snowfall. Looking out over our balcony rail, this is how the "farm" looked.
We keep paths dug out around the property, from the house to the chicken coop and the goat barn via the lakefront in a big circle; from the front porch to our neighbor's house; and from the coop/barn to the driveway. The paths were flanked by snow banks varying between two and a half feet tall and about four feet tall. They were almost half gone that morning and we had to dig our way out to the animals.

Molly's dogloo is starting to look like a real igloo! Poor princess.
Herd queen Zipper is NOT pleased with a new 8 inches of snow overnight.
Molly trudged through the snow to her gate and waited to be let out.
Pretty little snowy face!
Jim has been digging diligently and has freed the goat yard gate so that we can open it.
He's got a flake of hay to give the girls. Fresh snow is falling fast.
Inside the barn, it's relatively warm and cozy. The girls have their breakfast of hay and are happily munching. Molly prefers to eat from inside the manger, where she is less jostled by the big girls.
Our neighbor Brad brought his snow blower over to help us clear out the paths to the animals. We sure are glad for his help! Zipper and Chloe are nervous about the noise the blower makes and wait in the corner until the blower is further away again before going back to their food.
Molly, however, is not concerned by it.
While the girls have been eating, Jim's been shoveling out the paddock so that the girls have less snow to wade through. Molly is much happier now. No more chest-deep snow!
Zipper discovered a week or so ago that the livestock feed is stored in the chicken coop, and she bolts out the gate whenever she can, and tries to get to the goodies.
We're trying to break her of that habit, especially since she taught Chloe to do it, too.
One advantage of Zipper's escapades during the winter is that we can let her and Chloe out for a walk around the yard a bit. After all, where is she going to go? The banks of snow make pretty effective pens, and the allure of animal crackers will always get her to come back to her pen.

The following morning, another foot of snow had fallen, and we had to do all that shoveling all over again. Later in the day, the snow from the barn and the coop roofs slid off and nearly filled the space between the buildings all the way to the top of the fence.

The chicken coop door had to be dug out before we could open it and get to the feed. There are three steps up to get into the coop, and you can tell by the previous photos how much snow had filled in the paths. The chickens themselves, bless their little hearts, have largely spent the winter underneath the coop, where it's warmer than you'd expect, and they have the most non-snowy room to walk around. The underneath space is open on all sides during the summer, but this year, it's more like a walk-out basement.
Knee-deep goats. Again. Not to worry, though, shoveling is a way of life for us by now and pretty soon the girls had free space to play.
The snow bank out our back door is now close to six feet deep. The banks flanking the front steps are five feet deep.
We know the snow isn't finished for this winter yet, but we would like for it to let up sooner rather than later. We're running out of places to put the stuff!

Summertime Revisit Part 2: SawFest and the Highland Games

SawFest is an annual competition for local chainsaw carvers. After showing you the Ice Around Town, I thought you might like to see some photos from last summer's SawFest.
Here are some of the carvers working on their pieces.
More carvings in progress:
My favorite was this otter, carved by Ben Firth of Anchor Point.
The otter gets his fish:
Another favorite was this eagle:
A fisherman with his catch:
There were lots of carvings, and I thought we took more pictures than we did, but evidently not. I'm sorry about that.

At the same time as SawFest, the Highland Games were going on. We didn't stay for all of it but it was fun to see people in kilts throwing things long distances.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Ice Around Town 2012 part 2

I hope you liked the photos in the previous post on this year's Ice Around Town. We took so many photos I needed to split them up into two posts, so this post is about the interactive sculptures.

I already showed you the Tustumena 200's musher, but what we didn't realize when we first saw this one was that the sled is big enough for a person to sit in. I didn't realize it until I saw someone else's photo with an adult man sitting in the sled. I wish we'd done it, too. Next year, we'll be more observant!
The Soldotna Visitor's Center never disappoints us with their interactive sculptures. This one echos the saddled salmon at the chainsaw carver's in Sterling. Jim took a ride first:
The salmon didn't waste any time grabbing Jim by the hand, though!
Let a Texas girl show you how to ride!
The Sports Center in Soldotna hosts game tournaments for children, free hot dogs and other activities. The giant slides are always fascinating and covered in details. The kids love them, and the adults wish we could play on them, too.

Before we get to the main attraction, let me show you the Peak Oilfield kiddie slide, and the cuteness of this big sister helping little sister go down the slide:
Across the parking lot, two giant Oriental dragons face off. Oh my!
Eager children go through the arches to climb ice stairs to the dragons' mouths. (Note that there's a small slide on either side of the stairs as well.)
Easily 20 feet of very fast slide await the children once they are "swallowed" by the dragons. See the legs and scales on the dragon? Remember, you can click the photos to enlarge them. [update: there are some problems with Blogger enlarging the pics right now, which hopefully I'll be able to clear up soon.]
Notice the size of the dragons' heads. Both heads were different.

Breaking news: The ice sculpture winners have been announced! First place goes to the T200 dog sled. Second place goes to the Soldotna Professional Pharmacy's whale, and third place is a tie between Dr. Hu's Bugs Bunny and Soldotna Mini Storage's Bear. Congratulations!!!

Update: Ben Firth and Family carved seven of the ice sculptures around town, including three of the winners!

Ice Around Town 2012 part 1

Every January, local chainsaw carvers and businesses team up to decorate the area with fabulous ice sculptures. The sculptures are finished in time to coincide with the T200 and the Peninsula Winter Games. Jim and I spend the first part of the day watching the official start of the race, then have some lunch and drive around taking photos of the ice. It was a brilliant, sunny day and the ice was gorgeous against the blue sky.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge them. Seriously, do. The detail in the ice is amazing and I wish you could have seen them in person. And I wish I could convey the scale of the sculptures, too. Some of them were made from several large blocks of ice and were easily 10 or 12 feet tall.

My personal favorite (well, one of them) is this breaching whale in front of Soldotna Professional Pharmacy.
McDonald's in Kenai offers a large fries:
McDonald's in Soldotna offers a coffee to wash them down with:
Soldotna Mini Storage commissioned a bear catching a salmon.
It was one of our favorites, but it was in shadow enough that we weren't able to get photos that even pretended to do it justice. Here's the best we could get of the bear's face and the salmon:
Davis Block and Concrete's snow machiner was really impressive:
The Duck Inn has a frosty mug in case you're thirsty on this fine chilly day:
ConocoPhillips and the Peninsula Winter Games offers children on a sled:
Alaska Communications gives us a school of swimming salmon. Oooooh, pretty. I could see this as a crystal sculpture in any art gallery anywhere.
Foster Construction proves that bulldozers can be adorable:
Dr. Jerry Hu and Bugs Bunny team up to remind us all to brush our teeth!
Binkley Street Dental likes Swiper the Fox from Dora the Explorer:
Soldotna Dental Arts completes the toothy-animal theme with an extremely lifelike woodchuck:
Blazy Construction's howling wolf:
Sweeney's and Mykel's wouldn't be right without a leprechaun and penguin:
Bucket's Sports Grill has a Super Bowl trophy. Y'know, in case you needed a suggestion for a place to eat while watching The Big Game.
Stanley Chrysler's Dodge Ram is incredible:
Stanley Ford in Kenai puts a moose in the driver's seat (which sounds a bit scary to me!):
Kenai Watershed Forum's logo:
Arby's in Soldotna hints that even bears need Good Mood Food:
The Tustumena 200 and the Soldotna Aspen Hotel had a wonderfully detailed musher, sled and dog:
The Kenai airport continues their animal-in-the-cockpit theme this year with a wolf aviator:
We missed the next two sculptures on the day we spent looking at the ice, so I went back a few days afterwards, after a heavy snowfall, and took pictures of the ice in front of Airport Equipment Rental:
And Lynden Transport.
That's probably enough photos for one post, but I hope you liked these and will check back in a few minutes to see photos of interactive sculptures!