Erica Lucke Dean

"Making the world a better place, one book at a time."

Cabin Goddess with a side of moose

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Welcome to the Weekly Guest Spotlight

Tonight’s guest is writer and Cabin Goddess, Kriss Morton. For more about Kriss, please click here for her website.

In honor of all the unseasonable snow in Alaska lately, I've decided to rerun this post from my pal Kriss. She had to school me on the fact that Alaska isn't always covered in snow. Although, since it actually has been fairly covered in snow, I think I still sorta win this round.  That's fair, right? Let's see what Kriss has to say...

I have been reading the antics of what I have crowned the Amityville Farm here on Erica’s site with a whole lot of amusement. I have had chickens and goats here at the cabin since moving in so I know part of what she is going and will be going through. I also have pigs that we keep and raise for slaughter but not here at the cabin. For the last few years I haven’t had anything because of the demands of school. The one thing I have had since moving here, is my container garden.

How can you live in Alaska without growing something, even if it is a basic pot full of basil! Each year my wine barrels and various containers yield a bounty of  things like lettuce, tomatoes, sweet peas, various peppers, potatoes, zucchini, tons of edible flowers and a lot of fresh herbs, all but the basil. Basil is a great plant, it is not a hardy plant, you need to grow the seedlings in the pot and baby that plant if you want them to grow into maturity. Once you have a plant to a certain point it grows and grows and as long as you pick the basil you will have enough to keep you smiling and your pad thai singing all summer long. My porch was the perfect place for basil. Not to hot, not to shady just the right amount of shade when needed.

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I did not choose to live in a cabin without running water. It just happened back in 2005. We have cabin clusters in Fairbanks for many reasons, the main one is it is so expensive to live here and the cost of fuel is astronomical for heating it makes economic sense to not pay 1200 a month for a tiny one bedroom in crack alley. In fact, with the huge population of college students, just I was when my fiance Geoff and I rented the cabin, it was a logical step. In fact there is a badge of honor to say you were a cabin dweller. Most people would have moved by now, but not us we are just to cheap and lazy. Plus we like our cabin it is beautiful despite the fact there is no bathtub or water or indoor plumbing.

I may have to use an outhouse when it is -50 and shower at the laundromat, gym or the student union, but I could have fresh veggies without it costing us an arm and a leg. I had been growing small crops for years and doing container gardening so I was pretty up to speed and here in Alaska I knew I could really have a great thing going and help lower our food bill. The only thing I needed to remember is in Alaska one must always be wary of  placement of crops to minimize the wildlife eating them, mainly moose. Though I still go squee every time I see them I had already experienced them eating all my veggies but the tomatoes and herbs. So I made sure this time I placed the other stuff on the porch.

I was not worried about the herbs but with them being smaller plants and needing more light I had my herb garden anchored to the railing of my small porch. I had all the normal herbs transplanted from seedlings thriving in rectangle flower boxes, except for my lavender and my basil. They were in their own large pots in order to grow huge plus basil is a picky herb to grow. I was not worried about them being moose-safe because how was a moose suppose to get on the porch, right? Five open steep steps up and six down on the other side? Naaaa no worries at all.

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Apparently a determined moose won’t let a bunch of steps and dexterity challenges deter him. In fact, if you have big antlers (the moose equivalent of having big cahoonas) you go anywhere you like! You survived the winter without the jackass up the road totaling his car and making you late to hang with the sexy cows and the herd why not treat yourself to some of the fresh food being grown on that unsuspecting hippie princesses front porch! Heck, she even had a HUGE pot of great looking basil, your favorite. The ladies would not be able to resist you! Wow look at those greens… oh and look zucchini, and sweet peas, and pansies, and … nom nom nom insert loud munching sound here and you have what I awoke too one afternoon while napping.

There was this rumbling, the cabin shook and it was getting dark. Oh god was it an earthquake? No wait that sounds like someone eating a salad with their mouth open, What the hell? I slowly got up and went to the window, it was bright and sunny on the side of the cabin. No one was running down the street being chased by a zombie horde. There was no fire off in the distance because the big one hit. The shadow and the noise seemed to be coming from the front porch. Damn it  a dog was out there and into my plants! Stomping over to the door ready to shoo it away with harsh language and possibly a stare down if it was one of those 200 lb tank dogs from up the road, I threw open the door and almost ran into a wall. This was no dog unless someone has been experimenting on campus with animal genetics. It was a wall of brown, a very tall wall covered in brown fur. It was a taller than my door wall of brown, with antlers which from the sound of things apparently to be partaking of a little salad for lunch via my garden. I had a moose and not just any moose but a bull who was over 9 feet tall with the antlers. GREAT there goes my garden, I guess I was wrong about those steps.

I quietly shut the door and swore. Sure the noise had woken me but the half-gallon of ice tea and my bladder were also to blame. I swore and  I paced talking to myself telling myself to be patient I could hold it and the moose would only get one crop it was summer I could grow more. I paced some more called Geoff to tell him and bitch because he would not believe it otherwise. I paced some more, called my mom to tell her the moose was eating my herb garden and chat about the drama at the golf club for an hour. I paced some more squeezing my legs together for another hour.. and moaned and groaned.

Pretty soon the noise stopped but shadow cast through my front door windows showed he was still out there. What was he doing, napping? Didn’t he know I needed to pee? I started yelling at him calling him all sorts of hurtful things. I cast curses in his direction, banging on the door only to have him make this deep chesty huff and shift his weight against the door making it groan. By then I was so desperate I was getting delusional and thought if the moose managed to get on my porch he could breech the door so I stopped. Plus I really needed to pee. You do NOT startle something that can take out an SUV and walk away unscathed. These guys, especially the bull moose, are not very approachable or friendly and even though he would not be able to charge me on the porch, I don’t think I could nudge him to get him off without him taking out the porch or me in the process, so I waited.

Remember how I said I do not have running water? Well we have a sink and under the sink is a bucket for the gray water (the water we do dishes with, wash up with, drain our pasta into and dump by the outhouse in a gray water pit.) When I became more lucid I realized I was going to pee my pants very soon, I have had five kids, the fortitude and staying power on my bladder was not going last much longer. I was giving a whole new meaning to the jazz hand combo pee-pee dance, in fact I am pretty sure I created a bunch of new steps and gestures and a few new swear words too. It was a work of art, but I did not care by three hours into the Great Moose Stand-off of 2005. I grabbed the bucket from under the seat, dumped some laundry soap in (no clue why but it sounded good at the time) using our toilet seat we keep in the house I put it over the bucket and I peed. I peed like a diabetic cat, I peed like a beer guzzling frat boy, oh god I peed and it was great. I was ready for the next three hours of the stand off.

Adjusting my tie dye, wiping the sweat off my brow and with an air of determination I stood up, moved the bucket back under the sink to be dumped when I was finally free to leave my abode and thats when I realized it. The roaring in my head while peeing was not in my head after all it was the noise of the @)$$)@)E moose walking off my porch backwards and moving to the next victims cabin. I grabbed the bucket and stomped out yelling at him expecting to see all my plants decimated to stubs, it had after all been over three hours of never ending munching and napping. But wait, my sweet peas were still climbing their trellis, my peppers still ripening on the vine…. my basil.. WAIT my BASIL the HUGE beautiful babied and nurtured basil was gone. Down to the roots, nothing left in or around that pot but a hoof print in a small pile of spilled dirt. Apparently moose really like basil.

Since then I have grown many a thing, raised many a chicken and survived the moose filled summers without another incident. What I has not happened is growing a potful of basil. I hear whispers from around the neighborhood of other basil eating incidents every summer. I wonder if is the same bull, or one of his calves. They still come to eat my trees and occasionally will sample the lettuce, but no one has ventured on my porch since that fateful day.

We have since gotten a compost/combustible toilet (burns it gone) and so we do not always have to go to the loo in the middle of the night in the middle of winter. I convinced Geoff we needed one after being emotionally and physically decimated from the Great Moose Stand-off of 2005. Maybe I can risk another pot of basil this year, Chicken wire this time? Perhaps surrounding it with my tomato plants? Surely it would be safe to try after seven years…naaa I will just buy it from those that do not have a basil thieving, hostage taking moose living in their neighborhood.

I was not always a writer and a book blogger. While finishing up my English and Journalism degree, I started my blog to talk about living in a dry cabin in Alaska. We had no internet here till late last summer so I did all my blogging via my iPhone, call it my own little social experiment. I had a serious blog that I had created for a class in social media. But what has become Cabin Goddess was a way to chat, show off my photography and stay in touch with friends in the lower 48.  Last summer I started eating better again, things slowed down with school wrapping up and I was able to start making my famous dishes and I blogged about them I became an aspiring foodie blogger. Sometime in the fall and early winter a bunch of aspiring indie authors found me and I discovered the world of book blogging. Today I write daily with my own book project, I post reviews of books I read and I still share my cooking even pairing it with a review for more fun, I still share my antics of cabin dwelling in the Interior of Alaska and share my photography and when I am not doing that I can be found cuddled on the couch with a crochet hood doing my zen crocheting. With a man, a cat, my kindle and a frying pan I always know I will get through the day, even if I cannot use fresh basil in my pasta sauce.

Thanks Kriss! Anyone who can get a moose and the word cahoonas in one post is welcome here any time!

Until the next time…I’ll be cooking up the next adventure at the Amityville farm!

Copyright © 2000-2016, Erica Lucke Dean. All rights reserved. Any retranscription or reproduction is prohibited and illegal.