Halloween

First I must apologize for the delay. By the time I post about something it is usually several weeks old. I am just not able one to immediately post every detail although I am trying to get some of it down and post eventually.

We got some more snow and this time (Sunday) I think it is here to stay. There is only about an inch at this point and it has been blowing pretty hard the last few days so it is not really ski worthy as there are some bare patches and some shallow rocks that still need a little more cover, but it’s a start and fun to play in.

Today (Monday)it snowed and blew all day so now we have drifts up to a foot or more with an average depth of several inches so maybe we will go skiing after all.

The big fun for me is going out when it is snowing hard like it was. When it is snowing and or blowing that means that any tracks you find are fairly recent and aids in finding animals. With that in mind I went out into the trees with the intention of looking for some spruce hens or ptarmigan. No such luck, not even tracks. But on my way back to my four wheeler I saw a flash of orange out of the corner of my eye and turned to just glimpse a fox dart further into the trees. Well it was not difficult to find his trail and the hunt was on!

Now I have heard that foxes are, well, foxy and can out fox hunters and dogs and what not but I was surprised how true that was. This fox had a whole bag of tricks he just didn’t quite take advantage of them. To start with he headed for some thick brush which I could not possibly have followed him through. That I expected. Unfortunately for him the brush he chose was easy to walk around so not hard. Next he ran down a fairly steep 6 foot drop which I am sure is a creek in the spring. This he ran down only a couple yards before jumping back up on the same side. I am sure he did it with ease but it too me several minutes to find a spot and slip my way up. Once I had found his trail again I followed it to a space on the edge of a open space and the trail just stopped. I was really confused for a moment but I have heard of foxes retracing their steps to create a false trail and that is exactly what he did! Had he gone a little further back or diverted in thicker brush he might have had me but as it was a half dozen feet or so back I found the offshoot heading for that same stupid trench and looking up there he was standing looking at me only a few yards away. Hard to miss and after running full tilt into a nice open clearing for a few seconds he lay down and once I had given him a minute I went and collected.

Once I got him back I skinned him out and have begun the tedious and time consuming process of tanning. The skinning was tricky since the skin is delicate especially around the tail, which I ripped. Thanks Kevin for helping me to sew it back together by which I mean thanks Kevin for sewing it back together. It was also tricky because it was about 20 degrees and my fingers were freezing. I had on some thin gloves only because it is hard to do delicate work with anything thick. I might have taken a break to warm up but I was afraid that the ravens would come to pick at it and ruin the hide.

Then came scraping and salting and that it where I am at now. Once it is fairly dry I will work on tanning it in a pickling solution of vinegar and salt. Results to be posted as the process continues.

Halloween in the bush is much like halloween anywhere else. Both stores, the regular store and the convince store have kids costumes and bags of candy for sale for just more than you would like to pay. On Friday a few kids come to school in costume but most leave them in their locker until the end of the day when most teachers have a party. I was a scrooge or whatever the Halloween equivalent is and my ‘party’ was just, “Ok go and put on your costumes.” in the last 15 minutes of the day.

Then they all go to the gym for the Costume Parade they line up and walk a couple laps of the gym and then all the parents and community who came vote on their favorites by means of applause and 3 kids get 1st 2nd and 3rd.

This year we had a Halloween/Fall Carnival which is a little different than what I think of when I think carnival. There were obviously no rides or petting zoo. It was in the gym and featured a half dozen carnival games like pie throw, dart throw, balloon tying (me) and face painting plus concessions. I was tying balloons as fast as I could for about two hours. I just learned a pretty cool bow and arrow design that really shoots and it was a hit. At the end of the night I had made about $200 for the school. Concessions made much more, maybe a grand, which may not seem like much except when you consider that this is in a village of ~300 with maybe 100 in attendance. After the kids went trick or treating while we cleaned up and watched movies at the school and generally avoided the mayhem.

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One of the balloons I made for the carnival next to a pumpkin Kelly got from Full Circle for $15

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We also finally hit 0 degrees F. The first time or two that there is a big drop like that the moisture in the air all comes out in frost and quite quickly covering everything in thick crystals. The kids have fun making patterns on the fences and I have fun shaking the trees. That first night I happen to get up late in the evening and could see the stars out around and through the trees. It was so cool with the full moon in the background that I had to set up my tripod and take some pictures. I briefly contemplated going outside to take some pictures but then I decided that it was late and a school night and cold out and shooting through the window would be fine. So I set up my tripod in the living room and probably drove my roommate nuts with the clicking but I think the pictures turned out pretty neat. They really don’t do it justice as I was unable to get the glistening snow, stars, moon and lights in the trees which turned out to be a reflection of the full moon off the house and then off the frost on the trees.

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What with the little snow we had, Kevin and I decided to have a little fun. I figured if we filled some bottles with food coloring and water we could leave a pretty good mosaic on the snow. So we set up and had some fun target practicing. When we were done I was a little surprised how little color there was on the snow. Next time I need more food coloring I guess. Still fun and a good way to practice.

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As an update we still have no post master and are receiving USPS mail intermittently at best. And now to add on to that the water pump froze so there is no water filling up the water tower for the town, which is now empty, so no water until it is repaired which could be by tomorrow but last time the pump had problems it was 2 weeks before it came back on. The time before that which was about now, it took a week. I am also still waiting on snow in Kotzebue or finding someone with a truck so I can ship my snowmobile there.

Don’t forget to comment. And check out my other posts by clicking on the title of this blog in the upper left hand corner (WOLFSLUNCH) and click the Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 8.11.18 PM to see the gallery.

Read about seal skinning below, with pictures!

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The school got a seal from Kotzebue last week and several of the elders came in to help take care of skinning it and taking care of the fat. Most of the school came to the gym to watch. A few of the middle/high schoolers even got to help. The fat was collected and will be melted to make seal oil which is fermented and used in a variety of recipes including eskimo ice-cream and like eskimo ice-cream it is something of an acquired taste. The skin and meat are also being processed and will be given to a local elder although I do not know who.

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These pictures show the flippers and a few strips of fat. By the time they were done this pot was nearly full of blubber.

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