Wow, so I never thought the day would come when I would have a blog-then again I also never thought the day would come when I would have a cow, bees, pigs, chickens, ducks, goats, rabbits and a direct marketing seafood company..
So here is a back story on our life, if you find that kind of thing interesting at all, assuming you do cause you are here! So here we go!
I was born in Soldotna Alaska and moved to Idaho where I grew up from age 8 to 18. My dad was a doctor and we always lived in urban parts of town. We most definitely did not grow up working hard outside gardening or raising meat. We lived a pretty "refined" lifestyle and many would say we were spoiled, which we were. But I was always a tom boy; my mom would have loved to get me to dress in girly clothes but I was set in my ways :)
I moved back to Alaska after high school and went to college in Anchorage. Every summer of college I went to Bristol Bay to commercial fish and really fell in love with Alaska. After getting my bachelors degree in Psychology, I worked in a hospital leading group therapy for teens on an inpatient unit for a little over a year. My mom had been fighting breast cancer for 4 years and died when I was working there in 2012. I needed to take a step back from mental health so I moved to Homer where I worked with the State Troopers driving a patrol boat in Kachemak Bay.
Ashton was born in Homer and moved to Indiana when he was 3. He went to school there until about age 15 when he and his dad moved back to Homer. Ashton grew up working hard and always had an ambitious drive like no one I have ever met. He learned he had to work for everything he would want in life at a very young age. When he was 12 he would build picture frames from the scrap wood at his dads shop and sell them in town. He also grew herbs and flowers one summer and made bouquets that he sold. As you can imagine, our upbringings were slightly different.
I met Ashton when I moved to Homer in 2013. By this time, I had 5 years experience commercial fishing. This was his passion as well and we both wanted our own boat one day. So we bought a fishing operation together after we were engaged. I highly recommend fishing for a season on a boat with the man you are about to marry. Including a re-power and tons of pre-season boat work. It's a great way to really get to know a person in a completely stress free environment and make you feel suuuuuper confident about an upcoming wedding. (insert sarcasm here). But we survived and now have fished 3 seasons together on our boat in the Upper Cook Inlet! And we have even started direct marketing our fish and started Callahan Fish Co. so people like you can get a "taste" of why we love Alaska so much!
As soon as we were married, we started right away on building our home from the ground up. We did everything ourselves- clearing the property, putting in the driveway, septic, wiring, plumbing etc. etc. Ashton is a very talented carpenter/construction guy/mechanic/ basically whatever you want him to be that involves working with his hands (did I mention that he bought brand new jets and diesel engines for our gill netter that arrived 3 weeks late? So as soon as we got them, within 20 mins he was cutting holes into our hull and had them completely installed and ready to go within 4 days. All this with having very little to NO experience in this area. But enough about that..)
We plugged along on our little 800 sq. ft. house while we lived in it without running water, floors, counters, cabinets, ceiling or anything. But we did have a toilet that we could flush by filling the back with water; the toilet was a gift for our first anniversary- he really knows the way to my heart...
We didn't always plan on having a homestead, but we bought a few chickens, one beehive and a garden. Then I got two goats, 7 ducks, 6 turkeys, 2 guinea fowl, 2 pigs, 12 more chickens, and a dairy cow! All within a year. (If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing right.) We lost a few of the birds and ducks to eagles and what have you, but ended up butchering 2 turkeys and they were huge! That was a first for me. And as soon as I got my cow, she was in milk and I had to immediately learn how to milk and take care of a dairy cow. We got Feta (the cow) really short notice because her previous owner had an accident and needed her gone ASAP. So we took her without even having a roof on the barn yet. Ashton got busy and had it on the same day we got her AND a stanchion built! I didn't have to milk in the rain and I could get this young girl to stay still so I could milk her (it was her first time in milk!)
We just recently got running water and it has made tending to all the animals so much nicer and cleaner. We have water delivered to us every month or so and fill the 1500 gallon cistern under our house. We also have a shallow water well that we dug for the watering the animals which is very handy! We also live completely off the grid with solar power and a generator. We heat our home with a wood stove and have a propane boiler for hot water. This lifestyle took some adjusting but I am coming around and don't complain- much...
Having a farm has its ups and downs but I have really come to love it. It is hard milking a cow twice a day because you cant really go too far for too long. But I have learned so much from my cow, and from raising all these animals and I learn more and more daily.
As far as commercial fishing goes, I am currently in the process of shifting my cow's milking schedule over (and my goats will be on the same schedule) so she can be dried off in the late summer and fall months before she calves. That way I am able to get a house sitter much easier and go out fishing and hunting with Ashton. It has always just been the two of us on the boat but we may change that this season as the homestead starts to need more attention, especially in the summer months.
So this blog is mainly about homesteading, commercial fishing, Callahan fish Co and living off grid in Alaska! I'll share cheese recipes, salmon recipes, fun stories, animal care lessons learned, gardening success and failures, foraging and hunting experiences, the pros and cons to life off the grid, the money we save (or don't save) etc. And of course some amazing photos of this beautiful state we live in! I would love to get feedback and ideas any of you may have or tips for things around the farm. Like what to do when you don't have electricity, its 20 below and your animals water dishes wont stay thawed!
- Amanda Callahan
Callahan Fish Co