Big Lake, Alaska and The Susitna Valley News, Weather, Events, And More

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Thursday, February 22 2018 @ 07:40 AM AKST


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Governor Announces Statewide Housing Summit

Home and GardenOctober 14, 2015 ANCHORAGE – Governor Bill Walker announced today his plans to host a statewide housing summit on January 6 to address the state’s pressing housing needs. The announcement was made at a joint meeting of the Alaska Coalition to End Homelessness and the Governor’s Council on Homelessness at the Marriott Hotel in Anchorage.

“The goal of this summit is to identify what the state can do to help local communities address their housing needs,” Governor Walker explained. “Affordable housing is a top priority of my administration, and I am committed to work with local officials to find a proactive and collaborative solution to this problem.”

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Raw Video: Alaska Hen and Chicks Kill and Eat Mouse

Home and GardenThis is a short video of a Big Lake Barred Rock Hen and her chicks playing with a mouse they caught. Chickens will kill and eat mice.

Video Link:

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Video: Big Lake Bee Swarm

Home and GardenHere are a couple of short video clips of part of my bee hive swarming recently. Watch for articles related to Alaskan Bee keeping coming soon.

This one was taken while I was standing in the middle of the Bee Storm:


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Scenes Around Big Lake: Hen and Chicks

Home and GardenOne of my Barred Rock hens made a nest in the brush, and yesterday she showed up at the feeding station with 10 babies in tow. Here are 9 of them and their mother:

Barred Rock Hen and Chicks, Photo by Dennis Garrett

Backstory: I obtained 4 rabbits for free, and bred them. Then I traded 4 rabbits for 2 hens and a rooster last fall from a local farmer. I'd done some research into the breed, the Barred Rock, and discovered a lot of useful information about them, and about raising chickens in cold climates. I've raised poultry before, and have successfully raised chickens in Alaska.

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Initial Over-the-Counter state land sale now open

Home and GardenThe State of Alaska is offering 150 parcels covering over 1,000 acres statewide for sale to the public in the Initial Over-the-Counter (IOTC) land sale beginning Wednesday, July 29. Alaska residents and non-residents alike can see details and apply to purchase parcels at or at DNR Public Information Centers in Anchorage and Fairbanks and the Juneau Public Land Counter. Parcels range from $2,800 to $63,800 in price and from 1 to 20 acres in size.

There is no limit on the number of parcels an applicant can win in the IOTC drawing. The sale price for all parcels in the IOTC drawing is the appraised, fair market value.

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Annual state land auction nets highest results in 20 years

Home and GardenNinety-one Alaskans were winning bidders for 112 parcels in the State of Alaska’s annual land auction held on Wednesday, July 15. Winning bidders committed over $2.6 million for a total of 770 acres statewide. These are the highest auction sales in 20 years. Auction results are available at .

An Initial Over-the-Counter (IOTC) drawing for unsold parcels will begin in two weeks. The list of IOTC parcels will be available July 29 and IOTC applications will be accepted between 10 a.m. on July 29 and 5 p.m. on Sept. 9. The IOTC drawing will be held at 10 a.m. on Sept. 16. Over-the-Counter (OTC) sales of remaining parcels will begin Sept. 30. Check the brochure, visit the land sales website, or call 907-269-8400 for details of purchasing land in the IOTC or OTC sales. DNR offers competitive, in-house financing for land purchases.

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Annual state land auction for Alaskans to continue

Home and GardenThe annual state land auction and associated Initial Over-the-Counter (IOTC) drawing and Over-the-Counter (OTC) sales will continue as scheduled. Bidding is open through 5 p.m. on July 8 and sealed bids will be opened at 10 a.m. on July 15.

In the event of a partial state government shutdown in July, the methods by which bids are submitted may change. Anyone interested in participating in this year’s auction should monitor DNR’s Land Sales Program website at for updates and subscribe to the DNR land sales email notifications via the website. Those interested also can receive updates via and

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Alaska native grass, grain, and flower seed sale begins on April 15

Home and GardenThe Alaska Plant Materials Center will host its annual sale of foundation and selected classes of native grass, grain, and flower (forb) seeds beginning on April 15 and continuing through the production season that is expected to close in September. This annual sale enables Alaska growers to produce and sell certified seed to farmers, landscape companies, revegetation contractors, and construction companies.

On April 14 a list of available seed lots – including quantities, varieties, and prices – will be posted on the Division of Agriculture and PMC web pages at and . During the sale, demand for seed can exceed the supply. If this occurs, an allocation committee will determine distribution amounts. The committee consists of the Division of Agriculture director and representatives from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks’ Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, the Alaska Seed Growers Association, and the Alaska Plant Materials Center.

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WINTER CONSERVATION SERIES III-Introduction to planting bountiful gardens in Alaska

Home and GardenThe 3rd Winter Conservation Series is a concerted effort to combat the doldrums of winter’s darkness with a visionary introduction to planting bountiful gardens & developing do it yourself practical projects for implementation during the spring-summer growing season. Topics cover a wide range of interests. They include basic Alaskan gardening, clean energy, frame construction, soil/compost/testing attributes, landscaping, water well protection & projects that can be functionally used by property owners. Sessions have been formulated to primarily provide a “cookie cutter recipe” to inspire & motivate participants to action.

"Director’s Note

This year it seems spring has come and gone all winter. The temperature rose to unseasonably warm weather in December and then see-sawed back and forth for the next three months. It has been an abnormally mild winter and now I recently read some are predicting an unseasonably warm summer. Time will tell, but Alaska’s weather has been anything but predictable and keeps everyone guessing what next week will bring.

A corner of my garden very early in the year: Beans, corn, peas, potato, radishes, Kale, Kolhrabi, carrots, beets, Lambs Quarters, mustard, and more.Photo by Dennis Garrett I've also built some hotframes to extend the season.

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16 Easy Steps to Gardening in Alaska

Home and GardenIt's that time of year, when the seed catalogues start to pile up, the days grow long, and bare patches of ground are exposed. To get a fix from the "Gardening Jonesing" try this handy pamphlet put out by the Cooperative Extension Service at the University of Alaska Fairbanks titled "16 Easy Steps to Gardening in Alaska".

Share your tips and hopes for growing in Alaska! Looks like we may be tricked into thinking it will be an Early Spring.

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Buy a parcel of state land during the annual land auction for Alaskans

Home and GardenThe Department of Natural Resources is inviting Alaskans interested in owning a piece of the Last Frontier to participate in the 2015 Annual State Land Auction. This year’s land offering includes road-accessible and remote parcels ranging from the Southeast Alaska coastline to Interior river corridors. Of the 261 parcels available, more than 78 are new to the auction this year.

Alaska residents may submit sealed bids in person, by mail, or online between 10 a.m. on March 25 and 5 p.m. on July 8. Apparent high bids will be announced on July 15. Bidders may purchase up to two parcels in this auction. Information about participating in the auction as well as other land sale programs is available at . Free brochures are available at DNR’s Public Information Centers in Anchorage and Fairbanks and the DNR Land Counter in Juneau.

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State seeks applicants for specialty crop grants

Home and Garden(Palmer, AK) – The Division of Agriculture is now seeking applicants for its annual Specialty Crop Competitive Grant Program.

The division intends to administer grants for multiple projects and grant awards will be divided into two tiers. Tier I projects will have a maximum funding amount of $10,000 and Tier II projects will receive funding amounts between $20,000 and $40,000.

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Your Homeowners Insurance may go down

Home and GardenIf you own property in the West Lakes Fire Service Area then we have good news for you. As of 1 Feb 2015, the new and improved Insurance Service Office (ISO) Public Protection Classification (PPC) rating will be in effect. The new ISO PPC rating is a 4.

Please call your insurance company and inform them of the change. The new ISO PPC could result in a reduction of your homeowners insurance premiums. If your insurance company has questions or does not use the ISO PPC to calculate premiums, contact the West Lakes Fire Department at 907.861.8081.
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16-Year-Old Irish Girls Win Google Science Fair 2014 With World-Changing Crop Yield Breakthrough

Home and GardenFrom an article posted to Irish teenagers Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow, all 16, have won the Google Science Fair 2014. Their project, Combating the Global Food Crisis, aims to provide a solution to low crop yields by pairing a nitrogen-fixing bacteria that naturally occurs in the soil with cereal crops it does not normally associate with, such as barley and oats. The results were incredible: the girls found their test crops germinated in half the time and had a drymass yield up to 74 percent greater than usual.

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Vacation Security Checklist

Home and Garden
Thieves look for what police term "targets of opportunity." There are many things you can do to avoid becoming one of the victims, especially when you are going to be away from your home for an extended period.

Arrange for your local law enforcement agency to check your house periodically, if they offer this service in your community.

Double check second floor and basement windows, areas which are often forgotten.

Make sure that exterior areas will not give your absence away. Arrange to have mail and deliveries either stopped or picked up by a neighbor.

Leave a car in the driveway. Have outside lights turned off and on with a home timer. Arrange to have the lawn cut and the bushes trimmed.

Have several timers attached to lights in various locations throughout the house. One timer can be programmed to turn one light on and off several times during the evening. Several timers performing the same function can give a very "lived-in" look to a home.

This same practice with home timers can be utilized with TV's and radios, giving an added sound element to the "lived-in" look.

Ask your neighbors to check your home regularly, and leave a number with them where you can be reached. Ask neighbors also to use your garbage cans. Spotters for burglars sometimes work for trash collectors. Ask neighbors to also pick up handbills or circulars.

While it is adviseable to notify police and a neighbor of your planned absence, don't tell everyone about your plans. Don't leave notes on the door for neighbors, deliverymen, etc.

If, upon returning from your trip, you spot evidence of a break-in, do not enter the house. Call the police at once! The burglar may still be inside.

Make a list by serial number, date purchased, and price of expensive items, and keep the list in a safe place, not in your home. While doing so, mark valuables with an engraving tool.

Doors and windows should be equipped with deadbolt locks, rather than spring bolt locks.

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