Fur Crafts for Pets

I love supporting local Alaskan trappers. I think buying fur is one of the best ways to support local Native traditions and rural economies. And I know there are a lot of people who love spoiling their pets (I'm one of them)- so I thought I'd share some fur craft ideas just for pets.

Small Pet Bed: Line one of your your hamster, gerbils, mouse, or rat's tunnels with fur. It makes a cozy little tunnel that is 100% dark and extra warm for those colder Alaskan days.

Bird Pruning Toy: Take a strip of fur with long stiff guard hairs (like beaver) and attach it to the side of your birds cage near one if it's perches. It's a perfect pruning toy for birds that will sit on your shoulder and prune your hair for you- now they can do it in the cage! And it's also super warm- so they can snuggle up to it at night.

Dog Chew Toy: I give Coho and Rascal all sorts of animal tails to play with. Sometimes I'll attach a fox tail, coon tail, or even a coyote tail to a string and let them chase it around. Coho loves hunting so she get super excited about it. It's also 100% safe for them to chew and swallow (unlike some inorganic toys). Puppies LOVE chasing tails around! I've never had one refuse to play with a coon tail.
Dog House Insulator: If you have a shorter haired dog and you want to spend a little extra money to bring them some comfort I suggest laying a pelt down in the bottom of their dog house. Expensive- yes. Warm- absolutely. Probably the most insulating material you could give your pup. They'll be as snug as a bug in a rug.

Cat Chase Toy: Take a little piece of fur and glue it on the end of a string. I usually do an oval shape so it looks like a mouse. And wah-lah you've got the perfect toy to inspire even the laziest cat's inner hunter.

Girl Of The Waters

The water was her resting place.
The boat her wooden bed.
The waves were her lullaby.
Dreams of salmon filled her head.

A gypsy of the seas.
A fisherman's wife and friend.
An ocean dweller ever more.
A mermaid to the end.

Alaskan Animal Folklore

I'm constantly doing research on Alaskan folklore- mainly for my own personal use. But I thought that a few other people might find some of these fantasy facts regarding our wildlife quite interesting.

Photo by yjImagery (

Lynx: Lynx are an invisible animal who keep the secrets of the forest. They see all, but are not often seen.

Arctic Fox: In northern Europe folklore seeing an arctic fox foretells the appearance of the northern lights.

Polar Bear: Polar bears are spirit bears, who hold knowledge of the past and will hurt a human who's soul they see has done bad things.

Black Bear: The curious bear. More often than not the sight of a black bear means you're curiosity is taking you too far. Think of your needs before following your wants.

Brown Bear: Also known as 'the mother bear'. They protect and respect humans, but will also discipline and overpower them.

Moose: Moose, although large, are quiet. Seeing them means you'll learn more from silence than you will from your own voice.

Vole: Voles, like mice, are helpers- and can aid humans in daily chores (aka cleaning up food scraps, making messes disappear, etc)

Owl: From the wonderful literature of Winnie The Pooh- owl's are the knowledgeable creatures. Seeing an owl means very important information is coming your way. And a white owl predicts paranormal experiences that hold ancestral knowledge.

Raven: Ravens, like crows, are known to tell of death. But raven's unlike crows, don't foretell it- they warn it. seeing a raven means be cautious.

Red Fox: Predict simple happiness. Usually you'll have a small amount of good luck after seeing a red fox.

Rabbit: Rabbits foretell fertility. Hence the Easter rabbit! They also possess feminine energy- which can aid in dealing with children and health issues.

Snowshoe Hare: Offer protection and awareness! They can help you sense danger before it happens.

Frogs: Masculine energy. Frogs can aid when dealing with physical strengths, logic, and math and science.

Salmon: A change of seasons. Salmon can help change your opinion and allow you to keep an open mind. They are also known as being the source of the northern lights.

Beaver: Beaver furs offer a very powerful protection of homes and houses. Keeping one near your door can ward off unwanted visitors. And keeping one in your homes protects it from natural disasters, fires, and other unfortunate events. Some people believe they offer the same protection for cars and other modes of transportation.

Alaskan Kid's Science Fair Ideas

Blackfish Study: Capture blackfish and keep them in captivity. Study their color variations, size variations, diet, and color. What will they eat (mealworms, mosquito larva, smaller fish, algae, commercial fish food, salmon eggs, etc)? What sizes do they range from? Are there in variations in colors, patterns, and physical appearance? Record all data and show a full study of blackfish biology.

Animal Study: Ask a trapper if you can study all of his catches of one species for one month. Check the gender ratio (how many males vs females). Record color variations, size variations, and any special markings or patterns. Check their stomaches for dietary matter. Compare one locations statistics to another. Is there a difference? What research did you discover? (If you wanna go all out, you could ask Fish and Game for their records in your area from previous years via tagging reports).

Bug Study: Hatch different bug species in your home. You can purchase praying mantis, butterflies, spiders, ants, and even ladybugs online. I know it sounds a bit unethical, but put each species in the cold weather (in a container where they cannot escape) and judge how long that insect can stay alive in Alaska's winter conditions. What animal stayed the longest, the shortest? Did their behavior change? Did any hibernate or hide away? Did any survive- would they be an invasive species?

Decomposure Study: Introduce maggots to a peice of meat and judge how long it takes them to 'decompose' the meat. Do temperature changes effect the decompsure rate? What about light changes or the age/size of the maggots?

Sleddog Quickness: Compare different sleddogs for their quickness (record their time over a certain distance). What breed of dogs are the fastest (malimutes, greyhoud/malimute mix, huskey, etc). What makes them the fastest? Do they have larger ribs, longer torsoes, longer legs, wider chests, etc? Does size matter?

Winter Clothing Warmth: Measure the insulation of different winter fabrics. Goose down, mink fur, wool, polyester, etc and record the differences. Which one is the warmest? Which is the coldest? Do layers matter? Does thickness matter? I'm not sure how to measure heat insulation, but I know a young girl in this village one the Anchorage Science Fair last year with a measurement of different furs. This is a slight variation of that experiment. So I should give credit to Kayci (she was the original one to do this kind of experiment).

Fighting Colds, Naturally

I've never been a huge fan of medications... as we all know by now. And around this time every year the stuffy indoor sick usually brings some sort of sickness upon me. And I know how hard it can be for people in the bush to get actual medical care. So I thought I'd share a few of my tips on fighting colds naturally.

Sleep: Whenever I get sick, I burrow away under the covers and sleep- for as long and as much as I can. I wrap up in a hot blanket and let myself sweat. It's the quickest way to break a fever, and the sleep is what your body honestly needs to get better.

Eat Vitamen C: like it's going out of style. I eat oranges, suck on cough drops with vitamen C, stock up on cloudberries, and go nuts on all citrus fruits. It soothes my stomache, my throat, and my immune system.

Drink Tea With Honey: Honey is a great way to fight colds and tea helps soothe your throat. Whenever I have a sore throat the first thing I do is make a pot of tea. No better way to get your voice back ASAP.

Organic Tea Blend Sampler by Marble and Milkweed

Inhale Evergreen Steam: If I can get to a spruce tree, I'll take a branch (about the length of my forearm) and when I get home put the needles in a pot of water. I'll boil it for about five minutes and then take a towel, cover my head over the pot, and inhale all of the steam. It helps clear your mucus, soothes your sinuses, and the fresh scent wakes you up (so you don't feel so drouzy and dizzy). If you have to go to work sick, try starting out the morning with this- it will honestly help you feel better throughout the first half of your day. Try again at lunch time (if you can find a spot to do so) and it'll help you get through the second half too.

Modern Kuspuk Ideas

There are literally a hundred styles of kuspuks and I love them all. But I've seen a few really cute ideas that I thought were worth sharing. Feel free to add your ideas to the list by commenting below!

Appliques or Patches on the Pocket: I saw a kussuq lady who made kuspuks for her daughters and on the pocket she had iron on patches. One little girl had a red parka with little farm animals on the pocket (a cow, pig, chicken). It was like a red barn with farm animals! A super cute way to combine Midwest living and Alaska. And then another girl had a cute little skull applique on the corner of her black kuspuk. She was a little older and it definitely fit her style.

Fur Trim: I've seen quite a few kuspuks with a very small amount of short haired fur trimming the bottom skirt and wrist cuffs. Not like a parka trim where it's thick. But rather just a thin strip of rabbit or mink.

Zippers on the Pocket: Another kussuq idea! A lady in Bethel added zippers to her kuspuk pockets. The pockets are deep enough to keep stuff in without risking it falling out. But it's still a cute idea to ensure when you bend over everything you're holding doesn't fall to the floor.

Bows on the Hood/Wrist Cuffs: I saw a cute little (I think Innupiaq?) girl who had kuspuk with little bows on the wrist cuffs. And then she also had a little bow on each of the strings that pull the hood tight. I thought it was adorable.

Glitter Trim: Instead of fabric trim, use fabric paint or glitter. You can make intricate designs, like swirls and circles. It looks similar to a fabric trim, except you can experiment with different shapes and mix colors.

Sports Number on Back: I thought this was a cool idea for boys kuspuks. If they are in basketball, cut a jersey-style number from a piece of fabric and sew it to the back of the kuspuk. It'd be a great way to show their team spirit and Alaskan pride at the same time.

Rainpuks: A lady in the southeast makes these adorable rainpuks! Which are waterproof kuspuks. They're more lightweight than parkas, and styled just like a kuspuk, except with a zipper down the middle. And she uses waterproof material.

Alaskan Business Ideas

Because Alaska is a relatively 'new' state there are a lot of businesses that have yet to make their way up here. What businesses have you noticed Alaskan is missing? Here are a few business ideas that I think someone here in the north could cash in on.

Interior Designer: As the rest of America's housing economy drops- ours is rising. And with it a demand for interior designers. Many of our wealthier Alaskans don't have the time nor the creative mind to make their home comfy. And many would happily pay someone else to make their house a true home. It's a niche market that hasn't really been picked up in Alaska yet.
Art Agent: Alaska has a huge market for art agents- because we have a huge market for our art. Native artists, Alaskan artists, and even Alaskan musicians need people to represent them. And once you have the right contacts, finding markets for their work can become a breeze. Plus you get a commission rate from each peice that sells- so the harder you work, the more you're paid.
Kennel/ Pet Sitter: There are a lot of kennels in Alaska, but even so they always seem to be full. Just by petsitting sleddogs alone, you can make huge money throughout the year. But Alaska also is missing a few key pet sitters- specifically ones for cats, small animals, and birds. Dog kennels are popular- and could make money, but require space. But other animals need a place to stay too! And they don't require nearly as much room.
Nanny: Live-in nannies, specifically for oil workers, can make a lot of money in Alaska. We have a lot of jobs here that require travel. And unfortunately that travel doesn't cooperate with a child's education. So many people are in need of someone who can help babysit their children, on a full-time live-in basis. Nannies also usually perform daily household chores- but if you're like me, and enjoy that sort of thing, it can be a wonderful job.
Animal Breeder: Alaska has a surprisingly large market for exotic and small pets. Specifically birds, gerbils, ferrets, and chinchillas. African Grey parrots have always been in high demand and many Alaskans have to leave the state to buy one (there are very few breeders here). I, personally, love animals. And have had a lot of experience breeding them. It's a full-time job but a really rewarding one- and in Alaska it can be a great way to make money. Because we have so few reliable breeders, a good one can make a good chunk of change with each animal.