Uses For Five Gallon Buckets

Five gallon buckets are literally a universal camping object, that I personally believe everyone should bring with them. They, are light-weight, durable, easy to transport, and have so many uses. Such as:
  • Store food. The sealed lid helps keep food fresh as well as prevents insects from making their way into open pringles containers. You can also use the handle and hang the bucket from a tree limb to keep bears and other unwanted creatures out of it.
  • Store clothes in them when it rains. They're waterproof so if a storm comes through you don't need to shove everything into your tent. If you have a five gallon bucket you can pack clothes inside to keep the rain from drenching them.
  • Use them as a seat! They're the perfect size and height for sitting around a camp fire. Want something a bit more comfy? Bring a small 'chair pillow' and put it on top. Most garden sections have cushions for outdoor chairs- they work perfect for buckets because they're weather proof.
  • Wash dishes! They can withstand heat better than some plastic tubs, so you can boil water, pour it in, and use them as a 'sink' to wash dishes.
  • Store kindling. Just like with the clothes, you can gather up kindling at the beginning of your camping trip and them keep it dry from the rain. No more worrying about finding dry kindling after a storm- or at all, because you already have it stored away conveniently beside the fire!
  • Whiteboards for kids. Bring a collection of dry erase markers and an eraser. Your kiddies can use the plain white buckets as drawing areas. When they're finished they can wipe away the marks and start over again the next day... or hour- depending how 'bored' they get. It's a great way to keep toddlers busy!

Markets for Alaskan Nature Products

There is a market for almost every aspect of nature you can find in Alaska (or anywhere for that matter) if you just get creative. And the ability to earn money on nature hikes is limitless once you realize almost anything has a monetary value. Here are a few ideas!

Cottonwood Oil: An oil derived from cottonwood buds is one of the most expensive things Alaskans can sell. You can do research on making it and then sell it to herbal medicine suppliers or direct customers looking for it. It supplies arthritis relief and is believed to be one of the strongest natural remedies for chronic pain.
Alder Leaves: Alder leaves can be dried and sold as an additive to teas to help aid in headache relief. Some herbal suppliers may purchase them, but your best luck would be to sell them yourself.
Alder Cones: Dried alder cones can be sold as craft supplies for many crafters around the country. They're very popular in holiday crafts because they make such a unique small winter-time accent.
Willow Branches: Willow branches can be made into wicker and sold to craft stores and basket weavers. They can also be sold as chew toys for rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, chinchillas, and birds.
Blueberry Stems: Blueberry stems can be made into a tea! They add a sweet (lavenderish?) taste to other tea blends. They aren't often used alone, but can be sold as an additive. Many tea makers will buy them as well.
River Rocks: River rocks are purchased for a variety of things. Jewelry makers will buy certain colors or shapes for jewelry (quartz is popular). Religious/Spiritual suppliers will buy certain stones for ritual purposes. They can also be sold as home decor (vase accents, fountain addition, aquarium rocks).
Spruce/Hemlock Branches: Some wreath makers will buy spruce branches for wreaths. They're relatively stiff- which makes them a good decision for outdoor decorations. They also really like hemlock, because hemlock branches have a sort of 'droopy' evergreen appearance that can make beautiful holiday decor.
Dried Wildflowers: Many collectors will buy Alaskan dried wildflowers- specifically ones that are native to the arctic/subarctic and not other areas. Crafters will also sometimes buy them- but your best bet would be collectors and museums.
Tundra Lichen: Tundra lichen is bought by beauty suppliers to be used in making lotions, hair products, facial scrubs, and even soaps. It has a moisturizing property that is thought to help prevent wrinkles and promote glowing skin.
Moose Poop: These have been creatively formed into all sorts of things. Many artists buy them to make key chains, jewelry, novelty items, and other awesome things. But some pet stores will also buy them for Hermit Crab food.

Kids, Math, and Waterfowl Hunting

I love taking children waterfowl hunting for a variety of reasons. It's an activity that they can be involved in (going to get the birds, spotting them in the air, playing around when there is no activity). And if you love integrating education into outdoor activities, like I do, then I have a few 'math ideas' to do when waterfowl hunting.

Ages 3 to 5
Counting: Have the kids count how many birds they see in the flock, or how many birds fall down. You could also have them count how many flocks fly over.

Ages 6 to 7
Basic Addition: Have children count the total amount of birds of each flock that flies by, and then add them up throughout the day to see how many birds migrated over on that date. You could also have them add each species of bird.
Basic Subtraction: Have your kid count the total birds in the upcoming flock. Then, after a few of them have been shot, total up the fallen ones. Then subtract the fallen ones to figure out how many are left in the flock. Once again, you could break this down into a 'species' thing.

Ages 8 to 12
Basic Multiplication: Have your kids estimate how many birds each flock will have, and then have them estimate how many flocks will fly over. Multiply the birds in each flock by the total flocks to find their estimate for the birds total that they think will fly over. Have each kid take a guess and keep track throughout the day to see who 'wins' (who's estimate was closest).
Basic Division: Have your kids guess how many birds total will fly over. Then have them guess how many flocks will fly over. Divide the bird total by the flock total to find out their guess for how many average birds will be in each flock. Keep track throughout the day to see which kid is closest (to find the 'average' from your numbers look below).
Averages: Count the total amount of birds of each flock that flies over throughout the day.Then figure out the average number of birds in each flock (take the total birds and divide it by how many flocks flew over). You could also do this for each individual species.

Medicinal Plants in Alaska

What medicinal plants are in your part of Alaska? Here in western Alaska we don't have too many that I know of, but there are a few.

We have one plant that Yup'ik Eskimos swear by for everything: Chithlook. They use it for aches and pains, fevers, headaches, you name it! I've heard it has a very bitter taste. But some kids around here chew on it like it's candy. They make a tea out of it. It is a leafy weed. I believe it works both fresh and dried. I'm sure it has some sort of menthol property that eases sore throats, congestion, and fever.

Willow: Willow bark, when chewed on or made into a tea, has a chemical that acts just like aspirin and can alleviate headache pain literally in a matter of minutes.

Cloudberries: We call them salmonberries, but technically they are cloud berries. They have a huge amount of vitamin C and when eaten during a cold can help your immune system immensely.

Cottonwood Oil: Cottonwood tree's buds produce an oil in the spring that is very expensive and can literally heal arthritis pain as soon as it's rubbed on the skin where the muscles ache. I've heard it's like magic. I'm not sure how to go about making the oil, but I would like to try and keep some in stock.

Alder Leaves: Alder leaves, like willow, can help alleviate headaches. I think they are supposed to be dried first and made into a tea, but I've chewed on them raw and they work fairly well. Don't swallow them- just chew and then spit them out.

Alaskan Animal Shelters List

Don't shop, Adopt. I've always loved animal shelters and most of childhood pets came from a rescue. In Alaska there are a huge array of animal shelters- for almost every species and breed. I've decided, to help promote adoptions, it might be nice to create a database of Alaskan animal shelters. So here's my list. If you have one to add, please do in a comment! And I'll edit the post to add it onto the list.

AlaskanAnimal RescueFriends (Anchorage)
Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue (Palmer)
Alaska Chihuahua Rescue (Anchorage)
Alaskan Sled Dog Rescue (Mat-Su Valley)
Golden Retriever Rescue (Fairbanks)
Carol Kleckner's Fairbanks Husky Rescue (Fairbanks)
GSD German Shephard Rescue (Anchorage)
Arctic German Shephard Rescue (Fairbanks)

Clearcreek Cat Rescue (Anchorage)
Alaska Cat Adoption Team (Alaska)
Alaska Humane Society (Anchorage)

Forget-Me-Not Ferret Rescue (Anchorage)
Dooka's Weasel Warehouse (Fairbanks)
Rascal & P.A.L.S Ferret Rescue (Eagle River)

The Alaska Bird Club (Anchorage)

C & W Reptile Rescue and Feed (Fairbanks)

Horses & Livestock
Alaska Bird and FArm Animal Rescue (Anchorage)
Alaska Equine Rescue (Eagle River)
Homer Alaska Horse Rescue (Homer)

All Animals
Friends of Pets (Anchorage)
Haines Animal Rescue (Haines)
Loving Companions Animal Rescue (Anchorage)
Alaska Animal Care & Control (Anchorage)
Alaska SPCA (Anchorage)
Houston Alaska Animal Shelter (Houston)
Kodiak Animal Shelter (Kodiak)
Kenia Animal Rescue (Kenia)

Ways To Make Money In Alaska's Bush

Many people think that there aren't ways to make money in the bush. We have some of the worst economical development in the world (literally no 'normal' jobs). But that's no excuse to go on without some change in your bank account. With a bit of creativity and hard work anyone can make a living in remote parts of Alaska. Here are my ideas. Feel free to share yours as well in the comments below.

Conventional Ways:
Get a Job: There are a few places that are always hiring. AC Stores, Anica Stores, Tribal Offices, Corporation Offices, City Offices, and Schools. All of them usually have one or two jobs available and most have a high amount of patience. Show up, do the best you can, and they'll reward you with local friendships and a decent wage.
Commercial Fishing: In almost (not all) every part of the bush there is a commercial fishing industry. Whether it's freshwater or saltwater- there are a variety of things that one can catch and sell. And not all permits are expensive. In fact there are many 'lesser quality' permits (like whitefish) that are less than $100.00.
Trapping: Granted, it's a lot of hard work. But if you enjoy being outdoors it can truly be a dream job. And if you work hard enough almost any animal (even muskrat!) can pay your bills through all 12 months of the year.

Unique Ways:
Sell Nature Products: There are a lot of products in the bush that can be turned around and made money on. Fish, fur, berries, even tundra lichen (beauty stores buy it for lotions) all have monetary value. Some things require licenses, others do not. Almost anything is valuable if you look at it in the right way. Willow twigs? Make whicker for crafters! Spruce trees? The branches can be used for wreaths and many lower-forty-eight flower shops will buy them. Everything has a use. And it all can be sold.
Sell Native Crafts: If you're a native and know a traditional craft (beading, ivory carving, mask making, basket weaving, etc) then you have a huge opportunity to make money. Get your things authenticated as 'Native Made' and you can sell them almost anywhere. Many tourist shops, museums, art galleries, and even Alaskan resorts will buy them. You can also create your own markets and sell them online.
Write Articles: Write articles about your lifestyle for magazines that would find them interesting. There are a variety of outdoors magazines that would spend big money on an article on true rural living. Recreational sports magazines that you participate in. ATV, snow machine, fishing, hunting, trapping- there's magazines for everything. Also look into local publications. Alaska magazines, local newspapers (especially rural ones that don't receive many articles), and websites about Alaska might pick up your writings as well.
Be A Pen Pal: There are a few sites online that offer 'Pen Pals for Sale'. Some pay you by letter, some pay you by month, some pay you a one time fee for as long as the writing lasts. But the point is- that a pen pal from Alaska, and rural Alaska is in demand.
Open a Bed & Breakfast: No need to guide or even have much knowledge on rural Alaska. Many people will pay big money just to stay in a remote area or native village. Take them on a boat ride, let them camp on the tundra, or simply let them wander the town. It does take more planning and investment than the other things listed here, but I've always thought it would make a wonderful job- I love meeting new people.

Alaskan ABC Ideas

I know a lot of kindergarten classes around the state have kids list out or bring in ideas for each letter of the alphabet (as homework). Well I thought it would be fun to list a bunch of 'Alaskan' ABC items to help parents think of something culturally creative for their young uns' to add to the class. Here's my list. It was so hard to find ideas for Q, V, X, and Z! But I did it!

A: Alaska, Arctic Fox, Anchorage, Athabascan, Aleut
B: Baluga Whale, Bering Sea, Bourbot, Beaver, Blackfish, Black Bear
C: Caribou, Crane, Canoe, Captain Cook
D: Duck, Denali, Doll Sheep
E: Ermine, Elk, Era Aviation
F: Fox, Fairbanks, Fur Rondy, Fireweed, Forget-Me-Not
G: Goose, Grayling, Grizzly Bear, Glacier
H: Humpback Whale, Hunter, Halibut
I: Innupiaq, Ice Fishing, Iditerod
J: Juneau
K: Kuspuk, King Crab
L: Lynx, Lupin, Lush Fish
M: Moose, Mink, Mountain Goat, Muskox, Muskrat, Marten
N: Northern Lights, Native, North Star
O: Otter
P: Puffin, Pacific Ocean, Pike, Ptarmigan
Q: Quyana
R: Reindeer, Raven
S: Salmon, Swan, Spruce Tree, Seal, Sleddog
T: Tundra, Tlinget, Trout, Trapper
U: Unalakleet, Urchin
V: Vole
W: Wolf, Wolverine, Whitefish, Willow
X: Xantus Murrelet, Xema Sabini
Y: Yup'ik, Yukon River
Z: Zooplankton

What are your Alaskan ABC items? Leave a comment below!