Sunday, July 22, 2012

Where the heck has Dawn been?

Well, I’ve been kind of busy. Remember when I used to write about moose hunting and the harvesting and butchering that happened at the end of the year in the fall? Well, fishing season happens in July and The Man I’ve hooked up with is a fisherMan. We don’t typically get a moose every year now but we eat mainly salmon. Yummy, delicious, fresh-from-the-net sockeye salmon. The family commercial fishes and last week was a good week. Each sockeye weighs about 6 pounds and the tender that picks up the fish typically pays between $0.40/pound and $3.75/pound. This year I think they are paying $1.40/pound. Before we sell any fish, we put away enough fish for the family. I usually take about 60 fish for my family of six. We typically eat fish three times per week. My kids love it and I have quite a few recipes that rock. Oh, and I should mention now, if you are going to tell me I’m a bad, horrible person for killing another creature, then move on now vegan/vegetarian/meanie-head. Mind you, I have no problem with what anyone chooses to eat but I do have problems with people who randomly, anonymously write nasty things. If you have a problem with what I eat and publish to the web, don’t read it. If you do want to comment and say I’m a bad person, at least have the balls to use a name and link it back to your own blog. Don’t be a chicken-shit and write nasty comments and then put it in an anonymous post. Sheesh.  (Did you know there is such thing as a freegan? They only eat out of dumpsters. I learned this on Project Runway the other night.)
Many of you really liked the moose hunting posts and the backstory on the hunt and butchering so I figured I’d tell you a little bit about this too.

Bloody corpses below this line*.

You’ve been warned!

So here are the beauties. This is about 350 fish. Almost all of them are sockeye (red) salmon. This is my favorite kind. First, you catch the little suckers in a gill net that hangs between two buoys and two anchors. This suspends the net in the water and the fish try to swim through the net. Their heads fit through but the bodies do not. They get stuck by their gills. We pull them out of the water, take them out of the net, and bleed them (sorry to your squeamish sorts).

We get them to the beach and take them to the cleaning station.

Then they are put in bags in the creek. This creek looks nasty and polluted but that’s because of the high concentration of iron in the rocks here. The water is crystal clear and perfect to drink (well, except for our little friend Giardia - we don’t drink the water.)

Fishies get filleted. Son pokes heads.

One of my jobs was to man the vacuum packer and start processing the fish. There is no power here so this is all done with the help of a generator.

Here is some of the haul.

My son and I dissected several of them and looked for parasites, organs, and sex organs. He’s definitely a science nerd like his momma. Here he’s cutting out the eye to find the lens (yes, It’s kind of macabre but this is how kids learn about things and get interested).

Salmon roe.

While The Men were out fishing (7am to 7pm), I watched the six kids on the beach. One of them is just a little crawling guy who eats sand so he was caged. Yes, he’s in pink. When you’re at fish camp, you wear whatever is warm.

Here’s little J all cozy on the beach. He napped here for two hours and was happy as a clam.

The older kids played in the sand. No, it’s not like a Florida/California hot beach. There was a steady breeze and it was about 60 degrees.

Sometimes we made boat and floated them down the creek. Remember, the water is clear, it’s just the bottom that looks bad.

Five of the six cousins (see my son in the background?). Little man is sleeping.

On the way back to Anchorage, we drove past the oil rig. Is Alaska not a kick-ass state?

I actually have some sewing to show you. You’ve already seen it in these pictures. Hinty, hint, hint!



*Okay, this line used to say, “Bloody corpses blow this line.” There’s a really good reason I teach middle school-age kids. When I say that typo, I actually laughed so hard, water came out my nose. I have quite the imagination.


Sew4Fun said...

I like all the photos! Thanks for sharing. Alaska looks like a great place to live.

Terry said...

I am so envious. Being inland we would never have fresh salmon. Fish for trout but not the same. Nice way to raise your children.


Anna B said...

I enjoyed the pics too, keep them coming, Alaska is awesome! Man I LOVE salmon and buy it all that time but it's soooo pricey, my jaw dropped when I saw your haul lol... my goodness

Kaye Leatherbarrow said...

I love your pictures of Alaska. I think it is great that you can provide food for your family in this way - no food miles!

Kat Campbell said...

Thanks for the interesting insight about life in Alaska!

I feel ignorant even saying it, but I really had no idea that people ate moose! Then again, I'm from Australia and people think we are horrible for eating kangaroos (but they are so plentiful and delicious) :-)

Pauline said...

Dawn, I'm fairly new to your blog. I thought this was a brilliant and interesting post. All that salmon, you're lucky! What a fabulous environment for children to be in as well. 

theperfectnose said...

$3.5 a pound? You're shitting me! That's 3.5 for 450 grams.. At supermarkets here we pay $5.80 on sale for-3-4 slivers (100g??) OMG we're both being robbed XS *sigh* 
Supermarkets have a lot to pay for, hopefully they do it in cash... 
PS-I don't know what it's like up where you are, but where I am (Melbourne, Aus) mercury levels in fish aren't so good. Not even for the farmed stuff. The docs actually tell pregnant women to go easy on fish.. Not trying to ruin your high, just telling you to be aware and be safe.
PPS You can comment anonymously on disqus?

wendy knox everette said...

oh, i'm jealous of all the salmon you've stocked up on now!  the two things i miss the most from Seattle in NYC are really good fish and decent coffee. ;) 

Eileen Maylone said...

Jealous of all the salmon, we love it too!  I am betting on the striped fleece pants that your girls are wearing are your creation:)

Victoria said...

How COOL Dawn!!! I LOVE when you share anything about your Alaska life. I had the privelege of going to Barrow (4 times for work) and hate I couldn't see all of the beautiful places in AK. So I live vicariously through you. You guys have quite the operation and I'm SO jealous you get to eat so much salmon!!! That's such good eating!!!!

Atrinka said...

I loooove salmon! How lucky you are, eating fish super fresh. Good for you! Loved the river, the color is amazing.

Carolyn said...

Actually Dawn that was kinda kewl!  Thanks for sharing it!

Andrea said...

Hi Dawn,
I just recently found your blog. I thoroughly enjoyed your post all about the salmon, especially since we love to eat salmon in our house. I have a few favorite recipes, but I'm always interested in new ones - do you have any favorites you'd like to share?

How cool that the kids get to learn all of this firsthand, especially your son learning about the fish anatomy. Awesome!

Flora Atchison said...

Hi Dawn, Thanks for the post and the photos. I know you mainly post about sewing, but I would love to see some of those salmon recipes. I'm always looking for new things to do with fish.

kristi owens said...

I love salmon!!! My brother worked for a tribe down here in Washington state and he processed all the fish and then sold it for them. He would always give us fish he caught! He has since moved to Vancouver Island in B.C. and I sure miss the fish! Oh, and I miss him too!!

Desiree said...

I agree that you should share some of your kid approved Salmon recipes!  I have a 10 year old step-son who I'm trying to get to eat more fish, and I have a hard time finding recipes that will appeal to his palate.  

Mary in FL said...

I eat Paleo, and I approve this message!

QuiltsewsewSue said...

I love Salmon and am so jealous that you can get such great quality fresh salmon!  The kids look like they are having a great time - love the stripey pants/leggings on your girls.

Meredith_P said...

Interesting and awesome as always!

Mary said...

All I have to say is I want to come to dinner at your house. I have one package left of Copper River salmon and a thousand curses rain upon the head of anyone who tries to eat it without me! Tom just returned from a visit to his Dad on the coast. He had to stay an extra day to get all the work done because they goofed off one day and went bottom fishing...I never have a problem with that...fresh cod and oysters for dinner tomorrow night! As for the sewing...striped leggings?

Ingrid said...

Hi Dawn,
I love your posts on Alaska, and boy am I envious of your fish haul. I LOVE salmon and I agree, kids learn about stuff by being inquisitve. My son loves to find worms and bugsfor me in the garden and I tell him about how important their role in the  ecosystem is. Ingrid

angie a said...

lol.  Dawn you crack me the hell up.  I <3 u.

Claire S said...

I grew up on the east coast of Canada so I'm familiar with the results of the  hunting & fishing seasons. Moose, deer (I had bear once) and there's nothing like fish right out of the water - trout, salmon (Atlantic, of course !), lobsters (yummy !).  Love all your posts :-)

Rose in SV said...

I adore reading your stories of hunting and fishing.  That salmon looks yummy (and some of them look HUGE).  I would only be upset if you were finning sharks.  Thank you for sharing.

Rose in SV

Tanit-Isis Sews said...

OK, my man is a fisher-man, but of the weekend out on the creek with a fly rod variety... not nearly so intense! ;) Although I have had the "opportunity" to enjoy making fishing vests for the kids and am now tackling a rod case... (joy.)

That looks like a pretty awesome way to spend the day---for the kids, at least. :)

Nikki said...

Even though I'm working on becoming vegan, I still enjoy posts like this. Learning about how people live interests me a lot.

Beth Ellen said...

Wow, great post!! And, please share the salmon recipes that are kid favorites!

SueK said...

Yes, please post recipes!!

Myrayeretsky said...

Awesome haul - I am appreciating things like that these days.  Mike & kids go fishing but no luck lately in the local ponds.  He got his first deer on Christmas Day last year and is looking forward to another few this year along with wild turkey.  Alaska is awesome.  Didn't see the rig, we have them all over in South Texas.

Ekainer said...

Such a different landscape, such different activities, such a different life. Very fascinating blog post. :D

Karin said...

My kids love this stuff, Sockeye salmon is their top dinner choice!  It costs a fortune here in London.  I buy it at a  nice supermarket, where they take it out of bags just like the ones you are sealing!  I like to think that you might have handled the fish we are eating:-)  Hmm, maybe I can blame you for the odd bone, lol.  
Now that the kids are used to this, we can't go back to farmed Atlantic salmon because it tastes like something completely different.
Keep 'em coming!

A2thstudent said...

I love Smelt Roe, do you eat sushi?  If so, this must be the best!

Leah Rives said...

Been reading your blog for years, and I always really enjoy your "Alaska Life" posts.  Fascinating!  And now I really want some of that fish!

Annette Untalasco said...

Enjoyed your post. As a fellow Alaskan I have eaten just about all subsistence foods available. A family favorite is fish head soup. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

Yogabob said...

Dawn great blog. Thanks so much for sharing. I agree with many of your readers-publish some recipes. Bob