I'm working as a Fish Culturist at Hidden Falls Salmon Hatchery in a remote spot near Sitka, Alaska! AM I CRAZY!? I'm starting to think so...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A State Untouched By Drum Corps

Hey Everyone, we're sitting around today not sure if we'll get out of the hatchery. The weather is gorgeous but cold... and apparently the plane is frozen in somewhere. So we're not sure what the deal is.

A while back, I said that I sent a picture into the Drum Corps International website and they wrote back, saying they wanted to write an article. That was way back in June I think but today it was finally up on the site. It's pretty well written so props to Josh Peterson from DCI.


P.S. I said the weather was cold but not AS cold as it was the other night when it was -15 degrees (wind chill included) and many of you received an email of complaint from me. :-D It's in the 20s though...

A state untouched by drum corps
Drum corps experience helps "age-out" member excel in Alaska

When she started working at the Hidden Falls Salmon Hatchery in Southeast Alaska last February, Rebecca Moser shoveled snow around her work site all day for weeks. This was a far cry from life in her college town in St. Petersburg, Fla. At the Hidden Falls facility, she’d help hatch salmon eggs in darkrooms for eight hours a day. Sharing close quarters with one other person, Moser was required to live on a “floathouse” for four days a week with no showers. Reflecting on her current situation, Moser is grateful for her years as a member of a drum corps.

Former drum corps member Rebecca Moser has gone
from football fields to Alaskan floathouses.

Although Alaska is one of the few states untouched by drum corps during the course of the annual Drum Corps International Summer Tour, those who live and work in the remote locations of the state are no strangers to the hard work and long hours like those experienced by corps members every summer. As a 2005 “age-out” member of the Phantom Regiment color guard, Moser believes the many skills she learned in drum corps allowed her to complete the difficult tasks of her new job in the land of the midnight sun.

“It helped me become a really flexible person,” Moser said about her drum corps experiences. “That’s helped me while adapting to these remote Alaskan conditions; when a lot of people might go completely crazy!”

Rebecca Moser
Originally from Michigan, Moser marched for three years as a member of the Kiwanis Kavaliers color guard from 2002 through 2004, before completing her junior corps career with the Phantom Regiment in 2005.

“I found out about drum corps during high school after watching a few PBS broadcasts of the DCI World Championships, and the corps always impressed me. When I chose to attend college in Florida, I looked into it more and decided to join one.”

Moser believes her experience on several – sometimes grueling but rewarding – summer tours helped to prepare her for her new lifestyle in Alaska. Being around the same few people every day and not having much control over obtaining necessary items and conveniences when she wants them, is not new to her.

“The hatchery is remote so I don’t have direct access to a town in which to shop, for example. I live on-site and basically only see the same 12 people who work here. We have to e-mail our grocery list to the store … and the deliveries get flown over here via floatplane along with our mail and any other personal orders. If the weather conditions are bad, there is no flight and thus no groceries!”

Although the work Moser does is tough, drum corps has more than prepared her for the demanding work ethic.

“Mentally, there are some similarities. A lot of those physical things you deal with in drum corps; you are able to achieve by pushing through them mentally. That’s similar to being up here.”


Thursday, November 29, 2007

2007 Season... THE END!

WOW, can you believe that in two days it will be December already!? That seems so crazy. Yesterday was my last day of work… that seems crazy too. It seems like just yesterday when I was all worried about coming up here… wondering if it was a good idea… wondering if I would even be able to do it. Now I’ve completed my whole season of hatchery work and have signed on for another year of it! I guess it is proof of how much things can change within a year. Just another crazy, amazing thing I can add to my list of big things I have done with my life that I wouldn’t change for anything!

I had intended to write this blog on Monday… I even had a title for it and everything. So I will title this little section of my blog…


Of all the jobs I have done here, the worst job was saved until the end. I was pretty convinced I had found my own version of Hell! Where did the concept of a “hot, firey hell” originally come from? Personally, my version of Hell would be somewhere cold and icy and you have to sit in little icy cold pools of water or something! Heaven to me would be warm and sunny (definitely not hot and firey though). Like I said, I was pretty convinced I had woken up in Hell on Monday. When we seeded the stacks of incubators a while back, I said that we put the eggs on a screen. Then when the fish hatch, they fit through the screen and only the bad, unhatched eggs are left on top. Eventually, you have to go through and pull all these screens out. That means you keep your hands in the freezing cold water for basically the whole time you are doing this job. The water right now is ohhh…. 40 degrees maybe? I’m not completely sure but it’s REALLLLLY cold! I could be sitting in the warmest place in the house and my hands will still be cold! So me having to stick my already really cold hands into such cold water is not pleasant. Now imagine having to do this for a full 8 hour day… BAD! Well, really it was only like 4 hours and then we came up with a better way (for me) to do it. But for those torturous 4 hours, I was pretty convinced I might lose my hands! HA HA

What you have to do is… There is a person on each side of the stack. I was on the back side and Adam was on the front. We each have a water diverter that we hook onto the stack because we want any nasty eggs or “bunk,” as we call it, to just fall on the ground. Otherwise, they will fall into the trough, which will then go into the incubator underneath it. Then we have to take off the fry gate. This is just a screen that lets the water pass through it at a certain level but keeps the fish from getting out. These gates are connected by two wing nuts, which end up causing problems later on. So you unscrew these wing nuts and you tip the screen down slowly so the water spills out but doesn’t RUSH out and pull fish or eggs out with it. You are now ready to pull the screen out. Each person has a little tool that looks a bit like a screwdriver but comes to a point on the end and is bent so it acts as a hook. You just hook it through the screen and pull it up. Then, as you are holding the screen up, Adam would slide a pole underneath it to hold it up and he would slide the whole screen out on his side. Those eggs are weighed and recorded. Then comes the hard part… you have to put the fry gate back on but remember those tiny little wing nuts!? When you have frozen numb hands, the hardest thing to do is try to twist on these dumb things. I can’t even screw on a wing nut with my left hand when they are completely fine and now I have to try to screw one on with a frozen, numb hand. HA!

Anyhow, to make a long story short, we had 36 stacks to do… each stack had 5 screens. Do the math… 180 screens. And your hands are basically useless after 2 stacks! Well, like I said before, we ended up figuring out an easier faster way to do this. I was really slow at taking off and putting on the dumb fry gate so Adam took one for the team and only did his screen and managed to get the screen out without me having to pull my side up. That way, I got to wear gloves to keep my hands dry. Sadly, after a while in incubation, even with gloves, my dumb hands would still get cold! STORY OF MY LIFE! Does poor circulation run in our family? Because Adam and I are always talking about how my hands and feet are constantly cold.

Finally we finished that crappy job up, but then we had to get the net out of the lagoon. I won’t even go into that because it’s boring but it did mean we had to be over on the OTHER side of the lagoon… aka BEAR TERRITORY. Which will lead me into another topic of this blog, which will be titled…


They are EVERYWHERE! They are really starting to get desperate now for food. The other morning I saw a bear up on the stairs to our big walk-in cooler near the spawning shed. That’s where people keep their deer when they shoot one and there was one in there. The bear didn’t get in or anything, but he sure wanted to. Then when we were working on the lagoon net (and I was fearing for my life on the BEAR side), we saw a bear walking around on-site during the daylight. Just walking around… almost in front of the shop door. We were like “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? IT’S DAYLIGHT!” A little bit later, still on the bear side, we saw a bear walk up right in front of Adam’s house. We were thinking “Hopefully it doesn’t get spooked because it would probably run right over the weir and right into US!” Thankfully no bears decided to visit us. If they are on-site that much during daylight, you can only imagine how much they are on-site after dark (which is like 3:45 these days! SAD!) So I dread walking over to Adam’s house after dark. The other day, we were walking over and he was just saying how I always walk on the inside (on the round pond side of him instead of the lagoon side). I said back that it was because it was scary in that one certain dark spot and it made me feel safer when we hear a bear running away from us ON MY SIDE between the round ponds. GAH scares the crap out of me! I’ll be real happy when they are gone for the winter but I have a feeling I’ll be gone before them.


So yeah I know, it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted. Last time I did, we had just started picking eggs. So we finished that… then waited a few days, then started seeding the Takatz eggs into the R48s. I can’t even remember how long this took but it felt like it took a while… and we finished last Friday. Really it was only a few days though… But I was frustrated and tired of work at the end of the day Friday. We had to put these plates on top of the last layer and it was just a pain. Some of them didn’t fit… It was a pain and Adam was getting frustrated which was making me frustrated. I was ready to tell Scott that I didn’t want to work this week and that I was done… but I decided to just keep on working. Low and behold, the crappiest job was still ahead of us! Adam and Steve took the hatch screens out of the first 12 stacks that we seeded a few weeks ago and I did help but I was the egg weigher. I knew we would have to do this job but I said to myself that I’d be the egg weigher again and it would be ok. NOT! Anyhow, you know the rest of that one.

We had a potluck Thanksgiving but… something just didn’t feel right to me. I’ve spent Thanksgiving away from home a lot but this felt different. Maybe it was because I sat around all day and then we had dinner later around 7. That was probably it.

Adam shot his first deer a week ago or so. I wasn’t with him but I watched during the skinning and cutting up process. That was interesting I guess. I didn’t help too much but there wasn’t much for me to do really. He’s pretty good at it all. Yesterday we ate some steak from that deer and it was GREAT! Adam said it was one of the best he’s had. Didn’t even taste like deer… I sure hope the bear, who ended up pulling the grill off the porch last night enjoyed the leftover taste of the deer too! It’s just a little grill but the bear (for the 2nd time) took the actual grill part off somewhere… now we are going to have to go hunting for it.

SO… work is over. Now I’m bored… HA HA! I’m trying to figure out Christmas stuff and just making myself crazy really! Adam and I leave the hatchery next Wednesday (Dec. 5th) but we, unfortunately, have to spend about 5 days in Sitka before we leave for Mexico. So for once, we are hoping for a delayed Wednesday flight! Maybe it will come a day later and we will have a day less in Sitka to sit around. Anyhow, so December 10th we leave… December 17th we get back. On the 19th, he heads back to the hatchery… and I head back home to you guys! I’m excited really… for Mexico AND for home! So I’m not sure if I’ll write another blog before I leave. And once I get back, what’s the point of writing really because I’ll be home and can talk to all of you in person. SOOOOO… this blog will be the last until next season probably.

By the way, the weather today is BEAUTIFUL! But I think it's the calm before the storm. It's suppose to get really cold this weekend and we will probably get some snow. Actually I haven't even been outside today... but I have a feeling it's really cold because there is STILL frost on the ground (and it's 3:30!).

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY – To all my readers, thanks for reading! Tune back in in February! :-)

Monday, November 5, 2007

The 1st of many?

We had snow today... it snowed all day actually but we got probably less than an inch. Now everything looks quite pretty. I wasn't looking forward to the snow but to be honest, it makes it easier to see the bears at night and makes everything brighter so it's alright.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Anyhow, today we also started to pick chum eggs. It's a long process of sitting in front of the pickers picking out any bad eggs that may come through. All day.... I spent most of the day siphoning eggs from an incubator, running unpicked eggs to the pickers, running picked eggs back and dumping them into another incubator. Besides that, there really isn't much else to it.

This weekend we "shocked" eggs in a bunch of incubators. We lifted one incubator up with this big crane and basically siphoned them down into another incubator. At the end of the siphon is a metal plate that the eggs bounce off. According to Adam, this breaks up the protein in any bad eggs and turns them white.

I guess there isn't much else to say.... last week was Halloween, but that was postponed until Saturday (by the trick or treaters) Josh and Brandy and the two kids did come around on Halloween though. Tytus, their 2 year old, was a skeleton and their little baby was in a pepper costume but he was wrapped up and you couldn't really see it very well. Cute though. Then Saturday came around and we got the rest of the trick or treaters...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

'Nough said!

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - Happy Belated 90th Birthday to Grandma Moser!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bear Paranoia

Today I’ve been walking around in a “There’s an attacker on the loose in my neighborhood” kinda mood. By “my neighborhood” I mean “Hidden Falls” and by “attacker” I mean an angry mama and her 3 little furry accomplices. Last night, Muttley, Dan and Deena’s dog… the tall black and white dog” got attacked by the Mama bear who has the three cubs. Muttley is ok but he got bit in the head and neck… Deena took him to town today on the plane so they could see the vet… he had a bandage around his head so I didn’t see the full extent of the damage but you could see that one side of his face was swollen and he had some bite marks on the top of his head. Poor dog… he just looked sad and very subdued... very un-Muttley-like. I don’t really know the full story but I know Deena was taking him out and the bear and cubs were up on the hill somewhere around her house. Well, Muttley is the “bear dog” on site and will whine/bark/howl and chase any bear he sees. I know Muttley slipped his rope… and the bear charged. I’m guessing in that order but I’m not sure. So I’m hoping the bear was just feeling very threatened and that’s why she attacked… I just hope she isn’t turning real ornery and ready to attack anything!

So yeah, today I was very paranoid! Usually when I have to feed in the back, I’m always a bit paranoid because the bears show up in the boneyard a lot or are walking around in the forest which is right against the back round ponds. Also, there aren’t many fish to catch anymore so they are hanging out at the fish ladder which is full of Coho trying to get up (spawning hasn’t happened for Coho yet.) Angie said that the mama and 3 cubs have been hanging out there a few times a day lately… even during the day when people are walking around. So add that plus Muttley getting attacked by her plus me having to walk to the back round ponds to feed and I was a bit… nervous! Thankfully, I didn’t really see them today… I guess I DID technically though. I was looking for Adam this morning to ask something about the back and thought maybe he went to the dock. Well I walked up by the front round ponds to see if I could see over there and couldn’t really but I spotted a bear walking around down there. Adam said it was her with the cubs so it’s good I didn’t go walking over there! This afternoon, though, I was walking out of the back shed and took my time looking around for anything at the door when a bear came walking down the hill from the hydro buildings. It was about 30 feet away… right in the path I would have been taking. I grabbed the door and pulled it sort of closed so he didn’t see me (not that I needed to… got scared!), he took a pit stop at the fish ladder and walked through the boneyard and disappeared into the weeds.

ANYHOW, enough about bears… I would like to thank the US Government for keeping their promise to me to get me my passport in 2 weeks (not that I need it NOW!) I received it today… YAY. Melissa, I also received the Halloween package you sent me! THANKS! :-) I got movies today too! It was a good mail day… though it could have been made better if my Cosmo magazine would have come! HA HA OH, Adam told me that Scott said I could work THROUGH the month of November if I wanted… since I’ll be staying until December. So that’s cool. That will add an extra two weeks onto my paycheck. YAY

This past Tuesday and Wednesday we did egg transfers. Along with all of our chum eggs, we take chum eggs for the Deep Inlet project at Medveije (it’s a similar project to Takatz). So there were 9 R48s full of eggs that needed to get moved to Medveije which is in Sitka… Not something you can just pop into the mail and fly them over to them. So Medveije’s manager, Lon, came over in a big boat to transfer them. He showed up around 6pm (so we only worked the morning that day and then took off until 6) We had pipes running from a big box in the incubation room all the way down to the dock… basically set up the same way as when we pipe fish into net pens. We siphoned the eggs from the R48s into this big box which was full of water and we caught them down at the dock. First we put them into small mesh baskets that had wet burlap in them (they were rectangle baskets but were probably about a bushel in size) The eggs can stay out of water for a while, as long as they are kept moist, hence the wet burlap. So we filled baskets full with eggs, covered them up with the sides of the burlap, put a wooden cover over them, and then stacked them on a pallet. Once we were out of baskets, we started filling up fish totes. The fish totes are plastic and insulated (I think) but are about the size of big bulk boxes like for apple picking. I think we filled like 8 totes… plus all the baskets… and a few coolers (yeah like beer coolers). That was Tuesday night and there were still like 3-1/2 incubators of eggs left, which they did on Wednesday night. Adam and I weren’t working Wednesday (“celebrating” Alaska Day). Anyhow, we were working in the dark down on the dock (and in incubation depending what you were doing) until about 9. On Wednesday, I think they started at like 10 or 11pm even! I asked Adam if there was really a reason to start so late, but he said no. I thought maybe it was because the eggs were supposed to be in darkness but he said it doesn’t matter… we just started late because the boat takes a while to get here. Then they have to go back to Medveije and immediately unload and deal with the eggs.

Well, that’s that folks. I think that about covers everything for this installment. Even though this was long, there isn’t that much going on here right now. We spent a while cleaning out the PVC room this week… which means it’s a slow time! :-) Still no snow on the ground. But here’s a picture of the snow up on the mountain… I took it the other day. Hopefully you can differentiate the snow covered mountains from the sky.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

OH YEAH and the best part of the week… I made Grandma Czuba’s special fruit salad… mmmmm! It’s fabulous! Comfort food from home! :-) Adam likes it too.

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - To Melissa, thanks for the mail!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mexico, here I come!

Hey everyone!

It's been sort of a crazy odd week so sorry for the lack of posting. I went into town last Wednesday to Friday... ended up going back on Monday and stayed until Wednesday. As most of you know, I was trying to get a passport, but my birth certificate arrived too late so I had to go back. Anyhow, that's done... WHEW! (More on the trip later...) That took about 20 minutes on Monday and then I was left to wonder what the heck I was going to do for the next two days in town! Tim was in town (he worked at HF this summer... left to work at Salmon Lake) Well he asked me if I wanted to go out there to Salmon Lake for a bit and check it out... help them out a bit. So I decided "ehh what the heck!"

The Salmon Lake project is another thing run by NSRAA.... something about the efficiency of their weir. Anyhow, they drive a boat from Medveije Hatchery (which is on the very edge of Sitka) to some land near Salmon Lake. Then they have to hike about a mile to get to their camp. That doesn’t sound TOO bad until you realized… OHH that means they hike in their groceries or whatever they need at camp. They have been building a new camp out their meaning… they have had to hike in LUMBER TOO! Crazy… So I helped Tim hike in their groceries and whew… my back hurt a little afterward. It’s a pretty primitive site… the Takatz house is nicer than their camp. (By the way, we are getting a new Takatz house/barge and WOW, it’s gonna be HUGE and super nice! I’m excited!) Tim and Glenn showed me around a bit… the site is on a stream but you have to drive a little bit to get to Salmon Lake. We checked out the Forestry Service cabin that is out there and hung out a bit. They did some “recapture” studies… aka they fished a bit. If they caught a fish that wasn’t tagged, they tagged it and measured its length. If it was tagged, they recorded the tag number. Well I spent the night there and tried not to freeze (I didn’t exactly have the right clothing for staying out there… since I wasn’t expecting to go.) Glenn had to work at Medveije the next morning so I headed back there with him in the morning and just hung out in town for the rest of the day. So that was interesting.

Wednesday I headed back to the hatchery, helped unload all the groceries, and then jumped into work again (I got back about 1.) They were “seeding” the eggs in the incubation room. Last week, I think it was, we seeded the “Late Large” eggs. That was 12 incubators… Wednesday they did 18 incubators of the normal Hidden Falls eggs. The “Late Large” eggs are Hidden Falls eggs too but when we raise them, we are just going to keep them a bit longer and release them when they are a bit larger than the rest of the chum. These eggs are seeded into those metal stacked incubators… the “No-Pads” which are the ones that have 5 boxes stacked on each other. In each box (a while back), we put biorings, the substrate, and then we put this screen on top. The screen covers the whole box and we pour the eggs onto that screen. Then, when the fish hatch, the fish can fit thru the holes in the screen and settle down into the substrate, but the bad eggs that didn’t hatch are still left on top. None of the eggs that go into the No-Pads need to be sorted. The only eggs that do need to be sorted are the eggs that will be put into the R48 incubators. Apparently we are going to be getting another row of No-Pads in the incubation room, which will accommodate about half of the Takatz Bay eggs. So technically, we will only have to sort half of the Takatz eggs. You might be sort of confused about the R48 thing. Right now all of the un-seeded eggs are IN R48s. Those are the blue incubators… half of the Takatz eggs will go BACK into R48s BUT when they go back in there, the eggs will be separated into layers. Right now, the R48s are completely full of eggs… top to bottom. When they go back in, we’ll put down a layer of substrate and pour some eggs in, then but a really small meshed screen to separate the layer and repeat. I think there will be 5 layers. WHEW… sorry if that was confusing!? Lemme know if that even made sense and if you understand or if I’m just writing JIBBERISH!? :-)

Alright, so that is some of what is going on at the hatchery. We are still feeding Coho, which are in freshwater and will be all winter long. Tuesday, I think, they transferred the Chinook from freshwater out to the saltwater pens, where they will stay until we release them next season. Those are the fish that will be like 6 inches long by the time they are released. They are cool. We have some new faces here now too. Steve, who is the guy who arrived in Sitka the same day as me way back in February and was working for Medveije, is now in charge of the Chinook. Lora, his wife, is here too, but she is only working some because she is pregnant. Soon we will have a NEW LITTLE face too… But speaking of NEW LITTLE faces… we DO have one! Brandy, who is Josh’s wife, had her baby at the beginning of the month and arrived back on Saturday. He’s a cute little guy!

Well, I guess that’s about it for the hatchery happenings. Weather happenings… yesterday Adam looked out the window and was like “WHOA! Lots of snow!” Well he meant up on the mountain! The snow has officially reached the tree level. It’s still high up there but doom is coming. :-) Though I think Adam prayed for snow last night because he’s a hunter and snow means the deer will come down the mountain. Well thankfully, he DIDN’T get his wish. Still no snow on the ground BUT… I walked outside and there was frost. There is still frost on the ground at noon. It’s quite chilly out too so yeah… boo snow!

Well, I talked about the passport thing and most of you know what that’s all about. A trip… I decided I wanted to go on a trip and yesterday it became final! YAY… Adam and I booked a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for December. We found this hotel and it looked cool but when we got back from town the first time (me without a passport), it ended up being all booked up for the dates we wanted. Well, we ended up deciding that we still wanted to go there so we had to push the dates back. So we’re going from December 10th – 17th. I know it’s late…but I’ll be home for Christmas and then probably until early February but I’m still not positive yet. Anyhow, here’s the hotel… we got an all-inclusive package so food and crap is included. Should be fun! :-)


I think that’s all for now… yesterday was Alaska Day and everyone got the day off. Since Adam and I were already off, we get Monday off to “celebrate.” Anyhow, guess that’s it. BYE!

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY – uhh… yeah I got nothing! Sorry.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The end is in sight.. and winter.

Alright this is going to be short but I felt the need to share something... it feels like a small milestone in my life. Yesterday I payed off one of my two student loans. Granted, it was a very small loan in comparison to the big ol loan I still have left. But it feels good. :-) I'll still be paying that other loan for the next oh... 12 years of my life, but now I only have to pay ONE loan. The end is in sight... sort of!?

Oh yeah, winter is in sight too. BOO! Adam set a long line yesterday and when we went to pull it, he pointed out that there is fresh snow up on one of the mountain peaks. It's like 4000 feet up there but still... eventually that will come down here. Thought I'd share that too. By the way, he did get his halibut he wanted on the long line. It was about a 50-60 pounder.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

OH RIGHT... I DO live in a rainforest!

Can you all believe it’s October already!? That’s crazy… well it sure FEELS like October here. It’s begun to cool off ALOT… BOO! The temperatures are in the low 50s… and OH YEAH, that’s right, I DO live in a temperate rainforest. I was starting to wonder why it has been raining so darn much! We get rain almost every day… except last Thursday when it was really nice on my day off. This morning, as I was feeding fish, I was wishing that I put on my hat because it felt pretty cool. Oh well… comes with the territory I guess.

Well, let me really start out with a bear story. Last night I was making dinner when Adam looked out the window and said there was a bear right out there... like RIGHT under his porch. It was a higher tide too so it was up higher on the rocks. Usually we see them across the lagoon, but this guy just seemed a lot closer. Well we thought it was this bear that had been lurking around during the day so we went out on the porch to look closer. It had moved over to the side and was partially covered by branches so we stood there until it moved back over. It ended up being the momma bear with 3 cubs. Usually she is very skiddish and runs off as soon as she sees anyone no matter the distance. Initially, she must not have seen us as she started to walk closer because she didn’t run… but then she saw us and she started to run off a little... Something in her must have suddenly felt threatened because right as I was running off (I just felt like she was going to run up the hill and eat us!) I heard her growl. Adam said she sorta false charged and stood up on the pipe that is right down there. She was probably 10 feet away, but below us. It was kinda crazy... a little cool... a little freaky! :-D I was shaking a bit afterward... but not so much because of fear. Just because the whole thing was crazy. WE GOT GROWLED AT BY A BEAR! :-D

Anyhow, I told mom that story in an email right after it happened and she wrote me back with some questions about bears, so I’ll answer them here. Ok actually, after looking back at the questions, I’m not even sure the answers, so I’ll talk about the bears that I see here. Maybe that will answer the questions for you Mom.

As I said in the last blog probably, there are more bears coming on site. Not just across the lagoon… but ON SITE. Usually it is just at night and we don’t run into any. On Sunday, I think, I went to the back to feed the fish in the green round ponds. Well right next to the ponds is the raceway that we put all of the adult Coho in for spawning, which I talked about last blog, but there is a fence keeping the fish from jumping out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t keep the bears from going IN! The fence was constructed in piece so it can be taken out easily, but when it got put in, the panels weren’t connected. So when I get there in the morning, one of the panels was swung out into the raceway… another panel was completely in the water (it was a long panel too!), and the crowder (it’s a fence in the water to crowd fish toward the front) is all off kilter. It was interesting! Now they have installed an electric wire around that whole area hoping to keep the bears away. According to Adam, the fence works… on humans atleast! :-)

That same day, Adam and I were out doing the last feeding and I saw a bear across the lagoon, but right at the weir. A few minutes later, I saw Adam walking in that direction laughing. It was a higher tide and I guess the bear walked across the weir, which was under water, and was real close to the round ponds (the round ponds I was feeding, by the way!) Well, we have these things called “Bird Bangers” which are used to scare birds away. It’s kinda like a firework shooting out of it. Well Adam’s aim was great because it exploded about 2 inches from the bear’s butt, because it had turned to run at the first little bang! It was really funny!

The next day, I was walking to the back round ponds and I saw a bear on the little road that goes to the boneyard (he area behind the round ponds… basically where I saw that bear that first time when I was feeding in the back, when I almost had a heart attack!). Made me stop and watch but he was just walking around… about the same size as the other one but I don’t know if it was the same. A few minutes later, I walked into the spawning shed and said to Deena there was a bear back there, when I saw it’s head pop up again back there. You could tell it was thinking about walking up to the round ponds. Adam went to get a bird banger and shot at it. The bear freaked out and had to jump over some big PVC to get up into the trees, but after it jumped over, it didn’t even run away. That was probably the same bear that got into the raceway… and will probably be the bear to cause the problems. We’ll see…….

The time has come to start dealing with some of the eggs. Last week Adam was setting up all the egg pickers. EGG PICKERS? Yes… some of the eggs will get sorted by these egg picking machines. I’ll get into which eggs get sorted at a later date. Yesterday and today we worked with what we call the Zero-Check Chinook eggs. “Zero-check” has something to do when they are released as fish… don’t really know. Anyhow, yesterday we “shocked” them. Not really “shocked” with electricity… We siphoned the eggs out of the incubator and bounced them off this little wall. The impact should cause the bad eggs to turn a creamy color. Today, we “picked” them. Once you get the machine dialed in right, the machines pick almost perfect. You just have to stand there and watch… fill the hopper with more eggs… pick out random bad eggs. The machine we used today has a wheel with holes. Water pushes an egg into each hole. As it goes around, a laser reads if it’s a bad egg (cream colored). If it is, a puff of air pushes it out and into the bad basket. If it’s good, it continues around and gets pushed out by air into the good basket. It’s kinda cool.

The first time I saw the eggs up close (which was last week) I was almost… mesmerized! That sounds weird… you are probably thinking “Ok. I don’t get mesmerized when I see chicken eggs!?” Well, you see these eggs in the incubator… they look just like they did when you put them in. But when you get them out and look at them up close… THERE’S A LITTLE FISH IN THERE! You see black dots inside which are the eyes. You can see a vein… I couldn’t stop looking at them. And they are super tough! You would think you have to be real gentle with them… but I squeezed one of the bad eggs between my fingers with all my might and it didn’t pop! It did on the second try, but they are tough little buggers! When we were cleaning up today, there were some eggs on the table so I was playing with them. This is going to sound morbid, but I cut one opened and literally… a little fish! It kinda just looks like a little worm with big black eyes, but it moves and everything! I was kind of amazed… didn’t realized it would be like that.

**NOTE** I wrote all that last night… now it’s Wednesday…

So the eggs were all “picked.” Then we had to “seed” them. That just means to put them into the incubators. We had like 4 full baskets of eggs and I just took a colander (yeah… I really mean a kitchen strainer… like for noodles!), scooped out some eggs and put them into a different metal basket which was on a scale. We weighted out a certain amount and then they go into the incubators. Remember, a while back I talked about Bio-rings? The fake substrate… well the eggs are poured into the tray and there are bio-rings in it too. So when the fish hatch, they can basically feel like they are in their natural environment.

Well……. I think that’s about it? I wrote most of this last night but didn’t finish it. So when I said “last night” or “yesterday” I really mean Monday… “today” means Tuesday. It probably doesn’t matter that much really… sorry if it’s all confusing! It’s lunchtime here so I’ll go do that. Sorry, I don’t really have any pictures for you.

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY – I have a few for a change!

** To Mom, Congratulations on being named the Ambassador of the Year for the Miss Southwest Program! That’s great!

** To Dad and Lee, Happy Anniversary!!

** To Tommy, I hear the band is doing great this year! Keep it up!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I got nothin....

Alright Alright… I know it’s been a while. I don’t wanna hear it! :-)

It’s my “weekend” right now… and it’s felt like the longest week ever. I don’t really know why.

Last weekend, Adam and I decided to go for a hike. On the way up, I was pretty sure it was going to be the death of me! Man, I felt so out of shape. I guess I didn’t think it was going to be as hard as it was. So from the hatchery, we hiked up the trail to the lake right above the hatchery… the “lower lake.” There are stairs up most of it, which is good because it was pretty muddy. Sadly, my lungs were burning after about 5 minutes… it felt pretty rough, but we reached the lower lake. It was a pretty short hike up there actually. This is the lake that the “Hidden Falls” waterfall falls from.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This is the view of the hatchery from the lower lake level. There is this hydro building to my left (I’m standing on a little hill right above it) and the waterfall is on the other side of that. I’ve seen this view in a picture before but never seen it firsthand… it was pretty cool.

So then we took this little boat that is up there across the lower lake to where there is another trail. By “trail,” I mean an area that looks like a glacier left a path of rocks between overgrown brush. Oh, and did I mention it looked like it was straight up!? Yeah… some big rocks… some loose small rocks that would fall or move if you stepped on them wrong. That’s part of the reason I thought I might die! The other part was when my lungs felt like they were going to explode! Anyhow, we finally made it up the rock part, but then we had to go up through the trees... then we had to go up some overgrowth which thankfully, some hiker tied a big long rope so you could hang on to that. It was pretty muddy and steep! I thought it would never end… but finally we made it to the upper lake. It was small but kind of cool.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The upper lake...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This is the view on the way down from the upper lake. That's the lower lake and Chatham Strait in the background. (Make the picture bigger... it's better)

Then we had to go ALL THE WAY BACK DOWN! The rope part was easy… I think I slid down on my butt most of the way down the tree part cause it was muddy… and I was pretty sure I would die on the way down the rocks! I took that really slow because I’m not too good on slippery wet rocks. Plus, Adam was below me so I didn’t want to send rocks careening down at his head! Finally, that was done and we were back in the boat.

When we got back to the area where the boat was, Adam said we had to put the motor back in the hydro building, so we drove closer to the building, which meant driving close to where the waterfall starts. Ok so it didn’t just DROP OFF like Niagara Falls or anything, but I could just envision losing control of the boat and AHHHHHHH! I’m sure you can picture what I was picturing. It was fine though. So all and all, I didn’t die. And I saw some cool scenery from way up high. I guess it was alright after all.

So what else… the weather has been nice and CRAPPY lately. Lots of rain… a few days with rain AND wind. That’s no fun… Yesterday we started to work with the Coho for their spawning. Remember we did Chum and Chinook, but I said the Coho spawning was later on. Well it’s still not for a while but we were sorting them and stuff. Here’s what we did… so there are 4 raceways back there. Two of them we got fish in there from the fish ladder, just like we did for all the other spawning. We would get a load of fish in the shock box and bring them up live and kickin… no shocking. Because that would kill them, and we aren’t using them for spawning RIGHT yet… so they come up alive and we slide them across the table into a big box about the size of wood box like for apple picking, except it’s a plastic box. This box was filled with water and a solution of alcohol and clove oil, which basically puts the fish to sleep for a little bit. Then we move the tote over to the other two raceways and start sorting. We had to count all the fish that we put in each raceway. Most of the females got injected with some medicine to treat them for some disease… some of them didn’t though. A lot of the males were too small so we threw them out… it was a lot of fish freaking out and getting you wet… dipping your hands into FREEZING COLD WATER and them staying wet because you had cotton gloves on so you could hold the fish. You know what was kinda fun in a “chaos-in-action” kinda way, though, was sliding the fish into the tote from the shock box. That was sorta fun… CRAZY but fun. Because the fish were FREAKIN OUT and there are a bunch of them all at the same time.

Well, now it is my weekend and today the weather has been really nice but cool. Adam and I set a long line, which we are going to pull up in about an hour. Well see what we catch. OH, last weekend (the real weekend when it was just Adam and I working) I was pulling up a weight that was in the water on the Chinook pens and there was this weird thing on it that fell off onto the deck. When I gave it a closer look, it was this really cool fish! I still have to look it up and figure out what it is but it looks like it would be a tropical fish and kind of like a puffer fish. It was green-ish and sorta spikey. We kept it in a bucket and Adam kept changing out its water but at the dock today, I saw that it had died. So we are going to put it in a jar and some alcohol to preserve it and see if it works. I tell ya, it looks like it is straight out of Finding Nemo or something! It’s VERY CUTE! I tried to get a good picture of it but it didn’t very well. Adam sorta got one on his camera though.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It's pretty small... fits in the palm of my hand. CUTE RIGHT!?

Anyhow, that’s all I’ve got for ya!


So we identified that our super cute little fish is a Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker. Not that you all will know it but it's a cool name. Also, we pulled the long line and yeah... lame. We got 2 shortnose Skates, kinda like a stingray... a little halibut... a Pacific cod... and THIS...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
It's a Yelloweye Rockfish. Actually I'm pretty sure I've shown a picture of one of these before but it wasn't of me holding it. It was probably like 12 pounds. These are my favorite... orange of course. He got kind of pale right before this but it was alot brighter orange. Kinda like a big goldfish right? They are cool!

SHOUT OUT OF THE WEEK – Thanks for the card Uncle Eddie, Aunt Stacy, Tommy and Sarah. :-D

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The 3 Little Bears

Here are the bear picture I promised... the triplets. Their mom is across the water eating a fish...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Friday, September 14, 2007

In the 24th year...

Hey everyone!

First I want to say thanks for all the Birthday Wishes! I’ve gotten a lot of cards and emails and even some gifts from a lot of you so thanks!

I had the day off on my birthday, which was nice. For a change, the weather was really nice. Even though it’s gotten a lot cooler these days, the sun was shining and felt warm. Adam and I went out on his boat. He fished… I read… the usual. Then we came back and I made dinner for some people. I know, that’s backwards. I heard that from every single person! But I just didn’t want people asking me what they wanted to have made FOR me, so I made food for them! Adam made me a cake too so we ate that and watched a new Netflix movie that I got, which we were all pretty excited to see. It was Blades of Glory. It just came out like a week ago and I was really excited to get it. If you are ever in the need for a pretty goofy, stupid humor movie… that’s the one! It’s about 2 male figure skaters who get kicked out of male’s skating, but end up pairing together so they can compete in PAIRS skating. It was so funny! There were 8 of us watching it so it was so much funnier too. Kinda like you were in a movie theater.

Anyhow, really nothing has been going on here. It’s been a slow week with mostly boring jobs. The other day we had a REALLY boring job. There was this thing in the water that is used to contain an oil spill shall it happen… it’s plastic and has some foam to keep it floating but there’s a sheet of plastic that hangs under the surface like 8 feet… and this thing is atleast a few football fields long! I have a feeling you are like "HUH!? I don’t get it." But that’s the best I can do for you! Anyhow, we had to pull this thing out of the water and get all of the growth off of it. It’s been in the water for like a year and it’s covered in mussels, sea urchins, starfish, tunicates, MUSSELS! The mussels were the hard part but it took forever. It was so heavy so the Case loader needed to be used to pull it… then we scraped everything off with shovels… then attempted to pile it and all it’s FOOTBALL FIELDS OF LENGTH onto this giant frame of old railroad ties that Adam made. Finally we got it all piled on, but when Adam went to pick it up with the loader, one of the ties broke. We had to create some other frame and maneuver it underneath… it was a major pain, but I found some cool sea creatures to add to my collection! Sea urchins are pretty cool. And a few more starfish.

Well, today has been a pretty lazy day. I guess the highlight of my day was getting to hold and pet this little dog. HA OK so the tagging crew is here from Sitka to tag the Coho. Well, one of the girls brought this dog she just got… a miniature Pincher! Yeah we made fun of it a lot, especially when she put this corny pink sweater on it the other day. Well yesterday I finally got it to let me pet it. Today I was petting it for a while as it was sitting in it’s little basket and she said I could pick it up. So I did. It really is kinda cute, despite the fact it shivers almost constantly and was a little twitchy yesterday! But I held it for a while, which was sorta amusing.

The rest of the day… I pretty much did nothing! Adam and I have been watching my Season 1 and 2 DVDs of Grey’s Anatomy (and I just ordered the 3rd season a few days ago! YAY!) Well, he’s never watched the show before but now he’s hooked! *EVIL GRIN* So we watched the last 2 episodes of Season 2 today. Now we are all bored and don’t have anything to watch until the new ones come. I made some apple crisp today too… turned out good!

So, it’s back to work tomorrow. You guys will be reading this as I am out in the miserable weather that we are going to be having. Currently, the wind is HOWLING outside… no joke. It started this afternoon and will continue for a few days… conveniently on the days no one else but Adam and I are working! NICE, thanks Mother Nature! GRR… Our major weekend duty is to feed the Chinook and Coho which are now all out in the round ponds out front with some Coho in the back round ponds. Should be nasty so leave me lots of fun comments to come back and read!

Well I guess I don’t really have much else to write… here are a few pictures I took the other day of the triplet cubs which were underneath Adam’s deck last week. They are SO cute! **OK Pictures will have to wait until the internet is working good... it's because of the weather!**

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY – To all of you who wished me a Happy Birthday!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Kickstart your heart...

So it's Saturday... but really it's my new "Monday." Branden and Sarah are gone :-( so Adam and I have become the new "weekend crew." Because Adam and I were playing some goofy 1984 Nintendo game on his computer until 11:15 last night, I was a bit tired this morning. But it was fun...;-) Hey Valerie and Steven, remember Alfred Chicken on Gameboy!? We now have that game on computer... it's SWEET! But that's not the game we were playing.

Well, our main job for the weekends is to feed fish. I was working in the back with the Coho, feeding 14 ponds, 5 times a day. Well first feeding, I'm going about my business, feeding, when I catch a glimpse that kickstarted my heart! Straight in front of me about 40 feet is a bear walking up the road. Now, I'm not saying this was a close call by any means. But until today, the bears have always been across the lagoon... or some sort of water seperating us. Seeing one on the same dirt I am standing on made my heart jump a little bit! I kind of had a feeling I'd see one on-site today. Like I said, bears are on-site more lately and I know they walk up and down that road alot... and considering the back round ponds are surrounded by the woods, it means a fair chance of bears! Anyhow, I see it, my heart jumps and my first response was "ooooooh... muh god!" :-D It was slowly meandering down the road away from me, but I wanted it to go away a little faster. So I kinda whistled and it sorta heard but didn't do much... then it must have heard something else because it turned and looked behind it, up toward the hydro building on the hill. It stopped and looked pretty curiously... then took off running in a cute "I'm a fat bear way." :-D HA HA Anyhow, I wasn't really worried it would eat me or anything... just that initial "HOLY CRAP!" feeling. But it made me a little paranoid the rest of the day... I'm always a bit paranoid back there anyhow. Worrying that a bear will come walking down the hill right into the back ponds...

Back to feeding fish...Man, I feel like it's been forever since I've fed some fish... my left arm is a little weak feeling from carrying a bucket but it sure makes the day go faster! The day seemed super fast.

Well, really, that's all I wanted to post. Can you believe it's September already!? CRAZY! Oh, I'm going to leave you with a funny little... poem-type thing. Tim's mom sent it to him via snail mail but I typed it up. It's cool.

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - To Dad, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Yeah you can expect a little card from me but... umm... expect it in a few days! Sending mail from Hidden Falls really gives "Snail Mail" it's meaning! ;-) Love you!


The other day, someone at a store in our town read that a
Methamphetamine lab had been found in an old farmhouse
in the adjoining county and he asked me a rhetorical question,

“Why didn’t we have a drug problem when you and I were
growing up?”

I replied: I had a drug problem when I was young: I was
Drug to church on Sunday morning, I was drug to church for
weddings and funerals.

I was drug to family reunions and community socials no
matter the weather. I was drug by my ears when I was
disrespectful to adults.

I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents,
told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak
with respect, spoke ill of the teacher or the preacher, or if I
didn’t put forth my best effort in everything that was asked
of me.

I was drug to the kitchen sink to have my mouth washed out
with soap if I uttered a profane four-lettered word. I was drug
out to pull weeds in mom’s garden and flower beds and
cockleburs out of dad’s field.

I was drug to the homes of family, friends, and neighbors to
help out some poor soul who had no one to mow the yard,
repair the clothesline, or chop some firewood; and, if my
mother had ever known that I took a single dime as a tip for
this kindness, she would have drug me back to the woodshed.

Those drugs are still in my veins; and they affect my behavior
in everything I do, say, and think.

They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin; and, if
today’s children had this kind of drug problem, America would
be a better place.

Monday, August 27, 2007


So I don't really have anything to say but I was motivated to post some pictures because of the pictures I took about 30 minutes ago.

Really there's nothing new except for the fact I was woken up in the middle of the night two nights ago by a bear snorting and sorta growling and carrying on RIGHT OUTSIDE THE WINDOW! Kinda freaked me out. It was just sorta walking around and making a lot of noise but I'm not sure why. I was up for about 10 minutes... until I got over the fact that it PROBABLY won't break in... I'm not sure there was another bear out there provolking it or if it was just making alot of noise. They are starting to come around on-site alot more now since there isn't much other food to get elsewhere. The fish hang out here so hey...

OK Pictures...

First here is a picture from the spawning party...
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
MMMM... this is from the Saturday spawning party. I do have some picture from the Sunday party but they are umm... a bit... umm... embarrassing? scary? ha They were taken later on in the night so yeah... you understand.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
This picture is for Valerie. This is the Mama Bear and cub. It's hard to see the mom, but she's basically straight down from the cub but in the water... click it to see it bigger, maybe you can see her. It was really cute!

Alright, so these are the pictures that motivated me tonight. I was just walking up to Dan and Deena's house because Adam and Dan are up there making sausages again. And I saw this... and I ran back to get my camera. Of course it's one of those days where ALL of my batteries have about 30 seconds of life left in them. I managed to snap quite a few pictures and a few were really good.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
This was at 8:45pm. It sure is almost September now... it's getting darker earlier. BOO.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I must have used a different setting on my camera because it's blurrier but lighter...?

OK so these next 2 are taken about 6 minutes later because I ran inside to see if I could get different batteries and to tell Anna to come look. The moon is in a slightly different spot too. They are the same picture actually but I made the higher one lighter... the bottom one is the original one.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Awesome right!? I was awestruck... MOONSTRUCK, if you will!! :-D

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - Dad, I got your letter! I don't really know when it came though... the day we got the last flight, it wasn't in my box, but it was in my box today for some reason. THANKS... I laughed!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The happenings...

Alright, I am not just LAZY or TOO BUSY to write. This dumb blog site pissed me off the other day so I've been avoiding it. I had a whole big blog typed about the funny happenings of our spawning party and the past few days but then it deleted the whole thing! I was angry... but despite the anger, I was going to sit there and type it all again... well, an shortened version, and it did it again. Anyhow, I had part of it saved so here is the beginning of the post... (P.S. I did it again...)

*cue the post*

So things happen in the Real World that can be called a problem... or a crisis. The same goes for the Hidden Falls Bubble. A crisis in the Real World is like... Hurricane Katrina! A crisis in the Hidden Falls is...


In the Real World, this would only be considered a problem. But when everyone expects to get beer, they drink what beer they have to make room for the NEW beer. The Spawning Party (the biggest HF party of the year, by the way) was planned for Saturday because we didn't have to work Sunday either... People's personal beer should have arrived along with two kegs for the party. When the Friday plane came and no beer came, people went into CRISIS MODE! Someone called the plane company and apparently they had found the beer... so they were going to turn the pilot around with our beer when he got back. He never showed up that night again.


NO... BEER...! More calls were made to the plane company... a different lady was working and had no clue about the whole situation. For some reason, our beer seemed to have come up missing! So people were scrounging for beer, but ended up having SOME. See, everyone though on Friday night "OK the beer will come on Saturday so we'll be fine... let's drink everything else we have." Everyone was pretty crazed about it but a few of the guys ended up finding some beer in their closet (from a while ago)... the crappy liquor was being pulled off the shelves... It's amazing really what NO BEER can do to a party. It was a bit boring but we had some goooooood food! Usually they have a pig to roast over a fire and maybe a lamb too? But this year we just got a lamb... I guess they couldn't get a pig. And we had some pork roasts in Scott's smoker... lots of good stuff! The bugs were nasty... but we stood around around the roaster and played some games. Had a horseshoe tournament... a "Guess how many eggs are in the jar?" game...

(OK MY COMPUTER HATES ME TODAY BECAUSE IT JUST DELETED EVERYTHING I JUST WROTE... and I feel TOO lazy to write it all over... summerizing! Sorry, this is going to be lame.)


THE BEER CAME! Dan and Deena made venison ribs and we had corn too. Ate... drank... we played more games like the "chum toss" and a "distance bucking" competition. Adam ended up winning with like 20 feet something in distance for the bucking. And those chum are slippery to throw! Funniest was when Andy threw his and it went almost straight up in the air and hit the loader tractor 2 feet from him. Then we went back to drinking and standing around the firepit. The idea of settling a past bet came up between Adam and Jess (Jess lost a pool game and was supposed to jump off the dock, but didn't.) So they filled up a round pond and jumped in... along with Tim, his friend and cousin who are here, and Andy. It was funny.

*End of the original post*

So that's the basic jist of what happened. It's amusing how beer will make a party fun or not. Anyhow, Monday for work, most of us were umm... not moving too fast! Especially the few of them that stayed up until 4 in the morning, when work started at 8!

Yeah, so the other happenings at the hatchery... uhhh there's not that much. We're trying to finish up Chinook spawning. It's taking alot longer than normal... usually it lasts like 2 days... but I think we're going on 5? They just don't want to come up the ladder. Plus it's a slower process. We only take eggs from 315 fish I think it is, meaning we only need 630 fish total. They spawn one female and one male into a ziplock bag, then take kidney samples from these fish too. It's to test for some disease and they keep each pair seperate until they get the results. Plus the chinook can weigh up to like 30 lbs. so it's a bit different from chum spawning.

During the spawning, though, I've been working in the Roe Shed. I don't remember if I really explained this but the Roe Shed is where we take eggs (Roe) from all different species of fish that come up the ladder. So the sorters on the spawning table seperate the chinook to be spawned and also send all the female chum, coho, and pink salmon down a shoot to us in the shed (which is just right next to the spawning shed) and we take their eggs. So we fill buckets... then send them on a plane to Juneau to Northern Keta, a caviar processing place.

We spawned chinook a few days last week, then Monday, and also yesterday (Friday). I have been in the Roe Shed all of those days except that it was slow on Friday, and I was just being their "bucket girl," so I walked into the spawning shed to see what was going on really... just to save myself from some boredom. Well Scott said I could help out Adam with the little bags for the kidney samples... then he said Adam could show me how to take kidney samples. So I got to do that for a bit. They were almost done spawning because they didn't have that many fish, but I got to do a bunch still. It's kind of interesting... plus I got to see a bunch of the chinook they were spawning. Man, one of them that came through was so HUGE! I had to lift it up after I took the sample and put it down the grinder shoot and I struggled a tad.

Anyhow, what else... Tim and Jess, two of our seasonals that came in a few months ago, left on Wednesday. They were two of the really short time seasonals, whereas I was hired from Feb. - Nov. I'll miss both of them alot... especially Tim. He was a crazy funny guy! Ok, maybe even Jess, even though we really almost killed each other one day! It sure is quiet around here now though that those two are gone. Both of them on their own are loud, but put them together and they butted heads and argued alot... in a pretty funny way most of the time.

So yeah, speaking of Feb. - Nov. I know that last post, I worried a few of you when I said I had "an announcement." Some of you crazy fools though I was engaged... no. Or you thought I said I was never coming back. I guess time has sorta come for me to think about if I'm staying another season... and just to let you all know, I'm thinking about it. I haven't completely decided but just letting you know... don't freak out. :-) Engaged... GEEZ!

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - To Timmy and Jess, they don't read this... maybe they will...? But I'll miss ya guys. It was a fun time working with you guys! :-D

Monday, August 13, 2007

SO how strong is your stomach today?

OK before I get to how strong my stomach is, there's something more important to announce.

Yesterday, in the History of "Rebecca's stint in Alaska," was the warmest day of the year! Yeah I know... "so what... what does that mean!?"

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Yeah, that's not just some random number... that's the temperature! 73.1 degrees... that means shorts baby! I went out with Adam on his boat... he fished... I sat and read in my shorts and a tank top. Dan and Deena were out fishing right next to us... I watched them all for a bit. Have I told you all about the momma bear and her 3 cubs that have been around? I saw them again... they're CUTE though I haven't seen them close up. It was a fabulous afternoon... Know what was even more amazing!? We got off work early. I knew it was going to be a great shiny warm day right in the morning when I looked at my window thermometer and it read...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

HA Yeah... 80!? At 7:30am, that's not right. That's just real proof to me that thermometer doesn't really work... but yeah. We were in the spawning shed, just us weekend crew, working away at the chum when warm breezes kept blowing into the shed. We were listening to a fun CD... with warm breezes... I was bucking... and all I could help but think was "This is fun!" :-D he he he

SO... Yesterday was supposed to be the last day... but we ran out of fish... then today was supposed to be the last day... but we were short on fish... (Alot of chinook "King" salmon are coming up the ladder now so we were starting to keep them in one of the raceways, meaning we could only fish out of the other raceway.) Actually we've gotten a bunch of different kinds of salmon up the ladder. My favorites are the "humpies!" "THE WHAT!?" you say... the Humpies. The pink salmon... aka Humpies. Male pink salmon as they get ready to spawn grow a big hump on their back... they are pretty looking too.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
That's a humpie... Pink Salmon

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Chinook "King" Salmon... it's coloring was cool. We will be spawning them Thursday and Friday. Lemme tell ya! There are some HUUUUUGE ones coming up the ladder.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Chinook "King" Salmon... he was bigger than the last.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
It's cute right!? HA HA Shockingly, this is also a king salmon! Just a little tiny male.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Coho "Silver" Salmon These guys shouldn't be coming up the ladder already but we are getting a few. SO instead of them going down the grinder, they are still good to eat.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
This isn't a GREAT picture but it was the best of my attempts to get a picture of the crazy K-9 looking teeth that the male chum salmon grow. The other day when I was bucking, the males were acting all sorts of crazy and flipping themselves out of the shoot. Well TWICE I got hooked by some of these teeth, scratching my arms. Drawing BLOOD! EKK!

Alright... so spawning lasted only until 11am this morning. What else did we do? Well for an hour BEFORE lunch, we morted the lagoon.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Really there are no good pictures that can express this job... but here is one I took the other day. See, the chum that don't go up the ladder end up dying in the lagoon. Unfortunately, somehow alot of chum got BEHIND the net so they had no where to go. Because of these big teeth they have too, some tend to get wrapped up in the net and during a low tide, end up hanging from the net to bake in the sun! Most of the fish turn into mush basically... there's a boat we use in the lagoon to put the morts in and drive them over to the weir and let them just get flushed out the weir but... they've got to get IN the boat somehow right!? Today we had to lift up the net and get all the morts from behind it which were grouped up in the corner and up on shore... It's a puke-worthy job. I managed to hold it together, but a few of the other folks darn near almost lost it. Just breathe through your mouth and you are alright... try not to actually let the smell hit your nose! We did have some poker sticks to used but it was almost easier to just grab em by their tales with your hands. Gloves obviously! Plus, sometimes when you poke them with the stick, they pop... they don't exactly EXPLODE but some "juice" aka "crap you don't want spraying on you" comes out a little. It's not pretty! It's just all part of the hatchery job though... it's not just something we had to do this year. You know that smell when your dog rolls in something dead... that's what my rain pants smell like!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Some of the dead on the rocks underneath Adam's porch. Yeah... the smell of rotting chum wafts in the air around here. I wish I could bottle the smell and send you some! :-D You'd all love it!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
So I know it almost seems kind of cruel when you think about how we shock them and then whack them over the head and stuff... well I've said it before, they will end up dying anyhow if they were left to spawn naturally. See this chum... with the weird white coloring. It's still alive... this is how they start to look eventually. They basically start to fall apart... when we were morting today, I stabbed a fish with my stick that was actually still alive, but it looked like this... it's eyes were holes... they were just gone... I don't even know how it was still alive but it was. They are looking pretty nasty! Spawning for the past few days has been tough and slow also because alot of the eggs are going bad. They get hard... alot you just dump the whole set, alot you have to pick through. But they only have about 20 more buckets to get tomorrow and chum spawning 2007 is OVER. I say "they" because I'm off tomorrow! YAY!

Work will resume for me on Thursday when we will start chinook spawning. This should be really interesting because there are some MONSTER chinook! But actually, I will be working in the Roe Shed. "HUH!?" Yeah... roe = eggs. Deena and I are in charge of that and it's her day off on Thursday so she talked me through it today and I have to run it on my own! EKK! Anyhow, that's where we take roe for caviar. Just strip the eggs out of the fish into buckets... but we have to be very sanitary about it. The eggs will either be loose... just like when we take them to put them in the incubators or they could be "skeined." Despite all the nasty bad fish we are getting, we are still getting "green" fish, meaning they aren't ready to spawn. So when you cut the fish open, instead of the eggs just dumping out, they are still all connected together in almost a pouch-looking skin... so you put out two big lumps of eggs. They are kind of cool actually. That's Thursday and Friday, and then we have to SPAWNING PARTY on Saturday!! YAYYYYY!!! I hear it's a major thing... people who hear about it come out... people from other hatcheries... people from town... Lots of food... they roast a pig! I love parties out here! :-D

Well not much else to tell I guess... my wrist is feeling better but it's not perfect. Still hurts doing certain things. OH, last week they replaced that crazy little ramp at the dock so if I drive the pushcart off it, it's my own damn stupidity! It's wood now and not some crazy bent metal grating. Much nicer! But I still don't trust myself! They have been working on the bunkhouse... painting it green and red like the colors of the permanent resident housing. Though, the bottom level of the front of the bunkhouse needs repairing so slowly they are getting to that. So instead of painting it all, they have the top level green, and only the few panels they have fixed on the bottom level green. The rest is still blue, so it looks a bit white trash. But I have a picture of the SIDE which includes Angie's new apartment that is all nice and green for you to see. It'll look really nice once the whole thing is done though.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
That's that... I think I've said everything for now? Maybe... who knows...

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - To mom, thanks for the card. :-D Everyone else, WHERE'S MY MAIL!?

Saturday, August 4, 2007

OH, the things you learn during spawning...

Spawning continues... today is my "Wednesday" in the week, though it's really Saturday.

The other day we hit the all time record... 9.4 million eggs on Friday I think. That's aloooooooot! It didn't even FEEL like we were going THAT fast... crazy! Finally my wrist is starting to feel better but it still hurts alot. I've been taking it easy on it... trying to do jobs that are the LEAST painful. But now I'm tired of running buckets back and forth from the incubators! So yesterday I was chompin' at the bit to do some "bucking." It hurt some but not enough for me to stop. I did it this afternoon too. I'm gonna try some spawning soon... aka getting the eggs... see if my wrist will hold up on me.

Anyhow, today was the Weekend crew spawning... that's me, Adam, Tim, Dan, Deena, and Sarah... Branden worked too but he was taking care of the other fish and doing other stuff. I was hauling buckets this morning and was getting SOOO bored with it so I was happy to be the "bucker" after lunch. Deena and Adam were spawning and Tim and Dan were working the sorting table. It seems I'm not the only one who is falling apart because Sarah has developed a nice lump on the top of her hand and she doesn't seem to know why! Sounds just like my finger injury... which still hurts alot too by the way! So she was haulin buckets.

ANYHOW, somehow this afternoon, an eyeball fight began. It was Deena and I vs. Tim in the back. I don't remember who started it. Maybe Tim because when you hit the fish in the back, alot of times you can pop or partially pop their eyes out. THEN Deena taught me how to pop an eyeball out of a fish so she was spawning them and randomly popping eyes out. Eventually we had a large pile of them that we would occasionally throw at each other. Funny stuff... I managed to stick one to Tim's shirt... and hit him in the head. He hit me pretty hard in the ear once! Anyhow, sorry if this grossed you all out! Mom, I'm sure you are grossed out. HA HA Oh well... we had fun.

Besides that, there really isn't anything else new. My Final Harry Potter book came the other day soooo I've been reading that, though I'm only 200 pages in (out of like 780). I signed up for Netflix because we got tired of watching the same 'ol movies... we being Adam and me. Oh and I figured it was the only way to get MAIL ON A REGULAR BASIS! UH HUH... grrrr...

Anyhow, I DO want to thank Grandma Moser and Aunt Sandy for the mail... thank you!

Back to mooooore spawning tomorrow... we might have to call a truse (sp?) with Tim, otherwise, we may have a full day of eyeball fighting! he he he

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - To Melissa and Mike! Happy 1st Anniversary tomorrow! I can't believe it's been a year already... congrats! :-D I love you both!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Spawning time fun

Week 1 of Spawning is over already! Today is my "Saturday"...

I don't really have anymore tales of spawning... it's really the same thing everyday. Spawn like crazy... though we've been running out of fish early the past few days. The other day I was carrying buckets of eggs into incubation and trying to be all beasty like... carrying 3 or 4 buckets at a time. Bad idea cause now my right wrist hurts pretty bad... makes it hard to do alot of other stuff sooooo... I'm hoping this "weekend" rest will help out. I just washed my smelly clothes and guess what!? Still smelly... that'll be nice. HA

Anyhow, I have some pictures... *NOTE* Clicking the pictures to enlarge them would be a good idea... I had to make all of them alot smaller, so you won't see stuff as good!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I'll start off with a funny one. Adam said when he had a friend come one year, the friend said this waterfall looked like Mr. Peanut. After he said that, I kinda agreed. What do you think!?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
A bald eagle eating a piece of fish. They have been ALL over the place lately... I think I counted 10 or 11 at once one day!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
The chum are pushing at the weir pretty hard... THEY WANT IN! There are alot right there...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I stood here at the outflow of the weir for quite a while trying to get a picture of these darn chum jumping! They are always jumping but it was really hard to catch them on camera!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
The fish ladder... I've showed you guys this before but now it's running. It just creates a series of rapids for the fish... Each rapid is created as the water hits each metal wall... there is a small opening so I'm not sure if most of the fish push thru the opening or if some of them jump over the wall. Seems like alot of work to me... (this is just 1/2 the ladder... there's another part along side the raceway.)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Into the spawning shed! "WHACK!" as Scott is about to hit a female chum... See all the stuff on the table... that milky coloring... some eggs... all those flapping fish splash that stuff up in your face!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
The whole operation at work...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Andy is cutting opened females on the left, the eggs slide down into the pan, then Jess (the bucker of the day) fertilizes them with the males. This picture actually shows her squirting into the bucket but she will do it into the pan next.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Fresh eggs...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
(This wasn't from today... but I figured you'd rather see ME in a picture!) So after there are 4 pans of eggs all poured into a bucket, we take them to incubation where they get poured into the egg washer and they are drained down into an R48 incubator. This was me from the other day...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Pretty, right!?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
So far we have filled about 14 of these things... they are quite large! About 5 feet tall... probably 3 feet in diameter. There are a few MILLION eggs in each.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Come on! I had to give you atleast ONE picture with some blood and gore! HA HA Ok so we don't have a ton of these bloody fish just laying around. This one just didn't make it down the shoot. All the fish get ground up and piped to the middle of the ocean or something. I know, that's kinda gross too. This is a cut up female, by the way. Chum get that striped coloring... and you should see their teeth!