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...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

1 week and 5 days!

Today I woke up at 8:00 am, saw it wasn't noon yet so I went back to bed. Finally decided to get out of bed but I didn't know if I should make breakfast or lunch so I took a shower. I looked out the window to see it raining and a family of bears were looking back at me. It is know 3:00 pm ( I don't know here the time goes) and I still haven't eaten so I made fish spaghetti. After lunch I decided to take a nap, the dishes can wait! Woke up to the noise of carribou mating on the deck but the darn camera wasn't with reaching distance of the bed. Hey it's supper time what should I eat? I know, fish cassarole. After supper I knew that I had to do the dishes but there was a good movie on and I had to watch it. Before I knew it I found myself looking at the northern lights. It is great to watch tv and the northern lights from the bed. Boy am I tired, good night!


Alright ALRIGHT! So that's what Uncle Eddie thinks I do all day... minus the cool little pictures he added in! I know it's been a long time but I've been fairly unmotivated... and there hasn't even been anything good to report!

Halloween came and went... I tried to make homemade Peanut Butter cups, which turned out alright but a bit too big! The recipe said to make mini-cups but I thought I'd try to make them like the bigger Reese's cups because well... isn't that reason obvious!? I carved a cool pumpkin, that I was mighty proud of. Deena and Angie came around trick-or-treating in the rain. I guess Brandi didn't want to bring the boys out in the rain so I didn't even get to see any cute little boys in costumes. We had a Halloween "party" which just consisted of sitting around watching a movie and I made some Dirt cake, which was a hit.


What else... RAIN, RAIN... feed fish... more Rain. We seeded all of the Hidden Falls chum eggs into their incubators, then we seeded a row of Takatz eggs. Then we had nothing better to do than wait. Wait for what? Well, last year, all of the Takatz eggs were incubated in R48s. Those are the big blue barrel-like incubators. Last year we were going to switch them to the NoPad incubators (the metal stacks of 5 incubator boxes), but they didn't make them in time. So this year, that's what we were going to use. We got a delivery of half of the incubators we needed a little earlier so we were able to build them. Those are the ones we seeded into. However, we still were waiting on the rest of them. Finally the company was done with them and shipped them, but since it's cutting it close with the hatching time, we wanted to get it all done ASAP. So the boat arrived last Saturday around 11 am and we unloaded and started building.

Unfortunately, it's not really a quick process. You have to put the feet on the stands, put the PVC pieces in the boxes (5 boxes per stack), and we had to put foam on the screens. Plus before you put all the PVC pieces into the boxes, you have to chafe (sp?) them so they can be hammered in easier. That is what I did... I chaffed like 400 PVC elbows and about 100 straight PVC pieces. My hands were all cramped up afterward. Once they got all the boxes unloaded off of the boat, we had more people to help build. Adam and I built stacks in incubation, which includes leveling the stand, putting each box on, putting substrate into the box and putting a screen on top, then repeating that 4 more times until 5 boxes are done. Then repeating the WHOLE process until 18 stacks were built. Finally at around 10pm, we finished up and were able to go home. I was slightly ornery by then, my legs hurt from standing on concrete, and I was a little hungry.

Well, the whole point of building that day was to get the incubators turned on so we could make sure the water levels were good and then seed the eggs soon. Unfortunately, the company didn't send us the foam for the screens so we couldn't get that done. Actually it was probably better this way, otherwise we would have stayed working alot longer on Saturday! The hatchery in town, though, had a bunch of foam we could use so the plane flew it out to us and we were able to get that started on Monday. It took a while but we were able to start seeding on Tuesday and Wednesday. We still do have a week or two to spare on the Takatz eggs... they didn't start hatching on us. Everything went fairly smoothly, until we ran into an R48 incubator that had ALOT of bad eggs in it for some reason. Usually the eggs have about 5-7% bad eggs... this incubator had about 25-35% bad eggs. It was just plain weird... most of the bad eggs turn white when they die, but alot of these bad eggs looked like they started to develop but died shortly after. They were still orange but there was no fish in it. We don't know the cause but it was odd.

Anyhow, all of the Hidden Falls eggs have either hatched or atleast started to hatch. That means the Takatz eggs will start this week sometime, probably at the end of the week. So there has been alot of cleaning screens. When the eggs hatch, it causes alot of foam, from the proteins in the eggs I think. There's also alot of brown slime that builds up on the screens and little fish get sucked through the screens too. So the water level gets real high and overflows the screen so we have to go through a few times a day to clean them off. We don't really lose fish because of overflowing screens but we don't want to risk it.

Besides that, there hasn't been much else going on! I stopped working Friday because... I just felt like it. Don't you wish you could just do that!? "EHH I think I'm done..." :-) I might work some this week if they need me... to help feed fish or pond some baby chinook already. Other than that, I'm just hanging out now. Thanksgiving is this week so I don't think anyone is working Thursday or Friday (except to clean screens). OH, last Sunday we had bonfire of about 50 or so pallets. I know what you're gonna say... what a waste! But we always have so many!


The only bear story I have to report is something that has probably been heard already, because I've told a bunch of you. One night there was a bear ON the back porch, right under the bedroom window. It was a little to close for comfort when I heard the bear knock against the window or the wall. Who knows what it was looking for!? There was one that got up on the front porch (apparently) the other night. Adam had a new set of deer antlers on the porch table and I heard a bear roaming around in the middle of the night but didn't think it was ON the porch. You'd expect a 500lb. bear to make a bit more noise if it was walking around on a wooden porch. I think people make more noise when they walk on it! Adam found the antlers down the road a bit, wet and chewed on a bit, and broken. Dumb bears!

Hunting season has been going for a bit and Adam's out every weekend. He can get 6 deer but will probably only take 4 or 5. He's gotten 3 already though! I spent one day last weekend helping him cut up and package his first deer. That's an interesting experience... a meat market in your own kitchen! This weekend he made a deer call in the shop. It works really good but... maybe a bit TOO good because he's been driving me nuts blowing on it for the last day and a half! :-) Ever heard the sound of a baby deer in distress!? I have... ALOT!


Well, I guess that's it... I will be home in 1 week and 5 days! Now I'll probably have NOTHING to talk about since I posted it all here. HA just kidding! I'm really excited to get home and see everyone! I have a shout out in mind but I'm keeping it in my head today. For now, I'll just say To Uncle Eddie... Thanks for helping to write my blog this week! By the way, there are no Caribou on our island, we don't have a tv, I haven't seen the Northern Lights up here, I always do the dishes, and fish spaghetti and casserole sound gross! :-)