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...
Thursday, December 17, 2009
It's the week before Christmas and I will be home in 2 weeks and 3 days! YAY! I think most of you know that Adam is coming home with me again. Did I email that out? I can't remember. We will be home on January 2nd. It was originally the 5th but we found out we leave the hatchery on the 30th instead of New Years Eve. We decided that would be way too many days spent in Sitka so we forked over the money to change our flight. I'm sure you also know that we are heading down to Florida on from the 7th - 12th for a vacation with Melissa, Mike, Karleigh, Valerie and Steven. ALSO Adam's parents are coming down at the same time! They are actually going from the 6th-13th so they will be there longer. It should be fun! I've never had a vacation with tons of people!
Anyhow, we're getting ready for Christmas. Even though I'm sad I won't be home, I'm also happy that I'll be here. It's been fun getting ready and talking about Christmas and our plans. On Christmas Eve, Jacquie, Ben, Melissa, Adam and I are going to have dinner and do our gifts. We decided our dinner is going to consist of all of our traditions. I made pierogi and am going to make some kolaczki. Melissa is Swedish so she is going to bring a few things they eat... one of those things being PICKLED HERRING. I'm sure I still won't eat it but it'll feel like Christmas to have it there! :-) I think she's going to bring a cucumber dish and some rice pudding they eat. I'm not sure what else we are eating. We are still yet to figure that out completely I guess! I think for Christmas, we are all just going to do our own thing. Then everyone might get together later in the day.
We had high hopes for decorating. Adam was all about making a garland to go around our window. First we started with the making of a Christmas wreath, and I think he decided it would be too hard for a garland! Making a wreath isn't as easy as it looks, when you are working with spiky needles! It worked out nice though. We have it hanging on our door and have lights in the wreath and all around our door. Then Mom sent me some Christmas decorations so I got motivated! I put some colored ball ornaments along the window and have our new stockings hanging on the holders for the curtain rod. (I still haven't made the living room valance but the posts have been up for a while!) Then there was this little fake tree over in the bunkhouse and we all made fun of it because it was sorta frosted white. I decided it probably wouldn't look as ugly with ornaments so I took it and decorated it. Now I'm really glad and I love it! Adam's parents sent some presents so we have some under the tree already. :-)
You can't really see Adam's stocking very well but it has a deer on it and it's red and white. I bought these stockings and LOVE them now! Especially mine, the green one. They are knitted and are really really nice! I also got a cute stocking for Tucker!
So far we have no snow, so Mother Nature better get movin on that! I don't want TOO much but you have to have snow on Christmas. Today it rained... all day! It was just awful! Nothing is worse than blowing winter rain... it just feels so cold. The hunters also want some snow! Even though most of them have gotten plenty of deer, they like to go out and see tons of deer on the beach because of the snow. Adam has gotten 3 deer already and hoping to get 1 or 2 more. We have big plans to make burger and sausage with it (italian sausage and chorizo!) MMMM...
These are two deer he got in the same day.
A month ago, we did have some snow but now it's melted. But for a while there, most of it was gone but we had awesome clear weather but it was really cold. Because of the humidity in the air, everything got covered in these crystals. It looked like snow but when you looked close, it was individual crystals that just kept growing. It was pretty cool and some of the crystals were really neat!
Make the picture bigger and it's cooler!
Well, there hasn't been much going on lately. We have new neighbors next door. Dan is the new maintenence guy and his wife, April, just got here a few weeks ago. Dan has worked here before, twice actually, so he knows his way around and has fit in really well! April is fun and sounds very southern (they're from NC). I really like them both. They have two really nice cats that I love to pet. :-)
Not much has been going on at the hatchery. We have just been doing alot of odd jobs and prep for winter. Not gonna lie, I've been pretty bored! Today I had fun though! Lately I've been getting thing cleaned up and ready in our lab. It isn't much of a lab really but I'm trying to make it more of a lab. Scott wants to start doing some microbiology type stuff to see if we can figure out how to treat out fish. Like growing some bacteria on petri dishes. So I'm in charge of that. I did some test plates yesterday and found some bacteria growth today! That was cool. Then played with fish heads for the rest of the day. :-)
Every year, a certain percentage of our coho and chinook are "tagged." A crew comes and they use some machine to put a tiny 2mm long metal tag in their head. Just so we can learn stuff from our fish I guess. During spawning, we send the heads of the tagged fish to a lab so they can pull the tags out. These tags have a code on them. But for our little fish that come up (the ones we had just released that year that just get confused and come up the ladder) we save in the freezer and pull them out ourselves. So today I pulled the tiny tag out of 21 fish. It was pretty fun, for some reason! I just really enjoyed myself. Anyhow, it felt like the first day in a long while that I've really enjoyed work. Just because there hasn't been much to do. I don't like those days where you are scroungin for stuff to do and when you find something, it's usually some crappy job you don't want to do! That's winter hatchery work for ya!
Anyhow, I'll end this blog with another picture. Two weeks ago we ponded a group of Chinook and a few days later I morted them. Getting out all the dead eggs and dead fish that came out along with the live ones. When you have tiny babies, you always run into a few oddballs!
Curly here probably wouldn't have made it very far in life. The usual "freak" fish we see are two headers... I haven't seen too many curly-Qs.
RECOMMENDATION OF THE DAY:
If you haven't seen Julie & Julia, I'd recommend it! Atleast for the ladies. I watched it last night with the girls and it is very good and funny. If you don't know, it's a movie with two stories. One tracks Julia Child's life and her process of becoming her famous cooking self and this other lady (in real time) who is looking for something in her life and decides to cook her way through Julia Child's cookbook, 524 recipes in 365 days, and she blogs about it each day. I think all of you ladies would really like it, just like we did! Julia Child was a hoot apparently!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Right after I snapped this picture, I yelled at him and startled him. At first, he went to run straight (based on how he is in the picture) which would lead him down a concrete walkway between the raceways and RIGHT INTO ME! I realized that right as he did! As I took off to get the heck out of his way, he turned around and jumped (or fell) into the trough behind the raceways, right into the water. He scrambled out of the water and back onto the walkway. Then he climbed, ever so agily, over the fence. (It’s the same kind of fence as the fence on the right side of the picture.) They are not very sturdy, but somehow he managed to not bend the fence despite his 600-700 pounds! Later on, I went to clean up the mess of salmon bits he made on the walkway. I found the gate down the concrete walkway opened and a chunk of bear fur stuck to a zip-tie. I’m no cop, but I’d say that is suspicious! I saved the bear fur too… who wants it!?
The other damage that has been done around the site happened a few weeks ago. Somehow, they broke into a feed van (a huge box that you’d see a train carrying.) We are pretty sure it was closed all the way but somehow they broke it. The pulled out a few bags of food and spread it over the ground, along with a bunch of empty bags. There were probably 15 bags of food in there, so they could have done more damage but it also could have been WAY worse! I cleaned up as much food as I could, but they cleaned it up that night. I was feeding out front the morning after and the two guilty bears were sitting up on the hill near the van, just waiting for me to leave. They broke in again that night but thankfully it had been cleaned out. They must have got the hint, or we’ve closed the van better, because they haven’t been broken into again. That is good because the van has been filled up with more food a day later. THAT could really cause some damage.
Anyhow, in more work related business, we seeded our Hidden Falls chum eggs. That means we’ve put them into their incubators that they will hatch in. Of course, that isn’t without some drama! A few weeks ago, Ben tried to smooth out some eggs in one of the R48s that have housed the eggs since spawning. Somehow, in doing this, something changed in the incubator and loosened up the eggs… maybe? We aren’t really sure WHAT happened but this is the best I can do. Since the eggs have been in the incubator, untouched, for a few months, they form almost a solid block. The eggs started to move around a bit with the water and started getting higher and higher in the R48. Most R48s full of eggs have 8 inches or less of room above the eggs, but the water comes up to about 2 inches from the top. The most full incubators have a screen that sits in front of the water outflow so we don’t lose eggs. The eggs just kept getting higher and higher, causing the water to change it’s height also. I tried to pull some eggs out and put them in the next incubator but that didn’t work. There were still eggs coming out of the water. Then Adam and I put this cover plate on the top of the eggs to hold them down. We figured it would be fine after this. Well, a few days went by. We were getting the incubators ready for seeding. I was taking Melissa into incubation to show her what we needed to do, when we caught a glimpse of that incubator! “OH MY GOD!” I gasped and turned around and ran for Adam. The boss happened to be gone.
In a solid block and with that metal plate on top, the eggs had pushed up and about 3 inches OVER the rim of the R48! Thankfully, I don’t think we lost many eggs. Anyhow, Adam scooped out eggs and put them into a different empty incubator and we put the plate back on, just in case. It was all very shocking!
Last week, we took 3 days to seed 15 R48s full of eggs. It went very smoothly, until the crane we use stopped working at around 4pm on the first day. The crane is the key to seeding our eggs easily! Adam tried a few things, resetting it, etc. but nothing worked. However, as both of us walked back into incubation about 10 minutes after the crane stopped, something didn’t smell right. It was the smell of burning… electrical burning! There was no fire, but the box on the crane was definately smoking. Unfortunately, the crane couldn’t be used after that. We had to bring in the small forklift, and lift the egg box to fill each incubator box. It wasn’t as easy as it would have been with the crane, but it could have been worse. Here are some pictures from seeding…
Melissa and Dan siphoning eggs into baskets to be weighted.
Each incubator box had 2 baskets of eggs in it... 27.22 kilograms each... or Exactly 60 lbs. I weighed baskets the first two days... so I had to pick up lots of 60lb baskets.
We poured the baskets into a box with a hose connected to it. Gravity did the rest.
The eggs pouring into the incubator box.
Close up eggs... the dark spots in the eggs are fish eyes. It's very interesting to look at them up close and see there really are tiny fish in there! The light colored eggs are bad.
Friday and Saturday, we did the egg transfers for Medvieje. This year it is a few weeks earlier than the past years, so it was a lot nicer and less cold. My first year, I believe it was snowing. We also usually do it at 11 pm. This year, the boat didn’t come until about 10 am Friday so we got to do it in the daytime! I was in incubation with Melissa. We siphoned the eggs into this box, which had pipes connected to it and running all the way down to the dock, where they caught the eggs in baskets and dumped them into fish totes. It went very smoothly, on our side. On Saturday, the boat blew some kind of hydraulic line to work their crane so they had to change what they were doing. Lately it seems that there is always some kind of drama!
Adam went into town on the boat Saturday. He is heading to Seattle for some hatchery tours put on by one of the fish food companies. He will be back on Friday. So it’s just Tucker and me! Last weekend, I went into town to do some things. Jacquie was heading in also for a doctor’s appointment, so I decided to go with and get some things I needed for my house renovation projects. We were supposed to leave Thursday… but we got fogged in until SATURDAY! Blah… I hate fog. It was just the amount of time I needed though, to get what I needed.
The house renovations (aka putting up curtains in the kitchen) are going good. I’m doing some modifications to the kitchen valance (shortening it and sewing my two valances together). I am also planning on painting my white curtains for the kitchen. I hope they turn out! I got the fabric for my living room valances a few days ago and I like it a lot. Hopefully I can sew those valances up nicely! I’ll post pictures when I get things done.
Besides all that, not much else to tell. So far, we’ve had a low of 34. There was some fresh snow on the mountain but nothing has made it down yet. It’s been in the low 40s (at the most). Well, here are some pictures!
The bear on the right was trying to steal left bear's fish. They were growling at each other for a while. They weren't really fighting though. Here they were just putting their faces next to each other and growling.
Flying over the snow fields from Sitka to the hatchery. I thought this glacier looked cool.
Flying over the hatchery. My house is on the left, next to the round ponds.
Tucker's Halloween costume! A dishwasher!! HA ok not really... he just didn't want to move.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to tell. We had our spawning party with a pig we roasted over the fire, finished up king spawning, fed a lot of fish, started building a barge that will become the new Chinook house… it’s been a pretty slow time.
The only thing I feel like I’ve been doing lately is take water temperatures and play with water. Scott sorta put me in charge (sorta) of the water in Chinook incubation. We have two different water lines. One is warm water and one is cold water… by warm and cold, I mean 9-12 degrees Celcius (48-54 degrees F) is warm and cold is about 4.5 Celcius (40 F). Since we took eggs on different days, they are different “ages,” so we try to catch them up to each other so they are all the same age. This can be done by changing the water temperature. Warm water makes them “age” faster. We figure out their “age” in temperature units. So say a batch of eggs has been in 10 degree water for 5 days… they would have 50 TUs… We just add up the temperature of the water everyday to get their temperature units. So I’ve been working on figuring out when certain groups of eggs need to go on warmer water and been doing the water changes. Now all the eggs are caught up and we are just waiting until they are old enough until we can handle them and do otolith marking. We can start handling and mark them after 300 TUs. Today is the first day to otolith mark one group of fish and the rest of the Chinook will start this week on their certain day. The chum eggs are getting to that age too so marking will start for them maybe next week. We have kept the chum eggs on the cold water and the Chinook eggs were mostly on warm water so even though we took the chum eggs first, the Chinook eggs are technically “older” because of their warm water. Confused!?
Playing with all this water has helped me out a bit with learning the water system here. When you are a seasonal, you don’t really have to know much about that stuff. Now I’m expected to know alot about it. I’m also now expected to start driving the heavy machinery! AHH! It’s a little scary but I’m warming up to the idea a bit now. I’ve driven the small forklift twice and the really big front end loader once, with Adam’s assistance. The loader was actually pretty easy to drive. I was confused with the forklift, though, the first time, but I drove it today and it made sense. It was the whole clutch thing…
What else…? Well I guess the biggest thing lately has been some big money purchases we’ve made. We gave in and bought a tv! I’m watching it right now. We haven’t received our cable box yet though so it’s a movie. It’s a 37” LG flat screen and it’s very nice! Adam also bought a Wii, technically for my birthday. :-) I can’t wait to get it! On my birthday, I put in my large purchase to JCPenney for curtains, valances and some curtain rods. It cost a lot but apparently I ended up saving like $125! I should get those on Monday. This whole place is going to look different, new curtains, pictures and frames, tv. I also finally broke down and got that dog shock collar that I’ve been threatening Tucker with. It has been working pretty well, unless you don’t put it on him.
This is our tv... it looks bigger in person than in this picture. I think it is because the movie that's on is in widescreen so part of that darkness is screen and part is the outside of the tv.
Lastly I want to thank everyone for the birthday wishes and presents! I had a fun birthday, though I had to work. There was no cake… but there was an awesome ice cream sundae extravaganza held at the bunkhouse. There was lots of ice cream and TONS of toppings! It was a lot of fun. I even got a present from Ben and Jacquie, a picture frame and some small candles. Scott came back to the party after rounds and sat down next to me with a box. He said “I didn’t know what to get you for your birthday so here…” I knew it was going to be something alive so I was hesitant, and there was a big toad in it. I didn’t even know there were toads up here, but it was funny. Besides a toad and the Wii, I got some money, candy, an awesome basket of chocolate deliciousness which had the biggest caramel/chocolate dipped apple I’ve ever seen, and some Subway letters. It was good... so thanks!
Since the blog was short, here are some pictures.
I can still hold him like a baby... an 80 lb. baby! Actually I'm not sure his exact weight but it's over 75lbs.
He really is a big ol baby though!
I thought he looked funny sitting like this... he sits like this alot...
He looks like a killer right!? He's even got a sweet scar under his eye to make him look cool. OK That's just blood from licking a fish but he got it all over him!
This is the new trick that some of the bears have learned! Instead of walking around the net, they realized they could climb through this gap in the net. We were shocked the first time we saw them do it! They are so agile... that metal he's on is only an inch or two wide.
I think this is that same bear... I just thought this looked cool. He's about to jump... the weir was raging like a waterfall.
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MONTH – If you are looking for a really great chocolate pie, I’ve got the one for you! Marie Calander’s Chocolate Satin Pie is soooo good. Usually I’m not a fan of crusts on pies, but this one has an Oreo cookie crust and it’s amazing! So go buy one!
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
There hasn’t been anything TOO excited going on, but I figured I’d start off with a doozy of a story for you. Yesterday I almost broke my nose! No joke! After work, I remembered I had forgotten to put a small fish in the deep freezer when I was working with some fish heads. This is a big huge walk-in deep freezer, where the temperature is about -10 degrees. I walked in and tripped on something, probably a chunk of ice frozen to the floor, and fell. NOSE FIRST. I hit the underside of my nose on the bottom shelf and also bruised up my right knee. Well, it really didn’t hurt that bad, but my first thought was “OH GOD, did I just break my nose!?” My nose didn’t hurt like I did, but my second thought dripped onto my hand… blood! If I had hit the bridge of my nose, I’m pretty sure I’d be typing this with a goofy nose cast on! My eyes were watering also but I noted that my fish that I brought it had made it to the shelf I had intended. In the process of falling, the bag with the fish flew onto its shelf! So I get myself up and get out of the freezer, thankfully remembering to shut the door and get the dog to follow me outside. Outside the freezer, my nose was definitely dripping a good amount of blood onto my hand. So when I made it out of the shop and to the bunkhouse where Adam and 3 others were standing, I probably looked like a mess! I had Adam get me a few paper towels and we went home. It stopped bleeding pretty quickly though so I was just left with a red nose. It didn’t really swell up much, if any, and didn’t really hurt much either. I started to get a bit of a headache but I took something right away. Anyhow, I’m fine. My nose is a little sore, the day after. I’m pretty sure I just have a cut on the inside of my nose and I do have one on the outside a little, which definitely stings, but there is no visible bruising.
Well on to life… The crew got done with chum spawning the day before I got here. I was a little sad but it’s alright. Hey Uncle Eddie, guess I probably could have picked raspberries after all. OOPS! Ha ha Even though chum spawning was over, for a few days, we loaded as many chum as we could into fish totes and took them to a tender to be processed. We couldn’t shock the fish much due to bruising issues they get if shocked so it’s pretty wild… fish flying, water splashing. We definitely got rid of a lot of fish this way though. Apparently the processer was selling the fillets… some of those fish looked ok but a lot of them were pretty beat looking. I’m not sure WHERE they were selling those fillets to so if you go into a store, pick out a piece of salmon that has a good dark reddish color! These fillets surely would not!
We started King spawning on Monday. It was fairly slow because 1) we are still getting tons of chum and pink salmon up into the raceways and 2) a lot of the kings aren’t quite ready to spawn yet. Even though they are coming up, a lot of the females are still pretty green, meaning their eggs aren’t loose. Since we don’t want to get rid of these green fish and risk running out of broodstock, we had to put all the kings into a tote of a clove oil solution to knock them out. Basically what we do when we sort the Coho before their spawning. This allows us to check to see if the females have loose eggs, and if not, then we tossed them into a different raceway to keep them for later. We are going to spawn again on Thursday, so hopefully most of them will be ready to go and it will go faster.
Anyhow, since it was pretty slow, I got to hang out in the spawning shed for a while. The past few years I haven’t been in there too much. My first year, I was taking roe in the Roe shed and only saw a little bit of the process. Last year I was helping to rinse eggs but it was pretty fast paced. So I helped out doing a few things this time. I mostly ran eggs to incubation and did rinsing. But I also helped clean the fish. We wash the bellies with an iodine solution before we use them, mostly to disinfect the fish beforehand. We also try to bleed out the females before we take her eggs, otherwise there will be a bunch of blood in the eggs. This is a funny thing to me. This might sound super gross to you guys but it reminds me of a slasher movie when I see this done. We just cut the tails a little more than half way through. This cuts the vein and if you do it right, the blood will actually spray a bit. So after cutting tails, you have quite a bit of blood on your hands. I find it all sickly amusing I guess… is that weird!?
After king spawning on Monday, I had to take all the numbers, which gets very confusing for king spawning. Much more confusing than chum spawning numbers, because you have chum numbers, pinks to tally, king numbers, and even some very early Coho coming up. Plus you have to keep track of tagged kings. It’s a lot. So I took numbers and then had to deal with getting the heads of the tagged fish. We cut the heads off of tagged fish to send into the lab in Juneau to have their tag read. This also is not an easy task when you have a 3 foot long king salmon with a head as big as mine! Thankfully I wasn’t cutting them off, but it’s tough. That 3 foot long salmon is real. We had a few kings up that were just MASSIVE! Adam is guessing the poundage on those big guys to be about 45lbs… some of the biggest pushing 50lbs.
Anyhow, so now we are back full circle to me dealing with putting fish heads in the big freezer, me forgetting about this little tiny king jack I forgot to put in the freezer, and my almost broken nose! Since there aren’t too many kings up yet, we’re pausing the spawning until Thursday. In the meantime, we are splitting the Coho up into more ponds. It’s a pretty blah job but it has got to be done. However, when I got into work today, I realized that I wasn’t in the mood to work with people today. Do you ever have those days where you just want to work alone… don’t feel like talking to anyone at work… just want to be given a job and do it in peace and quiet? Something kicked in me this morning and that’s how I felt. Sometimes it’s fine… I can just go feed some fish by myself and listen to my music. Unfortunately, I had to deal with people today… and some slow people at that! This one lady kept annoying me… then we kept having to explain to people a bunch of times… Just wasn’t feeling it! The afternoon was a bit better though… it was definitely the people too!
Besides work, we’ve had a horseshoe tournament going on. CHUM MADNESS! It technically started while I was on vacation. They were randomly selected teams and I was supposed to be teamed up with the boss, but his son was here and took my place. So last Monday, Jacquie and Melissa were supposed to play (In the semifinals, because they had a bye the first round), but Jacquie had to go to town so I took her place. SOMEHOW, we managed to win and advanced to the finals, which was last night, after I busted up my nose! Thankfully I didn’t do any damage cause I was pretty excited to play. It was also free hot dog night, thanks to Dan, who set up the tournament. It was a fun night, though Melissa and I lost. We kept up with the boys for a while though.
We’ve been hanging out at Ben and Jacquie’s a few nights since I’ve been back. We just got back from there actually, watching the new show on Discovery called “Swords” about Swordfishing way out in the Atlantic. Tucker was in UNRARE form tonight… bad as usual. I think it’s just pent up energy from being in the house while we’re at work but GAH, he makes me crazy sometimes. He’s definitely in his terrible 2s. Multiple times a day I say how I’m going to get him a shock collar. If our internet would ever get back up to speed, I definitely will! He’s getting to be pretty fast and uncatchable. Sometimes he’s good but most of the time, he won’t come when called. It seems that if you call him to come inside, walk in, but leave the door opened, he’ll come on in within about 30 seconds. If he doesn’t, then you know you’re going to have a bad dog on your hands. That’s what he did tonight up at the Gilles’ house. Frustrates me!
Anyhow, Friday is the spawning party! We won’t be done with king spawning yet but it’s ok. Well… I guess that’s about it. No pictures because our internet is really bad lately. I haven’t really taken many anyhow.
SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY – To little Karleigh, happy 3 week old birthday!!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I guess it seems like it’s been a while, but every weekend has been busy. One weekend I spent working on a special project. Last weekend I worked some more on it, and then finally got my flower seeds planted. One planter has tiny little sprouts coming up already and apparently ONE sprout in one of the other boxes. Anyhow, this weekend was more low key and I have some good stories to report so buckle up!
The weather has been off and on this week. We had a few nice days and a few rainy days. Tuesday, before we came back to the hatchery, the weather was nice, but then the wind picked up sort of suddenly. A little before we had to do our 3rd, and last, feeding of the day, the wind started blowing from the back of Takatz about 30-40mph! We started our feeding but part way through, we had to stop because of the waves and the wind. Then the nets started doing some really weird things! The sides of the nets are 14 feet long and they were starting to blow up and out of the water. When the pens go from being 40 by 40 feet to 5 by 10 feet, you get a little worried by the well-being of the fish! Adam was freaking out and we were scrambling around trying to move net weights around. Adam even threw the Dungy crab pot into one net to hold it down, because that crab pot is pretty heavy. Eventually it calmed down, we finished our feeding, and headed back to the hatchery.
Sunday was a gloomy day, but wasn’t really raining much. Adam and I were sitting inside reading and making some pasta salad. I thought I heard a sound outside so I looked out the window and WHOA! Coming around the island straight at us was a boat with about 10 people in it. “INCOMING!” Through the binoculars, I noticed it was the lady that we saw a few weeks ago. I don’t remember if I mentioned the tour group we had a few weeks ago, on this 20-person cruise ship. We showed those people around and explained what we do. They seemed to be interested in what we were doing and Amy, the cruise lady, asked if she could bring people back when they come through again. Well, they were back.
So the boat came up, and our welcoming committee, Tucker, welcomed them with waging tail! Of course, Amy and everyone loves the dog! Then another one of these boats came around the island carrying the same amount of people. A few minutes later, the BIG vessel they all came from came by the island and drove to the back of Takatz… a heck of a boat, the Safari Explorer! Anyhow, they all offloaded and we explained ourselves. I’m not exactly sure how many people it was but probably about 30 people. They all happened to be standing on the same walkway of the pens, which was almost sinking the side! We lowered our nets to the deck a few weeks ago, so the net was almost at the water’s edge. While everyone was standing around, talking, we heard a scream. This lady was bending down next to the house (but standing on the pens) and the dog was dangling into the water, with his arms on the pens. Darn dog… fell in the water again! I’m sure the same way… probably got excited and walked backwards off the pens. But the lady rescued him and he was a little embarrassed but fine! After a while, one boat decided to head back to the main boat. Right before she headed out, Amy said if we had time, we could stop by the boat and check it out. Then they turned around and said we could come to lunch on the boat at 1. SURE! Then the other boat headed back too. As they were boarding, another crew lady said we could bring the dog too.
Safari Explorer... Those boats being towed on the back are the boats that they came to the pens on.
Well we fed and then headed to the boat. We decided to leave the dog because I figured if everyone was going to be eating lunch, I didn’t want the dog to be running around all over. So we get back there and people are still kayaking around. We were greeted kindly by the captain and more of the crew. Everyone was like “where’s the dog!?” Amy started to give us a tour, and we headed into the boat. All the crew inside were surprised we didn’t bring the dog… so we decided to head back and get him! Everyone was much happier when we arrived a second time… with the dog. Amy gave us the rest of the tour then asked if they could keep him outside while we ate and we said sure, and were led into the dining room for lunch. We sat down with a table of guests and ate a great lunch of salad, tortellini and garlic bread. They even had dessert. When everyone was basically done eating, the dog came running in and greeted everyone. Running under tables, not really stopping to be petted. Then he disappeared again with some staff. After a while, we were done and he reappeared. I took a few pictures of the boat and we headed outside. Tucker sucked up the last bit of attention from anyone he could while we talked to the crew. Amy showed us a few pictures they took up on the bridge, where the captain drives the boat. There was a picture of him nose to nose with a black stuffed dog… a picture of him in the captain’s chair. She’s supposed to be sending me those pictures. Then we headed back to our big green house on the water. It was a fun afternoon and all the crew and guests were very nice! The boat was amazing. We looked it up online and found the price of this cruise. These people were taking a 2 week cruise from Seattle to Juneau. For the lowest room, the price (per person) was $7,395! Can you believe that!? Mom, so much for visiting Alaska THAT way!
The dining room...
The lounge, the bar and the "wine library" back in the corner
Well, that’s about all for interesting Takatz stuff. Back at the hatchery, there are WHALES of things going on… WHALES! Last Friday, Ben Gilles released some of his Coho to saltwater (either direct release or early entry fish). Unsurprisingly, the whales showed up right on cue. They have been feeding at the dock and pens ever since. There isn’t a whole lot you can really do… you can’t shoot at the whales to get them to leave… and the Coho are sort of dumb and love to stick around the shoreline. So the whales are eatin’ good and we are sitting around watching. If you get past the fact that they are feasting on our careers, it’s a pretty amazing site!
Tuesday night, Adam was fishing on the dock and came to tell me about the whales feeding at the pens. So we headed out onto the Coho pens (which are right off the Chinook pens, by the dock). When the whales feed, they blow bubbles in a wide circle to scare the fish and the grab them in the middle. Well, this whale was blowing his bubbles UNDER the coho net pens (with nets of fish in them) and then gobbling fish right on the edge of the pens. Of course, I went to the whale and was standing about 4 feet away from where he came up every single time. He did the same thing over and over in the same spot so I barely had to move. I have some videos of this so make sure I show you when I come home! It’s better than the pictures! It was pretty amazing though. That’s something people pay tons of money to see, and here I am, standing right above this whale as he does it over and over. It’s pretty unbelievable! Finally Adam made me leave, but the whale kept on going. As we made our way to the dock, we watched the whale feed from the boat, right up close. By then another whale had made its way right up near the first whale.
GOLP!! On the very bottom middle, you can see some fish trying to escape!
Right after the whale closed his mouth. The part on the right with the lines in the bottom of the mouth... the flat part is the top.
Going down for another round of fish!
This was taken from the boat... this is the mouth of the whale again.
The next day, of course, they were back again. This time, they seemed to be working together. We had an early plane carrying Tommy (from town) and another guy, who are here for fish tagging. As the plane was going to leave, it had to circle around again because those two whales were right in the middle of the bay. So the plane had to take off in a different direction. Later on, we were watching the two whales feed right at the dock. They were definitely working together to make bubble circles and would both come up to grab their meal in the middle of the circle. It’s amazing how agile these big 40 foot whales are! They can turn a corner pretty easily and work around each other without crashing. One time, the whale went right under the dock and came up about 5 feet away. They had set up a ladder on the dock to spot King salmon, and Ben was on it earlier on when a whale came up. He and Adam got sprayed with the whale’s mist from it’s blowhole and I guess it was less than pleasant smelling!
Anyhow, I could go on and on about these whales and the crazy things they are doing at the dock and the pens, but until you see it, it’s hard to imagine. Although they are eating our career, it is pretty amazing! Tommy was pretty shocked about it. He was teaching me how to take the otoliths out of the fish head yesterday and kept getting distracted. For spawning, I am going to be the sampler this year. So I have to learn to take out otoliths, which are the ear bones of the fish, and take scale samples. The otoliths have rings on them, like rings in a tree trunk, to tell you how old they are. They also have a special marking on the otolith when they come from us. Early on in the life cycle, we can adjust the water temperatures, which will lay down different markings on this otolith. Colder temps slow down the growth and leave a more dense area, which shows up darker. Warmer temps speed up the growth, leaving a less dense area and making a lighter area. (I think that was right!?) Anyhow, we adjust the water temps to lay down a certain pattern so they know “this is a Takatz fish” or “this is a Hidden Falls chum.” It’s pretty interesting actually!
Well I think that’s about all I have! I’m not sure if I’ll be back “next weekend,” Tuesday night –Thursday. It’s getting close to release date, though we aren’t sure when yet. Soon I’ll be back here for good. Also I booked my flight home… I leave on the 9th of July, but actually get home on the 10th and leave on the 28th. I think that’s all for now. I leave you with some dog pictures!
We were heading to the beach for some fun!
Tucker is now about 47 lbs. He weights more than a bag of food now. He's heavy but I can still scoop him up!
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Oh you guys though I was joking around with that classified ad stuff... no. I was serious about this one! I really do want and need a visitor.
I have a few things on the agenda for today's meeting.
We've had alot of sun in the past few weeks! It's been great, except we are now running out of water! That's the problem with living on collected rain water. We had this happen last year too and that two weeks of sun was basically our summer! We are hoping we aren't using up our summer right now.
With sun, comes warmer water! The fish love the sun. And they are growing like mad this week. I'm not even sure if I've talked about this year's fish at all. We are doing a food trial this year. So half of our fish are getting fed the same food as past years, Bio-Oregon, which I feed, and the other half, EWOS food. Well the EWOS fish have been lagging behind and had some bad growth weeks, where as my fish are cruising on schedule! This week though, they ALL grew like crazy, which is CRAZY. Adam was worried that our scale was off when we weighed them, they grew so well, but it wasn't. They just had a really great week. Now it seems the fish are AHEAD of schedule and growing too well. That might sound weird I guess, "Don't you want the fish as big as possible?" Well they like to release the fish at around 2 grams. Yes larger fish would do better in the open ocean. However, when they start getting really big, they start competing for oxygen in the net pens and just running out of space. Think of 4 little kids living in one room... that's ok when they are little, but eventually they are going to start fighting for some more space when they grow older and bigger. Anyhow, it's hard to complain about your fish growing really good I guess!
Speaking of things growing like crazy, we all swear that Tucker is huge now! He weighed 40.5 lbs two days ago, which is a 4 lb increase this week. I can't pick him up as easily anymore, which is sad. He's listening a little better now, but Adam worried today that when he sees his first bear, he's going to think it's another dog and run up to him. Who knows... He's lost 5 little front teeth so far and one more is close to coming out. The last tooth that fell out and the one almost out already have (had) a tooth coming in behind it before it's even out! It looks weird. Not pushing through right under it, but literally behind it so he's got two teeth right there. He's been a little off this week... we are sure if he felt a little sick or if it's the teething. We wondered if his stomach was upset from eat a few little dead fish but we aren't sure. He has been eating but not the same way he always has. Earlier in the week, he wouldn't eat out of his bowl but would eat little piles of food off the ground. Now he's eating all of it but he picks at it a bit. He used to just chomp it all down without breathing! Dad have you experienced that with your former 4 month old teething puppies? That's what we are hoping it is.
"HI GUYS!" Eventually he's going to get big enough to jump up on the bed.
His favorite pasttime. This was from last weekend but I don't think he tried climbing UNDER the bed this week. Perhaps he's realized he's now too big. He still does love that carpet in our room though.
Hummingbirds.... they... are... CRAZY! This year, we must have 8 or more hummingbirds fighting for our feeder. It's like a beehive because they are always buzzing around, swarming it, chasing each other off. When you stand out there, it's almost a little scary! They are mostly boys, but we have see a few females. (Boys are red, girls are green.) They will drink through a cup of "crazy juice" in a day or two. We ran out of sugar this week so we had to make it with brown sugar. It worked and they drank it but it looked like we put beer in their feeder!
4 birds around the feeder. I do have a picture where two birds are trying to drink out of the same flower too. It's funny.
This goofy guy... we aren't sure if something happened to the top of his head or if that's just how he looks. He's missing a few feathers or something. See how the neck feathers look all rainbow-like. Well that's just how they shine in the light... it looks like they change colors but it all depends on the way they are turned or how the light hits those. It's really cool.
Now onto the best part... the grizzlies! At Takatz, we usually see a few bear hunting boats come into the bay and head to the back. Well a day this week, we were sitting on the deck and we see a bear boat that was heading in but stopped across from our site (in the middle of the bay). So we look over to shore and sure enough, there is a bear. This is the shore FAR across, not the really close shore, so we had to look through binoculars. This is the first bear I've even see in TK and the second Adam has seen so we were surprised. So the boat is checking this bear out, and Adam though it was probably a pretty decent sized bear by looking at it. The bear is strolling down the rocky beach, not seeing the boat, then it goes into the woods because the beach was real steep. We figured it would come out on the other side. Unfortunately, that little island right next to site blocked our view for a while but we did see it had come out on the other side, if you went to the end of the pens. The boat followed him for a while, about 30 minutes or so. We had to feed but we were checking it out with the binoculars every once in a while. Then, as we were close to being done feeding, we hear a gun shot. It scared the crap out of me. Adam grabbed the binoculars. The guy shot a few more times, and missed a few of those but Adam saw the bear go down and fall into the water. Right before then, we heard the bear make a growling, growning sound.
Well we finished up and hightailed it over there! I really wanted to see it and Adam figured they could probably use some help. They were pulling the bear with a rope to shore through the water as we got over there. Then Adam helped the guide and shooter roll it up on shore and onto this rock so they could get pictures. I was pretty interested in getting a close-up look at one of these things so I was pretty excited... and of course I got pictures! :-)
Valerie, you did say once you wanted me to take a picture with a bear! Steven said he looked like he was passed out after a long night of drinking. No, he was posed.
He had a bit of a beat-up nose.
This is the shooter with his bear. The guide thought he was about a 900 lb. bear. He was pretty beefy for being a spring bear. He would have added a few hundred pounds of fat on him and been a scary beast!
They were talking about how good the teeth looked, not ground down at all, so he's probably a younger guy.
Those are some big paws! And this legs just felt huge... SOLID.
They pulled the bear up on shore right in front of one of the landslides. Right now it's just full of snow...
So vacation. I am going to plan for July 9th-27th. I was worried that it would be too close to spawning time and the boss wouldn't let me go, but he said it would be ok. Since I'm "permanent" now, I have to put in a "leave request" and get it approved by the boss and the bigger boss, but Adam said it will. I won't buy my ticket until it's approved but that should be the days, which means I'll really be home the 10th I guess since mostly it's a red-eye flight I catch home. Just letting you know the vague details.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST... Happy Mother's Day this weekend! I know there are alot of Mothers AND Mothers-to-be that read this. Even if you aren't MY MOTHER, you are my step mother, grandmothers, mother's of my cousins, and mother's of my future niece and I appreciate you for all that you do! You all are truly special ladies who are fantastic! I love you all!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
BUY, SELL, OR TRADE
Room for rent. Good view with deck. Large bed and closet. $0 per day. Booked up 6/28 – 7/10. Contact Growling Grizzly Inn to save your room today!
Small adjustable dog collar… blue. Free to a good home.
Recently read books for trade… send me something good, and I’ll send you something good. Almost done with my 1,000 page book!
Cooked anything good lately? Recipes wanted! Vegans and vegetarians, need not reply.
WANTED – A visitor. Free room and board. Room with a view. All you can eat salmon. All you can see scenery, bears, fish, eagles, and other wildlife. Can work around your schedule. Contact ME.
Looking for 20-24 ft. Aluminum-hulled boat. Prefer hardtop, extended transom, 115-175hp newer 4-stroke outboard. Contact Adam.
Hungry for waffles! In need of a waffle maker. Mom, can you send me mine?
In need of a new stuffed Hedgehog… Loved my first, but chewed it up. Contact Tucker.
WELL WISHES & SHOUT OUTS
Happy Belated 21st birthday bro! - Your sister
Happy 4 month birthday, Tucker! (5/3/09) You look so cute with 3 baby teeth missing! Love Mom & Dad
Hey Uncle Eddie, Adam has been down to a t-shirt for the past few days… without 70 degree weather! It's been in the 50s. – Your adoring niece :-D
Dear Great Grandma Mo, thank you for the nice card. I loved hearing about all the things you are doing. I have had a great week… the sun has been shining everyday. Mom and Dad have taken me to the beach a few times and it’s fun! Love, Tucker
Well, life is good in Alaska this week. The sun has been out everyday and that makes all the difference. I don’t know what the temperature has been, but according to the hatchery temp records, it’s been high 40s, low 50s. Sounds cold to you all probably but it’s comparable to your 80 degrees right now! Especially if you are sitting on the porch.
Just wanted to write a small thing to let you in on a little news… I have gotten a little upgrade here in the company. Sometime soon, I will officially become a “permanent seasonal.” Sounds like an oxymoron, I know. But with the “permanent” title comes big and better things. Health insurance, paid vacation, and a bit more responsibility. All of the details haven’t been figured out yet, and I’m not sure when my status will change. I think I will be on salary pay now, and that’s what the boss still had to figure out I think. I will be working 10 months still, but I think I can take those 2 months, broken up whenever I want, assuming it works out with the schedule and things.
Anyhow, I guess that’s all I know right now. I just wanted to let you know. :-)
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The weather has been pretty good (until the day we need to head BACK to Takatz, like last Friday... or today) but Adam decided to go fishing one day at Takatz, so I went out with him in the boat figuring I could read in the sun and we took the dog.
The view from the boat into the south arm of Takatz.
Tucker was fine while the boat was in motion... he likes to stick his nose high in the air and smell!
Even though the weather was nice at the floathouse, the water on the outside was a bit choppy. And we learned that dogs, too, can get a little seasick. Atleast that's what we think it was... he drooled alot and looked really sad. Make the picture a little bigger to really see the sad "I don't feel so good" eyes!
We also took the dog to the back of Takatz to run around on the beach. Adam really likes the rocks with the snow on it. The tide doesn't go up and over some rocks, leaving alot of snow. (Make the picture bigger, and the view looks better.)
Tucker finally settled down in "Seaweed Heaven" to have a bit of a snack. Oh how he loves Seaweed!
Afternoon sun + carpet = Tucker's second heaven! No other words really need to be said.
Heaven #3? This was last night... passed out while we watched a movie. I know, this is sort of bad behavior, but we are savoring the last moments that we can actually pick him up.
You are going to have to scroll down to the next picture to do a little comparison! This was today... the next picture was a month ago. He can't exactly get under the table like he used to! I though this was pretty funny... his butt hanging off.
See how little he used to be! This was at about 15 lbs. Now he's a little under 31 lbs. Doubled in size in a month!
Tucker says "Thanks for all the messages from last week!"