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Days 11 & 12 (Pratt/Salty Dog/Spider Mites)

My schedule has gotten a little busier lately so it seems like blog posts every other day will probably be a new normal.

I’ve been to the Pratt Museum, down the spit to see baby sandhill cranes and birds nesting, to Finn’s for pizza, to the Salty Dog, harvesting, fighting off spider mites, learning how to teach about bird feet and beaks, and giving a few of the campers a mini lesson on the greenhouse and sustainability. I’m pretty exhausted by the end of each day (but especially today) so the majority of this post will be in pictures!


Pratt Museum : a map of traditional homelands in Alaska. The Dena’ina Homeland includes Homer and a good portion of surrounding Alaska. An elder from the Dena’ina Homeland comes to camp every year to say daily prayers at breakfast and dinner and to talk to the campers.


Pratt Museum: this was a really cool exhibit – it was basically a video of a traditional Dena’ina dinner shown on a screen at about the level a dinner table would be.


Pratt Museum : traditional rain gear


Pratt Museum : exhibit about native birds and the environmental hazards they face. The plastic in the middle of the photo was found inside the stomach of dead albatross.


Pratt Museum : exhibit about the 1989 Exxon Oil Spill.

Pratt Museum : exhibit about the 1989 Exxon Oil Spill.


Pratt Museum : a size comparison for the size of the 1989 Exxon oil spill. The spill area covers Virginia.


Pratt Museum : I was in love with the quilts in the museum. They were all really intricate.


Pratt Museum: wood carving


Pratt Museum: another quilt


Pratt Museum: there was a really interesting art exhibit through the first room at the museum. I thought it all looked a little crazy – but almost in a good way?


Pratt Museum: art piece from the first room


Pratt Museum: bear exhibit. There was a lifesize bear model to the left of this picture that stood about 10 feet high. We were walking through with some of the campers when one told us that he’d seen one about 5 ft. taller with his dad.


Pratt Museum: traditional dress


Pratt Museum: we made it through the museum a little faster than the campers (they had a worksheet to fill out) so we stopped by All Hopped- Up Espresso down the block. I got some incredible chai tea!


Pratt Museum: after the chai tea, we took a walk around the garden out front of the Pratt Museum. The garden is separated into different climate regions found in Alaska and the native plants that grow there.

I have been shadowing one of the instructors for the past two days so that I will be able to fill in for her for a few days while she’s gone and yesterday she took her group down the spit to see some birds!


We stopped to check out two sandhill cranes and their newborn colt (baby crane). They’re the specs in the middle of the photo – we had binoculars. So far I’ve learned that sandhill cranes mate for life and do a whole series of “dances” for different occassions – such as mating, showing their colt how to fly, agression, and to impress each other even after they’ve mated for life! I will be teaching about birds in the next few days so I’m sure I’ll learn a whole lot more before then!


We went to the end of the Spit where the campers observed the birds in and around the area (there are a ton in the water and under the structure to the left that are just hard to see from the picture). They figured out that the birds come 1). to nest and 2). because the local fishery releases nutrients back into the ecosystem that just happen to bubble up in the area, meaning more fish to eat!

At the end of the day the campers were cooking out and the other WWOOFers and I decided to go to Finn’s  down the Spit for pizza. We bring them arugula and basil for their pizzas and we get free pizza credits in return! After Finn’s we decided to check out the Salty Dog because the majority of us had never been!


Salty Dog: the entire inside is filled with signed dollar bills and the tables are all wooden and covered in carvings.


Salty Dog: I carved my initials in the tabletop


Salty Dog: before we left we all decorated a dollar and pinned it on the wall

The rest of the time we’ve been harvesting and trying to kill off an infestation of spider mites making their way through the greenhouse.


We harvested a bunch of edamame soy beans – which are super good both raw and cooked!


We also harvested some of the kohlrabi that had gotten too big and started splitting


The spider mites (see web in picture) started out on the himalayan huckleberry plant (also in picture) and has now started to spread to nearby grape vines, romaine lettuce plants, and tomato plants. We’ve been spraying a solution of Dr. Bromer’s soap and water to try and shield the leaves but we’re also getting a different type of mite and ladybugs that will eat the spider mites and hopefully take care of the problem. Apparently they like dusty environments so we’re also having to wet down any loose soil each day as a preventative.

During the afternoon today I was also able to shadow an instructor again to learn about a different bird lesson concerning different types of bird feet and beaks. I’m excited (and a little nervous) to have to repeat the lesson as well as she did in a few days! Afterwards another WWOOFer and I did a little greenhouse lesson with one group of campers talking about the importance of knowing where your food comes from and the ability to grow your own food (an idea they will hopefully take with them and implement when they go home). We let them explore, identify plants, taste a few, and try out some basil harvesting. We also got a chance to show them some of the tools that we use in the greenhouse.


Here’s out dirt bucket for making seed starts. This is where we get the soil to use with the tool in the photo below


You can basically just stick this in the soil (above photo) and it’ll pop out four square packed together soil squares with little indentations ready for seeds.


This tool is probably my favorite. You stick the metal probe in the soil by the roots of each plant and it’ll tell you the level of moisture below the surface. You can then use that reading to water the right amount for each bed. (I still have no idea how it works, but I kind of want one)

The first group got back from their 2-day trip across the bay around dinner time and the second group left. I’m not sure what the plan is for tomorrow but I know I’m going to need to fit in some studying on native Alaskan birds!


The sprouts are starting to show signs of sprouting – pictures to come when they grow a bit!

My yurt is warm – the heater was turned on and now it shouldn’t get lower than 59 at night! It kind of freaked me out last night because I didn’t realize it had been turned on or that it was automatic so when the flames in the heater stove started crackling I thought maybe something was malfunctioning (fire paranoia).

The weather is also warm – no rain today and highs in the high 60s! I’m hoping it stays this way.

I also learned how to make some herbal tea today using lemon balm and wild yarrow 

AND I’m finally doing some laundry tonight!! Woo!

Also, I’m wondering if the links in my posts are as obvious when reading the blog as they are when I insert the link so, just in case, anything that’s underlined can be clicked through to a link! 



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