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Alaska: The Last Frontier


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#1

walnutqueen

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Posted Jan 7, 2012 @ 11:16 AM

In our digital age of smartphones and an app for everything, the idea of homesteading may seem like a quaint throwback from our countryís distant past. But now the new series Alaska: The Last Frontier gives viewers a firsthand account of what itís like to like off the land. Youíll meet two generations of the Kilcher family, whose 600-acre homestead sits outside Homer, Alaska. Experts of self-sufficiency, these men and women of the wild spend the limited months of summer and fall gardening, hunting and fishing for food, gathering supplies from the land, and safeguarding their animals in preparation for surviving the harsh Alaskan winter.

Following the Kilchers provides a look into life off the grid, where going without running water and electricity and having limited contact with the outside world is part of the daily routine. While capturing the spirit of pioneer living is never easy, Alaska: The Last Frontier transports you to a place where day-to-day life is truly different from what we know.

Is anyone else watching this on Thursday nights?

Discovery Channel seems to be staking their claim on all things Alaska, and though I'm suffering from a case of burnout, I thought I'd give this new series a try. So far it is better than I expected (I've been turned off by the whole Gold Rush stupidity). I especially like how sentimental Otto (?) is getting in his old age, and how resourceful everyone must be just to survive. It reminds me of bygone times when most folks lived like this. Also, they have two of the prettiest horses - an Appaloosa and a Paint - that I've ever seen!
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#2

bizee

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Posted Jan 14, 2012 @ 8:32 AM

I missed the first two episodes. Caught this weeks. I have a bit to catch up on the family dynamics. Kind of interesting, the one young kid is really into the sustainability. And to drive a snowmobile 30 miles in the frigid to catch 2 fish. That's some dedication.

I look forward to the first two episode, regarding keeping those carrots fresh in the root cellar and some other things they didn't go into.

Also suprised they didn't already have some good protection for the cows already built. Its not as if they just started their herd.
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#3

walnutqueen

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Posted Jan 14, 2012 @ 10:12 AM

bizee, I'm glad someone else caught this little gem of a show! The first 2 episodes do help establish how this expended family operates. Here is a short video clip introducing the family.

I am struck by the difference between the 2 younger guys - Eiven the competent one who is into sustainability, understands the necessity of being prepared (and whose young wife Eve worships his capabilities as much as I do!), and Atz Lee, the less experienced one who doesn't even have enough wood put up for winter. Interesting side note: apparently Atz is the singer Jewel's father. source

I love seeing how hard-core these folks have to be just to survive - storing your toilet seat behind the stove and taking it with you to the outhouse in the middle of a freezing night is beyond "roughing it"!

The scene where Otto's wife Charlotte and son August find and save the newborn calf in the snow was cool, as was Otto's obvious delight - that guy has a lot of love for his cattle. I wondered why the calving shelters weren't ready on time, too; guess they were too busy and got caught off guard?

Edited by walnutqueen, Jan 29, 2012 @ 5:11 PM.

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#4

fonfon

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Posted Jan 14, 2012 @ 2:10 PM

I was starting to feel like I was the only one watching this show. I find it all so fascinating, particularly that Atz Lee is the one who has kids, but seems to be way more willy-nilly about being prepared for the winter. I mean, the childless couple can snowmobile 30 miles away to catch a couple of fish, but you can't really do that when you have kids. It's crazy that they are out in the snow scrounging for firewood.

Otto cracks me up.
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#5

wyndham

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Posted Jan 19, 2012 @ 11:06 AM

This show must be getting seriously crappy ratings cuz they aren't showing reruns! I missed the first 2 episodes and keep checking and checking to see if they are on - haven't turned up yet.
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#6

wyndham

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Posted Jan 28, 2012 @ 5:09 PM

For anyone who missed episodes of this show - they are showing reruns tonite starting at 8:00.
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#7

walnutqueen

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Posted Jan 28, 2012 @ 5:34 PM

Thanks for the heads up, wyndham - my DVR is set to record all 3 episodes!
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#8

hippobean

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Posted Jan 28, 2012 @ 10:10 PM

I remember seeing previews of the show before, but never had a chance to watch until the reruns tonight -- I am really enjoying this show. The family seems sincere, and dare I believe, perhaps more in sync with "reality" than other reality shows? At least I like to think so .. if it ends up being another scripted, staged thing, I will be disappointed. Something seems more real about it ... but then, maybe not (never can tell with these things).

Eiven and Eve seem like such a responsible, sweet couple. Atz Lee and Jane, eh, not so much .. Jane, maybe, but geepers, with Atz Lee, it seems as though he has the 'if we get through winter fine, if not, oh well' sort of attitude, at the risk of coming across badly (not my intention though), he sort of seems like a 'slacker' for lack of a better term.
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#9

wyndham

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Posted Jan 28, 2012 @ 11:16 PM

Glad I finally got to see the episodes! Atzlee needs to get up off his butt and get organized instead of always having to fall back on his cousin and friends. He made me want to fly up there and start chopping wood and harvesting that garden. They showed them harvesting some of the garden and then after the snow storm he goes back out and brings in ONE cabbage? He needs to make a calendar for the 3 mos. of "summer" and plan what to do and when to do it.

The rest of the family seemed like they really knew what they were doing and worked together to help each other out. I sure couldn't live there, that's for sure!
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#10

OSM Mom

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Posted Jan 29, 2012 @ 1:07 PM

Caught some of this show last night. Very refreshing. I don't know if I could live like that full time though.
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#11

pairafids

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Posted Jan 29, 2012 @ 2:16 PM

I suppose if there are any people who could have a chance to not turn into reality show famewhore types after their first season, it would be these folks. They don't have TVs, they don't interact with outside people, money is irrelevant to their lifestyle, etc.

I was also glad that they were positive and fully engaged with their way of living without acting superior or sanctimonious about it (at least that we saw). I was not expecting to be as impressed or have as much respect for them as I did. The prodigal cousin seemed clueless compared to the others, but not on the level of, say, the douches on Gold Rush or Whale Wars.
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#12

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Posted Jan 29, 2012 @ 3:51 PM

I too like this show very much. What a tough way to live but how nice not being in the everyday rat race of work and traffic. It would be ideal except for the 9 months of winter. Oh and the outhouse would not be an option.
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#13

Lopethina

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Posted Oct 9, 2012 @ 11:08 PM

Season 2 has started! I'm so glad it got picked up for more episodes.

Atz Lee and Jane's children suddenly don't exist. She mentioned growing up affluent in a 5-bedroom house. I wonder if the kids are staying with her parents during this rough winter.

Edited by Lopethina, Oct 9, 2012 @ 11:08 PM.

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#14

wyndham

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Posted Oct 10, 2012 @ 9:45 AM

I find this show fascinating-not a lifestyle for me by any means. I was surprised and grossed out to hear the older guy say that during the "winter" (9 mos.?) that they just don't wash their clothes at all! Really? You can't pull out a metal washtub (like my grandmother did) and wash your clothes by hand inside?

Hopefully the son who went on a bear hunt in this episode has learned his lesson and will spend more time stocking up during the very short summer - tho I have my doubts. His wife all alone on that boat in the middle of a huge lake, hauling in that huge salmon was scary to watch - can't she fish a bit closer to the shore?
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#15

melissa1925

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Posted Oct 10, 2012 @ 10:13 AM

I'm sad that I missed this. I just starting watching the show about the Alaska cops and I can't image anyone living there. What a miserable existence these people seem to be living (on the other show anyway)

Well, I guess it's not miserable if it's all you've ever known.
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#16

monty9

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Posted Oct 10, 2012 @ 10:24 AM

I've been watching. It's pretty interesting.

As to whether I could do it....one thing has always stuck with me, my parents both grew up on fairly primitive dairy farms but went on to working class type professions. When I would ask them about their childhoods on the farm in a haze of a movie induced view of "the simple life" they were both very quick to shut. that. down. They'd say to me. "Look, it's boring. It's repetitive. You can't do anything else. You can't see your friends. We know that you would want far more variety in your life because we did too so we didn't go into farming. Now get back to those school books missy."

No offense of course and hats off to those who are into subsistence living and/or farming. But to do it you pretty much do that only.

I find this show fascinating-not a lifestyle for me by any means. I was surprised and grossed out to hear the older guy say that during the "winter" (9 mos.?) that they just don't wash their clothes at all! Really? You can't pull out a metal washtub (like my grandmother did) and wash your clothes by hand inside?

Odd trivia from Mary Roach's book "Packing for Mars" (which is great by the way). At times in history people didn't take a lot of baths and through that book I discovered how that could be possible. Because those cultures tended to wear longish underwear under their top layer and changed it frequently because cloth retains a lot more skin cells/oil/stank than skin does. So this could work or go very, very wrong for the homesteaders because if they wash their longjohns and undies a lot: relatively good. It the longjohns and undies are also not washed then *shudders*

Edited by monty9, Oct 10, 2012 @ 10:30 AM.

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#17

melissa1925

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Posted Oct 10, 2012 @ 11:43 AM

I always wondered when the temp gets below 50 degrees there, how the electricity keeps working? I've seem plenty of News when the power was out for thousands on the East coast when the temps dipped to 0.
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#18

BarbWire

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Posted Oct 10, 2012 @ 12:21 PM

I would like to know how the younger guys met their wives? I would also like to know where I can apply to be that guy's wife that they took the hay to? ;)
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#19

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Posted Oct 10, 2012 @ 12:28 PM

I would like to know how the younger guys met their wives? I would also like to know where I can apply to be that guy's wife that they took the hay to? ;)


Lol...I'm glad I am not the only one who finds some of the younger guys attractive (though not washing your underwear for 9 months would be a deal breaker).

I remember one of the ladies (perhaps Jane?) saying that she grew up in the city and lived an upper middle class lifestyle. It is one thing to grow up on the frontier, but quite another to have to learn it as an adult. I wonder what made her choose this life, besides love for her husband. I would also like to know if her family supports her independence or thinks she is just crazy.
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#20

BarbWire

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Posted Oct 10, 2012 @ 1:14 PM

Yes, that was Jane, and I too wondered how her upper-middle class family felt about her lifestyle choice.
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#21

walnutqueen

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Posted Oct 10, 2012 @ 1:32 PM

Oh and the outhouse would not be an option.

The only thing worse than using an outhouse in the summer is using one in the winter. Brutal.

I always wondered when the temp gets below 50 degrees there, how the electricity keeps working? I've seem plenty of News when the power was out for thousands on the East coast when the temps dipped to 0.

I just assumed they all had generators and Coleman lamps.
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#22

wyndham

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Posted Oct 21, 2012 @ 10:49 AM

The cattle owning father needs someone to kick him in the backside on a regular basis! He had days and days to get ready to move the cattle to summer grazing area and as usual, he's hours and hours late getting started. The fact that he's risking the lives of his cattle and horses and family members because of the incoming tides is just mind blowing. What will it take to wake him up - I shudder to think.

As for the son who didn't go on cattle drive and his "greenhouse", they always talk about the winds up there. While it was a good idea, it doesn't look as tho it would withstand any wind whatever. His cousin's hen house (made of wood) should have been an example - maybe 2 wood walls and the rest plastic? And I don't think he'll EVER have enough wood cut before winter arrives.
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#23

FinePoint

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Posted Oct 21, 2012 @ 11:07 AM

How self-subsistent off the land can they really be if they are also earning money from this tv show.

His cousin's hen house (made of wood) should have been an example - maybe 2 wood walls and the rest plastic?


That got me, too. Really thin walls, and no insulation? Even if they stuffed it with straw later, which I am assuming. The wide shots from the air show these spreads so close to the bay. You'd think the winter winds coming off the water would be brutal.

When they showed Jane out fishing by herself, was she even wearing a life jacket? I don't recall seeing one, unless it was on under her coat for some reason. That seemed unnecessarily risky to me. If she went in the water, who would know? (Oh, right, the camera crew).
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#24

melissa1925

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Posted Oct 21, 2012 @ 7:14 PM

I'm a little confused about the families being featured getting ready for winter. Winder comes every year at the same time, right? so why is it that they are showing people rushing to get ready for it like they don't know that it's coming? Why are they gathering wood/meat/fish and bring in the cows like it's the something new to them?

If you've lived in Alaska all your life, you know when you should start preparing.
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#25

wyndham

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Posted Oct 22, 2012 @ 7:31 AM

They've said that "summer" only lasts three months so that's not a lot of time to grow/harvest/fish for food, make repairs to bldgs., cut down trees for firewood and bring cattle back to homestead area. Still, some of them manage to get it all done while Atze Jr. doesn't seem to have a whole lot of common sense.
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#26

farmer

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Posted Oct 25, 2012 @ 5:33 AM

I always wondered when the temp gets below 50 degrees there, how the electricity keeps working? I've seem plenty of News when the power was out for thousands on the East coast when the temps dipped to 0.

It's not cold temperature that shuts off electricity. It's snow, ice and high winds that can damage power lines or blow down tree branches on top of power lines. The Kelcher homestead is off the grid so they are not dealing with power lines, unless they've strung wires from their generators to various buildings around their property.

I'm a little confused about the families being featured getting ready for winter. Winder comes every year at the same time, right? so why is it that they are showing people rushing to get ready for it like they don't know that it's coming? Why are they gathering wood/meat/fish and bring in the cows like it's the something new to them?

Because 1) the summer is only four months long and there is a lot to do in a short period of time. 2) The things they have to do for winter are numerous: cutting and baling hay, cutting firewood, fishing and hunting, harvesting crops, brining cows home, making sure all the buildings are ready to withstand prolonged cold, wet and wind. 3) Winter does not come at the same time every year. When they say "winter," they mean the first snowfall and/or the first hard frost after which it is too late to cut more hay or harvest more vegetables, or do any work on area of their homestead that's covered in snow. The date of this, particularly of the first snowfall, can vary widely from early October to January.

Having said that, I think the show exaggerated how hard the winter is in their part of Alaska. The average snowfall for an entire year is only 57 inches. Getting three feet from one storm seems unlikely. It looked in the episode like it was only about one foot, which would also be extreme for October. With the average high temp in October 44 degrees and average low 32, most of the snow would probably melt or evaporate pretty quickly. I think the issue in the episode where they were scrambling to get ready for winter featured a rare big early season snow that had them scrambling. And, of course, reality television never exaggerates, right?

Edited by farmer, Oct 25, 2012 @ 7:01 AM.

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#27

hippobean

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Posted Oct 25, 2012 @ 12:22 PM

I am not liking the new season as much as the first.

I've started thinking that Atz Lee and Jane have no real "risk" (not that I'd like them to be at risk) -- her family is well off and Atz Lee's sister is Jewel ... I think if things came down to the wire (or even well before that point) that singer sister Jewel or the in-laws would come to their aid immediately.
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#28

FinePoint

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Posted Oct 25, 2012 @ 1:24 PM

Apparently, unless this is old information, Otto owns Otto Machine Works in Homer, and either he or is wife do or did manage (maybe owned?) the Lynx Par 3 Golf Course there. So they appear to have a few forms of income (plus the show).
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#29

tinabee

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Posted Oct 25, 2012 @ 9:04 PM

Who knew Alaska could be as cold and unfeeling as it is beautiful. I am sure the people there get their version of island fever after a while. Ice jams and blizzards and Kodiak bears....oh my!!!

Edited by tinabee, Oct 25, 2012 @ 9:23 PM.

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#30

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Posted Oct 25, 2012 @ 10:52 PM

I think most of the risk is overblown much like every other show on DSC.

How many Ice Road Truckers promos made it look like there was going to be a serious accident just by using jerky camera shots and dramatic music.

About 10% of this show is real, the rest is for ratings.


I'd love to live the lifestyle they live, it's very appealing to me.
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