At the edge of the Alaskan wilderness, on a brilliant day in the autumn of 2003, a small group of friends and family gathered at the toe of a glacier, surrounded by snow-capped peaks and aspens gone gold, to witness my husband and I take our vows and the first step in a shared journey most people would call an unusual life. My name is Alison Keller, creator of The Homestead Chronicles, a blog about living and learning at the edge of one of Earth’s last terrestrial frontiers.
In 2014, the reality TV show “Edge of Alaska”, brought a glimpse of our life into people’s living rooms all across America and, to our surprise, all around the world. The thoughts and well wishes from viewers began to trickle in and touch us deeply. Words and phrases like “love”, “values”, “the simple life”, “family bonding”, and “living the dream” reached us repeatedly these past four years. We came to see that we had resonated with people from all walks of life and it has been an honor to share a way of life that connects with such a diverse group of people, whether they are living a similar lifestyle or enjoying it from their armchair. So to all of you, thank you for tuning in and reaching out.
If you’ve seen us on “Edge of Alaska”, you already know a little bit about us. If not, here’s the low-down.
My husband, Jeremy Keller, and I, both former suburbanites from the lower 48, live on a small acreage backed up against the immense and awesome Alaskan wilderness. Over the last fourteen years we’ve built our backwoods cabin, carved out a small farm from five acres of raw land and are currently raising two beautiful children, Liam and Bjorn, now 7 & 12 respectively.
Our cabin sits at the end of a long, deeply rutted trail, 12 miles outside the small and truly unique community of McCarthy, Alaska. Mccarthy is quite bipolar, transitioning back and forth between a buzzing community of summertime residents, seasonal employees and tourists to a quiet, sparsely populated backwater of a couple dozen or more souls who see the long winter through. One hundred and eighty miles from the nearest town that boasts something as modern as a stoplight, our sweet little hamlet sits nestled in a remote and rugged valley where vast mountains, extensive glaciers, broad, meandering rivers and relatively undisturbed wilderness paint the backdrop of our daily lives.
Simply put, we are off road, off grid and some might say completely off our rockers! Regardless, by modern standards, we live an unusual life.
When Jeremy and I began this project, although we had each been living in Alaska for a number of years, we knew next to nothing of remote homesteading and raising farm animals. Armed with a couple of books and a large dose of desire, we jumped in with both feet.
What do you get when two inexperienced suburbanites tackle frontier living in the remote Alaskan landscape? At times it can be beautiful and other times it can get ugly, but thankfully, often enough it can be hilarious, joyful and full of grace – no different from life anywhere else on the planet, really.
What makes our life so unusual is that we traded in the comforts of modern day living to challenge ourselves against the hardships that are inherent in a remote and sometimes harsh environment.
The most profound lesson I’ve learned after fourteen years out here on the edge is that the real hardships come from a most unexpected place. They come from within. This lifestyle is hard but the true struggles aren’t so much the physical demands or surviving the elements; it’s meeting yourself head on. The demands and elements are just the rocks upon which you will eventually break yourself. Sometimes it’s a physical breaking, sometimes it’s mental. Either way, it’s always emotional.
When we meet this emotional breaking we are presented with an opening to look inside and discover hard yet beautiful truths. This is what I believe we gravitate towards when we choose an unconventional life. Deep in our bellies we know the hardships have something to offer us. We are looking for those truths because through them we know we can find ourselves.
My journey out here has been amazing. My hard earned lessons are many and it would be a shame not to pass along a bit of what I’ve found while, hopefully, entertaining you with stories from our unusual life.
As I write this introduction, “Edge of Alaska” is airing its final season and as that door closes both Jeremy and I feel compelled to open a window – a window through which we can continue to connect. The Homestead Chronicles will serve as an offering of stories I have collected along the way as well as current happenings out here on the farm. Jeremy will continue to post content to his Facebook page and, from time to time, Bjorn will have some home videos to share.
I know just as much about blogging today as I did about homesteading fourteen years ago. So, with a handful books, 24/7 tech support from my website host (thank you inMotion!) and a healthy dose of desire, I am jumping in feet first. So, without further ado, I present you with The Homestead Chronicles.
I encourage you to reach out with comments and questions.
Sending out my warmest regards.