November has flown by! The weather is colder and the days are shorter now, but we are still managing to get out and enjoy all that the Arctic has to offer. The skating rink is fully up and running now and I have enjoyed making use of it during my P.E. block. We have not yet introduced hockey into the mix because we are focusing on building up skating skills. We have enough helmets and skates for the kids, but don't have enough safety gear for hockey yet.
The kids look forward to skating days. We load up the skidoo with chairs, helmets, skates, and shovels and head down to the rink. We end our adventure with hot chocolate back at the school.
This month three of my students were chosen to take part in the Sahtu District Science Fair, which was help in Fort Good Hope on November 28th. The girls worked for weeks on their projects and the result was amazing. I was so proud of their effort, determination, and drive to do their best work. Unfortunately, the weather got in the way of us actually participating in the event. We were scheduled to fly out the morning of the 28th and to return the next day, but all flights were cancelled due to bad weather. The girls were devastated.
Setting Fish Nets
Ice fishing in the this part of the world is much different than I expected. Before embarking on this adventure I pictured myself sitting with a fishing rod beside a hole in the ice waiting for a fish to bite. The water is actually too cold here for that type of ice fishing. Instead, the people here set fish nets that remain in the water and are checked every few days. The school has a fish net that Martin and I set and will check in the coming days. On average, people get 15 - 20 white fish every time they check it. The fish is used to feed the dogs, make dry fish, and cook into delicious meals. We have a few families at the school who do not have nets set and we will be giving fish out to them as we collect.
Setting a net is a multi-step process. We loaded up the skidoo with all the needed tools and headed out into the middle of the lake (where the ice is not as thick yet). On the way we cut down two trees. Once there we cleared the ice and began making hole about 2.5 feet wide. I took all the branches off the trees to use as insolation over the hole so it would not freeze back over. The long remaining stick was used to hold the net in the water.
Martin headed out to finish setting the nets today with the needed tool. The tool holds the net and shoots it out under the ice. Once the end of the net is found he will dig another hole to hold that end of the net. The net will remain in the water during the coming months and we will venture out to check it regularly.
Living Off the Land
This month we have learned more and more about the preparation of different meat from the land. Martin shot to ptarmigan and a friend of ours, Laura, taught us how to properly prepare the meat. Families have been returning from bush with the various animals they hunted and trapped. Pictured above is a caribou meat that a local elder was preparing in her house. She set out a tent and has been making dry meat.
I was also gifted some moose meat from one of my students. I made baked moose meat spaghetti and look forward to experimenting more with it.
I have been loving my weekends. The daylight hours are getting less and less, which has really forced me to be purposeful with getting outside. Jenn and Louie have been enjoying their weekends inside away from the cold. Jenn has been perfecting the art of playing ukulele and has been exercising everyday. Louie is the master baker and has been exploring all new types of decorating and creating. I find that I go stir crazy and need to get out, so the rink has been the perfect adventure. Martin bought a new tool to clean the ice and it worked perfectly. Our evenings are spent by the fire playing games, eating, and listening to Jenn and Martin play ukulele.
One of my students returned from the bush. I am so happy to have her back in the classroom and to hear about all the adventures she had. Living in the bush is hard work and she developed such valuable skills while away. She spent her time setting traps, hunting, and maintaining the camp.
While away she successfully trapped 6 marten. She almost caught a 7th, but a wolf beat her to the trap and ate the majority of it, leaving the fur too damaged to sell. I had the opportunity to join her in the the skinning of her martens. Each fur will bring her $65. The Game Warden will come into town later in December and will buy all the fur that has been trapped. If fur is ruined or has not been properly skinned he will not purchase it, which made me feel very nervous when skinning it. Luckily, I did not make any mistakes and she will be able to sell the marten I skinned.
Gearing up for Christmas