ALASKA: THE LAST FRONTIER is definitely “the real deal.” It may even be too much of the real thing for some Discovery viewers, in fact.
Since this show with the Kilcher family debuted, it has always been upfront and realistic about what a “self-sustaining lifestyle” involved. But, last night, viewers got a really great overview of “the circle of life,” as the Kilchers came out of their winter cocoons and, without a break, began preparations for the next winter—hunting, gardening and tending to the farm animals.
Sometimes those of us who live lives fairly—or completely, even—insulated from the reality of where our food comes from forget about how blessed we are and how appreciative we should be of the animals that live only to become food on our tables. Watching the Kilchers, there is no way to turn away and forget.
Farm animals, of course, are designated from the beginning to become a food source in one way or another, whether it be cows or goats for milking or slaughter, or perhaps chickens providing eggs or meat. Death can come in other ways, as Otto and Charlotte demonstrated last night, with the stillbirth of a calf, and in a family operation such as the Kilchers, any loss is emotional.
“It’s pretty exhausting,” Otto said about the loss of calf and the hard birth of another. “Mostly, it’s emotionally tiring.”
With hunting, there is less of a personal connection—one has not been raising the animal he is about to kill—but it can be no less emotionally painful for a conscientious hunter. After missing a kill shot, but wounding a bear, Atz tracked the animal as far as he could before calling the hunt, no bear in tow. He knew it meant a certain, pointless death for the animal, and he was racked with guilt.
“Maybe I’m getting too old,” Atz said, obviously devastated at his mistake. “I blame myself; wish I had me a hound dog.”
Even gardening means a measure of death at times! A mice-infested growing tunnel will do homesteaders no good, killing tender baby plants, so Eivin took his trusty BB gun and began killing the pesky critters, and added them to the compost pile that would ultimately help being food to the Kilchers’ table.
Watching the Kilchers should help people who do not have the opportunity to raise and kill their own food understand the sacrifice made by animals, and the appreciation we should all have for the food on our tables: It doesn’t just come from the grocery store.
“There’s a lot of life on the homestead and, therefore, there’s a lot of death, too,” Charlotte observed. “You know, in life, you’re going to encounter death. I’ve toughened up a lot,” she added.
Alaska: The Last Frontier airs on Discovery Channel on Sunday nights at 9/8c.
Images: Discovery Channel