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Q&A With Kate and Andy

Eagle, AK: Kate and Andy Bassich make their own beer.

Kate and Andy Bassich (View larger version)

Photograph by 2012 BBC Worldwide Ltd.

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Q: Can you describe your life before Alaska?
Kate: My life before Alaska was also a wonderful adventure, but totally polar opposite to the life I live now. The only things I miss are my family, friends, and high heel shoes.

Q: What do you think would most surprise people about your lifestyle?
Andy: It is very comfortable. We work physically, but we have a very high quality of life. For me, quality of life is measured by how much free time you have to pursue your interests. Isn’t that what retirement is supposed to be? Two years after I moved to Eagle, I visited my family in Silver Spring, Maryland. My dad introduced me to his friend, “This is my youngest son Andy, who lives in the Alaska bush and is retired.” I was only 25 or 26 years old at the time. We always chuckled at that. Later, he came and witnessed firsthand my life, and the retirement thing seemed to slip away.

Kate:People are most surprised by the fact that I am not afraid of being alone in the bush. Quite the contrary, I am very comfortable. 

Q: Have you always been an outdoor person? Was there a particular experience you had that spurred you into this lifestyle?
Andy: Growing up in suburban Maryland, just north of Washington, D.C., I spent all of my time outside. I just loved to be in the woods. It always felt natural and I was always at peace there. My parents were also instrumental in getting me involved in Scouting and later in a father-son club my dad organized with some co-workers. We would meet twice a month at one of the member’s homes and they would teach us a skill or an activity that they were good at. Then every year on Father’s Day, 7-15 father/son pairs would pack up and spend a week on a group camping trip. That was one of the most valuable experiences growing up, and great exposure to many types of experiences.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you during the winter?
Andy: That very much depends on the time of winter; our dogs are the main focus of my time and energy in the winter. Early on, we focus on getting them in shape and trapping, though not as much as I did when [they were] younger. Otherwise, I’m busy with basic chores like getting wood, collecting water from the Yukon under the ice, and keeping trails open. Living off the grid with wind and solar power also requires a daily routine of checking power consumption and ensuring the batteries are performing well and maintained. I always have a long list of projects I want to accomplish, so there is never time to just sit around for me. That said, Kate and I like to spend the mornings in bed with coffee and tea just chatting, and evenings are our time together.

Q: How do you keep yourselves entertained when weather keeps you cut off from “civilization.”?
Kate: This is our civilization. The rest is merely outside. It is peaceful during the freeze-up in the fall and break-up in the spring of the Yukon River ice, knowing you can't travel. Extremely zen.

Q: What is the scariest moment you’ve had out alone in the winter?
Andy: I have had a few very close calls with death. Most recently, I fell through the ice at the mouth of a small river and was almost swept away by the current under the ice. The dogs were on top and unintentionally were pinning me to the bottom of the river. I had bad dreams for a long time after that, and still get clammy when I think of how close I was to not making it.

Q: What is your proudest moment?
Andy: I am pretty humble, but I think the best experience I have ever had was my years alone trapping with the dogs. I went three months without seeing anyone; it was just me and the dogs and the wilderness. I never felt lonely and never felt scared, it just seemed right for me. I experienced very pure thought and no compromise in my life. I was living day-to-day with just my dogs for companionship, and we became very close. We were so in tune with each other they would do things without me giving commands.

What would you say your biggest daily/weekly challenge is during the winter?
Kate: Sometimes it is hard to get motivated to do my mundane daily chores. Sounds like life anywhere, does it not!? 

Q: Tells us about your dogs: how many do you have?
Andy: Currently, we have 25 dogs. A few are retired or close to it.

Q: Do they all have names?
Andy: Of course they do! Having 25 dogs is like running a daycare center for 2-year-olds; they are very similar in behavior. Each time we have a litter of pups, we choose a theme to name each pup from that litter by. It helps us keep track of who is related to whom, and of course choosing funny names is a lot of fun.

Q: Do you have a favorite?
Andy: Yes, but we really love them all. I think for me the favorite changes from time to time depending on what I am doing and how they are behaving. Some dogs tune in to you better than others, so those tend to become favorites. Each has a very distinct personality, just like kids.

Q: Do you think of them as family, or more like employees?
Andy: Our dogs are working pets. They are all very well trained and all come inside to spend time with us one on one. We tend to spoil the dogs at times, but I really like having a close bond with the dogs. I ask a lot from them and in return they are treated very well.

What do you hope viewers will take away from watching you on this show?
Kate: I would like viewers to see that life in the bush for a woman is a wonderful life, not a hardship. If I inspire one woman to come over to the wild side, I will be delighted.

If you could choose any other place in the world to live, where would it be and why?
Kate: I have thought about that, and for me there is nowhere else in this world I would rather be. I will be a part of this land for as long as I live and beyond. It frightens me to think otherwise.

Andy: As Dorothy once said, “There is no place like home.” I have no desire to live anywhere else. This is where I belong.

114 comments
Jann PudgyGirl
Jann PudgyGirl

ANDY, can you do us down here one favor,PLEASE STOP SCEAMING AT KATE,, SHE HELPS  YOU WITH MANY THINGS AND IF SMETHING GOES WRONG YOU SCREAM AT HER BIG TIME,, YOU NEED TO STOP THAT YOUNG MAN  OTHER THAN THAT YOU ALMOST PERFECT   ,,,, I SAY ALMOST LOL IF I WAS HER I WOULD JUST STOP HELPIN YA  TILL YOU LEARNED HOW NOT TO SCREAM ,, YOU ARE SO LUCKY TO HAVE SUCH A GOOD WOMEN SO LETS TRY TO  SHOW HER HOW MUCH YOU DO  RESPECT HER, TKS ANDY I WILL BE WATCHIN TO SEE IF YOU CAN HEAR ME AS I DO KNOW MEN DONT HEAR TO WELL WHEN IT COMES TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO  HA!!!!!!

Jann PudgyGirl
Jann PudgyGirl

Kate, not many women could or would do what you do,, living up there and your always smiling ,,Do you ever miss just hangin with girlfriends??

serinna luna
serinna luna

my question for andy is what is the name of the plastic that you use for the green house,my husband and i have a green house but are unable to find that particular plastic that you guys have ? by the way we love your show 

Janet Laughlin
Janet Laughlin

I love the show and Andy and Kate!!!  My husband and I love the show and we would love the life they have!!!  I've always been a outdoors kind of girl...jealous of there life

Ladylansing Lincoln
Ladylansing Lincoln

I don't care for the way Andy treats Kate either, but Kate isn't a teenager just getting into an abusive relationship.,..she is an adult with her own choices that is what it boils down to her choices not yours.If you don't like watching shut it off. She is an adult. She chooses to love her husband for better or for worse till death do they part. I feel she is smart enough and educated enough to decide should she stay or should she go. Give her some credit with being an adult with choices if nothing eles.

Laura Michaud
Laura Michaud

My husband and I love watching the show!  We would love to visit Alaska and "live the life" if only for a short visit! We always laugh at how yall interact because we have a similar work style! A Lot of yelling goes into our projects! LOL How do you keep animasl from eating the dog's fish?

Kelly Appleby
Kelly Appleby

Hello to you both,I for one am a 51 year old woman and have always loved the woods nature etc. I dearly love your show and have claimed it as my favorite!! I do not like the majority of TV these days as it is just lame nonsense LOL. My all time dream is to live a life away from all the crap of cities and towns, especially this government !!! My problem is how do you do it after you have so much stuff? and not much money to get a place etc. I love all of you on the show. Stay safe and at peace!!!

Dann Walker
Dann Walker

 Love em or hate em, this isn't a scripted drama.  Its about peering into the lives of people who are subsisting in a harsh environment.  Personally, I think Andy is insecure and does things half assed and gets angry with whoever's closest when things go wrong.  I'm sure that Kate understands him and loves him for some reason we can't tell by watching a TV show.  But commenters who criticize NatGeo or try to tell people how they should be are missing the point of the show. The show isn't trying to make you love all of these people, just show you the good, bad, and ugly of living in the bush.  

Susan Rodriguez
Susan Rodriguez

I have to ask.  Since you live off the land, what do you when one of your dogs passes. Do you bury them or are they used for food.

Linda Brennan
Linda Brennan

I really, really like Kate.......her kind and sweet spirit is such a great offset from Andy's opposite.  I don't care for Andy's language, and really wish he would clean up his act....to be such an educated person I know he can express himself with better wording!  As to where Kate lives, that is her choice.....everyone wants to defend their partner/spouse/etc. and this is what she does for now.  Ten years from now, it may not be that way, but again, that is her choice.  Overall, I still love their part of the show....also love their treatment of their dogs.  Can't wait to see the new home Andy builds for Kate!

marilyn schlottke
marilyn schlottke

I would really like to know more about the plastic that is used on your green house

jeff dean
jeff dean

can't wait to see your new house

jeff dean
jeff dean

but Andy Where did you get all the toys from ????  glad you guys didn't get flooded out again

jeff dean
jeff dean

hey jack you bucking to replace Andy you turd


jeff dean
jeff dean

I believe Andy yells out of fear of hurting Kate not because he is mean

jeff dean
jeff dean

these people act like your anger is spurred from meanness, but I think your loudness's is from fear of hurting Kate and she is the life (wife ) that you live for

Jami Vans
Jami Vans

I can imagine he is a lot worse off camera than on....if you cant hold back your anger in front of the world god knows what you're like off.....As far as hearing how tough life and how frustrating it can be up there...thats NO excuse..Andy you're embarrassing you and your wife. Half of the problems you encounter in your everyday life are cause YOU(Andy) didn't think situations through. I enjoy the program..I tend to fast forward through Andy and Kates segments.

Jack Ashcraft
Jack Ashcraft

Andy try to treat that beautiful caring wife of yours as civil as you talk to the camera man.

Jack Ashcraft
Jack Ashcraft

The most amazing thing about this this couple surviving in the wilderness is how such an ill tempered fellow manages to keep such a beautiful good natured lady at his side.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore

I think that Andy and Kate's relationship is a highly personal thing.  Those who don't agree with their dynamics really should keep their opinions to themselves; it's none of their business and it's not their life.

Debbie Boyce
Debbie Boyce

I have watched every show of this series to date. I now know I am only one of MANY, MANY viewers who can't stand how ANDY treats his wife  KATE. Looking at ALL of the Comments on here, 95%  of the People Feel the SAME way. ANDY has a PROBLEM. KATE has a Problem. This is an ABUSIVE Relationship! Serious Therapy seems warented. For the people here who try to 'Defend' ANDY...maybe these people have been in/through  ABUSIVE Relationships like this and can SEE Clearly there are REAL issues here. I hope and PRAY  that KATE wakes up and GETS Help or Gets OUT before her life is over and she has nothing but regrets. ABUSE is ABUSE, no matter how much you try to Hide/sugar-coat/Deny/Justify/pretend it is all OK. Funny how simple -Viewers...can SEE a Serious Problem with these two people,,,and the People -ANDY/KATE...can't see how bad their problems are. SAD, very SAD. STOP making EXCUSES KATE!!! Wake up and RESPECT Yourself...because your Husband does NOT Respect You!!!  He seems only in it for His NEEDS & DESIRES. Please...stop throwing your life way. 

Brian Beauchaine
Brian Beauchaine

I don't know why so many people on here don't like Andy. I think he and Kate are great! Sure he has a temper and I'm sure the show is edited to show him losing his temper more often than he does in reality. What no one on here has ever sworn before? This is what happens when you fix everything yourself and don't pay other people to do your work for you, it gets frustrating when things don't work out. In their case it could mean life and death if it doesn't so to me it's understandable when he gets mad. He might yell at Kate, but he always is apologizing and he must treat her well most of the time because she seems like a smart woman and she's still with him!!

GLORIA BROWN
GLORIA BROWN

I do admire the will people have to live there but Andy should look at Sue in Kavik who is doing it pretty much on her own with some help from her new helper. She has a more upbeat way to deal with problems and not take them out on others. It is clear there is lot of love between Andy & Katie but I still cringe when his ego gets the best of him. Swearing is understandable but anger management should be Andy' s next appointment when he goes back to MD to visit.. Katie, you gotta love a hard working man but a good man would value how special it is to have the love of your woman even if she does not have the muscle you need. If you need muscle do what Sue did and hire extra muscle help. There is no excuse for his temper.

steve Ashley
steve Ashley

Whats the story with the black eyes Andy?  Kate teach you to shut your mouth?  The show would be better off with out Andy!!! Don't know why the sponsers have not already insisted he be taken off the show.

Gail Noernberg
Gail Noernberg

Sure a lot of Andy bashing. I have to say that he blows a lot of steam and actually I have seen a lot worse.  I think that they pretty much balance each other out and depend on each other a lot. More power to the both of you..don't judge unless you stand in their shoes.  Kate you and Andy keep on going on...

Vicki Alberts
Vicki Alberts

Andy you are so skilled- just the perfect man to be married to out there- but you need to quit yelling at your wife.  One of these days she's going to say "enough".....  Every episode has you screaming at her, makes you want to mute your segments.

Michael Solstice
Michael Solstice

I was so glad to read the comments about Andy. He really is just an overgrown kid who is also a bully not capable of taking responsibility for his own actions. Sometimes I feel sorry for Kate. He was probably so jealous and controlling of anything she did in DC that he moved her to Alaska where he didn't have to worry about how he behaved or treated her. He should be grateful that she puts up with him, but I doubt Kate would ever leave him. Andy definitely abuses her emotionally, I just hop he never gets physical. You can still be arrested in Alaska for domestic violence can't you?

Elaine Kist
Elaine Kist

I am going to stop watching this show until he is gone. I don't appreciate his total disrespect for his wife. That is not the message I want to send to my children. This show is being blocked for now! If he is gone next season i will consider watching it again.

Cindy Taubennestler
Cindy Taubennestler

Kate I love you on the show but your husband on the other hand can go.

Jerry Miller
Jerry Miller

Kate is the only friend he has in the world. On the show I have never any friends come over. He is a abuser and act like a little mad boy. Andy needs help.

Annonymous Person
Annonymous Person

Andy is so disrespectful to Kate.  Makes me cringe.  Then to see him blaming not only Kate, but her daughter as well was disgusting.  He admitted to not knowing what he was doing when setting the net for the first time, and yet when things didn't work he blamed the women.  I will no longer be watching this show as I can't stand to see Andy blame his own failings on others.  What he shows by mistreating Kate is how little he likes himself.  So immature.

Bett Carleton
Bett Carleton

I will stop watching soon of they do not get rid of Andy.He is mentally ill and an abuser.A man who can only put up a front for a very short time.I have no desire to listen to him curse and swear and abuse his wife.Why is he still on there. I know why he is in Alaska.Anywhere in civilization and he would be ostracized or in jail.He's crazy and needs an anger management course.

Kate Rorke
Kate Rorke

@serinna luna  The plastic is a 6 or 8 mil plastic with a fiber glass thread  laminated  in between.  It last longer if you remove it during the cold winter months because the cold makes it brittle and cracks it.  so if you cannot remove it every fall it will only last a couple of years.  snow lodes are what kills it in the cold.


Call around to home depot or building supply companies locally and ask for reinforced plastic. We use 20 foot with but it comes in 8-10-20 foot 

DL Ortiz
DL Ortiz

@marilyn schlottke Famous last words of a woman who was beat to death by her loving/abusive/not so perfect  husband.

DL Ortiz
DL Ortiz

@Chris Moore If their relationship is so highly personal Then Andy would tell the camerman to stop filming while he RIPS his wife a new one. But since his anger is out there for all to see I will give my opinion: Andy is a VERBALLY ABUSIVE (probably PHYSICALLY ABUSIVE, too) IDIOT. There. If you don't care to hear anyone's opinion, STAY OFF THE BLOGS!

Gary Wood
Gary Wood

@Chris Moore  

Without opinions, reality shows wouldn't exist.  When you see a red flag warning, you can either put your head in the sand or stand up & be counted...as for me I prefer the latter.

DL Ortiz
DL Ortiz

@Debbie Boyce I co-sign. Andy has serious uncontrollable anger. There is no doubt in my mind that he is physically abusive, as well. Why? Because Kate makes excuses for his violent behavior. She is a poster child for a woman who is being abused. I hope she wakes up before its too late.

Sue Miller Marsh
Sue Miller Marsh

@Debbie Boyce I agree with you Debbie 100%!!! I CAN NOT understand why Natgeo would have someone like Andy on any of there shows. He seriously has a problem with anger and his VULGAR mouth. I am so glad I can switch from channel to channel on our tv because EVERYTIME he is on I now switch to another channel until they stop showing him. I think Kate and Nat geo has to wake up and smell the coffee!!  Life is way to short to make excuses for Andy. Maybe that is why he's hiding out in Alaska, there may be a story there too!!???

Gary Wood
Gary Wood

@Brian Beauchaine  

"I don't know why so many people on here don't like Andy"...because he's a pr*ck, that's why...pretty simple really.

Gary Wood
Gary Wood

@Gail Noernberg 

Just because you have seen a lot worse doesn't vindicate Andy when he treats Kate as a common laborer, a hired hand if you will.  As someone else has stated...it's obvious why Andy moved to Alaska, he's very unsociable & controlling..it's his way or the highway...Kate puts up with his crap because of reasons we'll never understand.

Kecia Woods
Kecia Woods

@Vicki Alberts I DVR the program and actually skip through all parts with this couple.  I can't stand listening to him berate his lovely wife.  Shame on him

Brian Beauchaine
Brian Beauchaine

@Michael Solstice they probably feel sorry for you and your life too. I don't think they are asking for anyone to feel sorry for them. They seem perfectly happy. She's a smart woman, I'm sure if he didn't treat her well most of the time she wouldn't put up with it.

Brian Beauchaine
Brian Beauchaine

@Elaine Kist Yep keep em in a plastic bubble that'll help! It's a "reality" show and I say it like that because I'm sure it's edited to show him getting mad more often than he really does. She's a smart woman, if he didn't treat her well most of the time I'm sure she would leave him!

Gary Wood
Gary Wood

@Brian Beauchaine @Michael Solstice 

It's OK for someone to feel sorry for another's life whether they ask for it or not, especially on a reality show Brian.  When Andy is berating & bullying Kate, do they seem "perfectly happy to you?"...yeah that's what I thought!!  More than likely, Kate has never had a quality man in her life to show her respect & appreciation as a helpmate through both the good & bad times.