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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.

136 comments
lora cruse
lora cruse

If my husband talked to me the way Andy does to Kate he would be out sleeping in a den w/ the Bears. He gets very short w/ her & you can tell she cowers to him, makes you wonder how he treats her off camera.

earl george
earl george

In appreciation, is there something that I could mail to you that you are not able to buy or trade for or have a hard time acquiring?

earl george
earl george

Is there something I can mail to you that may be hard for you to buy or acquire there?

Linda Phillips
Linda Phillips

My husband and I really enjoy your portion of this series.  In the latest, it shows Andy using a chippper and we wre wondering what the brand is. 

Patricia (PJ) Dixon
Patricia (PJ) Dixon

In my humble opinion, Andy & Kate are perfectly suited for each other. Kate, you understand that his bark is worse then his bite. You also said in one of the shows Kate that as much as he yells that he is just as loving, romantic and funny. It really ticks me off that the haters think they know you and Andy in the little glimpse we all get into your lives. Kate, some idiot called you mousy! That could not be more false! You are a strong, hardworking woman who loves your man fiercely and he you. Neither you or the dogs shy away from Andy so it is obvious to me there is no physical abuse. What you have is real and it works for you, you two seem very satisfied with the life you have created for your selves. As for all the delicate people making comments on Andy's cursing, THATS WHO HE IS, GET OVER IT! Perhaps there is a nice children's show they can watch or religious show they can tune in to!! I'm a 51y/o woman, married to loud husband also. Have been paramedic for past 20 years and I too can throw out quite a few curse words. K&A, you keep on doing what you do because the rest of us will probably never get that so we watch vicariously thru you two!! Love you guys! Ignore the haters!

Chad Fortman
Chad Fortman

I am interest in taking there survival course what is their contact information

Diana Brantley
Diana Brantley

I just started watching Life Below Zero and really enjoy every episode so very much. I didn't see season 1, but just made season 2, probably missed an episode or two though. You two make a wonder team and partnership together. I was wondering how you two met and Andy, do you have any children ? I know Kate has children and assuming from a past relationship. Love you guys and HUGS !!

Wu sun
Wu sun

Hi Andy and Kate.  Enjoy your story and ideas.
I have come up with a far simpler saw horse to cut logs.
Take a long sapling or dead tree.  About 5 ~ 7 inches dia, about 15
feet long.

Drill two holes near each end.  stagger the holes and put "legs" in
the holes so the horse can stand like a regular saw horse.  Splay the
legs out from the center of the log a bit to get stability (say 5
degrees or so).

Now along the top of the log drill out holes say 5/8 " dia along two
lines along the top.  These rows of holes should be about an inch and
1/4 out from the center line.  Stagger the holes one on one side the
next on the other side.  Put pegs in the holes about 4 or 5 inches
long.  This will make a cradle for the log you want to cut.  After
you cut up the log you won't have to bend over to pick up the
firewood. (again)  You can load it directly on to your wheel barrow / sledge
whatever.  I saw the one you had your understudy make and wow,  that is
a lot of work to make and you end up picking wood up off the ground
again.  Its important to space the pegs so you can cut firewood that
will fit your stove without cutting into the pegs.  Pegs will wear
out, come loose or get mashed up by the saw just drill out the hole
and replace.  Ive got a picture if you would like it.  I also made a sort of Rikshaw that can be used to haul logs or skid logs.  Its made from two bycycle frames and a set of wheels and some wood.


Liz Woosley
Liz Woosley

Hi Kate and Andy,

I have learned soooooo much by watching you guys on the show.  Ty for doing the show.

How is the greenhouse doing?

Patrick Kavanaugh
Patrick Kavanaugh

Hi Kate and Andy,


I would like to know more about the survival school that you offer. By the way, I love your show!

Paul Brown
Paul Brown

Hello Kate and Andy.

I would like to know more about the survival school. Its a dream of mine to move up there after my father passes .away . And sad to say that's gonna be sooner than later . But if you could tell me where to find out info about this I'd true appreciate that so much .

Paul Brown
Paul Brown

I would like to know more about the survival school. Cause I would love to live up there in the near future. I would like to be able to come to the school and learn if I have what it takes to live there

Jason Smith
Jason Smith

Hello Kate,


I too would like to know the rifles Andy used, one looks like an older Browning BLR which he used for the bear and the other rifle appeared to be a Browning X-Bolt in what looked to be in caliber .325 WSM ( I hunt with the same exact caliber). Let us curious fellow hunters know the details of the rifles he uses :)) Thanks!

Scott White
Scott White

Kate what are the two guns Andy has used to kill the Black Bear and the moose.

The one looks like a Browning Lever Action?  What size calibre guns do you need for these types game?


Thanks !

Kay House
Kay House

Happy the new season has started. It would not surprise me to learn that the TV people have been only showing Andy's fits and not the hours and hours of calm. This would be just like them to think it would be a better show  if that was all they showed. This is how TV people think, I've seen it in other shows. If this is the case they have done Andy and Kate a great harm.

If not then what the many people below have said is true.

I really do not want them to be taken from the show but if the TV people are doing this then they need to stop and if not Andy needs to read all of the notes below and realize what he is doing is wrong and fix it.

Since the other people in the show are alone or calm it strikes me that it's possible the TV people have done this to , as they would say, "liven up the show". It would be so like them

This is my opinion. .


Cynnie C.
Cynnie C.

Hi Andy and Kate!! A hello from Albuquerque, New Mexico

Andy, how in the world did you get all your equipment to your house?

Where they taken apart and when it was frozen taken across the river?

Kate? Where did the two of you meet? And how long have you two been

Married ?

Thank you for allowing me a small peek into your lives. I truly have enjoyed

Watching you both.

People do not understand Andy's vocal frustrations but I do.

They don't know we are big girls and choose to handle our husbands our way.

So screw them!

Xoxo

Cynnie

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. 

Scott White
Scott White

@Jason Smith  

In the latest episode when Andy went on the  hunt for beavers he said the two rifles were a .22 mag for the the beavers and a .325 WSM for the bears so you were correct about that.  The BLR also is what I thought, but curious about the calibre.  I was going to guess a 45-70 or maybe even an '06 ?

E O
E O

@Jann PudgyGirl Why should he stop.  It is his privilege.  He must make sure that Kate obeys allways and is to afraid to stand up for herself

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 

E O
E O

@Ladylansing Lincoln It is evident that you do not understand abuse. 

She may well love her husband.  He heart is the quality that he looked for so that he could abuse by twisting her reality and relying on her heart to be able to manipulate her.


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!!???

Jason Smith
Jason Smith

@Scott White


I haven't seen the latest episode yet but I will, still on my Tivo :). I was able to tell it was a .325 WSM because he was handloading the same Barnes 160gr. bullet I also use for long range hunting (hits like a ton of bricks). I've owned several BLR's and still own one in 7mm-08. It appears that his BLR has a long action, so I'm betting that's its either a 7mm Rem Mag. or a .300 Win. Mag. Just for kicks I'd love to know myself! Thanks for the reply Scott White :)