Otto's and Charlotte's Biographies
Otto grew up on the Kilcher Homestead in the early 1950's, when no road reached the homestead and not much could be found between the Kilchers and the little town of Homer except wilderness and a few other stubborn pioneers. Back then getting to town meant riding a horse or taking a horse-drawn wagon up the muddy, rocky beach exposed at low tide. Over the years, civilization crept closer, new roads were built, and homestead life became a little easier than in Otto's childhood days.
Leaving the homestead in his early 20s, Otto went to trade school in Utah to become a machinist. Upon graduating and winning awards for excellence because of his machining skills, Otto returned home to open a machine shop in Homer. He served the community and its fishing fleet as a genius machinist for many years, all the while helping on the homestead and being a cattleman. He and his former wife Sharon had two boys: Levi and Eivin, but the marriage did not last (although the friendship did).
In 1989, as oil gushing from the Exxon Valdez was carried into Kachemak Bay by ocean currents, Otto got an old WWII landing craft and joined the clean-up fleet. During his efforts to help clean up toxic oil and rescue oiled wildlife, Otto met Charlotte. She already had considerable experience in California washing oiled birds and headed up Homer's bird rescue operation. Otto and Charlotte married in 1994 and had son August several years later.
Otto holds on to much of the tradition he was raised with and has never been comfortable with anything else. He is in his element when faced with the challenges of living in the harsh environment he grew up in. Always building whatever is needed and using his ingenuity and treasure trove of salvaged equipment and supplies, Otto is the definition of a self-reliant homesteader.
Otto keeps the homestead farm and equipment functioning, helps family, neighbors and friends out of the worst pickles, and is a loving husband, father, and grandfather.
Charlotte grew up in Berkeley, California--a far cry from an Alaskan homestead. Despite the city life, her parents, Frank and Fran, passed on a love of nature through backpacking trips in the Sierra Nevada mountains, their favorite form of family recreation. In their time, Charlotte's parents were pioneers of urban farming. Originally an Iowa farm boy, Frank tore up their lawn to plant a vegetable garden and kept chickens in the backyard long before it was trendy. Also the first folks in town to install solar panels on the roof and exchange their car for bicycles, Frank and Fran spent their lives modeling the best of what it means to be environmentally responsible. Much of this intentional and caring way of living was passed on to Charlotte, and with a sense of adventure, she headed "North to Alaska" in her early 20s and never looked back.
Having earned a biology degree at Sonoma State University and a Masters in Wildlife Management at California State University, Humboldt, Charlotte worked as a wildlife biologist during her early years in Alaska. Marriage to a wild and crazy fisherman blessed her with son Torrey but ended in divorce. While working to save oiled birds during the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, Charlotte met Otto and fell in love. They joined forces and families, and she followed Otto into a life of farming and homesteading. Their son, August, was born surrounded by glorious nature, farm animals, and wildlife, and the family continues living happily ever after in Kilcher Country.